In our previous lists, we talked about types of tobacco, blends that share the same characteristics like Cherry aromatic blends, Virginia blends, or English blends. These tobaccos have run the gamut, varying from manufacturer and strength. If you were a fan of one specific style of tobacco, you had a number of options for the year. Meanwhile, there are companies that release blends all over the tobacco spectrum. If you want an Aromatic, a Burley, or anything from the above lists, you can find them and so much more just from one company. Our next few lists will go over a couple of those companies, first starting with Sutliff.
The History of Sutliff
The history of Sutliff Tobacco covers almost 200 years. To see the beginning, we need to go to a year before it was founded. James Wilson Marshall was a carpenter working at Sutter's Mill, near the town of Coloma, California. On January 24, 1848, while building a new water-powered sawmill for John Sutter, he found lustrous flakes sitting in the river. After picking up those flakes, he spoke with Sutter, who encouraged Miller to keep quiet about the discovery, lest others learn about gold in the land.
The pair of men did their best to keep it secret, and they managed to keep quiet for over a month, but by mid-March, a shopkeeper by the name of Sam Brannan ran through the (then) small town of San Francisco with a vial of gold from Sutter's Creek. Halfway through June, almost three quarters of San Francisco abandoned the city in search of their fortune, and the California Gold Rush was officially underway. People flocked to the American territory, and the population saw a massive spike from 20,000 non-native Californians at the beginning of 1848 to 100,000 non-natives at the end of the year.
Those newcomers needed something to smoke, and H. W. Sutliff was more than willing to provide it. By 1849, San Francisco was practically bursting at the seams with newcomers, and Sutliff opened up his tobacco shop with the opportunity to introduce a massive and growing clientele to his knowledge of tobacco. Back then, there were not ready-made blends for smokers to pick up fast. Instead, pipe smokers would visit their local tobacconists, who would work with them to determine the best mixture for each client's taste. Many tobacconists would keep a mixture book to help track which customers like certain tobaccos and what the precise combination would be. They used this book to inform future decisions as well; if one specific tobacco proved to be popular, they would suggest it more often. It was especially important to have a good rapport with your customers in those days since you were building their tobacco blend basically in front of them. Today's tobacconists need the same skills in understanding their customers' preferences, but thankfully we don't have to worry about constructing the blend from scratch.
Sutliff's company saw rapid success and soon became a California institution. Up through the early 1900s, the company was mainly a retail business, operating out of their San Francisco storefront. Their popularity soared to new heights nationwide after their signature blend, Mixture 79, was introduced to the market in 1933.
It was around that time when Sutliff started to realize they were in need of more space. Mixture 79 proved to be a massive success, and the demand for the blend pushed the capacity of the San Francisco shop to the breaking point. So the search began for a new location for Sutliff Tobacco.
The company recognized the need to be closer to the crop they were using. San Francisco had been a wonderful home for them. Sutliff established itself as a major player in the tobacco world thanks to the Gold Rush and the population boom it caused, but it was not close enough to where the tobacco was growing. So in 1953, twenty years after Mixture 79 was introduced, the company moved to Richmond, Virginia, in order to both reduce shipping costs as well as be closer to the tobacco plants. By getting closer, Sutliff had better access to the plants, which allowed them to get the best crops.
There were further changes to come. In 1969, the fourth generation of Sutliff's, Gordon, sold the company to Consolidated Cigar Corporation, removing the family from the company for the first time in its history. Though the family was gone, the brand remained, growing larger under the stewardship of Consolidated Cigar Co. In 1987, bulk tobacco became a part of the brand, which proved to be a massive boost to the business. A huge majority of the over 200 Sutliff blends we offer come in multiple sizes, including bulk options because of this expansion.
The time spent under the Consolidated Cigar Corporation umbrella was highly beneficial, but ultimately it did not last. Following a series of purchases, Sutliff finally found their new permanent home with the Mac Baren Tobacco Company in 2013. Mac Baren has its own storied history, so combining with them helped Sutliff maintain its presence as one of the best tobacco companies in the world.
Since there are so many blends that Sutliff creates, limiting it to only ten was a challenge. However, we don't have enough time to list every single mixture, so ten will have to do.
This is not a ranking system of which tobaccos you should try first, so there is no reason one blend is listed above another, but we do like to have things a little organized, so the list will be broken down by blend types. So without further ado, here are the ten Sutliff Blends you should try before the end of the year.
Okay, so we cheated a little bit, but you can't make a list about the Sutliff tobaccos you should try without mentioning the one that put them on the map. 1933 was a different time, but tobacco stays the same. What worked then works today because the quality remains the same. This is an aromatic, and you can pick up notes of vanilla and liquor with the Burley that makes up the mixture. So if you are ever up for a classic tobacco that is pushing 100 years old, Mixture Number 79 is certainly one to try out.
