Mystery Review: February 2015

Mystery Tobacco at

Busy, busy, busy — that's been things around here of late, even more so than usual. Nonetheless, we still managed to slip in some time for me to wander around the warehouse in search for something special, and for several others to be press-ganged into smoking it. And, as usual, time for Andy to make several poor attempts at getting me to name the picked blend before he's submitted his review as well. Eventually he'll learn that just guessing various names in a conspicuously played effort at inconspicuousness isn't going to get him anything more than a blank stare, a slight raising of eyebrows, and a casual refusal to take the bait.


Anyway, having made fun of Andy, on with it:

Jeremy Reeves -

Jeremy Reeves at Smokingpipes.comEric dropped off a bag of yet another mystery tobacco for me to try and unravel. The contents were a broken flake that seemed to be comprised of bright and red VA, white Burley, and I think maybe some Turkish. The moisture content was at first a bit high, but a couple of days in the bag brought it down to a more smokeable hydration level. There was a quite pronounced topping that I am unsure how to categorize, except to say that it seemed to remind me of apple cider a bit.

Upon the charring light, I was greeted by a flavor that is rather rare in my pipe smoking: saltiness. This was pleasant and not unlike salted caramel or bacon and maple syrup. Sweet and salty, but pronouncedly salty. Hmmm. Now, I set the pipe down for a minute or two, as is my usual lighting custom following the char. When I took up the pipe again to apply the 'true' light, the salty flavor had waned a bit but was still noticeable.

After a few puffs, the sweeter elements of the flavor came to the foreground a bit more; caramel and apple, vanilla, and allspice all made their little appearances here and there, with the lingering salty taste well in the background with the occasional little tangy sour note weaving in and out. There wasn't much nicotine to speak of, and the heat on the tip of my tongue indicated to me that I shouldn't puff harder looking for more satisfaction on that front. Sweet bright VA and Turkish both made notable impacts on the flavor, but the topping seemed to dominate the smoke, pushing the actual tobacco flavors into more of a supporting role. I could feel the white Burleys more than tasting them, with a slight stringency and tongue-drying effect that I find to be common where lighter Burleys are present.

As the bowl progressed, there wasn't much change in the flavor profile, and the occasional tang, the intermittent saltiness, and the caramel, apple, and allspice flavors all seemed to weave in and out in a very steady, predictable and pleasant way. This is not one that I am particularly taken with for the chilly season, but I think in warmer weather I will probably try it again — once we learn what it is.

Andrew Wike -

Andrew Wike at Smokingpipes.comWhat is this elusive mystery tobacco? Well, this time, pretty much like every other time, I'm not really sure. The cut is very nice, similar in style and moisture to some of G&H's blends. The tin note, however, suggests something much different. It's sweet and creamy with a strong vanilla undertone on par with some of Sutliff's more aromatic blends. That being said, I couldn't find any black Cavendish anywhere — an intriguing omission from such a sweet-smelling blend. The scent kinda reminded me of the old Captain Black blends I smoked when I first picked up a pipe.

So with nostalgic sweet nothings running through my head, I began the charring light. The vanilla tones were definitely there, yet there was also a strong Burley flavor, slightly nutty and earthy. It was pretty obvious right then and there that I'd have to sip this one. And so sip it I did. After setting it down for a few minutes, I re-lit to find that vanilla flavor once again, and this time, with a slower rhythm, it became far creamier and enjoyable. The room note was phenomenal, like freshly baked cookies and vanilla cupcakes — not my normal choice, but it was a nice change.

The flavor was fairly consistent, perhaps dying out a bit near the bottom of the bowl. Overall, I'd say I enjoyed this blend. It's definitely not something I'd reach for everyday, but for a mild, aromatic smoke, I wouldn't think twice about giving it another shot. If I had to wager a guess as to which blend this is, I'd suggest Sutliff's D40 Vanilla. The cut is similar, and much like D40, there doesn't appear to be any black Cavendish. But that's just my guess.

