The Punchbowle is a classic mixture, carefully blended with Virginia and a good presence of latakia. It is a well balanced blend, which smokes cool and has enough body to keep the taste buds occupied without affecting your day to day activities. A great regular smoke for the experienced smoker.
Notes: Blended for John Sinclair Ltd., originally produced in UK by Murray & Sons Ltd.
Unfortunately, this new Punchbowle is not not even close to the old Murray's rendition. The Virginia in this one is mild and somewhat flat in taste. The Latakia presence, while in the smoke, does not offer the rich, deep and smoky tongue lathering that the Murray's era Punchbowle offered. On it's own merit, this one is not a bad smoke, but I won't be seeking anymore.
This tobacco is mostly virginia with a pinch of latakia and I cannot detect any added flavours in it. As you light up your pipe, the latakia seems to remain mostly in the background, but it will come up to the forefront as you go past half of your bowl. If you don't let this tobacco dry a little bit before packing your pipe, it will smoke hot in your bowl. The tin note does not give you a clear indication this is an English mixture, but it is rather pleasant anyway. In terms of its nicotine content I'd say it is rather mild, so this could be a great smoke to kick-start your day. I found it very easy to keep this tobacco lit in my bowl, maybe, because of its ribbon cut. I am not overtly impressed by it, but I have thoroughly enjoyed it anyway.
Edit1: I have smoked a few more pipes and I really cannot find any faults in this tobacco. The previous reviewer seems to have had a very bad experience with it (he threw it in the bin and all), but I really cannot understand it. Like I said before, this tobacco might not be all that impressive, but it is a good smoke anyway. For one thing, it burns quite evenly in your bowl and has enough latakia in it to keep you wondering every now and again.
Edit2: I have been smoking this tobacco all week and my tin is starting to empty. I believe I have a better appreciation of it now. It sort of reminds me of some cavendishes to a point I tend to forget I am actually smoking and English mixture. As I pass it through my nose I get a hint of cased tobacco which is rather sweet, but difficult to describe. If I take these characteristics into account, I'd say this mixture is quite balanced and easy to smoke. I like to smoke rather dry tobaccos to avoid tongue bite and excessive condensation, but I haven't been able to avoid some dottle forming at the end of my bowl (all moist and soggy). Because of this, I'd say don't use bigger bowls to smoke this tobacco.
Quite tragic really. This is the first opportunity I have had to kickstart reviews on a particular tobacco and I think it's going to be a bad one. Nevertheless, I must maintain my pretentiously ambiguous journalistic integrity and give this tobacco the full force of my opinion, even if it means putting folk off who might like this or a reduction in sales of this stuff. Aw, who am I kidding? I'd be lucky if anyone to pay attention to me anyway.
Anyway, down to business. I bought this otc to keep me going to till I received an internet order of more amenable stuff. Was a little surprised on opening, the aroma made me wonder if I had got boot polish by accident, a quick peek at the ribbon (this is a ribbon, not broken flake as described above) proved that I had got the right stuff. Packing and lighting were easy as per normal. First smoke was not impressive, there were odd hints of a nice tarry flavour with a dash of cream here and there, but general, pretty hacky stuff. I thought this might be down to residue from my previous smoke in my pipe, even after a good pipe cleaning, so I kept going. Sadly I was much mistaken. The flavour actually got worse in subsequent smokes, even a change of pipe did nothing to change that. After ten smokes, I gave up and took the very sad step of depositing the remains in the bin instead of giving it the viking funeral pyre that any half decent pipe tobacco richly deserves.
Now I hear you say, ten smokes is hardly enough to judge a tobacco and, normally I would agree. I like to think that a full 50g tin is required to properly get to grips with a tobacco, discern it's quality, it's flavour, get the measure of it. However, With every tobacco I have tried, I can firmly say that, by the fifth smoke, I pretty much know whether or not I like a tobacco. After that it's just working out the fine detail. So, yes, ten smokes is enough. One star is about as good as it gets.
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