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Thoughts on Westminster?

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Davey

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It's on my list and I am close to pulling the trigger, but was wondering what the inside track thought. Anyone?












Davey the Quizzical
 

Justpipes

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Davey":tqc3btkt said:
It's on my list and I am close to pulling the trigger, but was wondering what the inside track thought. Anyone?












Davey the Quizzical
Never tried it Davey but if you are going to get some go ahead and order an 8 oz. tin from smokingpipes.com before the price goes up again. They have the absolute best prices on GLP blends.
 

JohnnyO

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It's a fine blend but ultimately not my cup of tea, I found it to be a bit sour a strong for my tastes. Maltese Falcon is much better IMO, but I'm sure I'm in the minority of people that don't like westminster too much
 

Carlos

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I need to get another 2oz tin and see if I can figure it out. It did seem to show some promise, but I may have given up on it too soon. I was very disappointed in the moisture level. But that didn't seem to bother others as much. I traded away several 8oz tins, but still have a couple in the cellar. So I better figure out what to do with it at some point I guess.
 

puros_bran

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The first batch of Westminster,was it just a year ago? ) was wet and muted to me,very balanced but muted.

The moisture level was adjusted at the factory or something because I love this stuff now.

It is a weird smoke because it is easy to taste the seperate components or not. They fit together perfectly but the flavors are easy to spot.

Westminster is like a well executed Salt&Vinegar Potato chip. Not in flavor, but in the merging of flavors. When eating a chip its easy to pick out the salt,the vinegar,and the potato chip flavor, but they fit together well enough that you end up questioning why you are spending your time trying to seperate them in your head.

The Va's and Latakia in the mixture is topshelf but the Orientals are amazing.

6 months tin time doesn't phase the ability to pick everything out. I hope long term aging doesn't but it probably will. Even if it does this will be a fine smoke.

I have two 1lb tins sitting in a box in the closet. That's the most of any 'tinned' tobacco. I guess that says something.
 

adauria

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FWIW, I love the stuff. Very nice for the English lover. The moisture level on my tin was just fine. I'm sorry I can't give you a better description than that, but it's been a few months since I've had any.

-Andrew
 

Wet Dottle

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Wet Dottle":7cl0vvwc said:
One of my favorites of all time!
Sorry, that wasn't very helpful. The best way I can describe it is "sweet latakia," but there is much more to it. It reminds me a lot of Butera's Latakia #1, if that comparison helps.

I'm really not good at reviews. :oops:
 

Davey

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Thanks gang. SP.com is where I was looking actually..thanks Mark :)


Looks like I am going to have to just pick up some 8 oz and fire away in that pipe you gave me Mark!
 

Justpipes

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Hope you enjoy it Davey!

Wet Dottle's description of "sweet latakia" is making me want to try some of it. I might just see if anyone has some at the show this weekend.
 

gospelman

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I love Westminster. I posted on the old Knox board, not long after Mr. Pease unleashed this lovely blend, that I had found the perfect English blend.

What I meant by that was, as was pointed out earlier, Westminster is a very balanced blend...but with enough Latakia to satisfy my taste. It is quite flavorful.

I remember reading that Greg was trying to re-create the old version of Dunhill's London Mixture. I never did get to smoke that, but I really did enjoy the most recent incarnation of LM. If Westminster is an approximation of the original LM, I sure do regret not ever having tried it.

On the bright side, we now have Westminster!

I would say if you like English blends at all, you'll like it.

Mike
 

Davey

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Mark,

Yes I will! And I absolutely LOVE that pipe!

Mike...you have sealed my CC's fate.
Thanks brothers.
 
A

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I didn't find it to be anything special. But then again, I find most Pease offerings to be overrated.
 

michaelskar

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I really really love Westminster...flavor develops nicely throughout the bowl. I haven't had any problems with it being too wet (I have read elsewhere that people have trouble keeping this lit...I haven't had this problem).
 

Wet Dottle

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michaelskar":p2trmw0k said:
I haven't had any problems with it being too wet (I have read elsewhere that people have trouble keeping this lit...I haven't had this problem).
Ditto!
 

