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Winner of the People's Choice Award at the 2012 John Cotton #1 and #2 Medium Throwdown. An initial burst of latakia gives way to the sweetness of Virginias. Cyprian Oriental adds a subtle hint of spice.

BrandLane Limited
Blended ByLeonard Wortzel
Blend TypeEnglish
ContentsLatakia, Oriental/Turkish, Virginia
ProductionNo longer in production
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Mild to Medium
None Detected
Mild to Medium
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Favorite Of 3 Users

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Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30171)
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant

The tin description above says this blend won the contest but I believe it won the People's Choice award, which I guess means that we "non-experts" chose it as the best of the bunch. Can't comment on that since I haven't smoked the other two, but this one is definitely a winner in my book!

Mostly lighter colored with some mottling from a bit of black latakia, this has an enticing latakia/oriental tin nose. Lightup does indeed highlight the latakia but it quickly retreats to the rear. I've read/heard that this is an oriental-forward blend but I don't agree. To my tastebuds, the virginia is front and center at all times save for the very bottom of the bowl, with the orientals riding shotgun. A beautiful naturally sweet blend with about a whiff-and-a-half of spice, similar to my admittedly foggy recollection of the blend it's emulating. Using my "good memory", this is the Highland Targe/Davidoff Royalty type of "balkan" rather than the Charing Cross/Sobranie type... mellow, nuanced, creamy, with a lightly sweet baked bread flavor. The ribbons burn perfectly and the nic is fairly low but there. When overpuffed, it brings the tingle but never gets piqued enough to snarl. Smoked at normal cadence, this is a very worthy blend and is highly recommended. Whether it properly mimics the John Cotton, I can't recall. Whether that matters is up to the individual. This is good enough to make that comparison irrelevant to me. And folks, one last thing... this stuff is cheap, cheap, CHEEEEEEP! For now!

16 people found this review helpful.

Lochinvar Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Lochinvar (78)
Mild None Detected Mild Pleasant to Tolerable

This is one of my favorite blends to come out recently. It has settled into the "comfortable old friend role" where no new or giant adventures are needed, just a good peacefull time.

It starts out with a nice medium latakia flavor, then settles into a sweet spicy phase as the Virginias and Orientals take center stage, with latakia providing background support, and pretty well stays that way till the end. Its hard to categorize this one, it really is just a nice Medium blend, providing good flavor, without ever getting too hot, bitter, or strong, and maintains and clean flavor profile.

Since I first tried this, every time I order tobacco I add a tin or two of this to the order, its just that good.

Pipe Used: Ashton Pebbleshell Billiard, GBD Rhodesian

Purchased From:

12 people found this review helpful.

SteelCowboy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
SteelCowboy (685)
Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant

When I first opened my first tin of LEO, I was greeted with a sweet and sour scent that I sometimes associate with some of the Dunhill blends and for me that's a good thing. The ribbons are mainly tan with just a small smattering of Latakia. In appearance it reminds me a lot of GH's #25. I agree with DK below that this is more of a Virginia forward blend with the support tobaccos IMO being added masterfully. Being such, I did find it to burn a little hot when forgetting to remember a proper cadence. LEO is sweet and slightly smoky. I don't recall it being as sweet when introduced at the Chicago show but the sample was small and it was a smoke fest! I am going to buck the trend a little and say that I think there is a tiny amount of manually added sweetness to LEO, and for me that just adds to the wonderful flavors that come from this blend. Lane has created a great blend at a great price!

9 people found this review helpful.

JimInks Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JimInks (3047)
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant

The lightly floral, lightly spicy, tart citrusy, grassy bright Virginia takes a little of the lead over the mildly tangy dark fruit sweet, earthy orange Virginia. They form the base of the blend as the lead components. The dry, moderately sour and buttery creamy sweet, floral, woody, very spicy Oriental hangs in the middle of being a condiment and a supporting player. The smoky, woody sweet Cyprian latakia is a condiment, and varies in its impact at times. You will notice every aforementioned aspect in every puff. The strength and taste levels are a little closer to medium than they are to mild, chiefly due to the spice content of the varietals. The nic-hit is a step closer to mild than it is to medium. Won’t bite or get harsh, but will tingle the tongue if puffed fast because of the spice, even though it is a cool burning product. Burns at a reasonable pace with a fairly consistent flavor as it easily burns to ash. Leaves little dampness in the bowl, and requires an average number of relights. Has a pleasant after taste that lingers just a mite. Fairly rich in taste for a mild to medium blend. Can be an all day smoke. Three and a half stars.


8 people found this review helpful.

