Captain Black Pipe Tobacco Review

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.

Read more reviews of Captain Black White on

Read more reviews of Captain Black Royal on

Read more reviews of Captain Black Gold on


More Pipes and Tobaccos Articles

41 Responses

  • I am of the same mind as the author of this critique. However, The Royal while good left a considerable amount of residue in my pipe. I smoke Captain Black when I haven’t had the opportunity of visit my tobacconist and stock up.

  • When you are stuck in tiny town USA and Captain Black is all you can get. It fills in nicely. I prefer the Royal. Not as much casing, but has a great flavor with an unbeatable room note.

  • “When you are stuck in tiny town USA and Captain Black is all you can get. It fills in nicely.”
    Exactly! That’s how I got onto CB in the first place! I was out of town and went to a store that only carried mass-market brands. Availability is important.

  • Great review Kevin!
    I have only smoked the regular. That was a few years ago. I don’t remember much of my thoughts on it except, that I thought it was a good solid smoke.
    I have a pouch of the regular and a pouch of the gold and will have to break them open soon.

  • I’ve never tried any drugstore blends. You’ve persuaded me that perhaps I ought to give it a shot — especially next time I find myself in Podunk.

  • My first smoke was Captain Black Royal, in a Dr. Grabow pipe. What memories. I always have some white on hand. quite available and keeps forever.

  • I still have my Dr. Grabow that I had that first smoke with Captain Black. I still use it today. It is an Omega. It will always have a place in my heart.

  • My old boss Cecil smoked CBW all the time. It was the first pipe tobacco I smelled ( and Loved)!! That was 20 years ago. Even though my taste have expanded to the English blends I picked up a pouch of CBR after reading this review.
    I must say my first bowl was wonderful. The memorys it brought back were as enjoyable as the smoke.
    Cecil Passed years ago..So I will smoke this one for him…
    Thanks Cecil.

  • Welcome to the site Dan!
    The aroma of a pipe can certainly trigger the memory banks better than anything that I know of!

  • I would have to say that Captain Black White is the best all around for a everyday smoke… and it goes quite well in a Corncob!

  • Well, I finally tried it. I suppose every pipe smoker must try it sooner or later.
    I was going to leave my review at tobaccoreviews, but it doesn’t seem to accept any new reviews. I haven’t seen a new review in days.
    Basically, it wasn’t bad. I can see why it’s endured for so long — it’s an easy, inexpensive decent smoke that produces billows of smoke you don’t have to focus on to appreciate. A good all-day auto-pilot smoke. Not bad, not great — like top 40s radio.

  • Stuck in Podunk, USA.. Captain Black is my every day tobbaco. I have tried several other drugstore blends and always come back to the Captain Black. It is truely a light and forget tobbaco, with a very smooth smoke, and flavor.

  • Sinister, I agree with you about the chemicals. There is a reason some of the OTC blends stay fresh in a pouch for a very, very long time and have no problem staying lit. Another great review. You have been a fav reviewer of mine, on

  • My experience with the good Captain was recent, when I smoked CB white for the first time. Very pleasant sweet taste, and the smell is amazing. The taste is sweet, with that little dry and bitter twinge that you get in all tobacco, but it had an incredible flavor and aftertaste not unlike nutmeg and cinnamon. Good for a first time puff, and always a good choice when in the company of others who aren’t really into the pipe smell. Even my non smoker friends all agree, that it smells great and has a pleasing odor. It was mentioned earlier how drug store tobaccos tend to be low grade, and it’s simply not true. The other day I picked up some “Blender’s Gold” Peach flavored generic Walgreens pipe tobacco, and Man, is it GOOD. I love it. Cool dry smoke, pleasing flavor and taste, and try as hard as you can but this stuff will not bite at all. Highly reccomend it if you can get it.

  • This is a great review. I love Capt Black..the Royal is my favorite of the three..but I do like all three very much. Everytime I smoke some of the Royal and I’m outside, folks always tell me how wonderful it smells… 😀 and it tastes so good too.

  • Be careful when purchasing Capt. Black, in small towns. I once purchased CBW in a small town drug store and it was dry and stale from sitting on the shelf too long.