Mongo

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For me, Westminster was a rare "swing-and-a-miss" for Greg Pease. There are many of his blends in my top tier, but Westminster didn't do anything for me. It was very popular when it was launched, so it's safe to assume that I was in the minority.

I do have a few tins put away to see if some age will improve the experience for me. Since I enjoy so many of Greg's blends, I generally buy three or four tins when a new one comes out. I don't mind taking the chance, as it's rare that one doesn't work for me. I have plenty of friends who will enjoy the blends that I decide to pass on.
 

LL

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This is a re-print (so to speak) of a review posted to the Knox board last year. With its demise, it might as well have a new home.

----------------------------------------------------------------


From an article in Karl Kruszeinicki's, Great Moments in Science:

Traditionally, we humans have five senses - they're smell, hearing, vision, touch and taste. But only two of these senses are based on chemicals - smell and taste. Smell and taste let us sample the chemicals around us for information. But smell is different from all the other senses in a very special way. A smell from your distant past can unleash a flood of memories that are so intense and striking that they seem real - and we're getting close to understanding why.

This kind of memory, where an unexpected re-encounter with a scent from the distant past brings back a rush of memories, is called a "Proustian Memory". It's named after Marcel Proust, one of the greatest novelists of the 20th century. He describes this phenomenon in the opening chapter of his novel Swan's Way, the first novel in his mammoth seven-part work, Remembrance of Things Past.
Proustian? How about, "Tobaccoian?" This little tour-de-force of our limbic system deserves no less an honor, in my mind. Forget swans and keeping scientists entertained, it has been one of the pistons in the engine of pipe tobacco marketing for the last quarter century... smokers lamenting the passage of their Great House favorites, and small-batch blenders trying to replicate them. It has proved an impossible thing to do, however. Proof? Today, the prices paid for tins of tobacco that can trigger a Tobaccoian Memory are higher than ever, routinely ten to fifteen times that of an equivalent-sized tin of current manufacture.

The reason for the digression before even starting the review is because Greg Pease willingly set himself up to be measured by this ruler. He openly declared that his latest blend, Westminster, was intended from the outset to be something his customers had demanded he attempt since his earliest days: a Tobaccoian Memory inducer. A mixture whose ingredients and processes didn't matter, only the result. Something that when lit would transport them back to 1973, hanging out with friends in that long-gone favorite smokeshop. Or re-live the best moments of that road trip in 1966 when the question was asked, "Will you marry me?" and she answered, "Yes... of course!" and cried.

If you've ever wondered why some people are willing to pay so much for an old can of pipe tobacco, that's why. Memories.

The blend that Greg chose for his project was the original, Dunhill-blended London Mixture. Both because it was one of the most popular blends of its day, and so would be welcomed by a large number of today's smokers if successfully replicated; and because he loved it himself. He's not known as the "Dark Lord" for nothing. Full English blends are part of his DNA.

So. Did he do it? Was he successful? More on that later. First, a tour of the tobacco itself.

The tin aroma of full and medium-full English blends usually falls into one of three groups. The fruity/fermented undertone; the burnt/toasty undertone; and those with a dry-ish, "sour and musty in a good way" scent. Westminster falls into the last group. Unloaded into a quart canning jar and fluffed a bit so it could breathe, I enjoyed simply smelling it as one does a snifter of brandy or glass of fine wine. Even though there's little correspondence between tin aroma and flavor when burning for any tobacco, that never stopped me from enjoying it for its own sake when it's pleasant. For me it is a component of the complete smoking experience.

Westminster's moisture level is on the high side, especially for a Pease blend, but that's easily remedied and certainly preferable to the opposite. If I were Greg I'd be mildly concerned that a smoker who was new to pipes might fill his bowl without letting it dry a bit, though. Steam-induced tongue bite, taste dilution, and overly frequent re-lights might then be blamed on the tobacco itself, instead of its readiness for smoking. (UPDATE: This is no longer an issue. Greg informed me that the moisture level of the initial production batch was indeed slightly high, and adjusted it immediately.)

The first pipe I chose for this review was a fully broken in, large and tall bowled Dunhill XL billiard that is used only for English blends. The filling method was a combined Frank/Ehwa one, where pressure is always applied at near right angles to the tobacco chamber, and the tangle of palm-held tobacco "worked" in from the sides, as opposed to pushed straight down.

