B’s: The Best of the Rest
I’ve had a little thought on my alphabet-based exploration of pipe tobacco; there are a few brands/blenders that only produce one or two tobaccos (…that are available in the UK, anyways.) Even with my rambling, tangent-filled writing style, I’d struggle to stretch out one or two blends into a full blog. However, I don’t want to exclude the smaller guys, so going forward, at the end of each letter I’m going to group together all the smaller brands into one blog and look at them as one.
Here’s me doing that exact thing I just said, for the letter B:
How’s this for convenient? Two brands with a similarly unusual characteristic both start with a B, so I can include them together in one entry. Along with some other brands out there, these brands will be well known to certain communities and only really make this list on a technicality. Yes, they are legally pipe tobaccos, but a majority of people buy them as an alternative to rolling tobacco, as they are the finest possible cut before they would start being classed as fine cut/rolling tobaccos (Seriously, if the cut was 0.1mm finer, they’d be rolling tobaccos.)
- They are generally slightly cheaper than the equivalent amount of rolling tobacco.
- They are not held to the 30g minimum pack size of rolling tobacco.
- They are still allowed to be produced with flavours/menthol characteristics
- They don’t have to go in that grim, sewerage coloured packaging.
Bayside is a light, golden tobacco with a subtle taste. It is available as a straight Virginia blend or in a menthol variety (just to destroy any final pretence that this was ever intended as an actual pipe tobacco.
Blue Ridge, on the other hand is a far darker blend, much more inline with things like Old Holborn or Drum Original.
While I may have spent the last 200 or so words talking about the farse of calling these blends “Pipe Tobaccos,” it’s not to say they can’t be enjoyed in a pipe. Menthol isn’t something you’d usually see in a pipe tobacco, so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, but if you’re the adventurous sort it might surprise you (just beware of potential ghosting.)
Three Nuns is one of the true pillars of pipe smoking. It might not have quite reached the famous heights of things like Clan or St Bruno, but it certainly belongs on the same podium. While some people dismiss it as a “Supermarket tobacco,” it doesn’t immediately discount it from being a good blend. Three Nuns is a simple but satisfying blend of Virginia, Dark Kentucky and light Brazilian tobacco. It lights and burns very well, with a robust, woody depth and a subtle natural sweetness that many liken to chocolate.
It’s worth mentioning that while it carries the Bells name, it is currently produced by Mac Baren, a very well-established blender, that I will eventually get to, when I reach the M’s (In a few years, presumably.)
A true classic that should never be overlooked.
The only true cased pipe tobacco blend on this week’s list (excluding the menthol version of Bayside, of course, but that’s a grey area,) Highland R/R used to be known as “Player’s Whisky” but had to change its name due to the UK’s ban on “Characterised flavour” names. This blend uses a tried and tested formula for the base tobacco in a cased blend: a simple combo of Virginia and Burley, which provides a subtle tasting launching pad for the whisky flavouring (I’ve just realised I didn’t actually specify that this blend is whisky flavoured, but I’m guessing you inferred that from its old name, right?) The casing is pronounced, but not overwhelming and the tobacco comes out of the packet extremely fresh feeling (to the extent where it might require a little bit of airing out before smoking, but nothing prohibitive.) All in all, a well-balanced blend.
Wow, after the months it took me to get through the A’s, I can’t believe I’m already through the B’s!
Join me next time, as I move on to the C’s.
Until then: Put that in your pipe and smoke it!
Store Manager @ Turmeaus & LCDH Chester.