Dunhill Nightcap Pipe Tobacco Review

Dunhill Nightcap isn’t just for smoking at night. You really can enjoy it anytime of day. At first I was worried that it would hit me with a huge "nic-kick", make the room spin and force me to take a nap, but I decided to be brave and smoke it at 10:00 am. Now I know why it is called Nightcap. I was pleased to find that it didn’t make me need to sleep off a nicotine high, but this smoke relaxed me so much that I think it could be prescribed by doctors as anti-anxiety medicine. I feel as relaxed as just getting a massage. Now I have to see if I can smoke this and get a massage at the same time. That will be for another time. For now, let me tell you about my amazing experience with Dunhill Nightcap.

My tin was acquired as a sample from the current production at the Orlik factory in August 2010. (This is why you see the big ugly warning sticker that I fixed with Photoshop. American market tins should have the lid all in blue.) I immediately opened my sample and smoked it right away and immensely enjoyed it. I smoked it a few more times through August and September, and then let the tin sit until now at the end of January 2011 when I am writing this review. So the tin is new production and has been opened for five months and smoked several times prior to this review. Following is my experience with the 5-month old tin of current production from the Orlik factory in Denmark.

Upon opening the tin, you find ribbon cut tobacco that is firmly pressed into a tight, nearly solid piece. This is typical of the European-style tins which are flatter and of a wider diameter than US made products.

Nightcap is a dark-colored blend with black, dark-brown and medium-brown colored tobacco ribbons. The cut is mostly consistent, somewhat on the normal thin side as ribbon-cut pipe tobacco usually is, along with a small percentage of some larger cuts of the black-colored leaf. I’m not sure if those wider cuts are the Latakia or the Perique. I couldn’t tell by trying to smell individual pieces.

For my tastes, the tin aroma is extremely pleasant. The initial tin aroma is a little bit smoky with a subdued sweetness smoothing it out. This one contains Virginia, Latakia, and Perique, and that combination is perfectly harmonized in the unlit aroma.

Upon loosening up the tobacco and fluffing it up, I get a little more of the smokiness. The feel of the tobacco in your fingers is fine and soft with the moisture level being just right – not too dry and not too moist.

I used the simple gravity-fill method to pack and fill the pipe. I find this works nicely for ribbon-cut tobaccos. The tobacco was only slightly springy and easy to compress into the bowl.

Upon pre-light draw the smoky Latakia comes through the strongest. Interestingly, upon the initial light, the sweetness actually comes through much more than the smoke flavor, which is fine. It tastes great. It’s not very sweet. It is a little on the bittersweet side. The tobacco was easy to light and would have even stayed lit without a tamp and second light, but I needed to tamp it down anyway since the tobacco had expanded over the rim of the bowl. I let it sit for a few minutes and then lit it back up for the main smoke.

Nightcap is an extraordinarily delectable smoke. This is the most harmonious blending of Virginia, Latakia, and Perique I can recall. None of the three tobaccos dominates. They all work together to create a taste that is slightly sweet, but also subdued. It is hard to pinpoint one specific flavor, but I am just so relaxed with the comforting tastes and aromas of being in a bakery, or my grandmother’s kitchen while she is baking. Sometimes I get a subtle sweet taste that brought images of butterscotch brownies. This evolved into the taste of fresh baked bread, hence the images of grandmas kitchen.

These flavors and aromas are so comforting and relaxing. Perhaps that is why this is named Nightcap. It relaxes you to get ready for bed, but not in a buzzed, room-spinning sort of way. The tobacco burns perfectly too. One often hears of the "fine grey ash", but it is more often heard about than experienced for me. In this case, there is certainly a very fine grey and white ash that when tamped is soft as a pillow.

As I progressed to the last third of the bowl, the smoky Latakia flavor started to come through more and the subtle sweetness mostly departed. The Latakia is still tamed by the Virginia and Perique, but they are also being tamed by the Latakia itself. Even though the familiar Latakia smoke flavor came through more, Dunhill Nightcap remains a balanced blend. The Latakia is there, but it is not overwhelming. I wouldn’t have known this contained Perique if I wasn’t told so, but that is the nature of a condiment tobacco. Sometimes you know it’s there and other times it only subtlety works its magic. Upon reaching the last quarter of the bowl the Virginia / Perique duo came back in and gently hushed the raised voice of the Latakia. She had a little solo there for a minute, but then went back to three-part harmony.

At the very end of the smoke a little bit of espresso entered the mix and I feel even more relaxed. I actually could take a nap right now, but again it is only out of pure relaxation rather than a forced sedation. It never turned harsh or bitter at the end. The amazing pleasant flavors and aroma maintained throughout only changing in levels of sweet to bitter and then back again. The bowl ended with a superfine powder. Upon leaving the room and coming back, the room note is actually that of fresh-baked bread … at least to me. No one else is here to praise or criticize the room note, but maybe you can get away with smoking this around your housemates.

Dunhill Nightcap has become one of my top tobaccos. My next order will contain at least 3 – 4 tins. It is not a typical Latakia blend and it is not a typical Virginia / Perique blend. It is in a class all its own.

I highly recommend it!

Brand: Dunhill
Blender: Orlik Tobacco Company A/S
Tin Description: A rich blend for late in the day. It is a slow, lasting smoke. Just prior to packing, expensive Perique tobacco is added to enhance the bouquet.
Country of Origin: DK
Curing Group: Air Cured
Contents: Virginia, Latakia, Perique
Cut: Ribbon
Packaging: 50g tin

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14 Responses

  • Great reveiw Kevin. Nightcap was my first Latakia blend to ever smoke and have always loved it.

  • Now that is one insanely great review — I felt like I was reliving your experience! Your enthusiasm for this blend is not only obvious, but also contagious. I feel like I have to give this one a try even though I can’t normally handle Latakia anymore. It wouldn’t hurt one bit either if I smoked something the War Department could tolerate.
    I took the internal link to 4noggins and was surprised that it is being sold in bulk; it is imported by Lane Ltd.; and, maybe not so surprising, it is as expensive as it is (presumably) good! Well, like I always say, spend money on tobacco, not pipes! 🙂

  • I wrote this review while using Mr. Pease’s article as a guide:
    The Latakia component on this one seemed to be in the mid-range, so it might be ok for you Cortez.
    The link to 4noggins was given as that was the only online store I could find that had it in stock. I even asked smokingpipes.com when they would have it, and they have no idea.
    The bulk one that 4noggins has might be of older stock. I was reading some reviews in The Pipe Collector last night and it’s all over the place. Some say the new production is better, some say the old production is better, some say they are both good.

  • You have it in a nutshell Kevin.
    It is an absolutely fantastic blend. It threatens so much more than it actually does. I smoked my first bowl of this a couple of weeks ago whilst watching the tide roll in and the winter sun on my back, leant on a gate. I think someone nailed me to the gate.
    Believe it or not, a tobacco that is made for a UK company is NOT available in the UK. If it wasn’t illegal I’d love to shoot the PM just to make sure it came back HOME (and yes I know it is blended in Denmark).
    It’s called Velvet Hammer for a reason, which I found out when I was leaning on that gate!!!

  • great review- the new stuff is not as good as i remember the 1960’s version….. but then nothing else is either!!! LOL my taste buds have suffered from too many long noghts and overexposure to inferior tobacs and vintages i fear…. That said, i’m glad that it’s back, all to many of it’s great contemporaries have disappeared (sigh)!

  • P.P. I really liked your photoshoped label! now, if i can just figger out how to do it, i could perhaps shut up some of my born again non-smoking relatives who harp about the demon weed…….

  • For me I can never understand why nightcap is so perfect and so many other English blends disappoint. It is my benchmark.

  • Great review!
    I still have some of the “old blend” in my cellar and when this is gone I’ll try some of the “new”.

  • Damn. Now I wish I had picked this up instead of Erinmore Flake. Of course, Erinmore Flake is really good too. Herm.

  • request permission to duplicate, for my own personal use, your version of a rational pipe tobacco usage advisory notice.

  • Outstanding review Kevin. I really enjoy the blend as well, and have stocked up appropriately. Nicely written as well. Thanks.