9 Highest Rated English Pipe Tobaccos

What determines if a mixture is an English blend can be the subject of much debate in this world of pipe tobacco. We often think of it classically as a mixture of Latakia, Oriental, and Virginia tobaccos, with maybe a bit of this or that thrown in. More broadly, it may be any blend with Latakia in significant proportion. How much is that? You can see why things aren't clear cut. But the style is a beloved one for many pipe smokers, or a scorned one for those who aren’t fans of the smoky stuff (nothing wrong with that, but you might be on the wrong page if that’s the case!) It’s become a canopy under which more narrow blend types exist, such as Balkan or Scottish. Which is why the filter to determine our highest rated English tobaccos will include those styles. 

One note about how “highest rated” was determined here:

Since there are many 4 Star blends out there that only have one to a few reviews, it doesn’t seem quite right to determine “highest rated” by stars alone. For the last piece, Highest Rated Straight Virginias, I accounted for this by taking all Straight Virginia blends rated 3.4+ and picking the 9 with the most reviews. But I’ve settled on a different approach for this piece that I think accounts for quantity of reviews while still listing based on highest rated. What follows are the 9 highest rated in production English blends with at least 100 reviews.

 


Hearth & Home BlackHouse

    Hearth & Home Black House
Reviews: 114       |      Avg. Rating: 3.55       |       Type: Balkan

BlackHouse is an award winning Latakia based blend with Virginias, Orientals, Dark-Fired Kentucky, Perique, and a bit of unflavored Black Cavendish to emulate an old classic. 

 

Part of Hearth & Home's Marquee Series, Russ Ouellette blended BlackHouse as a tribute to the legendary Balkan Sobranie 759. BlackHouse would take gold at the 2011 Chicagoland Pipe Show's Balkan Sobranie 759 Throwdown. It has now become an iconic blend in its own right.

Unlike its inspiration, this Balkan style English features Dark-Fired Kentucky, and to approximate the maturity of Ouellette's 759 reference sample, Perique and Black Cavendish were added. And of course, we have the sweet Virginias and herbal Orientals, finished with a healthy portion of Latakia which takes the lead. BlackHouse expertly shows that Balkan Latakia power without making obsolete the complexity on which it sits, as the myriad components are impressively balanced.

 


Ashton Artisan's Blend

 Ashton Artisan's Blend
Reviews: 212       |       Avg. Rating: 3.53       |       Type: English

This full bodied English mixture is carefully crafted for the experienced pipe smoker. Virginia and Turkish tobaccos harmonize with Latakia and a touch of perique to create a taste that is resoundingly rich, spicey, and satisfying. 

 

Artisan's Blend is a much celebrated English from the Ashton line up that sees a touch of Perique spicing things up.

Manufactured by Kohlhase & Kopp, this take on the full-body English is savory and complex. The exceptionally smoky Latakia is balanced with peppery Perique for a wonderful dynamic against the base of Virginia and Oriental leaf. This is one of the mixtures that found a second life after the demise of Syrian Latakia, and thank goodness it did. Of course, we mourn the loss of the varietal, but the unique charm of Artisan's Blend was not lost on the other side.

 


Boswell Northwoods

   Boswell's Northwoods
Reviews: 153       |       Avg. Rating: 3.53       |       Type: English

Full bodied and full flavor - a deeply complex English, but with a smooth and mild base of Latakia along with toasted Virginias. J.M. had blended Northwoods for himself to smoke, but then the customers started asking him what he was smoking and his answer was "have a bowl". Northwoods has become one of our most popular English blends.

 

Being a blend from a brick and mortar tobacconist and making this list really says something. Not because we can expect any less excellence from B&Ms than from larger blending houses, but with the greater reach and distribution of those bigger guys, it says something of the reputation for quality Boswell has garnered that Northwoods isn't just a sleeper English for the connoisseurs.

This English sits apart within this list in eschewing the Orientals. Latakia is forward with woody, smoky flavor, nicely complemented by the fine Virignias. Black Cavendish is more than a utility here, it smooths and melds the profile while bringing a good deal of sweetness, imparted also from a light creamy top flavoring. Boswell's Northwoods is a testament that complexity can come from just a few thoughtfully applied ingredients.

 


G. L. Pease Quiet Nights

G. L. Pease Quiet Nights
  Reviews: 143       |       Avg. Rating: 3.52       |       Type: English

Rich, deep, contemplative... Ripe red Virginias, fine Orientals, smokey Cyprus latakia, and a pinch of acadian perique are pressed and matured in cakes before being sliced. The sophisticated flavors and exotic aroma provide a wonderful backdrop for quiet moments of reflection, a good book, and if you are so inclined, perhaps a wee dram.

 

In his Old London Series, G. L. Pease joins his contemplative, artistic approach to the craft with the nostalgia and romance toward tradition that is so common to pipe smokers. Quiet Nights, like its peers in the line up, employs classic methods of blending. “My intention was to turn back the black and use traditional methods to produce mixtures reminiscent of those that haven’t been around for decades, but modern in their formulations,” Pease writes.

