John Middleton, Inc Sugar Barrel

Aromatic smoking mixture.


Brand John Middleton, Inc
Blended By John Middleton, Inc
Manufactured By John Middleton, Inc.
Blend Type Burley Based
Contents Burley, Virginia
Flavoring Sweet / Sugar
Cut Ribbon
Packaging 1.5 ounce pouch, 14 ounce tin
Country United States
Production No longer in production


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

Average Rating

2.87 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 11 of 60 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 06, 2013 Mild Mild Mild to Medium Very Pleasant
What a delightful find! It gives the satisfaction of a burley and the great smell of an aromatic. I never would have thought about ordering this, until I read some of the reviews here. It's sweet in the tub, but unlike the name would suggest, it's not a sugary sweet in the smoke. Great room note, and a very easy smoke. It does seem to be a little dry in the tub though. No bite for me at all, but it is better if it's sipped slowly. I'll certainly be buying this again!
2 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 04, 2013 Mild to Medium Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant
After reading all the reviews of this one in my search for OTC burleys that I would find most satisfying, I ordered a tub. I guess I just trust you people and your opinions of fine smoking material. It turns out my trust was well founded. This is a really good smoke.

I've been a pipe smoker since the late 60's and have just now begun turning my attention seriously to OTC'S (Drug Store Tobaccos, American Classics or American Legacy Tobaccos whatever you choose to call them) because after all these years I was unable to find a tobacco store bulk blend that I felt like sticking with. Well, those old codgers (I'm an old codger now I suppose) had something going for them after all. There are some damn fine smokes hidden among these OTC blends after all and Sugar Barrel is right there with the best of them, at least the ones I've tried.

Someone close behind this review mentioned "mouth feel". I consider mouth feel a very important characteristic of tobacco. I hate thin feeling tobacco. Same thing in beer. I think of it as being "round" - just feeling like you've got a mouth full of something that tastes good and I agree - Sugar Barrel is a mouth full of goodness.

A lot of other reviewers have said good things about this tobacco and I agree with all the good things mentioned. There are some, of course, that had more negative impressions and I didn't agree so much with those. I do appreciate that people have vastly varying tastes, likes and dislikes and I also suspect there is a good deal of tobacco bigotry too. I don't like to give bad reviews though because a bad review might just keep someone from trying something that they would have really enjoyed. That's just me though - mileage may vary.

The tub aroma is pretty good but I believe that goes more to room note than flavor. The flavor has a touch of sweetness to it and as far as the room note goes, you can't smoke around anybody any more so who gives crap about room note any longer anyway?

I perceive it a mostly a burley blend and a simple blend and I look for simplicity in a blend above all. Life is complex enough without adding to it on purpose don't you think? Another word for simple is "elegant", for complex, the alternate word is "sophisticated". So if you want to sound sophisticated, say "elegant" when describing something simple. People will think you are really cool even though they have no idea what you just meant when you said it.

There is little, if any, bite. Burley generally bites but some blends get the Ph balanced where the bite is negligible which I think is the case here.

It doesn't burn too hot or too fast. I hate getting into a smoke where I'm really relaxed and mellowed out on the smoking event and all of a sudden, it is over and I'm no where near ready for it to be over. Sugar Barrel gives you the time you need for a decent smoke. Granger does too, by the way. I'm not picking up on these plastic or chemical tastes people are mentioning either. Where are they getting this - overactive imaginations or can't think of anything else to say to show off their sophisticated taste buds?

Now, there just aren't enough reviews on this tobacco - Half & Half has three times as many. People must not be aware of this tobacco; I wasn't until I ran across these reviews so if you haven't tried it, try it and then write a review (unless you are one of those tobacco snobs we don't need to hear from) and if you have tried it and haven't written a review, write a damn review (unless you are one of those tobacco snobs we don't need to hear from anyway).

Seriously though, this really is a good smoke and if you haven't tried it, do so.

Since I'm not far enough into the tub to give four stars yet, I'll give it a provisional three when I suspect it may rate four. I'll come back later to state my final opinion.
15 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 04, 2013 Mild Mild Mild to Medium Very Pleasant
The blend shows you can't always judge a tobacco by it's name. It's not as brown sugary as the name implies, though it is sweet in a Carter Hall way. It's not so sweet as to cause diabetes. The other topping is molasses, which is not quite a supporting player. The nuttiness, earth, toast and wood of the burley comes through, and works well with the grassy, citrusy Virginia component, which is not much more than a condiment. There's also a very mild spice note from time to time. It's less cased than some other OTCs like PA, and Half & Half. The strength is mild. The taste is a couple of steps past that mark. Has very little nicotine. It burns at a reasonable pace and as long as you don't puff hard, will taste the same through the smoke; no bite unless you puff real hard. Has a few small rough notes. Leaves little moisture in the bowl, and requires a few relights. Has a pleasant short lived after taste and room note. It's not complex, but then again, few OTCs are. It's a pleasant all day or after dinner dessert smoke.

