Deep flavored, heat cured, naturally fermented and matured black cavendish.

Notes: Originally blended in England.

Manufactured ByKohlhase & Kopp
Blend TypeStraight Virginia
ContentsBlack Cavendish
FlavoringOther / Misc
CutReady Rubbed
Packaging50 grams tin
ProductionCurrently available
Where to Buy SmokingPipes.com
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Mild to Medium
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JimInks Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JimInks (3023)
Mild to Medium Very Mild Mild to Medium Very Pleasant

A dark stoved Virginia in the cavendish style that needs to smoked slowly as fast puffing can provide you with a tongue tingle. It does have a nice sugar, slightly fermented dark fruit and citrus sweetness with some hay/grass, and a light earthiness. There's not much of a nic-hit. The strength is a step past the mild level, and while the taste is a hair more potent than that. Burns a little fast with a mostly consistent flavor, though it lacks some depth. Leaves very little moisture in the bowl, and requires an average number of relights. Has a decent after taste. Can be an all day smoke.


8 people found this review helpful.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30125)
Mild Extremely Mild Mild Pleasant

I was gifted a 10 year old tin of this that had recently been opened. It came very dry, which saved me the trouble of drying it. Very black stoved Virginia and I think its "Cavendish style" caused whoever originally listed this on TR to call it an aromatic. It had a nice, natural scent in the tin and I wouldn't call this an aro. Came as a cross between a ready rubbed cut and a coarse ribbon.

This may be the blend that comes closest to a 4 star rating from me without...quite...getting there! Nice caramelized sweetness but it eschews the typical grassiness of some of its stoved counterparts. This has of course a light citrus flavor amidst the darkness but this leans more towards an unflavored black Cavendish flavor than a true-blue stoved VA, such as McClellands Black Shag or Butera's Dark Stoved. Sometimes in my amateur and amateurish attempts at tobacco blending, I completely dry out Lane's BCA to strip it of its vanilla flavor and to add a dark taste and body to a blend. The Astley's reminds me of that flavor but with more depth and complexity. That said, this blend could not be called complex! I don't think it changed one iota from beginning of each bowl to the end. But when a tobacco has such a beautifully crafted rich but soft flavor and you find yourself smoking it more often than you thought, it's something to stock up on. It won't take the place of its two stoved brethren mentioned about, but it has a place all its own in my occasional rotation.

Age When Smoked: 10 years

6 people found this review helpful.

Gentleman Zombie Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Gentleman Zombie (729)
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant

This is a really nice smoke. Sweet and tangy dark fruit with a nice spice hit. True, there isn't a lot of evolution here, but the flavor compensates for that. I don't find it boring at all. It's quite enjoyable. I think it has great potential for blending as well. Pretty good stuff.

Mild to medium in body and taste. No added flavorings. Burn is fairly good, does need a relight or two.

Pipe Used: MM Little Devil Cutty, Little Devil Acorn, Marcus

Age When Smoked: fresh

Purchased From: Mars cigars and pipes

6 people found this review helpful.

Tantric Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Tantric (321)
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

It is inevitable to compare some of Astley's blends with Rattray?s. Both are high quality tobaccos, prepared with absolute care for detail and flavour, and both are now blended by the same German house (Cohlhacs & Kopp, that also blends Robert McConnell's).

Astley?s 88 is a very similar tobacco, in aroma and appearance, to Rattray?s Black Virginia and, to a lesser extent, to Dark Fragrant. Astely's is suppler in texture, smoother in flavour, and IMO, easier to smoke than its close relatives. It is a dark brown, almost black tobacco, short crimp cut. Though it is easy to pack it takes some time before it lights properly. It smokes very smoothly and cool.

I find this is not as tangy as Black Virginia, nor as sweet as Dark Fragrant. Rather it is somewhere in the middle. It is very savoury and palatable, and an excellent choice to sit by and read a book or listen to music. The quality is superb and the smoking experience is amiable and very pleasant. If you like dark stoved Virginias, with a hint of tangy sweetness, try this one.

6 people found this review helpful.

Pipestud Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipestud (1829)
Medium Very Mild Medium to Full Very Pleasant

Dark, mellow Virginia with a smidgen of some kind of exotic, unobtrusive topping describes #88. The stoving keeps the burn cool even with the added flavoring.

Oh, and the spousal unit, without prodding, said she enjoyed the room note.

Finally, to sum up #88, I think it is an awesome blend that probably will not offend you or those around you. It'll hit you in the strength department with a velveteen hammer.

5 people found this review helpful.

StevieB Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
StevieB (2076)
Very Mild Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant

Astley's No.88 Matured Dark Virginia.

This is the quintessential beginners/Cavendish lovers blend.

