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
- Pouches will be reviewed in a random order, one per week, until all pouches have been sampled.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Sir Walter Raleigh (it’s the only one I’ve smoked thus far and won’t be here long, guaranteed!)