Boswell Pipes & Tobacco Northwoods

Full bodied and full flavor - a deeply complex English, but with a smooth and mild base of Latakia along with toasted Virginias. J.M. had blended Northwoods for himself to smoke, but then the customers started asking him what he was smoking and his answer was "have a bowl". Northwoods has become one of our most popular English blends.


Brand Boswell Pipes & Tobacco
Blended By  
Manufactured By  
Blend Type English
Contents Black Cavendish, Latakia, Virginia
Cut Ribbon
Packaging Bulk
Country United States
Production Currently available


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

Average Rating

3.51 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 10 of 155 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 04, 2014 Mild to Medium Very Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
When I first light up Northwoods, the first flavors that come to mind are, earthy, smoky and slightly sweet. It comes a little to moist for me, so I do dry it a little. As English smokes go, it is mild to medium and it doesn’t build up a lot of strength along the way. The flavor is pretty constant throughout the smoke too. I don’t care for very strong English blends and this is very smooth and not too strong compared to others I have tried. I love the slight sweetness it leaves in my mouth afterward. I have no idea why some would compare this to pine as I don't taste any of that at all. It makes me wonder if people just think that because of the name?? Northwoods is one of this pipe girl’s favorite English blends!
Age When Smoked: New
56 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 17, 2015 Mild Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant
The Cyprian Latakia offers smoke, wood, earth, mustiness, and some sweetness as a lead component. The black cavendish adds a fair amount of creamy smooth sweetness, though the sugar notes are mild. The BC is as prominent as the Latakia, and sometimes dominates the latter. The Virginia stays in the background, and is grassy, tart and tangy citrusy with a bare tangy dark fruit essence, and is slightly toasty. At times, I detect a light syrupy hit that probably comes from the vanilla additive. It's at the borderline of being a full blown aromatic English, though I can see why some think it's more than that. Will need some dry time. The strength is mild, and the taste is a step short of the center of mild to medium. The nic-hit is very mild. Won't bite or get harsh. Can use a little dry time. Burns cool, clean and slow, and requires some relights, and will leave a little moisture in the bowl. The sweet and mildly savory, campfire flavor is very consistent all the way to the finish. Has a pleasantly, short lived after taste and room note. A straight forward smoke with little complexity. Could be an all day smoke depending on your taste for this kind of blend. Two and half stars.

42 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 18, 2012 Mild Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
My first experience with Boswells was purchasing a much coveted pipe which came with a complementary 2oz sample of Northwoods. I was somewhat skeptical of this mixture as my taste in latakia blends lies somewhere slightly south of the heavy hitters, but not too far from the richest of mixtures. When I pine for a sweeter smoke I reach for a nice matured Virginia and generally stay away from aromatics and for that matter most blends containing cavendish. Nonetheless, due to the many positive reviews here, I was eager to give this a shot.

My sample was fairly moist and probably could have used a few hours dry time. The initial aroma from the bag was very sweet and dominated by that heavily cased Cavendish aroma with latakia playing second fiddle. I left the bag open for a spell and on second inspection the aroma was simply delightful. It reminded me of a great molasses based Missouri BBQ sauce, something like Show Me Liquid Smoke from Columbus. The tobacco was clearly high quality with broken red Virginia flakes mixed in with deeply pungent latakia and a moist cavendish that looked like rich high- grade compost. With no dry time, I packed a bowl in one of my largest pipes and went out to my patio in hopes of a flavorful smoke.

On first light the latakia played a much more assertive role that I thought it would. The Virginia and Cavendish components where quite subdued and at that point I thought I was in for a slight variation of a standard fair, albeit from the start a flavorful one. This perception changed big time near the half-way point when what came forth was a barrage of complex smoky/sweet nuanced spice flavors that one will not easily find in any standard latakia mixture. At that point all my reservations with this blend were squelched. Moreover, I was quite pleased with the cavendish component which rounded out the flavor nicely while only imparting a subtle influence on the overall experience. This is one very satisfying smoke, mild in strength, yet fairly substantial in flavor.

Unlike other reviewers, I had very little trouble keeping this stuff lit straight out of the bag. It burned evenly and fairly cool but is quite capable of biting if you don't take it slow. Expect a little goop on the bottom of your pipe, but not too much. Some dry time would easily rectify this issue.

Altogether Northwoods is a great mixture. If you're shopping for something unique to try, this hybrid anomaly of a blend deserves your attention. It's definitely made my current rotation.

