The Great RYO Smoke Out!

Log in Updates

Watch for Updates Twice a Week

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

Kilgore Trout

Part of the Furniture Now
Nov 5, 2019
No, he is not. The man is brilliant. I just fundamentally disagree with his politics, and it pisses me off that he is so good at swaying opinion toward his client's imbecilic behavior.
No, he really is. He's made a conscious decision to become a paid propagandist, vomiting out demonstrable lies in order to poison the public discourse. The fact that he can't, or is willfully ignoring, the harm he's causing makes him an imbecile.
  • Like
Reactions: woodsroad
Aug 11, 2022
Cedar Rapids, IA
No, he really is. He's made a conscious decision to become a paid propagandist, vomiting out demonstrable lies in order to poison the public discourse. The fact that he can't, or is willfully ignoring, the harm he's causing makes him an imbecile.
Take it to another thread, we're talking about tobacco here.


Mar 30, 2019
In the semi-rural NorthEastern USA
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

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

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!
I wouldn't say the RYO are worse. I'd say they're designed for smoking in a different way. If you wanted to test them as a product and not as a pipe smoke, then you'd have to try them rolled into cigs. That would be an interesting follow up see how they all fare that way. By the way Kendal Gold makes a kick ass cig or least did when I smoked rolling tobacco. Now if the controls score better in that test, we're closer to say the others are trash. :)
  • Like
Reactions: Piping Abe