The contents of the tin are exceedingly dark, almost black. The majority of the blend is made up of medium sized ribbons, but there are quite a few rather chunky ones in the mix too. The moisture amount from a freshly opened tin's great, so lets talk about the smoking of it:

Lighting? As easy as a blend can be. And then it gives a very cool smoke and a consistent burn. The actual smoke has a nice quality to it: velvety, thick, and soft. There's one question that comes to mind regarding the nicotine: where is it? It's very mild, this would make it more than apt for a beginner. It says on this site that the flavouring's are 'other/misc', but to be fair, to me, it tastes like most standard Black Cavendish's; the only difference is it isn't as sweet as some BC blends; there's a bit more of the virginia's grass, and a less vanilla sweetness. For my palate, the only low point comes in the form of tongue-bite; it can nip a touch if it's puffed hard.

Other than the bite it's a good blend though: recommended.

Three stars.

Pipe Used: Levent Meerschaum Claw

Age When Smoked: New

Purchased From: The Danish Pipe Shop

4 people found this review helpful.

JB Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JB (44)
Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Very Mild Very Pleasant

Astley's 88 is certainly a light, harmless tobacco blend. There is nothing wrong with it and indeed, it would be a great starter tobacco for a new pipe smoker if it stayed lit a bit better.

The only problem with 88 from a mature smoker's viewpoint is that it is monochromatic and approaching bland.

I like my matured virginia blends to have some tang and some sparkle to them. If you do too, then 88 isn't for you.

I will probably use the balance of the tin to blend in with some of my other tobaccos

I tried this blend in the first place because it has gotten so much positive mention on ASP. Well, lesson learned...!

3 people found this review helpful.

Brunello Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Brunello (140)
Mild Extremely Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant

The description on TR is rather skimpy but this is a late harvest stoved Virginia that is naturally fermented in its own juices, undergoing partial Cavendish process before long maturation process before packaging.

Good on its own, but really shines as a blending tobacco. Works nicely to tone down Lat-bombs, and I’ve also made a tasty coffee Cavendish blend using 3/8 Astley's 88. As a solo smoke I found it more appealing when it was relatively fresh. As it gets older it becomes more muted in flavor, though that often makes it easier to use as a blender in integrating with other flavors. Sutliff 507 follows a similar trajectory; must be something to do with the stoving process.

As a solo smoke I get five distinct flavors/aromas that come and go: sassafras, leather, molasses, German dark bread, and old ground pepper that has lost some of its kick. Not a must-have on your Bucket List, but more than an idle curiosity, especially if you are into home blending or like to tinker and tweak blends. I think it is one of the better examples of its type and different enough from Peretti Black Virginia or Sutliff 507 that I keep them all on hand for various blending projects.

2 people found this review helpful.

Capt Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Capt (339)
Mild None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant

Tin note/appearance:

A single colored, uniform looking tobacco, almost as dark as the label on the tin. Tin aroma of figs and fresh cut hay fields, with a mild fermented sweetness. The tobacco is packed tightly in the tin, you have to dig at it with a finger nail to loosen it up.


Initially it feels very dry and crispy in the tin. However, once you begin to pack, you can feel the natural moisture and oils start to surface. With the deep rooted moisture in the leaf, it does take a few attempts to get a steady burn.

Don't expect this blend to envelope you in a cloud of smoke. quite opposite. Steady sips gets just enough smoke to know its still lit. This blend needs attention or it will continually go out, as relights are common here. I wouldn't call this monochromatic as some have, but it sure isn't complex. It keeps an even keel of flavor throughout the entire bowl. If you have smoked a stoved Va before, you know what to expect. If you haven't, then you should. To sum it up, it has a burnt sugary flavor profile. No wood, no leather, no fruit.

I guess this could bite if pushed, but it behaved very well each time I smoked it. I can see this being a great snowy day blend to smoke in between shoveling the driveway and stirring a pot of stew on the stove. I like it, a solid 3 stars!

Pipe Used: several

Age When Smoked: new

Purchased From: Smokingpipes.com

2 people found this review helpful.

Horse Bodotes Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Horse Bodotes (19)
Mild None Detected Mild Pleasant to Tolerable

Astley's No. 88 is a good example of a matured Virginia tobacco that proves to be maybe a little too much of a good thing.

Contrary to other reviewers, I found my sample tin to be much dryer than I was expecting. The tin aroma is a pleasant smell of raisins that is common to fermented Virginia tobaccos. The ribbons are a bit on the long side, and might benefit from a bit of breaking up for a smaller bowl.

Upon lighting, the sweet taste and smooth aroma that is unique to mature Virginias is evident. That is both the good and the bad: the taste was sweet and smooth and creamy, but there was virtually no change as one smokes down the bowl. By the end of the pipe, I find that the entire experience is a bit boring and monotonous. I am going to try adding a pinch of Perique to my next bowl of No. 88 and see if that spices things up a bit.

2 people found this review helpful.