13 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 04, 2010 Mild Mild Mild to Medium Very Pleasant
I have been smoking for about 10 years and I have gone through all the phases. I have, until recently been a heavy Latakia Blend smoker with Frog Morton On the Town and On the Bayou being my daily smoke with occasional dips into some aromatics.

I started smoking a pipe as a member of a pipe smoking family. But, the men of my family were Mad Scientists of Tobacco, mostly smoking OTC blends they mixed together or played with.

Uncle Bill smoked Cap. Black White and sliced apples into his humidor. Uncle Charlie mixed SWR, Middleton Apple, and something else into a blend. Uncle Frank smoked Captain Black Blue and White mixed and bought some brand of Cigar that he ground up and put in there too! Uncle Ernie smoked Half and Half that had a peeled orange and put in the humidor that he would shake around every few hours on his desk. Uncle Bill smoked, as far as I can tell, a mishmash of whatever he happened to buy in a pouch and then dropped into a large humidor. He never bough more than 2 ounces of anything, and never took tobacco with him anywhere, he just bought a bag (I mean almost daily) and smoked some and put the remainder in a large jar. When at home he just dipped into that jar and packed his pipe. Dad smoked SWR when "doing things" but his sitting down to enjoy smoke came from where he and the tobacconist created, over a 10 year period, "Bob's Blend" that the store still sells, a mix full of perique and latakia with something aromatic because the smell is mild for something that should smell like a burning cat (it tastes pretty good, but is STRONG! Neither the tobacconist nor Dad will tell anyone what is in it!)

Well,when I started, I started at the tobacco store and I went through a lot. I finally found I loved Frog Morton On the Town as a regular smoke, but was always buying a little of this and a little of that.

About two months ago I was on vacation and had left my tobacco at home (I brought my pipe bag, but left the tobacco bag on the table). We were far from civilization in the mountains and I happened into a gas station/grocery store/post office. The man behind the counter was smoking a Cob in defiance of a state law against smoking in a business (Hooray!), so I asked him if they had Pipe Tobacco. He had large tubs of Prince Albert, Carter Hall, Middleton Cherry, Walnut, and Sugar Barrel. All of these were the tubs, so whatever I got I was gonna be smoking a while. As I thought he offered me his pouch (without telling me the brand) and I loaded my pipe with it and lit... One word...HEAVEN!

Maybe it was withdrawl (I had been 48 hours without), but I liked it. I liked it so much I bought the tub.

Over the course of my week vacation I kept a bowl of this lit almost every waking moment. I couldn't get enough. And it PASSED the wife test. She kept saying it was so pleasing to smell.

After the trip I ran out. I did not find it in the stores, so I ordered several tubs worth.

I am slowly becoming a one tobacco smoker.

And it is an OTC.

I am addicted to John Middleton's Sugar Barrel.

Whew! It feels good to get that off my chest! The room note is pleasing and it smells wonderful in the barrel (Buy the 12 oz. plastic barrel, not the smaller bags). What my wife notes is that it smells "Like you think a pipe should." I've been lighting this up in public and getting compliments on the aroma. The Barrel says "Mildly Aromatic" but it seems to be a "Pleasant Aromatic" for those around!

The taste is mild and I get no bite, even though I am a hard puffer. I've been smoking this in a Meerschaum it they seem to be coloring better than before! But it smokes great in a briar as well. Long ago when I was experimenting I was a heavy aromatic smoker and, because I am such a heavy puffer, I assembled a 7 day set of Savinelli Dry System with the Balsa. This tobacco is not wet or gloppy, but the balsa insert really makes it smoke sweeter. I also smoked it in a Cob (The Filtered "General") and found that the cob adds some sweetness to it as well. Not every puff, but I often find a pleasing note of brown sugar.

The thing I like most about these OTC's ESPECIALLY this one...I never relight. I gravity fill, tamp it down, light and puff. I smoke 3-4 bowls per day and if I have one relight during these bowls it is a shocker! I don't know why, but these OTCs stay lit and this one best of all. The only hard part? This smokes clean and tasty all the way down, so you sometimes are shocked to find yourself at the bottom of a bowl.

When finished I walk over to the toilet (The wife insists I flush old tobacco), turn my pipe upside down, and out falls all the ash. No dottle, no scraping, just an empty Meer ready for the next smoke!

One piece of your tin and let it breath a little. This tobacco tastes better and better as it gets some air.

I am going to try to convert three cigarette smoking friends to pipes and I am presenting each one with a Meerschaum Pipe (I bought two boxes of lovely CAO and SMS Meers when the Tobacco Shop in town went out of business 4 years ago...Luckily my Dad and his blend are in another city!), a Zippo Pipe Lighter, and a 12oz of Sugar Barrel!

