A Study in OTC Pipe Tobacco Pouches 

The Introduction & Pouch #1: Sir Walter Raleigh Original

A few weeks ago, I came across a sale on the Pipes & Cigars website for pouch tobaccos.  As I looked through the prices on the pouch tobaccos, I began to wonder why I had never actually tried any of the staple Over the Counter (OTC) pipe tobacco pouch blends during my pipe smoking tenure.  After lighting a bowl of something not OTC, I reminisced on the fact that I started pipe smoking with my local tobacconist blends (Schwab’s Pipes N Stuff Ideal and Big Blue Blend) and immediately moved into Cornell & Diehl blends, Dunhill EMP, McClelland Frog Morton Series, and at the time Tewksbury’s Hobbits Weed (Rest in Peace).  

I concluded that my pipe smoking journey had completely by-passed where a lot of pipe smokers start the hobby.My thinking further reasoned that many of these blends are highly revered and have stood the test of time, some for a century or more.  If folks have been enjoying these blends for that long, maybe I really am missing out on something spectacular.  I knew I couldn’t just let the opportunity pass without at least trying some of the blends, so, after moving through another bowl or two, I decided to place a large order with P&C and catch up on the pouches I have missed out on during my pipe smoking journey. 

 

So, where to begin?  In all fairness, I decided to put all the pouches (plus some others I already had in my cellar, unopened) in a large bag and do a random pull to begin smoking my way through each to see what these infamous OTC blends all are about.  I detailed the process for this little experiment on my YouTube channel with a video called Introduction to A Study in OTC Pipe Tobacco Pouches.  You can view the video here or I will quickly review the process and guidelines below.

Guidelines to the Study

  1. Pouches will be reviewed in a random order, one per week, until all pouches have been sampled.
  2. Each tobacco will be smoked a minimum of four times; once in an unfiltered Missouri Meerschaum Country Gentleman Corn Cob pipe, once in a Missouri Meerschaum Pride filtered Corn Cob pipe, once in an unfiltered Huck Finn Missouri Meerschaum Corn Cob pipe, and once in a Ropp Superior paneled briar pipe.
  3. I will capture my initial impressions for each tobacco in video format on The Pipe Professor YouTube channel and provide my final assessment here on The Pipe Professor webpage after smoking the blend a minimum of four times throughout the week in the various pipes.  
  4. As I smoke through each blend, I will place them in rank order, updated with each review here on the webpage.  Blends will move up and down the list until I have smoked through all the OTC Pipe Tobacco Pouch blends.  
  5. Similar to other pipe tobacco reviews, I will rate each blend using the Five Pipes scoring rubric.  

Without further ado, let’s jump in to our first OTC Pipe Tobacco Pouch, Sir Walter Raleigh Original.

Sir Walter Raleigh Original

Let’s be honest, if you are a pipe smoker or have ever smoked a pipe, you have more than likely heard of Sir Walter Raleigh pipe tobacco.  I was excited that this pouch was the first random draw to come out of my bag.  Supposedly having been around since 1927, this name and tobacco blend is easily a staple in our timeless hobby.  With a blend that has survived almost a full century, I was eager to experience the successes that have carried this blend forward for 91 years.  Similar to other pipe tobacco enthusiast, I headed to the Tobacco Reviews webpage to read the description and find out more about the tobacco.  From the Tobacco Reviews website:

“An aromatic burley blend with hints of cocoa and Oriental spice, the Sir Walter Raleigh regular mixture has been a popular favorite of countless smokers for generations. A traditional blend of burley tobaccos made in Kentucky.

This description sounds wonderful and lovely making me want to jump right into smoking.  Before doing so, let’s take a look at the blend breakdown.

Info & Overview

Brand/Manufacturer: Sir Walter Raleigh/Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG) 

Category: Aromatic Burley

Blend Components: Burley

Flavorings: Anisette and Sweet Sugar

Cut Type: Course Cut

Available Packaging: 1.5 oz pouch/7 oz can/14 oz can

Price: $4.62 USD per pouch/$20.04 per 7oz can/$38.18 per 14 oz can

On to the review…

(Sir Walter Raleigh Pipe Tobacco First Impressions YouTube video can be found here)

From the Pouch: Upon opening the seal I am met with a very rich, pleasant tobacco smell, similar to Red Man or Levi Garret chewing tobacco with prominent notes of chocolate.  The tobacco color consists of dark browns and the cut was more shag than course in my opinion.  Moisture content out of the pouch was perfect, however, I did find a few stems that needed to be removed before packing and smoking.      

Smoking Notes: The tobacco was easy to pack and light.  In fact, the burn and performance of the tobacco was not bad at all.  I had no problem keeping each bowl lit and the tobacco burned at a nice pace.  The strength of the tobacco was mild and the body was an overall mild + (almost medium bodied).  The major problem with this tobacco is the taste and aroma.  They are both non-existent.  I ended up smoking a total of six bowls of Sir Walter Raleigh Original (four in the cobs and two in the briar).  Not one single smoking experience provided me with any flavor.  Truly, not once did I get any tastes good or bad from this smoke.  It was just….there.  The room note at times did hint toward a chocolate essence, however, I’m honestly not sure if that was real or my mind hoping for it.  Granted, it is important for a tobacco to perform well in the bowl, however, I smoke to enjoy great tastes and smells in from my pipes and tobaccos.  I got neither from this blend.  

Overall Impression: 91 years of blandness.  Maybe I missed something, but I never got anything from this blend….nothing!  Flavor was non-existent, at times the room note hinted at a coco chocolate but rarely developed, and the strength of the tobacco was very mild.  The tobacco did burn well and stayed lit easily, so that is one positive.  If I am going to spend money on tobacco and put forth the time and effort of enjoying a pipe, it will not be on Sir Walter Raleigh Original pipe tobacco.  This will easily be my first and only pouch of this tobacco.  91 years this blend has survived!  Wow, my mind is blown on why and how.        

