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Great pipe tobacco products are manufactured like any consumer product using a finite number of organic materials and processes that are unique to each pipe tobacco manufacturer. 

And the variances in the “quality” of the tobacco product you smoke can all be tied back to these finite attributes. 

Good pipe tobacco should be made using Virginia or Kentucky tobacco leaf. Some may argue with this, but Virginia tobacco is known for having a smooth taste with no bite and with a slight hint of sweetness that tastes good to many pipe tobacco smokers. 

  • When you buy convenience store pipe tobacco you are getting a product that may use sourced tobacco that’s been swept up in the processing sheds or the floor of a barn. The good tobacco in most cases is handled carefully and processed properly. 
  • If you are buying any type of pipe tobacco and don’t know anything about the origins of the source tobacco you are probably getting a lower quality product. 

pipe tobacco smoking living room

The Three Types of Pipe Tobacco 

Aromatic pipe tobacco: during the actual manufacturing process “casings” are added to the tobacco depending on how the manufacturer wants to impact the flavor. “Casings” is just an industry term for flavoring agents and these can range from the ordinary to the mundane: rum, apple, chocolate, vanilla, cherry, strawberry, blueberry. The volume of the actual casings also define whether or not the pipe tobacco is categorized as semi-aromatic or just lightly aromatic.

Non aromatic pipe tobacco: as the term implies, this is pipe tobacco that derives all of its flavors and aromas purely from the actual tobacco, with no extra ingredients. In some cases the tobacco may be fermented or aged to give it more sweetness.

English blend pipe tobacco: up until the late 1980’s additives of any kind were not allowed in tobacco made in the UK – over time the term evolved to mean non aromatic tobaccos in general, whether or not it was or is accurate for certain manufacturers is a difficult issue to “run to ground.” 

Today a real English blend is considered to be any pipe tobacco blend that contains just oriental sourced tobaccos, with a mixture of Latakie, which helps to define whether the pipe tobacco is mild, medium or a full bodied rich tasting “classic” English blend. 

Tobacco Cuts Define the Type of Pipe Tobacco

  • Fllake Cut: the tobacco is comprised of large flat flakes; must be rubbed to separate individual flakes.
  • Ready Rubbed: this is a flake cut tobacco that has been rubbed prior to its being packaged 
  • Ribbon cut: this is tobacco that has been cut into long thin ribbons. 
  • Shag: very finely shredded pipe tobacco; works well in a manual or electric cigarette rolling machine. 
  • Cake or plug cut: most cake tobacco is soaked in honey which helps to bond the tobacco together and makes it sweet. The pipe tobacco is then rounded into molds for manufacturing.

impaired seagull

How Pipe Tobacco is Blended

Virginia is the mildest of all tobacco blends (traditionally), it has a sweet taste and it’s characterized as red, black, dark or even lemon. The more the tobacco is aged the stronger the taste. 

Bright: is a very light tobacco that is usually grown in North Carolina with a very mild flavor. 

Burley: a thicker leaf than a classic Virginia tobacco leaf, burns more slowly due to its thickness, has a soft almost nutty taste and it can be used as a agent to slow down the burn rate of the core tobacco. 

Cavendish: this is curing and cutting method that is erroneously referred to a type of tobacco (it is not); it’s a manufacturing process that is designed to bring out the sweeter taste of a Virginia tobacco and it’s known for producing a mild almost light taste. 

Black Cavendish: Virginia tobacco is heated and cured to produce and bring out the natural sweet flavor of the tobacco leaf. 

Navy Cavendish: aged tobacco that is combined with some type of Jamaican rum.

Specialized Pipe Tobacco Types or Blending Agents

These are specialty blends of pipe tobacco. Most have a very strong or unique flavor and are used sparingly as flavoring agents or as source tobacco.

Perique: grown only in the state of Louisiana in just a few areas, producing a very strong dark spicy pipe tobacco. D&R pipe tobacco is best know for creating this blend of pipe tobacco.

Brazil: dark really robust tasting tobacco that is sweet. 

Latakia: grown only in Syria, some think the aroma is similar to burning leaves – very powerful flavoring typically only used in English tobaccos. 

Oriental: this is a general somewhat catchall term that is used to define any pipe tobacco that has a very spicy flavoring and some of this tobacco is grown in: Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, Macedonia or Syria.

As you can now understand, there is much more complexity about pipe tobacco products that what most would expect. We hope this post has been helpful – if you have questions about pipe tobacco or any of our 2,500 products please let us know, we are here to help.