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Notes: A light, bright flake of famous refinement and antiquarian origins, here in ready rubbed form, Capstan Gold, like its medium bodied Blue sibling, was originally created by W.D. & H.O. Wills of Bristol during the latter half of the 19th century. Suffice to say, it's no accident this smoking mixture has survived as a favorite to so many generations. Produced by Mac Baren since 2006.

BrandMac Baren
Blended ByMac Baren
Manufactured ByMacBaren
Blend TypeStraight Virginia
FlavoringFruit / Citrus
CutReady Rubbed
Packaging50 grams tin
ProductionCurrently available
Where to Buy
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Mild to Medium
None Detected
Mild to Medium
Room Note

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JimInks Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JimInks (2603)
Mild to Medium Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant

This review is virtually the same as the one I posted for the flake version, because I tasted no discernible difference between that and the ready rubbed. The only differences are that this is easier to pack because it is ready rub cut and burns a little faster.

A moderately sweet and easy rubbed out flake with a little sugar and some citrus toppings complimenting the tart and tangy, citrusy Virginias. The Virginias offer a bit of grass, some hay and bread, plus a pinch or two of earth, and wood. Has a light floral quality as well. The strength and nic-hit are a couple of steps past the center of mild to medium, while the taste almost reaches the medium mark. No chance of bite or harshness. A rather uncomplicated blend that burns slightly less than at a moderate pace, cool and clean with a smoothly, tart and tangy sweet consistent taste from start to finish. There are several kinds of Virginias in this to create a well balanced blend. Requires a few relights, leaves little moisture in the bowl, and will burn to ash. Has a lightly lingering, pleasant after taste and room note. An all day experience that works for the smoker who wants a gentle, sweet flavor without the most of the earthy characteristics darker Virginias provide.


21 people found this review helpful.

StevieB Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
StevieB (1963)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Very Pleasant

Mac Baren - Capstan Gold Ready Rubbed.

It's been awhile since I had the Blue Capstan's so I can draw no comparison; that doesn't matter though, this is great in its own right.

It's badged Ready Rubbed so that could mean it's virtually a shag, mid-sized ribbons, or even practically a broken flake; this mixture's a little thicker than your standard ribbons, yet it's not quite what would qualify as a broken flake, so for now I'll leave it as very chunky ribbons!

There isn't too much aroma from the tin, it's just a straight Virginia smell: a little citrusy, slightly grassy, and slightly hay like.

The moisture's great, and as you'd expect, the colour's a medium brown. So, onto the actual smoke:

The ribbons aren't so big as to need crumbling, or rubbing. They are however, thick enough to give a cool smoke, and a slow burn. It lights easily and then, straight away, gives a good Virginia flavour: I wouldn't say it's exactly 'Full', there's not enough going on for it to accomplish that title, but it's quite a rich, sweet, strong and grassy Virginia flavour. If I think of how a Virginia should taste, this sort of flavour is what would come to mind. I don't get any added tastes highlighted on my palate; there's nothing I wouldn't expect from a high quality Va. The nicotine's quite mild to me, I wouldn't say it's mild only, but definitely no more than medium.

Rating this is simple; it is after all, one of the best straight Virginia's I've had: Highly recommended.

Four stars.

Pipe Used: Peterson Donegal Rocky #221

Age When Smoked: New

Purchased From: The Danish Pipe Shop

11 people found this review helpful.

CornCob Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
CornCob (94)
Medium to Strong Mild to Medium Medium Strong

I prefer this blend over it's blue step brother, although it is nice in it's own right. The gold is smooth and sweet, satisfying dose of vitamin N and doesn't get boisterous if smoked all day. This is in the top 5 of RR VA blends for me, its become a regular for me and shall remain that way.

9 people found this review helpful.

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

Mac Baren's has done a very good job with Capstan Navy Gold's replacement with the same namesake. Not nearly as rich and creamy as the Wills original, but then, there are decades of differences in the fermentation process which makes well aged Virginia leaf so much more wonderful than it is fresh.