Tobacco Score: (2 out of 5 pipes)

Stay tuned as we study a different OTC Pipe Tobacco Pouch next week. Until then don’t forget to slow down, simplify, and sip on a pipe. Cheers!

Current Order of OTC Pipe Tobacco Pouch Enjoyment 

  1. Sir Walter Raleigh (it’s the only one I’ve smoked thus far and won’t be here long, guaranteed!)

Tobacco & Tomes

A review of Former’s Bird’s Eye Flake & the book Later by Stephen King

I filmed a first impressions, “Pop-the-Top”, tobacco review of Former’s Bird’s Eye Flake last weekend, in which, I found the blend to be “just ok”.  The video for my first impressions, and review of the book Later by Stephen King, can be found here (FYI, watch the video until the end for a special surprise).  

I must confess, I failed to acknowledge, mention, or even purposefully detect the perique in the Former’s Bird’s Eye blend during my initial impression.  The only indication I found during my first smoke experience was the deep, rich fruit notes I detected on the nose when smelling the freshly opened tin.  Now that I have been able to smoke this blend over the course of a full week, I am much more “in-tune” to what the blend has to offer and will discuss my final score below. 

Info & Overview

Brand: Former’s 

Category: VaPer 

Blend Components: Virginia; Perique

Flavorings: None

Cut Type: Broken Flake

Available Packaging: 50g tin

Price: $10.50 USD

On to the review…

From the Tin: From the tin, the tobacco is presented as broken flakes.  Understandably, the manufacturer sells this tobacco as a flake tobacco; however, the flakes I encountered were broken, not full flakes like that of Orlik Golden Sliced or Dunhill Flake.  The tobacco is very, very dry upon opening the tin, almost overly dry.  This is a bit concerning, as the tobacco will not only burn hotter while smoking but may be too dry to age well in the cellar.  The broken flakes are light golden and yellow in color.  The perique is not evident unless you purposefully look for it.  The smell from the tin is a straight up hay barn, no qualms about it.  Due to the dryness of the flakes, the tobacco required no dry time.  To be completely honest, I almost considered re-hydrating some of the tobacco but did not do so.   

Tasting Notes:  I always find it interesting how a blend changes from the first bowl to the lasting crumbs of an empty tin.  We all hear it said, and it is absolutely true, if you don’t like a blend at first, give it some time and see how either it or your tastes change.  My initial tasting impressions of Former’s Bird’s Eye Flake was not bad by any stretch of the imagination; however, after giving the blend my full attention over the past week, the tastes really became clear.  Former’s Bird’s Eye Flake offers the smoker tastes of grass, hay, spicey black pepper, wheat/grain, and dry cereal, similar to bran flakes.  Initially, I thought I was tasting a leather quality but after smoking almost the entire tin, I realize it wasn’t leather, but an earthy, dried fruit note found from the perique.  Side note, I only found this taste to be present a few times.  In fact, it was so random I’m not completely comfortable listing it as a given taste you will experience while smoking this blend.    

Overall Impression:  First and foremost, quick cadence smokers be warned!  If you pull hard or fast on this tobacco, it WILL give you tongue bite.  Maybe it’s due to the dryness, maybe it’s the sparce perique…  Either way, this is a tobacco to be slowly sipped and enjoyed.  As I scored this tobacco “just ok” in my initial impression, I continue to hold strong to that thought.  The tobacco is a good quality and I’m glad I had the opportunity to smoke it; however, there is really nothing special about this blend.  It’s a pretty standard Virginia flake (with a sprinkle of perique) and with all the various options on the market, there are much better choices I can put my time and money into.  For me, the major drawback of the blend is its extreme dry character.  I feel this probably hurts the quality of the tobacco more than it helps.  Is it worth a try?  Sure!  Will I be filling voids in my cellar with tins of Former’s Bird’s Eye Flake?  No.  Score from my initial impressions to the end of the tin, not changed.        

Tobacco Initial Impression Score: 3 out of 5 pipes

Tobacco End of Tin Overall Score: 3 out of 5 pipes

Later 

by: Stephen King

A new novel by Stephen King, I couldn’t resist giving it a read.  Not to mention, I am a sucker for the cover art on a book and Later, screamed interesting read.  I know, I know, “you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover” but let’s be real people.  All of us do it, whether intentional or not.  So, coming out of the pandemic and having the chance to read the new King novel, I took total advantage.  I will say, I was hesitant to purchase the book as the last few King novels have been less than satisfying, thus, not warranting a second read.  Therefore, I took advantage of my local library’s online e-book option called Libby.  Not only was I able to read the novel for free, but the book is also automatically returned on its due date.  I’m typically terrible about returning books to the library on time, so this is a welcomed change for me.      

Here are the specific details on the novel:            

Info & Overview

Title:  Later

Author:  Stephen King

Publisher:  Hard Case Crime

Publication Year:  March 2021  

Genre:  Fiction/Crime/Horror

Number of Pages:  272

Price:  $9.56 USD (mass-market paperback); $9.99 (Kindle e-version) 

On to the review…

As discussed in my video review of the book on YouTube, I am using a new review system similar to what I use when tasting wines.  I will be breaking my thoughts into the following categories: Successes, Struggles, Suggested Audience, and Score.  With that being said, let’s dive right in. 

Successes

  1. It was easy to relate to the characters in the book, especially the main character and narrator of the story, Jamie Conklin.  Maybe it was the modern-day era that made the connection to characters smoother, or maybe King just did an overall better job at bringing out the details of each person.  Either way, the characters in the book were well done and helped make for a good story.  
  2. Building off of Success #1, King does a really nice job of having characters appear and reappear throughout the story (hints the book title Later).  I especially found an interest in the reappearances of Jamie’s mom’s NYPD detective ex-girlfriend Liz.  The way King manipulates her relationship and personal desire to other characters was very well done. 
  3. The final success complement’s King’s persuasive writing.  Even though this was a fictional story, the manner in which it is written and delivered makes it highly believable and realistic.  The setting for the story is modern day in New York City (or just on the outskirts of the city itself).  King continuously pulls the reader out of reality then expertly pushes us back in.  The set-up is so good one may think something similar to this story could indeed happen in real life.  

