If you spend any time reading about pipe tobaccos or talking with other aficionados, you will realize that there seems to be a lot of confusion as to the term “English Blend”. In fact, many people have suggested the term be dropped altogether because English Blends are not grown in England, and don’t have to be blended there either.
So Where Did the Term English Blend Come From?
Up until 1986 England had what where called Tobacco Purity Laws. These laws made it illegal to include any additives in tobacco products made in England. While many other countries made tobacco that was flavored with vanilla, cherry, rum, and other flavors, England’s tobacco’s where just straight tobacco mixes.
As a result of the English tobacco purity laws, it became common to call any tobacco mix that followed the standards of the purity laws “English Blends”.
Originally, an English Blend was just used to describe a pure tobacco blend. These blends tended to use certain types of tobaccos that were naturally more aromatic, and sweet. Because of these qualities, tobaccos like Latakia and Perique began to be heavily used in English Blends. Does that mean that all English Blends had Latakia and/or Perique? No. But many people started calling blends without additional flavorings, and a strong Latakia flavor palate an “English Blend”, much to the dismay of many aficionados who would like to reserve the term “English Blend” for tobaccos made in England, and call Latakia blends… “Latakia Blends”
But I’ll Still Call Them English Blends.
I truly love the raw tobacco flavor of the English Blends. My current favorite tobacco blend is Dunhill’s Nightcap. This is a full bodied blend consisting of a substantial amount of Latakia, some Virginia, Orientals, and topped off with a sweet and peppery Perique. This is a strong, manly tobacco. It is particularly good after a few drinks, or other inebriants. This is my go-to late evening tobacco. It is truly a pleasure to smoke.
Another very popular English Blend is Seattle Pipe Club’s Plum Pudding. Although some might go so far as to say this is a Balkan Style, not an English Style, those people deserve to get punched. (recently people have started using the term “Balkan Style” to describe blends with predominantly Oriental tobaccos that come from the Balkans.) Plum Pudding is a very tasty blend with plenty of Cyprian Latakia, Orientals, matured Virginia, sweet and spicy Louisiana Perique, and a bit of toasted black Cavendish. I really enjoyed the flavors of this blend, but I did not like the blends “crumble cake” style packaging. (give me a simple ribbon cut any day).
If you are just getting into English Blends, or would like to try them out, I might suggest something more mellow like Dunhill’s My Mixture 965. It is a mixture of Great Virginias, blended with select Macedonian Orientals and a good amount of rich Latakia, all mellowed out with the addition of a sweet brown Cavendish.
As I stated earlier, I really like a strong pure tobacco blend. However, I still like aromatics. I usually smoke aromatics when I am out in public, or around a lot of people simply because they smell wonderful. I tend to save the English Blends for my alone time, and evening smokes. A good English Blend is a manly smoke that allows you to enjoy the flavor of the tobacco, and reflect on whatever you need to reflect on.