Quiet Nights was the second blend released for the Old London Series after another English that made this list, Chelsea Morning. Quiet Nights takes on a fuller body than its predecessor, wonderfully leaning into the bold, digestif realm of English blends. One to accompany you into the waning evening with dark Virginias and flavorful Orientals, on which the condiments of bold Latakia smokiness and light Perique spice harmonize.

 


Hearth & Home Larry's Blend

   Hearth & Home Larry's Blend
Reviews: 118       |       Avg. Rating: 3.51       |       Type: English

Larry Loerzel, one of our regular store customers, and connoisseur of English/Balkan blends had tried Ten to Midnight, and although he liked it, he was looking for something a little fuller and different. Based on his preference, we blended a full, traditional Balkan using Orientals that were more buttery and amped up the latakia. This blend is now a big hit among our full bodied English fans; a cool-smoking, very rich mixture.

 

Since the rise of the branded, consistent product we call a blend, many popular mixtures crafted to the personal leanings of a civilian pipe smoker have found favor on the palates of pipe smokers far and wide. Larry's Blend is one of those, and for good reason.

The already popular Ten to Midnight gets tweaked to fulfill the tastes of the Balkan lover with a true zeal for Oriental and Latakia's rich, piquant flavor. A full-bodied delight that further demonstrates Russ Ouellette's command on the Balkan genre.

 


Esoterica Tobacciana Penzance

Esoterica Tobacciana Penzance
     Reviews: 463       |       Avg. Rating: 3.48       |       Type: Balkan

A wonderful complex secret recipe of the finest Virginia, choice Turkish and Orientals and Cyprian latakia, all hand blended together, hard pressed and broad cut into thick flakes. Long matured and easily crumbled to facilitate pipe filling.

 

Penzance began as a take on Smokers’ Haven’s infamous Krumble Kake (also produced by J. F. Germain & Son after moving from House of Sobranie in 1980) when Steve Richman of Piedmont Tobacconist and Germain & Son collaborated on private blends for Piedmont. It is now among the most legendary pipe tobacco blends, and while still in production, is very difficult to come by.

The Orientals take center stage in this Balkan style English blend, which is joined by heavenly Latakia and a base of quality Virginias. The flake breaks apart with ease and delivers a smoke that is dynamic and balanced for a dark, deep, earthy smoke.

 


Peterson Nightcap

Peterson Nghtcap
          Reviews: 674       |       Avg. Rating: 3.46       |       Type: English

A rich blend of Virginia, Oriental, and Latakia tobaccos, intended to be smoked late in the day. It's a smoky, delightfully satisfying mixture, with a hint of Perique added to enhance the bouquet.

 

Peterson Nightcap is of course one in the same as the legendary Dunhill Nightcap, or at least the same as immediately before Dunhill’s departure from pipe tobacco. It is made by Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG) just as the Dunhill blends were prior to their brief disappearance from the market.

Nightcap is the quintessential full-body English. Bold in flavor and strength, Nightcap sees rich Latakia front and center, accented by delightful plum and pepper of Perique. The Orientals and Virignias harmonize—the former distinctly flavorful—for a mélange of floral, tang, and wood. However this icon has changed over its long history marked by several manufacturing moves, it certainly continues to hold a place in the rotation of English blend aficionados.

 


Samuel Gawith Skiff Mixture

Samuel Gawith Skiff Mixture
        Reviews: 228       |       Avg. Rating: 3.45       |       Type: Balkan

Another Samuel Gawith original, Skiff is for the pipe smoker who appreciates the fuller flavour of an Oriental blend. Blending a variety of different styles of flue cured tobaccos gives Skiff its characteristic yellow and brown features. Its real identity comes with the addition of Turkish and a beautiful black Cyprus latakia giving the blend its full, round taste.

 

Next to most of our other honorees on this list, Samuel Gawith’s Skiff Mixture lands more to the medium English realm—a refined and lighter English mixture. Which is not to say mellow and uninteresting, but one that leans into a brighter base of Virginia leaf to support the buttery, herbal Orientals and Latakia. The fire-cured varietal isn’t shy in Skiff Mixture, nor is it overly enthusiastic, and seems to be blended to accentuate the lively Orientals wood and spice.

 


G.L. Pease Chelsea Morning

G. L. Pease Chelsea Morning
    Reviews: 161       |       Avg. Rating: 3.43       |       Type: English

Sweet red and bright Virginias, fragrant Orientals, a bit of rich Cyprus latakia, and just a pinch of perique. The leaf is blended in layers, briefly pressed, then sliced and tumbled into ribbons. Lively and engaging, with a subtle fruitiness, and an elegant, creamy texture, it's a great bowl to accompany the morning cup.

 

The second blend from G. L. Pease’s Old London Series to grace the ranks of the highest rated English blends, we have Chelsea Morning. Here we have another mild(er) mannered English, with both the condiment spices of Latakia and Perique applied in modest portions, playing a more accentuating role to the herbal Orientals and dynamic range of Virginias. Chelsea Morning may flirt with the morning English that counters the Nightcaps of the tobacco world, but it is far from an imitation. It recognizes a form and finds its own approach.

 


 

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