Part 2: The Traditional/English Blends

In my last blog, I looked at the Ashtons range of pipe tobacco. As an extremely varied range, I decided it would be more manageable to break it down between two categories: Flavoured (/cased) and natural. So, having looked at their fantastically diverse selection of aromatic blends, I’m now heading into more traditional territory, with their natural/English Mixtures.

Winding Road

As I said, Rainy Day was the final fully aromatic blend in Ashton’s range, but Winding Road keeps one foot in that particular camp. In fact, according to the manufacturers, it is specifically designed as a bridge between aromatic blends and traditional/English ones. They do this by carefully selecting naturally sweet and aromatic Gold and Brown Virginias and combining them with a touch of smooth and fragrant Black Cavendish. There is also a very restrained use of a slight nut and apricot casing, so it isn’t fully pulling the casing rug away in a single motion. The end result is perfect for anyone trying to wean themselves away from cased blends and into more traditional styles, or for more traditional smokers looking to give their sweet tooth a little bit of affection.

Consummate Gentleman

Consummate Gentleman is the first stop we’re taking into “Spiced” tobacco territory with a small portion of Latakia, along with Virginia Maryland and Burley. This combination allows for the rich, crisp smokiness of the Latakia to shine, but without overwhelming the overall blend.  This makes for an amazingly well-balanced blend of medium strength but with a satisfyingly rich and complex flavour. There is a primarily creamy base with a slightly toasty hint, which really accentuates the aromatic spiciness of the Latakia. This is the sort of blend I’d recommend for anyone looking to try Latakia based blends but is wary of their potential to be a bit on the intense side. I’d normally suggest starting with something like Peterson’s Early Morning or Charatan’s first bowl, as they are extremely  light in Latakia. If you’ve enjoyed those and want to take the strength up a little bit more, this is the perfect place to stop next.

Artisan’s Blend

Right, now we’re getting to the real deal, as far as Trad blends go. Artisan’s Bend has a little bit of everything that makes traditional blends (and the smokers thereof) tick; A Virginia and Black Cavendish base lays a foundation that is crisp, semi-sweet and cool burning. This is built upon with a stunning combination of Latakia, Turkish and Oriental tobaccos and a hint of Perique, creating a perfectly harmonised blend that is subtly sweet, while also showing off all the flavours that can be naturally coaxed from fine tobacco, without the need for casing or flavouring. There are hints of perfumed smoke, cracked black pepper, smoked wood, sweet smoked-cured meats, to name just a few. I compared Consummate Gentleman to the lighter, “introductory” English blends, such as Early morning and First Bowl. Artisan’s Blend is right on the other end of the spectrum, far more akin to the heady, full bodied likes of Peterson’s Nightcap and Charatan’s Eventide. While this is certainly one of the more full-bodied blends out there, they’ve done a remarkable job in keeping the blend well balanced and preventing it from getting too wild. Definitely one for the more experienced smokers out there, but very rewarding once you get a feel for it.

That completes my taste test of the Ashton range, an impressively varied range that manages to maintain a consistent high quality throughout. Definitely worth a try, especially if you’re experimenting with different styles of blend.

Well, it’s been a long time coming, but next time, I think we’re finally ready to move onto the B’s!

Hopefully, I’ll see you there!


Store Manager @ Turmeaus & LCDH Chester

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