Briar to Binder: Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust StillWell Star English No.27

Welcome back to another episode of Briar to Binder. In this installment, our two favorite blending geniuses — C&D's Head Blender Jeremy Reeves and Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust's Master Ligador Steve Saka — continue their journey through Dunbarton's new StillWell Star line, this time diving deep into the English No. 27 blend: a luxury pipe tobacco cigar representing Saka's ideal impression of the traditional English pipe tobacco family. Watch the full video above to learn more about this excellent cigar and its similarities to English pipe tobaccos.

StillWell Star English No.27

Note: The following transcription has been edited for clarity and brevity.

[Jeremy Reeves]: Hey everyone, I'm Jeremy Reeves, Head Blender for Cornell and Diehl Pipe Tobacco Company. And once again, we're joined today by Mr. Steve Saka, who is the founder and Master Ligador of Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust. Steve, welcome.

[Steve Saka]: Thank you.

[J.R.]: Thanks so much for joining us. Today we're talking about the StillWell Star English No. 27. This is the second video on StillWell Star that we've done so far — maybe you all caught the review of Aromatic No. 1 that we already put up — but today we'll be discussing the English No. 27. So tell us a little about the cigar, Steve.

[S.S.]: Well, as you noticed, I haven't lit mine yet and there is a reason for that: With this cigar, I prefer to take a moment before I light it, give it a little bit of a smell from the foot, and also do a bit of a cold draw through it before I light it. That's true of all the StillWell Stars, but especially true for this one in particular. It kind of gives you a little hint of that smoky note that you'll get while you smoke it, and I always find that really appealing. Another thing that I think we mentioned in the introduction interview is that, with the StillWell Star, it's best to treat it, when you're lighting it, a little bit more like a pipe. Be a little bit more gentle. We all have these torch lighters now that go a billion degrees, but you'll want to give these a nice even, steady light. So while I'm lighting up, Jeremy, why don't you talk about the pipe tobacco that's in the English No. 27?

Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust StillWell Star English No.27

[J.R.]: Sure. So the pipe tobacco that's in English No. 27 comprises a very, very full selection of Latakia alongside smaller portions of Burley, Oriental, and a little bit of Virginia. But it really focuses towards the Latakia flavor profile. That smokiness that you'll notice, like Steve mentioned, is really mostly driven by that fire-cured leaf. Latakia is an Oriental tobacco that goes through a very long fire-curing process, which imparts a lot of really deep, resonant, and smoky aromatic qualities to the tobacco. That certainly plays a role in the smoke, but it is not the dominant flavor in the cigar by any means — it's just a component.

[S.S.]: I think that's one of the interesting things here. There are certain products in our marketplace that use fire-cured tobaccos, particularly Kentucky Fire-Cured. The better grades of Latakia that are properly processed don't give you that really uber smokiness. It isn't an acrid, biting, or sharp flavor or aroma. It's not as if I'm chewing on a log that came out of a campfire. All four of the StillWell Star blends are all based around the type of pipe tobaccos that I like to smoke. And in the English category, I do tend to prefer blends that are more Latakia heavy, but I prefer ones that are using really great grades of Latakia that don't give you that bitey, acrid sensation, which I think is one of the things that turns a lot of people away from English-style pipe tobaccos. They find them almost too harsh, too overwhelming, but when Latakia is done right, it's actually one of the smoothest types of leaf.

[J.R.]: Yeah, it's very mellow pipe tobacco. It's not a hammer; it's a very full, kind of velvety sort of smokiness.

[S.S.]: Right. And that's what I wanted to translate to a cigar. But oddly enough, as much as I'm talking about the Latakia being not as aggressive, of the four different blends in the StillWell Star line, English No. 27 is probably the strongest cigar blend overall. The tobaccos comprising the tripas in this one — and there are some pretty good, thick textures of a variety of different Nicaraguan leaves, with Honduran Ligero added to it — give it a little bit more oomph. So guys who tend to smoke stronger cigars will probably find the English No. 27 to be a good starting point for them. I think it's the fullest, strongest, and probably the highest one in terms of nicotine content. And I also think that it's the cigar that may be the most complex and nuanced of the four different StillWell Stars.

[J.R.]: Yeah, when you're smoking it, you get the Oriental every once in a while, and it interplays with the Latakia a little bit. But you're absolutely right, the flavor of the other tobaccos that are involved in this blend, the non pipe tobacco portion, really are what's driving this blend, and I think that's true of all four of them. They're definitely cigars first, but since Latakia has such a pronounced flavor, it makes sense to me that you wanted to make this one the fullest strength-wise. I find this in blending with Latakia as well: If I want to focus on Latakia, I typically need to find other things that add strength to balance how prominent that flavor can be.

[S.S.]: Exactly. And there's a misconception there: Because of how strong Latakia can taste and how strong the aroma of Latakia can be, most smokers assume that it's high in nicotine as well when actually it's just the opposite. It's one of the least potent pipe tobacco varietals when it comes to nicotine and strength, so in this particular blend, I had to amplify the tripas in the cigar portion of this blend to bring that level up and give it a fuller, richer smoking experience. Overall t's hard for me to decide which of the four StillWell Star blends is my favorite, but English No. 27 is in the running for me personally.

[J.R.]: It is for me too. I'm really between the English No. 27 and the Navy No. 1056. But definitely this is one that I find myself reaching for time and time again. I think it would appeal to pipe smokers who like English-style pipe tobaccos, and who are interested in cigars or who dabble in cigars. I also think that it would really be appealing to guys who like medium to medium-full cigars and want to try something new or who want to try something with a flavor that is outside of the traditional cigar wheelhouse.

[S.S.]: And with that, I would say, Hey, give English No. 27 a try. Available at Smokingpipes.com

[J.R.]: That's right. Thanks so much, Steve

StillWell Star English No.27

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