Mac Baren HH Rustica

Notes: The Nicotiana Rustica is the sister of the tobacco plant that we know and love (Nicotiana Tabacum). Native to the Amazon region and other parts of South America, the plant and the various types of use spread throughout the American continent. The English settlers found the rustica tobacco in North America in 1607 and saw how the native Indians smoked the tobacco in clay pipes. Since the nicotine content of the rustic plant is unusually high, however, it quickly went out of fashion when the Virginia and burley tobaccos known today were discovered and spread. Today, tobacco on a rustic basis can only be found in Eastern Europe, in the countries of the Middle East and in Asia. A new process was developed to make this very potent tobacco edible for the German palate. The tobacco leaves are sun dried and thus retain their natural sugar. Dark Virginia and Burley were also added to balance the flake. Like all flakes of the HH series, the Rustica was also hot pressed, which allows the tobacco flavors to combine optimally and to mature through a light fermentation. Despite all these measures, the HH Rustica still has a very high nicotine content, it is by far the strongest tobacco in the Mac Baren range and is probably one of the strongest pipe tobacco worldwide. We recommend that you eat well and use a small pipe before enjoying this flake, but don't be put off; the Mac Baren HH Rustica is probably the most extraordinary tobacco of recent years and an absolute pleasure experience.


Brand Mac Baren
Blended By Per Jensen
Manufactured By Mac Baren
Blend Type Virginia/Burley
Contents Burley, Virginia
Cut Flake
Packaging 50 grams tin
Country Denmark
Production Currently available


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

Average Rating

3.50 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 11 of 46 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 24, 2020 Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong
At first opening the tin it smelled like Bold Kentucky but with a little bit of something else, kind of like a flower, not like perfume or dish soap, but something else. It's hard to describe as it doesn't remind me of anything similar, not a bad one though. this reminds me of a cigar actually. It kinda smokes like the Bold. Not as high in nicotine as I had hoped though, but it does have some kick. Don't let "Rustica" scare you away from something good, as there are definitely stronger blends out there, like I believe 1792 to be. It's definitely not your typical blend, but definitely worth trying if you can get your hands on it as it is a limited production. Hopefully they will make more in the future. Can't wait to try it again in a year.
Pipe Used: Molina Briar
Age When Smoked: 3 months
2 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 05, 2020 Strong None Detected Very Full Strong
The exceptionally floral, bold Nicotiana Rustica provides a fair amount of spice, earth, wood, sugar, vegetation, herbs, light tart and tangy citrus, a little acidic peat and cigar, tea, smoke, toast, and leather. It also has touches of roughness and sour bitterness as the lead component. The mild spice strikes me as a cross between what I find in an Oriental, and the kind I notice in cooking spice. The floral quality reminds me of a G&H blend without the Lakeland. The Rustica’s potency makes it a little difficult to ascertain the amount of grass, tart and tangy, sugary citrus, mild tartly acidic lemon, moderately tangy dark fruit, earth, bread, wood, floral, flue cured Virginias used in the blend. I rate them as just above being a condiment in terms of effect. The very nutty, earthy, toasty, woody, sugary, lightly molasses sweet and floral burleys are supporting players that are obvious in every puff. The taste is just beyond the full threshold. It has a dominant strength level. The nicotine is a shade less so. There’s no chance of bite or harshness, and has few minute rough edges due to the steam pressing of the flakes. The flakes easily break apart to suit your packing preference, and as they are mildly moist, they don’t need any dry time. Well balanced with some complexity and nuance, it burns cool, clean, and a little slow with a very consistent, fairly smooth, lightly creamy and sour, moderately sweet, floral, nutty, lightly spicy, zesty, robust flavor from start to finish. Leaves little dampness in the bowl, and requires a fair amount of relights at first, but once it’s going, fewer are needed. The pleasant after taste, and strong room notes linger a bit. It’s certainly not an all day smoke, but the veteran and the adventurous, less experienced smoker may be drawn back to it some time during the day. Four stars out of four.

