THE PROFESSOR'S PIPE TOBACCO REVIEWS

Edwards' Tobacco Shops


There are a number of Edward's Shops in the USA, but they don't always carry exactly the same tobaccos.

All Seasons
A mostly blackish, dry, medium-cut aromatic blend with perhaps 15% light tobacco included, which provides visual contrast. This is the kind of dry, not sticky, aromatic that I personally find appealing. It reminds me a lot of Cornell & Diehl's Apricots & Cream, with its pronounced fruity and flowery scent that nonetheless allows some tobacco flavour to come through. Although the liberally added flavour essences suggest sweetness, the smoke itself isn't all that sweet. The base tobaccos in the mixture seem to be burleys in the way that they provide a rather flat, solid, and slightly musty undertone instead of sweetness. However, the mixture lacks burley's classic bite and punch, although it does have a noticeable drying effect on the palate. Overall, it's a medium-bodied blend that smokes quite cool and dry, not moist like many dark cavendish blends do. Its flavour remains full and constant until quite near the bottom of the bowl where it dissipates somewhat. It's quite similar to Buccaneer in terms of its smoking characteristics, with the notable exception of the fruity or flowery assences. What I like about this one's room aroma is that it smells clean, sweet and perfumy, yet it smells like tobacco as well. '95

Buccaneer
This black cavendish blend catches the eye because it's not as dark as black cavendishes usually are. It looks like black cavendish that has a natural, reddish-brown colour showing through, as if its black patina were wearing off, which gives it a slightly purplish appearance. Nor is it as moist as a typical black cavendish. It's quite dry to the touch, like a good English blend. And it smokes dry too, right to the bottom of the bowl, nothing the slightest bit gooey. It has that sweet vanilla taste and aroma that one would expect from black cavendish, but the it's not as overwhelming as Captain Black. You can actually taste the tobacco a bit underneath the flavour, which for me is a sign of a good smoking experience. Overall, this is a nice smoke, even though it's a rather one-dimensional taste (as black cavendishes generally are), and despite the fact that it loses some of its flavour in the bottom third of the bowl. Still, it's good quality; it doesn't get too bitter toward the bottom. This is a smooth-smoking, mild tobacco that is fairly light in body. It has a slight tanginess that becomes progressively more apparent while smoking, an effect that I find creeps up on me without my noticing it. Even though it doesn't bite the tongue, I find it somewhat acidic and citrus on the palate. As far as black cavendishes go, this is great. This burns very well and most of it turns into a fine, white ash. However, I usually leave a bit of it unburnt as I find it a bit hot smoking at the very bottom of the pipe. '95

Colonial
The brochure says "Purposely plain and expertly blended to encourage a good real tobacco taste." Well said! This blend reminds me of nothing more than Scottish Moor with the most of the aromatic component left out. In other words, an American natural blend, not an English blend: a dark burley, with something lighter and a dash of oriental thrown in to tame the dark flavour. It surely is a strong, natural-tasting smoke with an almost imperceptible sweetness, and a tad of bitterness, definitely not for the uninitiated. I find I enjoy smoking a big pipe of this for its strength and its heavy aroma. Perhaps what makes this mixture special to me is the perique in it, which I didn't even recognize until I read the Edward's brochure. As I think about it, I know what I like about it: it's a much darker version of Cornell and Diehl's #414 (Oriental Silk). It's a dark and medium brown, crumbly cut that is sometimes stuck together. Although strong and not really smooth in taste, it's not as biting on the tongue as I would expect. I find even a small quantity of its strong smoke to be mildly uncomfortable if it gets inhaled; it's much better savoured in the mouth or exhaled through the nose. Its rather light body makes it seem almost like a refreshing smoke, but its heavy flavour pretty much kills that notion. Aficionados of heavy, natural tobacco tastes would probably like this one a lot. It burns easily, smokes dry and clean down to a very fine grey ash. '95

Optimum
This is an aromatic blend that I probably wouldn't have tried if it hadn't been sent to me as a gift. In the pouch it has a distinct raspberry-type aroma, which I would generally avoid. Much to my surprise, this is actually quite a pleasant smoke. The fruity topping adds a gentle aroma to the smoke, but not a sickeningly sweet flavour. It contains a fair amount of black tobacco as well as lighter cavendish. What's really nice about it is that, unlike some cavendish mixtures, it is truly a smooth smoke, not one that tastes mild but then leaves a vaguely harsh or bitter aftertaste—provided that you don't smoke it too fast at least. Still, being an aromatic, it doesn't have an incredible depth of flavour beyond the fruit topping and the mild cavendish underneath. But the balance between flavouring and base tobacco is a near perfect one. It is so mild in fact that I am tempted to inhale it, and when I have, I found it to be remarkably mild. It comes in a dry, crumbly, medium-cut that smokes dry all the way to the bottom, although it does leave a bit of dark, dryish dottle. Being such a dry mixture, I tend to pack my pipe quite tightly with it and it still draws well. This is a good quality aromatic that would probably be best enjoyed by aromatic smokers. What I would add is that if you like the idea of fruity tobaccos but find them too cloying, you may very well enjoy this one. Another nice characteristic is that it leaves a beautiful subtle fruity fragrance in the room after smoking that only a someone who loves to complain could have a problem with. '95

