Flavor and nicotine. Or nicotine and flavor. Those are the reasons we smoke pipe tobacco and cigars. It may seem obvious but it’s important to every once in awhile focus on what we are looking for in this hobby. This is particularly important when discussing aromatics, as manufacturers often forget to include either in their products.
There are a few blenders who have reputation of having aromatics that actually deliver taste that matches the aroma. Most of them are not the big mass producers but some of the few remaining brick and mortar shops which blend their own tobacco. As you might suspect from link you clicked on today, we are talking about Boswell’s Pipe Tobacco. I’ll sample and review three: Berry Cobbler, Raspberry Cream, and Dan’s Blend. I very much doubt they will have any kick, but let’s see if any of them taste anything like their name. Well hopefully Dan’s Blend does not taste like Dan.
BULK or TIN: Bulk and Tin
SIZE: 2 oz tins or bulk by the ounce
AGE WHEN SMOKED: 20 Months
BLENDING HOUSE/PRODUCER: Boswell’s
Berry Cobber: Cavendish and Burley
Dan’s Blend: Golden Virginia
Raspberry Cream: Cavendish
STRENGTH: 1-2/7. So yes, pretty weak.
SOURCE: Boswell’s Pipes
I visited their Chambersburg, PA store and had a blast, I highly recommend stopping by if you are able
In the country with a view of the highway
What a lovely spring we have had, not too hot nor too cold, plenty of sunlight and just the right amount of rain.
The twittering of birds and the rumble of distant traffic
RELEASE TYPE Available
SPECIAL RELEASE N
RESEARCH & BACKGROUND INFO
- Boswell’s started as a pipe manufacturer in the 70’s
- Located in Chambersburg and Alexandria Pennsylvania
- Offers 43 different in house blended tobaccos
- All three of these tobaccos have been made for fifteen or more years
LOOK & FEEL OF THE LEAF
Berry Cobbler is classic aromatic, dark brown and black ribbon that’s wet and sticky
Raspberry Cobbler is a more uniform very dark brown ribbon which is wet and sticky
Dan’s Blend is a burnt orange shag which is just a bit moist to the touch.
Berry Cobbler smells like coffee, caramel, and fruity cough syrup. Yick.
Raspberry Cobbler has an aroma of red candy, quite like Strawberry Bon-Bons.
Dan’s Blend doesn’t smell a Virginia, it’s chocolates, raisins, coffee, and just a hint of vanilla.
LIGHT & DRAW
Packing Style: 2-3 Pinch Method
Fire: Pickle bic
SMOKE, ROOM NOTE, & BEARD NOTE
Berry Cobbler has a creamy smoke as you often get with cavendish. The smoke is pleasant with caramel and vaguely fruity notes. My wife said my post pipe beard smelled of vanilla, dark cherry, and citrus.
Raspberry Cream has very thick smoke which just pours off the bowl comically. The side stream is like a raspberry confection, like a raspberry Napoleon if you’ve ever had that. My beard emitted a powerful and pleasing aroma of blueberries and cream.
Dan’s Blend gives off a toasted tobacco aroma with a faint caramel-vanilla dressing it up a little. Streusel topping was the beard note.
>> No dry time, AKB Tekin
Starts with a mild berry flavor. Well that is promising. Fairly sweet but not cloying, the sugar is balanced by some lemon and vinegar. There’s a touch of salt there too. Some caramel comes in. Woah, lots of caramel. Berry and vanilla, with lemon-vinegar salt. Cocoa-coffee comes in underneath. The berry strengthens with the blueberries and blackberries showing clearly. Berries, lemon, vinegar, salt, at a medium sweetness for most of the bowl. Some burley nuttiness settles in as it enters the last third, but the berry-lemon-vinegar-salt comprise most of the taste.
I tried this dried a bit and it was meh but then some friends suggested that Boswell’s stuff is smoked best at it’s original moisture. It popped. For those looking for a relatively complex and very flavorful berry aromatic this delivers.
>>No dry time, AKB Tekin
Vaguely sweet. Fruity. Maple syrup and nutty with a hint of cocoa. Vanilla, a bit of salt, a bit of vinegar. Bam, Raspberries across the jaw. That is a strong flavor. There’s a light salt and sour tang, more raspberry sourness than vinegar. And some lemon peel. Raspberry, lemon peel, salt, caramel, vanilla, butter at a medium to medium plus sweetness. It’s that way for the rest of the bowl, with the lemon intensifying about the halfway point, but everything else staying put.
Well, that was delicious. It’s the kind of smoke that you look for when you smoke aromatics. This stuff tastes better than it smells. The Berry Cobbler is good but by comparison it tastes artificial and less lively. Top Marks.
>> No dry time, AKB Tekin
Wow this shag puffs up when you light it. Sugar, vanilla, hay, earthy nutmeg-cinnamon-clove with a touch of salt and vinegar. Once again we have orange Virginias. Lemon-lime adds complexity to the sour notes. Heavy cream in with the baking spices. Toast. Hmm, some plums. Sweet, with some brown sugar, baking spices, heavy cream, pepper, vanilla, vinegar-lemon-lime. It holds here to the halfway point when more fruits pop out, raspberry and strawberry. The pepper picks up in the second half. In the final quarter it deepens, with more earth, more plums, strawberry, lemon, cream, toast, salt, vinegar, and some leather. With the vanilla never quitting.
After two heavy aromatics shifting back to a more natural tobacco was a surprise. Dan’s Blend is sold as an aromatic but it’s really Crossover Virginia. The vanilla is there start to finish, but the typical Virginia notes are the real show.
RATING & FINAL THOUGHTS
Like most aromatics once they found their footing there was minimal variation through Berry Cobbler and Raspberry Cream. Dan’s Blend showed more fruitiness and more earth in turns as the bowl burned down.
I tried drying all of these 1-2 hours before trying them straight from the bag. Berry Cobbler was most impacted, the flavor was extremely diminished in that time. Raspberry Cream was a tad more berry like without the dry time but it was barely noticeable. The vanilla in Dan’s Blend was much more pronounced when undried, so if it feels like too much you can dry it out to dial it down somewhat.
Unlike other goopy aromatics, all of these smoked quite well, with few to no relights once they got going, and that is with zero dry time. I pushed Raspberry Cream a tad hard because it tasted so great and it nipped me a bit, but just barely, and that was on me. Dan’s Blend also bit me a tad when I let the shag burn a bit too bright.
Berry Cobbler is fairly similar to Samuel Gawith’s Firedance Flake in flavor, though Firedance is built up on Virginia (Best Brown Flake to be exact) so it has more complexity.
Raspberry Cream is a force of its own. It also points towards Firedance, but the fruit flavor is brighter, bigger, fresher. It’s the spiritual kin of Rattray’s Exotic Passion.
Dan’s Blend reminds me of other pure Orange Virginia blends like Simply Orange and Samuel Gawith Best Brown Flake. The Vanilla topping on Orange VA is strongly akin to The Country Squire’s Green Dragon. It’s also reminiscent of Macbaren’s Vanilla Rolls which uses a base of Virginia and Burley to house a vanilla flavored black cavendish.
Berry Cobbler/Raspberry Cream/Dan’s Blend
0.30/0.30/0.30 / 0.50 … Craft & Aesthetic
0.20/0.30/0.10 / 0.50 … Tin Aroma
0.40/0.40/0.50 / 0.50 … Lighting Process
6.20/7.50/6.00 / 8.00 … Smoking Experience
0.40/0.50/0.40 / 0.50 … Personal Enjoyment
COMPLIMENTS & CRITIQUES
RASPBERRY CREAMED IT.
This was not meant to be a comparison style review. I had no aims to weigh them and declare a winner, but Raspberry Cream was so superior it’s hard not to spend some timing lauding it again. Berry Cobbler is delicious, well beyond the average aromatic, but compared to Raspberry Cream it pales a bit. The flavor is less dynamic and less natural. Dan’s Blend is a good orange Virginia with a light Vanilla topping, but the Vanilla is too much for a VA hound and too little for those wanting a full aromatic. Raspberry Cream is an unapologetic full flavored dessert blend delivered in an easy to smoke leaf. It’s not just clearly better than the other two Boswell’s blends reviewed here, but better than most of the aromatics I’ve tried over the years. I will give it my highest commendation – despite having more pipe tobacco than I can possibly smoke in my life, I’m going to buy more of it.
A reminder about the Pipe Tobacco Rating System, it’s based on a Gaussian distribution curve so that 5.0/10.0 is middle of the road, 6.0 is good, 7.00 very good, etc. not an academic scoring system where 7.5 is mediocre.