Pipe Tobacco Review: Rattray’s Black Mallory

I don’t believe I’ve reviewed a Scottish Blend on Simply Stogies yet. Scottish blends don’t get much notice. Scottish blends aren’t even advertised as such. Are you a fan of Dunhill (now Peterson) 965 or Seattle Pipe Club’s Plum Pudding? Well, you like Scottish Blends. A Scottish Blend is simply an English Blend – Virginia, Latakia, maybe oriental, sometimes perique – with cavendish added. This adds body, usually a creamy mouthfeel, and often some sweetness. 

Black Mallory is a legendary Scottish blend from Rattray’s. It’s built on the bones of their equally famous Red Raparee, but with cavendish and more Latakia. I’ve enjoyed every Rattray’s blend I’ve had so far, but I’ve yet to have anything from them in the English realm, so let’s see if that trend continues.

OVERVIEW

BULK or TIN:  Tin

SIZE:   50g, 100g, 

ORIGIN:   Germany

AGE WHEN SMOKED:   4 years

BLENDING HOUSE/PRODUCER:   K&K

BLENDING COMPONENTS:   Virginia, Oriental, Latakia, Cavendish

STRENGTH:   2/7

SOURCE:   tobaccopipes.com

ENVIRONMENT

WHERE:   
Appalachia

WHEN:   
November-December 2023

WEATHER:   

Too mild for late Autumn and early Winter for my tastes

WHAT’S ON:   
The highway traffic is loud now the trees are nude

PRODUCTION

RELEASE TYPE  Available

SPECIAL RELEASE  N

AVAILABILITY BREAKDOWN 
Tin

RESEARCH & BACKGROUND INFO

  • Part of Rattray’s British Series
  • Charles Rattray founded his tobacco business in 1911
  • Rattray’s Tobacco was originally made and sold in Perth, Scotland
  • Rattray’s was known for, unsurpsingly, Scottish blend
  • After his passing, the Rattray’s blends and brand were acquired by Kolhase and Kopp (K&K)
  • Unable to find a definitive history of the blend name I am speculating that this blend was named after the British climber George Mallory who was lost on Everest in 1924, but don’t quote me on that

TIN DESIGN

Black Mallory has two faces, one with a fairly ornate label, and one that’s much more brutalist in style. The front has a certain Art Nouveau feeling, with leaves, an old fashioned pipe tobacco jar, and silhouette of a pipe smoker. 

The other side is all business. Which is probably pre designed for countries with plain packaging laws.

PRE-LIGHT OBSERVATIONS

LOOK & FEEL OF THE LEAF
Black Mallory is moist and a bit sticky, like there’s maple syrup dried on it. The stickiness could be from the cavendish. It’s standard width ribbon cut pretty short, maybe half inch (12 mm) long. It’s about 80% very dark brown and black leaf with 20% tan tobacco.

TIN AROMA
Smoke, the salty sea, cocoa, raisin, smoke. I love this smell but tastes vary. 

SMOKING EXPERIENCE

LIGHT & DRAW
Packing Style:  This was easy enough to get along with, particularly with some drying time, that I would do a single pinch in my smaller pipes, or 2-3 pinches in larger pipes. After experience I found the Frank or a heavy hand packing helps this burn easily all the way through.
Fire:  Bic

SMOKE & ROOM NOTE
Black Mallory gives off a thin smoke, but one that is deliciously soft, which comes from the cavendish.

The room note is of peat smoke – well I don’t know if it’s actually what burning peat smells like, but like a good peaty scotch.

FIRST BOWL
>> Freshly popped tin moisture, single pinch pack, Savinelli St. Nick 2022

Sweet, leather, deep earth, cocoa. Big bright vinegar, some lemon peel, and rather salty. It’s very sugary. There’s some woodsmoke there, but it’s fairly light here at the start. The smokiness has that a peaty, vegetal character that’s particularly prized by those always chasing the legendary Esoterica Penzance. It’s peaty, with lemon oil, vinegar, salt, candy sweet, which fades into leather, cocoa, and just a dash of red wine. Musty. Settles in here to about the halfway point when pepper pops up. Garlic and onions arrive as well, pushing the whole thing towards a Balkan flavor profile. Sugary, lemon oil, vinegar, salt, herbs, garlic, onion, with a peppery cocoa-leather finish, more red wine, and bit of artificial grape. The vinegar becomes effervescent on the tongue, pure sugar, salt, sauted garlic, onion powder, dried parsley, peat smoke, and fake grape. While I wasn’t looking the mild smoky character at the beginning of the bowl has grown to a heavy sooty peat smoke. Peat smoke, salt, vinegar, a lessened lemon oil, alliums, salt and vinegar. It’s still quite sweet but it’s finally back down from rock candy levels. Lemony, sooty, peat.

This was delicious but lots of work to get through. It certainly needs some drying time. It also gave me some fairly nasty tongue bite.

