This has to be one of the finest English/Oriental blends ever! I had heard that the late Barry Levin had searched the world for the finest Oriental leaf he could purchase, and was able to receive a small batch of exotic leaf to produce a limited production of this blend. My tin was from the early 1990s and the flavor presentation was awesome. The Orientals were indeed cool, spicy and provided more depth of flavor than any Oriental leaf I could recall. The Latakia was smoky, sweet and powerful. And the Virginia flavor was ripe, rich and as deep as the ocean. Nothing compares.
This review is based on a 1990s tin freshly opened in May 2016. The Virginias are mildly fermented stewed fruit sweet with a touch of earth and grass. They have a very minor tanginess. The Orientals have a mild smoky woodiness with a hint of spice and sour. The Syrian latakia is dry with almost no sweetness, and offers a slight smoke and wood to the blend. Has a mild nic-hit. Won’t bite. Burns well with few relights, and leaves very little evidence of moisture in the bowl. Has a consistent flavor, though fairly innocuous in nearly every way. Probably deserves two stars, but as I wouldn’t recommend it, I have to give it one.
This is essentially the same review I gave the McClelland version as I saw few differences between the two, and McClelland did make both of them. This version may have had more going for it when fresh, but aged, it suffers the same lack of character as the McClelland does, except that the Orientals seem just a little more obvious, and the Virginias have no grassiness, and a little more earth. They are less fruity, too.
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