Struggles

  1. There were editing issues within the kindle (e-book) version of the publication.  Simple things such as “s” on the end of words that would never have needed them or made sense for them to have a plural or possessive plural function.  Also, there were random symbols and letters in some of the words and sentences.  For example, “As I wal%ked up the 3tepes, I noticed the door slightly ajars”.  I’m sorry but at the level Stephen King is publishing, there should be zero editing errors, no exceptions.  I hope these errors were not found in hard copies of the book and am allowing the benefit of the doubt that it had to do with some kind of electronic upload/formatting failure when pushed to kindle.  
  2. If you follow King on any type of social media, you undoubtably know his philosophy and moral stance when it comes to politics.  The same can be said for reading his books.  There were a few parts in the story where King used his writing platform to make stabs at individuals in today’s current political world.  Whether you agree with his stance or not (I am NOT opening that can of worms on this website.  Visit your friendly local news organization to find all the political gossip you can handle), the jabs and snide remarks toward those he agrees and disagrees with are unnecessary and do not help push the story plot forward in any way, shape, or form.  The book would be just as effective and enjoyable without bringing the political rhetoric into the story.  After all, I read to escape the bull crap of this world (such as politics), therefore, when it follows me into my pastime, I begin to look for other authors to satisfy my storytelling needs, who understand, fictional stories can do without real-life horror.  
  3. The final struggle of the book is two-fold as the first part is somewhat the cause of the second.  As mentioned above, the main character is a young boy named Jamie Conklin, and Jamie can see dead people.  Yes, this theme has already been successfully achieved by M. Night Shyamalan in the 1990’s blockbuster hit The Sixth Sense.  Although a touch different than the Bruce Willis film, as dead people only last three days and must tell the truth when asked a question, King did do a nice job of using Jamie’s unique skill to bend the plot into an enjoyable rat-race (read the book and you’ll better understand what I mean).  With that being said, the second part of struggle three is related to this special ability.  King uses it to abruptly end the book causing the entire story to fall flat and just end in a “happily-ever-after” sort of manner.  A very tense moment at the end just kind of stops and literally, “walks out the door.”  Really!?  We had all this major build-up and were staged for the grand finale and what do we get?  A moldy bologna sandwich.  I don’t know if deadlines were tight, ideas had run dry, or he was just looking for a sequel opportunity (mark my words now…See You Later by Stephen King, set to debut December 2022).  No matter what the case, this is becoming characteristic of King’s writing.  He just doesn’t finish strong anymore.  That was one of the reasons I started reading his work 20+ years ago.  He wrote a great story with a very satisfying ending.  No, it may not have been a happy ending, but it was satisfying.  King has lost his touch when it comes to a solid finish.  Period.  Best word to describe it, unfulfilling.                    

Suggested Audience

Obviously, this story is written for a mature audience (adults), however, this would be an acceptable novel for a mature young adult or teen.  Also, if you are looking to dive into Stephen King’s work, this would be a good novel to start with for two reasons. First, there are no characters linked to a previous story/book and secondly, it is a horror novel, but it’s not demented horror like we find in several of his other stories (i.e., you will be able to sleep at night).   

Overall Book Score: 3 out of 5 books

So, there you have it, a Tobacco and a Tome.  Thank you again for visiting The Pipe Professor webpage.  Stay tuned, both here and on The Pipe Professor YouTube channel, for more literature, tobacco, pipes, cigars, and timeless treasure content.  I hope to post bi-weekly (alternating) Sundays on both platforms.      

Until next time, thanks for reading.  Cheers!  

Pipe Tobacco Review

Samuel Gawith Squadron Leader with Perique

Samuel Gawith tobacco company is one of the oldest and most well know producers of pipe tobacco, cigars, and snuff.  Established in 1792, the company operates out of the United Kingdom.  The specific tobacco we are discussing for this review, Samuel Gawith Squadron Leader with Perique, was re-introduced to the pipe smoking market in 2015 with a special release of 2000 tins from Smokingpipes.com (SPC).  Since then, SPC has had two consecutive releases of this limited edition tobacco; 2018 where they produced and sold 3000 tins, and 2019 where 4500 tins were provided to the pipe smoking consumer base.  I am hopeful we will see a 2020 production with 5000+ tins, however, with the current worldwide pandemic, things may not turn out in our favor.  Only time will tell…  

Info & Overview

Brand: Samuel Gawith

Category: English

Blend Components: Virginia, Latakia, Orientals, Perique

Flavorings: None

Cut Type: Ribbon

Available Packaging: 50g tin

Price: $13.75 USD

On to the review…

From the Tin: Interesting combination in the tin.  The tobacco shows lots of light and dark brown leaves.  The dark black latakia and perique leaf is certainly viable and present.  The tin note is heavy latakia with the synonymous campfire/burn wood scent.  There is also a naturally sweet, similar to honeysuckle, undertone in the tobacco tin smell.   

Tasting Notes: I still recall the first time I tried this tobacco.  Just to be straightforward, from the first bowl, I was hooked.  This is a wonderfully made tobacco that I find extremely tasteful and satisfying.  From the tin, the tobacco yields a good moisture level, however, as I enjoy smoking my blends a little on the drier side, I allowed the tobacco to sit out for 20-30 minutes prior to loading the pipe and smoking.  Consistently, this tobacco offers tastes of wood cedar chips, dry grasses/hay, campfire, and burnt wood notes.  There were times I noted a spicey pepper essence, however, this typically dissipated quickly after the start of the bowl.  The tobacco burns down to a fine white ash leaving little dottle in the bottom of the pipe.  The smoke is a cool, thick, and white with a room note that is what you would expect from a heavy latakia or oriental blend.  Not spouse approved.  Overall body of the smoke I would rate as medium/full while the strength of the tobacco is full.   

