Amphora Tobaccos

These are no longer being imported into the U.S.A., but you will find them anyway from time to time. They are still available in Canada and elsewhere in the world, however.

Full Aroma (red pouch)
This Dutch aromatic cavendish was a successful taste test for me. I really didn't expect such appealing and high-quality tobacco to be found inside one of those pouches that seem so ubiquitous in corner stores. It's cut in a medium-fine width that is not 100% rubbed out; little pieces of broken flake are abundant and slow down the blend's burning rate quite nicely. The colour is overall a medium-to-light reddish brown, but there is a full tonal range from light brown to dark brown. In the pouch the dominant aroma is a sort of cherry-chocolate superimposed on a light natural tobacco scent—more perfumy than sweet. On first sniff, this reminds me a little of Dunhill's Royal Yacht, but not nearly so full. When smoked though, there isn't much resemblance to Royal Yacht at all. The print on the packet asks you if you "Smell the whiff of pure fruit blossom we've added?" Yes I do. The flavour remains somewhat fruity, almost citrus-like at times, and the chocolaty aroma that I noticed in the pouch seems to fade into the background and provide more body rather than taste. As the packet boasts, the flavour is quite "fresh." The full body of this smoke is rather surprising for an aromatic, at least to me. It is very smooth and cool-smoking, doesn't bite at all and burns well, but slowly. I would rate this as medium as far as strength is concerned and I especially appreciate this level of strength in such a mild tobacco. This would be an excellent all-day smoke for someone who enjoys a rich, but not cloying aromatic that nonetheless has some tobacco flavour. At the bottom of the bowl, the fruitiness seems to have worn off, leaving more of that darker, chocolate-like background flavour coming through. It burns dry and clean to a fine light-grey ash and a small dottle. The aroma in the room is a mix of mild fruit essences and tobacco, which is clean-smelling, pleasant and not overpowering. '97

This blend bugs me, sort of—perhaps because it's hard to define. As I smoke it, one minute I want to call it an aromatic, the next, I accept it as a mild English. Ultimately, it's somewhere between the two. A slightly sweet and nutty, cavendish-type base with a bit of a honey flavour can be tasted most of the time while smoking. But then there's a mild, latakia-type of flavour that's just a wee bit spicy superimposed on that. This mix of flavours is really quite pleasant, even though it's a muddy and murky mix that doesn't have a whole lot of complexity. (I didn't take to it right away.) So the flavour is somewhat rich, but it's never as rich as it seems that it might be. And despite what I'm saying here, I'm describing subtleties: it is ultimately a very bland-tasting tobacco. To me, it smokes more like an aromatic, in that it is of medium body and I often taste through the top flavours to a blander tobacco base underneath. And it gives that illusion of mildness that many cavendishes give, which is to say that it heats up easily and has a slightly sharper effect on my tongue than its taste suggests while smoking. One nice quality is that it doesn't get bitter at all when smoking near the bottom of the bowl. Here, what I call "latakia flavour" might be more flavouring than the real thing—it comes off as tarry-tasting, not as woodsy-tasting. Even though it seems like it's missing something, it has a gentle and creamy character that keeps me coming back for more. This is far from an exciting tobacco, but I think I could be quite happy smoking a lot if it my true favourites weren't available. It is a medium-cut, medium to dark brown tobacco that smells like a faint and musty aromatic in the pouch. The room aroma while smoking is decidedly bland and easily cancelled out by a cigarette smoker in the next room. It burns dry to a grey ash with a small dottle and leaves only a subtle smell in the pipe. Thanks to Ron Blackner for supplying me with this sample. '95

Regular Cavendish (brown pouch)
Here we have thin strands of light, reddish and dark tobacco, many of which are stuck together from pressing. The pouch aroma is simultaneously fresh and musty, with a dark sweetness that is reminiscent of molasses or honey, or a combination of the two. During the first few puffs, it actually tastes much like the pouch aroma. After that, however, it tastes quite different, and not aromatic at all. The predominant light, smoky flavour is completed by a faint, peppery flavour that seems to be experienced mostly in the front of the mouth. As one smokes onward, there seem to be two distinct taste sensations that alternate with each other: moments where the charm of the original aroma fades in and out; and moments of blandness and where the flavour seems hollow and somehow evaporated, except for a slightly peppery, bitter aftertaste. As with Amphora Red, there is obviously a fair amount of burley in this mixture, which does guarantee a certain kick in this medium-strength, medium-bodied blend. The thickness of the tobacco guarantees slow burning—definitely a positive attribute since I get the impression that this could smoke quite hot and bitter otherwise. It starts out burning quite cool, but gets noticeably hotter as you smoke it. This is a satisfying smoke, but sometimes I don't like the bitterness of its aftertaste. Because of this, I probably wouldn't recommend it to a new pipe smoker. The room aroma isn't aromatic either and smells somewhat like a rich cigarette smoke. '96