Tasting Notes: G.L. Pease Horizons

Note: The following transcription has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Hey everybody, it's Shane Ireland. Welcome to another episode of "Tasting Notes." I am here to tell you about the latest edition to the Zeitgeist series by G.L. Pease: Horizons. Horizons is the third edition in the Zeitgeist series by Greg, who is affectionately known in the community as the Dark Lord. I will say that if you've been a fan of Greg's blending for the last 20-plus years, there's a really good chance that one of the blends that brought you to the brand and kept your attention over these last couple of decades was an English blend involving Latakia.

English Blend & Retro Futuristic Artwork

Greg, of course, has a wide breadth of offerings in his lines, and many classics. English blends are the ones that I think get the most attention in the world of pipes and pipe tobacco, and I think they're the ones that have not only captured but retained the attention of so many smokers over all these years.

Naturally, I was really excited to try Horizons, not only because on paper the blend sounds right up my alley in terms of what I want out of an English, but also because the beautiful jet-age, retrofuturism-inspired artwork really grabbed my attention. Horizons is, like I said, an English flake. You're talking about Bright and Red Virginias, Oriental leaf, and Latakia — I'll get into the specifics here in a second about those — pressed into a flake.

Bold and Robust Flakes

Tasting Notes: G.L. Pease Horizons | Daily Reader

The flakes themselves are beautiful and well-adhered. They do rub out very nicely, and they're mostly dark. There's a good bit of Latakia in this blend. I think that's evident in the smoke, the tin note, and the appearance of the flakes. I think the moisture content right out of the tin is perfect for an English smoker. You could give it a little bit of drying time if you feel like it's a little spongy after rubbing it out and fluffing it up a little bit here.

I would not suggest too much drying time though because there's so much complexity here. That's always my warning. Don't dry your tobacco out too much. You lose a lot of nuance. So the tin note is about as rich and compelling as it gets, I think, especially for fans of Latakia and English mixtures. It is bold and robust, with a lot of earthy notes. Obviously, there's a lot of the campfire smoky character.

Notes of Smoky Barbecue and Warming Spices

This blend veers more toward the mesquite barbecue side of things than it does the campfire-dry wood smoke. There's definitely a very aromatic woody quality to this, and a little bit of a funk. I think that's coming partly from the pressing and the processing of the flakes, but also from the Orientals themselves. They have a really pungent, aromatic quality, with some lovely vegetal and floral notes on top.

There are some warming spices in here, a little bit of clove, and even a similarity to chocolate-covered cherries. Yeah, there's some definite sweetness in here and it is a mix between a dark red fruit and something rich and chocolatey.

Star of the Show: Turkish Latakia

Tasting Notes: G.L. Pease Horizons | Daily Reader

This blend has a rich tin note and is super compelling. I can already hear the fans of Spark Plug and Quiet Nights going crazy for this one. As I said, Horizons is the third entry into the Zeitgeist line. The star of the show here is Turkish Latakia. I've talked a little bit about this leaf before. It is Latakia produced in Turkey from small-leaf Oriental varietals grown in Turkey as well. I think what makes this Latakia in particular most interesting out of what's currently available is that it's very similar to the old Syrian leaf. In my opinion, it's even a little bit better. I think the reason this is the best Latakia that I've ever come across is because of how consistent the processing is, how controlled it is, and how across the entire fire curing from one side of this to the next, the tobacco is so uniform. It's oily and so saturated with the right amount of smoke and the right temperature that you end up with something that is, like I said, less sharp and smoky, more even, a little sweeter, and a little more wine-like and creamy.

I've been really excited to see what Greg did with this Latakia, getting it in his hands. Like I said, I personally feel like this is where his strength is. What you get here is a really rich mixture that is mostly focused on the Turkish Latakia supported by Bright leaf from 2019. The tie-in is sugar, a little bit of 2019 Reds from the Carolinas, and İzmir Turkish.

First Light: Complex, Rich Notes

Upon first light, Horizons is immediately very rich; it throws off a ton of smoke and is really dense on the palate, with a creamy, silky vibe to it. The Turkish Latakia is front and center with a really nice aromatic quality to it, sort of incense-like, with warming spices. Like I said, you get the interplay between the Orientals and maybe even the tangy Red Virginias and the Turkish Latakia. You end up with allspice, clove, and maybe even something a little bit approaching vanilla bean.

Now, I think that I've talked about this before, but when you're talking about barrel char as it relates to whiskeys — American and Scottish whiskeys — that tends to impart some of those woody and vanilla-like flavors. A lot about this reminds me of a good scotch, not just the smoky quality, but the maltiness and the luscious mouthfeel. This is about as rich as I think an English blend gets without being on the very spicy side of the spectrum.

So if you like the sort of complexity and the spice of Quiet Nights, and want the same experience, and the same richness that leans a little bit toward the dark fruits and the sweeter side, then Horizons is a perfect fit. The musty, aromatic, and herbal qualities of the Oriental leaf and the flavor that the Turkish Latakia impart are a little bit more woody and are reminiscent of mesquite barbecue flavor. They do a lot to draw the sweetness and the dark-fruit notes, both from the Red Virginias and from the Latakia into the center. The earthiness and the musty notes really prop up those sweet and fruity flavors and, like I said, the smoke itself is extremely creamy and rich.

Progressing Through the Bowl: Malty and Warm

As the bowl progresses, I do get a little bit more of a malty character. There's a little bit more of that chocolate-covered-cherries character, maybe even verging on cherry cough syrup. That may not sound appealing, but I mean that as a compliment. It's a really interesting flavor and the retrohale just gets so complex.

The warming spices come out quite a lot. I do get a little bit more of a bready character. I think the Virginias are starting to show themselves a little bit more. It's just so balanced and so rich. I would say that Horizons is, for me, about medium strength, maybe a hair over that, and extremely full-flavored and full-bodied. Today I am smoking G.L. Pease Horizons in a little sandblasted bent Apple with bamboo by J. Alan. This is my favorite Latakia pipe, and this blend is absolutely singing in it.

Horizons: Better with 3-5 Years of Age

Tasting Notes: G.L. Pease Horizons | Daily Reader

I do think that Horizons shows the potential to have long legs as far as an English blend is concerned. I think some of that is due to the processing and the pressing, and I think the perceived sweetness and more nuanced notes from the Turkish Latakia will amplify with age as the smoke tames a little bit. I wouldn't say go ahead and put this in the cellar for 15 years, but somewhere between three to five will be great, and it's going to be a really enjoyable experience with added richness and sweetness.

Do yourself a favor and grab a couple of tins of the newest in the Zeitgeist line by G.L. Pease: Horizons. I think everybody out there should give this a try if they want to experience what a rich English blend should be that is still approachable, is easily an all-day smoke, and that really showcases what quality Latakia and quality Oriental leaf can do.

Category:   Tobacco Talk
Tagged in:   G. L. Pease Tasting Notes Tobacco Zeitgeist


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