THE PROFESSOR'S PIPE TOBACCO REVIEWS

Dobie's Four Square Tobaccos


The last I heard is that these tobaccos aren't being produced any more. For a while, they were being produced in Denmark, though one would here and there find an older tin of that was made in the UK.

Curlies (Purple)
I really like how this blend looks: thin little light-coloured discs with a darker centre, all packed into the can in a disorderly fashion. The outer part crumbles easily, while the darker part tends to stay in a small blot. This blend typifies the principle that milder-flavoured tobaccos are often more piquant on the tongue than the heavier ones. It definitely has a drying effect on the mouth, but isn't as instantly sharp as a lot of red Virginias are. Brimming with natural (but not cloying) sweetness, you can practically see the sugars burning as they give off their mild maple or caramel-like flavour. Best of all, for a mild-tasting tobacco, it is indeed satisfying. '95

London Mixture (Green)
Brown and black, a heavy medium, classic, English-style mixture. The Virginia base provides a slight sweetness that is really well balanced by the latakia and other orientals. This has come to be one of my favourites as I find its character not always the same, but always satisfying. Sometimes my taste buds hone in on its sweetness (which at times comes off nearly as perfumy), whereas at other moments I pick up more on the darker, smokier component of its flavour. Overall, I find it pleasant because it is neither too mild, nor too sharp, nor too rich. Its flavour strength is roughly comparable to Dunhill's 965, without the added weight of all of 965's latakia. In many cases, I prefer the more perky flavour and aroma of this one. Medium cut, burns easily. Smells great in the tin. '96

Medium Navy Cut (Light Blue)
This red-Virginia flake tobacco comes in long, wide strips that are supple and easily rubbed out. The colour is mainly a dark brown, with a few lighter areas and mottled with lighter, cross-cut stems. In the tin, and especially upon rubbing out, it gives off a rich, fermented, natural tobacco aroma that is much like Saint Bruno, though perhaps a bit sweeter, less wine-like, and with a vaguely chocolate-like aspect. There is something in its tin aroma that is quite scrumptious to me, the way I find Erinmore flake to be, although here there are none of those extra added perfumes that many object to. Upon lighting up, one notices that it's not nearly as sweet-tasting as the tin aroma suggests; in fact, it's surprisingly neutral. Looking for distinctive characteristics, all I can say is that its reserved character is probably its most prominent. It provides a medium-bodied smoke, reminiscent of Saint Bruno, but not so rich or full, and it contains less nicotine. Still, it's a well-matured Virginia in the British tradition, meaning that it's pretty smooth for an all-Virginia blend, although not entirely bite-free either. As one puffs away slowly at this stuff, one notices the gradual introduction of a slightly peppery taste to the pre-existing natural Virginia flavour. This spiciness, instead of intensifying to the point of becoming a tongue irritant, seems to develop into something more fruity and full-flavoured later in the course of a smoke. Still, it remains a resolutely medium blend, just as the name indicates. Burns clean and dry to a grey ash. In fact, I think "clean" is a key word here in describing both its flavour and the distinctive room aroma it leaves behind. A special thanks to Ben Soo for sharing this high-quality blend with me. '96

Original Mixture (Dark Blue)
This medium-brown Virginia-Oriental blend without latakia took some getting used to as its flavour and fragrances are subtle. My very first impression after sniffing the newly opened the can and smoking that first pipe was "hey, this is fairly close to cigarette tobacco." In other words, I found it bland. Still, once its flavour got into my pipe and I became able to detect the subtle perfume of the orientals and the subtle sweetness of the Virginias, I enjoyed it a lot more. The closest thing to this that I have smoked for Virginia-Oriental flavour is Rattray's Highland Targe. Dobie's Dark Blue is neither rich nor excessively light, but it does provide a satisfying smoke. For a Virginia, it smokes fairly smooth. It burns quite well too, so attention should be paid so as not to smoke it fast. '95