Newminster No. 23 Blackberry Brandy

Tobacco selection: Air-cured Burleys from Mexico and flue-cured Virginias from Brazil and USA. Sweet fruit taste perfectly balanced with brandy. A fine smoking blend on its own. Loose cut mixed with cut plug.


Brand Newminster
Blended By  
Manufactured By Villiger
Blend Type Virginia/Burley
Contents Burley, Virginia
Flavoring Blackberry, Brandy, Fruit / Citrus
Cut Ribbon
Packaging Bulk
Country Unknown
Production Currently available


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

Average Rating

2.32 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 9 of 9 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 18, 2015 Mild to Medium Medium Mild to Medium Strong
This tobacco arrived as a sample from SPC--the other offering was a Tom Eltang that I had already tried. It has been quite some time since I smoked any aromatics--but my journey into pipe smoking many decades ago began with them.

The bag aroma is quite nice and not terribly overwhelming--but it is very full and obvious. As with many aro blends it was moist, but not sticky. The blend loaded quite well in a MM, and did not compact too tightly limiting the draw. A prelight started the bowl well, and there was no rise that required a lot of tamping.

For me, the taste of the Virginia came through immediately. Typical notes of hay and the sweetness of that tobacco--quite distinct from the sweetness of the blackberry and brandy. At first, the taste of the blackberry was a bit subdued--but began to take on greater character moving into the first quarter of the bowl.

At this point, the richer burley takes a center stage from the VA, as does the level of nicotine! It has a bit of a "tang" that is not quite a bite--but the mouth feel that is associated with a good burley. The smoke itself is a nice body--but not heavy or thickly creamy. This is quite satisfying for those of us who chase the tobacco tang of English/Balkan blends.

Halfway into the bowl and moving down, the blackberry fills in the balance from the earlier VA and burley steps--melding with each and making for a quite satisfying smoke. The nicotine remains moderately full, and the aroma of the blackberry and brandy FILLS the room--but not unpleasantly or cloyingly so.

The finish strengthens toward the bottom with some loss of the initial distinctions--a bit monochrome if you will--and the moisture levels damp but not too problematic to cause gurgling. I left a bit unsmoked--as is my custom even amongst my regular English/Balkan rotation. I had hints that the very last of it was not going to be particularly pleasant. On the second bowl later, I smoked it in stages--returning several times to relight and enjoy. There was no significant degradation of the blend--nor any harshness from resting.

All in all, I found this blend quite enjoyable--and will add a few ounces on a regular basis to my cellar. A thing to note though. Pick a pipe you smoke similar aro's in or dedicate a briar or cob. Once you pass a couple bowls through--it is going to move in and stay...
Pipe Used: MM Washington
PurchasedFrom: SPC
Age When Smoked: New Sample
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 24, 2018 Mild Mild to Medium Mild Very Pleasant
This is the perfect example of why one should smoke several bowls before writing a review. Had I written my review after my first bowl, this might have been a 4-star review. Instead, I give it a 2 (upgraded to a 3 on 12/21/18). I was initially quite impressed at how it holds its flavor throughout the duration of the bowl compared to some of the other aromatics that I've smoked. After smoking 9 bowls of the stuff, I'm beginning to regret that 8oz purchase that I made following the first bowl.

The taste is in no way off-putting. The jar aroma is quite pleasant, as is the room note (no complaints from the wife when I smoke this one inside). I find that this blend requires an above average number of relights, and the casing causes it to burn hot (both common problems for aromatics). I might be able to forgive this, but the smoke produced is fairly thin from start to finish. I feel like I'm slowly sipping air that has the faint taste of blackberries. It's really easy to push this one too much in attempt to coax thicker smoke and more flavor out of it than what it is going to give, and then I end up burning my mouth and tongue. So it's too much effort for too little payoff flavor-wise.

I do recommend smoking this one in a cob, or a briar dedicated to fruity aromatics, as the blackberry flavor will stick around for a bit. I smoked some Peterson Hyde Park in my Savinelli 601 when the last 2 bowls in the pipe were Blackberry Brandy, and I tasted the blackberry brandy more than expected or desired - I will note, however, that that blackberry ghost only stuck around for a couple bowls, so it isn't going to ruin your pipe.

12/21/18 EDIT: Smoking this more, I've found that if I just let it dry longer, and pack it tighter than I normally pack my nonaromatics, it makes for a much better experience with fewer relights. Upgrading from 2 stars to 3 stars. Sometimes it really DOES take time and effort, and willingness to change-up some of the things you're doing in order to figure out how to make a particular blend work better.
Pipe Used: Savinelli 601, MM Legend & a clay pipe
PurchasedFrom: The Pipe & Pint (Greensboro, NC) and
Age When Smoked: unknown (bulk)
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 21, 2014 Medium Medium Medium Very Pleasant
I am a big fan of *some* aros, but usually not anything with fruit as they've typically been fairly acrid, acidic on the tongue, and generally disagreeable in my past.

