If there’s one thing that’s been on the tip of pipe smokers’ collective tongues for the last year or so, it has been “What’s going on with Dunhill tobacco?” When I first got into this trade nearly ten years ago (Man, were has the time gone?) They had totally vanished from the UK market, but they returned a few years after, to massive fanfare from diehard pipe smokers. It started as a small cross section of the range initially, but over the years it gradually grew and grew. However, a year or so ago, rumours began to circulate that they would be disappearing from UK shelves once again. Sadly, at the end of 2018, these rumours got confirmed and we once again had to say goodbye to Dunhill’s legendary range of pipe tobacco. At the time of writing, we do still have some Dunhill blends available: You can see them here. But that’s it, when they’re gone, they’re gone. For good.
However, another brand has emerged from the ashes left behind by Dunhill to take up their mantle. You might be familiar with Charatan cigars? If you’ve read many of my blogs before you’ll know I’m quite as big fan of them, for excellently priced mellow cigars that I often recommend for newer cigar smokers or people working with a budget. Well, they’ve gone up in my estimation even more now, as they have released their own range of pipe tobacco that has been “Inspired” by the Dunhill range.
So as is tradition, I’m shouldering the arduous work and tasting my way through the range to see how they measure up and reporting my findings here. It’s quite a big range so I’ll be spreading my reviews out across a few blogs in the coming weeks.
Here’s what I’ve tasted so far:
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this is an interpretation of “Early Morning” from Dunhill. As the name(s) suggest(s), this blend is designed to be the first bowl smoked in the morning. So, it is delicately flavoured, but complex enough that it stimulates your palate without overwhelming it. Early Morning was always one of my favourite Dunhill blends, so I’m pleased to report that First Bowl is a very faithful interpretation. It is a blend of Red Virginia and Oriental, with a touch of medium fired Latakia that gives a delicately sweet taste, with a subtly crisp, smoky edge.
This is an inclusion that also makes me very happy. As Charatan take inspiration from Dunhill’s legendary “De Luxe Navy Rolls” it takes the form of the criminally underutilised “Coin/Medallion” cut;
small disks of tobacco that are prepared in the same manner as a flake.
Charatan’s take on this classic feature contains Flue cured African tobacco with a hint of perique. Nice and simple, right? However, Charatan have added their own twist of this tobacco, by adding a core of Black Cavendish. This is often referred to as a “Bullseye,” but it isn’t used very often these days (Orlik Bullseye was a great example, which I used to love, but has been off the market for years now.) The Bullseye style means you can choose how much or little Black Cavendish is included in your final rub, giving you even more control over the taste.
Speaking of the taste, this doesn’t taste exactly like the Navy Rolls, but it isn’t far off. There is an almost Virginia-esque, sweet and tangy quality to the base tobacco, with a hint of crackling, peppery spice from the perique, while the Black Cavendish (should you choose to include it, of course) Rounds it off with a subtle creaminess.
I’d definitely recommend trying this one, even if it’s just to experience what smoking a Bullseye is like, as it’s really uncommon these days!
I’m generally a pretty big fan of flake tobacco (Or the similar “Medallions” as mentioned above) so I was relieved to see that Charatan were releasing their own blend inspired by Dunhill Dark Flake, as it was easily one of my favourite Dunhill Blends. However, as one of the last new Dunhill blends reduced in the UK, it was quite late to the party, so I feared it might get left out in favour of their more established classics. Thankfully, this wasn’t the case. The tin that I sampled this from was technically more of a “Very dark brown flake” than a “Black Flake” but I’m not going to complain. These very dark brown flakes contain Dark Virginia with air-cured Perique. This makes for an excellent combination of flavours. The Virginia gives an extremely deep, sweet and rich taste with natural hints of fruit, while the perique adds a tiny hint of spice to invigorate the blend and prevent it from becoming sickly or cloying. It is full bodied, but still palatable and in no way overwhelming. One of my favourites I’ve tasted so far.
When Dunhill was still widely available, I repeatedly wrote about how much I loved the concept of the combo of the “Early Morning” and “Nightcap” blends. The former being intended for a palate stimulating, first bowl of the day, whilst the latter was a powerful, heady blend intended to help you relax as a final bowl of the day. So, I’m glad to see that these have both inspired blends from Charatan, for fulfilling the same purposes. I’m actually having my first bowl of this one as I type, but being the rebel I am, it is roughly 10am. It is definitely extremely powerful, with quite an intense nicotine content, but not in an unpleasant way (although, I am now thinking that maybe I shouldn’t have skipped breakfast.) While all the blends have clearly been inspired by the originals and are fairly faithful interpretations, I have to say that this one undoubtedly the one that has come closest to its original so far. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear I actually have a bowl of Nightcap in my pipe at the moment!
The blend is a combination of American and Turkish tobacco, with Latakia and a hint of Perique. The Turkish and Latakia take point on the taste, with a potently crisp smokiness, which mingles wonderfully with the naturally sweet base of the American tobacco. I think this has to be my favourite of what I’ve tasted so far, but if you’ll excuse me, I need to go have a nap for a few hours…
So that’s all for today. I’ll pick up where I left off next week!
Until then: Put that in your pipe and smoke it!