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Best Smelling Pipe Tobaccos (Top 10 Non-Aromatic Mixtures)

Best Smelling Pipe Tobaccos (Top 10 Non-Aromatic Mixtures)

Posted by Greg Rosenberg on 31st Aug 2022

We recently put together a list of the best-smelling Aromatic pipe tobacco blends, but of course, you don’t have to go to Aromatics for a great room note. Plenty of pipe blends can fill the air with delightful aromas, top flavored or not.

That said, some of these room notes may be less pleasant to the non-pipe smoker's preference. Most folks love a sweet cherry or vanilla fragrance—natural tobaccos may be more of an “acquired taste." But then again, maybe not. 

Perhaps the most generally appreciated non-Aromatic aroma would be that of Virginia tobacco, with its often toasty, bready aromas. Those blends will feature in this list, but we’ll try to get outside of the box a little bit and offer some great smelling tobaccos with different palates in mind. Some of these suggestions may be polarizing, but I think of it like the smell of a potent perfume, freshly cut grass, or gasoline—one person's headache is another's quirky pleasure. 

Best Smelling Pipe Tobaccos


1. Sutliff 507 Virginia Slices

Sutliff 507 Virginia Slices


Type:        Straight Virginia
Tobacco:     Virginia
Cut:         Flake
Strength:    Mild
Taste:       Mild to Medium 

We'll start with a somewhat predictable recommendation—a good, straightforward Virginia. Sutliff Virginia Slices offer a single grade of matured bright Virginias pressed into flakes. Great for blending, but also delicious alone.

Virginia Slices offer a hay and citrus profile with just enough of that tartness and natural sweetness we love from our straight Virginias. Exceptionally unlikely to bite.

This is a great bulk tobacco to keep some on hand. It’s an inexpensive, all day smoke and the company-pleasing room note places Virginia Slices among the best smelling pipe tobaccos outside of Aromatics. It offers an aroma more on the natural side, but not in the acrid, ashy way that “natural” may sometimes suggest in regards to smoking. Woodsy, hay, and not assertive. 


2. Wessex Burley Slice

Wessex Burley Slice

Type:        Burley Based
Tobacco:     Burley
Cut:         Flake
Strength:    Medium
Taste:       Medium 

It's difficult to account for the vast subjectivity of a list like this, but I figure it’s worth presenting recommendations with a reputation for lovely aromas within different pipe tobacco families. This one’s for my Burley heads.

Wessex Burley Slice is one of a few Burley flakes on the market that takes inspiration from the infamous, bygone Edgeworth Sliced, or, "the original Richmond recipe", as it’s often referred to, harkening back to Edgeworth’s production in the historic Richmond, VA Tobacco Row district by Larus and Brother Company, Inc.

Excuse the detour but hard to resist a little Richmond tobacco history.

Beyond the Wessex Slice’s wonderfully toasty, Burley aroma, it’s among the best tasting Burley flakes you’ll smoke. Bready, nutty, with a lilt of licorice—rich in natural flavors. There’s a slightly sweet molasses note and a hint of cocoa that develops through the bowl. It’s not often you get a Burley-Based blend featuring no other varietals, but Wessex Burley Slice showcases the depth and range of well treated, quality Burley.


3. Capstan Original Navy Cut

Capstan Original Navy Cut

Type:        Straight Virginia
Tobacco:     Virginia
Cut:         Flake/Ready-Rubbed
Strength:    Medium
Taste:       Medium

Onto another straight Virginia, the infamous  Capstan Original Navy Cut (available as flake or ready-rubbed, either applies to our list here). Capstan Original Navy Cut has a long history. Over a century ago it was produced by W.D. and H.O. Wills, one of the companies that went on to form the Imperial Tobacco Company, who later licensed Capstan to Orlik. After an 18 year hiatus from the market, Mac Baren picked up the reins in 2015, and they continue to manufacture the brand.

