If current events have shown anything about humanity, it’s about our attitude. Sometimes it’s admirable and resilient other times it’s cringey and embarrassing. My attitude has struggled through simple activities like mustering the motivation to take out the trash, and so choosing a tobacco that I’ve had problems within the past would either prove a problem for writing a review, or challenge my ability to open my mind as well as my taste buds. I was not looking forward to this review, but that’s the last I’ll speak of it in that way—reading the words of a grown man bitching and complaining wouldn’t be my idea of time well-spent, either.
Peterson, purveyor of fine tobacco and Irish pipes, took over some of the better-known Dunhill branded tobaccos. Since Dunhill called it quits, a few things have changed with these tobaccos, and some aspects are different. Elizabethan Mixture is one that Peterson kept alive through the transition, and with good reason: it’s a popular tobacco. I first had it about seven years ago at the pushed suggestion of a few older pipe smokers, many of which claimed it was “[one of the] only tobaccos sold by Dunhill that still represents the original.” I was about as convinced as someone who had been told store-bought pie is exactly the same as homemade. My attitude probably wasn’t the best, but I enjoy trying tobaccos. Besides a “little Perique” (as stated by my sponsored pushers), there was nothing in Elizabethan Mixture that put me off, so I dove in. The experience wasn’t pleasant. I found it grating, biting and more akin to smoking newspaper than tobacco. So why on earth would I do this again?
Because life promises one thing: there are no promises. Living is a dynamic and wacky ordeal, and one day is not the same as another. Tastes change. Tobaccos change. Hell, even attitudes change.
One of the most prominent changes in Peterson’s Elizabethan Mixture is Peterson’s name on the top of the tin graphic. Peterson in my opinion did a great job not mucking with the spirit of the old Dunhill artwork and fonts, nor cluttering them up. As I began to revisit Elizabethan Mixture for the first time since Peterson took it over, I opened the tin and it smelled precisely how I remembered. The tobacco has a good scent, and it smells simply of tobacco. It’s fig-like, raisiny, slightly sweet and with a bit of sour top-end whiffs. The different Virginias contained within are evident, and the Perique a little more hidden throughout. The color of the tobacco is warm and mottled, an attractive mixture that weaves in the tin through the tightly-packed ribbons. The appearance, smell and cut of the Dunhill products we’ve had over the last decade or two has been fairly consistent. Scandinavian Tobacco Group is no stranger to making good tobacco no matter what brand is represented, and they churn out a couple of my favorites, one of which was also adopted by Peterson: Early Morning Pipe.
Packing the Elizabethan Mixture into any range of pipes is a straightforward affair—any way you like. I tend to lightly ball ribbons such as these in peanut-sized orbs and load them up back to back, top off with a little loose stuff, and light up. The first (re)puffs on a few bowls Elizabethan were frightening at first. I’m not even sure why, was I that traumatized some years ago by it? Each time I lit up a different pipe I had similar reactions—and they were relatively unfounded. It’s a brutally honest tobacco, and it tastes and smells like a mixture of Virginia and Perique. If there’s any binding or topping in the form of sugars it’s so minimal that you’d find more sweetness by licking a wood plank. In fact, the woody-quality of the flavor is what the appeal seems to be. After a while, I began enjoying it. It smokes dry in flavor and body, and the Perique is minimal at best. In fact, I’d bet safely a similar amounts of Perique is used in Elizabethan as Latakia is in Early Morning Pipe: it’s a light seasoning rather than a component.
Midway through the bowl the Perique reminds the smoker it is in there, especially if a little smoke is allowed to pass up the back of the nasal passage and pushed out through the nostrils. I love “snorking” or proto-haling, but I have found the best results come from midway through the bowl. It’s especially bold and delightful with such ingredients (not featured in this mixture) Kentucky Fire Cured tobacco, and a bit of an effervescent sensation when Perique is smoked. In my past experiences with Elizabethan, the problem may have been with me: we learn to smoke differently as we progress, change routines, switch pipes and whittle down technique to a handful of essential basics rather than complex rituals. Halfway through the tin, I eventually discovered the halfway point in the bowl of Elizabethan is where some of the friendly spirit of this tobacco is found rather than a bitter demon from hell I summoned a few years prior. Eventually, I dare to say I began enjoying this tobacco. I wasn’t falling in love with it, but I was starting to understand a perspective and I could genuinely see the appeal. Flavors are still signature in a raw and wood-like way, but there’s a distant rye quality (the grain, not to be confused with caraway seed), a bright sourness that reminded me of a farmhouse beer, and of course that Perique keeps the entire palate from getting bored at the very least.
Elizabethan Mixture likes to be smoked very slow, or rather, I like to smoke it barely smoldering. Getting the tobacco lit in the beginning isn’t difficult, but once momentum is built and lighting frequency and puffing maintenance are nominal, there’s one tip I have if you haven’t smoked this tobacco beforehand: go slower. The end of the bowl this is more crucial than at any other time. My tendency to want to wallow my tongue in the tarry, flavorful dregs sitting at the heel of the chamber I want to do the opposite, and I found this threw things out of balance. Smoking a bit too intensely means the Perique roars to life and drowns out any subtle flavors, while nearly letting the embers go out on purpose while taking in small, tongue-covering puffs brings out the stodgy goodness of what Elizabethan has to offer. If you’re a solid Perique guy, you’ll find the most of what is included in the mixture here, and the slightly leathery and sour black pepper nuances that come with it.
Peterson’s Elizabethan Mixture isn’t a bad tobacco, it simply isn’t my tobacco. It doesn’t have the complex boldness nor the subtle dynamics of what I consider to be “my tobacco,” but that’s my expectations versus the next guy’s. This is a smoker’s tobacco, with nothing frilly nor declarative being promised or delivered. It’s the kind of tobacco that you get to know over time, and perhaps it will reward if there’s enough that keeps motivating. It has a decent amount of nicotine, goes great in a cob, and the room note is slightly cigarette-like. I successfully paired it with Russian “Czar Nicholas II” black tea and some very good Polish vodka—both simple and good drinks for a simple and good tobacco.
My take on Elizabethan Mixture is one of accomplishment: I’m proud to say I can write a confident review about it. It’s not going to be my favorite tobacco, nor will I reach for a tin any time soon. That isn’t the fault of the mixture, that’s on me. I brought my best mindset and a few more years with a briar stem in my mouth as backup, and my approach was rewarded. The last thing I want to do is waste my time on a bowl of tobacco for any reason, be it my own through a bad choice or a rushed relaxation session, or a bad tobacco. It’s an approach that is useful in many areas these days, not just for the art of pipe smoking.
- Editor Rating
- Rated 3 stars
- Peterson Elizabethan Mixture
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Peterson Elizabethan Mixture Tobacco Review