Overall Impression: As I stated in the opening, this tobacco is exceptional.  My only issue regarding the blend has to do with the production and availability, not the tobacco itself.  As a limited/special run, this blend is very hard to acquire and not in regular supply.  It could, however, be argued that most of the Samuel Gawith blends are currently difficult to purchase, making this tobacco just a normal for us in the States.  If you are ever provided the opportunity to purchase Samuel Gawith’s Squadron Leader with Perique, I highly recommend you do so.  Keep an eye open on the Smokingpipes.com website for their “hopeful” annual release of this blend as you will be highly rewarded for your wait.  

Tobacco Score:

Interested in seeing the video review for this blend? Visit The Pipe Professor YouTube channel at the following link: https://youtu.be/XJz61yRApko for video review of this tobacco.

Be well,

April/May Pipefuls Community Review

Cornell & Diehl Smokingpipes 20th Anniversary XX Flake

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*The above photo was taken from the smokingpipes.com website. The author of this post is not the owner of the above photo.

For those readers who also listen to the Pipefuls podcast, I recently made a request for anyone wishing to review Cornell & Diehl’s Smokingpipes 20th Anniversary Blend XX Flake to post their review under the comments on The Pipe Professor webpage.  This is the post that was referenced during the podcast and available for anyone wishing to contribute to the community review of SPC 20th Anniversary XX Flake (regular not the dark flake).

Below you will find the information and blend details.  If you would like to participate, please write your review of this month’s blend below in the comments of this post.  As the Pipefuls podcast works to build up community participation, I will be selecting reviews posted below to be read aloud on the Pipefuls podcast Episode 6 premiering May 10, 2020.

If you would like to participate in the Pipefuls community review, please write your thoughts, experiences, like/dislike, or other information you have noted about the SPC 20th Anniversary XX Flake below in the comments.  Anyone wishing to participate has from April 12th through May 8th to post comments or reviews about the blend.

Info & Overview

Brand: Cornell & Diehl

Category: Virginia

Blend Components: Perique, Oriental, Virginia

Flavorings: None

Cut Type: Flake

Available Packaging: 2 oz tin

Price: $12.00 USD

Link to Pipefuls Episode 4 on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/pipefuls-episode-4-interview-with-chad-yarbrough/id1501977611?i=1000471231456

As always, thank you for visiting the website and supporting the Pipefuls podcast and YouTube videocast.  I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy during these trying times.  As always, be well and cheers!

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Top 5 Pipe Tobaccos of 2018

Top 5 Pipe Tobaccos of 2018

Top 5 2018 Pic #1

Now that 2018 has officially come to an end, it’s time to reflect, remember, and revel the pipe tobaccos I enjoyed most during the year.  If you follow other pipe smokers through online social media (i.e., Instagram, YouTube, Twitter) you will note several of our pipe smoking friends are sharing their favorite blends from 2018.  I always enjoy seeing and reading these lists as they prompt my own inquire to explore tobaccos others find enjoyable.

On a more negative note, pipe smokers, and the hobby in general, experienced several hardships over 2018.  From the closing of the McClelland Tobacco Company, to the halt of production on Dunhill tobacco, and the addition of ridiculous warning labels to our favorite tins, pipe enthusiast continue to remain optimistic and support the hobby to its fullest.  If anything can be gleaned from these trials, it’s that we need to remain vigilant at all times and never take the market for granted.  If you find a specific tobacco blend or tobacco you like, stock up.  It goes without saying that things can change (and did) in the blink of an eye.  Don’t get caught off guard.  If you like it, buy it.

Now that we’ve covered the negative, let’s examine a more positive topic.  Below I have detailed my five favorite pipe tobaccos from this past year along with my biggest disappointment.  Please note that with any review, or end-of-year list, all information presented reflects an individual opinion.  If you don’t agree, that’s fine.  Every individual’s personal background is subject to their own experiences. Thus, sharing those individual opinions is part of what I find enjoyable with this hobby.  Without further ado, I present my Top 5 Pipe Tobaccos of 2018. I hope you enjoy this list and please feel free to leave comments and thoughts regarding your own experience with these blends below.

Tobacco #5 for 2018

Boswell’s Titus

Boswell's Titus.png

Info & Overview

Brand: Boswell’s Pipe & Tobacco

Category: American English

Blend Components: Black Cavendish; Burley; Latakia; Perique; Virginia

Flavorings: None

Cut Type: Ribbon

Available Packaging: Bulk

Price: $5.10 USD per ounce

Tasting Notes: Named after the family dog that frequented the Boswell shop, the Titus blend is described as a “gentle giant” in remembrance of the family pup.  Although classified by Boswell’s as a light English blend, I’m not sure I would catalog this tobacco as an English at all, rather, an Aromatic with a spritz of Latakia.  With that being said, I must admit, I agree with the gentle giant description as the blend is certainly mild.  Further, tobaccoreviews.comdoes not list any flavorings for this blend, however, the aroma from the tin, or bag in this case, has a heavy vanilla scent with light campfire undertone in its profile.  When smoked, this tobacco showed tasting notes of nuts, oaky wood, vanilla, cream, and sweet ripe fruits.  Further, although Titus is a gentle giant, when puffed too hard or too fast, this blend tends to leave the smoker with a slight remanence of tongue bite. I found myself enjoying it most in a cob throughout the year and would certainly recommend this blend to any aromatic smoker looking for options to transition into English tobaccos.

