Lane Ltd. Tobaccos

Lane is well-known as one of the largest North-American suppliers of bulk, pre-blended tobaccos to tobacconists, who will generally apply their own proprietary names to the blends. Therefore, you have probably smoked some Lane blends without knowing it. In the best case, a friendly shop will tell you that the blend that they sell called "Executive" blend is in fact Lane's 1Q; in the worst case, staff will tell you they don't know—either because they truly don't or because they're not supposed to divulge the shop's "secret recipe."

Bulk Tobaccos

Here is a full-flavoured English blend that is perfect for the latakia lover. It's a dark, contrasty tobacco with medium-brown strands on a blackish base. The dry, rough, ribbon-cut texture ensures that it burns well, but not too fast. The dry, smoky taste of latakia predominates in this richly bodied smoke. The Virginia tobacco in the blend serves mostly to dilute the intensity of the latakia, and to add a very subtle background sweetness that is present in both the smoke's aftertaste and in its pungent room aroma. Some added Turkish adds a rich, nutty flavour to the mixture. This is smooth-smoking and rich-tasting all the way to the bottom of the pipe, but not a really complex gustatory experience. Although it has a drying effect on the palate that is typical for a heavy latakia blend, it lacks the peppery quality of those English mixtures which are spiked with burley and/or perique. It smokes clean to a salt-and-pepper ash. '97

This is the first pipe tobacco I ever smoked and it's a really big seller all over North America. In fact, if you have ever been a smoker of aromatic blends, it's likely that you have smoked this at some time or another. It's known as called "Executive" at Blatter and Blatter of Montreal and "Shag" at Mission Pipe in San José, California. It's strange for me to come back and try this blend a couple of years after first smoking it, after becoming a fan of the English blends, and look at it anew. It's a mix of reddish Virginia cavendish with about 25% black cavendish thrown in. Of course it's fairly heavily cased—it has that silky, moist feeling on the fingers that reminds one of soap, not dried plant leaves—with flavours that are hard to identify. A while back, I was told that the casing is chocolate, however I never really tasted chocolate when I used to smoke it. But now, having heard that, I can definitely see that there might very well be chocolate in the casing, but I suspect other flavours as well: vanilla and perhaps liquorice. Overall, though, this blend is characterized by a mild caramel flavour more than anything else. It has little, if any, tobacco taste coming through the mild, rather sweet, casing. It's a very smooth, soft smoke with a sweet aroma that non-smokers generally find pleasant. However, being so mild and of medium body (I suspect that a good part of its body is steam, not smoke), it's pretty easy to puff on it a little too quickly, which can result in a slightly bitter taste toward the bottom of the pipe. Even without heavy puffing, I find it gets a bit flat and burnt-tasting toward the bottom. It burns pretty well, likely thanks to special additives, as it is a fairly moist tobacco. This blend definitely has its aficionados, it's not just for new pipe smokers. It's very mild, has a relatively low nicotine content and could be easily smoked all day long. As well, it seems a little less intense on the vanilla than Captain Black. In my case, this wasn't the blend that sold me on pipe smoking, perhaps because it wasn't assertive enough. So my opinion is that this is not necessarily the right blend to offer a cigarette smoker who is interested in trying out pipes due to its mildness and lack of tobacco flavour. But to each his/her own... '97

Prepackaged Tobaccos

Captain Black Royal
The one in the blue package. Even though I'm not a huge aromatic-smoker anymore, I felt I had an obligation to try this famous stuff. The first thing I noticed was the heaviness of the vanilla aroma and the high humidity content of the tobacco. The vanilla seemed to be more a part of the packaging than the actual tobacco. I actually found that this blend benefitted from being exposed to air; my pouch smoked better two months after unsealing it, during which time it was closed, but not airtight. The flavour is pleasant and somewhat sweet, with little real tobacco flavour. It does smoke nice and smooth like many blends that are heavy with black cavendish. It burns so well that it overheats easily, but even then, it doesn't seriously burn the tongue. (Why does such a moist tobacco burn so well?) What impresses me the most about this blend is its thick, fluffy, mild smoke and the fact that it is fairly satisfying for a mix of light and dark cavendish. During the second half of the bowl, the vanilla flavour becomes more concentrated and somewhat burnt-tasting; I guess it's all that accumulation of moisture and flavouring. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that some people don't smoke this all the way to the bottom because of it. This is not a dry smoke, but slow smoking can help avert some of the excess moisture. It emits a strong, sweet, vanilla aroma in the room where it was smoked. And the tobacco leaves a small blackish dottle in the the pipe and a pungent, dark smell in the pipe and ashtray. '97