The Pipe Tobacco Aging, Storage and Cellaring FAQ

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Tobacco Touchstones

Grouped by Style:

Straight Virginias | Virginia Flakes, Light | Virginia Flakes, Full | Virginia/Perique Blends | Virginia/Burley Blends
English Blends | Balkan Blends | Oriental Blends | Burley Blends | Traditional American
Lakeland Style, Unscented | Lakeland Style, Scented | Ropes and Plugs | Flavored

About this List

The following is a list of what I am calling "tobacco touchstones" - blends that meet some combination of the following criteria:

Note that it's very hard for a tobacco to meet all these criteria, especially both "unique" and "definitive". And so, some amount of subjective evaluation is required. In some cases, a tobacco will make it onto the list on the strength of how well they do in one category, but in general, a blend needs to be strong in several categories to make it onto the list.

A great many excellent blends available today exist outside this list, and a world-class blend's absence is no indictment. Please don't be upset if your personal favorite isn't on the list! Consider how it matches the criteria above before sending me hate mail. :-)

The idea behind this list is to give the intermediate pipe smoker a specific and convenient list of blends to try, in order to broaden one's tastes and establish greater common ground with one's fellow pipesmokers.


Straight Virginias

The straight, non-flake, virginia is an ancient and beloved category of tobacco, and it is fitting to begin our list of touchstones with them.

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Virginia Flakes, Light

In compiling this list, it became clear that a single list for all flakes would swell beyond a manageable size. Here are those of a light-to-medium character.

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Virginia Flakes, Full

...And here are those Virginia flakes of medium-to-full flavor.

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Virginia/Perique Blends

Perhaps no group of tobaccos has more zealous adherents than the famed Virginia/Perique mixtures. Don your robes, chant the oaths, and join the cult of Vapers...

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Virginia/Burley Blends

It became clear that a single group for Burley would not contain that beloved tobacco's various manifestations. This group pertains to blends in which both burley and virginia tobaccos share center stage.

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English Blends

The hallmark English tobaccos are the ultimate in civilized tradition. And they're stunningly popular. Look at these numbers!

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Balkan Blends

When Latakia and Oriental share center stage, we are in geography of the Balkans.

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Oriental Blends

The spice and fragrance of Oriental tobaccos have the spotlight in these blends. With a few notable exceptions, this isn't a very popular grouping at this moment in history.

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Burley Blends

These modern tobaccos tend to be more creative and sophisticated in their handling of the tobacco than typically seen in years' past.

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Traditional American

This is that style of blend which had its heyday in the United States decades ago, smoked by the fathers and grandfathers of today's American smokers. Generally, these tobaccos are straight-forward, sweet, and nutty.

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Lakeland Style, Unscented

Blends produced in the Lakeland district of England which tend to share a certain flavor profile.

Lakeland Style, Scented

The unique flavoring style used by tobacco makers in this region sets this group apart from both the unflavored Lakelands and the general "flavored" group, below.

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Ropes and Plugs

"Block" tobaccos -- in rope or plug form -- are a class unto themselves. They are colloquially referred to as "nicotine bombs", for reasons which are obvious to anyone who has tried the stronger examples of this group of tobaccos.

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Flavored Tobaccos

These are tobaccos which have more than a slight topping, ranging from the tastefully flavored to outright saucy.

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