There are three basic kinds of pipe smoking tobaccos. Usually, but certainly not always, a pipe smoker tends to enjoy one or the other:
Aromatic pipe tobacco simply means a tobacco that has had some flavor (ie. cherry, vanilla, etc.) added to the leaf. Although this process is outlawed in England, aromatic pipe tobacco continues to be the choice of most pipe enthusiasts worldwide and especially in the U.S.A. Chances are that when you remember that “pipe tobacco smell” that always followed
Grandpa around you are thinking of the smell of an aromatic!
Multiple misnomers are surrounding this style of tobacco. The most prevalent is that of the Cavendish. Cavendish tobacco is simply a cut of the tobacco where the leaf is pressed in layers and cut into small diamond patterns and can be found in the majority of tobacco blends including many english style tobaccos. Cavendish does not mean vanilla, black tobacco, or any other flavoring!
Englishes get their unique flavors by the region where it is grown and various processes of curing. English tobaccos are simply tobaccos that have had no flavors added during the curing process. It goes best with wooden smoking pipes. What gives tobacco its natural flavors is the soil and climate it is grown in; so the leaf is refered to by the country or area it is from. So when people are talking of Virginias or perhaps even “Mid-belt” Virginias they are refering to the unique flavor characteristic of tobacco from that region. Even though no flavors are added to these tobaccos, curing can and does influence the flavor of the finished product. Dark-stoving a Virginia, for instance, brings out more sweetness as well as a rich malty flavor. Latakia was origionally cured by the smoke of burning camel’s dung! Of course they have changed that process and have found other ways to get that flavor.
Burleys are a strain of tobacco plant usually grown in and around Kentucky and Tennessee and can be found straight or in English or Aromatic blends. It contains almost no sugar, which gives a much dryer and full aroma than Virginia. Burley is used in many aromatic blends because it absorbs the flavorings. Burley tobacco burns slowly and is a cool smoke, which makes it a nice addition to blends that tend to burn fast and strong. The technical term for Burley is “air cured”. This air curing is done in large open barns, by the natural air flow, for one or two months. The color is ranging from light brown to mahogany. Burley is the other main basic tobacco used in pipe tobaccos. Burley tobacco originates from the State of Kentucky in USA, which still accounts for a large part of world production. Among the other important growing areas for Burley are Malawi, Mexico and southern Brazil. Burley tobacco leaves are 20–50cm long, the color varying from light brown to very dark brown. When the middle leaves are ripe, the whole plant is harvested and then air dried. The aroma of Burley tobacco is dry and aromatic, rather like chocolate. The taste of Burley tobacco is relatively strong, full and dry. The taste changes if the tobacco is roasted at very high temperatures. In this way the tobacco’s fine aroma comes out fully, and the taste and strength become round and full, almost nutlike. The same process is used to draw out the fine tastes nuances in coffee.