Mac Baren captured, for the most part, the mysterious top note that the original was famous for. An enhancement for the Virginia, which is a little rough around the edges, but one can tell that Mac Baren made sure to use the finest specially processed leaf available. It is a reliable smoke and I will certainly add a few tins to my cellar for aging. Not really as stout in the strength department as I personally enjoy, but on down the road would be a perfect blend to goose the nicotine strength by beefing it up with, say, Five Brothers or some other strong Burley that doesn't deliver much of its own flavor.

5 people found this review helpful.

Mork Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Mork (68)
Mild None Detected Mild Unnoticeable

Capstan Gold Ready Rubbed, Mac Baren

Tin Description: A light, bright flake of famous refinement and antiquarian origins, here in ready-rubbed form, Capstan Yellow, like its medium-bodied Blue sibling, was originally created by W.D. & H.O. Wills of Bristol during the latter half of the 19th century. Suffice to say, it's no accident this smoking mixture has survived as a favorite to so many generations.

Storage/Age: 2013 sample from a friend.

Flavor Profile:

A very good bright VA experience. It says it is topped with “Fruit/Citrus” on TR- I don’t know if this is the case and TR is notoriously inaccurate with its topping statements, so it is what it is I guess. I know that those flavors do present in the smoking experience, but they seem like ones that would occur naturally with a bright VA that is 7 years old. Put it this way, if it’s topped, MacB did an exceptional job of keeping it so squarely in the natural realm that I can’t tell.

Sweet, but not overly so. Hints of citrus and a light butter/cream note. Mid bowl it gets a very light touch of caramel. It’s a straightforward profile for sure, but it executes it very well.

Subjective Musings:

The 2013 vintage has, as of the time of this review, become something of a phenomenon. Mike McNeil proclaimed this specific vintage as a hidden gem at the Las Vegas Pipe Show, citing a higher sugar content and, one would assume, the years of age already present on the blend. Buying of old stock ensued and there was a lot of debate about this specific vintage. The usual pipe community drama followed. I’m not here to say one way or the other. I mention it only as context that my thoughts and ratings of this blend may be skewed by basing it on a year which may or may not have been extra special.

I haven’t had Cap Gold RR from say 2012 or 2014 to compare it to. I can’t say whether this was a special year or not, at least not currently. What I can do is talk about the blend itself.

It’s pretty pipe specific and some finetuning is required to find the one it smokes best in. My first bowl was in a 702 Sav- tall and narrow. It was OK. Not amazing. Just an average bright VA.

My second bowl was in an 802 Sav, so slightly wider and slightly shorter. For some reason that bowl was really great. It was sweeter, fuller, and just, well, better all around. It moved it up a bunch in my estimation.

The point being if this doesn’t work in the first pipe you try, keep trying it in others and hopefully you come across one that makes it really sing. It is perfectly plausible that I don’t have a pipe in my collection that would kick this up higher on my rating scale. I really feel it’s that dependent on the pipe after my mini experiment and anecdotal reports.

All in all, as I really sit here and think about it, I feel like this is what a very good blend aged out to seven years could and should taste like. I’m not getting some feeling of overwhelming elation as I smoke it. It’s very good. I would (will) buy this to age myself. But it’s not rhapsodical. Perhaps if I had better context I could say, wow, yeah, that 2013 really was an amazing year.

And that actually concerns me a little bit as I process it more. If this really is an amazing year for Cap Gold RR, maybe I’m not going to be that impressed with its normal production taste. Or perhaps, and this is just as likely, this is just a standard run for this blend and this is what it tastes like at seven years. Only one way to find out.

Cellar Notes/Final Thoughts:

Viewing this through the lens of a simple blend review and tasting, rather than a potentially special year, I think I would add a few tins of this blend in my cellar each year. It’s good at what it does and the RR state is nice for just loading and smoking without extra prep. At what point in the aging process it reaches the flavors I experienced today, I don’t know. I guess we’ll see in seven years whether this was the great hidden gem or just what one should expect from a very good blend with age.

Rating: 7.9/10.

