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Briar Lee

Sep 4, 2021
Humansville Missouri
I found an old foil pouch of Our Advertiser in a humidor full of “pot luck” tobacco I keep. It was moist and looked and smelled good. I remember buying it after they dropped the cloth sack.

Our Advertiser cannot compare with Buoy Gold, or Red. It’s mild as the Silver blends.

Missouri Meeschaum owns the fields and plants the corn where they get their cobs, but no tobacco company raises any tobacco. They buy FDA graded leaf, either by contract or at auction. Then it must be aged, cased in wood.

There may be bad ready made cheap cigarettes but there’s no bad “pillow sack” cheap pipe tobacco I’ve found yet.

The customer usually has dozens of blends to choose in the larger smoke shops here in Missouri, an entire wall full.

If it’s not good it doesn’t sell and doesn’t get reordered. Silver blends are for beginners and selection is usually limited.
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Part of the Furniture Now
Aug 17, 2021
Central Florida
Having read with interest all of Mr. Lee’s posts on these type tobaccos, I’m eager to hear the results.

. I usually smoke c&d dark burley, and I’ve been wondering if I’d like these ryo tobaccos because so many of them seem to be nearly straight unadorned burley.

I’m curious to know what the control tobaccos are, and if any smokers in the group actually prefer uncased burley.
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Mar 3, 2024
I spy one of the OHM offerings in the photo. Is it Bold, Extra Bold,or Turkish?

Curious how it fares, since OHM seems easier to find than Buoy and the other brands Briar Lee has mentioned.


Oct 10, 2013
I’ve been there, beer tastes like piss! Still, I’m sure the company will be convivial.😇

American RYO?
View attachment 298858
That’s because Simon was your bunkmate and guide. For example, you drove right past the most excellent establishment where this event was held. Several exceptional Pennsylvania beers on tap and really great food.
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Oct 10, 2013
The After-Action Report

Well, it was another great get-together of The Lehigh Valey Pipe Club at The Wooden Match in Bethlehem, PA. Damn, did we have fun! We had a dozen folks show up for The Great RYO Smoke Out, a pretty good sample size for a Wednesday evening. I passed around score sheets to everyone, a bag of Missouri Meerschaum seconds, then the flat of anonomized jars made the rounds, and the Orgy of Truth began. On the score sheet, test participants were asked a bit about their tobacco tastes and preferences, just to get a mid line on where they are coming from. Participants were informed that there were three actual "pipe tobaccos" in the lot, but not told what blend, or what number they were.

The Score Sheet

score sheet.jpg

A recap: There were twelve tobacco samples, all purchased within the last month and a half. I wanted to have Buoy Gold in the mix, but couldn't source it in time. One online outlet had it in stock, but shipping was three times the cost of the bag. There were nine RYO's and three controls. I was way too ambitious in the number of tobacco samples. I should have cut it down to six in total with one control. That would have made it much more likely that everyone would have been able to sample each blend. Two participants actually smoked all twelve, but most only got to six or less, diminishing the impact of the overall results.

What We Tested

Decoder Ring-1.jpg

About The Panel
Most are experienced pipe smokers, with years of enjoying a broad range of pipe tobacco blends. Two of our members are expert tobacconists, one being a bonafide supertaster, the other having an equally excellent palate, working in the pipe and tobacco industry with decades of experience. There was a lot of conversation at the table as blends were passed around. What is always interesting is the range of differing reactions to the same blends. Overall, none of the blends scored well. This came as a surprise to me, as I thought that the blends marketed as actual pipe tobacco, at a commensurately higher price, would score a lot higher. They didn't.

The Controls
Controls were selected with an attempt to replicate cut and content of the RYO's, so that they wouldn't be immediately identified. This worked. 2 Daughters (D&R) Venguer was the hopeful standout, as Mark Ryan produced outstanding, unadorned blends using exceptional tobaccos. Unfortunately, it appears that since the sale of the company to Inter-Continental Trading USA Inc. (the manufacturer of Ohm RYO), the quality has plummeted. Gawith Hoggarth Kendal Gold was another hopeful standout, and in general it did better than the RYO's, but not by a wide margin. Some tasters remarked about bite, blandness and a chemical taste. It was one panel member's favorite. STG Peter Stokkebye 80 Norwegian was not widely sampled by the panel, but it scored well, with a few negative comments about the topping tasting artificial.

