Review of the Day - Abingdon

12th August, 2009: Posted by glpease in Review of the Day

Tim K. noticed this one, and called it to my attention. The author writes under the sobriquet of Sinister Topiary; that alone is enough to make me want to read everything he’s written on the TR site. Seriously. How can you not like someone who calls himself Sinister Topiary? I can’t be alone in this, can I? And, I’ll gladly forgive him his error about the tin size. [They’re 2oz tins, Sin; a full 13% more tobacco than the scrawny 50g tins other people sell.]

Enough rambling. The review is an absolute joy to read. His descriptions are evocative and he effectively uses his obvious gift for narrative to illuminate the development of his relationship with the tobacco, bringing us something that goes far deeper than the much more typical “tastes like chicken” pulp. In a word, it’s brilliant. I’ll shut up now, so you can read the review. Enjoy.

I’ve never known a blend it’s taken me so long to make up my mind about: I practically had to reach the bottom of my 50g tin before I could reach a conclusion.

My initial experiences of it out of the tin were not very pleasant. Indeed my first bowl was so off-putting I had to wait a month or two to try it again, though I knew I would get around to it someday because there was something special there, and I give every blend several smokes so that I get to know it on its own terms. So when I finally got around to it again I came to understand it more. I couldn’t say I enjoyed it’s complex, full flavor on the surface of it — the whole in some ways seemed to exceed its parts, and not necessarily in a good way. But there was something in it I found irresistible, so even though I didn’t necessarily enjoy it I kept going back to it. It was somehow simultaneously overpowering yet subtle.

There’s no doubt it was a quality blend, even from the first. I mean, it was certainly very smooth and creamy and biteless, and yet somehow raw and strong. I just couldn’t wrap my tastebuds around it. I figured each bowl was going to be my last since I was slightly repelled by it, and yet I looked forward to my next bowl.

It’s flavor was uniquely alluring, and it cast a spell on me: strong, very full, with an oddly musty flavor. UncleGar used the word “creosotic”, and [no name] used the word “corky”, and they’re both on to something. I would add that I taste something piquant, even bitter with hints of sweetness around it, like Angostura bitters. Indeed there’s something elemental about this blend, something of the earth and dirt (and creosote and cork), salty, leathery, musty — strong, raw, subtle, creamy and smooth all at once. I’m reminded of the way Lagavulin has that incredible essence of iodine to it. Abingdon’s flavor is so unique that I found myself craving it even when I wasn’t sure I liked it much.

I’ve finally decided that this blend is a masterpiece — it just took me a long time to appreciate it for what it was on its own terms, much like Schoenberg’s music for the classical music lover wading into the twelve tone waters for the first time. I suspect that with more aging this blend will be otherworldly.

Pretty women who aren’t beautiful are fairly common. But beautiful women who aren’t pretty are something special, each one uniquely mysterious. This is a beautiful, even exceptional blend — it’s just not a very pretty one.

And, I’m going to completely ignore a recent review of Fillmore. After this, how could I ever take someone who goes by BigWhiteWillie seriously? Could you?