Mac Baren – Royal Twist (2021)

As more people flee the world of vapes and cigarettes, pipes and cigars — but mostly cigars — show the signs of experiencing a renaissance. If you can work from home, why not enjoy a leisurely two-hour relaxing smoke instead of hurriedly wolfing down a nicotine jolt in the parking lot?

Following the expectations one might have of a renewed burst of interest, we are seeing more pipe tobacco blends floated by manufacturers who are looking to see what “sticks.” In my view, the industry is torn between wanting to cater to influencers who want to smoke one bowl of some exotic boutique blend a week, and regulars who would like good quality smokes at a good price and easy availability.

Looking for that next big all-day smoke, Mac Baren re-introduced its Royal Twist, originally a stalwart of its line but now mostly morphed into Dark Twist, for those who like the Per George Jensen specialty, the tobacco rope bound with maple sugars and sliced into tiny adorable curlicues that burn with the same smoldering patience as flakes. From the tin notes:

Select Virginias, Dark-Fired Kentucky, and Perique form the core of this complex mixture, elevated by a naturally sweet, whole-leaf Virginia wrapper for a nuanced, all-day smoking experience with just the right amount of peppery, smoky spice. Meticulously handspun into ropes, aged for weeks, and sliced into delicate coins, Royal Twist is a testament to Mac Baren’s proud spun-cut legacy.

At a first look, this blend will obviously compete with other “vaperky” (Virginia, Perique, Kentucky) blends such as Dark Twist, Roll Cake, Three Nuns Green, and Savinelli Doblone d’Oro, especially since all three roll off the same Mac Baren production line. What makes Royal Twist unique is that unlike Doblone d’Oro, it has no regular flue-cured Burley; unlike Roll Cake and Club Blend, it has no Cavendish; unlike the Kentucky-half of Dark Twist, it has Perique; and unlike Three Nuns Green, it seems to be aged in rope format before slicing, with the pressure sweetening the Virginias and giving the dark fired Kentucky Burley a warm flavor instead of purely smoky, spicy goodness.

Since Royal Twist shares so much in common with these other blends, it makes sense that Mac Baren try it out for popularity before potentially colliding with its existing, very popular lines of curly cut tobaccos, a format that Mac Baren has excelled in producing for the last century and considers its signature cut of pipe tobacco blends. That storied blending house might consider adopting Royal Twist as a regular item because it is both delicious and stout enough to please a regular smoker.

When the tin opens, Royal Twist gives off a scent of fermented fruit with a slightly berry-like overtone, melding into the spicy flavor of dark fired Kentucky Burley which has been given the Mac Baren softening treatment, not quite as much as their natural Cavendish but with just enough edge taken off to avoid having this smoke-cured leaf dominate the blend. The Virginias hide their scent behind the fermented smell, having themselves mellowed quite a bit during the rope-rolling and aging process, and probably coming from stock that is a few years old, as Mac Baren tends to employ.

First light brings a wave of Virginia flavor, a sweetness like unsugared apricot jam or marmalade, where the tangy flavor of the fruit melds with the sugars to give it a zesty, almost spicy flavor. Then the dark fired Kentucky Burley appears like a phantom on the horizon, both lifting that taste up with a wave of powerful rich Burley flavor and enhancing its spice with a smoky barbecue type vinegar-scented taste. At about the same time, the Perique emerges, bringing that Virginia fruitiness to a wine-like level, rendering the flavor both deeper and sharper.

Whatever Mac Baren has used as its topping and binding agent cooks the leaf quickly, and this blend feels as if it had more time aging in rope form, because the Virginias caramelize quickly and the blend reverts to oddly a berry-like flavor with a rich inner core like toasted nuts. If you remember those old-fashioned “Turkish Delight” deserts which had toasted almonds in that almost ectoplasmic apricot jelly, this seems to be the idea: a desert which is not too sweet, but has some tangy fruit flavor, but that is balanced by a nutty, almost toasted breadlike flavor to give it some body. The bowl remains at this level until the very end, which makes it both consistent and not quite definable like the best of blends.

Could you smoke this all day? The archetypal “all-day smoke” is designed around fears of too much nicotine, tongue exhaustion from flavor, and easy of burn. In my view, this blend presents the right amount of nicotine to be smoked all day without getting sick, but also without setting it aside from boredom because of mildness, and while it has an intense flavor, presents that flavor gently. The little curlicues light like ribbon cuts but burn like flakes, so a bowl of this will last you a couple hours of pleasurable smoking at a glacial pace, since enough flavor comes through that you will feel no need to suck and puff on the stem like a kid at the fair trying to slurp down a chocolate malt before he rides the rollercoaster again.

In the end calculus, this is another triumph for Mac Baren in its chosen field of study, the curly cut rope. Like Stockton, it tames the dark fired Kentucky Burley, but not too much; it is a far cry from HH Bold Kentucky or Irish Flake, but still retains the power of this smoke. Like Doblone d’Oro, it offers a nice leisurely smoke which provides the perfect balance between Burleys and Virginias to avoid getting clobbered by each, but with the added flavor range of the Perique, which is here enough to be delicious but not so much that you end up feeling like someone just whapped you in the face with the nicotine stick.

Tags: , , , , ,

42 thoughts on “Mac Baren – Royal Twist (2021)”

  1. Spaniard says:

    I think it might be time to sunset DMU and set up an archive link. At this point it seems deader than Burton.

    1. There’s only so much time and energy for its principal writer, and the review queue has not been good to us over the past week. I guess I could write about some crap if you just want something to read, but they tend to be tautological reviews, “it’s OK if you like that sorta thing.”

      1. Spaniard says:

        Nah, not interested in redundant reviews. I mentioned it before but it seems to have fallen on deaf ears or in this case, blind eyes; I’d like to see a DMU Kumite in which classic albums or legendary bands are compared. Factors to be taken into consideration can be: 1) Which band has the better discography? 2) Which album/band was more influential? 3) Which album/band was more groundbreaking? 4) Which album/band had superior musicianship? 5) Which album/band is more respected by genre fans? 6) Which album/band adhered to the principles of said genre better?

        A DMU Kumite could invigorate this site and spur interesting replies/debates in the comments section.

        1. the left is the truth says:

          That’s a fantastic idea.

          1. Spaniard says:

            I think so; Brett may be a goofy huckster, but his writing on extreme metal is pretty insightful. It would be curious to see what his current views are on albums and bands that he previously reviewed when pitted against each other.

        2. T Malm says:

          Nah, that sounds like some gay clickbait garbage on Terrorizer or something.

        3. I’ve thought about this for awhile, and I don’t think the idea fits the DMU.

          For starters, it only makes sense to think of bands in terms of their good albums. Every band runs down eventually except those who have the wit and wherewithal to make their good albums and then disband forever.

          Then, a really good album really does not compare with others in a grading-style score. Is the first Incantation album better than the first Immortal album? …at that level, they are in the winner’s circle, and I can’t bring myself to try to divide much further, unless talking about possibilities (what would first album Incantation be like at Immortal pacing and with its atmosphere?).

          A buddy and I were talking the other day about how “Maze of Torment” might make an interesting funeral doom song. There are possibilities everywhere.

          1. Spaniard says:

            I’ve thought about this for awhile, and I don’t think the idea fits the DMU.

            False. This idea totally fits DMU and as a matter of fact, you did an ersatz version of this a while ago when you compared Blasphemy’s FOAD to Blood’s Impulse to Destroy as well as Napalm Death’s Scum to Carbonized’s For The Security. Granted it wasn’t as detailed as I described, but the possibility for a Kumite was there.

            Is the first Incantation album better than the first Immortal album?