*Update* 11/26/12 - Upon revisiting this blend I find it to be a tad too sweet for my liking. Perhaps my tastes have changed a bit. I have since given away the rest of my stash of Northwoods to another piper interested in exploring Latakia mixtures. Nonetheless, still very much recommended.
42 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 17, 2011 Medium Mild to Medium Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong
Well, well. I'm about to do something I never imagined that I would someday be doing: I'm about to give four stars to a full-on English-aromatic crossover blend. That's right - I'm about to favorably compare Boswell's Northwoods to perennial faves like Odyssey, Abingdon, Larry's Blend, etc.

This is my first Boswell's blend. I never tried Boswell's before because they are primarily known for their traditional American aromatics, a genre I don't smoke very much of. Anyway, after coming across a zillion positive reviews for Northwoods, I ordered a few ounces with the attitude that, if I didn't like it, I could certainly find something to mix it with. Upon arrival, this ribbon-cut blend looked, felt and smelled like a heavy, goopy mess of Latakia and black cavendish, with maybe a few stray strands of Va mixed in for color. I loaded up a meer with some trepidation and got ready for .... well, not what I ultimately got, let me tell you.

Northwoods starts out pretty much as expected: a blast of pure latakia and cavendish-based sweetness. No subtlety here! I smoked a few minutes, enjoying the base flavors but disliking the muted but obvious aftertaste of what appears to be some kind of preservative or chemical casing (a slightly oily, almost plastic flavor that dances around the edge of the smoke in tandem with blasts of sweetness). The bowl started to heat up at the 15-minute mark, so I let it go out, fixed another drink and waited for it cool off. When I relit ...WAM!

At about a third of the way down, this blend morphs into a woodsy, spicy, COMPLEX mixture that immediately conjured up memories of some of my favorite Balkans. There are no orientals listed in the ingredients, so I can only surmise that this delicious spice comes from the Vas or even the Lat itself. (I wonder if the Vas are perhaps being gently stoved as the bowl burns down?) No matter -- as the bowl progressed, this delicious melange of incense-like flavors intensified, especially with relights. I even enjoyed smelling the smoke as it burned, and my wife didn't seem bothered at all by the room note. I've ever experienced anything like this in an crossover blend, and I've tried a LOT of them.

In summary, I'd describe this stuff as what might happen if Frog Morton stopped swilling chocolate syrup, went on an all-steroid diet and bought a gym membership. Put another way: This stuff is vaguely reminiscent of McClelland's lat offerings (British Woods, the FM series, and Legends) in terms of flavor but, where McClelland's mixtures are almost always on the mild side of the spectrum, Northoods is definitely on the stronger end. I am reluctant to place Northwoods in quite the same category as Pease's best Balkans or English blends (it's not THAT complex, as there are no orientals or even perique) but the bottom line is that I enjoy it as much as I do my Odyssey. I was absolutely floored by this stuff! I never would have believed these constituent tobaccos could add up to something this tasty or satisfying.

It burns very well, and has never bit my tongue (even when smoked aggressively enough to heat up the bowl). It has enough nicotine to satisfy, more than most traditional Englishes but not enough to scare anybody off. And -- oddly enough -- it tastes almost identical in my meers, briars and cobs! One caveat, however: this stuff really likes larger bowls, so don't even bother loading up a clay. Instead, reach for that giant Danish freehand sitter you haven't touched since discovering Virginia flakes and get ready for nirvana ....

I've smoked through most of my 4-ounce sample in a variety of pipes and I'm about to pull the triggr on a few pounds. The only negative I've identified -- and this is a BIG negative to many smokers -- is the aforementioned chemical aftertaste. I've encountered it before in blends like Shortcut to Mushrooms, 1-Q, etc., so I believe it to either be PG or something that's added to the black cavendish. It's annoying, and I still don't like it, but this blend's flavor and temperament simply overwhelms my traditional preference for more naturalistic English blends. I can, however, definitely envision some English or Balkan fans not being able to overlook it.