UPDATE: After more time with this blend I am moving it up to 4 Stars. I know that some might think that too much for an OTC, but dang it...I love it!
12 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 07, 2014 Mild Mild to Medium Mild Pleasant
This was my second or 3rd tobacco. I loved this 25 year's ago, Brown sugar and molasses was the flavor. It smoked cool and thorough. It bit a little if smoked too quick but many sweet tobacco do. Another nice burley and Virginia blend. It was better 25 years before. The best blend Middleton had was Middleton No 5. It smelled and tasted like sweet baked beans and smoked so nice. I miss these blends, Sugar bbl, no 5, Saga, hickory.....the old days are gone !
11 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 25, 2013 Mild Mild Mild Pleasant to Tolerable
One of the better OTCs, but that's not saying much. Superior to PA, but far inferior to Angler's Dream or other burley blends in this price range. That chemical taste is always in the background. My 2oz sample was well aged and on the pleasantly dry side, so can't speak to the moisture level in the tub.

The Virginias are muted, and the sugar casing is light. Nice, sweet flavoring that lasts from the charring light through about half way through the bowl. Burley is predominant, with that unfortunate chemical OTC taste lurking in the background.

An uninspiring though not completely unpleasant tobacco.
8 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 23, 2015 Mild Mild to Medium Mild Pleasant
I love OTCs or Codger Burley or whatever you want to call them. They’re my thing and I make no apologies. It’s odd that it took me this long to try Sugar Barrel. I saw it all of the time over the years, Usually, though, I just wanted some PA or some Holliday and I didn’t want to take a chance on something new. What, perhaps, served as a deterrent was the fact that I never saw it marketed in anything less than a big, plastic tub. Risky if you don’t end up liking whatever’s in the tub.

Anyway, right out of the tub Sugar Barrel is classic grandpa tobacco. Small cut. Yellow, brown, and black. Nice smell. Sweet, but you can still smell the tobacco under there. The aromatic component coiuldn’t be more simple and honest. It smells sweet. It doesn’t smell like vanilla or apples or maple syrup. It smells like, dare I say it, sugar. Simple sweetness.

There are some synthetic additives. You can’t avoid that with OTCs. Sugar Barrel isn’t made anymore but, if you do find it, it’ll likely still be plenty moist. It has that classic American crimp cut that makes packing a pipe utter ease.

Light up and take a few puffs. Get used to it, because that’s all you’re going to get. It’ll be like that for the entire bowl. It’s simple burley with a little Virginia. They’ve made it taste sweeter than such a blend normally would, but not too much. Mild smoke with a little bit of sweet. It can get just a little hot on the tongue if you’re not careful, but it’s really nothing to worry about. That’s all you’re going to get. There’s nothing wrong with that. Would that more aromatics were like this.
6 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 16, 2014 Mild Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant
A friend sent me a generous sample of this, and I have enjoyed it. It is in the same class as Carter Hall for me. The name suggests it might be heavily topped or unusually sweet. I am finding it to be a good, slightly sweet, basic burley blend. It has been an easy smoke, and there is a good earthy nuttiness to it (and not much more). I am not getting much Virginia in the flavor profile, but I can believe there is some there.

Smoking this on the way home from work today, it struck me that this reminds me of an OTC version of Classic Burley Kake. I'll have to smoke them both the same day to see if this is true or my imagination...
4 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 05, 2014 Mild to Medium Mild Medium Pleasant
This is a quality pipe tobacco; in my opinion it is the best of the Middleton Brands. It has just enough Virginia to give it the complexity that is missing in straight burley. Burn cool and has a pleasant taste and aroma with plenty of smoke. Highly recommended.
3 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 23, 2013 Medium Medium Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
I tend to agree with most of the previous reviews of this blend. It is very enjoyable to smoke. It lights easily, stays lit, doesn't burn, has just the right amount of nutty burley, sweetness and taste. It is a great evening smoke. Smells nice at arrival. Not much to say negative. The price is right, too. Not a sticky aro.
3 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 04, 2017 Mild Strong Overwhelming Tolerable to Strong
Being drawn to old fashioned OTC's I wanted to like Sugar Barrel, but alas I didn't. I couldn't get past the "grandmothers perfume" or maybe "Avon bath beads" smell and taste when it was smoked! joke, that's what I got from it! This was the first batch of tobacco that I actually threw away. It's obvious that opinions vary reading other reviews, but I just couldn't stand it! If it had been in a pouch I might have thought it had been stored improperly or became tainted somehow, but it was in a new tin so I ruled that out. I honestly can't believe anyone ever liked this.
Pipe Used: Cob
PurchasedFrom: Don't remember
Age When Smoked: Unknown
2 people found this review helpful.
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