Have Any Blends Gotten Better?

Log in

SmokingPipes.com Updates

Watch for Updates Twice a Week

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

pappymac

Lifer
Feb 26, 2015
3,299
4,334
As several have mentioned, I'd like to emphasize that blends may change or stay the same, but peoples' tastes change a lot. When I advise newbies on selecting blends, I tell them not to buy too much of anything, keep it to one tin, a baggie of an ounce or two, a pouch, even if you love it. Your tastes will change, and not just as a newbie.
I agree with this.
In fact, there are some blends that I tried in the past and didn't like that I now enjoy smoking. I think this has less to do with changes in the blend and is more about my palate has changed.
 

vosBghos

Lifer
May 7, 2022
1,533
3,379
Idaho
I've noticed people who smoked Three Nuns when it was a VaPer tend not to like the current version, but those who only know it as a Kentucky seem fond of it if Kentuckys are their thing.
I recently bought a few tins of three nuns green (with Perique) I wonder why oh why did that go out of production but firstly why didn't they just put the Vaper version in the red tin in the first place? very strange.
 

AJL67

Lifer
May 26, 2022
4,772
25,098
Florida - Space Coast
Depending on how you look at it Cringle Flake used to be straight VA then they added Perique, I actually like the VaPer better. Then again it's an annual release and it did actually change the blend, so not sure if it counts here.
 
  • Like
Reactions: JOHN72 and ram74

Warlee

Might Stick Around
Apr 13, 2022
76
621
Michigan
It’s probably a very complex answer. There is certainly the nostalgia factor. If you love a blend as it currently is, probably most any changes will be viewed negatively.

As tobacco use and production drops, blenders have a smaller pool of similar tobaccos to draw from to maintain a blends profile. In addition, as the tobacco industry shrinks as a whole, you have a smaller pool of talent or knowledge to draw from to adjust for year to year crop changes, or when the farm you always got your Virginia from ceases production.

It’s probably very difficult to keep a blend “the same” for decades.
 
Never will a tobacco producer switch to more expensive tobaccos to replace another. So, generally, they will go down in quality as they have to substitute things.
Eventually these large tobacco producers will end up with one supply of a particular leaf used in several blends. In that case, they probably turn to casings to give more of a difference between X and Y blends... which would explain why the casings tend to get applied with a heavier hand as blends start to homogenize in what tobaccos the company has to chose from.
 

Zamora

Can't Leave
Mar 15, 2023
378
986
Olympia, Washington
As tobacco use and production drops, blenders have a smaller pool of similar tobaccos to draw from to maintain a blends profile. In addition, as the tobacco industry shrinks as a whole, you have a smaller pool of talent or knowledge to draw from to adjust for year to year crop changes, or when the farm you always got your Virginia from ceases production.

It’s probably very difficult to keep a blend “the same” for decades.
That's a good point, it's very different from cigars where most companies either grow their own tobacco on plantations they own or are in partnership with plantations that supply them. Then there's the fact that cigar tobacco is pretty much only used for cigars, unlike pipe tobacco where producers are stuck with whatever the cigarette companies don't buy.
Never will a tobacco producer switch to more expensive tobaccos to replace another. So, generally, they will go down in quality as they have to substitute things.
Eventually these large tobacco producers will end up with one supply of a particular leaf used in several blends. In that case, they probably turn to casings to give more of a difference between X and Y blends... which would explain why the casings tend to get applied with a heavier hand as blends start to homogenize in what tobaccos the company has to chose from.
Yep and that's why McClelland closed their doors, they were concluded that there they weren't able to get the same quality of tobacco they'd depended on and they didn't want to compromise the integrity of their products. I suppose they didn't bother selling their recipes to another maker like Dunhill did with Peterson because they figured the new owner couldn't get that tobacco either. It's depressing as hell for me that I'll probably never get to enjoy Frog Morton, but on the other hand if it was still in production it probably would be a shadow of it's former glory. Of course if I ever do get to have some then it will be cellared for at least five years so it'll be better than ever.
 

Chris from Cigarworld

Might Stick Around
Nov 21, 2022
71
168
Lübeck, Germany
www.cigarworld.de
I’ve seen a fair number of blend reviews saying that the blend has changed for the worse. I may be that a more expensive component has been swapped out or reduced due to cost or availability (such as HU Directors Cut, with the perique being cut and replaced with KDF). Or Latakia blends where, due to the disappearance of Syrian and even Cyprian Latakia, the overall quality has just declined.

Can you name any blends which have improved in recent years?
Many, many blends have improved (at least to me) that are now made at Mac Baren. St. Bruno for example. Unsmokeable to me 15 years ago, now my all time favourite blend. The Amphora Blends. As (Amphora Red for example) was still made in the Netherlands, it always gave me tonguebite. Not anymore. As well as the blends that once where made at Planta. Rum & Maple for example. Just four years ago they smelled like a chemical plant at full capacity, but not anymore. Now they become much better in quality and much more natural in flavouring.
 

