Winston’s Tasting Notes—Esoterica Margate
Welcome to this edition of Winston’s Tasting Notes! In this installment we are tasting Margate Full English from Esoterica. Be sure to check out our video and detailed tasting notes below.
Esoterica pipe tobacco is one of those storied brands and it is made by an even more storied company. The blends are made by J.F. Germain and Son which has been in business since 1820 in the British Isles. They make some other fantastic blends under their own name, J.F. Germain, along with Esoterica and a few others. This is a very small company that makes all of their blends in limited quantities.
A number of the Esoterica blends have a lot of hype surrounding them. Penzance and Stonehaven are both highly sought after and demand a premium on the secondary market. Much of this has to do with the limited nature of these tobaccos—supply and demand. But there is also a great product backing up the hype.
Margate seems to come in around 3rd in the Esoterica hype department. It is hard to find at times and sells out almost instantly when posted at an online retailer. Even in our brick-and-mortar store it doesn’t last very long—when we can get it.
First off, I’m mostly a Virginia guy. I love that delicate sweetness that can be found sipping on some well aged Virginia leaf. I can go for a good English blend from time to time. When I’m in the mood for some smoky latakia, I tend to reach for a blend that has a good balance. I want to taste the spiciness from the Orientals, the sweet from the Virginian and the smoky latakia. I am talking complexity here--depth and how the flavors intertwine. Margate does just this.
Sweet, smoky, spicy, savory... I could use the same descriptors for good pulled pork or ribs. Margate is kind of like a good smoked meat. It is rich and full of flavor and makes you want to go back for seconds.
I wouldn’t call myself an English blend guy or a latakia head, but I skew further in that direction than Sam does. Campfires, barbecue, smoky bacon—these are all things that make me happy. I guess I’m a smoke guy. After all that, you can easily guess what I want from an English tobacco.
Margate doesn’t have the punching power of a heavy English tobacco. It is still smoke forward and makes a great change up for a fan of latakia filled blends. The balance in the blend is the real star. Not just the presence of balance, but how it is achieved. There is a background of sweetness that fills everything out and is used almost like negative space to highlight and contrast. Against that background, smokiness pops without overwhelming your senses. The spice presents a pleasant counterpoint and gives the Margate blend peaks, which prevents it from being bland, as is the case with many milder English tobaccos.
In my opinion Margate is one of the best everyday Englishes on the market. Unfortunately it might not be a practical everyday smoke, due to its limited availability. Once again, this is a great tobacco for the latakiaphile who wants a change of pace from their regular rotation of heavier blends. It’s also approachable enough to ease a Virginia or aromatic fan into latakia land. I like it. Four and a half out of five campfires.