Origins and Backstory: I received this package of seeds alongside my order of In the Pines. Long Valley Royal Kush is a bottle-necked variation of Emerald Mountain Legacy and Mandelbrot's Royal Kush. It is a three way cross of the clone-only Sour Diesel, a highland Afghani cultivar (a pre-soviet variety also known as Salmon Creek Rock Bud), and Garberville Purple Kush. I can only assume the Purple Kush used is the famed SR-71 cut. Mandelbrot, who originally bred the variety, meticulously selected his breeding stock from hundreds of plants over seven filial generations. Aficionado Seeds acquired seeds at this point, and bred for specific traits to the F9 generation. According to his writing, Mandelbrot tended to keep his populations open; so seeds of the Royal Kush from Emerald Mountain Legacy should tend to yield different phenotypes than the bottle-necked version from Aficionado Seeds. I germinated all 10 seeds at once and had 100% germination rate.
Appearance: Most phenotypes are very similar with slight of variation. The flower culsters are consistently dense and well-formed like pinecones, and the resin production is uniformly copious. Many of the phenotypes exhibit at least some mild purple coloration on the tips of the forest-green calyxes, further contributing to the already-stellar jar or bag appeal. Most plants are somewhat stocky with average vigor, but I had a standout phenotype that was especially short, small, and slow-growing.
Aroma: While the bag appeal is great, the aroma is even better and is probably the most consistent aspect of Long Valley Royal Kush. Cured flowers are intensely aromatic with many smells classically associated with cannabis. The bouquet is a powerfully skunky and fuely, porbably being heavily lent from the Sour Diesel and Afghan lineage. Fuel in cannabis can come in many forms; I have experienced gasoline, jet fuel, motor oil, and virtually all other petroleum products. LVRK is less jet-fuel like (which I usually associate with OG plants) but is grungier, darker, and seems more like raw oil and tar. LVRK also has strong tones of sweet grape, especially when buds are broken open. When I closed my eyes with one phenotype in particular, I was brought back to childhood memories of spreading Welch's grape jam and strawberry cream cheese on a bagel. An earthy, loamy, soil-like smell is also present in the background. One phenotype had almost no aroma, smelling like a tomato plant until about day 50 of flower. Within the last couple weeks of finishing, the same phenotype had produced a stinking, skunky smell that rivaled all her sisters. The intensely-strong smell from this variety is certainly a highlight and rivals any variety I have found. The sweet grape and strawberry aromas lend themselves well to the fuel and skunk, all-in-all producing a pungent and unique varietal.
Flavor: The flavor of the Long Valley Royal Kush is just as intense as its aroma, but the emphases are put on different notes. LVRK tastes profoundly fuel-like, coating one's mouth long after smoking in a sour, kerosene-like flavor. It's reminiscent of Sour Diesel but more intense, and with more complexity. After the exhale, sweet and sour flavors of plum and grape manifest in the background. Occasionally, there is a strawberry-jam sweet flavor that delicately finds its presence. It has a strong and delightful skunkiness that hangs on the palate as well, the flavor I have always classically associated with high quality cannabis. I really love the way the skunk and fuel from this one linger all over one's mouth.
Effects: Long Valley Royal Kush is mellow, relaxed, and laid back in traditional Californian fashion. The effect is so relaxed one could almost call it reassuring. The laid-back aspect is one I typically associate with California Kush plants like the Socal Master, Bubba, and Hollywood Pure varieties. It is a reliable reducer of anxiety and gives the user a feeling that all is OK both in the inner and outer world. There is a warmth to the effect as well, one that feels like being wrapped under psychic blankets. Well-being is a given after smoking the Royal Kush, and consequently it became my staple smoke for a period. The effect is satisfyingly strong enough that one can smoke it infrequently, but never seems to be overwhelming or dysfunctional. If one binges on LVRK, a nap will probably be called for later in the day.
Overall Experience: Like other offerings I've had from Aficionado, the Long Valley Royal Kush is a distinct winner. I really appreciated the classic effects of happy, calm, and "Zen," and the intensely skunky aroma pairs perfectly. It is such a tangy, skunky, gasoline-like smell that I have an incredibly easy time smoking Royal Kush more than anything else right now. Long Valley Royal Kush is an amalgamation of the best traits of classical west-coast American cannabis. Anyone who likes OG, Chemdawg, or Kush varieties will have a new favorite with the LVRK. She is a plant that seems fresh compared to some of the more tired clone-only varities, and has nuances to keep the smoker interested. Even just mentally recalling the intensity of the aroma makes me salivate, the aroma is so potent. This is a fantastic "daily driver," and fills every niche that a smoker would want from a specific cultivar. This indeed is a Kush variety fit for royalty!