Scientific approach to tobacco choice?

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sablebrush52

The Bard Of Barlings
Jun 15, 2013
17,201
34,316
SoCal
jrs457.wixsite.com
On the advice of some folks here I googled up a list of “gold standard blends” that are among the classics. Buy one of each and by the end of those tins you’ll know which categories might be to your liking, and then you can explore that genre further.

If you want to get more scientific about it, you could analyze anything you end up liking by its components and try other blends with similar components. Of course you won’t know precise ingredients or proportions, but you could determine that you like a blend that’s VA, Kentucky, and a certain Oriental and look for others like it.

Try something like-

Aromatic: Lane 1-Q
Codger/burley: Sutliff Ready Rubbed Match
VA: Sutliff 507C Virginia Slices
VaPer: Sutliff Victorian
English: Kramer Father Dempsey
Balkan: Sutliff Balkan Sobranie Match

Bonus is that all those are available in bulk so you can buy as little as 1oz of each.
That's a pretty decent selection of blends that are excellent and won't empty out you pocket.
 

DanWil84

Lifer
Mar 8, 2021
1,515
10,390
The Netherlands (Europe)
Short answer, no there isn't, smoke as much as you can.

Long answer, yes there is, but it isn't exact. Tobacco is like food for me. I don't eat something sweet when i crave savoury flavors. Same with smoking, if I crave for something more saverous like earth, nut or chocolate flavor I don't grab a full Virginia but a Burley Flake like ABF. The only science behind that is that you can roughly determine on the contents how it could taste which isn't as exact as you wish it is. There are a few variables in that like blending proportions and how much to the flavor that percentage contributes. A virginia perique with 10% perique can still be kind of spicey or dried fruit tasting, where a virginia burley with 50% burley can still be Virginia forward. Also how sensitive one is for certain tobaccos, there are a lot of people that can't handle red Virginia, only taste Latakia when there is just a smidge of or absolutely hate any kind of other tobacco.
 

BriarsAndBottles

Might Stick Around
Sep 4, 2022
64
140
35
Hercules
I did the same with tobacco as I did with wine and before that beer. Cast a wide net, then narrow it down. Try as broad a spectrum as you can at first to figure out preferences. That means different blenders, leaves, flavors, cuts, etc. Then figure out what you like and what you didn’t and keep tightening the net. Tobaccoreviews.com is a great place
Search and sort by type, rating, and popularity.
 

cigrmaster

Lifer
May 26, 2012
20,255
57,192
65
Sarasota Florida
I spent ten years plus testing different tins and realized my favorites were Virginia, Virginia/Perique and Virginia/Kentucky/Buley blends.

I would buy a test tin and if I really enjoyed it I would cellar it deep. Here is the list I came up with and the amount of variety works for me. A TR next to a name means ready to smoke out of the tin with no dry time. I prefer some moisture in my flakes and plugs for a cooler more flavorful smoke. Almost all of my cellar has ten plus years of age on it. I cannot vouch with some of the new blends that came out with the same name as other blends.

For example, all my Astleys no 44 Dark Flake is 2012. I tried a smoke from a fresh tin. The flakes were not the same as the new stuff was much nicer flakes. It tasted very nice fresh and I believe it will age great.
Fribourg&Treyer Cut Virginia Plug TR

Fribourg and Treyer VintageTR

Fribourg & Treyer Special Brown FlakeTR

Wessex Campaign Brigade Dark Flake

Wessex Brown Virginia Flake TR

Wessex Gold Virginia Flake TR

Wessex Gold Brick TR

Wessex Gold Slice TR

Samuel Gawith Best Brown Flake

Samuel Gawith full Virginia Flake

Samuel Gawith Kendal Plug

Hamborger VeermasterTR

Dunhill Flake TR…..discontined

Astley’s no. 44 Dark Flake TR

Astleys 109

John Aylesbury Luxury Flake now called Classic Flake TR

Rotary Navy Cut TR…..discontinued
Brigham Klondike Gold TR…….discontinued
Butera Royal Vintage: Dark Stoved discontinued





Virginia/Perique Flakes-8

EscudoTR

Solani 633 TR

Samuel Gawith St James Flake

Dunhill Deluxe Navy RollsTR

Peter Heinrichs Curly Block

Dan Tobacco Salty Dogs

Savinelli Doblone d’Oro

Cabbies Mixture





Virginia/Burley/Kentucky Flakes-10

Solani Silver Flake TR

Peterson Perfect Plug

GL Pease NavigatorTR

Petersons Irish Flake

Peterson University Flake

Esoterica Stonehaven

Mac Baren HH Old Dark Fired

Mac Baren Modern Virginia Flake TR
 

mso489

Lifer
Feb 21, 2013
39,448
52,264
Some might want to create spread sheets or keep a diary of blends they tried and grade the different ones. That's getting a little administrative for me. Rather, just pay attention to the blends you try. What is the largest proportion of a blend, what's called the base? Usually this is Virginia or burley. Then, what are the constituent tobaccos, the condiments? And in what proportion are they used?