This Virginia will offer something a bit different to the aforementioned Sutliff Slices. Capstan Original Navy Cut is a Virginia blend (i.e., not a single grade) and occupies different qualities within the diverse profile we associate with Virginias. Namely, Capstan Original Navy Cut offers more in the way of dark fruit, earth, and bready notes. Though these red Virginia staples shine in this blend, bright leaf also imparts some citrus and grass, giving it a bit more dimension and complexity. As for the room note, you’ll notice more on the sweet bready side of things. 


4. Davidoff Flake Medallions

Davidoff Flake Medallions

Type:        VaPer
Tobacco:     Virginia, Perique, Black Cavendish
Cut:         Coins
Strength:    Medium
Taste:       Medium

Virginia and Perique coins with a core of Black Cavendish. Davidoff Flake Medallions are a must try for VaPer lovers, and a great option for non-Aromatics with a lovely room note without compromising on a love for that Louisiana spicy goodness that is Perique.

Many see Davidoff Flake Medallions as a subdued alternative to Escudo. Subdued isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just a matter of preference. Or frankly, what you’re in the mood for—I have a jar of both on deck in my current smoking rotation!

Bready, fruity, earthy Virginias; plummy, spicy Perique; and the Black Cavendish which offers a bit more sweetness and smooths out the blend. Though the Perique certainly features in good measure in this VaPer, it doesn’t seem to have much say in the sweet room note. In fact, many reviewers will mention Medallion's room note to remind them of an Aromatic. There's that toasty Virginia note but a sweetness that brings to mind a perfectly goldened marshmallow. 


5. G. L. Pease Cairo

G. L. Pease Cairo

Type:        Virginia Based
Tobacco:     Virginia, Oriental, Perique
Cut:         Ribbon
Strength:    Medium
Taste:       Medium

Here’s another to offer some variety that may compel some push-back, but if you’re a fan of the earthy, herbal aroma of Orientals, it just may delight. This Oriental forward blend offers a more subtle room note, with a light incense and toasty aroma.

G. L. Pease Cairo is a fairy complex blend. Many will say this is a mixture that only grows on you—a slow burn (which is also how you should smoke it). It may take a few bowls to "get", but it's well worth it.

Oriental herbal, spice, and zest is upfront, complemented by Virginias which offer a bit of sweetness, but are on the earthy side with notes of grass, wood, and bread. A light fig note from the Perique is an appreciated accent that doesn’t feature too heavily but seems just right for this mixture. 


6. Peterson Sherlock Holmes

Peterson Sherlock Holmes

Type:        Virginia Based
Tobacco:     Virginia, Burley
Flavoring:   Fruit/Citrus
Cut:         Ribbon
Strength:    Mild to Medium
Taste:       Mild to Medium

Peterson’s Sherlock Holmes is an interesting blend that hangs in the balance between Aromatic and non-Aromatic. Though there is a light fruit flavoring, most don’t seem to consider its role as crossing that demarcation we all subjectively place—and many don’t notice it to have a top flavor at all.

Peterson Sherlock Holmes offers a wonderful Virginia forward blend that shows red Virginias as a tangy forward flavor backed by bright Virginia grass and a bit of nut from the Brazilian Burley. The flavoring offers a touch of fruit, perhaps a bit floral.

As far as room notes go, this is a great option for its mellowness. I know in a list of the best smelling tobaccos it may seem contrary the point to say, "hey this one is only lightly fragrant!" But I know when I’m considering what I might like to smoke when my company is obliging enough to not mind, it seems polite to weigh how potent the aroma is as well as how nice it is.


7. Cobblestone Knight

Cobblestone Knight

Type:        Straight Virginia 
Tobacco:     Virginia
Cut:         Ready-Rubbed
Strength:    Mild 
Taste
:       Mild

Cobblestone is a relatively new brand but many are realizing the hidden gems in their tobacco line—Cobblestone Knight is certainly among them. The range is blended at both Sutliff Tobacco and the German blending house Kohlhase & Kopp depending on the series. K & K blend the Chess series to which Cobblestone Knight belongs.  