60 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 05, 2020 Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong
Very unique indeed! Smelling the tin is almost like bold kentucky or G&H dark plug, however there is a floral herbal scent going on in the background. Fermentation is comes to mind whenever i smell it. With minimal drying time this blend burns perfectly to fine grey ash. Room note is not favorable like the 2 blends i compared with. The taste is unique but not necessarily the best, again very floral almost lakeland essence. I prefer the old dark fired and bold kentucky to this but your milage may vary. I consider my self tolerant for nicotine and i did not find this overwhelming. I smoked pure rustica before and its very harsh. This blend is mellowed by the addition of other components which showcase mac baren blending skills. If you love any of the mentioned blend then this worth trying otherwise leave it be. Kindest regards Al janabi
Pipe Used: Briars
Age When Smoked: Fresh
20 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 06, 2020 Very Strong None Detected Very Full Tolerable to Strong
Rustica is a wonderful smoke. It showcases a remarkably similar profile to G&H’s Dark Plug, however without any trace of the cloying Lakeland essence I never liked. At first, floral notes are prominent, but that initial phase does not last long. The focus is mostly very earthy, leathery-sweet, and nutty, but in a narrower spectrum than the Dark Plug. This means that it is first, a more well-behaved tobacco, with less extraneous bitter notes, although one perceives the fermented quality, and second, the tobaccos are melded to a higher degree, in my humble opinion. This means that it tends towards a more monochromatic profile, albeit rich in every way a pure tobacco should be. Still, it does not detour much from its central theme of earthy-leathery-nutty taste with a medium dosage of very pleasant subtle sweetness. Dark Plug is more “rebellious”, but it has a wider spectrum of flavors that may appeal to some, while I prefer the intense and uniform straight tobacco flavors from Rustica. The nicotine is not as great as advertised, but this could just be due to the fact that I am an experienced smoker. Around the middle of the bowl, the melding comes to a “singularity” of tastes. Extremely tight in terms of the profile, where you basically only taste the Burley pushing forward with the added dimensions of the other components. In the last third of the bowl, another change occurs: a delightful increase of sweetness, which now comes to the foreground. Really spectacular at this point. This is a masterfully blended old-style “serious” tobacco, that needs to be calmly enjoyed on a full stomach. It is most definitely a keeper for me.

UPDATE: I have been smoking this delicious tobacco in a Williamsburg clay pipe. In my opinion, it brought the experience to an even higher degree of enjoyment.
Pipe Used: Peterson Apple Spigot
Age When Smoked: Fresh
17 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 16, 2020 Strong None Detected Medium to Full Unnoticeable
As soon as I read about this, I had to try it. A sucker for flashy advertising. I have smoked this throughout the past week and here are my thoughts. The tin is impressive with a good solid 3.5 ounces. I had the pleasure of opening tin 3439 of 7100. Inside is beautiful medium dark flakes stacked like chewing gum. The tin note reminds me of a really strong chewing tobacco I tried called ‘CUP’ when I was a kid, strong and sweet. I took one stick, slightly damp, tore it apart and put it half of it in My Peterson 317 which is a really small bowl bent shape pipe which I reserve for really strong and potent tobacco. This has a nice strong natural taste to it but surprisingly, at least for me I did not find it to be the nicotine death trap that I was concerned about. Ole Nic is there of course and if you chugged this like a freight train you might get derailed. As I do not always smoke nonstop, one stick lasted me well over an hour. Day 2, I got out my KB&B Capitol pipe with the threaded briar insert, I got this one on eBay and though did not know when I bought it (fairly inexpensive) that it had a replacement stem until I read this excellent article on the restoration of one, Smoke is fairly mild tasting compared to what I thought when ordering this. It is a good blend, and can I tell you that I detect the Nicotiana Rustica, not really as I have never had it before but that in no way detracts from the excellent quality and taste of the blend. I would like to know the percentage though. My last bowl lately was in my Peterson of Dublin tankard, another small bowl pipe with equally excellent results. This is obviously in the family of Bold Kentucky, Old Dark Fired, etc. Is it worth the hype? Let me say this, I am glad that I got some but there are a lot of other tobaccos out there that foot the bill.

Update 10-2-21. A fellow piper brought the 2021 release No. 2055 of 5300. I found this smoke to be actually smoother and not as nicotine strong, more like a good dark fired Kentucky. Makes me wonder if they reduced the amount of Rustica.
Pipe Used: KB&B Capitol
Age When Smoked: New
13 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jun 09, 2020 Strong None Detected Medium to Full Strong
HH Rustica Flake - Part 6 of 6 - MacBaren HH Flake Reviews

In honor of the just released MacBaren HH Rustica Flake (that I have spent over a week with!!!) I will be reviewing the five previous HH Flakes leading up to a final review of that new release. I feel all tobacco requires a “Cool Down” period after you open the tin. A minimum of a month so the prior five HH Flakes will give me enough time to get Rustica ready for my liking. With that said: here is Part 6 of 6 . . . of my MacBaren HH Flake Series Reviews.

So, my final MacBaren HH Flake review is here. And it only took me six weeks! Also, for the first time I am three days late! I do apologize for my tardiness . . . but I honestly needed more time with HH Rustica. I have never had Nicotiana Rustica before and I wanted to know for a fact that I was able to understand what I was smoking. After approximately nine days with it, I feel I am adequately prepared to speak upon the subject.

Normally when I do these reviews, I am able to speak upon a person and/or situation to tell a bit of a story that relates to that particular leaf. With this release . . . I am at a bit of a loss with that. Never having any previous encounters with Nicotiana Rustica, I am only able to reminisce about other heavy nicotine tobaccos. With that said, on last year’s Fourth of July Dorothy and I were smoking 1792 Flake out of our Bones Churchwardens. It was a warm day but a nice overcast kept it cool. A couple of the old ladies gathered around us because they enjoyed the smell of pipe tobacco. Dorothy and I were so consumed in the conversation that before we knew it, we had three fourths of the two and a half flakes it took to fill each of our bowls already smoked. And that was when we noticed it . . . THE NICOTINE!!!

We were dizzy as all get out. I personally had so many hot flashes that I questioned if I was going through menopause. The mild numbness that accompanied it was quite welcomed because neither of us dared to stand up for a good twenty to thirty minutes after we were done smoking. And during that time my buttocks had to have fallen asleep at least once or twice. That wasn’t the strongest nicotine sickness I have ever felt . . . but I can say it was the most memorable as well as the most enjoyable out of them all. There is a picture of us floating around these pipe communities with our red faces on that day. So, how does HH Rustica Flake compare?

When you first open the tin of HH Rustica Flake you are greeted with a very savory smell with a bit of vinegar and possibly an herbal and/or floral note. I cannot pinpoint which, but I would say floral due to the taste (more on this later). The flakes are perfect to fold and stuff like all other MacBaren flakes I have come across. After rubbing out a little for the tender at the top, lighting can be a little more of a pain that most of MacBaren’s flakes. I honestly do not know if this is due to the moisture or the Nicotiana Rustica leaf itself. But once you get a proper char light, your bowl is good to go. When you smoke HH Rustica you will get very bold flavors. A mild spice, wood, earth, and a floral taste that isn’t overpowering of the other notes like a Lakeland can be. When you get those notes it’s the Nicotiana Rustica you’re tasting. The bright Virginias are sweet, citrus, with grass, and hay notes and are in the passenger seat. The Burley is toasted and nutty, ever present in the back seat constantly asking: “Are we there yet?”

When you retrohale HH Rustica the spice almost overwhelms the senses. More than a few times this tobacco has cause my eyes to tear up on the retrohale. But it seems like your nasal passage gets used to it with a little time and the spice dissipates quite a bit. But if you don’t retrohale for a few minutes that spice will slap you upside the head again no matter how far down the bowl you have smoked. With this tobacco I normally retrohale almost constantly because I dislike that spice hit. How is the nicotine with retrohaling that often? It is indeed strong. But not as strong as I am used to with some other blends. I can feel the mild dizziness as well as warm flashes, but no numbness with this blend. I would most definitely tell those of us pipe smokers that cannot handle nicotine well to tread carefully with this flake, but for those of us that are experienced plug and twist smokers . . . it can be an all-day smoke. Hell, I smoked it constantly for nine days straight!

I have enjoyed my time with HH Rustica Flake. I enjoy stronger nicotine tobaccos so this was right up my alley. Very complex blend that is quite welcome in my collection. I only wish that it wasn’t a limited release (hint, hint, wink, wink. Here’s looking at you Per). MacBaren makes some damned fine tobaccos. They are among my favorite manufacturers of fine tobacco. From my perception they are the undisputed flake masters and their HH line represents the best of what they have to offer in natural fine leaf tobaccos. It has been an honor and a privilege to review these very fine, lightly cased tobaccos.

I am happy to have finished all six of these reviews. I hope you readers have enjoyed them. It does sadden me a bit that it’s over now. Especially when MacBaren’s main line is so full of wonderful aromatics. I am not much of an aromatic smoker myself . . . but MacBaren shines when they create aromatics. They are some of the few that I can actually enjoy because I am able to taste the fine tobaccos used in the blend. So many of them are expertly crafted this way. With that in mind, please consider keeping an eye out in the future when Dorothy and I review all five of MacBaren’s 7 Seas aromatics!