SECOND BOWL
>> 3 hour dry, 1 pinch, Savinelli St Nick

Sooty – well the dry time changed that. Leather, earth, salt, a hint of lemon peel, the must of old books, sulphur, and just a hint of sweetness. The pepper pushes in early too. Red wine vinegar, brown sugar, lemon peel. Garlic and onion. After several puffs the sweetness is now way up there, the smokiness is milder, with salt and alliums pushing. It’s peaty-vegetal again. Oops, spoke too soon, without warning that smokiness blows off the roof. More garlic and onions than a French restaurant. Cocoa dances in and out of the picture. Heavy sulphur, red wine, and fake grape land at the half. Sugary lemon peel, salt, garlic and onion, red wine vinegar, shifting mid exhale to dusty cocoa, then again to a long sooty lemon-creosote-vinegar-salt finish. These are big, unsubtle flavors. The red wine sneaks in and out, marrying well with the growing chocolate and earthy touches. In the last third it’s far more musty, followed by lemon peel, sugar, garlic and onion, vinegar, salt lick, and creosote. Anise pops give it another dimension. Sooty smoky peat takes over as I race the dottle.

That was intense. It required quite a few relights until I crushed the ash during tamping. I think I’ve been underpacking this with my single pinch method. However there was zero tongue bite after, so the drying time settled that. 

It might be good to try the Frank. I also want to know how this behaves in a larger bowl.

THIRD BOWL
>> Three hour dry, Frank Pack, Savinelli 320 KS

Floral, leather, and earth. Lemon peel, peat smoke, and salt. Vinegar, sugar, lemon peel, heavy peaty smoke, and a light pepper. Garlic and onion. Red wine vinegar. It’s a salt lick. It’s sweet but less sweet than previous bowls, medium plus sweetness. Piney. It’s complex, but very consistent. Sugar cookie or pastry notes. Pastry, red wine vinegar, salt, long lingering sooty smoke. Garlic and onion, pepper, pine all pop here and there. The smoke is exceptionally soft, it’s velvety. Garlic and Onion roars back with strawberry candy, red wine vinegar, lemon peel, salt, pine, and that peaty creosote smoke, but wrapped around that pastry-cookie core. It’s now matched the previous bowls for intense sweetness. More pepper comes through as I’m nearing the end of the bowl. Hints of grape and red wine join the the huge sooty smoke. Peaty scotch, sugar, and woodsmoke as the embers fade.

In the wider bowl it showed pine and pastry, both new notes, but as expected the primary effect was the force cohesion. The shifts come on slower and the minor notes stay more minor. The pastry sweetness is a fun focusing in on what was otherwise a generic white sugar in previous bowls. I can’t say it’s better or worse in this shape, but it’s certainly worth exploring.

RATING & FINAL THOUGHTS

FLAVOR PROGRESSION
In it’s moist state – which I don’t recommend – it starts as a generic English then becomes a dynamic Balkan about halfway through. Well dried there is less of a flavor progression, the principal changes going from less sweet to intensely sweet, and from moderately smoky to incredibly sooty by the end of the bowl.

BURN EXPERIENCE
At tin moisture this is a rough go. Well dried just give it a firmer pack than average and it’ll smoke pretty easily and will avoid the tongue bite.

SIMILAR BLENDS
Undried, Black Mallory evokes C&D Mountain Camp and Sutilff or PS English Oriental. Dried – or halfway through an undried bowl – it’s more smoky-balkan, quite like McClelland Balkan Supreme, Arango Balkan Supreme, GL Pease Gaslight, Esoterica Penzance, C&D Star of the East Flake. The red wine and fake grape notes smack of Syrian Latakia though I know this doesn’t have that, so it reminds me of MacBaren HH Vintage Syrian and it’s replacement, MacBaren HH Balkan Blend. With the pepper notes combined with intense smoke it sometimes reminded me of Ashton’s Artisan’s Blend.

RATING BREAKDOWN
0.50 / 0.50 … Craft & Aesthetic
0.50 / 0.50 … Tin Aroma
0.40 / 0.50 … Lighting Process
7.90 / 8.00 … Smoking Experience
0.50 / 0.50 … Personal Enjoyment

COMPLIMENTS & CRITIQUES

CLIMB THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN.

I don’t know why I don’t hear about folks smoking Black Mallory non-stop. Nightcap has a cult following that seems to have lasted a century. There was a period of seven years where it seemed like people smoked nothing but SPC Plum Pudding. There’s a devoted fandom built around Ashton’s Artisan’s Blend. Similarly GL Pease Gaslight, C&D Star of the East flake, GL Pease Quiet Nights, C&D Pirate Kake, Arango Balkan Supreme, these are all high latakia content blends which get heavy, regular praise. And of course Esoterica Penzance sells out in about 3 seconds both times a year it goes up for sale. 

Black Mallory is as good or better than any of those. It’s got deep peaty-sooty-smoke. It is as sweet as anything you’ll ever put in your pipe. It’s full of salt, vinegar, lemon, red wine, cocoa, garlic, onion, herbs, and dozen other notes, well integrated, folding together like a work of art puff after puff. If you don’t dry it, it burns poorly and can bite. You do need to pack it a bit heavy. Besides that, this blend essentially perfect for anyone who loves a heavily smoky, sweet, and complex Balkan leaning English.

SIMPLY STOGIES RATING:  9.85/ 10.0

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