By Bob Tate
Note: Portrait is a house blend that is sold by Davidus. Davidus is a tobacconist chain that is located in Maryland. I try not to do reviews of tobacco blends that are not available to everyone, but Davidus.com does have an online store where you can purchase Portrait. There is not much information on this blend, so I am somewhat taking an educated guess on the tobacco contents and I am listing what it looks and tastes like to me*. This blend is only available in tins. From the look of the tin and the tobacco, I am guessing that this blend is made by McClelland Tobacco exclusively for Castro Brothers (Davidus). – Bob
The tin aroma of this blend is of a heavy, smoky Latakia with a hint of sweetness and spice. I also am picking up on a very slight hint of plums far in the background. The moisture content upon opening is a little on the moist side and some drying time would not hurt. I let this blend dry out for a bit before smoking it. I loaded my pipe using the two step method and proceeded to the charring light.
On the charring light I was greeted by the nice, smoky scent and taste of the Latakia. It was a lot less smoky in aroma and taste than I was expecting based off of the tin aroma. There is a very nice, light citrusy taste accompanied by a light sweetness in the background. From the tin aroma I would have guessed this as a heavy English blend, but from the charring light I would call it a light to medium English. I finished lighting the pipe and settled in for the smoke.
At the beginning, I am picking up on the light smokiness of the Latakia and also a hint of, what I can only describe as, black coffee without the bitterness. I am also picking up on some slight sweetness and some citrus notes. This may sound like a strange combination, but it works well together and is very tasty and enjoyable. The black coffee and citrus never really seem to be there at the same time, but interchange with each other. Sometimes I’ll taste the coffee and other times it will be some citrus. So far this blend seems to be pretty complex and I have just lit it!
Around the 3/4 point the sweetness stepped up a little more towards the front and stuck around for awhile. The sweetness seemed to enhance the citrus notes a bit. At around the same time, the coffee taste faded into the background quite a bit. It turned into more of an aftertaste, but it was still noticeable. Around the half bowl point, the sweetness faded some and the smokiness became a little more pronounced. There was a light spicy-sweetness that accompanied the smokiness. This final change in taste stayed until the end of the bowl with the exception that the spiciness built up a little more as the end got nearer.
Portrait is a pretty complex and interesting blend. I really like it a lot. There are quite a few different changes in the flavors that keep the smoke interesting and tasty. It burned slow, cool, dry, and never even thought about biting. I would classify this as a light to medium English blend. If you enjoy the really heavy Latakia-bomb type English blends, then you will probably find this blend lacking some. But if you enjoy a light or medium style English blend, I think that you will really enjoy Portrait.
I Highly Recommend it!
Brand: Castro Brothers (Davidus)
Description: (Front) A fine, aged pipe tobacco – a superb Latakia mixture, smooth and cool-smoking, with just a hint of premium Louisiana Perique.
(Back) Cool smoking, naturally fragrant with smoky Latakia and pungent Perique, this fine English-style blend is a masterpiece of the blender’s art.
Cut: Coarse Cut
Tobaccos: Latakia, Perique, Virginia, Oriental*
Taste: Smoky, Citrus, Black Coffee, Sweetness, Spicy
Room Note: Tolerable