Mac Baren Plumcake

A mixture of fully ripe Virginia tobaccos, sliced, cask mellowed burley tobaccos, dark spicy cavendish and just a touch of latakia. To give Plumcake an elegant aroma, the blend has been flavoured with aged Jamaica rum. NEW TIN DESCRIPTION: Plumcake brings the thoughts back to old times, when the sailors onboard the sailing ships filled their pipe with good, satisfying tobacco and having the scent of tar and saltwater all around them. Bright Virginia tobaccos mixed with burley, a little original Mac Baren cavendish and just a touch of [Cyprian] latakia. On top of this masterly made blend original Jamaica Rum has been added to fulfill the impression. This blend is full bodied and rich, giving you the taste nuances of natural sweetness added with a slight taste of smoke, latakia and the distinctive aroma of sailor rum.
Notes: Introduced in 1957. As of 01/30/2019, according to Per Georg Jensen of Mac Baren it has "Latakia from Cyprus, it is many years since the Latakia from Syria were used.".


Brand Mac Baren
Blended By Harald Halberg
Manufactured By Mac Baren
Blend Type Aromatic
Contents Black Cavendish, Burley, Latakia, Virginia
Flavoring Rum
Cut Ribbon
Packaging 100 grams tin, 50 grams pouch, 16 ounce bag
Country Denmark
Production Currently available


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

Average Rating

2.88 / 4





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Displaying 21 - 30 of 297 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 21, 2018 Mild to Medium Medium Medium Tolerable
Oh yes, this is a perfect Navy Blend, a navy mixture of the past. Here you can taste the Jamaica Rum that dominates, uncontested, the mixture. Latakia has really a bit part, but you can taste the smoky Syrian aroma in the background. Probably there is no more than 5% of Latakia. Virginia and Burley are perfectly mixed and dosed. Black Cavendish is produced mainly with Burley to which sugar and flavors are added, but it doesn’t rock the boat. Rum is clearly leading.

Little advice among the navy blends: if you prefer a sweet taste where you can savor Virginia and the sugary nuances prevail, then you have to choose Mac Baren Navy Flake; if you are looking for a harmonious taste with the right balance of elements, with the right dose of rum, where Latakia is always leading, then you have to choose Samuel Gawith Navy Flake; but if you like the real taste of rum, the navy blend of the past, then choose Mac Baren Plumcake. In my opinion this is the blend that most faithfully reflects the “navy blend” of the past. A noble navy mixture with a hint of Latakia. In my personal rating system (from 1 to 10) my score is more than 8 and three stars.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 28, 2017 Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Medium to Full Pleasant
A pleasant smoke! Got granted a generous sample of this, as I wasn't sure if it had too much Latakia in it for me (I only like it in very low doses) but Plumcake definetly is one of those Latakia containing blends I like, as it's only a hint of it in here.

Tin note is somewhat fruity, mildly alcohol-ish/rum-ish with some pepperiness, and I also get some of Mac Barens Honey-aroma and just the slightest hint of Latakia.

First few puffs reveal the Latakias presence, but then it takes a seasoning backseat! The rather mild rum-flavouring gives some sour-sweet spiciness and flatters the smoky, woody and slightly buttery Latakia undertone. The tobaccos have some decent toastiness to them. I get not much of the Burleys taste-wise, but Virginias and Latakia create a pleasant smoke, that's suported by some toasty-sweet Cavendish. I don't get any plum, but a certain fruitiness is present. Best to sipped slow or it'll taste like hot air. Leaves a pleasant spicy-sweet aftertaste.

I'd consider this a "Semi-Aromatic", you'll easily notice the flavouring, but it's well done, not overpowered and has a synergetic interplay with the tobaccos, which are also easily detecable. Pleasant spice is in interplay with the sour-sweet notes. Great mixture, 3/4 stars so far, I'll dig more into it and may up-rate it as it's rather a 3,5 star blend!

Pipe Used: Clays, Cobs
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 17, 2016 Medium to Strong Extremely Mild Medium to Full Very Pleasant
Let's get the BITE discussion out of the way first. Reading reviews here, Plumcake would seem to be about a 3.0 to 3.3 blend... IF the flavoring did not give so many people tongue bite. Like a lot of Mac Baren blends, PC can bite. For some it will bite only if pushed, but it bites others no matter how they puff (although 9mm charcoal filters tame it easily). And a certain cohort don't find it bitey at all. This is a chemical sensitivity issue, neither more or less. I smoked a nearly 5-yr. old tin (thanks, Pipestud) and found it will bite a bit if pushed and also found that three bowls in a row, even smoking gently, yields tongue bite. I'm guessing a fresh tin would eat me up, but I don't intend to try one. This tin has been an occasional smoke for me, so the bite has not been an issue. For those who say PC does not age well, I disagree; the old tin I have is lovely and refined; I would smoke another if I had it. I also tried it in my Vauen pipe reserved for English blends with a charcoal filter, which eliminated any trace of bite, but it did not taste as rich or full, either.

So don't necessarily be put off by the bite horror stories here -- UNLESS you have found that Mac Baren blends bite you, in which case PC almost certainly will, also. What does MB use that bites so damn many people? Would someone ask this question of Per Jensen at the next pipe show? And if you are prone to chemical sensitivity and find that a lot of aromatics bite, then the odds also are not with you; better to buy an ounce of Plumcake and try it, or (better yet) ask for a free PC sample with your next tobacco order. I tried fresh PC decades ago and found it scalding, with the result that I have no idea how it t-a-s-t-e-d. Age definitely tames this beast.

I did not really taste or scent the plum flavor in this aged tin. I think the aging done done away with it. But I noticed the rum and like it. The tin note is a light and lively English and the room note is pleasant. Strength is medium to full, easily, and the taste is pretty full, with lots of depth. The description does not list any Turkish leaf, but it sure tastes like it. So I assume that the slightly sweet and sour taste that I love in this tin is the aged Virginia with a light silking of Latakia overlaid. It reminded a bit of Davidoff Royalty, though stronger and more rummy.

For the price ($13.50 for 100 g as I write), I'm giving Plumcake 4 stars. This blend has been around since the 1950s and has been a best seller here and in Europe since. Keep this in mind when you read someone trashing it. It's doing something right.
Pipe Used: Preben Holm
Age When Smoked: 5 years
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 18, 2015 Medium Medium Medium Tolerable
Leaf: Ribbon cut, mostly a medium to light brown with some dark ribbons and tiny little dark clumps scattered throughout. Moisture wasn't too bad, you could smoke it straight out of the tin, but sometimes Mac Baren tends to bite my tongue like a starving Hyena, so I give it 20 minutes to dry out.

Tin Aroma: I was expecting big things given the tin description. I did pick up a bit of the rum which was nice, the latakia was practically undetectable, but the virgina was there smelling fresh and sweet, but not overly so. The nice tobacco scent of the burley was a welcome change from the heavier Lat blends I have been huffing lately. The spiciness lent by the cavendish was also very nice. It smells like it should.

Taste: The Latakia that was nearly missing in the tin aroma was there straight away, it was at the front at the first light, but very quickly moved aside and spent most of the remainder of the smoke lingering in the background. The sweetness of the cavendish and freshness of the VA's takes over from there, but it is well balanced out by a pleasant spiciness, and the bitterness (for lack of a better word) of the Rum. The rum flavoring sticks around for most of the bowl and is actually quite tasty, but it never overpowers the smoke, it is only a light flavoring in my book. The burley is lightly nutty and full and helps keep everything tied together. The overall smoke is very rich and creamy, although not terribly 'strong' in flavor, it is tasty and smooth though. Towards the last portion of the bowl the Latakia returns and comes toward the front again where it finishes on a smokey high note, well supported by the sweetness that still remains. The rum grows weaker towards this point but never disappears completely.

Smokeability: With a few minutes drying time it was great, it packed well, lit easily, and stayed lit very well with only a bit of tamping and one relight. It billows sweet smelling smoke and burns cool enough to enjoy, although I get the feeling it would bite if you really puffed away hard. It burns down to a fairly fine white ash, and didn't leave any goopiness on my bowl or stem. Excellent Smokeabilty.