Gentleman Zombie Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Gentleman Zombie (729)
Mild to Medium Very Mild Medium Pleasant

A Virginia forward English. The strongest nuance is the sweetness followed by smokiness from the Lat and a little tanginess from the Oriental. The Virginias seem to be of the bright variety and my personal preference would have been for some reds. The brights in this blend don't bite, but they make my lips tingle slightly. I seem to always have that reaction to them. Regardless, I found myself enjoying this blend. It's a very good smoke. There did seem to be a very mild added sweet touch. 3+.

Pipe Used: MM General, MM Country Gentleman

Age When Smoked: fresh

Purchased From:

8 people found this review helpful.

easterngray Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
easterngray (11)
Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Medium Pleasant

Though I liked LEO quite a bit my first go around, a year and a half of age on this VA forward tin has resulted in a magnificent blend; sweet, citrusy VA forward with the smooth spice of the orientals and the quiet backbone of a touch of Latakia; terrific stuff! Put a tin away for a year or two and see for yourself. Given its price, LEO is one of the best deals out there. Highly recommended.

Age When Smoked: 1.5 years

5 people found this review helpful.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30171)
Mild to Medium Very Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Being a fan of the lighter side of the English blend spectrum, I was anxious to try Leo. It has a lot more flavor than Standard Mix Mellow and much milder than Early Morning Pipe. Being Virginia forward, the latakia and oriental components are there in a supporting role. But each plays their part well. This is a very flavorful and satisfying mixture of quality tobaccos. A great all day blend for those who like their pleasure on the milder side. Be careful, as this blend tends to burn a little hot. Well done!

Purchased From: Smokingpipes

5 people found this review helpful.

King Weed Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
King Weed (228)
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium Very Pleasant

I haven't smoked the other two competitors in the John Cotton throwdown, but this one strikes me as very similar to the original. In the old days I smoked #1, #2 and #'s 1&2. I never cared for #1 as it was way too light for my tastes, but I loved #2 and smoked it until it was taken out of production. This left the 1&2 blend and I smoked it off and on until it also disappeared. It was never my first choice among englishes although I thought it was quite good. I always seemed to prefer blends with a little more backbone, like Dunhill 965 or Balkan Sobranie 759.

Moving forward to the present, we have the throwdown blends. I knew that Leo Wortzel of Lane Ltd. had been successful in his Leo blend as soon as I opened my first tin. Leo looks quite similar to the original, has a tin aroma very similar to the original and smokes quite like the original. Therein lies the issue - as the original blend was good but not my first choice, so its the same with Leo. The current blend is a little too light blond, a little too light on the latakia and smokes with a very high register. Today I would prefer something like Hearth & Home's Ambassador's Blend or McClelland's Wilderness - more complex mixtures with a higher latakia content and something toasty and brown in the middle range.

There is nothing wrong with the Leo blend. It just lacks complexity. But I like it and have put tins away to see how it will age. I'm smoking a tin right now and am beginning to use it in microblending - recommended with three stars.

Pipe Used: Roush, Parks, Kaywoodie

Age When Smoked: current

Purchased From: pipes and

Similar Blends: John Cotton 1&2.

5 people found this review helpful.

Mr. Big Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Mr. Big (321)
Mild Extremely Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

I'm sorry, but I don't remember the John Cotton blend this was suppose to replicate, that said, this is a good but not a great blend . It is a Virginia forward blend with slight Oriental support( not "Traditional English" as advertised). When you first open the tin you get an "Olive Brine" scent tin note, very similar to Mac Baren's HH Mature Virginia's tin note. The blend is mild and has a sweetness from the Virginias and without bite, however, the blend tends to get ashy and hot as you reach the half bowl and the smoke never develops into anything interesting. Overall not bad, but just boring, why buy again?

3/12/14 Updated- I just revisited this blend after about 3 weeks and have found a few changes. The tin note is gone, which is fine with me , but when tried in a tall cob, the smoke is sweet , like a honey topping, isn't ashy or hot and no bite. It really only shows the Virginias with minor Latakia support. I really enjoyed this as a mild sweet smoke. However , when tried outside in a calm breeze and in an Ozark Maple the smoke was flavorless hot and ashy. My recommendation would be smoke this in a cob and stay out of the breeze . I'm moving this up to three stars, a little more body and it would be 4 star

PS I just noticed "King Weed" following me again !!!! Uncanny , liked your review and agree. I also think reviewer "DK" nailed the review.

Pipe Used: cob

Age When Smoked: new/ 3weeks old

Similar Blends: Davidoff Royalty, but sweeter.

4 people found this review helpful.

SmoothingIt Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
SmoothingIt (5)
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild Pleasant

I purchased a tin of LEO from a local B&M tobacco shop. They recommended it based on my personal preferences; I think I mentioned Penzance and Squadron Leader for guidelines.

