Tobacco and Book Pairings

Pipe Tobacco and Book Pairings

Everyone knows there's nothing quite like a good book to accompany a bowl of good tobacco — even better when accompanied by a nice beverage of some sort. But what about specific combinations of literature and tobacco? I think there are a few pairings that work especially well together, both to heighten the enjoyment of each, but also for the sake of good fun in the pairing itself. In the spirit of both, I've compiled a list of literary works and complementary tobaccos that match one another in the mood, spirit, and entertaining trivia.

Gawith Hoggarth & Co.: Brown Bogie Pipe Tobacco

Gawith & Hoggarth's Brown Bogie and Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

What better way to accompany Ishmael on the high seas than with a rope cut tobacco that the characters, and certainly the author of the great American novel, would recognize and potentially throw you overboard for? Not only is Brown Bogie virtually identical to tobacco that was smoked in Age of Sail, it's a lovely mixture that provides plenty of bracing potency and rich flavor to help readers get through the more encyclopedic chapters, ideally smoked from a Markus Fohr clay pipe.

Sutliff: #600 Mixture 79 Pipe Tobacco

Sutliff's Mixture No. 79 and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

The debut work by Carson McCullers is a classic novel of the South, following a deaf and mute man on a tale of companionship and loss that has moments of great sweetness and immense grief. Sutliff's Mixture No. 79 comes to mind, as the licorice topping is at once a sweet and nostalgic flavor that matches the temperament and setting of the book quite well.

Davidoff: Flake Medallions 50g Pipe Tobacco

Davidoff's Flake Medallions and The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

An early expression of the now-omnipresent detective novel, The Woman in White follows a young art tutor whose proposed marriage to his employer's daughter is complicated by a certain bad Baronet. The book was unique for its time in its use of multiple narrators, drawn from the author's training as a lawyer. Since Collins was born in London at 11 New Cavendish Street, it's only fitting that Davidoff's Flake Medallions accompany his readers, rendered in coins of Virginia and Perique, with centers of smooth Black Cavendish.

McConnell: Scottish Flake 50g Pipe Tobacco

McConnell's Scottish Cake and The Wild Iris by Louise Glück

This pairing is one of the more subjective on this list, simply because it combines one of my favorite books of poetry with one of my favorite tobacco blends. Glück's most widely heralded collection, its poems are deeply rooted in images drawn from the author's own flower garden, with deep meditations on death and the passage of time. The depth of flavor on offer from McConnel's Scottish Cake and its rich blend of Virginia, Burley, and Perique makes for ponderous and revelatory experiences.

E. Hoffman Company: Spilman Mixture Pipe Tobacco

E. Hoffman Company's Spilman Mixture and All My Pretty Ones by Anne Sexton

Something about anise and licorice toppings reminds me of depression, not necessarily in a bad way. Anne Sexton's poems are among the most depressing, but likewise in a good way, as her most famous volume displays. The Spillman Mixture, with its Latakia, cube-cut Burley, Virginias, and Orientals creates a smooth yet complex smoke, further developed by a subtle anise topping.

Capstan: Flake Blue Pipe Tobacco

Capstan Flake Blue and The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

No list of book and tobacco pairings would be complete without Tolkien's favorite flake and The Lord of the Rings. The rich hay and citrus notes of the straight Virginia flake will be sure to sweeten one's days in the Shire and drive off the darkness in the shadow of old Mount Doom.

Cornell & Diehl: Derringer Pipe Tobacco

Cornell & Diehl's Derringer and McTeague: A Story of San Francisco by Frank Norris

This novel follows the titular McTeague's misadventures in the Bay during the Gilded Age. A dentist by trade, but without schooling, our protagonist falls in love and into a deep rivalry with the girl's old beau, who happens to be his good friend. McTeague is himself a pipe smoker, and Derringer's classic Virginia flavors match the feeling of the story well. You'll wish you had a derringer when you enter the world of this rugged tale.

Peterson: My Mixture 965 Pipe Tobacco

Peterson's My Mixture 965 and Absalom Absalom by William Faulkner

As a great fan of Faulkner, I had to include my favorite of his novels on this list, and what better pairing than the author's own favorite blend? My Mixture 965 is a tried and true blend with a long history that stretches back to the early 20th century, when Dunhill's legendary retail storefront had a tobacconist's counter that allowed patrons to create their own personal blends. 965 was one such blend that found widespread popularity in the Dunhill catalog, especially with a certain Southern author. Taking a moment to bask in the tortured light of Faulkner's world with the deep, rich flavors of the aforementioned blend is as fine a way to spend an evening as can be found. Four Roses whiskey is optional.

