A classic mixture harmoniously married to a Navy flake. Ripe Virginia tobaccos are first blended with Cypriot Latakia, fine Orientals, and a touch of dark-fired Kentucky leaf, then infused with a hint of dark rum before being gently pressed, matured, and sliced. The flavour is rich, bold and satisfying; the aroma an enchanting interweaving of traditions.
Samarra – opulent and elegant! Several varieties of Virginia tobaccos form the structure of this blend. Smoky Cyprian Latakia, fine Turkish leaf, and just a bit of Perique are added for richness. The smoke is silky and round. A subtle, yet complex sweetness from the Virginias and just a little zest is present throughout the smoke, while layers of complexity tantalize the senses from first blush to the last puff.
Samarra, along with Cairo, Mephisto and Renaissance, was one of the first blends to be offered under the G. L. Pease brand. In a sense, it is a refinement of Sublime Porte, a blend I produced years ago for Drucquer & Sons while working there, so it reflects a much longer history than the other blends in the line.
Despite a significant percentage of Cyprus Latakia, Samarra is not a Latakia powerhouse. It is rich and complex, relying as much upon the delicate sweetness and structure of matured red Virginias, and the exotic, fragrant nature of fine oriental leaf as it does on the smoky opulence of the Cyprian “King of Flavor.” The blend is finished with a hint of zesty lemon Virginia, adding a hint of brightness to the smoke, and a touch of perique, providing its own unique spice.
I simply love this blend. When I first tried it, I was somewhat bored by it. It seemed a little ho hum at the time. No recall on what other blends I had been experimenting with at the time, but a few bowls into the first tin I was hooked. Samarra was in my pipe throughout the day. Now I have to fight the urge to hoard the stuff.
Everything is there that makes a great English blend. There’s the quality of the leaf which I rely on from Greg Pease blends. With this blend there is a deft balance between teh components. Latakia is leading the way but not making a big deal about being in charge. Virginias embrace the entire experience with a touch of natural sweetness and tang while the Turkish and Perique keep things interesting. None of these flavors are lost amongst the others.
The really cool thing about this blend is it works as one of those contemplative quiet smokes that you want to dedicate full attention to not to miss a nuance, a slight turn in flavor, or an unexpected note. At the same time, the balance, medium fullness, and perfect behavior qualify this for all-day smoking.
This is the English blend. I will be recommending this to all who ask me to suggest an English blend.
Abingdon by Greg Pease – Pipe Tobacco Review With Video
This is a fantastic blend – a standard among the Balkan genre.
I note with satisfaction after reviewing Greg’s own comments on this blend that the special sweetness of Abingdon had not escaped me when I did the video review. While maybe the “fullest” in the “Classic Collection,” to my taste, Caravan by Greg Pease comes on a bit stronger. Nonetheless, this is a blend I reserve for times I can focus my attention and enjoy it. I find Abingdon abundantly satisfying in every way – especially for the richness of flavor. This is a benchmark Balkan blend. Great pipe tobacco that shouldn’t be lost among Greg’s more recent achievements.
From Greg Pease’s web site:
Abingdon is the fullest Balkan style blend in the collection. It is rich and robust, powerful and forthright, yet still posessing subtlety and finesse. Dark flavours of wood and leather mingle with delicate undercurrents of sweetness, and deep earthy notes, while the oriental tobaccos provide hints of their verdant, sometimes herbaceous character. A big Balkan blend, reminding us once more of what these blends used to be. Because of the high percentge of dark and oriental tobaccos, it’s recommended to pack Abingdon a little less firmly than you might a lighter blend.
An alluring assortment of exotic oriental tobaccos is generously blended with bright and red Virginia leaf. Finally, just enough Cyprus Latakia is added to provide an alluring smokiness, resulting in a tobacco that can best be described as a light-medium Balkan mixture. This is the blend for gentlemen with a Bohemian spirit and a sense of adventure.
If you like Virginias and don’t mind Orientals and Latakia in very modest proportions, you’ll probably like Ashbury as much as I do. Greg Pease said Ashbury “could almost be considered a light English or Balkan style mixture.” Don’t bring the wrong expectations to this blend lovers of the Latakia bombs.
This is a Virginia blend – red and brights. The small-leaf Orientals and just a touch of Latakia does for this blend of tangy-sweet Virginias what a squirt from a lemon wedge does to a glass of iced tea. The added lemon doesn’t change the beverage from being an iced tea to something else and the Balkan condiment leaf won’t change your mind about Ashbury being a Virginia blend like its siblings in the Fog City Selection.
This is a stout blend consisting of several grades of Virginia tobaccos with a generous measure of long-cut perique. Unflavored Green River black Cavendish and a little air-cured white burley ribbon provide fullness, body, and a bit of extra strength. Finally, an exclusive process darkens and marries the mixture, and gives the blend a subtle tin aroma of cocoa and dried fruit. The flavor is full on the palate, earthy, slightly sweet and intriguingly piquant, with overtones of figs and raisins. A wonderful and unprecedented blend for the true perique lover!
Ripe, red Virginia tobaccos create the frame in which some truly special Kentucky dark-fired leaf is exhibited. This leaf has a depth and richness that is rarely seen in tobaccos of its type. A measure of stoved and matured flue-cured is added to provide a gentle sweetness and solidify the foundation. A little Louisiana perique provides a piquant spice, and a subtle fruitiness. The flavor may be somewhat reminiscent of some of the classic English tobaccos of the past, but this is truly a unique blend. It’s at once bold and demure, making a delightfully profound first impression, then gradually revealing its more subtle charms over a few bowls’ courtship. It’s sophisticated personality will be appreciated by those around the smoker as well.
Cairo is a wonderfully complex mixture of red, orange and bright Virginia tobaccos, exotic oriental leaf, and just a whisper of perique. The flavor is naturally sweet, slightly nutty, delicately spicy and rich. Subtle citrus-like notes harmoniously support the more robust flavors of the darker Virginias. Cairo is a medium bodied but very satisfying tobacco with a delicate aroma that will be enjoyed by Virginia lovers and the connoisseur of oriental mixtures alike.
Excellent cube-cut Burley, chosen for its deep, nutty flavors, forms a robust foundation for this sophisticated blend. Rich, red Virginia tobaccos are added for their subtle sweetness and complexity, while the unique spice of perique provides added dimension. A delicate kiss of brandy polishes the blend to a perfect finish. Barbary Coast is delightfully satisfying, with hints of black walnut, dark chocolate, and dried fruits. The perfect “all-day” smoke.
Blackpoint is a luxurious blend of red and lemon Virginias, Cyprian Latakia, exotic oriental tobaccos, and a perfect measure of Louisiana perique for a lively, piquant finish. The smoke is creamy and lingering, engaging the palate with a mouth-filling array of wonderful flavours. Reminiscent of raisins and stewed figs, fireplaces in the fall, walks in the forest. Blackpoint has the most complex flavor profile of any blend in the Classic Collection, making it perfect for moments of reflection and contemplation. Wonderful at any time of day, but ideal for the evenings. – From glpease.com
I pulled a tin of Blackpoint from the cellar. It had two and a half years in the tin. The bottom of the tin had bulged outward – some special things had been going on in there. I’m not one to go on about the aroma in the tin, but a fantastic smell escaped. This was somewhat an unusual yet familiar smell – it was like fermentation but different. The closest I can compare is maybe a Virginia and Perique blend like Dorchester. It was a fantastic fruity smell, likely from the Perique mostly. But there’s only a small portion of that particular condiment in the recipe. It was obviously a result of the aging process – the intensity of the odor had dissipated with exposure to air.
The cut is mostly ribbons – not quite 1/8th inch wide. I appreciate this style of cut. It lends to easy consistent packing. A variety of autumn-like colors are present with the portion of black leaves seeming inconsistent with this blend’s reputation for being strong. Moisture level directly from the tin was spot on.
The taste is wonderfully clean and dry. The Virginias contribute little sweetness, but more of a bright brassy flavor with a pleasant sharpness. There’s a relaxed presence of Oriental leaf, not as lingeringly rich as found in other blends, and the star of the show is Cyprian Latakia, playing a part more woodsy and smoky than leathery. The Perique is always there, in a measure substantial enough to always be noticeable, but not usually distracting. All these flavors arrive at my palate in balanced proportions, with none of them hogging my attention.
As the smoke continues, all of these flavors intermingle and deepen. The edges are rounded off, but the complexity remains throughout the bowl. Something happens on each area of my palate. The variety of flavors and sensations reward attention and focus on the smoke. Unlike a lot of blends in this range that may be too rich or fatiguing, I’d be open to the idea of smoking Blackpoint any time of day, perhaps even successive bowls, but its character and livliness might be wasted in casual inattentive smoking.
According to Greg Pease, this blend responds very well to aging. It is part of his “Classic Collection” and was introduced in March of 2003.