Armageddon and Deep Impact. The Adams Family and The Munsters. Gobots and Transformers. Cheeze Whiz and Easy Cheese. Sutliff English Oriental and Peter Stokkebye English Oriental Supreme. There are dozens of times competing companies have given us seemingly identical products. And we the consuming public must choose one or the other. Or you know, watch both movies like some sort of freak. Two of the giants of bulk pipe tobacco, the Scandinavian Peter Stokkebye, aka PS, and Sutliff, aka S, er no, lets just stay with Sutliff, offer an English Oriental blend. On paper these are nearly identical, but one is likely superior. Which is what we will try to discern in this review.
One more preambulatory ramble: English Oriental, that’s not really a thing. English blends almost as a rule have some oriental leaf (also known as Turkish, even if it’s grown elsewhere, but hey, that’s at least closer than the Orient Sea is to any of the Mediterranean countries who grow the stuff) so it’s redundant. English blends that lean heavy on the oriental have a special name already, Balkans. So it’s a mystery why not just one, but two companies have blends with such a unhelpful name.
Over the still unraked leaves of Autumn
The warmest winter I’ve seen since moving north
Wind through the fences
RELEASE TYPE available
SPECIAL RELEASE N
RESEARCH & BACKGROUND INFO
- There’s no clear indication which of these came first
- A quick look at other ‘English Oriental’ blends shows the key makeup is burley, latakia, and oriental leaf, with some of them also adding Virginia, Cavendish, or perique
LOOK & FEEL OF THE LEAF
You’d be hard pressed differentiating either of these blends from the look of the leaf. Both are of a similar medium, choppy ribbon cut with tan, orange, brown, and black leaf. The PS version has more brights and the Sutliff Version has more black leaf, but they are quite akin visually. Feeling the leaf won’t help either as both are moist and spongy at jar moisture.
Sutliff English Oriental: Smoky, salty, raisin sweetness, cinnamon, chocolate
PS English Oriental Supreme: Smoky, earth, burnt rubber, coffee, seawater
LIGHT & DRAW
Packing Style: For this shallow prince style pipe I find a two pinch does nicely
Both of these blends pack easily even at a moist tin level, but the Peter Stokkebye version doesn’t burn particularly well without drying time.
SMOKE & ROOM NOTE
PS English Oriental Supreme has an odd chewy-gritty smoke texture. It’s not unpleasant, it’s different though. Sutliff’s version tends towards buttery-oily.
The smoke from Sutliff’s English Oriental is surprising for something with English in the title. There isn’t any hint of woodsmoke, but it’s musty with a cocoa-leather scent, not unlike a mild cigar. Similarly the PS blend gives off a toast and cocoa aroma with some incense.
PETER STOKKEBYE ENGLISH ORIENTAL SUPREME
No dry, 2 pinch, 2022 Savinelli St. Nick
Sulphur, salt, sugar, and must. Lemony-vinegar sugar bomb. Salt lick. Mild musty earth. A little pepper comes through. Piney lemon-salt-vinegar, quite tangy. A hint of floral red wine, but without any soapiness. Sugar, salt, lemon, vinegar, wine, floral, with a touch of earth and a tingle of smoke. This is intense. The burley comes through with cocoa, leather, and coffee underneath. It stabilizes there about a third of the way into the bowl and sticks there, with it just becoming more cohesive, the sweet chocolate folded into the piney lemon sugar salt bomb.
Wooh. It’s difficult to express in words how incredibly flavorful this blend is. It grabs you by the tongue one puff in and screams flavor into your mouth the whole way through.
3 hour dry, 2 pinch, 2022 Savinelli St. Nick
Smoke, oak, earth, very sulphury, vinegar, sweet with a bit of salt, pepper, and floral. Ok then, no preliminaries, just right into it then. Sugary sweet. Salt, with medium smokiness, which didn’t really appear without any drying time. Even some creosote. Lots of sulphur. Huge vinegar. Candy sweet. Smoke, earth, oak, red wine. The pepper grows. Hint of leathery cigar wrapper. Which grows quickly, pairing up with the sulphury-sugar. A woodsy smoke comes through too. Sticks there till the bottom third when the smokiness increases again. It gets more balanced as well, with the leather, earth, and must countering the sugar, vinegar, lemon oil, red wine, and salt attack.
This is an English for the sweettooth. With the additional drying the smoky Latakia really pops. This doesn’t just add another dimension to an already complex smoke, it lets the very sharp-sweet blend achieve balance.
