Our Score (4 / 5)


  • Blend Type – English
  • Blend Contents -Latakia, Orientals, Virginias
  • Cut – Ribbon
  • MSRP –Approx. $14/ 50g tin
  • Tin Date – Acquired Sept. 2016
  • Pipe Material – Briar
  • Bowl Dimensions – .800” W x 1.370” D

 


Initial Reactions and Appearance

My Squadron Leader has been sitting, jarred up, for the better part of the last two years. After my initial run at sampling the stuff, I loaded up on a couple tins for my collection and moved on to trying other blends. Now the little jar is unearthed and open before me, gently proffering a leathery, smoky fragrance. Speckled black, brown, and tan, the thin ribbon-cut tobacco has the appearance of fertile earth. As is my way, I roll out the flake before packing it into a vintage Whitehall Saratoga briar.

First Third

Squadron Leader introduces itself with a melange of savory, smoky, floral flavors. The Latakia in this tobacco doesn’t start off too shy; although it isn’t overpowering on the palate, at first it seems to eclipse the other tobaccos in the blend. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however, and it could be said that the flavors are simply well married. The smoke doesn’t wait too long before it begins to bear a slight chocolate undertone, as well as some negligible woodiness in the aftertaste.

Second Third

Moving into the first third, things have developed a bit. The floral notes have receded from the foreground, allowing the chocolate to ripen into a lovely warm leather. The balance of the blend has become apparent by now. You’ll know you’re smoking Latakia, but instead of being overtaken I feel as though I’m being given a polite tour of the leaf, shown the highlights. There is some delicate sweetness playing across my tongue during some draws, as well as a slightly vegetal note that I find pleasing. Of course, it really must be said that there is still clearly a deep, smoke-infused, floral flavor to this tobacco. One might say it is slightly herbaceous, or that it has some hints of a savory rose. It plays well with the other flavors, complementing and encouraging them just as often as it takes center stage for itself.

Final Third

As I venture through the final third of the bowl, the sun is preparing to set. A cold drapes itself across everything, so I find myself warming my fingers around the pipe. Not much changes in the attitude of the smoke until the last few moments before I finish, during which time the “smokiness” of the Latakia intensifies to a degree. There isn’t much time to explore this, though, as the pipe burns down shortly thereafter, leaving little to relight. Time to head back to the warmth inside, cook some dinner, and give the dog a good rub behind the ears.

Would I Smoke Squadron Leader Again?

No two ways about it; definitely. This was a lovely smoke, it made me quite glad that these reviews have encouraged me to revisit tobaccos that I have neglected to smoke for some time. There is nuance, there is dimension, but no pretense. This is an elegant, friendly, well-blended tobacco. Squadron Leader will certainly find itself in my pipe quite soon, and perhaps frequently after that.

 

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