Summary: Sweet, smokey, rich and smooth, with a pleasant rum hint throughout. This is a very nice tobacco but not a world beater in my book. I wouldn't hesitate to buy it again if I saw it in front of me, but it isn't knocking off any of my favourites. A solid performer with a good taste profile and nice manners, Give it a try if you are curious, if the tin description sounds nice you will enjoy it, as it lives up to it's claims. I wish it tasted more like plum cake though, the name itself confuses me a little haha.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 25, 2014 Medium Medium Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable
UPDATE: 4-18-2015

Plumcake does Ghost a Briar. The rum topping doesn't do the haunting, it's the Plum topping that's the culprit. I've recently discovered that Plumcake is better in a cob.( What's not? Right) Turning my briar that was dedicated to Plumcake into a Lakeland dedicate briar has revealed the spook. Ennerdale, 1792, and Bobs Chocolate flake all smoke with a plum essence left from Plumcake. Strange how the Kings of ghosting are haunted by a lesser spirit of the briar. I have to knock this down 2 stars because the plum flavoring that I now detect makes me nauseated at times.

ORIGINAL REVIEW 4-12-2014 Mac Baren Plumcake is a blend that continues to wow me every time I smoke it. There is not much I can add to the already 4Star ratings that are on this site. Although I think that I must add some techniques to smoking this blend. The first 20 some odd bowls I smoked of Plum Cake left my mouth in some pain. I began to pack the bowl to tight, which was a huge mistake. (With any Blend) I also had not discovered the beauty of what airing out tobacco can do for a blend. With that, I think a smaller bowl is what Plum Cake really needs. Aging PlumCake a couple of months in a jar, will help bring out the natural tobacco flavors. So, RECAP, Age In a jar, for a few months, smoke in a smaller pipe( which I believe brings out the Latakia), Air Plumcake out for at least 45 minutes, and gravity fill your bowl in three stages. Plum cake will reward you with a Smoky-Spicy-Sweet complex smoke for an Aromatic. Believe me I almost tossed this stuff a few times. Oh yea, don't forget the cardinal Mac Baren rule, SIP this sucker. Relax and just SIP.
Pipe Used: Small Basket Dublin from Italy
PurchasedFrom: B&M
Age When Smoked: 6 months
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jun 30, 2014 Mild to Medium Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
I am kind of still up in the air about this one even after smoking 100 grams of this over a year and a half's time. I used many different pipes and got many different results, but I found it to be the best in my Meers.

To start with, I thought the tin note on this was terrible. It kind of reminded me of Copenhagen snuff. At light up, I did get a bit of the plummy topping, but it was most apparent at the beginning. The latakia is no doubt there, but plays the perfect role as a condiment in this. I find that to be a good as I am not a big fan of Latakia with toppings. I think the burley presence was strong throughout the smoke and I really didn't detect the Virginia until about the halfway point, but then they chimed in with that light hay sweetness that I would expect.

It is a tough one to rate, but I think that I do recommend this and perhaps more heavily to the beginner looking to try Latakia. I am not sure a seasoned lat lover will like this as anything more than a change of pace smoke, but I did enjoy it and I also like to puff on my Odyssey and Penzance from time to time. One thing about this blend is that it is pretty unique and thus it is hard to really compare to other similar blends, so I am going with three stars.

Pipe Used: Meerschaum was best for me
PurchasedFrom: local B & M
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 24, 2009 Mild to Medium Medium Medium Pleasant
I love it! Case closed. Lit up, it really tastes like a sweet rumcake. can't get enough. As mentioned before, very well balanced blend. Doesn't get boring till the end.

i recommend you to use a pipe with activated carbon-filter to avoid tongue bite! ...just a conclusion i came to, because i only use filter-pipes and i've never experienced any tongue-bite yet. DO IT!!!
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 18, 2020 Mild to Medium Medium Medium to Full Pleasant

Short intro (skip if you’re not interested):

This is a classic. I know that it’s not the same tobacco as the one that was made with syrian latakia, and it definitely isn’t the one which I had the honor to smoke as my first pipe tobacco: an 80s sealed tin.

This is the tobacco that made me fall in love with pipe smoking, the first tobacco I’ve smoked and still one of my favorites. I received it back in 2017 as a gift from my godfather and I still remember the experience. Even though I was smoking from a cheap Angelo pipe (which I still smoke from and curiously, smokes great) and even thought it did bite a lot at first, this is the tobacco that actually taught me how to smoke gently, enjoying it.

This will be like revisiting a very old and very dear friend, and I’ve seen that the score is 2.9 here, which I think is too small for this classic blend. This is a blend which should have at least 3, or 3.1, but that’s just me and it’s a personal opinion.

Right now I’ll review two tins, one from June 2017 which I started smoking in 2018 (not the 80s tin!!) and then cellared it until October 2020 and one from September 2018 which I started smoking in October 2020.

The old tin (from June 2017)

I don’t remember the first tin note, when I opened it back in 2018, but the “jar note” (after opening it in October 2020) delivers a lot of dark fruit, stronger than the new tin. Very, very interesting smell, rum notes, plums, dark fruit, cider and fermented apples but no latakia, rather some dark fired kentucky.

Very good moisture. The cut is a short-medium ribbon. There are black leaves. It’s much darker in color than the new tin. It has a lot of brown leaves, very few dark gold leaves, and of course black leaves which should be the cavendish and the latakia.

And now, the taste.... ! It’s bready virginia with some hay. This one actually has plum taste and a little rum, just a little, and a lot of dark fruit. Very good and sweet and it doesn’t bite at all.

The latakia is not very noticeable in this one, I think the virginia and the black cavendish and the burley are more pronounced, even though you don’t feel the burley, it’s like a virginia with black cavendish, some topping and a little sweet latakia.

This is more like a virginia forward tobacco. Bready and sweet with a topping. I don’t know, it has some blueberry or some forest berries taste.

This one reminds me of Robert McConnell’s Scottish Flake but this wouldn’t be so peppery, this is smoother.

Comparing this with the new tin, the latter is more balanced. You can actually feel the latakia in that one, but I personally can’t feel the latakia here, but the casing is very good.

Pleasant room note. For the strength I’d say it’s mild to medium, and the flavoring is also mild to medium. And the taste I would say it’s medium.

This tastes like a classy, old school tobacco. It’s quality. It does taste like tobacco, and the topping/casing is good quality.

Burns quite bad. It goes off too much and you have to relight it too many times

Final conclusion. The virginia is in the front, sweet, bready, hay-like and with a topping that resembles some dark fruits, blueberry and maybe some Jamaican rum. It reminds me of Appleton 12. It also has some plum notes.

The new tin (from 2018)

Tin note: Some dark fruit, a bit of latakia. It’s weird that it doesn’t have a lot of tin note this one, though I remember Plumcake had quite a tin note.

So this not really a ribbon. It has some ribbons, but it’s more like a broken flake, which I’m totally surprised because I really don’t remember Plumcake being or ever having broken flake cut. But anyway, large cut along with quite long ribbons of tobacco.

The tobacco is dark. You can see black leaves which can be the latakia and black cavendish, some brown leaves which should be the burley, and some gold and dark gold leaves which should be the fully ripe virginia.

Moisture level is very good.

I let this one sit to dry for 5-10 minutes. Delicious! This is spicy and it might burn you on the tongue like mostly Mac Baren virginias will but you already taste rum. Yes, it has rum taste, rum casing there. This is spicy and sweet and smoky. So yeah, even if it says it has little latakia you can feel it. This is what I would call aromatic english or semi-aromatic because it still gives you the latakia taste.

Very very nice when retrohaling, it has some peppery, spicy and floral notes. It doesn’t bite once you get used to it and have a decent pace and learn draw better, but it will be troublesome for some beginners.

The virginia is definitely there with some hay notes, dark fruit notes, very nice blended, goes very well with the latakia.

The smoke is thick. It burns evenly and it burns great. It does get the pipe a bit hot so just sip this one slowly and enjoy it, even if it tastes so good that you just want to puff and puff and puff.

