John Middleton, Inc Carter Hall

Cross cut burleys with a sprinkling of Virginia flake.
Notes: Carter Hall has been providing a straightforward and enjoyable smoking blend at an affordable price since 1895 by keeping things simple: ribbon-cut Virginia and burley leaf of good quality, combined in the right proportions.


Brand John Middleton, Inc
Blended By John Middleton, Inc.
Manufactured By John Middleton, Inc.
Blend Type Burley Based
Contents Burley, Virginia
Flavoring Bourbon, Cocoa / Chocolate
Cut Ribbon
Packaging 14 ounce plastic tub
Country United States
Production Currently available


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

Average Rating

3.03 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 10 of 183 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 25, 2017 Mild to Medium Medium Medium Pleasant
Ahhh. Carter Hall. 

I think the romanticizing of old classic blends gets a little tedious. I'm of the opinion that the present day is just fine to be a pipe smoker, with houses like G.L. Pease and McClelland and Cornell & Diehl doing their thing, let alone the golden oldies still around, like Sam Gawith et al. Pipe smokers, I think, evolve with the times, and there will always be quality blenders making quality blends as long as people don't get too attached to the bygones.

But... Carter Hall.  It's still here. You don't scour eBay for a vintage tin and plunk down 150 dollars for 50 grams. You don't set up an alert on your preferred site in hopes of scoring the one tin that 2,000 other people are also waiting for (*cough* Penzance *cough*).  You don't stockpile a stash and wait 5 years for it to age properly.  You throw in a tub with your order (I'm developing a fondness for these 14-oz tubs) and you smoke it right away, if you want.   The tin art is like everything else about this- utilitarian and plain. The sticker label on my can was lopsidedly adhered, which I found charming.  You pry open the homely tan canister, remove the cheap round of paper laid carelessly on top and take a long whiff of the tobacco. No wine, no figs, no dark fruit, no campfires; no alluring scent of pine or spice. The smell is only exactly what you'd expect from the components and the topping. Cocoa from the burley-- not dark chocolate, but a sweet mild chocolate powder. Nutty, but a good plain nut: hazelnut, not almond. Some ripe banana, and a very slight chemical tone in the sweetness. A bit saccharine, but in a good way. The banana reminds me of the classic southern banana pudding, the kind with Nilla wafer cookies on top. The smell isn't strong or room-filling, but, boy, it's good. 

Don't bother drying it out, it's good to go. You don't fuss with packing technique, either. Not that I mind fussing; it's the fiddliness of the hobby that I enjoy so much. But you don't have to fiddle. You use the three-layer method, maybe. Even that seemed unnecessary with this tobacco. This is the first blend that I've ever successfully, workably packed by scooping with the pipe and twist-tamping with my finger. 

The burn is second to none.  Those smokes where you don't know the bowl is done until the draw is too loose-- that's this. White powdered ash, zero dottle. My Jobey Stromboli canadian, a good 7 inches in length, smoked like a champ. A bit hot in the bowl, but that's because of over-enthusiastic pulling. The long shank cooled everything down. When I slowed down like I should, a good hour and forty-five minute smoke ensued. Good, thick smoke. 

The flavor is all the best parts of a really good bourbon, without the bite of alcohol. Caramel, syrup, a bit of white sugar, some ripe banana. Milk chocolate from the burley, exactly what you expect from the tin note. Every puff brings the same thing, there's no development or narrative. The topping doesn't burn off (an admirable feat in itself); what you taste in the charring light is what you get on the last draw. And the sweetness lingers wonderfully in the mouth; an echo of smoke and white sugar. I hope all this verbiage doesn't impress upon you that this is a complex smoke. There's not a lot going on here in the smoking. Flavors don't weave in and out. It's just good, plain tobacco. I think this might make the perfect lawnmower smoke. It's not so complex that you have to sit down to contemplate it; it's a smoke you can enjoy with half a mind, if you've a mind to. On the other hand, it's a good smoke for lounging as well, because the flavors are just that good. It's not an "after-dinner smoke" in the vein of Nightcap, where you want to have something solid in your stomach to bolster you against the tobacco's strength, but it's an after-dinner smoke in the sense that it's sweet as a good dessert and not so complex that your palate will be fatigued by the smoke *and* the meal. The strength for me was a little higher than I expected; no headspin, but a little twinge in the stomach.  The mechanics are great; the cut, moisture and consistency combine to make this one of the few stuff-and-smoke blends I've ever tried. This does tend to leave my pipe a bit goopy, but pipe cleaners are cheap. 

Despite the bourbon flavors in the tobacco, I think a bourbon's complexities would be clouded by Carter Hall's sweetness. I paired it on several occasions with coffee (black for a bitter counterpoint or with a bit of almondmilk and sugar for sweet indulgence) or beer (a simple brown ale worked nicely), and I liked it just fine. 

Not every simple smoke is good and not every complex one is bad. And vice versa. The simplicity of a smoke (and pretty much anything else) isn't the measure of its quality. But this tobacco, for me, defines "good simplicity" the way Blackwoods Flake defines "good complexity". 

It's nice, as a new pipe smoker, (are you still "new" after 4 years of pretty occasional smoking?) to have a blend you can call a go-to. While I'm not that kind of smoker (I smoke only occasionally, as I said, and I always switch up my choice of leaf), if someone asked for a blend to call their regular, I'd recommend Carter Hall. If I were to become a daily smoker, Carter Hall would be on the shortlist for "my daily smoke". I can see why so many older smokers liked this; who knows, if I live to be an old codger myself, maybe this will become my blend of choice. 
Pipe Used: Jobey Stromboli
36 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 17, 2014 Mild Very Mild Mild Pleasant
In terms of the price to quality ration, Carter Hall is the clear winner. Understand, this is not a gourmet tobacco. In the food analogy, it is hamburger steak, not prime rib or snow crab legs. But as a serviceable everyday smoke without danger to your wallet, it is hard to beat.

Carter Hall is a cross cut burley with just a sprinkling of snowflake shaped Virginia. There is a slight flavoring (plum? plum/rum?) which renders it a semi aromatic, but less that a light aromatic. The taste is mild, mostly natural tobacco, with just that hint of underlying flavoring.

The room note is natural tobacco, and most folk find it pleasant.

Over the decades of my pipe smoking, I have found Cater Hall to be the best tobacco for putting a cake on a new pipe. For me, no other tobacco has come close in this regard.

I do not give Carter Hall the fourth star for it comes short of the "wow, this stuff is really good" accolade. But as a more than decent smoke at a very fair price, it is certainly recommended.
24 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 08, 2014 Mild Mild Mild Pleasant
This is a super simple easy-smoking mixture that I have truly come to appreciate. It smokes wonderfully in cob, not quite as well in a briar. Often times, pipers will refer to burley as tasting nutty. I had never experienced that flavor sensation in a burley tobacco until I tried Carter Hall. Now I get it. A subtle sweetness appears through most of the bowl, adding just a bit of complexity. But altogether this is a very enjoyable & tasty smoke that’s perfect for those moments when I want something mild and mindless or when I am having trouble deciding what to smoke. Carter Hall is also very affordable and great for adding a little flavor punch to some of those boring aromatic blends that I regretfully purchased in a fit of TAD. My favorite drug store blend by far, and it leaves my garage smelling quite nice.
Pipe Used: various cobs & briar
23 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 25, 2009 Mild Mild Very Mild Pleasant
I must admit that I generally looked upon Drug Store brands with disdain in the old days. Most of them were terrible. Only a few tolerable but one more heavily advertised brand stood out by a mile and that was Carter Hall. I recall the commercial that was more of a cartoon where a veteran pipe smoker made remarks about other blends that burn or bite or have smoke that disturbs the room. In retrospect, I should have paid more attention. A recent experience with this blend proved to be most rewarding. A lot of reviews testify to the excellence of this inexpensive tobacco and the testimony of smokers who speak of it's qualities remaining the same from top to bottom are true. Therefore, I join the many in saying this blend is more than meets the nose.
17 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jun 28, 2013 Mild to Medium Very Mild Mild Pleasant to Tolerable
This is just a great tobacco when you want a basic burley blend. It packs well, and it has a solid tobacco flavor. It stays lit. I smoke this in a cob when I am driving, and it is a simple and satisfying smoke. About half way through the bowl, the flavor seems to intensify. I smoke Prince Albert from time to time as well, and while Carter Hall is slightly milder, I prefer Carter Hall. There is a slight bitter in the flavor profile.

While I understand not everyone is a burley fan, you owe it to yourself to give Carter Hall a try. It is cheap and easy to find. It is a good smoke that is one of those "standards" almost everyone knows.
13 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 23, 2009 Mild Very Mild Mild Pleasant to Tolerable
This is a great burley smoke with morning coffee or while busy, it taste as good as Prince Albert, a bit sweeter, a bit fruitier, however less nutty and it has less chemical after taste than the prince. Overall this is an excellent mild drugstore tobacco for serious burley smokers.
13 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 01, 2008 Mild to Medium Very Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
I like my various English blends and smoke mostly those. Unfortunately, I smoke outside and down around San Antone, It gets too hot early in the year and stays that way until late in the year. Smokey Latakias just don't do it for me in the heat. I can't do the modern type aromatics at all. I've been venturing into the world of VA & VA/mixed flakes. However, there are times, more times than not actually, I would like to have a tasty, easy to smoke blend that works year round.

