My Ongoing Penzance Project

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lloydcole

New member
Jun 20, 2019
32
1
I've been on a tobacco free sabbatical for a few years, but I've returned to the fold.

Sadly, much has changed in the interim - the war in Syria, Mclelland's retreat, etc ...
I was a Penzance smoker, I also enjoyed the Frog Mortons (and a few others) with Syrian Latakia.

Penzance was perfect for me. Part of me wishes I was a full English (manly) type, but I'm not. They are too heavy for my palette. I just smoked a bowl of Margate yesterday. I enjoyed it, it's great, creamy. delicious, but it's too big/strong for me.
Here's my plan - we need alternatives...

I have enough Penzance for a bowl a day for a while. I'll try to find more...

I'm going to smoke two bowls a day, when I can. One Penzance, and one pretender to compare. I'll only relate my experiences with blends that are in the Penzance ballpark.
Here we go.
Today was very encouraging.

Hearth and Home Heart of Darkness.

Paired with my Castello Old Antiquari Lovat (probably my best pipe).

I searched here but found no discussion on Heart of Darkness. Odd. It's lovely.

Great moisture level out of the tin. Light, delicate, sweet (not too sweet), and creamy. Second half of the bowl was delicious and really no that far from the Penzance ideal.
It's awfully humid here in New England, right now, so everything with a grain of salt.
I just went online and ordered another 8 tins from H&H.
Mote to follow.

 

wolflarsen

Member
Jul 29, 2018
223
12
Sounds like a fun project to me!

You might want to give Quiet Nights a try. To my taste it's about the same strength of latakia flavor as Penzance with about the same background incense thing going on.

 

danimalia

Preferred Member
Sep 2, 2015
743
21
Nice review. I haven't had Heart of Darkness, but Russ Oulette makes some fantastic Latakia blends.

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
25,923
95
I often smoke burley for its big flavor. For a while I went on a strong tobacco quest -- Nightcap, Tambolaka, SG rope, Five Brothers. The nic buzz was usually pleasant, but that was never my goal. In recent times, I have rotated through some medium and mild blends that I also enjoy a lot, and they make the strong blends all the more flavorful when smoked. One of my favorite more refined English blends is Nat Sherman 536, appealing to me because it has burley as a condiment with the Virginia base. Don't type caste yourself, and try around. You can use strong blends to boost milder ones, and mild blends to temper strong ones. You're the king of your pipe rack, so the only questions is, what appeals to you?

 
Reactions: alexander87

greeneyes

Member
Jun 5, 2018
101
5
One of the few Cornell & Diehl mixtures I enjoy is Sunset Harbor Flake. It's a "cross-cut" crumble like Penzance. It's one of the closest approximations to Penzance I've come across.

 

lloydcole

New member
Jun 20, 2019
32
1
Thanks for all the comments. All taken on board.
Tonight - Penzance in large Becker billiard vs MacBaren- HH Latakia Flake in Castello Old Antiquari Lovat.
Penzance wins easily.
The MacBarren is good. Enjoyable. It seems to tick all the right boxes without being wonderful. Somehow rather flat for my palette. I think for me, too little spice and too much VA to the fore. Not creamy. A little smokey in not a pleasant way. Note - I'm talking fractions here. It's not like I didn't enjoy it, but I asked it to stand next to my all time favourite. One final note - most blends I've enjoyed, but maybe not enthused about have tended to improve as the smoke progresses. Not so with the MacBaren. It was better than expected at lighting and then disappointed somewhat when I expected it would sweeten and fill out. It didn't.

Note - if the above sounds harsh, this won't be my last bowl. I'll certainly try another with a different pipe.

 

danimalia

Preferred Member
Sep 2, 2015
743
21
I find Penzance great in that it really does maintain a wonderful flavor all the way through the bowl. That's not always the case with Latakia blends, even those I really enjoy.
In regards to what Mso said, I agree. I find myself enjoying medium Latakia blends far more than I did before I went on my own hiatus.

 

lightmybriar

Preferred Member
Mar 11, 2014
641
33
I’m following along with great interest! Creamy is the biggest factor for me where Penzance always wins, no matter how close a taste can be matched. Based on your assessment of HH Latakia Flake, I’d say our tastes are pretty similar. Here is a list of things I’ve tried in my search for something close to Penzance:
Quiet Nights: Great flavor, but rather than “creamy,” I’d say this one is “chewy.”

Lancer Slices: My ideal Latakia blend so far. Gets close to Penzance, but not enough so to win the Gold Seal.

Pirate Kake: This one rates high in the creamy category, but it also tends to lack the body of Penzance. Plenty of flavor, though!

Maltese Falcon: Somewhat creamy, but much sweeter than Penzance. If Penzance was toast and butter, Falcon would be a cracker with jelly.
I’ve had many other Latakia blends, but these above were ones I sought out specifically for the purpose of trying to creep closer to a Penzance. Obviously tastes are incredibly subjective, so I don’t know if what I experienced would assist or guide you at all...just thought I’d chime in. Wish you well on your adventure!

 

lloydcole

New member
Jun 20, 2019
32
1
Thanks lightmybriar
"Quiet Nights: Great flavor, but rather than “creamy,” I’d say this one is “chewy.”

Lancer Slices: My ideal Latakia blend so far. Gets close to Penzance, but not enough so to win the Gold Seal.

Pirate Kake: This one rates high in the creamy category, but it also tends to lack the body of Penzance. Plenty of flavor, though!

