But first a little restoration update...
This Duke of Dundee is now restored and I'm loving it. Very light, bent—perfect clencher. I'm all about it. The other two from my haul last week are on the backburner. They each have some thinning from char around the rim of the bowl so I'd like to try and cut my teeth on reconstructing. I'm excited to expand into something new but it'll have to wait until I get some briar dust and files.
Onto the blends—
|Amphora Burley Blend is, as the name indicates, a Burley dominated pipe tobacco, in which a touch of Virginia tobacco has been added for the perfect balance of the blend. Amphora Burley Blend is a harmonious blend based on more than 150 years of experience of tobacco blending.|
I've been interested in smoking Amphora the last few months. It's a Mac Baren brand, and when Per Jensen came in January to develop a few new mixtures for Sutliff, he was kind enough to give me some Amphora Virginia. It quickly grew on me and became a regular on my shelf, so it's about time I see what else I may be missing out on.
It's a nice, dark ready rubbed, with some light brown strands.
The aroma is unique—cocoa and woodsy. I lay some out for about forty minutes or so to air out, but it doesn't come too moist and proves to be an easy pack.
It took me a few lights to really get it started but once I did, I think I only ever lit it once or twice more down to the heel. Such an easy, cool burn.
The Burley has a natural cocoa sweetness and bready flavor, it really translates from the bag note in a satisfying way. I don't notice much from the modest amount of Virginia included, a slight tang, but I also think that chocolaty taste might be a little bit of Virginia sweetness interacting with the toasty, nutty Burley.
It's smooth but has a slight presence in the sinus, probably that Kentucky which brings an ideal, mild spice. It has a nice and nutty end into the heel, the earthiness swells just a tad.
Although it's a Burley focused blend, the nicotine doesn't have a great impact. Just right for this smooth, fairly straight-forward smoke.
My impression of Amphora Burley hasn't changed all that much over the last few days. It's very consistent and has the right amount of "other things" going on with the Dark Fire and Virginias to make it interesting, but not complicated. It's a similar fulfillment that I got from Amphora Virginia—not boring, but a blend that you can just light up and idly enjoy.
I have noticed I especially like how Amphora Burley's profile presents in smaller bowls. I get more of a Virginia grassy note that comes through and wonderfully interacts with the earthy, nutty Burley. Pictured above, I have Amphora Burley Blend packed in my Lorenzetti Avitus 95, one of my go-to pipes when I want a smaller bowl.
|A rich flavoured blend of fine and dark Virginia tobaccos with a touch of Louisiana Perique for a touch of zest.|
I've featured quite a few Virginia/Kentucky blends in the weeks passed—I was happy to get into a new VaPer this week! I didn't even realize my last VaPer for the column was Escudo, the very first of the series. As much as I have enjoyed getting a little more acquainted with that Dark Fired Kentucky, VaPers are sort of my bread and butter, and I've heard great things about Elizabethan.
I really love that Virginia hay and dried fruit aroma. It's not an unfamiliar tin note, but one I'm always happy to be reunited with.
The ribbons are cut thin, some of them somewhat long which I quite like. For my first Elizabethan experience, I took the opportunity to smoke my recently restored Duke of Dundee. That's apropos, right? Dukes? They're in the aristocracy, yeah?
Okay, yes they are, I looked it up. Also I now know that Elizabeth I's reign ended with the Union of the Crowns, bringing England and Scotland under one monarch. Dundee is in Scotland. So I guess you could say I have my own sort of Union of the Crowns right here.
Sorry my Early-Modern English History is lacking. My tip to monarchs (no doubt some read this column, right?) if you want to be memorable, you can't all have the same three names, it gets very confusing. Get a Ringo in there.
Okay, I've taken this way off the rails, back to tobacco.
Moisture is just right. The ribbon is springy so I pack a bit high, give it a char and tamp, and we're good to go.
[Hello, I feel the need to interrupt this entry from the formatting/editing stage to acknowledge what a shame it is that I didn't feature the Mac Baren logo in my picture of my Lorenzetti. It was packed with a Mac Baren tobacco, the pipe was sitting in the Mac Baren tray! A missed opportunity. Anyway...]
A nice fruity, plum taste right away, supported by grassy, earthy notes. The spice pretty quicky starts to develop but it never gets too high. I like that. I generally expect a blend with some spice to deal it out gradually, but it's nice having a brief climb in the first 1/4 - 1/3 of the smoke, then plateauing.
My impression right now is that this is the sort of blend that varies smoke to smoke. Of course all pipe tobacco can be that way, what with all the factors that shape the experience, but some mixtures seem to be more inclined. Which isn’t a negative thing. I wrote last week regarding the consistency of Capstan:
I love a wildcard friend that keeps you on your toes as much as a predictable friend that gives you something solid to hold onto.
Not that I’d necessarily call Elizabethan a “wild card”, but the Perique lends a pepper quality that seems to vary.
I should caveat however, most of my smoking opportunities have been outside battling the wind which has been a menace this week, so that could very well be the true “culprit”. Regardless, there’s only been one smoke I haven't enjoyed and that was entirely because the wind stoked that ember beyond any hope of a decent burn.
For me, lighting up Elizabethan always calls for a bottle of water on hand. I try to make a point to have water with any blend, but the peppery spice with this nasal presence, I notice that if it seems the flavor side is ebbing, a few sips of water washed over the palate can restore those more subtle notes.
The wind decided to take a break for me to enjoy a nice afternoon sitting out in the sun with my pipe and sketchpad.
I loaded my Longchamp Bent Billiard and had a wonderful smoke.
I think Elizabethan is ideal for VaPer lovers who like to turn up the spice throughout the day. The Perique isn’t especially light, it’s just an amiable all-day smoke that you can trade in the evening for a super-Perique blend if that’s your style.
Until Next Time…
Well, next time may be a bit longer than a week away. I'm not positive how long between columns yet, but releasing these weekly is a bit rushed. I'm hoping that having some more time to sit with the featured blends will make for something more thoughtful. I guess we’ll have to think of a more accurate name too!
As always; feedback, advice, requests, corrections, friendly hellos—GregR@TobaccoPipes.com.