Eulenburg Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Eulenburg (193)
Very Mild Very Mild Very Mild Unnoticeable

English-style Cavendish-processed leaf, just like RATTRAY's Dark Fragrant. Very good quality, highly recommended to cavendish lovers. Too light for me.

2 people found this review helpful.

NEWMAN Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
NEWMAN (305)
Mild Extremely Mild Mild Pleasant

I normally wouldn't even try black cavendish but have had good prior success with the German blender K&K under other of the Astleys' labels. Although I have much more experience with Va flakes, this is one of the better cavendish blends that I've recently smoked. I would not classify it as a ribbon cut as indicated above but rather a ready rubbed flake comprised of mostly deep brown to black stoved VAs. The tin aroma had only a hint of sweetness in contrast to many of the heavily cased cavendish blends. Once I improved my packing technique, although the initial lights were difficult, relights were not needed. Overall a cool, smooth smoke for a cavendish that I may select in the hot weather. However, it lacks the strength and flavor to become one of my steadies.

2 people found this review helpful.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30125)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

Very similar to other blends of its ilk, especially Robert McConnell's Rich Dark Virginia. Given that they come from the same factory in Germany now, it is not particularly surprising that such similarly intended blends ended up, well, so similar. If anything, this may smoke slightly cooler than McConnell's Rich Dark Virginia.

Comprising of exclusively of very dark stoved and aged Virginias, the color of the blend (if it indeed can be called that) is decidedly uniform.

The tin aroma is superb-- gently sweet and rich in the way only dark cured Virginias can be. It could use a little drying right out of the tin, but its not incredibly wet-- certainly smokable.

The smoke is good, but unexceptional. Some of the sweetness from the tin aroma shines through, but it's more bland than I would have expected given the delightful tin nose. This would probably make for a decent morning smoke for me and might be very much enjoyed by the lover of dark Virginia blends, but it definitely isn't exciting enough to become one of my favorites. I'll probably finish this tin, but I doubt I'll purchase another.

2 people found this review helpful.

Anthony S Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Anthony S (4)
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong

This is a difficult tobacco to review in a way. I have been smoking pipes for about three years now, and I have not smoked anything else quite like it. I have to admit, the first time I smoked this tobacco I thought I had wasted my time and money. This is not what I would call a "well behaved" tobacco. In fact, it's almost as if you have to "learn" how to smoke this particular tobacco. The first two times I smoked this I did not care for it at all. It was difficult to keep lit and quickly caused gurgle in each pipe I smoked it in. A couple of days later I wanted to smoke a pipe but did not want to dig through my cellar to pick something out. So, I packed a bowl of this out of convenience. But, this time I packed it somewhat loosely in a huge briar bowl. I sat out on my deck and took my time with it while watching my dogs play around in the backyard. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Some very unique notes came through. I cannot really describe the flavors except for abstract descriptions such as "peaty" or "coffee-like". This tobacco is spicy, similar to perique. It also vaguely reminds me of Kentucky fire-cured tobacco. In summary, if you are willing to work with this tobacco (and in my opinion it does require work) then you will have an enjoyable and unique experience with it. I would not describe this blend as "complex", but I would describe this blend as "sophisticated" due to its unique, interesting, and pleasing notes.

Pipe Used: John's Pipe Shop Estate, Tavern-Style Clay

Age When Smoked: Freshly Opened Tin

Purchased From: smokingpipes.com

Similar Blends: Cornell & Diehl Autumn Evening.

1 person found this review helpful.

BostonPipe Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
BostonPipe (84)
Mild None Detected Mild Pleasant

It has been quite awhile since I have delved into black canendish blends...and it appears that it will be quite awhile before I do so again. The appearance in the tin is dark brown/black and the smell is appealing. However the taste is, well, ordinary. This is the kind of blend that I would mindlessly fill a pipe with to putter around the house or rake leaves with. It does smoke cool and dry but it is not one of those blends that I would "Sit-Back" to experience. Overall, it is a nice smoke, it lacks the character and depth that I normally look for in a good blend. Monochrome, consistent taste.

1 person found this review helpful.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30125)
Very Mild Medium Mild Pleasant

I have steadily been making my way through the entire line of Astley's tobaccos and have found several winners such as #109. But, this is not one of them.

This is a good, dark, tobacco, but one that is lacking in depth and character. It's taste runs to a tangy flavor, which can be tasted a day later.

As some of the other reviewers mentioned, this is one difficult tobacco to keep lit. Even with drying prior to smoking, it was still a chore to keep lit. Perhaps it is the fire retardant in the flavoring.

1 person found this review helpful.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30125)
Mild Extremely Mild Mild Unnoticeable

Another tobacco for worm meal. After opening the tin the tobacco the color was a dark brown to black, it was very dry and there was no aroma.