One Virginia leaf can be the base and another a condiment, sometimes in an all-Virginia blend. As long as you are aware of these kinds of specifications and nuances, you will begin to be aware of what you like and why. Do you like Latakia? Perique? A little? A lot? How about Cavendish? Black or light? Flavored or unflavored? Orientals? Which ones? How about cigar leaf? And so on.

I don't think you need to develop a computer program to analyze all this. Just be aware and learn the different flavors, and decide what pleases you. Many variables are at play -- the sourcing of the tobaccos, the blenders, the age, the storage, and on and on. Your brain can probably do a better computation on all this than your computer can.
 

chopper

Lifer
Aug 24, 2019
1,480
3,278
When I first found online tobacconists I had absolutely no clue of what was what.
www.tobaccoreviews.com helped me to choose untried blends but what helped me most of all was getting to understand the different types of leaf and genres.

I'm fortunate that I like most tobaccos [except for goopy aromatics and Latakia-bombs] so there were no real ordering disasters.

Keep in mind that your taste will change over time.
What you don't like today, you may well like down the track.
So don't ever ditch a blend that you don't like. Just jar it and forget until your tastes have developed.
 
Jan 28, 2018
10,793
90,565
65
Sarasota, FL
On the advice of some folks here I googled up a list of “gold standard blends” that are among the classics. Buy one of each and by the end of those tins you’ll know which categories might be to your liking, and then you can explore that genre further.

If you want to get more scientific about it, you could analyze anything you end up liking by its components and try other blends with similar components. Of course you won’t know precise ingredients or proportions, but you could determine that you like a blend that’s VA, Kentucky, and a certain Oriental and look for others like it.

Try something like-

Aromatic: Lane 1-Q
Codger/burley: Sutliff Ready Rubbed Match
VA: Sutliff 507C Virginia Slices
VaPer: Sutliff Victorian
English: Kramer Father Dempsey
Balkan: Sutliff Balkan Sobranie Match

Bonus is that all those are available in bulk so you can buy as little as 1oz of each.
I would not consider those the gold standard but they may suffice. I smoke 5 to 6 bowls per day, mostly Virginia Flake, and I don't cellar 507C.
 

coys

Starting to Get Obsessed
Feb 15, 2022
192
420
Missouri
I would not consider those the gold standard but they may suffice. I smoke 5 to 6 bowls per day, mostly Virginia Flake, and I don't cellar 507C.
Yes, the ‘gold standard blends’ are on a list that can be googled up. They are mostly tinned and would cost more money if one were to try them all.

The list I posted seemed like a list of economical, bulk tobaccos that are still highly reviewed and which could all be sampled for very little monetary outlay.
 
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Chasing Embers

Captain of the Black Frigate
Nov 12, 2014
38,596
85,621
The list I posted seemed like a list of economical, bulk tobaccos that are still highly reviewed and which could all be sampled for very little monetary outlay.
Yeah, tins have finally reached a point that I can no longer justify the cost. Future purchases, if any, are going to be bulk only.
 
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anotherbob

Lifer
Mar 30, 2019
13,076
24,502
44
In the semi-rural NorthEastern USA
nope best bet is take notes mentally or otherwise of what you enjoy and figure out what's similar about them.... Or find a reviewer that agrees with you on what you already smoked. Though in my opinion based on the scant evidence... getting better at smoking will do more for you enjoying a pipe then finding the right blend. I think back to my early days and how much I missed in many of my favorites, well my current favorites.
At the end of the day it's all tobacco so it should mostly all be decent.
Oh and I think taking your time and focusing on one or a few blends at a time will help more too. There is a lot of subtle qualities in pipe tobacco that you will miss if you jump from blend to blend (kind of like dating, you date 100 people that will be fun but you won't really get to know anyone one of them well and probably miss out on more).
 

Pipingntrucking

Might Stick Around
Jun 9, 2022
81
189
Zebulon-JoCo NC
The problem to any so called scientific approach is how you personally pick up on tastes, if at all, coupled with varying degrees of difference in blends using close the same flavor names, on top of blend portions, included tobacco quality used. Throw in whether it's a bulk blend that has been open air for a bit and dry as ash you're hoping to turn it into. A tin that has been accidentally cellared or a fresh tin. You can try the same blend multiple times and get hit different each time if for a lot of reasons. What did you eat and drink before? Did your taste change? Did whoever make the blend not have a good day on that batch, or were they more generous for that batch then any other time?

For instance. Lane 1Q is supposed to be a vanilla-ish blend. I personally don't pick that up. Mac Baren has Vanilla cream. I get the vanilla but it's more a spiced vanilla to me than a cream. A lot of people point to Autumn Evening for a Maple blend- not a fan, but Wilkes Vermont Maple is everything I look for in a maple. On the flip side of that Wilkes' Rum and Maple hits me in every wrong way it can.
 
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Doctor Chopper

Might Stick Around
Nov 20, 2022
66
124
Wisconsin
check this out!

Happy Hunting!
This is exactly what I was looking for. Briar lee and Coys also rose to the challenge. Thanks guys. This will give me a good starting point to understand the tastes and characteristics of different tobaccos. Greatly appreciated.

Doc
 
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