Adam O'Neill -

Adam O'Neill at Smokingpipes.comAh, the Mystery Review, I can't believe that it's time to do another of these again — it still feels like I just got here. From the outset this is clearly an aromatic, though if there's dark Cavendish in there I can't see it. A brown or a red Virginia Cavendish maybe? With the contents spread over a portion of my desk (thanks Josh), I can see that it's mostly a ribbon cut, though there are a few segments of unbroken flake here and there. I see mostly Virginias here, a touch of Burley or bright Virginias, but mostly reds I'd guess.

Tin note is like apple pie — vanilla and a touch of cinnamon, though the initial light doesn't bear either, being sweet but in a more subdued way. Second light definitely revealed more of the topping, but this time not cinnamon, more vanilla, or even vanilla custard. As the bowl smouldered on, the topping didn't burn off per se, but more gave way to the natural sweetness of the tobaccos themselves. I've hung around while both Andy and Jeremy smoked this though, and I noted that the room note was persistent throughout their bowls.

The smoke was cool, and thankfully not lacking in body, especially for an aromatic, where I personally like a creamy texture to the smoke. Nicotine was on the low side, but I didn't find myself unconsciously reaching for the ashtray to tip this and find something stronger, so it obviously has at least a little.

Overall, it was a good smoke. The vanilla was pleasant and not overpowering, just enough to provide a good base note to the top and middle notes of the tobacco. If I had to guess I'd say this was Cornell & Diehl Bulk 905 Vanilla Cavendish, based on my confusion over the leaf being used, and the fact that C&D uses a red Cavendish, which would fit the profile.

Mystery Tobacco at

Results? Everyone was wrong, just as I like it. The actual answer is: Dan Tobacco's Sweet Vanilla Honeydew.

I'll give credit where credit is due, though. If neither Jeremy, whose knowledge of tobacco is very broad and deep indeed, nor Adam Davidson, whom I showed the blend to yesterday, and who happens to possess an uncanny ability to accurately identify things by scent (and who has been working here for nine years) could guess it, well... then I'd say this was a blend you'd have to have directly experienced before. Certainly it's no Black Irish X.

Category:   Tobacco Talk
Tagged in:   Dan Tobacco Mystery Tobacco Reviews Tobacco


    • Bill on February 25, 2015
    • I have tried all kinds of tobacco and I am a believer that the pipe is what is important for a good smoke.

    • Timothy S on March 2, 2015
    • It's a nice smoke, even for the non-aromatic smoker. This is the very first "tinned" tobacco I ever tried. The name caught my eye so I grabbed a tin for a try. It is also the one that has received the most compliments from those around me that I've smoked.
      From the appearance and texture of the leaf you'd assume it would smoke hot and bite, which it doesn't.
      From the tin note you'd assume it would be just cloyingly sweet and no other flavor coming through, again, it's not.
      It's a nice smoke, light in flavor and body. On the occasion I do smoke this, I like it in very small portions. I use a small group 1 sized pipe, it really doesn't leave any unpleasant ghost in the wood.
      For me, it smokes just like it smells in flavor. I have never detected the "vanilla" in the name and what the others mentioned. For me, it smells and tastes gently like clover honey. Then again, I don't do well detecting "vanilla" flavors, just the "creaminess" of vanilla.
      Great room note. Not something I keep on hand, but every once in a while I order a tin (when it's in stock).
      Much like Blue Note from Dan Tobacco - it's definitely worth trying. I haven't smoked this blend in probably 10 years, but if I think on it, I can still vividly remember the tin note, and the palate. That alone is worth something.

    • Eric S on March 3, 2015
    • Tim - When I cracked the tin I'll admit it seemed overpowering, but the room note proved a lot mellower. I can't find info as to when this blend was introduced, but had it been around in say the 50s, it would have been perfect for that ad angle of "a blend that will please the wife". (Read: a blend that would let you get away with smoking in the house.) It's to Dan Tobacco's credit that they went beyond that and actually made a mixture burns well, isn't too moist out of the tin, and doesn't suffer from any unpleasant undercurrents.

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