Only had a sample big enough for a couple of pipesworth of smoking but I hope I can go to some length to describe my experience of this.
The aroma of the plug is one of mild latakia, it's dark colour and consistency is not too dissimilar to dark plug, it's not the easiest to turn into flakes. Lighting is no real problem so there seems to be little need for drying. The latakia is strong fairly early on but not unpleasantly so, if you like your smoke lat-heavy you'll be happy with this. The latakia softens during the smoke to a sweetness that lends itself well to the tobacco, it then develops earth tones with occasional hints of cigar and toffee.
This is a cracking plug and I can easily see myself getting more. The nicotine is not overpowering and it seems to be a latakia I can smoke all day. I went through the sample pretty quickly which provides my only regret, not purchasing more.
I noticed the Lakeland scent a little more here than I did in the ready rubbed version. The Cyprian Latakia is smoky, earthy, musty sweet and a bit woodsy with a mild back up from the dry, woody, earthy, herbal, floral, vegetative, slightly sour and spicy Orientals. The Virginias are citrusy and grassy as they form the base for the the components to play. I suspect a very mild sweet topping is here because I don't think it's all coming from the components. This is not a very complex English and the Latakia is a bit stronger here than in the ready rubbed version. It's also a little creamier, and very slightly sweeter, too, mostly due to how plugs are processed. While the plug version is stronger, and may satisfy those who want a heavier Latakia presence, the lack of complexity prevents me from giving this four stars. It took a little more time to prepare than some flakes, and really does need to dry a bit before smoking it. The strength is a step past the medium mark, while the taste is a slot past that level. The nic-hit is medium. Won’t bite or get harsh, and has fewer rough edges than the other version. Burns a little slow, cool and clean with a very consistent, mildly sweet and more savory flavor that translates the lightly lingering after taste and stronger room note. Leaves a little moisture in the bowl, and requires a fair amount of relights. Not an all day smoke.
I am completely enthralled to try this blend! I am, to be honest, always a little hesitant with plug tobaccos but seeing as I have fallen in love with Balkan blends I decided to "throw caution to the wind" and try some. I'm glad I did! To be fair, when I open this up the initial aroma is a very standard Balkan aroma, nothing marvellous nor malodorous, just the standard leathery Balkan scent. Although this is a plug, it seems a little more malleable than my previous experiences, which is something that normally deters me from plug blends; they just require to much pertinaciousness with the prep'. This is more like the consistency of "very thick Flake". Due to the consistency this one can be prepared without the requirement of a sharp knife, I can easily get mine set to smoke via vigorous breaking/rubbing by hand.
Once my bowl is filled it is time to begin and see what I think. Is it any good? ..... Oh yeah! Even though my pieces of the plug were quite large when filled, it's still superbly simple to get going: a few moderate touches from my lighter and "away we go"! The flavour of the smoke is divine. The Latakia isn't as pre-eminent as the unlit aroma lead me to suspect! The Latakia actually works sublimely along side the Virginia and Orientals, not overpowering them nor being overshadowed by them. A lovely change for Balkans! The Vitamin N is superb, maybe a little strong but not offensive. Room-note now again: like the unlit smell it's very stereotypical for a Balkan blend.
I think, because the Lat' is a lighter touch this would make a great beginning to the world of Balkans.
Oh my! This is without doubt the finest latakia mixture I've smoked in 30-odd years. The stuff comes as a pretty dense, apparently quite dry, plug. It's not easy to cut, even with a scary-sharp blade, but persist and you'll be able to make usable slices. I find it best if rubbed down pretty forcefully with a thumb in the palm of the hand, at which point it mysteriously seems to become less dry and to be more resinous and moist. It packs easily, takes a light well, and burns perfectly - slowly and steadily, but not needing constant relights. The smoke is dense and creamy right from the off. I don't suppose it's what one would describe as a "lat bomb" in that it's not overdone, but there's plenty of the dark leaf here. It starts out full of scents of old leather and resinous pine, and develops slowly to a bonfire/peppery flavour as the bowl progresses. There's no discernable bite, and enough nicotine to satisfy without sending me into a headspin. It smokes down to the ash without producing undue amounts of moisture or any gooey dottle. I feel compelled to compare it to Nightcap, though it's less strong, and also less complex - though not in a bad way: it's somehow simpler, and more straightforward. For all the fuss (and for some, enjoyable ritual) of preparing what is a pretty dense plug, this could become for me a regular all-day smoke. To summarise: it's robust; dense; and smokes perfectly with a wonderful flavour.
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