            Apples and oranges comparison; I can’t tell if you’re purposely being specious, or if you legitimately meant this. You’re talking about albums and bands from two different genres. My idea of DMU Kumite is more along the lines of: Incantation’s Onward to Golgotha vs Immolation’s Dawn of Possession, Darkthrone’s A Blaze In The Northern Sky vs Immortal’s Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism, Pestilence’s Consuming Impulse vs Suffocation’s Effigy of the Forgotten, Burzum’s Hvis lyset tar oss vs Mayhem’s De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, Bathory’s S/T vs Hellhammer’s Apocalyptic Raids…I think you get the picture. The question is: How does this not fit the DMU ethos of progress through conflict? Unless of course it’s all just a bunch of feckless horseshit in which case, carry on.

          2. Maize of Cornment says:

            “Maze of Torment” would most likely sound good in any context, even as a fruity flower power song.

        4. LordKrumb says:

          A few years ago, Old Disgruntled Bastard did a series of “Death Metal Battle Royale” articles that were partly along the lines of what you’re suggesting:

          The insights into some of the classic albums are very well written and insightful, but I don’t think the contest itself really offered anything of value to fans, old or new. Perhaps the contest aspect was just a good excuse to re-evaluate some classics.

          I fully support your idea to do something which will “invigorate this site and spur interesting replies/debates in the comments section”. The quantity and quality of reader comments here has declined over the years. Not so long ago (I’d suggest around 2014 – 2016), the comments sections on many of the articles and reviews were often as stimulating to read as the articles themselves. I admit I could have contributed more responses, but often the handful of trashy comments make it seem like it’d be a waste of time.

          1. Spaniard says:

            First, thanks for your reply sir. I will check out the link you posted as it sounds something along the lines of what I’m mentioning. It’s a shame people like you were turned off to this site by the imbeciles who come here to do drive-by sperging. You’re 100% correct about the comments section here a few years ago; I found some really informative posts and highbrow banter from the likes of bitterman, Rainer Weiskusat (I maybe misspelling his last name), Daniel Maarat and David Rosales. Brett’s decided to direct his energies to mentally masturbating over on Amerika and DMU has been circling the drain as a result. That’s why I posted my comment about sunsetting DMU; at this stage, it’s reminding me of Old Yeller. I appreciate the vote of support although I think nothing will come of it.

            1. LordKrumb says:

              I’m more optimistic. I believe this site can regain its peak strength.

              Even if it seems like every great work of metal has already been covered here, there are many stimulating observations and ideas buried in old DMU articles that could perhaps be re-visited and explored further?

              In addition to the valued commenters you mentioned, some others from the past who spring to mind: Dualist, Trystero and ODB (Old Disgruntled Bastard). There are others whose names I can’t remember.

              1. Spaniard says:

                Hey, pardon the delayed reply. I checked out the Old Disgruntled Bastard link you suggested and was pleasantly impressed with his material. I disagreed with his take on Immolation’s Here In After being superior to Demilich’s Nespithe but found myself agreeing with the rest of his picks.

                It’s a hard pill to swallow (especially if you feel nostalgia for this site), but DMU is finished. This is something that I write as a matter of fact rather than an exuberant gloat. This guy sums up Spinoza Ray Prozak/Brett Stevens better than I do:

                1. What is he talking about with the $50?

                  1. Spaniard says:

                    Dunno, that was before my time here. To be fair, while you may be a huckster, I didn’t/don’t get grifter vibes from you. Then again, you are Alt-Right which is/was rife with grifter charlatans. Quite frankly, I don’t know what to make of it. The question is: What reason would he have to make something like that up?

                    1. The question is: What reason would he have to make something like that up?

                      Why do people make things up? The usual: envy, resentment, and beating down the competition.

                      Then again, you are Alt-Right which is/was rife with grifter charlatans.

                      All politics is, unfortunately, because the money is there. Bruce Charlton called this one:

                      And it is natural; since the secular Right always sells-out, and opportunities for the secular Right intellectuals to be bought-off, co-opted and in general sell-out (for power, status, cash, sexual opportunity etc.) are looking very good, just at present.

