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grimpeur

Starting to Get Obsessed
Oct 30, 2015
111
390
Toronto, ON, Canada
Greg Pease maintains that all pipe tobacco is top-tier quality. I'm not going to argue with the man; he's been in the blending business a long, long time.

A pet peeve of mine is reading someone's review of a blend that they don't like; invariably, they will state that it's made with poor quality tobacco. I would only accept that judgement from someone in the business, not some anonymous bumpkin on a forum or tobacco reviews.
 

sardonicus87

Lifer
Jun 28, 2022
1,219
13,184
37
Lower Alabama
There basically all the same quality. Some is a little higher quality than others, but they're all high quality at their lowest... like nobody uses "leftover floor scrapings" or whatever, or uses garbage leaf.

Pretty much all the difference is where they source it from and how it's treated. African Virginia is going to taste different than Carolina grown Virginia, but it's not like it'll be lower in quality, just different.

So if you're worried about blends using low-quality tobacco, don't be.
 

rmcnabb

Might Stick Around
Feb 19, 2024
87
497
It's not too surprising to find sticks and stems in many bulk blends from bulk producers. Does this mean the tobacco is "poor quality"? I'm not sure. I don't know what poor quality tobacco is - I don't care what the leaf looked like. I care about how the blend tastes. Don't be concerned with this mythical leaf quality - concern yourself with finding a blend or blends that appeal to you, and branch out from there.
 
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jbfrady

Part of the Furniture Now
Jul 27, 2023
568
2,091
South Carolina
As @grimpeur said, GLP is definitely in that category. Greg Pease is a tobacco puritan. Won't even let the soot be washed from the dark fired leaves in his blends because he wants it kept as natural as possible.

Mac Baren sources and ages their own leaves, and this is most evident in the HH line.

Tabac de la Semois is a small batch blender that only uses local leaves to their place in Belgium.

HU tobaccos are no-flavors-added blends with leaves often sourced from peculiar places.

Sutliff sources phenomenal Virginia leaves, given their location and their history, but the reason this might not seem evident is that they don't have the storing capacity of Mac Baren, so they don't age as long before being tucked into a tin.
 

elvishrunes

Can't Leave
Jun 19, 2017
310
541
Gawith generally has the reputation of fine leaf and flavourings, and their products certainly give me a high nicotine buzz compared to most and taste amazing, but Mac Barens can be strong too. I’m no expert though, and like most modern stuff. Not saying nicotine is the only measure of quality, but it is one.

Pretty sure OTC blends like Captain Black and Sir Walter are made with lower quality leaf, I get less nicotine from them, but would smoke them if that’s all I had they taste ok,,,

STG, Sutliff, Peterson, Gawith, Amphora, GLP, Cornell and Dhiel, are all stuff I like, but some here will say they’re not as good anymore, luckily for me I never had the old stuff or care😀
 

Chasing Embers

Captain of the Black Frigate
Nov 12, 2014
44,056
112,292
Pretty sure OTC blends like Captain Black and Sir Walter are made with lower quality leaf, I get less nicotine from them
It's all how they're processed, not quality of product. Stoving and steaming will reduce nicotine and produce cavendish. Harvests used to make pipe tobacco come from the same crops used by the cigarette and chewing tobacco industries.
 
Jan 30, 2020
2,053
6,752
New Jersey
I Imagine the small, select really peak stuff is harder to come by along with some more exotic strains of variety.

I think the last tobacco auction has closed which I’d argue doesn’t benefit picking out that best of the best stuff.
 

elvishrunes

Can't Leave
Jun 19, 2017
310
541
It's all how they're processed, not quality of product. Stoving and steaming will reduce nicotine and produce cavendish. Harvests used to make pipe tobacco come from the same crops used by the cigarette and chewing tobacco industries.
Stoved Gawith ropes are potent, and unprocessed Sir Walter isn’t, so I do think there are better crops. Also higher up on the plant, better cuts has more nic, Jeremy of C/D said that.
 