I must say this is not very different from the old tin, the differences from the 80s smoke which I had which was a gift as a first tobacco when I first started smoking. That one was very powerful in taste, in everything. It did bite a lot but I guess it was my fault as well because I was a beginner but this one is milder in strength and taste than the 80s tin but still very very pleasing.

I don’t know but this one is very much into dried fruit, a little honey taste, and just a little citrus. There’s latakia in there, there’s some rum. As you smoke, all these just combine, they come and go and they come again. It’s crazy, it’s amazing, I mean this is a favorite. I would smoke this every day. Maybe not an all day smoke, but every day I would smoke it.

It needs quite some relights, so that’s a minus. Doesn’t really have a taste of plums, more like blueberries and a very very pleasant room note.

I think this blend is unique in taste and in profile and in just about everything. It’s unique, and it’s legendary and it deserves a better rating in my opinion.

Since it is cased or topped with rum, we could compare this with navy rum. If other blends with rum flavor taste like a Captain Morgan rum, than Plumcake is a straight in your face navy rum, hard and spicy and sweet and like it was high in alcohol proof that would knock you up, it would be ‘for real sailors’.

I’m not sure about the strength, I would say mild to medium or even medium. Flavoring would be mild to medium or medium. The taste medium to full. The room note I would say pleasant, maybe even very pleasant.

As you keep smoking the citrus notes go down and gives you more sweetness.

Here is a tip: After you get past half of the bowl, let the tobacco stay in the pipe for about an hour and then light it up again. It will give you some very, very sweet notes, some latakia notes which are stronger than at first and it won’t bite. Enjoy!

An aromatic english with dark fruit and plum taste. The virginia is in the front, and there’s a little earthiness of the burley. The latakia is there as well.

It reminds me of a Jamaican rum. A very sweet rum, not a spicy navy rum.

What an excelent smoke! What a wonderful taste! Unique! And the smell is very very good, very pleasant. It’s a real gentleman’s tobacco.

Sometimes there’s a little honey taste as well. And there is some cider taste, like fermented apples.

Rum, plum, fermented apples, cider, honey, sweet virginia, decent burley, a good latakia.

Burns very well. Tends to get hot.

Age When Smoked: 3 years
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 13, 2018 Medium Medium Medium Very Pleasant
It took me a long time to smoke through this tin, and a long time to figure out what I wanted to say about it. My favorites are English/latakias which I like in the morning. Aromatics I like at night. Also, I enjoy a non-sweet-tobacco lovers aromatics (NSTLA). A NTSLA is an old school aro that doesn't have candy flavor. Plum Cake didn't fit into any of these categories. When I opened the tin, the latakia aroma really stood out but it was hard to describe the other pungent aromas. I'm not quite sure it was plum and I couldn't identify rum. Definitely not a candy-aromatic. Later I rememebred I've had great success with airing out MacBaren aromatics so I gave that a try. I put several bowls worth on a plate and let it sit out for several days. (I had no problems with tongue bite.) After that Plumcake became very enjoyable and I'd smoke it again. Other reviewers can better identify the tobacco tastes in the blend but for me Plumcake tasted most like a latakia/Oriental blend and not an aromatic at all. Definitely will smoke again. And no tongue bite after the air-out. Bought 08/04/14. Opened -7/01/16. Finished on Good Friday 03/30/18. Definitely NOT FOR THE NEW SMOKER!
Pipe Used: Peterson, Kaywoodie, Grabow
PurchasedFrom: Icannanotremember
Age When Smoked: 2 years plus
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 14, 2018 Medium Medium Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
Plumcake tastes a lot like an English blend with a helpful dose of rum. Like most Mac Baren blends it must be smoked with care or will give you tongue bite. In a cheap Meerschaum it burned my tongue pretty bad, in my more expensive IMP Meerschaum my tongue felt literally like I had not smoked the day before. As with most aromatic pipe tobaccos remember to smoke with a good cadence, pack it well, use a good pipe, and drying it a bit before smoking it doesn't hurt either. Overall this is a good blend and I recommend it.
Pipe Used: IMP Meerschaum
Age When Smoked: New
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