Knight is a wonderful, straight down-the-middle, pure Virginia blend. It perhaps favors a bit of the bright side with citrus and grassy sweetness, but there’s that dark-fruit and toastiness balancing out and bringing some depth. However, the taste in general isn’t bold. An easy, refined, consistent, straight Virginia that will emit lilts of bread warming the air, and a hint of honey too.


8. Two Friends Redwood

Two Friends Redwood

Type:        VaPer
Tobacco:     Virginia, Perique, Black Cavendish 
Cut:         Ribbon
Strength:    Medium
Taste
:       Medium to Full

Another VaPer, this time from the blending team of G. L. Pease and Cornell & Diel’s Craig Tarler.

Similar to Davidoff Flake Medallions, Two Friends Redwood also offers a Virginia/Perique mixture with some unflavored Black Cavendish—maybe there’s something to that and the especially delightful aromas of these blends of the same genre. However, with Redwood, the Perique is more subtly present in the profile. It imparts light earthy, figgy notes, dynamically accenting the forward bready, dark fruity red and stoved Virginias. The Cavendish brings a little more sweetness and volume to the mix. 

As the tin description so poetically words it, "...the aroma is as pleasing as a walk in the woods after a gentle spring rain." 


9. Seattle Pipe Club Mississippi River

Seattle Pipe Club Mississippi River

Type:        English
Tobacco:     Latakia, Oriental, Perique, Virginia
Cut:         Crumble Cake
Strength:    Mild to Medium
Taste
:       Medium 

I probably don’t need to give this disclaimer but for good measure, if you’re showing up with an aversion to the smoky stuff, I don't expect Seattle Pipe Club Mississippi River to convert you. But if you levitate like a Looney Tune to the Latakia pie cooling in the window, this one's sure to be a winner. 

Maybe that’s a bit of a hyperbole, it’s not so much that Mississippi River is a Lat bomb, in fact, it's the blend's dynamic individuality that sets it apart. Does it still smell like a Latakia blend? You bet. But that smoky fire-cured leaf interacts with sweet Virginia for this loamy, musky leather—what I might inelegantly call "old fashioned" smelling. 

As for the smoking qualities, there is a good reason Mississippi River, created by Joe Lankford, kicked off the history of Seattle Pipe Club Tobacco. Smoky and sweet are in perfect harmony with McClelland reminiscent tangy red Virginia. With notes of molasses and BBQ sauce, Mississippi River is often cited as an ideal blend for Aromatic smokers looking to explore the world of English blends. 


10. Dan Tobacco Hamborger Veermaster

Dan Tobacco Hamborger Veermaster

Type:        Straight Virginia
Tobacco:     Virginia
Cut:         Flake
Strength:    Mild to Medium
Taste
:       Medium 

Okay, let's wrap things up with one more great Virginia—Dan Tobacco Hamborger Veermaster. No, not "Beermaster." Coulda' fouled me with the font but it's true. 

This flake offers a room note that's less of a head turner and more a subtle delight. Fruity sweet and hay notes linger with a slight maltiness. The room note is a rather accurate reflection of the flavor profile. Hamborger Veermaster is a mild blend of tart, bready golden Virginias with a hint of honey. A discreet chocolate note wades beneath, possibly a lightly applied top flavoring—whatever its source, it's a wonderfully subtle compliment to the natural tobacco flavors. 


Hopefully this list is of some help in finding the best smelling non-Aromatic tobacco for you, but there are all kinds of pipe tobacco blends and room notes to explore! Remember, we've tried to assemble this list of some of the best smelling tobaccos with different pipe smokers in mind, but we’re always happy to make suggestions based on your preferences, feel free to reach out!


Attribution(s):

Ak1047, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons