Piccadilly - Eight Months Later

18th November, 2003: Posted by glpease in Tobacco

It was in March of 2003 that the Classic Collection was first introduced. The first four blends, Piccadilly, Kensington, Charing Cross and Blackpoint, were inspired by some of the wonderful tobaccos of London’s past. The blends were never intended to be paint-by-numbers copies of anything, living or dead, but rather were sort of impressionistic paintings of my own experiences with some of those great tobaccos of yesterday. Of the four, Piccadilly is the lightest, and possibly the most unusual. Its base of lovely, high-sugar bright and deep red Virginia leaf is peppered with a bit of perique, and enlivened with just enough Latakia to satisfy my own ceaseless craving for the smoky weed. That’s not to say that I can never get too much of the stuff. Some want to smoke it nearly straight, which deadens the senses too quickly, and makes for a very monotonous experience. That’s not for me. I do love Latakia, though, whether used as a delicate spice, or with a somewhat more assertive hand.

Piccadilly lives in the more subtle realm, at least as far as the Latakia is concerned. It’s light enough for me to enjoy on warmer days, but still rich enough to share with a rainy night and a good book. Since originally creating the recipe for this one, I’ve taken quite a fancy to it, and probably smoke it more than any other at this point. Of course, as short-sleeve shirts get put away, and sweaters and jackets come out, fuller blends will find their way to my pipe more often, but fall has been mild in California, and there are still plenty of Piccadilly days left.

Mostly, I’ve been smoing it while quite young, almost freshly blended, never quite seeing fit to pop the top on one of the earliest tins. That changed today when I realized I still had a few of the original prototype tins on the shelf, dusty, hiding behind some other stuff. What the hell?

To say that the components of the blend had started to really come together would be slightly understating things. It’s just old enought that it;s difficult to figure out where one tobacco’s aroma stops and another’s starts. It’s not quite seamless, but the lines are blurred and indistinct, making the image even more impressionistic than my original mind’s nose idea of what I was after. Flinty notes, a steely scent from the Cyprian mountains, the grassy aromas from a walk in a dew covered meadow, dotted with chamomile and heather. Nice stuff.

In the smoke, too, the flavours have mingled. Initially, a blend is like a party of strangers. Everyone comes in, gets a drink, a little food, and wanders about, trying to figure out who to talk to, what to say. The more outgoing will dance and laugh, while the wallflowers will sit and observe for a while, waiting for someone else to introduce themselves. But, cooped up in that little tin for a few months, the blend becomes more like a breakfast club. All the tobaccos know each other pretty intimately. They share their secrets, tell their stories, and become friends. While each strand still will hold onto something of its own character, it gets more and more difficult to pick out the individual voices from the conversations. Each occasionally finishes another’s sentences, and they carry on effortlessly and with a smooth and easy grace.

After eight months, there are still a few strangers at the party, but everyone seems to be getting along well. No one is fighting for attention, telling bad jokes, or dancing with lampshades on their head. It’s become quite a friendly smoke - a nice party. Pulling that lid was the invitation, and I’m glad I accepted.