Where a fine English/Balkan blend, or a fine VA fits the contemplative, meaning of life, philosophical mode, there are times ya just want to kick back and reflect, or just enjoy a moment without having to be tuned in to every subtle, changing nuance. Carter Hall is that fishing hole, sitting by the barn, faded overalls and work boots kind of smoke.

I grew up on a farm in Southern Ohio and we raised Burley. I drove tractors without cabs, A/C and stereos. Growing tobacco is hard work and a gamble. But, I have some fond memories of farmers pitching in to help plant, harvest/hang, and later strip the tobacco crop, as well as cooperating on getting other crops planted and harvested. Recreation was country too. Not too many fellows there who smoked Dunhills stuffed with imported, tinned tobaccos. American Burley blends in the various working man's pipes were what those who smoked a pipe carried around.

On a nostalgic note I tried to find one of those basic, still to be found in a drug or grocery store blends. The Prince and Granger just did not cut it. Sir Walter Raleigh Aromtaic is decent, but taste ashey towards the end and can bite in a breeze or if you smoke it too quick.

I came back and gave Carter Hall a real try. I found a downright pleasant smoke. As others have mentioned, a cob is the ultimate place for this simple mix. But any decent briar works just fine.

You can turn it spicey and a wee bitter if you smoke it too fast. It's tasty enough with a nice creamy smoke you just want to puff away on it. Slow down to keep that flavor to the bottom. It doesn't bite much and smokes pretty cool overall.

Will it replace my tinned tobaccos? No. However, it may relegate them to times when they can be savored and thoroughly enjoyed. Instead of tiring my palate by smoking many pipefulls of English and VA types and reducing my appreciation of them, Carter Hall gives me a tasty, pleasant, enjoyable smoke throughout the day or when I just want to amble about. Then when the time comes to really indulge in a fine tobacco, I get the most out of that tobacco. Oh yeah, and it quickly brings back the memories of hardwoods in the fall, the smell of hay and curing tobacco in the barn.

I give it three stars that it can stand on alone regardless of class. If comparing it to others in its class, DS the like, it should be considered a four star.

When simple pleasure is on the menu, this is it.
10 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 17, 2018 Medium Very Mild Medium Tolerable
I purchased an estate pipe online that was reamed back to bare wood and had a heavy vanilla ghost. I hoped to dedicate this pipe to Virginia blends, but I knew I had to exercise the ghost first.

I read many reviews saying Carter Hall was great for building cake and smoking out old ghosts. After smoking a 1.5oz pouch, I’m happy to say it worked as expected. What I didn’t expect, was how much I would enjoy smoking Carter Hall.

This OTC killed the tobacco snob in me. It is simply a smooth nutty burley blend with a sprinkling of Virginia’s, and a very light (chocolate, whiskey maybe?) topping. It’s one dimensional, but enjoyable from start to finish.

I now feel foolish for being such a tobacco elitist. I plan on checking out some other OTC classics to see if there are any other hidden gems I’ve been overlooking.
9 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 13, 2013 Mild to Medium Very Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant
Whenever posting a few thoughts on a drugstore, over the counter blend, I often struggle with whether or not it should be rated on what it is intended to be (OTC) or lump it together with the more boutique blends. When it comes to Carter Hall, for me, it doesn't make any difference because either way it is a pretty nice, lightly aromatic blend. After taking a fair amount of time drying CH out, it packs with ease, and burns smoothly. There is a slight undertone of nuttiness, but less than I expected. There is no complexity here so if that's what you seek don't look here. CH is sweet, but not sickly sweet. My only real negative is the slight, but only slight, chemical taste. I experienced no bite whatsoever although if you have a sweet tooth, there may be a temptation to over puff it so I can see how it might be a possible biter. I find CH a great tobacco for those seeking a decent, affordable tobacco at a budget price.
8 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 11, 2013 Mild Mild Mild Pleasant to Tolerable
Tried Carter Hall mainly for the $2.49 price tag on the pouch and in somewhat of an emergency(long car trip, no tobacco).The taste was initially sweet, then faded away and reappeared periodically throughout. It wasn't harsh although no matter how I smoked it, it always seemed to smoke hot. Anyway, if you're in a pinch, you could do a whole lot worse than Carter Hall. Recommend.

UPDATE: There's something about Carter Hall,the more I smoke it the better I like it. Very pleasant. I think I'm going for the big tin and cellar it. Nothing wrong with this price or taste. Just a good mild tobacco.
8 people found this review helpful.
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