SUTLIFF ENGLISH ORIENTAL
No dry, 2 pinch, 2022 Savinelli St. Nick
Bitter, musty, herbal cedar. Light vinegar and salt. Buttery. Dare I say boring. Musty butter cedar with some salt and a bitter vinegar finish. The smoke is just barely there. There’s a hint of lemon and slight floral note. Caramel without the sweetness. Sour cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, and light pepper. Some sweetness arrives with a growing vinegar taste. This is an improvement. Butter, floral, cedar, minerals. Just a hint of red wine. It’s very salty now. Gasoline, lemon, salt, lightly sugary, with a big vinegary finish. A bit of woodsmoke over herbal butter, cedar, and red wine, the vinegar and salt peeling back at the end.
This was far less intense than the Peter Stokkebye version, with some off bitter notes. It did improve as the bowl went on, making me suspect some drying time might bring this blend to its best.
3 hour dry, 2 pinch, 2022 Savinelli St. Nick
Musty to start again, but the sweetness is apparent from the first puff, taking on a citrusy quality that resolves into orange. It’s salty, earthy, and leathery. Sugary sweet, vinegar, sulphur, leather, buttery. Cedar and pine needles. This is very earthy with an intense sulphur, tongue sizzling salinity, topped with piney-butter, finishing vinegary-sweet. These are big flavors that hold nothing back. A bit of pepper. Red grape. Carmel – with the sweetness this time. The baking spices appear again, nutmeg and clove namely, that folds into the salty-cedar-leather, balanced with plenty of vinegar. Herbal piney. Cocoa, leather, earth, like a maduro cigar wrapper, but with a sweetened tip. This is a sugar bomb as sharp as a knife. A bit peppery. Piney-green. Sulphur again with some faint smoke. Caramel, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove marries the leather well, fading into a salty red wine finish. It backs at the last third, less sweet and sharp, with more of a peaty smoke. That was just a brief respite though, the vinegar and sugar charge back up, working with the cocoa-leather-maduro wrapper and the bevy of baking spices. Heavy cream in medium roast coffee. A hint of lemon zest right at the end.
That was certainly an improvement. Drying Sutliff’s English Oriental till it was crispy took it from boring to mind bogglingly intense.
RATING & FINAL THOUGHTS
Both of these blends start with the traditional sweet-sour-herbal Balkan profile, then slowly pick up more and more flavor from the burley which presents with traditional cigar flavors. Both of these blends show more smoky-peatiness with some drying time. The Sutliff version went from forgettable to amazing with the drying time, while the difference was far less stark for the PS blend.
At jar moisture PS English Oriental Supreme was slow to take light and took half of the bowl to really burn well. Drying removed this problem entirely. Sutliff burned well both moist and dry, but I noticed that I had bit of tongue bite after the crispy bowl, so go easy.
Sutliff, no drying time: This reminded me most of Sutliff Balkan II, which is the most boring Balkan I’ve ever smoked.
Sutliff, dried: It has the intensity and breadth of MacBaren HH Balkan Blend & Vintage Syrian, and the old Sutliff Bosphorous Cruise and Luxury 957 blends. The combination of Balkan or English flavors plus burley reminded me of Planta English and MacBaren HH Acadian Blend
PS, no drying time: Creamy-lemony balkans like H&H WhiteKnight and Balkan Saiseni. Again Planta English for the burley connection and HH Balkan & Vintage Syrian for the intense salt.
PS, dried: Again Bosphorous Cruise, Luxury 957, ad HH Balkan. H&H Larry’s Blend and Samuel Gawith Squadron Leader, both medium English. Balkan leaning englishes like GLP Gaslight and well dried out Presbyterian.
RATING BREAKDOWN: PS, Sutliff
0.25, 0.25 / 0.50 … Craft & Aesthetic
0.45, 0.45 / 0.50 … Tin Aroma
0.30, 0.40 / 0.50 … Lighting Process
7.50, 7.50 / 8.00 … Smoking Experience
0.50, 0.50 / 0.50 … Personal Enjoyment
COMPLIMENTS & CRITIQUES
POR QUE NO LOS DOS?
I can heartily recommend both version of English Oriental. Peter Stokkebye’s English Oriental Supreme is slightly smokier and woodsier. Sutliff’s English Oriental is more piney, peaty, and cigar like. Both the core idea is the same: sweet-salty-tangy leaf with a dose of smoke pared against burley’s cocoa-leather-earth. It works amazingly well. I’ve had other blends before built upon a similar idea, namely Planta’s English, but they all lacked the aggressive sugar-vinegar-saline punch of these blends. Beyond the power notes, these tobaccos are full of nuance and subtly to explore as well. At bulk tobacco prices you can get a pound of either of these blends – or eight ounces of each – for the same price as a couple of tins of tobacco you are likely to find far less engaging.
SIMPLY STOGIES RATING:
Peter Stokkebye English Oriental Supreme 9.0/ 10.0