Welcome back to another episode of Tasting Notes! Today, I'll be reviewing the latest release from G.L. Pease: Windjammer. Gregory Pease is among the most iconic and celebrated blenders of our time. His portfolio spans over twenty years, and many of mixtures are among the most well-known and celebrated pipe tobaccos on the market. If you're watching this video, chances are not only are you familiar with Greg's work, you're probably have a couple of favorites of your own — whether it's Chelsea Morning, Quiet Nights, etc. Windjammer is particularly interesting to me, personally, because I'm a fan of traditional navy flakes and Virginia/Perique mixtures, and I've been waiting for a tobacco like this from Greg for years.
Components, Cut, and Aroma
So, Windjammer is a pressed flake; my tin is probably a little closer to a ready-rubbed cut, but that's likely because I've been fussing with it for several days now. In the blend itself, you'll find Virginias, a little bit of Burley, a little bit of a toasted Cavendish, and a good measure of Perique. In fact, if you're a Perique aficionado, Windjammer will definitely satisfy in that area. There's also a touch of rum, which is a nod to traditional navy flakes. While there are many definitions of navy flakes, I typically associate them with Virginia/Perique blends elevated by a little bit of rum, and Windjammer certainly ticks all those boxes for me.
The tin note itself is incredibly rich; it's fruity and there's a little bit of a molasses sweetness to it. Surprisingly, the boozy quality is actually not terribly up-front. It's definitely there, but mostly the nose is met with rich chocolate and dark fruit notes — which is a good indication of what's in store once you light up. The flakes are quite lovely. They're not uniform in color; there's a lot of dark leaf in there, along with medium-chestnut leaf and a touch of bright leaf. It's also really supple and easy to rub out.
General Tasting Notes
While Greg may be best known for his famed English mixtures, he's certainly no stranger to the Virginia/Perique family of pipe tobaccos. There's Stratford and Stonehenge, along with several others, and there's also blends like Cumberland and Cairo that feature Perique and Virginias alongside other components like Turkish or Burley. What makes Windjammer such a lovely addition is that it's a little fuller, richer, darker and spicier than most Virginia/Perique blends out there; there's really not a lot of brightness. And for me, that's actually perfect. It's more rustic and more along the lines of something that you could imagine yourself smoking on a schooner back in the day.
After smoking several bowls, one of the main things that stays with me throughout each smoke is a distinct chocolate note that I associate with both traditional Burley blends as well as those that have Perique as an added component. It's creamy and sweet, but there's also a good dose of dark cocoa powder on the palate, and maybe even a little bit of bitterness, which complements the more earthy flavors of the Burley, Virginias, and Perique nicely.
The smoke itself is very dense and full. And while I would describe it as rustic, it's not rough around the edges. It's quite smooth and can fade into the background if you need it to, but once you slow down and savor it, you begin to notice a high degree of complexity and elegance to this tobacco. There are plenty of nutty flavors (the label mentions walnut, and there is a walnut-like bitterness), and the Perique offers a well-balanced mix of those more earthy and umami types of flavors, along with a dark fruit sweetness and a delicate level of spice. The spice is obviously there from the Perique, but even on the retrohale, it's measured and balanced.
Moisture and Packing
I've played around with a variety of chamber sizes and packing methods, but I suggest that you go ahead and smoke this straight out of the tin. If you want to give it a tiny bit of drying time, shoot for no more than 5 minutes. You really want the full impression of this blend all at once; in fact, I've been smoking Windjammer in mostly medium-to-large chambers with zero drying time, and that's been the sweet spot for me. It's a well-behaved tobacco, with a nice and slow burn.
I would rate both strength and flavor on the medium-to-full end of the spectrum. It is a powerful tobacco, in terms of flavor and strength, but also in regards to the overall mood and vibe of the smoke. It's definitely nostalgic and reminds me of something that would have been quite popular a century ago, perhaps in a sailor's pipe.
When it comes to cellaring, I'm not even gonna guess; without a doubt, this is going to age beautifully. In fact, I'll go ahead and call it right now: Windjammer is going to be considered one of Greg Pease's best. Virginia fans who've been waiting for another Virginia/Perique blend from Pease are going to be very satisfied with this. Similarly, if you were surprised by Spark Plug and thought that there was nowhere else Greg could go with Latakia as a component, Windjammer is going to surprise you once again. It represents a beautiful use of Perique as a component, and the blend itself is so much more than the sum of its parts, as is often the case with Greg's blends.