On this page, I’ve discussed some of the different tobacco varieties which I’ve come to know in my experience as a pipe smoker. Here I would like to expand on the different tobacco blends I’ve come to know and reviewed on my site. Please add your comments and share your knowledge and experience below.
English Blends are probably the best known blends and I think, you either love them or hate them. Earlier, UK laws prohibited producers to add additives/flavouring to their tobacco. The term, English Blend thus became a sort of reference to any pure, additive-free tobacco. Later on and nowadays it developed into a specific character namely a blend of predominantly Latakia with Virginia second. Master blenders has expanded on this “recipe” with many different compositions, like adding Orientals/Turkish tobaccos. In my opinion then, an English Blend would be a pure tobacco with Latakia dominant, and any mixture of Virginia, Oriental/Turkish. Old Dublin for example, is a true English Blend tobacco and have a distinctive flavour due to the Greek Oriental used in the blending. The Oriental/Turkish tobaccos provides a touch of spiciness to English Blends. Another popular English blend is Dunhill Nightcap which is a full bodied, cool burning tobacco with a smokey, earthy aroma and a hint of spiciness and peppery. Other English Blends I particular like is H&H Magnus Opus, H&H Larry’s Blend and many of GL Pease’s blends.
Dutch & American Blends
I might be totally wrong here, but it seems as if “Dutch blend” refers to the Dutch style of tobacco blending. Dutch blends are made up of Cavendish, Virginia and Burley and can be flavoured (cased) with molasses an steamed to produce a golden to darkish Cavendish tobacco.
American blends is similar to Dutch blends and only differ in the method of flavouring. American blends are also made up of a Cavendish base, flavoured with sweet fruity flavours making it a popular “beginner” tobacco. They tend to burn slower and cooler than the Dutch blends and give a mild smoke. Scotty’s Stonewall and H&H Porch Swing are popular American Blends.
Scottish Blends are in my opinion, close to Dutch/American Blends. Scottish blends are mainly an English Blend with Cavendish. A typical and very popular (and highly rated) Scottish Blend is Dunhill 965. Other popular Scottish Blends are McClelland CPCC Scottish Woods and SG Scotch Cut Mixture.
There is much ambiguity on the difference between Balkan Blends and English Blends because they are so similar. In my view, the difference between the two is the secondary component as Latakia is the dominant component in both. Where Virginia is considered to be the secondary component (together with other tobaccos) in English Blends, the secondary component in Balkan Blends is Oriental/Turkish, and then Virginia (and even others too). Balkan Blends became popular and distinctive from English Blends mainly after the huge popularity of Balkan Sobranie. Since then, many blenders have tried to mimic Balkan Sobranie to great success. Master blender, Russ Oullette won the “Balkan Sobranie Throwdown” at the Chicagoland International Pipe and Tobacco Exposition with his “Black House” blend. Since then, many similar and popular “Sobranie” blends are available. Some of these are H&H Balkan Sobranie Match, C&D Balkan, McClelland Wilderness, GL Pease Abingdon etc.
Virginia Blends are actually pure Virginia tobacco and popular among many. Often, Virginia Blends will have some Burley or Oriental/Turkish also added to soften the pure Virginia, but Virginia would maintain the dominant tobacco. Popular Virginia Blends are McClelland Tudor Castle and SG Brown Sugar Flake.
Another popular blend is Vaper Blends. These blends will have Virginia as the dominant tobacco with Perique, giving these blends a touch of spicy/peppery flavour. Popular VaPers are H&H Viprati and SG St James Plug/Flake.
Although Burley is mainly used as a component of blends, some blends have Burley as a dominant component. Burley has a nutty flavour. The most noteable Burley Blend (although I’m not sure if it will be officially classified as a Burley Blend), is Pirate Kake which has a strong earthy character. Navy Cut Flake for example, is originally a Burley leaf tobacco owing its name from the convenience for sailors. In colonial times sailors twisted tobacco into a roll and tied it together. They sometimes even infused it with rum, molasses, or spices. These tied together tobacco was then sliced off for smoking, from there the name of a flaky twirly broad cut tobacco. Nowadays, all twisted and broad cut tobacco is called Navy Cut. Navy Flake is when the tobacco is pressed into bricks and sliced into broad flakes. Other Burley Blends are Paul Olsen’s No. 55 and SG Burley.
Some useful articles on this topic are: