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Sleeper Smokes - 7 Underrated English Pipe Tobaccos

Sleeper Smokes - 7 Underrated English Pipe Tobaccos

Posted by Greg Rosenberg on 9th Jul 2024

The exploration of the vast selection of  pipe tobacco blends is one of my favorites aspects of pipe smoking. Despite the many blends I have a great appreciation for, I always have to be trying something new—it's not how everyone engages with the pastime, but I know plenty are like me. What's really exciting is trying a blend that you don't hear much about, whether it's on a whim or perhaps recommended by a fellow pipe smoker, and finding that it satisfies some niche you hadn't know was there. So, I thought it would be fun to do this series to delve into some of those pipe tobaccos I've found appreciation for, despite getting little buzz.

I don't think myself some self-appointed taste maker. So I'll clarify my intent with an excerpt from the preceding blog listing  underrated straight Virginiasa list of this nature is all the more crafted around personal taste, but if you share my affinity for smoking “widely”—more given to trying a lot of new-to-you blends rather than keeping to a few standards—or if you’re still looking for some mixtures that feel worthy of rotation, I’m hoping these blogs can offer some ideas to help you along.

So, here are some of the English mixtures (and perhaps a few English adjacent blends) I believe are worth checking out.


4th Generation - Afternoon Mélange

4th Generation Afternoon Melange pipe tobacco

Tobacco Latakia, Oriental, Virginia
Cut Ribbon
Taste Medium
Strength Medium
Packaging Bulk

Afternoon Mélange is a relatively new mixture—not something we see so often with bulk tobacco these days. It was released in 2021 as the middle child of three blends 4th Generation developed as morning, mid-day, and night companions.

Afternoon Mélange offers mixed length, narrow ribbons. Though it performs well in any pipe, I enjoy how accommodating a cut like this is to smaller bowls, as I enjoy a small pipe, but sometimes certain cuts just don’t agree with them.

Virginias and Orientals meet for a nutty, bready flavor, with a fine sweetness gliding on top. The Latakia is introduced in a faint smoke and woodiness at the start, but soon comes forward as the dominant player. The Latakia and Oriental are in a wonderful harmony, a bit of floral spice and wood, earthy enough for interest, but not so weighty it overwhelms the affable mild-medium body. That body does grow through the smoke however, but peaks around what I'd consider medium.


Cobblestone Pawn (Chess series)

Cobblestone Chess Pawn pipe tobacco

Tobacco Black Cavendish, Latakia, Oriental, Perique, Virginia
Cut Ribbon
Taste Medium
Strength Medium
Packaging Tin (1.75 oz)

Cobblestone Pawn gives us a flavorful English that seems to play in that Scottish sub-genre, entailing the traditional English varietals with a significant presence of Black Cavendish;  Virginia based Cavendish in this case.

The ribbons are medium in length and thin—though not quite shag, which is something I appreciate about many Kohlhase & Kopp ribbons. Quite easy to work with. A good deal of bright and dark to medium-brown show distinct contrast with the healthy portion of dark leaf comprised of Latakia and Black Cavendish. 

Cobblestone Pawn delivers a healthy dose of smoky Latakia from the char light to the heel. The musky depth is potent, but nicely tamed by the velvety sweet Black Cavendish. Perique brings spice and body for a little extra oomph. The Virginias and Orientals bring notes of herbs, nuts, and bread for a flavorfully complex base that keeps a balance without distracting too much from the condimentals. I recommend this one for fans of  Rattray's Red Rapparee.


Sutliff Walnut Flavor (Middleton Walnut Match)

Sutliff Walnut Flavor pipe tobacco

Tobacco Burley, Kentucky, Latakia, Oriental, Virginia
Cut Ribbon
Taste Mild - Medium
Strength Mild - Medium
Packaging Bulk

Sutliff Walnut Flavor is a match blend for the infamous, bygone Middleton's Walnut. Just like the blend that inspired it, this is a concoction of many tobacco types into one interesting mixture. Latakia is of course among them, but this “American English” is certainly the least "English-y" of the blends here. In fact, some may not think it qualifies at all, but it’s an enigmatic smoke with no obvious home among our blend families, so why not bring a little more variety to the list?

The mixture is made of long ribbons, from medium to broad cut. The shade is blonde to medium brown for the most part with dark, coarse ribbons sparsely throughout. I find a larger bowl offers a more consistent smoke with this one, and is more accommodating to the cut.

Walnut Flavor provides a satisfyingly dense smoke. My first thought lighting this one up is, isn’t this just a codger Burley? I get that familiar nutty, cocoa, molasses—but then some more interesting players enter, notably a vegetative, herbal Oriental note. From there, all variety of flavors come together for a unique mixture (well, maybe unique to me. Perhaps it's a solid match for the Middleton original). That Latakia is more noticeable some smokes than others, but never all that forward, certainly the least of any on our list. All and all, we have a nuttiness, spice, and accenting smokiness, brought together with a subtle sweet note. 


Cornell & Diehl Consolation (Serenity series)

Cornell & Diehl Consolation

Tobacco Black Cavendish, Burley, Latakia, Oriental, Virginia
Cut Ribbon
Taste Medium
Strength Medium
Packaging Tin (2 oz)

Consolation was developed by William Serad as part of his Serenity Series over two decades ago. It is joined by Comfort, Repose, and Reverie—all blend names I certainly find apt to the levity of enjoying a peaceful smoke.

Consolation offers another blend that plays in the “American English” territory. In fact, if Sutliff's Walnut Flavor is an American English, let’s call Consolation an English American, as I'd say this emphasizes that smoky side more—maybe not compared to your average English, but for the hybrid it is.

The Latakia presence is an accent in harmony with the more forward Oriental, pulling from it more of the spice notes underneath which there is a bready, herbal body. The Black Cavendish plays more to the smoking dynamics than the flavor profile, though I assume it's also enhancing the sweetness in step with the Virginia base, and perhaps brings some of that molasses character out of the nutty Burleys that gives Consolation that nod to the American blend tradition. Consolation impressively finds balance in a somewhat complex mixture while maintaining a down to earth, mellow, all day smoke. 


Charatan First Bowl

Charatan First Bowl pipe tobacco

Tobacco Latakia, Oriental, Virginia
Cut Ribbon
Taste Mild - Medium
Strength Mild
Packaging Tin (1.75 oz)

In 2018,  Charatan released a line of pipe tobaccos in response to British American Tobacco, who owned Dunhill's blends, divesting from pipe tobacco. First Bowl was concocted to fill that space of a mild English to start the day, a la Dunhill's Early Morning Pipe (now Peterson of course under STG ownership). I think the resulting blend hits the spirit of that mark perfectly, but with a profile of its own.

Charatan First Bowl offers a nice mild English that delivers an excellent balance of the three constituents with clarity and harmony. The narrow ribbons are dry yet hydrated and springy on arrival, making for a very user friendly pack and easy smoldering. I find the Oriental component takes the lead with a herbal spice and a bready, zesty warmth that plays perfectly into mellow Virginia hay and toastiness. While not a Latakia heavy English, it isn’t difficult to find, bringing woody BBQ overtones with just a light meatiness. Most smokes seem to develop into a simple cedar woodiness by the end to close things out.


Newminster No. 306 English Oriental

Newminster No. 306 English Oriental pipe tobacco

Tobacco Black Cavendish, Burley, Latakia, Oriental, Virginia
Cut Ribbon
Taste Medium
Strength Mild - Medium
Packaging Bulk

In 2012,  Villiger Tobacco collaborated with Mac Baren to create the Newminster series. Ever since, the collection has been a wonderful source of quality and variety in affordable bulk offerings. Though it's the trilogy of Virginia-centric flakes that gets the most praise, Newminster offers one of my favorite bulk blends for classic English flavor with a fair complexity and body—No. 306 English Oriental.

This mixture offers a good helping of smoky, meaty Latakia and herbal Oriental flavors. From the base of Virginias and Black Cavendish, woody and currant flavors come through with the silky sweetness of the stoved leaf. The Burley may contribute some to that woodiness, but to me, there isn't a lot of Burley flavor. However, I imagine they're pulling more weight in the body. It isn't a super strong blend, and the nic-hit seems light, but it has a heaviness on the palate. Between the Black Cavendish and Burley, the flavors nicely disperse. 


Sillem's Commodore Flake

Sillem's Commodore Flake pipe tobacco

Tobacco Black Cavendish, Kentucky, Latakia
Cut Flake
Taste Full
Strength Medium - Strong
Packaging Tin (1.75 oz)

I first found a fondness for Sillem's Commodore Flake when I featured it in a  Tobacco Files column back in 2022, and it's been a favorite among bold smokes since. 

Here we have another blend that lives on the margins of what many consider an “English” style pipe tobacco. It's not the lack of Latakia that skews Sillem’s Commodore Flake's English credentials, but the lack of Oriental leaf in the mix.

At the forefront of this dark flake is the medley of smoky Latakia and floral Kentucky, woven in a bold, flavorful presentation. Black Cavendish brings a sweetness that carries the robust flavors and softens with a light creamy sweetness. 

I get some anise flavor and floralness that seems beyond the role of the Kentucky leaf—almost in the realm of a Gawith flavoring, though not the potency of a Lakeland blend. That said, I haven't seen this mentioned in other reviews, so maybe it's just me. 


Hopefully this list could offer some ideas for blends to explore. I imagine I'll be updating these blogs as I find more gems, so I'd love to know what others consider sleepers. Feel free to send an email (gregr@tobaccopipes.com) or reach out on instagram with any recommendations of your own!

Underrated English pipe tobacco blends