Why is Penzance the Ultimate Mythical Unicorn?

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Singularis

Part of the Furniture Now
Sep 11, 2019
571
2,761
Wausau, Wis
I realize this is probably the 500th post about a blend that is overrated to many, and simply unobtanium to the rest. But how did it reach its illustrious status?

I randomly picked up a tin of this for a friend and fellow pipe smoker nearly 20 years ago when I had absolutely not experience fine tobaccos, or pipes for that matter. We were both shocked to learn that not only was it a flake (“How do you even smoke this stuff?”), but it smelled fairly similar to the Lapsang Souchong my friend enjoyed quaffing. But smoking it? We had no appreciation. And little did we know that years later, after getting into pipe smoking in earnest, Penzance has reached some kind of cult status and costs a premium.

Now of course I want to “try it again for the first time”, but not at the prices most people are asking.

Anyway, just wondering if it is a unicorn simply because it is nearly impossible to get your hands on, or if there is some other dark and mysterious reason.
 
Honestly, I think it's fan-fucking-tastic. But, there's not much use in tooting that horn, when the Cap'n is about to come around and tell us all about what a heap of cowshit he thinks it is. So, I won't be singing it's praises, because what good is that? If everyone did, it'd be hard to find, ha ha. But, I've given away pounds of Esoteric crap that I found lackluster as hell. Stonehaven... phhht, I'll let the others chase that one. Someone on here got all of my aged Stonehaven, and someone else got a few others that I had set back. But, I'll be keeping my Penzance. I love the kaleidoscopic ever changing flavors, and it's one of the few Englishes that people will stop me and tell me how wonderful it smells.

That's all I got to say on it. No point in trying to hard sell something no one will be able to find anyway.
 

kschatey

Lifer
Oct 16, 2019
1,118
2,275
Ohio
I also really enjoy Penzance and it was one of the first blends shared with me to get me hooked into the hobby before I even knew what it was. There is some about the Orientals in it that I love. It is excellent an blend and I wish it were more easily available. That having been said, people always want what they can't get which also drives up the mystique. Now I may need go go knock on my neighnor's door to see if he has any left so that I can smoke some again!

Oh, as to how it reached its current status... Supply and demand problem? If it were everywhere all of the time it's likely that fewer people would really care about it, but maybe not. There's likely no going back at this point.
 
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jackets

Starting to Get Obsessed
Oct 11, 2017
111
300
like the above posters I really really enjoy Penzance And it ended up shaping my preference for English blends in the same vein. As to how it gained cult status, it was likely a series of events. 1. It’s made by an old blender with limited production. 2. Its nowhere near their most produced blend partially because it’s more or less a white labeled brand. 3. It’s only available for purchase in the States. Who knows how easy it is for them to the leaf needed for the blend.

Add all of that together with the hype, cellaring, and constant sense of dread of losing our hobby to legislation. The long and short of it from where I sit is that it’s a blend people really enjoy and JFG has a fixed amount of production. Youtube, forums like this one, Instagram, etc make it easier for people to find and chase blends they wouldn’t have able to when you first smoked it 20 years ago.
 

Streeper541

Lifer
Jun 16, 2021
3,082
19,559
43
Spencer, OH
Penzance is a great example of preference coupled with supply economics and technology.

I've had it a few times. Please note; I've never been able to purchace any myself, it's all been gifted samples or shared somewhere.

Was Penzance good? Yes? Great? Not really. I actually prefer Pembroke over Penzance, which I've also only smoked as noted above.

In limited availability it becomes a must have for those that love it. It also becomes a must get for those who've never had the opportunity to try it for themselves. It gets hyped up pretty good because of this.

My feeling is that the internet (YTPC, forums, reviews, etc) has turned it into a unicorn. There are comparables out there that are just as good or better... just like with Frog Morton.

Anyhow that's my .02
 

sablebrush52

The Bard Of Barlings
Jun 15, 2013
19,991
46,157
Southern Oregon
jrs457.wixsite.com
Set the Wayback Machine to 2006. Or maybe it was 2007. You could walk into your neighborhood tobacconist and find tins and bags of Esoterica blends, including Penzance, on the shelf like everything else. Penzance had its fans, but wasn’t a stand out by any means.
I was a member of Pipes.org, and every now and then the moderator, who was easily the second worst moderator in the history of the Internet, would mention that he was smoking Penzance. It was cheap enough, not much more than bulk.
Gave it a try and decided that it just wasn’t for me.
Shortly after that, Germain’s missed a shipment. Then it missed another, and then yet another.
So when Penzance finally showed up the hoarders were on it like piranha, gobbling up every bag they could find. The panic over Penzance was on, and it has never stopped. When something is hard to get, people think it must be wonderful. I call this behavioral phenomenon the Psychopathy of Scarcity.
Germain’s is a small boutique blender that has added more commitments since then, making shipments of Esoterica blends even more erratic, which further exacerbates the situation.
 

Winterreise

Lifer
Oct 21, 2020
1,298
20,131
Montréal , Québec
If its that good why they need to make it unavailable for everyone to try ? Sound like a marketing tactic, don’t get me wrong I’m sure its good , but there tons of blend out there with the exact same components . I love Americans blender with honest price & quality that care for customers .
 
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