Unlike most tins that I purchase, when I opened LEO, it was already at a decent moisture level. Most tins require a few day dry out period but I smoked my first bowl of LEO the day I opened the tin.

There's little remarkable about this smooth blend. No flavors are overpowering. However, every bowl I smoked was a pleasant experience. As I got further into the tin, I found that I was always excited about smoking LEO. Is it a Penzance? Is it a Squadron Leader? Absolutely not. But it is most definitely a wonderful smoke.

If you're the guy that's never happy with ordinary and is always looking for a new and more exciting experience, maybe LEO isn't for you. There's nothing flashy about it. However, if you've learned to enjoy the long-lasting joy of something that fits just right, give LEO a try. You just might find a life-long partner.

4 people found this review helpful.

Clive Moses Apikouris Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Clive Moses Apikouris (41)
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant

It believe that it is good to challenge one's prejudices. Some time back from the description of the contents I may have not held much interest in such a blend. However since I feel in love with Presbyterian Mixture after finding this tobacco and noticing it's incredibly low price I had to order some and give it a go. What a treasure of smoking pleasure this surprise offering provided. I find myself smoking it daily. Leo is not too strong but delivers an intensity of satisfying flavor and is mild to the tongue. Savory sweet and slightly spicy with a consistent seasoning of sophisticated smokiness this golden ribbon cut with streaks of dark brown tobacco is a current favorite. I don't like tobaccos with an overpowering dose of nicotine and while the N is present it is in proportion and unobjectionable. I've tried it in a number of pipes and seems to consistently smoke dry with little exception. Too bad that I never had the opportunity to try John Cotton, the mixture that it emulates. I'm ordering up more of this wonderful smoke as my tin is quickly evaporating. Very highly recommended. Four stars plus.

4 people found this review helpful.

Heliumbro Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Heliumbro (13)
Mild None Detected Mild to Medium Tolerable

(I am a newer and irregular pipe smoker. My reviews are subject to my preferences and tastes and pipe smoking habits)

The description is pretty spot on for this blend.

Opening the tin, you find a bright ribbon packed tin of yellow, orange and some mixed black. The tin note is a soft but noticeable Latakia, smoked meat aroma. Not as strong as any other English/Balkan blend I have purchased. Packed it light and tried to smoke it slow. The initial taste of BBQ Smoke is encased in a nice somewhat rich and Sweet flavour. The Latakia appeared to disappear within the first few minutes and was a mostly Sweet and Spicy blend. The spice was something along the lines of cinnamon or allspice, somewhat distinct but then again muddied. I kept searching for the flavour and would start puffing too hard. This blend can get a little bite to it. Overall, there wasn't anything 'stand out' flavour wise for the overall smoke, but it had these great starting moments of interesting flavours, then settled into a medium bodied, sweet and earthy tobacco. Left a little smokey/ashy after taste, but not too strong. If I was an everyday, several bowls a day pipe smoker, I could see this being an all day blend. I may think about cellaring a few tins, and at the price currently, there is no reason not to. A nice, Virginia prominent, mild English Blend. Could be a great place for those curious about English blends but only wanting to dip one toe in safely.

Pipe Used: Estate Pickwick Arms Briar Billiard

Age When Smoked: new/Fresh

Purchased From:

3 people found this review helpful.

bob323 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
bob323 (46)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Good medium Balkan Blend...To my taste, none of the individual ingredients over rides the others...Nothing here to make your eyes pop...A good satisfying medium Balkan Blend which should do yeoman's work as an all day smoke...Very dependable...Would definitely buy again.

Pipe Used: various to fully test

Age When Smoked: just purchased, did not cellar

Purchased From:

2 people found this review helpful.

puro66 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
puro66 (73)
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild Unnoticeable

First let me say that I have a positive attitude toward the idea of currently producing blenders offering up "new" blends inspired by old blends no longer being produced. This was the People's Choice winner of the John Cotton Throwdown. One thing that is of note is that the tinned version of this is being manufactured and packed in Denmark.

The tin aroma is quite pleasant and inviting with the virginias and orientals dominating. It is a blonde to brown ribbon with minor black flecks. The tin description suggests an initial burst of latakia but for me it was more of an intial whisper of latakia which quickly gave way to the virginias at the forefront with orientals quietly playing in the background. There is a bit more spice at the 3/4 bowl mark and ends with a tad bit of sour. I found the moisture content acceptable right out of the tin and it burned dryly with very few relights.

This is clearly a blend made with top notch tobacco but with so many good blends available there is nothing here which stands out for me as being exceptional. I have no qualms about suggesting others give it a try but it will not be added to my future orders.

2 people found this review helpful.