Rating Scale:

10 - Gods Gift to Pipe Smokers, Buy It All No Matter the Cost

9 - Nearly Perfect, Deep Cellar Worthy

8 - Exceptional, More Than a Few Tins

7 - Very Good, A Few Tins

6 - Good, One Tin is Fine Thanks

5 - Average, but Pleasant Enough, I’ll Finish the Tin/Sample

4 - Smokable, but Wouldn’t Smoke it Again

3 - I’ll Finish the Bowl, I guess

2 - I Wish I Hadn’t Done This

1 - Why Would This Get Produced

0 - Dump the Bowl

Brief Overview of Reviewer’s General Tastes: I am primarily a VA (and it’s variant combination forms) smoker who has great affinity for SG and comparable EU manufactured blends, along with a few of the US micro blender shops. I do enjoy English/Balkan blends on occasion and a few very specific tobacco forward aromatics. I am exceptionally picky about blends and tend to cellar deep and narrow on things, reserving the bulk of my cellar planning and space for items I find to be of significant worth as far as taste and experience. Anything of quality, but not of obsessive value to me, is cellared and purchased as condimental flavor breaks between my regular rotation.

4 people found this review helpful.

Rustedrailsmokes Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Rustedrailsmokes (192)
Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Mild to Medium Tolerable to Strong

I recently purchased a few tins from Smokingpipes when they mentioned that they had stock from 2013 on the shelf. I'm not usually patient enough to let tins age that long, so this gave me a quick start.

I enjoy the Gold Flake so I was happy to find that this is basically the exact same goodness in a much easier to load form.

Opening the tin and removing the top paper, I found it packed full of grassy goodness. The tin note is grassy like I want a pure VA to be. The moisture level was great and didn't require any drying. It's easy to pack and stays lit.

The taste has some citrus notes and is not very complex. Its consistent through the bowl and smoked well in a variety of pipe shapes.

Wife is not a fan of the roomnote.

With the age on it, its a great smoke. I compare it favorably to the flake. It does burn quicker than the flake so it requires some attention. I've always preferred the Gold over the Blue versions, but that is just me.

Pipe Used: various

Age When Smoked: 6 years in tin

Purchased From:

Similar Blends: Mac Baren - Capstan Gold Navy Cut / Yellow Flake.

2 people found this review helpful.

Briar Baron Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Briar Baron (12)
Mild to Medium Very Mild Medium Pleasant

I really liked the flake of this blend and honestly did not think the ready rubbed would be as good....but I would be happy to buy this version, especially since I was lucky enough to get some of the 5 year aged tins that were being sold recently.

That being said, buy the fresh version and and confidently cellar it for a few years for an amazing tobacco that is smooth and tasty without any hint that it would bite.

Pipe Used: Savinelli Autograph, Ardor, Dunhill

Age When Smoked: 5 years

Purchased From: Smoking Pipes

Similar Blends: Capstan Blue.

2 people found this review helpful.

Jason h. Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Jason h. (51)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

This tobacco is very good! Its got that sweetness about it, without having to even try. This would be an all day tobacco if it weren't for the price. I give this a thumbs up for taste, and aroma. Its not pretentious, its just straightforward good Virginia tobacco. Enjoy a bowl!

Pipe Used: Chacom 93 amber stem

Age When Smoked: 5 years old

Purchased From: Smoking Pipes

2 people found this review helpful.

Philo Beddoe Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Philo Beddoe (220)
Medium Extremely Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Delicious grassy Virginia with a light citrusy flavor on the back end. This is a definite all day smoke for me, mostly through the hotter months, as I prefer English blends once the leaves start to fall. I like the ready rubbed version better than the flake, as it's just less work and I don't expect any real revelations as this ages, so no need to bother with the flake here. Highly recommended for all who enjoy a light Virginia tobacco flavor.

Pipe Used: Various briars

Age When Smoked: New

Purchased From: Local B&M

Similar Blends: Orlik Golden Sliced, Dunhill Flake.

2 people found this review helpful.

CountryPiper Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
CountryPiper (18)
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant

This is in my top 5 easy. When I need a straight Virginia blend that I know I can always count on this is one I grab. A very sweet, grassy, citrusy blend that packs incredibly easy and smokes perfectly. Leaves very little moisture at the end of the bowl and smokes, cool, clean, and requires very few relights if any when dried for 10 minutes. I love this blend, it is exactly what I’d expect from a straight Virginia that’s been around since the 19th century. Ages extremely well.

Pipe Used: Castello KK Billiard, Chris Asteriou Bent Brandy

Age When Smoked: 7 years

Purchased From: Consignor/Smoking Pipes

1 person found this review helpful.