I am ending 2015 just like I ended 2014: With a review of an Owl Shop blend.
This is a really satisfying, great quality English flake. In other words, it's made with apparently great quality Virginias pressed into flakes with a nice bit of latakia added. The latakia taste is front and center but nicely balanced with the virginias. A very smooth and strong smoke. I've smoked this bag on and off for probably a year and the Virginias just mellow into a smoother and stronger draw with that wonderful whiff of latakia I love. English blends are my favorite and I'm always trying to satisfy my latakia craving. I generally smoke flakes very intermittently. I enjoy them but the Virginia and vaper flakes just aren't my favorite. I will definitely get more of this the next time I am in the Big Woo. Solid, smooth, strong, satisfying and did I mention latakia?
I cant praise the Owl Shop enough...they blend tobaccos of such quality and taste, it can boggle the mind. this time its Bancroft Tower. this came in a smallish flake, a little tough and brittle. took a couple mins to rub out, and I cant say that lighting was a breeze...but once you get that smoulder going you realize that this is all worth the effort. this can bite a little while lighting up, but cools off soon after. the taste is fantastic...great Virginia sweet and spicey tang, only made better by a peppery perique addition...the sweet smokey Latakia weaves in and out throught the bowl, getting more frequent in the 2nd half. this is a blend I can smoke all day, though might be a bit of a nicotine smack to those who smoke mild blends. overall another great blend from George Photakis, Worcester's own living legend.
Ah Worcester, Massachusetts, my home town, also home of the Owl Shop, one of only two tobacco houses in Massachusetts that, as far as I am told, blends their own tobacco, the other being Peretti's on whom I have written several reviews. The fact is, as much as I would liked to have kept my business in my home town, and with my good friends the Photaikis family, owners of the Owl Shop, I simply never found a blend to my liking there. That is until I bought a pipe there several months ago and the owner's grandson, Zack, told me to fill the bowl with some Bancroft Tower. Now, Bancroft Tower, for those interested, is a medeival looking lookout tower on the top of Bancroft Hill in Worcester, but I digress. I don't know why I never noticed this stuff before but was I ever pleasantly surprised! A Virginia based blend with some Perique and very little Latakia. I have smoked a similarly described blend from Peretti- British Blend- and that is exactly what it is, a very British blend reminiscent of the Dunhill blends, but this Bancroft Tower stuff from George Photaikis is nothing like it. Bancroft Tower has a certain zip, a tanginess and liveliness to it. Nothing like I have ever smoked previous, and I have smoked a pipe since I was sixteen- 36 years. I would say if you don't normally like perique, try this; if you don't normally like latakia, try this, it might change your mind about blends with these two tobaccos. This is not a mellow tobacco. It is sharp, lively, but not overpowering. When I gave kudos to Zack about this blend he said to me, "Knowing you, I knew that you would like this stuff." He was right, but, alas, I can't use this blend as my every day blend. I still prefer the mellowness of straight Virginias with a little perique, but, for me, this has become my favorite "switch-off" blend. For those smokers unfamiliar with the Owl Shop I would recommend looking into their blends. They are high quality and made with TLC on the premises by George Photaikis. As another reviewer mentioned, they tend to be dry but that's OK with me as who wants to pay upwards of $40.00 per pound for water?. If need be I'll add my own.
Update, March 10: I thoroughly enjoy this blend. It's medium in strength and long on flavor and I love the room note. The taste is tasty, but leaves me wanting more of that Latakia. I highly recommend this. Going to get some more today!
I'm a cigar smoker, first and foremost, and I'm gave into my intrigue with pipes and bought a corncob. I tried this blend...it's the second one I tried. I like it. Still looking for something more full flavored. Something that lingers on the palate. The roomnote reminds me of incense at church. Oh, and I love the Owl Shop. They are terrific and have a nice variety of blends that I'm going to try.
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