The internet is somewhat stewing over finding replacements for Dunhill pipe tobaccos, since it looks like production shut down two years ago and the last of them are disappearing from stores and online. You can still find the less-sought-after varieties, like Three Year Matured or Ready-Rubbed Virginia, but good luck finding Nightcap, Early Morning Pipe, or Elizabethan Mixture.16 Comments
A long time ago, when times were more innocent, a tobacco company created a blend called “Baby’s Bottom.” The idea, before the scatological and pedophile implications of our present time drive it from your mind, was that the mixture was smooth… as the proverbial buttocks of a baby. Not much different than King Kobra malt liquor, which back in the relatively-halcyon 1980s told us “Don’t let the smooth taste fool you,” while all of us wondered what the heck they were talking about. Sensing the same resistance all of us have in these cynical days to innocent names, Dunhill returned this one under the name My Mixture BB1938, keeping the nomenclature they developed when their primary business around 1912 or so was keeping track of custom blends for customers.
To cut to the chase, My Mixture BB1938 is a light English comprised of a blend of sweet and bold Virginias, capped off with Latakia, and gently stoved or aged to make it very mild, with a slight vanilla hint on top of it. I heard of this blend earlier today when I tried the Pipes & Cigars BB1938 Match, which is very similar but felt like it had some Burley in it and much more of the vanilla topping. Back in the 1950s when this was a popular blend, “mildness” was prized by pipe smokers. This catch-all term referred to blends that you could not screw up because they were low in nicotine, pleasant in “room note” or the smell after burning, cool burning, and easy to light and keep lit. That meant saying goodbye to coughing wives, pipe burn-out and vomiting in the sink near the employee entrance. With this blend, Dunhill achieved that mildness by denaturing the Virginia and Latakia, and leaving out the Orientals that might otherwise create a slight vinegar taste, creating instead a sweet, soft and gentle mix that you can burn all day without blinking. The Latakia dominates the flavor with a background note of gentle sweetness, with Virginias intruding only as a supporting note of mixed sweet and nutty flavors. It compares favorably to the American Cavendishes but owing to its origins as an English blend, derives its flavor more from the sudden mixing of different elements than a streamlined single flavor. The original is far superior to the Pipes & Cigars version, which comes across as a misplaced aromatic, where the original tastes like a light English without the bitterness and bite gentle crested with vanilla.
As a designer of tobacco products — since they outsource manufacturing and marketing — Dunhill stands as one of the finest outfits on earth. They aggressively find market niches and exploit them by taking a middle-of-the-road approach and then improving until until it is if not a luxurious experience, at least a highly satisfying one. My Mixture BB1938, like Early Morning Pipe and Standard Mixture Mild, targets the broadest segment of pipe smokers who want to enjoy eight to fifteen hours of smoking a day without having to worry about the complexity of pipe or tobacco. You can sit at your computer and puff away complacently for hours, dumping out the dead ash and dottle when each pipe dies, and never be interrupted by the needs of your pipe. Where Early Morning Pipe is like their Mix Mixture 965 a Scottish English with added Cavendish, and Standard Mixture Mild approximates their classic English with the edge taken off, My Mixture BB1938 cuts everything to the minimum and presents instead a conveniently accessible, moderately priced, and soothing tobacco for the working smoker. It might be able to improve itself with the addition of some of the gentler Virginias that the BB1938 Match from Hearth & Home uses, or even some light Burley to cool its burning. As much as I generally dislike tobacco blends with this little nicotine, the flavorful and comforting nature of this one — which we might view as an ancestor of mulled Latakia brands like Esoterica Penzance — keeps me loading the pipe again and turning back, placated, to whatever task has been keeping me from seeking out Royal Yacht and burning down a stack of it.
Quality rating: 4/5
Purchase rating: 5/5
In the world of tobaccos, few more divisive choices exist than the Royal Yacht mixture from Dunhill. Composed of a base of Virginias sweetened during curing and lightly cased with a plum-orange backdrop, Royal Yacht extends the line of Dunhill tobaccos that begins in the Elizabethan Mix: strong natural flavor that seems one-dimensional until the smoker realizes that the dimension is in the tobacco flavor, not in the mixture of differently-cured tobaccos itself or aromatic additives. This is a dramatic contrast to other Dunhill tobaccos like Nightcap, in which the interplay of spicy, sweet and surly tastes creates a kind of coordinated riot; in Royal Yacht, a burley nuttiness and warm Virginia taste are mated to a sweet Virginia and then unified under that rather unobtrusive casing, creating a yeasty and hay-tasting classic Virginia smoke.
