English, Burley, Perique, and more are tobaccos even beginner pipe enthusiasts are familiar with. They are sold virtually everywhere you can get tobacco pipes and are universally appreciated for their taste and enjoyability. But what about pipe tobaccos that aren't on the bestseller list? Surely, if you have been smoking a pipe for a while you have no doubt reached the point where you want to try something that's off the beaten path. Maybe way off the beaten path. So in this guide, the team at Paykoc Pipes will set our sights far afield in order to track down some of the rarest pipe tobaccos that are commercially available, somewhere.
About Rare Pipe Tobaccos
Whether you're a connoisseur of wine, bourbon, cigars, or some other consumable commodity you know there are always brands floating around out there whose legendary status is built on a combination of their being A) outstanding examples of the distiller's or tobacconists' craft and B) in extremely short supply. In that sense pipe tobacco is no different.
Some of these tobaccos are rare simply because they were deliberately produced in small quantities. Others are produced in respectable quantities but are considered so good that they're snapped up as soon as they hit the market. While still other tobacco brands have been discontinued, in which case you might need some pipe world connections to secure a small quantity.
Where rare pipe tobaccos differ from some of the other commodities we mentioned is in the price. A rare bottle of wine might set you back several thousand dollars, a rare bourbon $100 a shot. But even very hard-to-find pipe tobacco likely won't cost more than a few dollars a bowl. With all that in mind, let's take a look at some hard-to-find pipe tobaccos.
McClelland Frog Morton Cellar
McClelland shuttered their operation in 2017 which immediately turned what was left of their Frog Morton Cellar stock into a hot item. Exactly why the company closed down remains something of a mystery as their signature tobacco blend was and is highly regarded. Cellar is a cross-over blend characterized by mild smokiness and in each tin was placed a tiny cube cut from the stave of a whiskey barrel. But while the whiskey overtones and smokiness get much of the press most aficionados are of the opinion that it's the McClelland Virginia tobaccos that really put it over the top. With a lot of rare blends, you can often find a common equivalent that is a reasonable facsimile of hard-to-find tobacco. But not in this case. McClellan Frog Morton Cellar is rare not only because it's hard to find, but because of its unique characteristics.
Germain Balkan Sobraine
Balkan Sobraine has long been one of the most celebrated English blend tobaccos and dates back approximately 100 years. The original manufacturers ceased production around the turn of the 21 st century but it was revived by Gallaher who marketed their version for several years before the mantel was picked up by JF Germain located on the Channel Islands. If you can get your hands on a tin of the original Sobraine of London blend congratulations, you've acquired the holy grail of pipe tobacco. But even the new, and some would say slightly lesser, iterations of the blend are produced in very limited amounts and those few outlets lucky enough to have some to offer typically limit sales to one tin per customer. Even then it sells out fast. Germain's take on the classic blend is salty, with buttery herbs, onions, and garlic overtones and a very light smokiness binding it all together.
This is another Germain product and one that is perhaps even more sought after than their copy of Sobraine's legendary Balkan. Esoterica Penzance is characterized by its creosote/peaty air and its overtones of orange, incense, pepper, and wood char. With Esoterica Penzance, Germain blends the finest Virginia, Turkish and Oriental tobaccos with Cyprian Latakia. All the blending is done by hand before the tobacco is hard pressed and cut into thick flakes. Tobacco enthusiasts appreciate not only the unique flavor and Old World airs but also the way it crumbles to facilitate easy loading of tobacco pipes. Like other Germain tobaccos production runs on Esoterica Penzance are quite limited and it sells out quickly.
Lane Edgeworth Slices
With Edgeworth Slices we're really venturing into the realm of tobacco artifacts. Edgeworth was first introduced to the US market 120 years ago and quickly became one of the most popular blends in the country. Its original producer, Larus and Brothers sold their entire tobacco portfolio in 1968 to Lane Limited who continued to produce a highly regarded version of Edgeworth until discontinuing the brand in 2004. The dedicated pipe tobacco enthusiast with some well-honed detective skills might still track down some of Lane's Edgeworth. And if by some combination of luck and pure determination, they should locate some of the Larus and Brothers' original they should consider themselves members of an elite club of tobacco aficionados.
Esoterica Stonehaven is from the same family of JF Germain tobaccos as Esoterica Penzance. Stonehaven is a Virginia Burley flake blend that, like its Esoterica counterpart, is well-aged before Germain releases small amounts to the market, often with little fanfare. You need to be alert, then, if you are going to get your hands on a tin of Stonehaven. But if you are persistent your chances of securing some are pretty good. Stonehaven has carved its name onto the hearts of tobacco enthusiasts with its mindful composition and the way its matured Virginias enhance both complexity and sweetness over time. Expect earthy, rich, and plummy tastes.
Denver's Premier Selection of Quality Tobacco Pipes
Paykoc Pipes provides a world-class selection of tobacco pipes and tobacco pipe accessories for the modern pipe connoisseur. Whether you're looking for the perfect briar pipe for someone's birthday or wholesale tobacco pipes for your smoke shop, trust Paykoc Pipes to have what you need.
Review Paykoc Pipes' previous article for tips on how to create your own tobacco blend.