All About Pipes

Pipe Tobacco Blend Components

Pipe tobacco blend components and their flavor characteristics…


First, a brief note about manufacturing styles:
The more natural English and Scottish-style cake tobac­cos are based on Flue-Cured Virginias which are matured in pressed-cake form to release the natural sugars in the leaf. The best of these tobaccos cannot be surpassed in flavor which is subtle, highly interesting and clean-tasting.

The cased and flavored tobaccos in the American style that we call “aromatics” usually have Burley in the blend.  Burley doesn’t have the natural sugar so these tobaccos rely for their taste on the added sugars and other flavors. The best have a nut-like character and are pleasant. Their great advantage is the heavy, sweet smell they impart to the room when smoked.

In between, are the Danish and Dutch style tobaccos which are frequently both aged and flavored and historically rely more on Maryland style tobacco which lacks the natural sweetness of Virginia but is milder than most Burley.


Each tobacco type has its own peculiar flavor range making it useful in blending for the particular properties that it alone possesses. A basic understanding of these differences can be very useful.

Matured Virginia
The best are lightly sweet, more fruity than nutty, not really sharp but a little tangy and pleasant to the tongue (like a mild salsa). These natural, clean-smoking tobaccos fill the
mouth with flavor and become richer as they are smoked, as if ripening or cooking right there in the bowl.

A good quality, cased Burley today starts light, mel­low, mildly nutty with no sharpness. Kind of bland, rich, full-flavored, Burley tastes somewhat like sweet oatmeal or granola with a caramel character from the burnt sugars.

Second only to flue-cured Virginia in natural sugar con­tent, the finest Oriental leaf from Greece and Turkey is mildly sweet and has an herbal or spicy character that is especially apparent to the olfactory senses. A truly exotic and delicious base tobacco in the natural Oriental or “English” mixtures.

This smoked, blackened Oriental tobacco is intense to the nose with an incense-like fragrance but is surprisingly soft on the palate. Cool, relatively tasteless in the middle range, but heavily aromatic, this excellent condiment tobacco is a basic component of natural Oriental or “English” mixtures. Usually, the fuller the mixture, the more Latakia is used.

A deeply aromatic tobacco with distinctive character that is somewhat between the fragrance of cooked fruit and the musty aroma of mushrooms. Like Latakia, Perique is a condi­ment tobacco and as such it is used rather sparingly. We taste this rare and precious tobacco more through our olfactory sens­es than in the mouth.

Stoved Virginia
Bright flue-cured Virginias, blackened by stoving, create a measure of richness and a mellow sort of fruity sweetness in many natural, aged blends. Not as full-flavored as a classic Matured Virginia, stoved Virginias have the type of richness we associate with dark chocolates and they impart a cooked fruit aroma.

Black Cavendish
Basic to many American-style aromatics, black cavendishes are stoved versions of the specialized, air-cured One-Sucker and Green River tobaccos of Kentucky and Tennessee and the dark, air-cured Virginias from Central Virginia. The best taste are caramel-like, sort of like pancake syrup on the pancake ? mild, sweet, full-flavored, but with a slight after­taste like the burnt taste on toasted marshmallows.


Mr. Bill’s provides the opportunity for customers whose experience with pipe tobaccos may be very limited to become connoisseurs. There are distinctions in flavor and quality in all types of tobacco from the heady aromat­ics to the clean-smoking, naturally-aged tobaccos. Discover the subtle and interesting flavors of the full range of pipe tobaccos available from the different manufacturers. This learning process can be great fun, as many pleasant smoking experi­ences can be found on the road to that elusive perfect pipe tobacco.