Scottish Moor
This blend has the pleasant combination of dark burley and black cavendish. Actually, I didn't think it was so pleasant on the first bowl. Thinking it was a light aromatic, because that's what it smells like in the pouch, I smoked it in a pipe reserved for aromatics, and all I could taste was harshness, but hardly any flavour. Smoking it in a pipe reserved for natural, non-latakia blends made all the difference in the world. The natural, straightforward, but strong character of dark burley is complemented nicely by the sweetness of the black cavendish. Or am I mistaken? Is the sweetness provided by the addition of a sweet Virginia or some mild, light burley? Or is the entire mixture just lightly perfumed with an essence of some sort? I'm not really sure. However, there is a nice balance between the strong nutty taste of burley and something sweeter, more fragrant and with a bit more body. Overall, this is not a really smooth smoke, but it doesn't bite a whole lot. Being burley-based, it's a fairly strong, but lively smoke, not a coma-inducing one. This one's flavour and slightly sweet aroma have got me hooked; each bowl tastes better than the previous one. I'm always surprised (and impressed) when a mixture does that so quickly, especially if it contains burley. It comes in a sort of cube-cut appearence of reddish brown, medium and dark tones, with darker blackish flecks. Some of these bits are stuck together in tiny clumps. It is dry and burns to a fine, dark grey ash. In fact, it burns well enough that it's easy to smoke it a little bit too fast if you don't pay attention. '95

Special Balkan
It looks like a typical heavy-latakia English blend, with lots of blackish and dark brown tobacco, but it smells unexpectedly different. On top of the smoky latakia aroma is an unusual fresh scent that is reminiscent of spruce, citronella or wintergreen. I can't quite figure it out, but I do find it appealing. Whatever its source—it may be from the Turkish black cavendish that is supposed to be in the mixture or there may be a faint added essence of some sort—a hint of this scent can also sometimes be detected in dipping snuff, but rarely in pipe tobacco. This is a dry tobacco that smokes clean and is medium-bodied and medium-strength. It has a rich taste from the dark tobaccos that extends right to the bottom of the bowl. That mysterious fresh scent is always part of the pipe's latakia aroma while smoking and a bit of it makes its way into the taste of the smoke as well. It's not particularly heavy or sharp, so it could make a perfect introduction to English blends. There's nothing quite like this one. I picked this up at the Edwards's Tobacco Shop in Los Altos, CA. '98

Woodsman
A natural blend consisting of medium and cube-cut with an overall deep reddish brown appearance, and including some darker tobaccos as well. This is a predominately burley blend, sweetened up with perhaps some Virginia and/or mild Turkish and then made more English tasting through the addition of latakia. It isn't as heavy a latakia blend as the name might suggest, but the particular recipe does give it a nice, slightly woodsy character that is nonetheless appropriate for its name. The amount of burley in the blend gives it a high nicotine content, but balanced with the other ingredients, it makes for a blend that both stimulates and relaxes. It would probably be a good morning wake-up smoke if accompanied by a good cup of coffee. The burley keeps the smoke's body to a medium level that isn't as smooth and refined as that of many heavier, Virginia- or latakia-based Englishes. In fact, it's an incredibly light-bodied smoke for a mixture in which latakia is a significant flavour. Being light-bodied, it has the capacity to bite the tongue a bit, but slow smoking reduces this effect to a comfortable minimum. Although not really a soft-smoking blend, it's not harsh when gently blown out the nose. This blend might be desirable for those who like English blends in principal but are put off by their richness, or for those who like the punch of burley to be accompanied by a few richer flavours like latakia. The little bit of sweetness in this otherwise rather earthy-tasting blend softens the potentially rougher edge that the burley component might contribute and makes for a very pleasant smoke. This has very good burning properties, sometimes too good; I find it easy to smoke this one a bit hot. (Wider-cut tobaccos seem to best suit my smoking style.) From start to end, the flavour is quite constant and stable, it but does slowly gain strength toward the end of the smoke, at which point the burley is somewhat more dominant than the other ingredients. After smoking a bowl full of this, my throat detects a slight degree of acidity, a reaction I have to many gutsy burley blends. It burns dry and clean to a fine whitish ash mixed with a just few black specks. Leaves a distinctly natural tobacco aroma in the room that contains that touch of sweetness that one tastes and smells in the smoke. Thanks FN for the sample! '95

#10 Armadillo Mix
Here's another of those rather uncommon mixtures that combine latakia and flavoured tobacco in the same recipe. This is a medium-cut blend that runs the gamut of medium-brown through black tones. In the pouch, it smells very aromatic, with hints of vanilla, chocolate or almond and is strong enough that I occasionally detect its presence from the other side of the room. However, this is quite deceiving in terms of how it translates into taste. The aromatic flavours are used in just the right amount such that they marry perfectly with the Virginias, burleys and latakia rather than stand out against them. The resulting flavour is decidedly reminiscent of chocolate or coffee, barely sweet, but with that bittersweet edge that only a good dose of latakia can provide. In addition, I pick up on an almond flavour while smoking this, which may just be a result of the recipe or it might actually exist as an added flavouring. Either way, the taste is more like mocha than just chocolate and I find it quite addictive in a very pleasant way. There's enough latakia here to satisfy the latakia lover in me, but not enough to make it a heavy smoke. In fact, this blend is quite light in body and refreshing owing to the light burleys in it. This juxtaposition of dark flavour and such light body is quite noteworthy for me. Armadillo Mix smokes smooth and very dry with just a slight bite that is the perfect compliment to its flavour. This bite develops slowly during the smoke; other than that, its character is pretty consistent from beginning to end. It burns very well too—a bit too well to be a good outdoor smoke for me as I find that it easily becomes bitter if overheated. At the end of a bowl, you're left with a fine light grey ash. Not only does it create a beautiful chocolate aroma in the room when smoked, but I find I experience its aroma while smoking more than with most tobaccos. Thumbs up to Steve Fogle for developing this first-class mixture and sharing it with me! From the Edward's shop in Dallas, Texas. '95