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K.E. Powell

Part of the Furniture Now
Aug 20, 2022
545
1,998
37
West Virginia
Man, if the quality of pipe tobacco is roughly the same across the board, then some of y'all owe ole BriarLee an apology for clowning on him so hard for preaching the virtues of gas station backer. 🤣

Jokes aside, there are maybe three or four major producers of pipe tobacco worldwide. I imagine the quality is roughly more or less the same, but I don't grow it, so how would I know?
 

Chasing Embers

Captain of the Black Frigate
Nov 12, 2014
44,056
112,292
Man, if the quality of pipe tobacco is roughly the same across the board, then some of y'all owe ole BriarLee an apology for clowning on him so hard for preaching the virtues of gas station backer. 🤣
Cigarette RYO is a different story. It starts out as tobacco that is liquefied with chemicals, dried as paper, then shredded. It has no resemblance to the tobacco it once was.
 

sablebrush52

The Bard Of Barlings
Jun 15, 2013
20,183
46,856
Southern Oregon
jrs457.wixsite.com
HU tobaccos are no-flavors-added blends with leaves often sourced from peculiar places.
Actually, a lot of HU blends are aromatics, and even those that are not have some pretty unique flavorings. One of my favorites was 5th Anniversary Blend which had a touch of balsamic vinegar in the flavorings. Hans comes up with some surprising ideas, man of which are pure genius.
Unfortunately, K, formerly known as K&K, altered the base blend and I don't like the change.
 

sablebrush52

The Bard Of Barlings
Jun 15, 2013
20,183
46,856
Southern Oregon
jrs457.wixsite.com
I am curious: are there tobacco brands that are known for sourcing higher quality tobacco? Or is it basically the same quality across brands and the difference is in how they treat it/blend it/etc?
There are only a few manufacturers, who have bought up a bunch of IPs, rather than hundreds of independent makers, who brought their personal idiosyncratic preferences to their products. The result is a loss of individuality compared to a few decades ago. When I started smoking a pipe, Dunhill tobaccos blends where made by Dunhill, McConnell tobacco blends were made by McConnell, Rattray's were made by Rattray, Balkan Sobranie was made by Sobranie LTD, etc, etc. Different manufacturers, different sources, different pipe lines, etc. Now, one conglomerate makes a bunch of formerly independent marques. Of course it's different.

McClelland closed up shop in part because they couldn't get the tobaccos they wanted for their blends. It's not as simple as a loss of quality, but the specific qualities that certain growers attained. A lot of farmers left the business when tobacco farming subsidies were ended. Also, traditional hand picked harvesting has largely been replaced with machine harvesting, which is more efficient and less costly, but which also compromises the result.

The thing is, if you like what you're smoking, that's all that matters, not some purported spectre of a legendary blend long ago.
 

bullet08

Lifer
Nov 26, 2018
9,310
38,906
RTP, NC. USA
As long as the tin has acceptable amount of sticks and twines.. Let me restate that. As long as there aren't too many sticks and twines in the tin, I would say it's pretty good quality. I can't tell what's good quality. Only can say what i like.
 

jbfrady

Part of the Furniture Now
Jul 27, 2023
568
2,091
South Carolina
Actually, a lot of HU blends are aromatics, and even those that are not have some pretty unique flavorings. One of my favorites was 5th Anniversary Blend which had a touch of balsamic vinegar in the flavorings. Hans comes up with some surprising ideas, man of which are pure genius.
Unfortunately, K, formerly known as K&K, altered the base blend and I don't like the change.
You're right, and I should specify... some of my favorite blends are non-flavored HU's. I haven't sampled the aromatics in their catalog, but I've very much liked most of the non-flavored blends I've tried.

So far, Haymaker is the only exception. I'm sure it would age well, but if smoked fresh it burns as hot as the sun unless you cube cut it. Even then, unless mixed with something else, it's decidedly nondescript.
 

mortonbriar

Lifer
Oct 25, 2013
2,734
5,898
New Zealand
If you are starting now, rather than comparing specific flavours of current blends you smoked decades ago then the idea of 'quality of leaf' probably does not need to apply in your hunt for favourite blends.