It’s been a while since there’s been a new GL Pease offering, and this time, we’re getting two: One is called "Temple Bar." The other is Regents Flake, which I’d like to tell you about today. Gregory Pease is a dark and enigmatic fellow as I imagine him; cloaked in long robes roaming the upper floors of some ancient castle, with dusty tomes, quill pens and lantern light flickering off brick walls. He’d be surrounded by countless jars of different shades of unknown leaves, labeled in Latin, large mixing bowls, sadistic wooden boxes with screw-presses and cranks nearby. The smell of his newest creation would grace the air, only interrupted by the joyous cackles of a mad scientist…
…okay, so that’s not exactly how it happens, I’m pretty sure. Greg and I have spoken a few times, and while dark and mysterious, I only wish he had an ancient castle in which to invite me.
He does, on the other hand, come up with enticing new creations, and has the knowledge and experience unmatched by anyone I personally know. I’ve learned a lot from the man, and there’s a reason why: he’s damned good at what he does.
Regents Flake took me by surprise. I’ll tell you why after I share the tin specs:
"A generous measure of fine Izmir leaf and layered on a sturdy foundation of mature red and sweet bright Virginia tobaccos, then pressed and allowed to mature and ferment in cakes before being sliced and tinned.
This is one for the lover of oriental mixtures, with their exotic and enticing incense-like aroma and brilliant flavour. Rub up a flake or two, fill a cherished pipe, and prepare for an exceptional smoking experience."
It’s very similar in nature, at least claims in text, anyway, to GLP Embarcadero. Embarcadero happens to be one of my favorite smoking mixtures of all time. The delicate but very much alive nature of it, the cleanliness and performance, the superb and exact balance of it. Will the Old London series of tobacco get its own version of what I believe headlines the Fog City Selection?
Regents Flake in the tin looks like Union Square, another GL Pease product. Union Square is a little lighter, and Embarcadero has a little more tortoise-shell appearance. Regents Flake somehow splits the difference being very even-colored, but the cut, moisture and presentation is, to no surprise, no different. The sweet-and-spice is obvious with a deep whiff of the tin–it smells delicious.
Rubbing out a flake and throwing it in a trusted briar, I’m reminded of why I like GL Pease cuts and press techniques–it loads and lights without much effort, no matter if you’re hurried and stuffing a bowl or going through a complicated ritual of loading your pipe. The tobacco takes a flame easily. Already I’m smelling the Izmir leaf and its unique, mellow spiced nature. It’s something that gets me compliments when I’m smoking Embarcadero near to others. It is at this point I realize that as a distant cousin to Embarcadero this might be, Regents Flake is a different animal. It’s spicier, a touch sweeter and not quite as meaty as Embarcadero. It isn’t to say this is a rough or a thin-smoking tobacco, it simply has a bit more chiseled flavor while being more character-centered than completely subtle and complex. This actually benefits the tobacco, as a more tea-like component is present, with a few more extremely pleasant and delicate prickles to the nose and tongue. Tea, in fact, was nearly a fireworks-worthy companion to this smoke; I chose a basic, unsweetened iced tea. There are passing smells of fruit blossoms, and tastes of light tarragon, basil and distant mace and/or nutmeg.
Regents Flake’s nicotine content is modest, but present, and doesn’t hit the senses like a freight-train. The bowl really opens up and presents itself wholly about midway, when the tars start to collect and the above mentioned qualities intensify. It’s an incredibly easy smoke, almost–too easy. The burn is consistent with minimal tamping, and has given me nothing but smiles the whole way down. Aging can only bring about more of the character.
I do believe this is a more "pro-smoker" kind of blend. Not that new pipers wouldn’t get it, in fact, I encourage those burdened with the notion that aromatics are the only place to start get something like this. The experience, however, is again where the story is discovered as you go, rather than having the whole plot spelled out in a predictable manner. Like Union Square, the first non-aromatic tobacco that set me free, this would be a great way for those looking to make a jump from the dessert table to the main course of what tobacco can be. The seasoned smokers will find Regents Flake appealing in that there’s an honest leaf in their pipe. There’s limited major variants of tobaccos and techniques out there to create these complex flavors, and this new blend shows there is plenty of room to make something remarkable.
Is it a replacement for Embarcadero? No way–and that’s a good thing. I knew it was most likely going to be good, and the surprise was how different it was. Regents Flake joins the Old London family of tobaccos proudly, with a clean, stately flair and approach, yet keeping in line with the spirit of what makes GL Pease offerings exciting. Greg’s takes on tobacco are always well-researched and experimented upon, from the bold to the subtle, and I personally look forward to them whether they are for me or not. This one is a keeper.
Something interesting is always about to happen when Greg announces new blends, and Regents Flake is a no different. You know, when the shutters finally fly open on the castle windows and a mysterious madman announces triumphantly in the downpour of a dramatic, thunderous storm: "It’s ALIVE!"