 

Tobacco #4 for 2018

G.L. Pease Westminster

G.L. Pease Westminster

Info & Overview

Brand: G. L. Pease

Category: Balkan

Blend Components: Latakia; Oriental/Turkish; Virginia

Flavorings: None

Cut Type: Ribbon

Available Packaging: 2 oz tin, 8 oz tin, or 16 oz tin

Price: $10.63 USD (2 oz tin); $35.70 (8 oz tin); $61.63 (16 oz tin)

Tasting Notes:  This tobacco was a pleasant surprise to me during 2018. Being old hat to seasoned pipe and tobacco enthusiast, I first tried this blend on a ‘Pop the Top’ segment for my YouTube channel in March of 2018.  Since that day, I have never looked back.  Westminster is a rich, smooth, medium to full bodied Balkan blend that is enhanced by its sweet red Virginias.  What I find unique about this tobacco is its ability to offer such a diverse smoking experience based upon the pipe I select to enjoy it with. That’s right, depending on the briar, cob, or meerschaum I choose to use, this tobacco offers extraordinary differences in its smoking profile, all of which are very much enjoyable.  This diversity, along with a tasting profile that is woody, campfire smoky, smooth, and toasty are precisely why Westminster has earned the #4 spot on my Top 5 Pipe Tobaccos of 2018 list.

 

Tobacco #3 for 2018

Dunhill Flake

Dunhill Flake Picture

Info & Overview

Brand: Dunhill

Category: Virginia

Blend Components: Straight Virginia

Flavorings: None

Cut Type: Flake

Available Packaging: 50 g tin

Price: No longer in production

Tasting Notes:  As I discussed in the opening of this post, production on Dunhill tobacco blends was halted earlier this year.  Anticipating the market would quickly sell out of specific Dunhill pipe tobaccos, I managed to pick up a few tins of Dunhill Flake before its disappearance in late summer.  Being a gorgeous, thinly sliced, medium brown flake, this tobacco is absolutely top-notch offering the smoker notes of lemon zest, fresh hay/grass (yes, William Serad of Pipes and Tobaccos Magazine, we all know you hate this description…get over it), yeasty bread, and sweet tea.  Dunhill Flake will be greatly missed by many pipe smokers as it was a true quality pure Virginia tobacco.  If you are able to find this blend for a reasonable price (let me reiterate reasonable) be sure to pick some up and enjoy a tobacco that is soon to be, up in smoke.

 

Tobacco #2 for 2018

Cornell & Diehl Star of the East Flake

C&D Star of the East Flake

Info & Overview

Brand: Cornell & Diehl

Category: English

Blend Components: Latakia; Oriental/Turkish; Virginia

Flavorings: None

Cut Type: Flake

Available Packaging: 2 oz or 8 oz tin

Price: $9.78 USD (2 oz); $29.33 (8 oz)

Tasting Notes:  If you are a frequent follower of The Pipe Professor webpage, it will come as no shock that Cornell & Diehl’s Star of the East Flake is my #2 tobacco of 2018.  This tobacco is said to be a replacement for the highly sought-after Esoterica Penzance, however, in my opinion, Star of the East Flake not only outperforms Penzance, it is an all-around better smoke (and readily available).  Offering a bold, latakia forward experience, Star of the East Flake provides the smoker with a thick, creamy, rustic smoking experience. Tastes of dark fruits, fig, and earth accompany a cool, dry smoke allowing you to be transferred to a state of euphoria.  You can read my full, in-depth review of this blend here.  If you are a lover of latakia and have not tried this blend, I highly recommend you do so. This is one you don’t want to miss out on.

 

Tobacco #1 for 2018

Cornell & Diehl Professor

C&D Professor Picture

Info & Overview

Brand: Cornell & Diehl

Category: English

Blend Components: Latakia; Oriental/Turkish; Perique; Virginia

Flavorings: None

Cut Type: Ribbon

Available Packaging: 2 oz tin

Price: $9.78 USD

Tasting Notes:  Before progressing any further into this review, I want to note that this selection has nothing to do with the fact that my website is known as The Pipe Professor. In fact, it was through unintentional means that I found this beautiful blend.  Let me explain.  Like many of you, I shop at online tobacconist who offer free shipping on orders of $95 or more.  It never seems to fail that I will have selected an online cart full of glorious tobaccos that totals $88 and well, it just seems silly to pay $8.99 in shipping when you can just throw in one more $10 tin of tobacco to reach the free shipping offer…. right?  That was precisely the case for me with Cornell & Diehl Professor.  I added this tobacco to an online purchase in order to qualify for free shipping in April of this past year.  Low and behold, it is an absolute diamond in the rough. Providing tasting notes of sweet and sour Orientals, woody earth, dried grass, spicy fruits, and a lingering musty room note that is remanence of an old library or book store, Cornell & Diehl’s Professor has earned my #1 spot for 2018.  Although it started the year as a free shipping add on, Professor has now become the crux of my online ordering.

 

Top Tobacco Disappointment of 2018

Cornell & Diehl Mad Fiddler Flake

C&D Mad Fiddler Flake

Info & Overview

Brand: Cornell & Diehl

Category: Virginia

Blend Components: Black Cavendish; Cigar Leaf; Perique; Virginia

Flavorings: None

Cut Type: Flake

Available Packaging: 2 oz tin

Price: $9.78 USD

Tasting Notes: I find it somewhat funny that my top two tobacco of the year are produced by the same company that makes what I found to be the worst tobacco I smoked in 2018 (in fact, it may be the worst tobacco I’ve ever smoked).  I’ve always enjoyed a creepy H. P. Lovecraft story and find his writing to reflect a genre currently overrun with zombies and zombie apocalypses.  Being a part of the ‘Great Old One’ series, which is a direct link to Lovecraft’s fictional work, I figured I would pick a tin of this blend up and give it a go.  After all, the ratings and reviews I had read online all suggested Mad Fiddler Flake to be something special.  As it turns out, this tobacco and me, don’t pair well.  Point blank, I find this blend to be absolutely disgusting. Straight out of the tin I endured an aroma similar to that of dried dog food.  Yes, dried dog food…weird.  Granted, the flakes all look wonderful, however, upon smoking the tobacco not only performed and tasted horrific (maybe that’s why it’s part of the Lovecraft line…. horror), it leaves a lasting, penny-like metallic taste in my mouth. No offense, I have never enjoyed eating basic coinage.  Yes, I understand that many people find this blend to be enjoyable, but not this guy. Those of you who like this one have nothing to fear (no pun intended), I won’t be attempting to cellar any of it in the future.