Young Piper Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Young Piper (304)
Mild None Detected Mild Tolerable

Having never had the John Cotton blends, i have nothing to base my memories on which to me means i am reviewing LEO based on its own merits.. I knew just as soon as i opened the tin that LEO would be a very light English blend. Standard easy to loans ribbon of Virginia, Latakia Orientals. The Virginia leads the way most of the bowl but the condiments do show up around mid bowl. I prefer a much more stout bowl so mixed in some Elizabethan Mixture that added the perfect amount of Perique, There is a niche for a mild English type blend like this and as i have stated before i applaud Leonard Wortzel VP of Marketing & Product Development for Lane for being so involved in our hobby (his business) and recommend LEO for a refreshing light yet tasty English,

1 person found this review helpful.

Black Sheep Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Black Sheep (25)
Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

There is a lot of taste here; however, it doesn't smell like anything special until it's lit - so do not be put off if at first the tin note does not impress you. Leo seems to smoke well, burns pretty fast and evenly in the bowl. Like the previous reviewer stated, there is a bit of spice in this, gives Leo a unique character that I personally appreciate. I have paired this blend with coffee in the morning and very much enjoyed the combination.

Pipe Used: Britannia - Straight Billiard

Age When Smoked: Newly Opened Tin, then again aged

Purchased From: Pipes and Cigars

1 person found this review helpful.

Knightsmoker Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Knightsmoker (218)
Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

I have to say that this is a good blend. In fact it is like many Lat. blends in the mild to med. body range. Perhaps that is the issue for me. I have never had the pleasure of smoking John Cotton's blend and have nothing to compare it to but this is just another average blend IMHO. Lat is forward to start with but falls behind the VA's and Orientals. There is a musty note that is slightly sweet that I assume comes from the Orientals. The VA's are sweet too and they really take over at about mid bowl. The lat, is still present but in the background for me. It was a rather predictable smoke. The smokey, musty/tanginess with a little nuance here and there but really a little boring after a couple of bowls. There was also some kind of top note that I get throughout the bowl. My best guess is clove or allspice maybe. Not heavy at all and not bad but not something I would expect the Orientals to provide either. The price is nice right now but I don't see the need to revisit this one. There are other mild to Med. range blends that are much more exciting. SG's Skift comes to mind for example.

1 person found this review helpful.

JustinCarcerated Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JustinCarcerated (99)
Mild None Detected Mild to Medium Unnoticeable

This blend added immensely to my understanding of both English blend balancing as it pertains to the proportions of Vas, as well as in bright Virginia versus red Virginias. While there is a base tin note involving latakia, such as Nightcap, its visibly loaded with primarily tans and blonds.

Packs very well, perfect slightly tacky moisture, uniformly ribbon...albeit one inch long twig (bordering on a branch really). This blend smokes cool, burns slow and easy. Its relatively mild, I noticed no real nic hit at anytime in my experience with Leo.

Taste-wise Leo is Va forward sweet. Some interplay b/t lats and orientals, changing throughout bowls. All in all worthy of attention, I would think it would be attractive to both english and Va lovers.

I intend to cellar a few tins soon, as the Va content should lend this blend well to aging.

Pipe Used: small bowl Sav, B&C,

Age When Smoked: 6 months

Purchased From: Pipes&

1 person found this review helpful.

constantsmoker Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
constantsmoker (65)
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant

A nicely balanced, 'inoffensive' latakia blend tolerated by friends and family. Perfect for those times when one simply wants to relax and contemplate one's navel, and not have to deal with a heavy-on-the latakia concoction. A pleasant mild and mellow dose of Latakia ably supported by fragrant Orientals.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

balkan_boy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
balkan_boy (49)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

I just smoke my first bowl of it while I write the review. I'm somewhere at the middle of the pipe, but I got enough impression in order to write a few words. This is more of a Virginia than Latakia blend. Latakia stays hidden and if you don't pay attention, you might think you smoke a pure straight forward VA. And the bright "grassy" one too. The exact grassy note that is present in the new Germain's Balkan Sobranie. But here it's much more present and makes the main course. There are also Orientals, one can almost detect them, and Latakia of course, but in all the smoke is somewhat Virginyish all the way.

Not bad, but if you like the Oriental spiciness and Latakia smokiness, and expect to find them here, you're gonna have a bad time.

I'm gonna give this 3 stars, just because I've smoked only one bowl, I might get to like it in the future.

Edit: I'm halfway through the tin, and have smoked nothing but that for the past days. It really is a good smoke, and I'm tempting to give it 4 stars. I just finished a cob with it, and didn't even wait to cool down, packed another bowl immediately. Moreover I even started to like that virginia note that bothered me in the new Balkan Sobranie. Good smoke, really good smoke.

Pipe Used: Savinelli bent Dublin

Age When Smoked: Fresh

Purchased From:

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