Bengal Slices: Bengal Slices Pipe Tobacco

Bengal Slices and Satantango by László Krasznahorkai

This is the most unlikely pairing on the list, but I consider it my most inspired. Bengal Slices is an excellent Latakia-based blend, along with Virginias, Orientals, and Black Cavendish, cut into thick flakes and topped with a subtle anise note. The depth of flavor is impressive, not unlike the density of thought in Krasznahorkai's most famous novel. Set in a dilapidated village in the author's native Hungary, Satantango follows the arrival of two shifty strangers to the town, which sets in motion a string of events both supernatural and distinctly human. It's a book you'll want to start again as soon as you finish the last page.

BriarWorks: Country Lawyer Pipe Tobacco

Briarworks' Country Lawyer and One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

Perhaps the greatest Latin American novelist to be translated into English, Gabriel García Márquez is a titan of literature, and one of my personal favorite writers. One Hundred Years of Solitude follows seven generations of the Buendia family in the fictional town of Macondo. The seminal work of Magical Realism, the story exists in a world of ghosts, miracles, and blood, perfectly matched by the rich, earthy flavors of Country Lawyer. Composed of a heady mixture of Virginias, Dark Fired Kentucky, Burley, Orientals, and Black Cavendish, the blend is enlivened by touch of cigar leaf, creating an experience that will keep one's palate engaged for at least a hundred years.

While there are certainly more combinations of tobacco leaves and sheaves of paper, this list is my best attempt at a brief beginning. What books and tobaccos would you include in this list? I'll be taking notes from the comments section.

Category:   Pipe Line
Tagged in:   Recommendations


    • Rob Guttridge on June 16, 2023
    • A diverse, diverting, and deeply intriguing list of pairings. I won't start at the top of your list, but I may start toward the bottom and work upward.

    • Nate on June 18, 2023
    • This was a very cool idea. I’m always on the lookout for new books to read and tobaccos to try. Absolutely perfect, Thank you!

    • Andrew on June 18, 2023
    • This is an interesting article. I’ve read many a book while puffing a pipe. One of the best books I’ve enjoyed, which is especially relevant to pipe smoking, is The Virginians by William Makepeace Thackeray. Naturally, I smoked a Virginia tobacco while reading this novel about a Virginia tobacco plantation during the American colonial period. The novel includes a young, distinguished Virginia gentleman in his early 20s by the name of George Washington. The Virginians is said to be the worst novel ever written by a great novelist. But I disagree with that assessment. I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

    • DistrictXBill on June 18, 2023
    • HMMMMH&H RUSTICA with MOST DANGEROUS GAME?G.L. Pease SPARK PLUG with THE PRIZE (Indy 500) or GRAND PRIX (Monaco)Drucquer & Sons THE MERRY MONK with THE NAME OF THE ROSEFinally:Cornell & Diehl Latakia and any Sherlock Holmes novel or short story. ("...he kept his Oriental Latakia pipe tobacco in the toe of a Persian slipper... I read this line in one edition of the collected stories of Sr. A. C. Doyle)

    • DaveDyer on June 18, 2023
    • Another good pairing might be Elizabethan Mixture and the Plays and Sonnets of old Will Shakespeare

    • Dave MacKenzie on June 19, 2023
    • No Conan Doyle, George Simenon or Raymond Chandler? No mention of any of the excellent pipe and tobacco histories by Ben Rapaport? You must be kidding, right?

    • Logan on June 19, 2023
    • Might I suggest you call the blend then we place the book? Or we call the book and others call the blend. These pairings reveal our inner “favorite space”Shelly’s Frankenstein, CS Lewis Abolition of man. We could add classic films that have a pipe in them. This is kind of fun, could last for months.

    • Caleb K. on June 20, 2023
    • I was dismayed that you did not include any Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. He’s one of the most recognizable characters to ever smoke a pipe!

    • DistrictXBill on June 21, 2023
    • Logan...I like your suggestion. Challenge accepted.Book-Death on the Nile

    • Stephen on July 4, 2023
    • I just wanted to say I really enjoyed reading your article. Thank you

    • Richmond on August 28, 2023
    • I would have paired Capstan Blue with "Two Years Before the Mast". But that's me.

Join the conversation:

This will not be shared with anyone

challenge image
Enter the circled word below: