Review by schmitz bitz
A Decent Blend in its Own Right
Upon receiving my tin of the re-release of this hallowed blend, the first thing that struck me was the label. While the re-creation of the original tin-art is decent, I can't help but note a graininess; perhaps a pixilation if you will. I should also note that the addition of the text on the wagons does not seem to fit; rather this seems like a last-minute addition. Upon opening the tin, I was somewhat disappointed to discover that not only was the paper liner plain, but folded and crumpled under the doily. While I realize that this does not weigh on the smoking qualities of the tobacco, it does effect ones overall interpretation of the blend, and I feel should be mentioned.
Close inspection of the cut reveals a melange of fine-cut ribbons, interspersed with small chunks of broken flake and the occasional strand of rough-cut. Hues of tan, copper, khaki green, dark and chocolate brown abound; shot through with charcoal-black. The tin aroma is strong and oily, with notes of peaty camp-fire and an underlying fruitiness that is not at all unpleasant to a self-proclaimed Latakia lover.
With the charring light, the strong-peat like notes found on the tin are carried over, supported by strong sour flavours of the various Oriental leaf. There is an earthy nuttiness present, but lacking in the sweetness often found in Balkan style blends.
With the true light, the strong sour and oily Latakia notes remain in the foreground, while Earthy notes of soil, leather and leaves begin to blossom. A bold spiciness takes hold, while a slight sweetness begins to form on the back of the palate. One also notices the "rawness" of the blend at this point - while the leaf is certainly well aged, the blend itself would benefit from some time to allow the flavour profiles to meld.
Through the mid-point of the bowl, I find the blend begins to take on an earthy, almost nutty sweetness, while losing some of its bold and spicy qualities. The big sour notes remain at the forefront of the flavour profile, as does the rich, deep flavour of Latakia.
As one reaches the heel of the bowl, the spicy bold notes come back with a vengeance, while the peaty-campfire flavours of the Latakia also ramp up. The sweetness rounds out some, with hints of earth and leather growing more prominent.
I should note that this blend left my mouth with a slightly "dirty" feeling.
The room-note on this blend is actually somewhat pleasant, despite the big, bold tin aroma and flavours. While it does deliver the camphoric peaty notes of the Latakia leaf, there is a sweet undertone that rounds out the smokiness wonderfully. While it probably wouldn't win you any friends amongst the non-smokers, it very well could at a barbeque competition!
The nicotine level of this blend is on the high-side of medium - while it will satisfy all but the most nicotine crazed smoker; if you don't handle the vitamin N well, take this blend slowly.
Read my full review, and a comparison with the real McCoy at PipesMagazine.com