Thank you for visiting The Pipe Professor website.  I hope you have enjoyed my Top 5 Pipe Tobaccos of 2018 and please stay tuned for more reviews and exciting content in the upcoming year.  As always, I hope each of you have a blessed 2019 and until next time, cheers!

* All tobacco tin pictures and blend information (excluding tasting notes) were taken from tobaccoreviews.com and smokingpipes.com.  The writer of this post is not the owner of the above photos/blend information related to each tobacco and does not take credit for their creation. 

Dr. Kyle Andrew Signature

Pipe Tobacco Review

Presbyterian Mixture

Presbyterian Mixture Picture

Recently, a batch of Presbyterian Mixture hit the online markets after a long-standing drought.  Similar to other hard-to-find tobaccos, within a matter of days, the availability of this tobacco was no more.  We are once again forced to stare at the dreaded Out of Stockmessage that fills our spirts with hope that one day, we may again have the opportunity to aggressively purchase more tins of this ‘rare’ tobacco than we will ever need or consume.

In all honesty, I feel I had ample time to purchase more tins of Presbyterian Mixture, however, wanted to make sure I enjoyed it enough before doing so (I know…logic actually prevailed, shocking isn’t it).  Thus, a deep dive into the farthest corners of my tobacco cellar rewarded my daring excursion with a tin of Presbyterian Mixture from 2016.  With a few years of age, my interests were even further piqued and now it was time to see what all the hustle was about.

Info & Overview

Brand: Planta

Category: English

Blend Components: Latakia, Oriental/Turkish, Virginia

Flavorings: None

Cut Type: Ribbon/Course

Available Packaging: 50g tin

Price: $10.00 USD

 

On to the review…

 

From the Tin: Initial nose on the tin proved the blend to contain Latakia.  Smokey campfire accompanied by natural dark fruit and woodsy walnut notes dominated the smell from the tin.  The tobacco was almost spot on in the moisture department only requiring 10 minutes of air time to dry.  Overall, the tobacco mixture is medium dark with light Virginia flakes interspersed throughout.

Tasting Notes: Unless you are a pipe and tobacco enthusiast that’s been living under some rock the past 10 years, you will note the great debate of whether or not the blend actually contains any Perique, even though it is not listed in the blend components.  After smoking several bowls of Presbyterian Mixture, I would have a hard time defending the argument that it doesn’t contain Perique.  In fact, I would almost certainly bet there is a reasonable amount of Perique in this blend.  Throughout each smoking experience I was greeted by a hefty dose of spice and pepper.  Certainly, a characteristic of Perique.  In most cases when the spicy pepper appeared it was not balanced well with the other components/tastes which was somewhat shocking to me as the tin had already accumulated 2 years of age.  I noted tastes of burnt toast, nutmeg, and dry wood while smoking and the room note was remanence of an antique sweet perfumed fragrance.  The tobacco burned well and was medium bodied throughout.  Strength of the tobacco was also a straight forward medium proving to not be overpowering in the nicotine department.  The tobacco burned down to a nice white ash each time leaving little to no dottle remaining in the bowl.

Overall Impression: It may be hard to believe based upon the tasting notes above, however, Presbyterian Mixture was just ‘ok’ in my opinion.  I experienced nothing that would cause me to speak negatively of this tobacco, but on the flip side, the ‘wow’ factor was also far from present.  I am sure there are lots of pipe smokers who enjoy this medium English blend, but for me, it’s nothing to jump up and down about. In fact, based upon my smoking experience with this cellared tin, I chose not to purchase any additional tins while still available.  If you enjoy an exclusive, medium Latakia forward smoke, pick a few tins up next time it becomes available.  For me, I think I will pass on the Presbyterian.

Tobacco Score:

3 Pipes

Dr. Kyle Andrew Signature

Pipe Tobacco Review

Dunhill Nightcap

Dunhill Nightcap Pic

In February of this year, I reviewed Dunhill Elizabethan Mixture and discussed the unfortunate circumstance of Dunhill pipe tobacco coming to an end.  Currently, Dunhill blends are available at several online and B&M retailers, however, nobody truly knows how long the current stock will last.  I have heard opposing rumors from both ends of the spectrum regarding Dunhill pipe tobaccos.  *WARNING RUMOR ALERT*  Rumor #1, once the online and local B&M retailers run out of stock, it will not be replaced.  Rumor #2, there are warehouses full of Dunhill tobaccos that will last for at least another year, if not more.

No matter what the case may be, I think we all learned our lesson with McClelland.  If you like it, stock up!  I hope to smoke and review my way through most of the Dunhill portfolio before the end of the year, thus, giving you, the reader, a full analysis of the various blends before you decide to buy and/or stock-up for your own enjoyment.

Info & Overview

Brand: Dunhill

Category: English

Blend Components: Latakia, Oriental/Turkish, Perique, Virginia

Flavorings: None

Cut Type: Ribbon

Available Packaging: 50g tin

Price: $12.45 USD

Tin Date: October 2017

On to the review…

From the Tin: The tobacco is beautifully packed and is comprised of a mix between dark latakia tobacco, dark chestnut Orientals, and medium brown Virginias.  Tin smell is an overwhelming campfire smokiness with minor hints of a dark fruit sweetness.  Moister level is almost perfect straight out of the tin, requiring minimal, if any, drying time.