The charring light was easy, and the weed was off to a steady smolder with three matches and two tamps. My first thought was, "Oh my!" Think Old Ironsides depth of flavor at 60-70% strength, with the remainder of the spectrum occupied by layers of exotic flavors and dark Virginia richness. It was also much "rounder and softer" than such flavor intensity would imply. Other reviewers have called Westminster a medium English, but my 30 year-long love affair with the style said Full.

As is the way of pipes, once full operating temperature was reached the flavor rounded still more, and then stayed steady. Cruising altitude. I had no problems keeping it lit even in the large bowl, and as the tobacco level dropped to below half, kept waiting for, but never experienced "turning the sour edge corner" that is usually part of the English world. With a good tobacco, it is never strong enough to be objectionable, just interesting; and with the best tobaccos it is barely noticeable. Westminster didn't do it at all, however, reason unknown. The flavor remained sweet (in its English way) to the end of the bowl, though naturally it got stronger near the bottom. All ash was fine powder, and there were no clinging bits to the bowl walls. It was a very "clean" smoke. The entire process was repeated in another Dunhill two hours later, a group 5 half bent this time, and nothing changed. Another wonderful smoke.

So. The $64,000 question. Did Westminster evoke the Golden Age of the great British blending houses, and induce the memory trick? The answer is YES, it did. Such a response cannot "lie," either. No amount of desire or will power can effect it. Everyone has many of these olfactory wonderlands buried away, whether the smell of your grandmother's perfume, or decaying weeds on a lake shore... and when triggered they have a mind of their own and take complete control. Off you go. For those who have smoked pipes long enough, the time machine awaits. For those who are younger and have no memories to trigger, you have something that's arguably better: Their initial creation.

Conclusion: This blend is Greg Pease's best English to date. He accepted the challenge of re-creating a beloved Golden Age flavor profile---Dunhill London Mixture circa 1960's/70's---and pulled it off. Smooth, round, huge flavor, full body, outstanding "flavor linger factor", no odd or "off" flavors, and the balanced combination of those things sufficient to trigger the memory trick. 10 out of 10. Naturally, the odds are that it will only improve with keeping, so what the smoking world will have then is maybe the best of the style that has ever been. This, in my opinion, is a remarkable achievement.

It would be foolish to recommend any full English to a new smoker or one who dislikes other examples of the style. The best Roquefort cheese is the world is still Roquefort cheese. But if you enjoy blends like Samuel Gawith's Commonwealth, Esoterica's Margate or Penzance, Butera's Latakia #1 or #2, or Pease's Odessey or Abingdon, you WILL like this one. I guarantee it. It is a masterpiece.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Follow-up 2-13-07: I was so thrilled by this blend that I have (big surprise) smoked it heavily since writing the original review. Several dozen bowls in over a dozen pipes. And each light-up is the same: supposedly a man can tell when he's truly in love with his wife by his unconscious response in the first instant he sees her. She takes his breath away, anew, each time. Westminster is the tobacco equivalent. Not only does the memory trick happen, but you realize what CAUSED such a "life memory" to become fixed in your brain in the first place... the flavors are simply amazing; and the depth, richness, and "roundness" of the delivery are unique among today's English offerings. In short, as astounded and delighted as I was upon first reviewing this tobacco, my opinion of it has only gone UP after extensive smoking. Not just world class, this mixture, I believe it sets a new world standard.
 

pipetongue1

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Thanx LL for re-prising this and adding too a fine blend, I only wish I had your Knowledge, you would think after 50 yrs of puffing, I might have learned something! Your Friend, Ken.
Pacem en Puffing! :tongue:
 

Davey

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Thanks alot guys...now I really n eed to pick up a pound.




Excellent reviews all.
 

Stefanos

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I'll bump this.

I tried this about six months ago and didn't think it was anything special. Just another Balkan, heavy on the latakia.

Last week I opened up my other tin and Wow what a difference! I found the sharp, high tang of the Virginia, the sour, back of the tongue Orientals and the Latakia playing bass in the background. Like listening to a symphony back when I had good ears.
 
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