Maltese Falcon: Somewhat creamy, but much sweeter than Penzance. If Penzance was toast and butter, Falcon would be a cracker with jelly. "
I'll be having a Quiet Night soon, vs Penzance. I've already tried it and I was impressed, if not blown away...
I have a tin of Lancers slices. I've never tried before but looking forward to.
Pirate Kake - where do I find this? I think I tried 5 years ago, but I didn't keep notes...
Maltese Falcon - I definitely tried 5 years ago and it didn't make 'the grade'. But I will try again.
Final note - the last 20% of the Penzance bowl in the Becker Billiard tonight was just sublime. It was less humid out than it has been recently. Maybe that helped. If I could smoke a pipe like that every night I'd never look for another blend. Ok I would, because it's fun to experiment...

 

lloydcole

New member
Jun 20, 2019
32
1
Today - Bengal Slices. In a lovely Ser Jacopo medium sized Dublin.

Initial feelings - Another lovely English a bit to much VA to the fore and a little too heavy for my taste.

But as the bowl progressed I was really won over. Not too heavy, subtly spicy, slightly sweet and just creamy enough.

It got better and better, spicier, more complex, softer and never became bitter. One of those bowls you wish would never end.

I'm not sure what the topping is or what it adds, but it's working for me.
Very encouraging. Really looking forward to trying the White Bengal Slices.
Q - How do Bengal Slices compare to Lancers Slices? I haven't tried the latter, yet...

 

danimalia

Preferred Member
Sep 2, 2015
743
21
I love Bengal Slices. For me, Lancer Slices doesn't really compare. It's missing the topping and any Oriental varietals. I'm in the minority, but I think Lancer Slices is a 2.5/4 star blend for me. Not bad, but badly missing the Turkish/Oriental influence and incense like headiness. Bengal Slices is an easy 4/4. Just my opinion, of course.
Actually, the White version is supposed to be topping free, so I think it may be a fairer comparison for Penzance.
I can't remember if I rec'd Watch City's Ahab's Comfort or not, but it's their take on Penzance. I think it's a worthy substitute. Certainly a bit different because of the different tobaccos and origins, but not far off, and worthy in its own right. Same kind of rougher crumble cake as Bengal Slices. Nothing I've found is as soft as Penzance.
Keep it up! It's fun to follow along with you.

 

lightmybriar

Preferred Member
Mar 11, 2014
641
33
My thoughts on Bangal vs. Lancers:
BS is brighter and sweeter, to my tastes. LS doesn’t have any topping that I pick up on, and leans more toward the darker end of the flavor spectrum. I would say that if BS were a steamed bell pepper, then LS would be the grilled equivalent.
Interested to hear your take on them!

 

lloydcole

New member
Jun 20, 2019
32
1
Back from a short trip. Took the Bengal Slices and the Penzance. Very happy I did so.
Back to the comparisons.
Based on my research, and my liking for Heart of Darkness I had high hopes for Heath & Home Ten to Midnight. It certainly looks and feels very Penzance-esque. But it ends there, I'm afraid. I smoked some last night in my Castello Old Antiquary billiard (which looks like a lovat to me). I kept waiting for the bowl to come alive. It didn't. No spice, just smokey and considerably heavier than I expected, closer to a full-ish English to me.
Today I tried White Knight, in my Ser Jacopo dublin, and while I wouldn't put it in the Penzance substitute class, I did greatly enjoy it. Quite the opposite smoke to TTM, light, spicy and subtle. Not creamy like Penzance or Quite Nights, but this didn't seem a bad thing... I assume it's a Balkan Sobrainie tribute. I never tasted the original, but I'm very happy with this.

 

danimalia

Preferred Member
Sep 2, 2015
743
21
I had almost the exact same reaction to Ten to Midnight. Kind of flat and boring to me. I usually really enjoy Russ Oulette's blends, so it was kind of a disappointment.
And yeah, White Knight is the tribute to Balkan Sobranie Original and the Black House is the tribute to BS 759.

 

lloydcole

New member
Jun 20, 2019
32
1
Glad it's not just me with the 10TtoM. Looking forward to trying Black House sometime in the next few days.

 

balkisobrains

Preferred Member
Jun 27, 2016
1,505
0
Interesting that you found Margate to be too strong as I consider it "Penzance Lite", but I do keep it next to the Penzance. You could try King Charles Mixture. It's lighter than either, but I also keep it next to the Penzance. Also you could try Wellauers Syrian Latakia in the red tin, although it's strong & you'd probably want to mix in an Ori & a VA, but I always thought it would be where to start if someone wanted to try & blend something like the 'zance. I've tried a number of blends that are "like Penzance" such as Red Rapparee, Special Latakia Flake, Quiet Nights, Star of the East Flake, maybe a couple others, but ultimately I was able to get a few bags of actual Penzance, & stopped searching for similar blends. I had heard about Plum Pudding, but never got around to trying it. But the Margate & the King Charles are what I grab if I want something similar, where there isn't much in them that doesn't taste like Penzance. If you can pick up a tin of the Wellauers Sryian & want to experiment, try that too. It seems like the real stuff's been popping up at retail more often over the past year, so maybe you'll just be able to buy some.

:puffy:

 

lloydcole

New member
Jun 20, 2019
32
1
"but can see that if you're trying to replace Penzance with it"

Not really... just experimenting with alternatives as smoking PZ everyday seems untenable. I don't need every bowl to taste like PZ ;)