The Meat
With the small sample size, all observations must be taken as anecdotal. I will summarize the comments and scores for each.

  • Buoy Red
    • "Bland, rough, harsh, bad aftertaste, peppery".
    • Average score: 3, Low score: 1. High score 6.
  • Kentucky Select Red
    • "Good tobacco flavor, thin body, smooth, not much topping "Still don't love it""
    • Average score: 5. Low score: 3. High score: 7.
  • Kentucky Select Turkish
    • "Plastic forward, soap taste".
    • Average score: 2. Low score: 1. High score: 2.
  • STG Peter Stokkebye 80 Norwegian
    • "Hot chem taste, smooth, cherry and Taylor Ham, best of the lot"
    • Average score: 6. Low score: 3. High score: 7.
  • Rouseco Yellow (Gold)
    • "Not bad, Is this even tobacco?, mild, smoother than most"
    • Average score: 4. Low score:1. High score: 8.
  • Gawith Hoggarth Kendal Gold
    • "Bland, chem taste, I like this the best"
    • Average score: 6. Low score: 3. High score: 8
  • Smokin’ G Turkish
    • "Thin, light, sweet, soapy, "something that I didn't used to like but do now""
    • Average score: 4. Low score: 2. High score: 5
  • Ohm Red
    • "Fruit, smooth, "OK, still would not buy it"
    • Average score: 6. Low score: 5. High score: 7
  • Kentucky Select Yellow (Gold)
    • "Sweet, harsh, "don't love or hate it""
    • Average score: 4. Low score: 1. High score: 5
  • Cherokee Black
    • "Woodsy, sweet, Chemical aftertaste, "a little better than #9""
    • Average score: 6. Low score: 3. High score: 7
  • Gambler Turkish
    • "Little flavor, cherry, harsh, thin, "Topping burns off fast""
    • Average score: 6. Low score: 3. High score: 8
  • 2 Daughters Venguer
    • "Hot, harsh, flavorful, Burly, bitter, "I've smoked better bus fumes""
    • Average score: 3. Low score: 2. High score: 5
Scoring and Observations
You can always tell a pipe smoker, but you can't tell them much. Despite my pleas that everyone give the blends a 1-10 score, many didn't. So I can't do any meaningful score analysis. I can give some anecdotal insight, though.
  • Most of the RYO's scored lower than the controls
  • Cherokee Black was the only RYO to consistently score with the controls
  • 2 Daughters (D&R) Venguer, a control, scored very poorly
  • STG Peter Stokkebye 80 Norwegian scored consistently higher, but not by much.
  • I should have been more insistant that participants give each blend a numerical score.
None of the blends, including the controls, scored consistently much above the mid water mark. None of the RYO's were, on average, very well received by the panel. But, like opinions and assholes, everyone has their own taste, and this was clearly aparent in the point spread and widely divergent comments.

The RYO's tested failed to score better than the "real pipe tobacco" controls, even once you remove the much-diminished former Mark Ryan blend Venguer. Either way, on average, all of the RYO's scored quite low. The failure of the controls to rise above the RYO's brings into question whether the RYO's are really that much worse, though. Individual comments on some of the RYO blends were both sharply critical and moderately complimentary.

This was not a scientific study. The sample size was too small, the participants were allowed to interact, and insufficient instructions were given.

Best Quote
"I didn't hate any of them"

If you've read this far, I will make the following offer: If your pipe club would like to run this exact same blind taste test, PM me and we can discuss the possibility. I am open to mailing the jars and test materials on the condition that you are serious about running this trial, and you will mail the samples back to me within a reasonable time period.

Thank you to the members of the Lehigh Valley Pipe Club for making this test possible!
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Oct 10, 2013
@woodsroad : Might that be something to do with an 1100 mile round trip dash and the biggest tobacco donation the PA Pipe Club ever got in their life! Given the foul weather and all that I am surprised we got to stop anywhere!
Clearly, your cohort was left with a demonstrably false impression of The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
I expect better of you.