Zamora

Can't Leave
Mar 15, 2023
378
986
Olympia, Washington
Many, many blends have improved (at least to me) that are now made at Mac Baren. St. Bruno for example. Unsmokeable to me 15 years ago, now my all time favourite blend. The Amphora Blends. As (Amphora Red for example) was still made in the Netherlands, it always gave me tonguebite. Not anymore. As well as the blends that once where made at Planta. Rum & Maple for example. Just four years ago they smelled like a chemical plant at full capacity, but not anymore. Now they become much better in quality and much more natural in flavouring.
Yeah I've noticed that newer smokers tend often start off with Amphora and tend to love it especially because they're samplers are perfect to introduce to all the major blend genres, but older smokers seem to hate it
 

NikoReyes

Lurker
May 1, 2023
20
19
I also think you learn blends over time. Sometimes you learn that they are much better than you thought, and other times you learn that they aren't nearly as good as you thought.

And as I mentioned above, sometimes your taste for a blend just changes.
Yes, you're right. Our taste preferences can change over time, and our perception of blends can also be influenced by our experiences and exposure to different flavors and aromas. Additionally, as we explore and experiment with different blends, we may discover new favorites or find that certain blends no longer appeal to our taste buds. It's important to keep an open mind and continue to explore the world of blends to discover what works best for our individual preferences.
 
  • Like
Reactions: yanoJL and Scottmi

FLDRD

Lifer
Oct 13, 2021
1,732
6,508
Arkansas
I feel that my interaction with a blend is constantly changing with the changes of my internal and
external environment.

-temperature
-humidity
-breeze
-recent foods & drinks
-pH level
-energy level
-mood
-etc.

For me these are all inter-related and create the "mystery" of why some weeks I love a blend and others I want nothing to do with it. Even my favorites can get boring after a bit of time.

So for me, "mystery" solved. It is what it is and I go with the flow.

Perhaps this is why I feel I can enjoy so many different blends, and I am pleased at what I find to be a plethora of delightful options.

👍
 

Scottmi

Lifer
Oct 15, 2022
3,129
42,145
Orcas, WA
It's depressing as hell for me that I'll probably never get to enjoy Frog Morton,
I also came back to pipes after McClelland shut and never knew about them before. I don't feel a lick of regret let alone depression about it though. I 'missed out' Cope's various glories, too, but no depression. The world is what it is and I'm in it where I am. I'm happy for those that did experience it, and am delighted that such things have existed!

What I am a bit frustrated about is what I have tried and liked, like Dunhill's The Aperitif, and Three Year Matured Virginia, have been discontinued (for no good reason at all?). Clones are just not the same. Oh well. Out of my control (and personally not going to pursue them like @condorlover1 did with War Horse Bar). C'est la vie.

Yet there are still so many great tobacco blends out there, some old, many new, that there is no point, to me, in longing for the bygones I never even met. I'm still (and probably always will be) discovering what IS available, and even creating personal 'great for me' mixes like Bayou Veermaster and English Mocha (likely to be superseded by Blackadder)!

p.s. also, I'm a mustard guy and ketchup has never done much for me, so there's that. 🤠 YMMV
 

warren

Lifer
Sep 13, 2013
11,717
16,294
Foothills of the Chugach Range, AK
I must revise my earlier response after some thought. My three quarter of a century old palate is certainly not as good as it was fifty years ago. My tastes have changed as blends have evolved. Better? Worse? Depends on one's palate I suppose. Three Star Blue never seems to change but, I know it must being dependent on the harvest year to year. The harvest is dependent on weather, soil, amendments to the soil and many other incidentals. I'm sure many believe some blends have improved. Others? Not so much. Soooo, subjective.
 

Zamora

Can't Leave
Mar 15, 2023
378
986
Olympia, Washington
I also came back to pipes after McClelland shut and never knew about them before. I don't feel a lick of regret let alone depression about it though. I 'missed out' Cope's various glories, too, but no depression. The world is what it is and I'm in it where I am. I'm happy for those that did experience it, and am delighted that such things have existed!

What I am a bit frustrated about is what I have tried and liked, like Dunhill's The Aperitif, and Three Year Matured Virginia, have been discontinued (for no good reason at all?). Clones are just not the same. Oh well. Out of my control (and personally not going to pursue them like @condorlover1 did with War Horse Bar). C'est la vie.

Yet there are still so many great tobacco blends out there, some old, many new, that there is no point, to me, in longing for the bygones I never even met. I'm still (and probably always will be) discovering what IS available, and even creating personal 'great for me' mixes like Bayou Veermaster and English Mocha (likely to be superseded by Blackadder)!

p.s. also, I'm a mustard guy and ketchup has never done much for me, so there's that. 🤠 YMMV
I'm not truly depressed about it, I was just being hyperbolic lol. It is part of why I do wish I would've gotten into it years earlier, but mostly that's because I think pipes would've helped me through college and the years following.
 

captpat

Lifer
Dec 16, 2014
2,277
12,170
North Carolina
I think people develop an affinity for certain blends and that any change is viewed with disdain -- there's no way a change could improve an already great blend. Our reviews of the newer blend tend to confirm our biases and therefore the blend is worse, cheaper, harsher, blah, blah, blah.