Tasting Notes: Dunhill nightcap is a completely full-body, full-flavor smoking experience…period. The tobacco burns great and provides a thick white smoke whose aromatic characteristic would be classified by most non-smokers as offensive.  Tastes included essences of damp forest floor, smoked meats, burnt/charred wood, and rich black coffee.  The vitamin N was certainly noticeable which required me to slow my smoking cadence and enjoy the bold profile this tobacco possessed.  Even when I did test the waters by smoking the blend hot and fast, it never gave me tongue bite or dried my palate.

Overall Impression: First and foremost, I would not recommend this tobacco to a novice pipe smoker, even if they are transitioning from other tobacco usage methods.  Further, I would recommend smoking Dunhill Nightcap on a full stomach, as the nicotine level is most evident.  This tobacco is certainly something special and should be treated accordingly. I very much enjoyed smoking through several bowls of this blend and highly recommend it to pipe smokers who love a full-bodied English blend.  Although Latakia is said to mellow from aging, I am certain this blend will only get better with time.  You can bet I will be stocking my cellar with Dunhill Nightcap for enjoyment in the very near future.

Tobacco Score:

5 Pipes

My parting thoughts on this blend are nothing but positive.  Without a doubt, Dunhill pipe tobaccos are something special (at least to me) and Dunhill Nightcap upholds my expectations for providing a most enjoyable smoking experience.  If you are a lover of latakia or strong, full-bodied tobaccos, this blend is a must try. Further, if you are one of the many tobacco coinsurers that are transitioning from cigars to pipe tobacco, this blend may be for you.  Pick a tin or two up and enjoy the gifts we have been given before it is gone.

Dr. Kyle Andrew Signature

Cornell & Diehl Star of the East Flake

Star of the East Flake

C&D Star of the East Flake Pic

Before coming across Kyle Weiss’s review of this blend on the Pipes Magazine Radio Show webpage, I had never heard of this tobacco.  After reading his review, my interest was certainly piqued, but what caught my attention more than anything was his reference to Star of the East Flake as having the potential to be a very close substitute for Esoterica’s Penzance.  Now, being the Penzance junky I am, there was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity to give this blend a try.  After all, if it even came close to the coveted, but hard to obtain Penzance, then maybe the ludicrous lucky hunt for my Esoterica favorite would no longer have to exist.  So, is it truly a Penzance replica?  Let’s find out.

Info & Overview

Brand: Cornell & Diehl

Category: English

Blend Components: Latakia, Oriental/Turkish, Virginia

Flavorings: None

Cut Type: Flake

Available Packaging: 2oz tin (or) 8oz tin

Price: $9.77 USD (or) $29.33

 

On to the review…

 

From the Tin: This tobacco has a very intriguing tin note that will lure any lover of latakia into its memorizing grasp. The smell from the tin offers a burnt, smoky, campfire essence with deep, dark fruits, and rich tobacco notes. The presentation of long dark broken flake cuts is very appealing.  The tobacco is easily rubbed out or brittle enough to be folded and stuffed (larger bowl pipes only).  The tobacco’s moister level is a tad more than I like it, however, minimal drying time is required in order to enjoy this blend.

Tasting Notes: Boom!  Right from the start the aroma and taste let you know latakia is present.  However, let me be clear.  This is one excellent tasting tobacco.  Thick, creamy white smoke that lend itself to a figgy, natural sweet fruit taste.  There was also a minor floral, earth note that appeared halfway through the smoking experience.  The smoke is cool and dry offering a room note that is reminisce of an antique rustic book store.  The strength of the tobacco is medium while the body medium-full.  The tobacco burns extremely well leaving a nice white ash. One of the most enjoyable characteristics this tobacco offered me was the lasting aftertaste experienced long after the bowl was finished.  The taste lingers beyond the completion of smoking, continuing to provide enjoyment throughout the day.  A true sign of a quality tobacco.

Overall Impression: Is this tobacco a replacement for Penzance?  In my opinion, no.  It very well may be better than Penzance!  Don’t get me wrong, Esoterica Penzance is an excellent tobacco, however, one must take into consideration its limited availability and extreme cost and ask themselves, “Is this really worth it?”  With excellent blends such as Star of the East Flake on the market, that by the way, is a 1/3 of the price and regularly available, pipe smokers would be crazy not to give this one a go.  If you enjoy a rich, bold, complex smoking experience, Star of the East Flake is a must try.  This tobacco is very much a contender for my 2018 Top 5 list, and who knows, maybe the #1 tobacco of the year.

Tobacco Score:

5 Pipes

Dr. Kyle Andrew Signature

Pipe Tobacco Review

Dunhill Elizabethan Mixture

Dunhill Elizabethan Mixture Pic

Are we seeing the beginning of the end?  Will pipe smokers of the future ever get to experience the Dunhill blends of today?  Do you need to go overboard and stock up on Dunhill blends before they are all gone?  I can only answer each of these questions with…maybe.

In late 2016, the pipe smoking world was put into panic at the announcement that Dunhill would be discontinuing production on its pipe tobacco blends.  At the time, the pipe community was left in limbo, as details pertaining to the discontinuation were minimal at best.  Well, we have finally been given some clarification as to the future of Dunhill pipe tobaccos.

Two weeks ago, the Briar Report (http://www.briarreport.com) reached out to British American Tobacco (BAT) to inquire about the status of Dunhill pipe tobacco production.  The following is the response they received from BAT which can be found on their website:

“Thank you for getting in touch about this. At the end of 2016 we announced that we would be ceasing supply of Dunhill cigars and pipe tobacco by the end of 2017. Like many companies, we continually review and refine our global strategy to ensure the sustainability of our business for the future. These products make up a very small part of our overall business – the rest of the Dunhill portfolio is not affected by this decision. While we appreciate that this may be disappointing news for some consumers and industry partners, these decisions help us to remain focused on, and investing in, the right parts of our business to ensure our longevity and profitability for the future. When asked to confirm if the actual production of Dunhill Pipe Tobaccos and Dunhill Cigars has already ended they reaffirmed that they are no longer in production.”

