“Many years ago, when my father was working at Boots Chemists – its firm used to sell tobacco for pipes. Dad always talked about a particular blend called “Vet’s Mixture”, which consisted of Virginia, Latakia & Perique. Maybe this is why I’ve always tended to plump for the plain tobaccos as opposed to scented or aromatic ones.”
I would like to give a descriptive account of some of the range of mixtures & flake tobaccos which are available in “The Pipe Shop Ltd”. I want to start with two notable mixtures from Charles Rattray’s blends. Red Rapparee – in the description of this notable tobacco, he quotes: “Quaint & seductive, exhilarating & exclusive, Red Rapparee is a symphony of delicate odours & sweet contemplative reverie – the ash is dull grey and burns in the bowl of the pipe with the spontaneity of a fine cigar.”
Black Mallory tobacco was dubbed “the full strength Red Rapparee”. This latter is laced with about double the amount of robust Black Latakia, but lacks the Oriental flavour of Red Rapparee. Interesting to note, Charles Rattray retired around 1979 – I think that these two tobaccos were the speciality in his range of tobaccos with their characteristic green & black on the 4oz tins, which always cost 1p more than the other tobaccos with the amber labels.
In the late 1960’s, when I started smoking a pipe, I was absolutely spoilt for choice. I enjoyed some of the Bewlay’s range – (40p per oz) Scotch Cut, Chanac Medium, King’s College, Caps The Lot, but to name a few, and one particular tobacco called “Army & Navy” which was specifically blended for Herbert Love. This tobacco was similar in character to the Charatan Rolls – I think, as the name suggests, it was laced with Rum. Then there was the original Cavendish tobacco “Gold Block” – when lit up, it has the distinctive aroma of new-mown hay.
Gawith and Hoggarth Dark Plug is a full-bodied tobacco – Virginia with the addition of Burley – despite its strength, it is a very smooth smoke and one can easily inhale without the smoke catching one’s throat. In order to smoke it properly, it has to be well rubbed-out, coming, as it does, in block form, and it is not particularly easy to keep it alight. Peterson’s Flake is a straight Virginia, easy to smoke and pleasant to the palate – of mild to medium strength. The Signature Flake in this range is also a straight Virginia, but tends to be sweeter, with just the suggestion of mild casing. The De Luxe Navy Rolls are of medium strength, but an equally pleasant smoke. On the other hand, the Charatan Rolls have a more robust flavour – perhaps a richer taste to the palate & this tobacco is decidedly stronger than Peterson’s De Luxe Navy Rolls, but, likewise, an excellent smoke.
Samuel Gawith’s Golden Glow is a straight Virginia, of medium strength – Cabbies Mixture, when one opens the tin & sniffs the contents – reminds me of “old sweaty socks”, but when lit up, the flavour is somewhat different and is quite strong for the type of tobacco it is. I have recently purchased some Exmoor Hunt – it doesn’t have much Latakia in it, so i’ve spiced it up with some Latakia, Perique and Turkish – and I find I have a well-balanced and satisfying smoke as a result.
I was quite taken with Savinelli’s English Mixture – a very broad cut, laced with Latakia – it reminds me of Fribourg & Treyer: No.34th Mixture, which I was able to purchase many years ago. 34th Mixture had very broad Virginia pieces, amply mixed with Latakia. Other tobaccos I enjoyed in the Fribourg & Treyer were “Cut Blended Plug, Cut Navy Plug, No.19th Mixture and Cut Virginia Plug” – with regard to the last tobacco, it was so mild that there was very little aroma, when smoked, and the tobacco was extremely light. The plug tobaccos were strips of flake, inserted in 2oz tins. Those were the days when 2oz tin of this very tobacco only cost £2.50.