Almost 200 years later and Sutliff still maintains its roots in the original tobacconist traditions. Blending mixes are pure blends, wholly made up of one type of tobacco. This allows you to make your own mixtures, finding new ways to enjoy the hobby you love. You can smoke these by themselves for the pure taste, or you can discover what combinations that you like and make what you want most.
Latakia is not a plant; it's a process. There are two different Latakias, Syrian and Cyprian. Both are made in very similar ways but have slightly different profiles. Syrian is more delicate, while Cyprian has a bolder and more aromatic flavor. Both are excellent and make every blend that contains them so much better because of their inclusion.
The Latakian process involves a few steps. The first is when the tobacco is harvested. It then air cures for a little while before being transferred into a different building where they burn aromatic woods to permeate the leaves with the scent and flavor of the wood. This process lasts until the tobacco is black when it then can be cut, finalized, and packaged for sale.
Here's the thing though, Syrian Latakia is vanishing. There's a valid reason for it since the Syrian Oak, the wood used in the process of creating the Latakia, was almost extinct because of the overharvesting. To protect their landscape and resources, the Syrian government shut down production. With the unrest in the country, it is unlikely we will see it come back any time soon. Thankfully, Cyprian Latakia is still around and has taken over the market, so this style of tobacco is not disappearing any time soon.
Latakia can be fairly overwhelming; it can easily take over a blend. Most of the time, it will only be added sporadically, a small amount in terms of the overall percentage of any mixture. So a bowl full of it can be quite the experience. This is a blending mix for a reason, so we highly recommend finding a happy medium with this tobacco.
Just like Latakia, Perique is not a plant but a process. There are many special things about Perique, with plenty of ways that this variety of tobacco is a unique and treasured aspect of many blends.
The first thing you need to know about Perique is where it is made. In Saint James Parish, Louisiana, farmers grow Burley tobacco that undergoes specific procedures to become the Perique we know and love. The special thing about this is how it is so location based. Much like champagne only has that name when it is made in the Champagne region of France, Perique is only called as such if it is grown here. Because many of the fields where the tobacco is grown lie so close to the Mississippi River, the soil is moist and rich in nutrients that make the Burley more adjustable to the treatment it is about to undergo.
Just like other processes, there are multiple steps to making Perique. After harvesting, the leaves are dried and air-cured. After the curing process finishes, the main stem gets removed to ensure the highest quality. Before the next step, the leaves are rehydrated and then soon after are bunched together to get placed inside large wooden barrels. Once full, the barrel gets squeezed, which compresses the tobacco and forces the moisture out of the leaves. Because of the increased pressure, the temperature naturally rises, meaning the juices will ferment. The fermentation process gets repeated a couple of times, with the entire procedure lasting about one full year to finalize.
The flavor is what helps Perique stand out. There is a meaty, earthy note to this, but when combined with other tobaccos, the taste can adjust to balance and complement whatever is in the blend.
Perique is another great tobacco to combine with other types, so it comes as no surprise that we recommend experimenting a little bit. Find a combination that you like or fill your bowl just with this; as long as you enjoy it, you will finish the smoking session satisfied.
Aromatics are the most popular type of pipe tobacco. There are so many different flavors that can be added to affect the aroma and taste of the blends. While we have already listed a bunch of different aromatics to look at already, there are plenty more that are worthy of consideration.
Sutliff took a pure Virginia tobacco and added vanilla, honey, and marshmallow to create a delicious blend. Not many blends can say they used marshmallows to make them, so this is a special treat. Although it is rare as an ingredient for blends, marshmallows have actually been popular for thousands of years. While the name for it did not exist yet, Ancient Egyptians were some of the first to enjoy them.
Marshmallows are wonderful treats, and having them as part of the mixture that you fill your smoking pipe with gives you the taste and experience you deserve.
Like almost every Sutliff blend, there are three sizes you can select from for your purchase. You can get a small amount on only an ounce and a half. The medium amount is eight ounces, or you can pick up the largest size, a bag full of sixteen ounces. However much you want to pick up, you will be getting a great blend worth savoring.
With a Black Cavendish, Burley, and Virginia tobacco combination, you are getting a great taste with the top notes of cream and vanilla taking charge.
Custard is a dessert treat made from sweetened milk, cheese, or cream thickened with egg yolk. Anyone who prepares it usually uses a double boiler or very gently in a saucepan. This was done gently because if you heat up the egg too fast, it will scramble and not give you the smooth texture that custard is known for and loved.
Custard is used in many desserts, and has been for centuries, with it being made throughout Europe during the Middle Ages. Changes were made as times have evolved, but the basic concept of a custard has stayed the same from the start.
This pipe tobacco firmly takes the smooth, savory vanilla aroma and flavor, filling the room with the delicious scents that everyone loves. This is a great pipe tobacco for anyone looking for a creamy and delicious treat after a great dinner.
