Pipe Tobacco Academy: Pipe Tobacco Blend Categories

Pipe Tobacco Blends include English, Balkan, Aromatics... learn the differenceThere are many descriptive terms for pipe tobacco blends, and, it seems, that just about every company has their own nomenclature. Below, I give a list of what I consider to be the main categories of tobaccos. Although some companies will differ from my terminology, it applies to how we refer to our Hearth & Home tobaccos, and can be used for any.

English

The older use of the term “English blend” just meant that the tobacco used was unflavored, since, under old laws, processors in the UK were not allowed to add much of anything to their tobaccos. Today, the description is a bit more specific. For my purposes, an English blend is a tobacco which has a dominant note of Latakia, and the secondary flavor comes from Virginia(s).

Balkan

Similar to an English, but after the Latakia, the most prominent flavor will come from Turkish or Oriental tobaccos. The name, of course, comes from the superb Balkan Sobranie (a blend which used some of the most outstanding Orientals ever).

Scottish

An English blend with Cavendish added, usually. Dunhill 965 is one of the classic Scottish-type blends.

Virginia

Pretty self-explanatory; a blend which is all, or overwhelmingly dominated by Virginia tobaccos. Sometimes a little Burley or Oriental might be added for balance or to mitigate the sharpness that Virginia can exhibit.

Va/Per

These blends are predominantly Virginia with the addition of Perique. The sweet and spicy characteristics of Perique work very well in combination with the sugary and somewhat acidic nature of the Virginias.

Aromatic

These blends are usually made with lighter flavored base tobaccos (Virginia, Burley, Carolina, Maryland) with flavors, usually in the form of syrups, added. The main drawback to these blends is that the tobacco rarely tastes the same as it smells.

Burley

Again, the reference is apparent. The blend will be primarily Burley, and may have other tobaccos added in condimental amounts, but will exhibit mainly the characteristics of Burley, which is usually a nutty and somewhat sour flavor.

Oriental

The flavor will mostly come from Oriental or Turkish tobaccos, with Virginias and/or Latakia and, possibly, other tobaccos used for “spice”.

There are also a number of crossover blends, such as American/English (English with Burley), English/Aromatic and others, but these descriptions should at least help to make more sense of all this.

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About Russ

Russ Ouellette is the blender/creator of the Hearth & Home series of tobaccos for www.pipesandcigars.com in Bethlehem, PA. He has been a pipe smoker and blender for over 30 years, and enjoys feedback from the pipe smoking public. You can reach Russ at russo@pipesandcigars.com or by calling 1-800-494-9144.