However, this blend was gifted to me to sample, and I am very glad it was.

Pouch note is smoky, with a strong presence of natural overripe blackberry.

The initial char and first few draws were very smooth and balanced, a faint smokiness, slightly stronger bready/yeasty characteristics, with strong blackberry and currant. Snorking and French Inhale left a strong taste and aroma of, well, blackberries! While the flavor was spot on, there was no syrupy or sickly sweet character to the smoke... think more of a very dry blackberry wine.

Nicotine content was a bit of a surprise, I'm guessing burley is a predominant tobacco in this blend. I went to the races a little on this one. It's sneaky because as soon as the flavor starts to get really good, so does the buzz.

All-in-all, a very enjoyable tobacco. I can see this being a great post-lunch smoke, a bright, warm, and gentle aromatic that would pair well with iced tea. Think of a well balanced tobacco, then add just enough blackberry topping to make it agreeable indoors. As far as a con, I would say the topping can overpower the tobacco somewhat, nothing is really "bold" here.
Pipe Used: MM Legend
PurchasedFrom: Unknown (gifted)
Age When Smoked: Unknown
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 05, 2013 Very Mild Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Very Pleasant
I partake in few Aromatics, but I love the thought of a delicious berry and other fruit flavored tobaccos, so I try them when I see something I like, I didn't think the tobacco was overly wet, but the darkness of this blend and the wonderful aroma in the bulk jar at the B&M just forced me to buy some, and I'm glad I did, I don't ever dry any of my tobacco, so I stuff and puff, sure it takes a couple few relights but then again most do, and I'm not in a big hurry anyways, the flavor of the blackberries does come through, it's no where near over powering, the tobacco is definitely a mild flavor, but then just enough of the blackberry is left behind
Pipe Used: Nording Rshodesian
PurchasedFrom: Alegheny Smoke Works
Age When Smoked: unknown
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 19, 2012 Mild to Medium Strong Medium Very Pleasant
When I first read about Mr. Swearingen of enjoying a pre-release sample, I was very much intrigued by the sound of this blend. I was eager to pick up an ounce when it came out.

I don't often smoke aromatics, but the Blackberry Brandy sounded much too interesting not to try. The aroma is incredibly strong and the tobacco is very moist. It's the closest to hookah shisha I've ever seen in pipe tobacco. This blend could probably stand to have a good bit of air drying time, but I was too impatient to do so. There was a lot of relighting those couple bowls. That said, it was a good smoke. The flavor was incredibly present, and yet it didn't strike me as overwhelming (something that, say, Stanwell Melange did). I didn't really experience the room note, but I think it would be quite agreeable.

In the end, this isn't a tobacco for me to keep around, but I think it's good aromatic. If that's more your cup of tea, definitely give it a try.
1 person found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 13, 2022 Mild Medium Mild to Medium Very Pleasant
This blend smells delicious. The pouch aroma matches the taste. The taste matches the room note. While there is very little tobacco flavor to this blend, the blackberry topping really shines and makes this an excellent alternative to dessert. I did not pick up on the brandy in either the pouch or in the bowl.

The tobacco is fairly dry and is not sticky to the touch. It burns fairly well with surprisingly few relights. There are hints of vanilla that seem to echo the blackberry, and there was a delicious caramel sweetness on the finish.
Pipe Used: Numerous briars
PurchasedFrom: SP
Age When Smoked: Fresh bulk
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 19, 2022 Mild Medium Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
Manufactured by Mac Baren for Villiger, I believe, the Newminster brand No. 23 BlackBerry Brandy offers a sweet, spicy aromatic folly of deeply dark Mexican Burley and matured Red Virginia from the Americas thoughtfully spritzed with posh blackberry and mild tempered brandy top-coatings. It is my opinion that the Burley primarily host the featured berry flavoring and the Virginia contains the alcohol based upon what I eventually was reading within the separate mutterings. I do also feel that some honey casing has been applied to the Virginian as that particular registration came through as a subtle accenting note with the smoking.

A mixed bag of stouthearted tobaccos comprised of course cut, ribbon and seedy chunks/flecks of plug cut morsels makes for a striking introduction. The bulk No. 23 Blackberry Brandy is exceptionally husky and singular in composure. Principally, the pouched visage presents a portrait of choice lustful varietals, leaning a tad wayward on the rougher side of attractiveness.

