John Middleton, Inc Carter Hall

(3.03)
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.

Details

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

Profile

Strength
Mild
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Extremely Mild -> Overwhelming
Flavoring
Mild
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
None Detected -> Extra Strong
Room Note
Pleasant
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Unnoticeable -> Overwhelming
Taste
Mild
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Extremely Mild (Flat) -> Overwhelming

Average Rating

3.03 / 4
153

183

82

28

Reviews

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Displaying 1 - 11 of 446 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 08, 2018 Very Mild Medium Mild to Medium Very Pleasant
This is what started it all for me. Carter Hall, in a plastic tub. A forever four-star blend in my mind.

My friends and I started smoking at an early age...maybe 12 or 13, and we’d steal cigarettes from our parents. When my friend’s dad quit cigarettes for a pipe, this is what he smoked and we would swipe it by the handful and smoke it in whatever cob or briar or cherrywood was laying about the house. We were bad kids. He knew, of course, but never really said much about it.

The aroma of this stuff is classic codger drug store Chevrolet fireworks cheeseburger flag waving America goodness. Timeless and authentic as it gets.

Carter Hall takes me back to my younger days, hearing old time fiddle tunes coming from the kitchen at 2am, claw hammer banjo, upright bass, a battle tested D-28 keeping rythym, and stomping and dancing so hard that the beer bottles are rattling off the kitchen table. Copping a swig of whiskey when the adults aren’t looking and squeezing out an upstairs window with a chewed up corncob pipe to smoke Carter Hall on the rooftop. Watching traffic slow down on the street below us, the drivers rolling down their windows in the night air to hear the music. Smelling that sweet, sugary and nutty smoke and knowing that there was something to this whole pipe thing. Hearing laughter downstairs as the tune ends and someone asks, “where are the boys, are they up on the damn roof again?” Someone shouts out a tune and the music fills the air. Everything is perfect.

I bought a pouch of Carter Hall not too long ago and smoked a bowl. I was transported to that time again, and the nostalgia brought a tear to my eye. Who am I kidding, I wept like a baby for those carefree times.

But like life, my tastes had become more complex, I found the smoke to be a one-note wonder, but not unpleasant in any conceivable way. Nutty and straightforward as a tobacco can be. The flood of memories made it one of the most memorable smokes I’ve ever had, though. Something I may only repeat a few more times in my life.

They say that olfactory memories are some of the strongest memories there are, and Carter Hall is the smell of my most formative years.
5 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 14, 2012 Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Pleasant
In 1976, I tried this blend and hated it. I wasn't ready for burley blends. Except for my occasional SWRA forays, my reluctance for smoking OTCs since then was hard to break. In 2012, I decided to try it again. The burleys are nutty, woody, earthy, and bready with a touch of cocoa. They are the lead components. The grassy, tart and tangy citrusy Virginia is in the background. The toppings are mild chocolate, a little molasses, and light bourbon, and mildly tone down the tobaccos. The toppings do weaken a tad around the last quarter of the experience, and the natural tobacco flavors become more obvious. The one drawback is that with the lessening of the topping, you can experience a cigarette note or two if you puff fast. The strength, taste and nic-hit levels are mild. Won't bite or get harsh, though it does sport a few small rough edges. It burns at a moderate pace, cool and evenly. Packs very easily, with a short lived, pleasant after taste and room note. Leaves just a little dampness in the bowl, and requires an average number of relights. It's easily an all day smoke. It goes well with any drink you choose. Three stars.

UPDATE 6-2022: This blend is currently made in the Dominican Republic and there are some differences between it and the old Carter Hall. The chocolate and bourbon are a little stronger now, so you won’t notice the expected nutty quality of the burleys quite as much. The effect of the molasses is lighter as a result even though the chocolate isn’t as rich in flavor as the earlier production. However, the toppings do lightly weaken after the half way point, and the familiar, though mildly rougher and savory nutty, earthy, woody burley notes light rise to your taste buds. So does a slight sourness. The Virginia is reduced in status a mite. The toppings have a very small chemical note as they help create a smoother, mildly less tobacco forward version of the old CH. There’s still a chance of a cigarette note due to fast puffing after the half way mark. The strength and taste are a couple steps past the mild mark. The nic-hit is a notch behind them. All of the other aspects of the original that I noted in the first paragraph still apply. This manufacture is a two star blend, and my Tobacco Review site rating reflects Carter Hall’s latest version, and not the first one.

-JimInks
105 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 23, 2012 Mild Mild Mild Pleasant to Tolerable
Carter Hall smoked in a cob with a cup of strong black coffee is truly a gift from God, and I thank Him every time I am able to engage in a bowl and cup. For a drug store blend, I couldn't ask for anything better.

Soli Deo gloria!
87 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 22, 2005 Mild Mild Medium Tolerable
My 90 year old pipesmoking mentor smokes this blend exclusively. He will accept tins of the high-dollar tobacco that I sometimes bring him, and smoke them, but a few months later when I stop by for a visit, there's a can of Carter Hall sitting beside his easy chair, open and ready for the next fill of the pipe.

My friend is a pipesmoker like the old men I remember from my youth. He gets his pipes from Wal Mart and smokes them till they "wear out," and then buys some more. No fancy tobacco jars, no special packing technique, just a dip, a push of the thumb and light 'er up, tamp once and relax.

And so I like this blend. Not only because my pipesmoking friend smokes it, but I like the way CH packs, lights, burns steady and without too much fuss. I inhale occasionally and the draw feels good. This blend is just steady and unpretentious, like my friend, and I know I'll always have a tub of this on hand. Whenever I leave after a visit, the old pipesmoker says, "Load up a bowl before you go." That's the way I think of Carter Hall, easy-going and always ready with a kind offer of a good smoke.
71 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 18, 2007 Mild to Medium Very Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant
I am often asked if I have a favorite "Drug Store" type blend. I always answer quickly that "yes, I do and it's Carter Hall." In fact, Carter Hall is a blend I smoke at least twice a day and is a wonderful tobacco to smoke late in the evening before calling it quits.
Carter Hall is probably the most impressive of all the "drug store" blends I have tried because it tastes like tobacco without fruity casing, and has some strength to it. The Burley is top-shelf and provides a no-nonsense tobacco taste.

This tobacco is bite free and I doubt that even Thomas the Tank Engine could puff this stuff up into the hot zone. It also has some kind of component that makes the ash adhere to the walls of your pipe, thus, aids the caking process in new pipes.
60 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 25, 2009 Mild to Medium None Detected Mild Pleasant to Tolerable
Let me start off by saying that when I first started smoking a pipe when I was 18 I tried to get things that 'smelled good'. You know the stuff, cherries, vanilla, etc. Later, I found my way to more tobacco-tasting tobaccos and by the time I was 19 I was working in the local tobacconist/pipeshop and dismissed the 'drugstore' blends from which I had graduated as cheap stuff, not worthy of my pipes.

Well, I'm older now and I hope that I am more mature. I am willing to confess my errors. Coming back to the pipe after 20 years of cigarettes, I just couldn't find my way back to an English type, tobacco tasting, all day, every day kinda smoke. Then I read the reviews here for Carter Hall. My smoking life has changed and I have learned something in the process.

Carter Hall is not fancy. It is about as 'plain-Jane' as you can get. It is just burley with a sprinkling of virginia flake. It is monochromatic; doesn't change much as you smoke it. But it burns to the bottom of the bowl without too much fuss and it burns to a fine white ash with no bits of charcoal left in the bottom of the pipe. It provides enough nicotine for this one to kick the cigs. And, while not an aromatic, no one seems to run away screaming because of the malodorous fumes emanating from the general direction of my smoldering Peterson. By itself, this is a good quality 'baccy' and its simplicity and straightforwardness are to be appreciated as such.

It is, as has been mentioned, probably the best pipeweed for breaking in a new pipe. Even smoking 1/2 pipes full initially, I have always had a difficult time caking up the bottom of the bowl. Not with Carter Hall. A good 4-6 smokes at half full and you are on your way to a nice cake down there.

Because of its rather neutral character, it is wonderful for taming down a blend that just isn't right, somehow. The addition of a little CH doesn't change the tast much and tones down strong flavors and bitey-ness. It is also great for working the ghosts of other blends out of your pipes.

Having said that this blend is great on its own, and it is, I have also experiemted using it as a base for some blending. Because of its nice easy, gentle burning qualities, it proves a good base for other things so as to give me a bit of variety. Variety is necessary in some things. (You don't eat the same thing for dinner every night do you?)

I can't say enough good things about this tobacco. If you haven't tried it, you should. It's plain and simple, true. But, there is value in the plain and simple. Give it a go.

****
46 people found this review helpful.
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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
Sep 16, 2013 Mild to Medium Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant
I've put off reviewing CH while I delve deeper into what American classic burley blends are left. After 40 years of smoking mostly tobacco shop fare, I've come to the conclusion that what I'm looking for in a smoke is best found among these venerable old blends.

I didn't care for CH on my first attempt. My second was better than the first but I still found it lacking something but I kept picking up a pouch here and there and now I seem to be smoking it regularly. Actually, I seem to be loving it. It may not be a complex blend but it isn't a completely simple one either. I finally hit the "lovely" spot. I'm not buying any more pouches; I'm buying a tub. My Middleton collection is now comprised of Walnut, Sugar Barrel and Cherry Blend and will soon include Carter Hall. These blends are not good cheap smokes, they are good smokes. CH really is a beautiful smoke.

If Middleton increased the price 150% and put it in a small tin, they probably couldn't produce enough to satisfy the market.
36 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jun 08, 2009 Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
This is an affordable gem. Carter Hall has a slighty nutty, faintly sweet taste that stays consistent throughout the bowl. There is nothing complex about this tobacco, which is a good thing. Sometimes simple is good. A bowl of CH in a cob is one of life's simple treasures.
30 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
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