~ Barry
Pipe Used: Multiple
Age When Smoked: Jarred for a month
12 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 06, 2020 Strong None Detected Very Full Very Strong
Primarily a backbone of full burley flavor, a noticeable added minor sweetness from the VA, very smooth with no biting. Blend has a bit of a vinegar-tang to it overall that almost smokes away as you get near the bottom of the bowl, likely from the hot pressing of the flakes. Overall, not stronger in nicotine than most already on the market strong blends. GH brown twists and C&D strong burley blends are higher in nicotine than this "Rustica" flake, which would lead me to believe there is barely any Nicotiana Rustica leaf in the blend, just enough to harmonize with the added VA and burley components. A very solid burley flake much in line with the Old Dark Fired or Bold Kentucky blends.
Pipe Used: cobs and various briar
PurchasedFrom: SmokingPipes
Age When Smoked: hot off the press
12 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 13, 2020 Extremely Strong Extremely Mild Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable
I always look forward to new tobacco from Mac Baren especially in the HH series. Rustica is a hard-hitter. The nicotine is very powerful but leaves me feeling relaxed rather than dizzy. I haven’t been able to get this tobacco to bite no matter how fast it’s smoked. It’s really smooth with a toasty, spicy, nutty, cigar-like flavor. The retrohale is intense with lots of spice. Some espresso notes come and go throughout the bowl. This is not an all day smoke or an everyday smoke for me but it will stay in the smoking rotation because it is unique and tasty.
9 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 11, 2020 Very Strong None Detected Full Tolerable to Strong
Summary: a strong, rich blend which emphasizes the smoked Virginia flavor.

Exotic Rustica adds a piney, berry-like, and vegetative flavor to this mixture of dark-fired Virginia leaf and mixed Burleys. While the Rustica flares into the profile quickly, with a flavor like pine or a ripe acidic berry, over undertones of green vegetation, it quickly becomes absorbed into the smoky-sweet flavor of the dark-fired Virginia, with the Burley broadening and warming that taste. Like other Mac Baren English-style flakes such as "HH Bold Kentucky," this creates a sweet-sour balance between the smoky and sweet, with the Rustica throwing in some chaos that serves the role that a top flavor might. It burns down to fine grey ash, and smokes well to the last, but has some strength to it, although not far beyond "HH Bold Kentucky" or one of the Gawith, Hoggarth Ltd. ropes.
9 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 12, 2020 Very Strong None Detected Very Full Tolerable
I let a fresh bowlful dry out in the pipe... crispy. Takes to flame easily and delivers in billowy bliss. This is strong and spicy on the tongue, and flavors open up as they make way through the back of throat n nose connection. A subliminally mild sweetness envelopes the tongue while a beautifully mesquite-like flue-cured Virginia smokiness rides leather-saddled shotgun alongside of Billy Bud. There's a new sherriff in town!
Pipe Used: Baby cob
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jun 02, 2021 Very Strong None Detected Full Tolerable
I usually don't smoke strong tobaccos (I like them full flavored but mild in nicotine), but I had to try this one out of curiosity.

Let me say first that it's strong, it can make you a bit dizzy, but it's not as strong as some Lakeland ropes: you can actually smoke it in a small bowl (I favour it in a meerschaum) without getting sick, just a bit "high". A larger bowl would probably make me queasy. But, again, nothing compared to some dark ropes that actually make me sick after two puffs.

It's a weird tobacco: imagine a dark fired Kentucky-heavy blend, with some of the same leathery and "horse manure" quality, but much more refined. It's full flavoured, but I would actually define its taste rather refined, not harsh or too muscular. The smoothness of the smoke actually is dangerous because it makes it seem less strong than it is.

Overall, it has a curious flowery/soapy note of face power/talcum on top of the leathery taste, which is what makes it interesting and not unidimensional.

Flakes are of great quality, rubbery and pliable, and very easily packable and ignitable (typical Mac Baren qualities).

Overall it's a fun change of pace. I don't think I will buy it again, it's not something I see myself craving for, I prefer other kinds of flake (pure Va or Va/Per) and it still is a bit too strong for my taste. But it's very well made, unique and unusual.

7 people found this review helpful.
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