Pipe Tobacco Basics for the RYO Aficionados

pipe tobacco basics

Pipe tobacco has moved into the mainstream, used by millions of smokers every day. Some are buying products off the shelf, more enterprising out on the fringe “RYO lifestyle” smokers are making their own blends at the kitchen table and reinventing pipe tobacco usage all over again.

Most good pipe tobacco is from the Commonwealth of Virginia, originating in crops grown by the first group of American settlers in the 1600’s who “borrowed” crop growing from the Native Americans along with Turkey dinners. Virginia pipe tobacco is known for it’s sweetness and some think of it as a delicate flavor unmatched by other tobacco grown anywhere else in the world.

  • We use tobacco exclusively grown in Virginia in our own OHM Pipe Tobacco – ten years of selling pipe tobacco products has taught us there is no substitute for a great Virginia tobacco.
  • Dare we say it, but many of the convenience store blends are really low grade pipe tobacco and the flavor and taste will be nowhere close to a good Virginia blend of tobacco.

Pipe Tobacco Variations Every Modern Smoker Should Know About

Classic pipe tobacco comes in three flavors, assuming we are not focusing on more exoctic “home brew blends” or the more exoctic flavored tobaccos (chocolate, rum, whiskey, etc.).

  • Virginia, as earlier, is a classic tobacco, know for a mild somewhat sweet taste and if the tobacco has been properly grown, stored and processed, one of the best in the world and approximately 70% of all pipe tobacco sold in the U.S. comes from Virginia.
  • Burley is the second most popular type of pipe tobacco and the name refers to how the tobacco is processed, it’s air cured in open barns, helping to give it a unique tastes. It’s not really a unique type of tobacco; the burley curing process can be used to create any type of pipe tobacco.
  • Cavendish is another term you’ll here frequently, it’s not really a type of tobacco it is similar to Burley in that the name really refers to how the tobacco is processed or manufactured if you will: its typically a Virginia tobacco that has been cut (the leaf) to accentuate the inherent sweetness, to impart a sweeter taste as it is smoked. A Cavendish cut is popular for many flavored cigars and cigarillos for it’s very sweet taste.
  • Spice is another term bandied about when people reference pipe tobacco; it is not a specific type of tobacco, this term refers to 2-3 types of tobacco that have been blended to create a special one of a kind taste.

Three Essential Things to Know if Your Making an RYO Blend at Home

Always start of the process with an airtight container that facilitates mixing and storing your blend. If you want to use booze like whiskey, rum or even good scotch (or even concentrated oils) start with a few drops.

  • Don’t go whole hog into the process with a large amount of tobacco – use a small batch to test the flavoring ratios vs. raw tobacco.
  • You only need to use a few drops of flavoring; how much vs. the amount of tobacco also depends on the type of flavoring. Stronger products like whiskey or scotch will permeate the taste of the pipe tobacco with just a few drops and be sure to mix these thoroughly.

Once you have added your flavor of choice to your tobacco shake it up thoroughly so it’s mixed properly, let the tobacco blend sit for one to two days in a cool shady spot (no direct sunlight).

Then pop the lid from the container and let the tobacco dry out for an hour or two and then test it.You will discover leaving the tobacco out in the air for too long will dry it out rather quickly, so be mindful of how long you are letting an unopened container sit out in the air.

Learn more:

Pairing Cigars, Pipe Tobacco and Beer: Live Life on the Edge

Windy City Cigars