                2. Homeless metal guy says:

                  Don’t you have anything better to do

                3. Seaman says:

                  The guy in the video sounds like an utter idiot though I’m familiar with the droneriot moniker from somewhere. High, drunk babbling is not something you should place much stock in. The guy obviously doesn’t respect himself enough and neither should you.

                  1. Spaniard says:

                    High, drunk babbling is not something you should place much stock in.

                    If this is the case, roughly three quarters (and I think I’m lowballing it) of metalheads should be disregarded. Let’s also not forget that by his own admission, Brett was a pothead. Just the same, I appreciate the reply. Take care sir.

                  2. There are also issues on the internet and in the metal underground with mental health. I can’t speak to the person in question, but a great number of the FMP/NWN posters were later revealed to be living on disability for mental health conditions, which explained a lot of their behavior. This is relevant only because they tend to self-medicate whenever possible with all sorts of drugs, which usually just makes the situation worse.

      2. A dick says:

        Save your time writing on quality.

    2. Cutoff sweatpants says:


  2. Kevin Costner says:

    This is a deathmetal website. Not a tobacco website, make a tobacco website if you want to do tobacco reviews. No-one likes them. No-one reads them.

    1. Why are so many people on the internet so bitchy? Go outside, get a life, go on. We’ll wait.

    2. T Malm says:

      You should go make another movie. I’m sure you can succeed if you just stay positive. I believe in you, Kevin!

      1. Riled Up Kevin Costner says:

        Don’t condescend me you worm. I WAS IN WATERWORLD! if I wanted to make another movie I would do it, I don’t need some internet punk telling me what do do. Go outside, get a life, go on. We’ll wait.

        1. Guru says:


        2. T Malm says:

          Sorry Mr. Costner, I forgot who I was talking to. Please keep me in mind if you are looking for someone to play a repentant internet commenter in Waterworld 2. PS I already have a life, it consists of making internet comments that I later regret and apologizing for them.

    3. A dick says:

      I read them.

  3. Neurotics Hunter says:

    A relaxing smoke, huh? Are you stressed out much, Brett? You’re not one of them pesky neurotics, are ya?

    1. Nope, relaxing smoke as contrasts a more complicated one. Just like and go. Not as much a no-brainer as some of my favorites like Prince Albert, but very close.

  4. Prozak's Femboy Sex Slave says:

    don’t listen to the haters, the tobacco reviews are the best part of this site

  5. Smokey the bear says:

    I enjoy the Tobacco reviews, Brett. Fuck the haters and thanks for keeping DMU alive.

    1. Thanks to all for reading, and for the positive commentary (as well as the occasional insightful criticisms).

  6. Psychic Psych Toad says:

    I mix shwag with Bugler to stretch it out.

  7. Mr. Malaka says:

    DMU got me into pipe smoking, tobacco and Metal go hand in hand.

    1. Tweaked Out Kevin Costner says:

      Actually tobacco has nothing to do with metal. Meth on the other hand does, but the people who run this site are too pussy to do meth reviews.

    2. Tweaked Out Kevin Costner says:

      METH REVIEWS WOULD BE GREAT. As more people flee the world of Adderall and Ritalin, Meth and speed – but mostly Meth – Show signs of experiencing renaissance. If you can work from home, why not enjoy a leisurely two hour relaxing smoke of crank instead of boofing down half a gram in the parking lot.

  8. Jared Kush says:

    Yeah? Every non-HH MacBaren I’ve had tasted like shit.

    1. Which have you had?

      1. Jared Kush says:

        Not terribly many. Plumcake and some awful (chemical) vanilla pastry. I’ve tried a few other Scandinavian blends and been similarly disappointed. HH Rustica, virginia and bold kentucky are the real shit tho.

  9. Grossberger says:

    I used to frequent dmu and anus as an angst filled teen discovering metal. Now as a crabby old man I only come back for the tobacco reviews.

Comments are closed.

Classic reviews: