In the 15th April issue of the News, I mentioned a new blend, which at the time was "code named" Maduro Cut Cake. It wasn't a very imaginative name, though it was at least somewhat descriptive. A darkish blend incorporating a little cigar leaf, pressed into cakes, and sliced. See? Not very imaginative. But, it provided me something to call it, other than, "this new prototype with cigar leaf," and as I let people at shows sample it, the response was very positive.
Finally, some weeks later, a friend emailed me, writing, "Why don't you call it Key Largo?" It was perfect. A classic, in keeping with the theme established by Maltese Falcon, with a tropical feel, and there's more than a little cigar smoking depicted in the film.
Names lead to concepts which lead to artwork, and once again, illustrator and designer extraordinaire Daniel Bertalotto, of DOXA, did his usual fantastic job with the label art. I think it's really stunning. But, what about the tobacco? Now that it's finally on the shelves, I guess I should say a few more words about it here, for those who don't read the News page.
Key Largo is full of surprises. It's got wonderful, layered flavours of rich Virginias, oriental tobaccos, including a little Cypriot Latakia, and hints of earthy spice from the cigar leaf. It presents a creamy, delicious smoke, with a softer room aroma than might be expected from the ingredients. It's refreshing, yet full-bodied and satisfying. I've been enjoying the prototypes through three seasons, but it seems exceptionally well suited to our late summer smoking. This is a unique blend, and defies the usual classification. It's neither an "English Mixture," nor a Virginia, nor is it just another cigar-leaf blend, yet it offers something of each. Maybe someone else can find a pigeonhole for Key Largo to roost in, but I cannot.
I expect this one to age beautifully over at least the next couple decades. It'll develop increased fruitiness and complexity during the first year or so, and real magic will occur after five or six. And, yes, the coffee mug is available.
Key Largo was introducd in July, 2008
I first began writing about Maltese Falcon in early November, and now, I'm excited to the point of bursting to announce that it is finally winging its way to the tobacconists' shelves.
This one sports a brand new look, thanks to the creative direction of my dear friend Neill Archer Roan, and a brilliant realization of Neill's direction by designer and illustrator Daniel Bertalotto of DOXA. The label is gorgeous, but it's what's inside that counts, right?
Originally conceived as a replacement for the old Raven's Wing, Maltese Falcon quickly evolved into something bigger. It's a rich, bold blend, with excellent body, a beguiling sweetness, and solid structure, ideal for those who enjoy a sophisticated, yet comfortable and refined English-style mixture.
Maltese Falcon was introducd in January, 2008
Westminster was introducd in January, 2007
Bohemian Scandal was introduced in August, 2004
This collection will never be large. It's reserved for tobaccos that, I think, are exemplary in their category. The first was Bohemian Scandal, may it rest in peace. It is still presented here for posterity. It has been joined, posthumously, by Westminster. Maltese Falcon was added in January, 2008, then Key Largo in July.
It's hard to make comments on a collection as full of unique personalities as this one. Scandal was wonderfully received during its short life, and has become something of a “Holy Grael” blend for many. I don't know, for sure, if this is due to its rarity, or because it really was that good. I know I liked it, but I was a little surprised by its reception.
The other blends in this collection have also become very popular, and with good reason. Each has all the characteristics that can make a blend a classic. Time will tell, of course, but they've been going strong since their respective introductions, so I've got high hopes.
Each one has its charm, yet they still seem to get along with one another.
I've smoked tins of Bohemian Scandal at three years, and found it superb. I'm looking forward to the next milestone, which will be five years. I'll report back then. Westminster, of course, is far too young to make any definitive comments on, but my experience tells me that this one will develop for at least 15 years, stabilize for a decade or so, and then begin a slow decline. I'm sure it'll still be wonderful in 20-30 years, but it's peak will likely be quite a bit earlier, like most full bodied English/Balkan mixtures. Still, I'm cellaring it in enough quantity to prove myself wrong in my tenth decade. Cheers! -glp