YMMV, of course.
29 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 16, 2013 Medium Mild to Medium Full Tolerable to Strong
This is a really interesting tobacco by who is obviously a master at their craft. Has all the characteristics of a good English blend, but there is an obvious casing aroma to the blend that doesn't fail in the end. I find the bag/tin smell very strong and it has to be well sealed. Not exactly and enticing smell because of Latakia and an aromatic cavendish of some type. But smoking it reveals a wonderful blend that is slightly off the beaten track for an English. Latakia is still there prominently, but the aromatics from the cavendish maintain a pleasant added character (not background and not forefront - just balanced) that creates a well-rounded smoking experience in the end. The claim from Boswells that all of their tobacco has virtually no tongue bite is proven here. Nothing to say that I don't really like about this tobacco.
22 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 23, 2015 Mild Very Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
Northwoods is a lightly aromatic English Blend in the Boswell tradition of enhancements in their blends. I found it to be very similar to Iwan Ries Gourmet English in that there was an added sweetness, yet the combination of the enhancement in the Black Cavendish played well with the Latakia. I can see why it is a very popular Boswell blend. I liked it a lot!
19 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 08, 2014 Mild None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
A friend sent me a small pouch to try as he recently purchased some. I'd say this is somewhere in flavor and strength between Perfection and Frog Morton. It is a very very mild smoke in terms of harshness. But very full in flavor. Well done Boswells.

Not a hint of bite. Can be puffed through like crazy. I was just thinking to myself before lighting up that it matters little how well this smokes because I'll probably never be willing to put myself through the trouble of ordering from Boswells (I live overseas). But this might make me rethink that.

Great moisture. Great flavor. Great smooth Latakia luxury. I'm a fan. Wonderful.
Pipe Used: Missouri Meerschaum Pony Express
PurchasedFrom: Boswells via friend
Age When Smoked: New
16 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 02, 2018 Mild Mild Medium to Full Tolerable
I received 8 0z of Northwood, well packaged and delivered to Manchester, UK in an incredibly short time from order date. The care and method of packaging gave some insight into Boswell's attention to detail.

I tend to smoke non aromatics, vapers, straight virginias, dark fired burleys and latakia blends. I enjoy the taste of Balkans and English, but I find my palate and tongue is often scorched by the harshness I experience when smoking most blends which include latakia (GL Pease Gaslight is an exception). This is not a criticism, but a physiological reality that I've come to accept.

Upon opening the box from Boswell I was hit with the sweet aromatic smell which was pleasant and I assume is the Cavendish casing. I could not detect any of the "pine" notes that some reviewers have mentioned. I found Northwood to be an incredibly smooth, creamy, mild and flavorful blend, one that could be an all day smoke. The cavendish and virginias seem to round out any of the harshness of the latakia.

I loaded the pipe using the Frank method, it lit easily, burned well with only an occasional relight, nothing out of the ordinary. About halfway through the bowl I gently knocked out the loose ash, tamped and relit, it then burned completely to a white ash without any moisture or dottle in the bottom of the bowl.

In closing all I can say is that, at the moment, Northwood is firmly in my rotation and I will without doubt be ordering more. Well done Boswell!!

Pipe Used: Julius Vesz handcut
PurchasedFrom: Boswell
Age When Smoked: Fresh
13 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 05, 2019 Mild to Medium None Detected Very Full Pleasant
OK, so this is going to be my first official tobacco review.

I don't know how to go about doing this, so please bear with me! First I have only been smoking a pipe for about 3.5 months so if this puts you off, I completely understand and you should probably keep scrolling past as you might think this is a load of bunk from a newbie who couldn't possibly contribute lol.

That being said, I have a few years of scotch, brandy, and rum experience and I am using my understanding of them to translate my experience with Boswell's Northwoods.

I have only ever smoked Lane Limited 1-Q, Carter Hall, and Orlik Golden Sliced -just so you guys can get a point of reference for what I am using for my base line.

You new guys might benefit more from this but if you are a seasoned smoker who hasn't tried it yet and are interested, then maybe you will keep reading!

First off, the 3oz I received was "generous" and subsequently it packs differently from the other bulk tobaccos I have tried. Out of the bag it was PERFECT moisture-wise (more comments on that later) and it smelled like a combination of campfire/brush fire and homemade beef jerky.

Packing my Savinelli 602 was a breeze. It is a bit of what I would call a course or rough cut and a little bit went far. I kept thinking "I really need to tamp this more" and after a bit I impatiently decided to just light the damn thing and see what it was all about -so I did.

The first few puffs was more about getting it going enough to keep it lit. It was -11 with a constant wind so I wasn't in the mood to loaf about. But then I saw the red glow of success and pow!

Immediately I tasted campfire and the soft flavour of pine or fir (not sure which) -but right behind it, after a very few long minutes of puffing and tasting, was leather and burnt black chocolate. All these flavours were tied together by something vaguely familiar...... oh yes -creosote!

I can’t explain why but somehow it worked. If you don't know what creosote is, then maybe you should just keep reading and not Google it because the definition could put you right off. It wasn't over bearing, and it didn't conflict with the other flavours, but somehow magically managed to tie them all together. It wasn't overbearing by any means but it was there.

A bit further into the bowl, I picked up definite notes of toasted cashew and a semi-flan (almost vanilla?) flavour that just sort of lingered around the outside like some peeping tom who wouldn't come to the door to be let in. There were a few other (at least 2) flavours that I could taste but cannot as of yet decipher. They are as familiar as they are foreign. Someone with better tobacco buds than mine could probably name them instantly.

Over all the smoke was AMAZING. It was amazingly cool, and even though I found myself uncharacteristically smoking like a chimney with this tobacco to dig into the flavours, it never got hot in the least. But then again it was pretty cold outside!

I also only had to relight 3 times over a 55 minute session and those were only when I had left the pipe sitting for more than 5 mins when I went in to warm my hands. This tobacco burns steady and consistent. It made me feel like a professional pipe smoker lol.

My overall opinion- This tobacco instantly made me feel like I had "grown up". It was complex and fascinating -like a scotch but wasn't in any way harsh. I could instantly see this as an early morning first smoke (and I don't smoke first thing) and definitely a blend to share with other pipe smokers. Culinarily speaking, it is more akin to a Sunday roast dinner than an afternoon snack.

I think there is much more to this tobacco that I have yet to figure out but I can say without a doubt that I am looking forward to the journey.

I smoked the bowl down to what I thought was complete ash, and then it smoked for another 15 mins. This was, without a doubt, the cleanest, fullest smoke I have had yet.

I can't say enough about how fascinated, perplexed, and enamoured I am with this blend. But I have to say WOW!

After a second bowl I have been able to pin down the two other flavours. Incense (or rather frankincense) and cedar really take a prominent place in the flavour palate of this blend. There is also a creamy, almost smoked Gouda underdone that keeps the other flavours in check and playing happily together.

“Northwoods” is very aptly named and will definitely be in my regular rotation -especially during the long cold winter months when it’s spiciness helps warm the soul and content the mind.
Pipe Used: Savinelli 602 Trevi
PurchasedFrom: Boswell Pipes and Tobacco
Age When Smoked: Right out of the bag
12 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 31, 2013 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Very Strong
Boswell's Northwoods may be the single most highly touted English-Style Latakia blend amongst both younger, and media-savvy pipe smokers. For good reason.

Seems the blend has grown to such extraordinary heights, popularity, that some folks expect the master blender, ole' J.M. Boswell, himself, to float up out of their bowl, and massage their feet and back once they light up. No such luck. We're just smoking tobacco here.

Yet what a wonderful tobacco it really is. It's reputation precedes it's arrival, and for me, did not disappoint.

The pouch is prototypical Latakia smokiness, but mingled with the underlying sweetness of the Black Cavendish. From the pouch to the dry-draw, you know you're in for a treat.

Simple, round, medium-bodied Latakia with a touch of sweetness. Retrohaling was especially pleasant, which tends not to be the case with cased Englishs. I can not speak to Nicotine content, as I am highly resistant.

Northwoods creates smooth, flavorful, dry smoke with just the right balance of sweetness. Deep, earthy, woodsy flavors abound, but nothing overpowering at all. Everyone's taste buds are so different when it comes to discerning nuances in smoke, it's foolish to rely on others' verbalized perceptions. Though I do not detect "Pine Needles", nor anything of the like. Even our own tastes change from month to month. A tobacco that blew you away three months ago, may taste like rotten shoe leather today. In practice, it's best to seek quality tobaccos from respected, experienced blenders and merchants, and try for yourself.

The important aspect of Northwoods, or any Boswell blend for that matter, is that it is thoughtfully blended by an experienced master, and contains high-quality, supple ingredients. In my opinion, every pipe smoker should always have some Boswell blends both in his cellar, and in his working stock. Be wary of any tobacco review being shared after only one or two bowls. We all know tobaccos taste different in varying pipes, in differing weather conditions, and even at different times of day. A pre-meal smoke can be a world away from an after dinner smoke.

Northwoods is an all-day-smoke, however. To be enjoyed when and where you please. It will adapt to it's environment, and you may discover something new about it each time. A+ all around. Absolutely worth a try.

Also noteworthy is Boswell's customer service. First-Rate all the way. All other tobacconists can take a lesson from the Boswell Clan.
Pipe Used: Savinelli Trevi 310 (KS)
PurchasedFrom: Boswell's Pipes & Tobacco
Age When Smoked: Fresh
12 people found this review helpful.
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