Conversely, the immediate pouched fragrance of the essentially dry tobacco is rather gracious in demeanor, imagine that. With the projection of a foremost tartness, colorfully sour/woody native spice, delicately sweet of berried goodness and softer alcohol accent, the mix presents an alluring perfume. A congenial appeasement given the blend’s toothy appearance.

Although this mixture is comparatively simple and unassuming in constitution, it did present me with a minor challenge fingering some of the native taste profiling. As a consequence, I probably was into my third bowl before I came to recognize the pattern. First and importantly, the additives are effortlessly discernable as they do occupy considerable space within the bolus of the flavor experience. Overall No.23 endows a light-hearted toasty, smokey feel in pursuit.

With respect to those coatings, the lead feature is largely formed by the sweet, tarty blackberry tastefulness. Crisp, sumptuously thick, and jam-like in magnitude this sugary attribute remains consistently throughout the bowl session. If you are like me with a fondness of blackberries, the contentment is undeniable. The brandy note characterized as somewhat reserved as to intensity and charted bit elusive at times. Nevertheless, the boozy coating manifests its presence by inserting a comfortably spiced dry fruity, oaky alcohol refrain.

Regarding the native Burley and Virginia components, let me say on this particular blend they do show some distinguished prominence. My conclusion is that the blending presents a fairly even balance of the two. Yet if I were to be persuaded, in the end the Burley endows the greater thrust of taste truth be known.

Namely the lead chair occupancy moves around as each strain takes turn as the prima donna performer. Specifically, as the Virginia draws center stage the Burley shadows in complement and then their relative positions switch, multiple times. With the Virginia, a tangy citrus grass moves outward from base bringing a bit of piney affluence with it as it enfolds the brandy push and traces of honey. The Mexican Burley entertains with a dominant buttery zest and darkly seasoned cedar note. A passive highlight of nuttiness and toasty molasses softens the bold Burley remarking. The confluence of these two streams rounds out the flavor as they intertwine with the berry/brandy pronouncement.

Production of thick plumy clouds of dense grey smoke is integral to this blend. The room note provided is agreeably delightful as a ripe berry. Sugary fruity tartness is bolstered by the spice of citrus and seasoned wood. The lingering of this aroma makes for a pleasant shading of the immediate smoking area. No. 23 is gentle on the palate and makes for a mellowing dessert-like undertaking. Successive bowls might be a stretch to the enjoyment but as a one-off pampering, as one would imagine it capped off my noted craving nicely. Per chance, the blend would also suffice as a nice mixer with a pinch of Sutliff Vanilla Custard or bawdy Burley like Five Brothers for another interesting twist of flavor.

So having ingested this “super blend” did I feel mentally sharper, less sickly, slimmer, or hear the beckoning call of mother nature, well no not really but I was quite pacified after all. For the record this is the third Newminster blend sampling I’ve tried and must say I’m impressed by the quality of the blending and most definitely by the modest pricing of these mixtures. In hindsight it is along the lines of The Country Squire’s Blue Ribbon, yet another blackberry aromatic that begs notoriety. So, if fruity liquor excursions are your thing, then I suggest you give this one a try. No need for the massive Bavarian supper, Blackberry Brandy is a tasty course in itself as you will discover. 3.0 Pipes

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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 19, 2016 Mild to Medium Medium Medium Pleasant
This blend screams sour grape when smelling it in the jar, almost like a sour grape hard candy. During the initial char light, the sour grape fills the nostrils and zaps the tongue, it seems very artificial. However, after about 1/4 of the bowl it goes away, and you are left with a smooth sweet smoke that is rather pleasant. The taste then transfers to blue berry muffins. Wait, isn't this black berry brandy? Well, that's what they say, however, it tastes identical to fresh baked blue berry muffins and that, is a good thing. The nicotine is there to satisfy the craving and the smoke is enjoyable. It burns well with no relights and as the bowl progresses you are left with a pleasant aftertaste. This stuff is pretty good, and I think the burley really shines in this blend. My jar of this baccy is labeled Blue Berry Muffin.
Pipe Used: Corn Cob
Age When Smoked: New
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 29, 2015 Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Very Pleasant
I like this blend a lot - for one it has a nice Vitamin N punch and secondly it is very complex for an aromatic tobacco. You can tell by the tobaccos used that is a well crafted tobacco blend. Fans of Aros, Hobbit Weed, Complex mixtures might want to give it a try.

Update as of 1/3/2017 This tobacco does not store well - or age well - some of the flavor has gone flat so I am downgrading it to only 3 stars. Still worth a try though. As a final passing thought - this tobacco has a wonderful room note.
Pipe Used: Emperor Billiard
PurchasedFrom: Smoking Pipes
Age When Smoked: New
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