Overlay that with the march of time and its effects on our taste (for example my desire to smoke latakia blends has changed radically in the last 18 months), variations in the tobacco itself due to climate, regulatory conditions, cellaring, etc. all affect our perceptions of a blend.

That said I've come to enjoy blends today that a few years ago would have been traded or given away. Was the blend changed by the blender or were other factors at work? I don't know and I'm not sure I care, I smoke what I like today, it may be different tomorrow -- better or worse. It's part of the journey.

If a blender really ruins a blend for me by making various "improvements" I'll move on to something else, there are plenty of good choices out there.
 

LudwigB88

Starting to Get Obsessed
Nov 4, 2023
201
242
I would offer the idea that the changes in the quality of blends tend to be a question of economics, and that enhancing quality generally isn't synonymous with cost-savings in either producing, sourcing or selling of luxury goods. The trend seems to move in one direction, toward one of decreasing production costs at the expense of quality, and to the extent that the majority of consumers seem willing to purchase low quality tobacco given the scarcity and expense of higher-quality tobaccos, there's no reason it wouldn't continue.

To a large extent the consumer votes with his or her wallet so I tend to view the global decreases in tobacco quality as being a reflection of what consumers are willing to accept as passable in terms of quality.

There's also the sentiment that de gustibus non est disputandum and there are tobaccos for every taste.

I listen to my own heart, and ask myself when I'm smoking: am I actually enjoying this? And it's simple enough that if that question is a difficult one to answer, then I'm likely not smoking a good tobacco.

I can think of no tobaccos that have improved, only a handful that remain good, and a great majority that have become unsmokably bad. I can also think of a barrage of new releases that are so utterly mediocre that they collectively lower the bar and set a new low standard for younger consumers against which to calibrate their tastes.
Wow. That’s pretty discouraging. I was thinking about this topic in the context of history and nostalgia. Many on this forum and elsewhere claim we are living in a golden age of tobacco blending, while others mourn the loss of tobaccos and the worsening of tobaccos that have shifted hands regarding production. I can’t help but wonder about the shift in overall quality. I have no idea as I wasn’t smoking a pipe 30 years ago. I was just thinking about how the world is changing. I was especially wondering about the quality of Virginia tobaccos being grown today versus maybe 20 to 50 years ago.
 

Jbrewer2002

Part of the Furniture Now
Apr 17, 2023
612
4,515
Somerset Ohio
Wow. That’s pretty discouraging. I was thinking about this topic in the context of history and nostalgia. Many on this forum and elsewhere claim we are living in a golden age of tobacco blending, while others mourn the loss of tobaccos and the worsening of tobaccos that have shifted hands regarding production. I can’t help but wonder about the shift in overall quality. I have no idea as I wasn’t smoking a pipe 30 years ago. I was just thinking about how the world is changing. I was especially wondering about the quality of Virginia tobaccos being grown today versus maybe 20 to 50 years ago.
There are some glass half empty people around here. You will have that anywhere with any topic. I think the blends of yesteryear are the ones that get talked about most regarding not being as good today as they used to be. Fortunately I do think there are a lot of newer blends that are excellent. The argument can also be made that there is nothing wrong with some of the older blends today. There just not what the people who smoked them 30 years ago remember. That doesn’t mean there not good. To each their own I guess.
 
  • Like
Reactions: LudwigB88

greeneyes

Lifer
Jun 5, 2018
2,152
12,254
Wow. That’s pretty discouraging. I was thinking about this topic in the context of history and nostalgia. Many on this forum and elsewhere claim we are living in a golden age of tobacco blending, while others mourn the loss of tobaccos and the worsening of tobaccos that have shifted hands regarding production. I can’t help but wonder about the shift in overall quality. I have no idea as I wasn’t smoking a pipe 30 years ago. I was just thinking about how the world is changing. I was especially wondering about the quality of Virginia tobaccos being grown today versus maybe 20 to 50 years ago.
I wouldn't say it's discouraging. There are plenty, and I mean lots, of great tobaccos out there. In many regards tobacco is like beer. Some people like craft beer, but I think Bud Light (or something similar) is the highest selling beer by volume. I don't drink anymore, but I remember in the 90s that Sam Adams Lager was good, and Newcastle Brown was good, and Bass Ale was good. They were all bought up by mega brewers and they're not good anymore. I think it was five years ago I tried Newcastle... I couldn't believe it. That having been said, there are plenty of good tobaccos or craft beer, or what have you, out there.