Like many pipe smokers, I had already been preparing for the worst by stocking my cellar ever so gradually with my favorite Dunhill blends.  Therefore, when the end was announced, I wouldn’t be scrambling to find what remains of these buried treasures.  Just to be transparent, the tobacco sampled for this review was from 2013 and reflects a semi-aged tobacco, not a fresh tin.

Info & Overview

Brand: Dunhill

Category: VaPer (Virginia Perique)

Blend Components: Virginia, Perique

Flavorings: None

Cut Type: Ribbon

Available Packaging: 50g tin

Price: $9.87 USD

 

On to the review…

 

From the Tin: This is your typical Dunhill ribbon cut that is always easy to prep and pack.  Visually, the cut shows several shades of light and dark brown Virginia tobaccos with the occasional black leaf making an appearance.  The smell from the tin provides a rich sweet hay accompanied by plumy, fig, raisin notes.  The tobacco has a perfect moisture content needing no dry time, however, you will want to jar this one up upon opening, as it will dry out quickly if left unattended.

Tasting Notes: Dunhill Elizabethan is one of the simplest tobaccos I have ever smoked.  It lights easily, behaves throughout needing very few relights, and only improves as you progress through the smoking experience.  The initial tastes were remanence of a fresh batch of yeasty dough.  Although perique is associated with a spicy smoke, I did not find that to be the case with this blend.  Yes, there was an initial faint peppery, spice, however, it dissipated quickly not overpowering other flavors.  Halfway through the bowl, a creamy, almost vanilla, note appeared continuing in intensity until the end of the bowl.  Other tastes I noted throughout the smoking experience were a dark fruit character and a bright grassy likeness.  I found the room note to be extremely pleasant and welcoming, reminding me of the lingering scent one may note just before entering their favorite B&M.  Tobacco burned down to a solid white ash each smoke leaving little to no dottle in the bottom of the bowl.

Overall Impression: In my opinion, there are tobacco blends that come along during one’s smoking journey that make such an impression they are placed on a higher pedestal than other tobaccos.  Dunhill Elizabethan mixture is one of those blends.  This tobacco is refined, delicate, and certainly something ever pipe smoker should have the chance to experience.  If you haven’t already purchased this blend, please do yourself a favor and buy some before it’s gone.  I promise you will not be sorry you did.

Tobacco Score:

5 Pipes

To leave you with some parting thoughts, we know for a fact that the Dunhill pipe tobacco blends, as they are currently produced, are running on borrowed time.  If you enjoy, or think you may enjoy, any of these blends in the future, now is the time to stock up.  No, you don’t have to go haywire about purchasing, however, once these staple blends are gone, they are gone.  Although I have well stocked my favorite blends, I am still tempted to purchase a few of the mixtures I am not as familiar with.  Why you may ask?  Because I don’t’ want to look back in 15-20 years and say, “I wish I had.”  Until next time, be blessed and cheers.

Dr. Kyle Andrew Signature

Pipe Tobacco Review

L.J. Peretti Thanksgiving Day

IMG_4046

Happy Thanksgiving to all those in the U.S. who are celebrating with family, friends, and good food.  Although easily overshadowed by both Halloween and Christmas, Thanksgiving has always been one of my personal favorites when it comes to holidays.

Hailing from Boston, Massachusetts, the L.J. Peretti Company has a well-earned reputation in the pipe tobacco world.  With an extensive portfolio of tobacco blends ranging from Burleys and Latakia to Black Cavendish and Virginias, Peretti tobaccos have something to offer every pipe smoker.  To help celebrate the Thanksgiving Day holiday, the L.J. Peretti Company has created its Thanksgiving Day blend using a time-honored formula and unique press method to marry the tobaccos for a special smoking experience.  Being both seasonal and limited in availability, the Thanksgiving Day blend has become a staple for many pipe smokers during the Thanksgiving season. For more information on the L.J. Peretti Company and their tobacco offerings visit their website at: http://www.ljperetti.com

Info & Overview

Brand: L.J. Peretti

Category: Aromatic

Blend Components: Burley, Virginia

Flavorings: Fruit, Citrus, Rum

Cut Type: Krumble Kake

Available Packaging: 4 oz. cake

Price: $20.00 USD

 

On to the review…

 

From the Tin: When looking for visual examples of tobacco blending masterpieces, the L.J. Peretti Thanksgiving Day cake is certainly nothing short of perfection.  This visually appealing cake has wonderful aromas of dried fruits, alcohol, hay, straw, and herbs.  The cake is easily torn apart for ease of rubbing out and packing.  The moister level of the tobacco is spot on and requires little to no drying time before packing and smoking.

Tasting Notes:  Over the past week and a half I have smoked several bowls of the 2017 Thanksgiving Day blend.  The best way to summarize the experience, no matter what type of pipe used (i.e., briar, cob, meerschaum) is unique.  The primary aroma of the blend is a mix of a musty perfume anise mixed with an herbal/floral spice.  Tastes consists of sweet alcohol, fruits, nuts, cloves, and mild cocoa.  The blend burns well and is mild to medium in both body and strength.

Overall Impression:  In all honesty, I have mixed emotions with this blend.  Although I have had several enjoyable bowls, mostly in cobs, each time I smoke this blend in one of my briar pipes it’s just ok.  Going back to my original description above, this blend is best summarized as unique.  I’m glad I get to enjoy it during this special time of year, but it is not a blend I will smoke on a regular or consistent basis.  In fact, I will probably have plenty left for Thanksgiving 2018.  No doubt, the presentation and history of this blend is worth giving it a try, but the end result was less than desirable for my own palate.  Maybe I will revisit the 2017 Thanksgiving Day blend next Thanksgiving.  Who knows how a year in a jar will affect this tobacco?  For only time will tell.

Tobacco Score:

3 Pipes

Dr. Kyle Andrew Signature