James B. Russell Bengal Slices

Long cut Virginia and latakia, pressed into perfection.
Notes: Bengal Slices was, originally, the flake version of Balkan Sobranie. When Gallaher took over the Sobranie mixtures from the Redman family the original blenders finding the composition too complex and costly, they simplified it. After Gallaher stopped making the simplified Bengal Slices, Mr James B Russell arranged for a composition similar to the Gallaher revision to be made exclusively for them by A & C Petersen, Horsens, Denmark. A & C Petersen has recently been sold to Orlik A/S, of Assens, Denmark, which promptly discontinued the manufacture of Bengal Slices. A replacement, under the James B Russell ægis, has been released, approximating the A & C Petersen blend. FOR THE NEW PRODUCTION BENGAL SLICES SEE LISTING UNDER The Standard Tobacco Company of Pennsylvania


Brand James B. Russell
Blended By A & C Peterson
Manufactured By  
Blend Type English
Contents Black Cavendish, Latakia, Oriental/Turkish, Virginia
Cut Flake
Packaging 50g. Tin
Country Denmark
Production No longer in production


Extremely Mild -> Overwhelming
None Detected
None Detected -> Extra Strong
Room Note
Pleasant to Tolerable
Unnoticeable -> Overwhelming
Extremely Mild (Flat) -> Overwhelming

Average Rating

2.96 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 10 of 28 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jun 30, 2002 Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant
Bengal slices burns cool and dry. It is a flake and rubs out easily too. My version was the English original and I was absolutely wonderfully, delightfully, exquisitely overwhelmed by the depth of the flavor. I understand now why this one is considered to be one of the world's finest ever blends. Smooth and bulk building jet black cavendish, Latakia and Virginia leaf with depth of flavor like no other. I want more!
13 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 06, 2011 Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Medium Tolerable
My review of Bengal Slices is based on a tin from the 1990's. Due to the age of the tin the Virginias offered sugar crystals that made BS visually inviting. I chose to rub out the small flakes. The tobacco was still moist and I found it smoked better on the dry side after having smoked it both ways. On every occasion I really enjoyed the first half of the bowl. Unfortunately, as each bowl progressed, the Latakia really took over and I found myself longing for some Oriental component as the flavor was too monotone. I do find BS similar to Lancer Slices, however I prefer Lancer Slices over this blend. I am glad I was able to experience this fabled blend, but I won't be spending my hard earned cash on finding a rare tin.
7 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 19, 2014 Medium Extremely Mild Medium Tolerable
The Virginias were grassy and hay-like with some earth, citrus, fermented dark fruit with a “barbecue” quality, and a very light floral hit. The black cavendish provided a mild sugary creaminess. The smoky, woody, mostly dry, barely sweet Cyprian latakia was the dominant component. The dry, woody, sour Orientals also had a touch of spice in the background. The nic-hit was mild to medium. Didn’t bite, but had a rough edge at times. Burned cool, clean and slow with a consistent flavor. Left some moisture in the bowl, and needed a fair amount of relights. Had a woody, smoky, lingering after taste, and the floralness was obvious in the room note. Was not an all day smoke. Two and a half stars.

This review is for the original production, not the recent Standard Tobacco Company release. My review for that one is in the appropriate place, unlike a couple that have been posted here that should be moved to here: http://www.tobaccoreviews.com/blend/9899/standard-tobacco-company-of-pennsylvania-bengal-slices

5 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 10, 2009 Medium Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
Very old tin - from sometime around 1992 or so. Still very moist in the tin, this is a predominately black flake with some mottled leaf. Very nice looking small flake.

Hard to keep lit out of the tin so I dried it to varying degrees and got the best results when it was extremely dry and crumbly. That must be the result of the flake because latakia flakes always seem to work better for me when close to tinder dry, whereas ribbons work best when somewhat moist.

The latakia definitely makes its presence known throughout the smoke. My tin was not toned down (based on my memory) through aging and if fact I'm wondering if the latakia became stronger (i.e the cavendish and virginias mellowed but the latakia did not!) with aging. This was like sucking on straight latakia with a fleck or two of sweetened burley. Robust and zesty but not terribly memorable. This is something to try if you can find an old tin but, as other reviewers mentioned, Penzance does a better job in the latakia flake department, as does McClellands Latakia Flake.
4 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 14, 2008 Medium None Detected Full Pleasant
Alas, another great blend which for sometime has gone the way of the Dodo bird.

A dear elderly neighbour and friend who was the former proprietor of the best tobacco shop for many miles around. A very wise man indeed, he amassed a spectacular inventory of his favourite pipe tobacco and cigars to see him through until his final departure; yet to arrive.

I had the pleasure of receiving six tins of the British made original, approximately 35 years old. I really enjoyed the aroma and the contents were in impeccable condition. I found this to be a truly fantastic blend, cool burning, complex but not too demanding, very creamy mouth feel with dense blue smoke greasily hanging in the air.

It is certainly true that this was the flake/slice version of the famed Balkan Sobranie with a soapy floral Lakeland essence. I actually prefer the Sobranie in this form. The last decade or so, I have had a strong preference for slices and pressed tobacco. I really like the richness of a slice and the exceedingly complex flavours. Many folks complain about the packability and combustion, both of which do not bother me in the least.

Of the blends of today, it would be sort of somewhere between Esoterica Penzance and J.F. Germain Special Latakia Flake. I have tried ageing these slices together and then smoking them in the same bowl and the result is sort of close and a most pleasant smoke.

I wholeheartedly recommend the Bengal Slices, a true luxury and exceedingly rare.

- Tabaco
4 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 31, 2002 Medium to Strong Extremely Mild Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong
Similar to Penzance, a crumble cake showing much dark leaf with medium mottling and a few light flashes. The aroma is heavy Latakia, with good matured sweet Va, possibly some light topping. The taste is rich and lovely, quite complex with the smokiness playing off against the sweeter VA notes. For me, hard to keep it lit, much more so than Penzance. Worth a try, as YMMV.
3 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 30, 2017 Mild Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant
This review is from a 1993 tin a friend of mine cracked open the other day. I was surprised to see those jet black slices all lined up in a perfect row after so many years. Call me crazy, but the tine note sort of remains me of Erinmore flake with sour and fruity undertones. Upon closer inspection I detect sugar crystals (bloom) here and there. These flakes crumbled quite easily despite being so compact and thick, I guess, because how old they are and the lack of moist. Maybe I should have rehydrated them a bit before packing my pipe, but they smoked just as fine despite that. The smoking experience was somewhat similar to Penzance, but duller and way more subdued. The Latakia is definitely there, but pushed way back into the background, with sort of sour and fruity undertones. And again, Night Cap pops to mind, relatively speaking of course. I cannot detect any tongue-bite, but a few relights were needed to keep it going. Obviously, time has worked its magic, so I cannot tell what this tobacco was like fresh straight out of the tin, and this can only mean I cannot give it 4 stars.

PD. As this thread is for the A&C Petersen Bengal Slices, only the Danish made version should be posted here, and not the English one made by Sobranie.
Age When Smoked: 24 years
2 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 07, 2017 Mild Medium Medium to Full Pleasant
I was lucky enough to score 3 tins of this storied blend from my local tobacconist, who acquired it in an estate purchase from a former patron. Nothing like smoking a dead man's tobacco stash to put you in a contemplative mood...i felt very lucky to get my hands on it, but also vaguely wrong somehow as well. Not badly enough to not come back for 2 more tins after my initial smoke mind you, but a bit uneasy all the same.

This blend is lovely. It is a crumble cake of dark luxurious latakia, virginia and cavendish. Somewhat ahead of its time i think. The scent is what you'd expect from the contents, though the latakia has much softened in the nearly 30 years since it was tinned. The top dressing is still apparent in the nose as well, though less so than in Fusiliers Ration or the new Bengal Slices. More subdued, but very similar. I have smoked all three side by side, and i find them all to be tasty and very similar in effect, but this older version was my favorite. Its not a fair comparison, as tge virginias here had a whopping head start in aging, and the result was a sweeter, more perfumey richness. The lat here was also more muted, which was to my liking. I think the cavendish used in fusiliers ration was a bit better than the other 2, in that it was slightly less cavendish sweet, as opposed to virginia sweet. Overall not something i reach for often at all, but it fills a certain place. The gorgeous tin and the history and laurels of this blend also make it well worth the purchase. A true classic that is unique, rich, and satifying. I am glad i was able to find out what this one was all about.

Pipe Used: Cobs, meerschaums, briar
PurchasedFrom: Smokers Haven
Age When Smoked: 25-29 years (approx)
2 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 11, 2016 Mild to Medium Very Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
Bengal Slices.

When I opened the tin I found one of the most unique looking blends I've had. I'd expected some neatly presented dark flakes, going on the list of ingredients and the cut specification. Instead, what I found was a tin of, what I can only describe as, 5 thin Krumble Kakes. The tin-note implies a more formidable English flavour than what I actually get.

As the tobacco's thicker than the usual 'flakes', it can be crumbled into rather chunky pieces: this gives an incredibly cool smoke. Igniting B.S. is, due to the moisture, easy peasy. And then the flavour of the smoke is a very 'smooth' English one. Forgetting the Black Cavendish for one second, the Latakia, Oriental, and Virginia taste as would be expected for this type of blend: smoky, woody, with a slight grass quality. The Black Cavendish is what totally adjusts the scenario: this gives a nice vanilla-cream attribute and changes the smoke quite a lot in comparison to the normal English blends.

The nicotine's not much higher than mild: to become anywhere near medium it needs a big puff, and to be honest the room-note's about the only thing I'm not a fan of: pleasant to tolerable at best.

This is a definite four star blend:

Highly recommended.
Pipe Used: Peterson Founders Edition P-Lip
PurchasedFrom: Smoking Pipes.com
Age When Smoked: New
2 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 15, 2016 Medium None Detected Full Tolerable
I was given some of this from an unopened tin from the 1990's. I have the newer version but have yet to compare it. All I can say is WOW. I feel pretty fortunate to have tried a tobacco of this vintage. The flake rubbed out easily and packed well. It took flame right away. I was afraid it would burn a bit too hot being as dense as it was, but it burned just fine. I love the way this stuff tastes! Smooth, but bold and full of rich tobacco flavor. It had no mustiness to it at all, which I was afraid of based on the initial tin note. This stuff put out clouds and clouds of smoke - each puff being as flavorful as the first. It is rather monochromatic and didn't change a whole lot throughout the bowl, but with as good as it tastes initially, who would want that?? If you can still find it (currently going for about $100+ per tin), make sure you treat yourself as a pipe smoker and grab it up.
Pipe Used: Tim Thorpe
PurchasedFrom: Gifted
Age When Smoked: 20+ years
2 people found this review helpful.
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