Dark, Mysterious and Full


Abingdon is the fullest Balkan style blend in the collection. It is rich and robust, powerful and forthright, yet still posessing subtlety and finesse. Dark flavours of wood and leather mingle with delicate undercurrents of sweetness, and deep earthy notes, while the oriental tobaccos provide hints of their verdant, sometimes herbaceous character. A big Balkan blend, reminding us once more of what these blends used to be. Because of the high percentge of dark and oriental tobaccos, it's recommended to pack Abingdon a little less firmly than you might a lighter blend.

Abingdon was released in July, 2003


Rich and Complex


Blackpoint is a luxurious blend of red and lemon Virginias, Cyprian Latakia, exotic oriental tobaccos, and a perfect measure of Louisiana perique for a lively, piquant finish. The smoke is creamy and lingering, engaging the palate with a mouth-filling array of wonderful flavours. Reminiscent of raisins and stewed figs, fireplaces in the fall, walks in the forest. Blackpoint has the most complex flavor profile of any blend in the Classic Collection, making it perfect for moments of reflection and contemplation. Wonderful at any time of day, but ideal for the evenings.

Blackpoint was released in March, 2003

Charing Cross

Traditional Balkan Style


Charing Cross is a traditional Balkan style blend of fine Virginia leaf, richly seasoned with smoky Cyprian Latakia, and spiced with the exquisite and exotic tobaccos of the orient. This is one for Latakia lovers. Hints of roasted cocoa beans, orange zest, green pepper and campfires. Charing Cross is slightly less full than Blackpoint, and somewhat less sweet.

Charing Cross was released in March, 2003


Balkan with Restraint


Kensington is a Balkan style blend with restraint. Bright and red Virginias are combined with richly flavoured leaf from the orient and Cyprian Latakia in perfect measure for a wonderfully balanced smoke. Slightly sweeter than Charing Cross, and not quite as full due to a more delicate hand with the Latakia. Spicy, with an occasional suggestion of orange blossom. Complex, but never ponderous. A slightly lighter variant of a classic style.

Kensington was released in March, 2003


The “English Breakfast Mixture”


Piccadilly is a provocative blend of several Virginia tobaccos, delicately spiced with Latakia, and finished with Louisiana perique. The alluring flavour is revealed in layers throughout the smoke. It's lighter and sweeter than the others, but still rich, with hints of cinnamon and citrus. The mildest of the blends in this collection, so far, Piccadilly is the perfect "English Breakfast Mixture."

I recently opened a four year old tin of Piccadilly, and the results of a few years' aging are fantastic. In the tin, there's a pleasant, aged tobacco aroma of dried apricots and nectarine, with hints of wood smoke, leather and coriander. The smoke is virginia sweet, elegant, and refined. It stimulates the palate without being intrusive, and it truly is a wonderful companion to the morning tea.

Piccadilly was released in March, 2003


Delicate and Delectable


Stratford is an enticing blend of delicately sweet brights and rich, ripe, red Virginia tobaccos, seasoned with just the right measure of fine Louisiana perique. The wonderfully nuanced interplay of sugar and spice is sure to delight the lover of this time honored combination. The room note is soft and subtle, the taste zesty and piquant. This is the one for the Virginia/perique fans.

Stratford was released in July, 2003

The Collection

The Classic Collection draws inspiration from some of the great tobaccos of days past. The blends offered are not meant as attempts to replicate them, but are like impressionistic paintings of those long-aged blends, designed to pay them homage and capture something of their essence. No casing sauces or added flavours are used - just pure tobaccos, carefully selected and artfully blended to bring out the best each leaf has to offer.

My Thoughts

These tobaccos have been out for several years, now, and I am still excited about them. Each stands solidly on its own, while helping to paint a larger picture. The blends range from a smooth, light, sweet Virginia, spiced with piquant perique, to a dusky, dark blend, rich with Cyprus Latakia. They evoke thoughts of some of the classic tobaccos that might have perfumed the London air in gentler times. They are presented in order of decreasing fullness. One is bound to suit your mood at any given time of day or night.

The Future

Charing Cross! Sixteen years in, I can say that it's absolutely amazing. Have a look at this entry in this entry in the Briar & Leaf Chronicles for a bit more on that.

Because of the quantity and quality of the Virginia tobaccos in these blends, each will age wonderfully. Of course, the blends are ready to smoke when you get them, and though delightful and exuberant in their youth, they'll stand strong against the tests of time, aging gracefully, gaining richness, smoothness and greater complexity as the years pass.

Blackpoint and Kensington, so far, seem to show the most amazing depth of character over time. After as few as 36-40 months, they've transformed into something magical. Abingdon and Charing Cross, being fuller to start with, will take a little longer to reach that same level of maturity. Piccadilly just seems delightful at every stage of its evolution.

Give some of the blends from the collection a try now, and cellar plenty of the ones you like most for continued enjoyment over the years to come. Open a tin every six months, or even more frequently, and explore the magic that time works. Five or six years in the cellar will reward your patience with a rare and wonderful experience.