Now that the magazine is rolling along, we asked tobacco companies we had dealt with to send us tobaccos to review, and one of the first to answer the call was Sutliff Tobacco Company. Trusting in their product, and knowing we don’t play favourites, they began by sending us samples of their much-lauded Private Stock line. So Erin and I thought that we would take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy a smoke together. Knowing that I enjoy English blends, and having his own preference for them as well, Erin thought we ought to be begin with Blend No. 5.
Sutliff’s website tells us that Blend No. 5 is “a robust English blend with character. Plenty of Latakia, Pressed Virginia, and Burley provide the base.” Their three-pronged rating system gives it a four out of five for body, a five out of five for Latakia flavour, and a zero out of five for aromatic flavour. Pure, uncased pipe tobacco! We were excited; to emphasize the smokey flavours of strong Latakia in a good English blend seemed to us a stroke of potential genius. Eagerly we popped open the tin.
The tobacco within is an attractive mottled colour. The black Latakias were easy to see in the brown Virginias and Burleys. We took turns smelling the tin note. Traces of old leather, pepper and wine or perhaps stout struck us immediately. We agreed that we were reminded of the kind of old pub where you go after work to sling a few brewskies with good friends.
Erin packed our pipes with the “poke and stuff” method; my Lorenzo Lula Churchwarden and his Rick Black custom Dublin. The tobacco was on the drier side, suggesting that it would burn well. We promptly struck lighters to bowls and drew. Wafts of Latakia smoke filled the air of our kitchen. It was deliciously smooth; Erin described it as “the smoothest English blend he’s ever had.” To him it was a really nice, pleasant tobacco. I noticed an initial peppery overtone and a lingering, enjoyable hint of an old leather in the undertone, along with the slightly-sour essence of English blends. You would think, with the heavy Latakia, that it would be overwhelmingly sour; but it was beautifully balanced by the Virginia and Burley. After a while I also detected a hint of molasses in there somewhere; not strong, and don’t ask me how or why it gave me that impression, but it did.
Other members of the Okanagan Pipe & Cigar Club found that it left lingering tongue bite if you smoked it too quickly, but Erin didn’t really find that and my churchwarden completely negated it. If you’re an inhaler, Erin said it inhaled easily enough; but if you’re not, there wasn’t a need. It smoked comfortably cool, making the pipe bowls pleasant to hold in one’s hand. It’s worth noting that although Sutliff describes it as a strong-bodied tobacco, we found it to be on the stronger side, but not overwhelming.
Its room note, which was sharp, smokey, peppery, and very strong, won’t win over your in-laws, but it certainly wouldn’t do anything to harm an old library. It stayed lit easily, even with my incompetent pipe-lighting skills. Erin smoked it steadily to completion, as did I, and it left absolutely no dottle at all.
“To this point, the best English blend I’ve ever had is Glynn Quelch’s Classic English. However, this one is considerably easier to get in North America, and therefore, Blend No. 5 will replace it as my favourite English blend.”
Looks like No. 5 is number one!
On my personal rating system, I found this an ideal English blend, and I will certainly make it part of my regular rotation. I look forward to comparing it to Sutliff’s other English blends (such as their Field Master) and I give it:
You can find this fine example of English taste at Pipes & Cigars for $15.50 US for an 8 oz. tin; Smoking Pipes for $6.11 US for a one and half ounce tin; or you can contact Sutliff directly at their website, and they’ll help you find a retailer near you.
That’s this lady’s perspective; smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em!