It should also be mentioned that, unlike the aromatics — tobaccos in which you taste flavoring more than the leaf, usually vanilla, cherry, peach, chocolate and various alcoholic beverages — Royal Yacht wins you over with the taste of its tobacco and its raw, untamed power. The name may be accurate since this would be the perfect complement to a smooth sea with moderate wind on a large, fast boat with able-minded companions. As a result of its strength, and the lack of variety in its taste, many smokers flee from this blend, hence its divisiveness. For the others, it is 1.76oz of paradise that lights easily and burns down to insubstantial white ash. Its few flavor components — two Virginias, perhaps a hint of burley, and a casing — meld together into a single taste which enhances its composite parts into more than their sum. It produces big billowy clouds of smoke which some claim are rather harsh and stinky, but this is why it is designed as an outdoor tobacco. Like a fine espresso, its rich taste must be savored and appreciated, but changes little throughout the bowl. The subtlety of its flavor within the context of so much power is what makes this tobacco a simple pleasure and work of art.
Much has been said about the Scandinavians taking over production of this tobacco from the English brand Murray. While the first few years seemed a bit unstable, with them taking time to get the hang of things, production at the current time seems of much higher quality and dare I say it, may be on par with the original. During its final years as Dunhill producer, Murray itself engaged in some questionable methods and spotty quality, so the transition needed to happen and now it seems finally done. Many people will hate Dunhill Royal Yacht no matter what the blender does simply because it is not fancy, like most of the over-the-counter (OTC) and boutique tobaccos that people fetishize on internet social media and message boards. If you love the feel of rope in your hand and its scent of organic fiber crafted with power into something functional but elegant, you may enjoy Royal Yacht. It evokes — and thus points us in the direction of restoring — a simpler, manlier time when life itself was viewed as good without endless poking, prodding and configuration to make it safe for nervous humans. This is a good tobacco to throw in your pocket and head out into the deep woods or open sea with, carrying your life in the palm of your hand and eyes open to the future.
Pipe tobaccos navigate a narrow path between twin evils: too sweet and too raw. On one hand, there are cute boutique flavors that would be more appropriate for church potpurri, and on the other bland or unbalanced smokes that taste like tobacco clearcut fires. Dunhill has for years provided a number of a varieties of tinned tobacco which have drawn their defenders and critics. For the casual smoker, London Mixture offers a mixture for comfortable consumption in about any situation. With a reasonable wallop of nicotine, but not an excessive one, and a classic room note — the scent it leaves in the air after being smoked — it goes straight down the middle of the road but does so with a careful nose for what smokers need for an everyday, casual smoke with quality and elegance.
Formed of mixed Virginia, oriental and Latakia tobaccos, London Mixture balances the light earthiness of the Virginia against the sweetness of the oriental and the darkness of the latakia. In the mix, individual shreds of each can be distinguished, but when burned together the result is a gentle mellowness with undertones of more exotic flavors. This Virginia tobacco is not as sweet as others, and this completes the harmony within the blend, allowing each flavor to blend with the others into a single tone from which undertones emerge as the burn continues. Of moderate nicotine, the mix provides a solid smoke but avoids the jumpiness of more ramped up recipes. With a slightly bitter taste forming just as the first smoke twists above the pipe, this aggregate provides enough depth of texture to the smoke to avoid falling into the boredom trap of most medium mixes.
Dunhill built its reputation on providing tobacco for daily use, but generally splinters its blends into specific purposes. The London Mixture bridges the gap for someone who wants to keep a pipe around and fill it with something that avoids extremes but also eschews boredom, and the cantilevered flavors provide that richness and leave a lingering smell that might remind you of Grandad but also draws ladies with daddy issues as well as gardeners who love its earthy undertone. A dry tobacco that burns thoroughly, it provides a good kicking around smoke like an Ibanez is the perfect guitar for ripping out a few riffs or idling away an afternoon with aimless leads and homemade root beer. While this might be pricier than most bulk blends, it provides quality and moderation for the everyday smoker, which is why many people grab this tin rather than mucking about in the world of overly-sweet or -harsh “adventurous” blends.7 Comments