Most of us when we are first introduced to tobacco blends have no idea that there are different types of tobaccos with their distinct characteristics. This short article is the tip of the iceberg to describe the few tobaccos used in our pipe tobacco we love dearly.
Many of us ask ourselves if tobacco gets better with age. Tobacco blends to a certain degree can benefit from aging. The higher the sugar content in a blend the better it will age from a taste and longevity perspective.
Now here are a few types of tobaccos used by manufacturers.
Virginias are classified by their colour, such as “bright” and “red”. The location on a stalk is what determines the colour. The bright Virginia comes from the middle of the stalk, while the red Virginia comes from the higher portion of the leaf. All Virginias tend to be sweet, the lighter the colour the sweeter the tobacco tends to be. As the Virginia becomes sweeter, there is additional acidity and hints of citrus-like tartness, and as it becomes progressively darker in colours, the tobacco increases in flavour and the taste shifts to a bread like characteristic.
Burleys have the lowest natural sugar content of any type of tobacco. On the other hand Burley has a tendency to have higher nicotine content in comparison to other tobacco types. Due to their low sugar content, Burleys are excellent for mixing blends, and, are exceptionally absorbent when flavors are added. This is the main reason that black Cavendish is made from Burley and most Cavendish bases for aromatics contain a high percentage of Burley.
The presence of Latakia is what makes an English blend “English”. Latakia was originally produced in Syria. Initially, Latakia is air cured then further processed by several weeks of exposure to controlled fires of herbs and aromatic woods. This results in a condiment tobacco possessing a similar note to that of a cozy campfire.
Syria no longer produces this type of tobacco in abundance. Latakia today mainly comes from Cyprus. Cyprian Latakia is a bit more bold and sweeter than its Syrian former cousin.
Smoky Latakia is detected between levels of 3-5% present in blends while a noticeable sweetness comes to be present in the 10% range.
Aromatic mixtures are vaguely defined as any blend having a flavoring agent added to it. Aromatics are most commonly blended to be mild in nature and almost always tend to have a pleasant aroma which draws positive comments from those around the pipe smoker. Most aromatics start with a black Cavendish base although Virginias and Burleys do appear but are less frequently used. After air curing has occurred, the leaves are pressed into a cake and then heated by either fire or steam. Once fermentation has progressed to the manufacturer’s specification which depends on the type of blend of Cavendish, it will either be used singularly or a flavouring agent will be added. In the case of most aromatics, a flavouring agent is added.
As always enjoy the moment and enjoy your pipe.