From California's illustrious Greg Pease comes a series of expressive, natural-style pipe
blends. The flavours tend to be both dry and rich, and sometimes slightly piquant. Subtlety
abounds here, and slow smoking is often necessary to "get it."
Pease has also teamed up with Craig Tarler of Cornell and Diehl
to produce a series of collaborative blends under the "Two Friends" brand.
G.L. Pease blends:
G. L. PEASE'S CUMBERLAND
This mixture of mostly medium-brown tobaccos gives off an earthy aroma in the tin, which is
tempered by a little of that pleasantly sour, wine-like scent so common in Virginia flake tobaccos.
Every now and then, a whiff from the tin will remind me for a second of McClelland's well-known
2015 flake—I can't think of any other non-McClelland's
tobacco to have ever done this. However, that's an aside, and the comparison ends there. Cumberland
smoke is thick, a little spicy, and is bursting with simple tobacco presence. I say "presence"
because there's no one flavour within it that's particularly strong. Can one say "intensely
unflavoured?" Sure, there are moments where a little of the sweetness of Cumberland's Virginias
comes through, but the dominant earthy-nutty taste tells me, above all, that plant matter is
what I'm burning in my pipe. Despite a certain muted quality of the overall flavour, this never
becomes the slightest bit dull. The tobacco goes through an almost unnoticeable transformation
while smoking, gradually getting spicier, smokier and stronger. If there is any additional sweetness
that develops from the Virginias while smoking, it merely contributes to the mellowness beneath
the tobacco's strength, instead of making the smoke taste sweeter. This tastes very familiar,
like a highly concentrated version of a classic American Virginia-burley blend, yet there's
something unusual about it. First of all, classic Virginia-burley blends are never nearly as
rich as this. Secondly, Cumberland's dry, slightly smoky flavour reminds me of how a latakia-perique
blend can feel on the palate, even though it contains no latakia. Such a relaxing smoke (watch
your nicotine level rise), and I love the distinct, musty room aroma that this leaves behind
(though I have the feeling that not everyone would). '03
Nicotine Strength: 8/10
Flavour Depth: 9/10
Room Aroma: musty
- Haddo's Delight
G. L. PEASE'S HADDO'S DELIGHT
There's something attractive about Haddo's coarse ribbon-cut and the contrast between its blackish
and brown tobacco strands. The open tin offers a clean tobacco scent that seems lightly augmented
with something alcoholic like brandy and something earthy-sweet like cocoa. Though it's billed
as a Virginia-perique mixture, there's a peaty quality to its aroma that differentiates it from
others of that genre. You might think it smells like a good ol' natural cavendish. A plain and
nutty tobacco-smoke flavour is always present while puffing on a bowl of this, but there are
many gentle points of interest along the way. Small puffs feel big and fresh on the palate.
During the first third of the pipe, I often notice that brandy taste coming through. After a
quarter of the pipe, the smoke thickens and the sweet-and-sour of perique starts to develop.
At certain moments, this offers hints of dark, port-like sweetness. At other moments, it leaves
a meaty, salty taste on my palate and I forget about any sweetness that might have existed.
The whole becomes gradually more concentrated and spicy during the second half of the bowl.
I love its rich bitterness, which reminds me of a flake tobacco. Full-bodied and satisfying
like a big meal, it's easy to smoke this slowly, which is required to appreciate its nuances
(and to avoid being overwhelmed by its unapparent strength). The sidestream smoke is bright
and alive to the smoker, but earthy and somewhat musty to our non-smoking friends. This tobacco-lover's
tobacco burns down to a pile of fine light-grey ash. '02
Nicotine Strength: 7/10
Flavour Depth: 7/10
Room Aroma: musty
Two Friends blends:
- If someone had passed me a pouch of this with no description, I might have taken a sniff
and guessed that it's a chocolate- or carob-flavoured blend. But maybe not... a friend said
it reminded him of something his father would have smoked, which means that it has real tobacco
aroma. There was something familiar here that I couldn't place for weeks. Then it hit me—Amphora
brown smells a little like this. However, this zippy Virginia-perique mixture is much more
flavourful. A dark, musty background flavor recalls the complexity of an espresso shot in a
way that few Virginia mixtures do. A healthy natural sweetness surfaces to balance the spicy,
nose-tingling quality that often takes the front seat. It's strong on the palate and peppery
at moments, yet an illusion of coolness is somehow produced. Gentle sipping maintains this and
allows it to develop the satisfying fullness of dark chocolate as it smoulders. Watch out though;
impatient puffing will quickly cause it to burn hot and bitter. Don't expect the velvety, fruity
richness of some Virginias, but do be prepared for a pleasantly stout-like, filling smoke with
the zest of perique. I've noticed that I prefer this in a pipe reserved for sweeter tobaccos
in order to emphasize its underlying sweetness. It leaves the kind of woodsy and faintly aromatic
"pipey" scent in your moustache that you like. I've also enjoyed using this to spike
other tobaccos, particularly McClelland's #2050 Oriental Cavendish.