I shoulld have stopped right there but proceeded on in attempt to pack a Larsen the size of a #4 Dunhill. I was really expecting the tobacco to go up in smoke, but it was just the opposite, I could not keep the tobacco lit I finally just gave up.

1 person found this review helpful.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30125)
Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant

If you like dark matured virginias, and I admit they are an acquired taste, then you can do no wrong with this fine smoking blend. The weed is dark as night and smells like a loaf of black Russian rye bread. Beautiful! To me, the flavour was very well-balanced, with no one feature that hits you over the head--just smooth, mildly sweet, with a touch of mulled spice. This would be a perfect introduction to matured Vas, as it smoked clean and cool in several shapes/sizes of pipe.

UPDATE: seeing Paddy's review reminded me of what I forgot to mention when I reviewed this blend halfway through my tin--it was bloody hard to keep lit. This was a pain in the butt, despite the flavour being good.

1 person found this review helpful.

Paddy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Paddy (127)
Mild Mild to Medium Mild Tolerable

This tobacco is a chunky black cavendish with occasional bits of very dark brown. It smells faintly of the Astley sweetener used in several of their tobaccos. The flavor is matured, dark Virginia, but very much on the light side. There is absolutely nothing remarkable about this tobacco; it is extraordinarily bland. Its most significant deficiency is that it is extremely difficult to keep lit. The constant fiddling required to keep it going plus a complete lack of uniqueness convinces me it is not worth the trouble. It does not even have enough nicotine to recommend it. Ersatz tobacco. Paddy.

1 person found this review helpful.

JaWiBr Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JaWiBr (449)
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Tin note of fermented vegetation, dry hay and cooked sugar. Tobacco is a ribbon cut of black and dark brown. Moisture content is great. Burns slow with few relights. The strength is mild to medium and nic is mild. No flavoring detected. Taste is mild to medium and very consistent, with notes of toast, wood, spice, floral, hay, creamy, savory, sugar, fermented sour, stewed dark fruit, bready, grassy earth, orange peel/bitters, acidic, a zesty tangy citrus background note, and a peppery retro. Room note is pleasant to tolerable, and aftertaste is great.

Pipe Used: Peterson Bard Rusticated 221 Fishtail

Age When Smoked: 4 months

Purchased From: TobaccoPipes.com

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Novaki Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Novaki (41)
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild Pleasant

One word to describe this blend might be, subtle. The tin note is deep and rich, with notes of caramelized brown sugar. Probably one of my favorite tin aromas. The smoke, however, is much more subdued and at times is almost flavorless. Whenever the flavor does come through it really is something special if you like dark / red Virginia.

My main issue with this blend is that it’s like listening to a song you like, but someone keeps changing the volume between puffs. There are times when it hits all the right notes and tics all the right boxes, and then suddenly the tangy fermented dark Virginia flavor just disappears for a while. If you puff on it too hard in an attempt to find the flavor it starts to get a bit bitey, so I find it’s best to just wait for it to come back.

I don’t really care for nicotine and don’t actively seek it out, but this has one of the best nic hits IMO. It’s a soft and understated buzz that just kind of sneaks up on you that I find mildly relaxing. I haven’t really gotten this from any other tobacco and actually find it quite pleasant, though it can get a bit too strong if I retrohale too much in the hunt for flavor.

The flavor does seem to become more present and deeper towards the middle and bottom of the bowl, and this is where I find it becomes dangerously close to becoming a perfect smoke. At risk of an eye roll or two, it even vaguely reminds me of McClelland Virginia at times, though I’d never claim this to be a match or even a distant alternative. I could see this having some blending potential, but for the not-bulk price and it being a bit harder to find it’d probably be a bit of a waste to do so.

I’d also add that this is probably one of the least “beginner friendly” tobaccos I’ve smoked, as you definitely have to come to it and go at a crawl of a pace to get any enjoyment out of it. That being said, it’s probably very rewarding to veteran pipe smokers that know what they’re getting into with blends like this. I’ll have to keep coming back to this one, as I see it has a lot of potential to be a favorite, but the mechanics hold it back just a notch for me.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30125)
Mild Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Pleasant

i'm smoking a 17 years opened tin which has been humified several times. it still tastes just about the same as i remember back then, but of course there's a lot less tin aroma.

it is, as others have noticed, rather bland in an aromatic way, but not sweet in the typical german/danish sense. it's a classical old fashioned english cavendish (can't say, of course if it still is, but judging from the other reviews i'd say it is).

as such, it is not that interesting to smoke on its own (and it isn't, really, supposed to), but try mixing it with a light virginia like fribourg & treyers golden mixture - it's quite surprising what it does to a blend.

astley's #44 isn't available in denmark anymore, but in the old days it contained a bit of the same sort of cavendish as #88. don't know if it still does.

(edited to correct the number of years i've had this tin: not 10 - 17!)

Nobody has rated this review yet.