Captain Black has got to be one of the best mass-market distributed pipe tobaccos out there. If you like Cavendish tobaccos, then you must read on. I recently smoked 3 of the 5 versions and enjoyed them all immensely. I smoked Captain Black Regular (white package), Captain Black Gold (gold package) and Captain Black Royal (dark blue package). The other two versions that I didn’t smoke are Captain Black Light (light blue package) and Captain Black Cherry (red package). You usually find Captain Black at various chain stores that sell pipe tobacco such as CVS Drug Stores, Walmart and other chains. Don’t let the chosen distribution chain for Captain Black fool you. It is just as good, and even better than some specialty tinned pipe tobaccos.
Captain Black comes from Lane Limited, an operating subsidiary of Reynolds American Inc, hence the mass-market distribution. Captain Black has also been around for several decades, so it is certainly well-established. Captain Black is what the pipe-smoking community would refer to as a "Drug Store Tobacco". However, my experience with it was exceptionally pleasant.
I first tried the original version, Captain Black Regular. The pipe smoking community and many online stores refer to it as "Captain Black White" because of the white packaging. However, it is officially "regular" if you read the manufacturer’s website.
If there are any tobacco snobs reading this, and you’re already rolling your eyes, just wait until I tell you what I smoked this in.
I first smoked Captain Black in a $9.98 machine-made Lucienne Walnut Wood Tobacco Pipe!
For my drink accompaniment, I made a 50/50 mix of Van Gogh Espresso and Double Espresso Vodka.
It’s really hard to find anything bad to say about Captain Black Regular. Many "drug store" tobaccos and aromatic tobaccos get panned by reviewers as being too sweet, artificial tasting, tongue-biting, hot burning, tasteless disasters. None of this is true with Captain Black. The pouch aroma is the most pleasant aroma that instantly brings back the comforting memories of smelling your grandfather’s pipe, carefree days as a child, your wise old school teacher, Santa Claus, apple pie in the oven and other delightful thoughts that are magically invoked by a scent of the past. Captain Black has that pipe tobacco smell that instantly brings you back to simpler times.
So what happens when you light it? Unlike other aromatic tobaccos, Captain Black stays lit … for a long time. I have to admit, I am not going to win a slow smoking contest anytime soon. I usually have to re-light about 4 - 6 times, sometimes more when I smoke a pipe. I re-lit Captain Black 3 times, and the first time was after it was half gone, about 25 minutes into it. The smoke lasted nearly an hour. The room note is as enjoyable as the pouch aroma and the flavor is a nice mellow vanilla and roasted marshmallow flavor. It almost tastes like whipped-cream, which goes quite well with the Van Gogh Espresso.
In the last week I have smoked three different versions of Captain Black in Corn Cob Pipes and in a Savinelli Venezia and an Aldo Velani Volcano. Smoke it slow and the flavor is delicious and it is mellow enough to exhale through your nose for even more flavor. It is a delicious smoke with undertones of vanilla, chocolate and nuts. It is easy to pack and smoke with a pleasing room note, good burley flavor and a consistent quality.
So what about Captain Black Gold and Captain Black Royal? What do they taste like and how do they differ? Which one is best?
Click for a Larger Picture
|Captain Black Gold
Matured Golden Cavendish Tobaccos
|Captain Black Regular
Rich Black Cavendish and Mellowed Burleys
|Captain Black Royal
Aromatic Black and Gold Cavendish
In the photo and descriptions above, you can see a side by side comparison of the different tobaccos that make up each blend, how they look and taste different. All three are mellow with a pleasant taste and room note.
Captain Black Gold is perfect for the Virginia Tobacco lover.
I would accompany this with a light drink. The first time I smoked Captain Black Gold, I was drinking a Cabernet Sauvignon and it just didn’t work. I thought I didn’t like the Gold, but on my second try with just a glass of water, I enjoyed it much more. It has that sweet Golden Virginia taste. The Gold is the naturally sweetest of the three. There are lots of sugars in this, and it can bite you if you push it too hard, but it is still a nice sweet Virginia.
Yes, this is in fact a Golden Virginia, and yes it is a Cavendish. How is that so?
|Cavendish is not a plant or tobacco varietal: it is the name for (most commonly) Virginia and Burley tobaccos which have been put through a specific curing process and storing/cutting method. After their respective curing process, (Burley: air-cured, Virginia: flue-cured), Cavendish tobaccos are steamed, usually with sugars or flavoring in the water, in order to infuse the tobacco with moisture and a subtle sweetness. After steaming, the tobacco is stored under pressure (pressed) for an additional curing/fermentation period. Pressing can last from a few days to several weeks and flavorings and/or casing can be added at any stage throughout the process. The color and flavor of the Cavendish will vary between natural and black, depending on what flavoring is added and how vigorous the pressing is.
Courtesy of Tobacconist University
Captain Black Gold has no Burley in it. It is pure Virginia. In contrast, Captain Black Regular has Black Cavendish and Burley, while Captain Black Royal has Black Cavendish and Gold Cavendish.
Captain Black Royal is a good middle ground between the two other versions. I like them all quite a bit. Captain Black Gold is great for when you are in the mood for a sweet VA, but watch the bite, smoke slow. Captain Black Regular (White) is great when you want a sweet black Cavendish that doesn’t bite, and Captain Black Royal is slightly toned-down on the sweetness, great for smoking all day.
If you are on a budget and want to have a great smoking experience, get some Captain Black and an inexpensive Lucienne or a Corn Cob Pipe, and you will be having the same level of enjoyment as a pipe snob with his $400 Dunhill and fancy tinned tobacco. Hey, don’t get me wrong. I have a $400 Dunhill and lots of tinned tobacco. I’m just saying that I floated away to happy land with a $9.95 pipe and a drug store tobacco.
Click for a larger picture
|Sweet VA, with more natural tobacco taste, most likely to bite with 100% VA||Sweet Vanilla, Roasted Marshmallow, sweetest version
||Not as sweet as regular, a little more mellow for smoking all day|
Here are all five versions of Captain Black.