  • I’m a new pipe smoker,have always smoked other types of tobacco I found Cb reg to be a good tobacco good taste like I said I’m new to pipe tobacco’s so I really haven’t explored to much in the very fine tobacco’s more interested in finding a better pipe

  • I have found that if you happen to pick up one of the all black aromatics from the pipe stores that they can be difficult to keep lit. I have discovered that if you mix in the CB Gold it will aid in keeping these all black tobaccos going and cuts back on the amount of relights. It also creates a nice flavor boost and adds the CB aroma to an already heavenly room note.

  • Started out with CBR and have recently tried CBW a couple times and found them to be quite good for what they are. They leave a great room note and are not too expensive.

  • I was “ShangHai’d” by Captain Black when just starting out with the pipe. After spending a small fortune on a Comoy’s of London pipe (not a bad acquisition for a novice), I had little left over for the tobacco. Interestingly enough, now that I am experienced and smoke less expensive pipes, Captain Black remains a regular in my personal inventory.

  • I’m going to try the “Cherry” some time in the near future. Thank you for the comments…they are appreciated and make choices a lot easier to make.
    Thank you.
    Joe N.

  • Hey Bob, can you tell me anything about the Lucienne pipes? I am thinking of buying a few to hand out to friends. Do they smoke well?

  • Jeremiah, the Lucienne pipes are great for handouts. They are not bad at all for their price. They smoke just fine.

  • I just realized that Bob probably didn’t write this oops… I think I have been losing my mind lately!
    Thanks for the info Kevin, I am going to have to pick up a few!

  • I liked this artical alot. I grew up around pipe tobacco and cigar’s back when I was just a little kid via. both grandfather’s, my mom and dad’s. I had jumped into Captain Black with both feet back when I was just a young teen and never looked back. Great aroma and memorable moment’s. thezman.

  • Hi,
    Captain Black (mainly the blue)was my favourite pipe tobacco.
    Because the Captain Black became not available in Hungary(for about 5-6 years ago), I gave up the smoking.
    That’s all Folks!
    Best Regards!

  • I have been smoking Captain Black (white) for almost 20 years and I have enjoyed it emensely, as a matter of fact I enjoy the flavor so much that I seldom smoke anything else and the price is right too. I think that the Captain has a good product and as I like to say if you enjoy it smoke it.

  • Yuri,
    I couldn’t agree more. If you like it smoke it. The Captain is a great smoke and it even pleases the wife. 😉

  • Thank you for sharing your experience of captain black with us. To me, Gold, Royal and White are the best among the series of Captain Black. I like most White, and I shift to Gold when I feel like smoking something less sweet and more natural.
    In burning quality, Gold comes first, then White, and finally Royal. In Dryness, White, then Gold, and Royal. Gold and Royal are smoother than White. White comes first in room note. When Royal is smoked in a carbon filter pipe it loses all the extra wetness that usually causes its famous tongue bite.
    I once stored Gold in a Davidoff Mild (red) Mixture tin, I covered the inside of tin with silver foil and folded the tobacco in a plastic wrap.By the end of the second month it gained the flavor of the tin and lost its extra wetness, went so smooth in smoking and great in flavor.

  • I smoke Capt Black White in a Dr Grabow Omega and enjoy it very much. I also live in Podunck USA on a limited budget. One day I’ll expand as I get to the tobacconist an hour away but I’ll always enjoy my Capt Black.

  • Captain Black Gold was my first pipe tobacco for almost 2 years. Although I have tried other brands of the few that I find in my country (Colombia), I must admit that the smell of CBG is very pleasant despite the tongue bite if you smoke it too fast. Excellent review and great site. Greetings to all.

  • What is the latin saying that was printed on one of th captain black topacco pouches. I think A true friend is like another me? The latin words please. thanks

  • That must be on old pouches Frank. I just checked the three that I used for this review and none of them have any Latin on them.

  • I’ve been a pipe smoker for over ten years now and the Captain is among my all time favorite tobaccos to enjoy. The author hit the nail on the head when he mentioned what the smell of CB evokes. To me, it reminds me of my grandpa who smoked his cavendish in a dime store corncob til the day he died at the ripe old age of 98. My wife too, enjoys the rich smell of my CB as do many of my friends and neighbors.