And so it's that time again: time to introduce an unidentified blend to several of my coworkers and see what happens when they're combined with it. A gentle fizzing? A sudden change in complexion? An explosion of noxious gases? While we can all make our predictions, there's no real telling until they've stuck it in their pipes and smoked it — which they have.
Upon first light, I immediately detected the smoky Latakia, but it was far more subtle than I expected — sort of a background note for the sweet Virginias and Cavendish. Flavor-wise, it reminded me a lot of Frog Morton, with that same rich, almost buttery sweetness shining through woodsy undertones. I didn't detect any peppery Orientals or spicy Perique, focusing instead on that aforementioned sweet smokiness.
The smoke itself was pleasantly cool and smooth, leaving with me neither tongue bite nor a bitter aftertaste. The strength was a bit mild for my tastes, but then again, I do tend to prefer full-bodied blends, almost always with a heavy dose of vitamin-N. For a light English blend, though, I definitely wouldn't mind smoking another bowl of this stuff."
Andy made it through okay. So does Ted, mostly, though a little confused about what, exactly, he is doing.
Oh, and as an aside, I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be reviewing this stuff or just guessing at what it is. Obviously I'm more interested in the latter, so I hope that's cool with you, dear reader."
We'll cut him some slack because he isn't one of our regular test subjects. Josh certainly is though; watch and learn, Ted.
On the whole, this is a fairly nice blend. It reminds me a bit of Dunhill's My Mixture 965, although I suspect that it's either one of the Newminster or Peter Stokkebye bulk tobaccos. It's not complex enough to me for an evening smoke, but it's a fine companion throughout the day."
Last but not least, the new guy. We figure he ought to get used to being handed free-but-unidentified samples as soon as possible.
The cut is a fairly standard ribbon — something I'd expect of say a McClelland blend. The pouch note is sweet, but not in an aromatic way, and perhaps a little smoky as well. Without lighting, I'd guess Virginias, Latakia and black Cavendish.
On the first light, I get sweet & umami notes. In fact, I could swear there was some Oriental in this, though that might just be the Latakia, as it is definitely present but hasn't been overplayed. Through the rest of the bowl, the sweetness remains, but does tone down significantly.
At a guess I'd say this was McClelland's A.M. Pipe, though there might be a little too much nicotine to not have Burley. It's not room spinning, but there's definitely a kick, especially around halfway through the bowl."
No one else reported such a kick, but then, no one else recently crossed the Equator and started their first day at a new job, in a new and foreign hemisphere, in the same 24 hour period.
Altogether, everyone was wrong — except Josh, who was close enough to be potentially right. The blend was a Newminster, and more specifically their No.17 English Luxus (which along with every other Newminster bulk tobacco, you can presently get at 20% off — pure coincidence that, no doubt).
Curiously enough, while Josh was the only one to come close on identifying the brand, Andy was the only one to mention the tobacco I've seen it most closely compared to, Frog Morton. Still, if I had to pick a winner (no this isn't supposed to be a competition, but I can pick one anyway — a privilege of being the one to assemble and edit all this), it would be Josh. Not only did he come closest to actually identifying the blend by name, or at least brand, he was also the only one who took the precaution to pour the tobacco out, and look closely at each and every one of its components. This is an important lesson he has learned from past experience.