We talked about another one of the Sutliff cobblers before when we talked about the Cherry Cobbler pipe tobacco. However, nothing would be more of a southern delicacy than Peach Cobbler.
Cobblers have a long history. As immigrants came to the United States, they brought their recipes with them. Many of them had to use whatever they could to make their food, "cobbling" together anything they had. While the true origins of the name are unknown, there are some that point to that as to how it became known as a cobbler. As we've seen, there are plenty of cobbler variants, but nothing has been about as popular as the peach cobbler.
The Sutliff Peach Cobbler is a mix of Black Cavendish, Burley, and Virginia tobaccos. Peaches provide the top note and the delicious flavor that anyone who has enjoyed the savory dessert will recognize.
If you take the taste of southern desserts in your pipe, and you will be able to enjoy every smoking session.
There are many great aromatics, and there are plenty that will feature a great combination of vanilla and nuts. Pecans, however, have a more distinct flavor profile than other nuts, so any tobacco with a good combination like that is worth enjoying.
Take Black Cavendish tobacco and add that pecan and vanilla, and you get Sutliff's Butter Pecan.
So what is butter pecan? It is a process that involves roasting pecans in butter before combining them with pure vanilla extract to add sweetness to the nutty flavor of the pecans.
That is exactly what you get with Sutliff's blend. With a sweet, nutty aroma that fills the room, you will have a pleasant smoking experience with this wonderful aromatic that comes in multiple sized options.
If you are not sure if you will like it, there is a two ounce option. Once you have tried it and enjoy it as much as we do, you can get a bag filled with eight ounces, or even sixteen for when you know you are going to have it for a while.
English blends are some of the most popular pipe tobaccos around. Many smokers advance from Aromatics to English as they develop their smoking habits. Knowing that, Sutliff offers plenty of excellent English options, all worthy of consideration. Here are two of our favorites.
Dunhill Match Blends
This is our second cheat on this list, and we promise we won't do it again. However, we feel like all three of these Dunhill match blends deserve to be on here too, and how can you separate them? Sutliff painstakingly recreated the legendary creations of Alfred Dunhill, working hard to make sure that anyone who was looking for these blends could find them.
The first is their Early Morning match, with a mixture of Latakia, Oriental, Turkish, and Virginia tobaccos. The sweet, earthy flavors paired well with the warm, roasted flavors of a great morning coffee.
For the middle of the day, their 965 Match takes Black Cavendish, Latakia, and Oriental tobaccos into the mixture. This tobacco can be seen as an almost Scottish variant to English blends. Well balanced, the Latakia leads the way with a sweet flavor that you will enjoy. A great lunchtime option, the 965 Match will continue your Dunhill match experience in a great way.
Finally, the end of the day calls for their Nightcap English Match. This blend combines Latakia, Orientals, Perique, and Virginia tobaccos to create a faithful remaking of the original Dunhill blend. Robust and full of flavor, your night will not be complete until you fill your pipe with this great tobacco.
Sutliff calls this a traditional smoke for the discriminating English smoker. A combination of Burley, Latakia, Turkish, Virginia, and Perique tobaccos work together to give you a pleasant and smooth smoking experience. Each of the different tobaccos offers a great flavor to the balance, from the fruity Virginias, the smokey and sweet Latakia, the spice of the Perique, the woody Turkish, and the nutty Burley. When you have this many flavors working together, you can have a different experience with each bowl. Take your time with Fox & Hound, and you will find out how many flavors you can pick up.
Burley is a stronger tobacco than others. This is because it typically contains more nicotine than other plants. So anytime tobacconists needed some more punch in their blends, Burley was thrown in. They had to be careful, though, because Burley can easily overpower smokers, especially newcomers that do not respect it as much as they should.
Virginia and Burley tobaccos combine with a cocoa flavoring to give this tobacco a special quality. The Virginia provides a smooth and comfortable base for the Burley to punch through with the nutty, earthy flavor that it is known for and appreciated.
On top of the two tobaccos, the cocoa flavoring provides the final notes that make this one of the best tobaccos you can find. If you are looking to broaden your tobacco horizons, here is something to try.
Virginia and Perique tobaccos and a popular combination that even earn its own name, VaPer. Since Perique's development in 1824, it has become an accentuating piece for plenty of other tobaccos. As times evolved, VaPers have changed and adjusted to match the evolving tastes of smokers that love it.
One of the most popular VaPer tobaccos, Sutliff's Crumble Kake, brings the best of both worlds. Along with the Virginia and Perique, they added Black Cavendish to add that little extra that makes it as great as it is.
The Virginias take charge here, with a citrusy flavor that pairs well with the spice of the Perique, while the Black Cavendish smooths everything out to an excellent finish. This can be an all-day smoke, especially if you have some more experience with pipes.
Next List: Cornell & Diehl's Ten to Try