Aromatic pipe tobacco
Approximate price: £3.95 per 25g
Review by Edward Middleton-Hockin
I must confess I chose Judge’s Aromatic purely on price. At £3.95 it was the cheapest blend in the tobacconists. However I’m surely not the only poor sod who’s stricken by penurious times; value is always to be an important factor.
Judge’s Aromatic is aptly named. Opening a packet of tobacco is always a nasal endorphin, so strong and rich is the waft of any good leaf, but Judge‘s was overwhelmingly strong. Its tones of jasmine and vanilla reminded me of incense sticks. They say the first bite of food is with the eye. The first puff of tobacco is always with the nose. Judge’s Aromatic certainly scores high on smell.
Vanilla, as a flavour, strikes me as being a rather subtle one. The heat and acrid quality so beloved of pipe smokers tends to overwhelm the fragrant aromas, at first puff anyway. It must be said too, that this is a fairly high maintenance smoke, it burns slowly and the light must be kept burning with vigorous puffs.
Another drawback is that is it produces an uncanny amount of tar. It’s a good idea to check the mirror now and then, mid-smoke, to wipe away any black blobs, or stray strands caught in your teeth. This is a worrying development. A messy tobacco can be a real passion killer. If your lips get oily and your teeth turn brown then guaranteed your Celia Johnson will run off with Trevor Howard.
Post smoke, once you’ve wiped away the tar, and tapped out the bowl, then it comes into its own. The vanilla and jasmine hang in your mouth and while, unlike some smokes which have the flavour of an entire meal, this one does leave a very pleasant ghost in the mouth. It’s a very delicate, sweet taste, although I can’t shake the sense of having a joss stick in my mouth. I feel as though my mouth has been turned into Rheims Cathedral, and I expect to find a priest baptising an infant in the far reaches of my molars.
Ghosts and priests, though, are not enough. After a pipe, one expects a good strong taste to linger in the mouth. As with smoking it, the post-smoke taste is just a little too subtle for my palette. And, considering how acrid the smoke itself was, subtle hints seem a poor pay off. Though considering I went for value over money, my inner cynic cannot help but shrug and say, “What did you expect for £3.95?”
It is a perfectly satisfactory smoke, and good value if you want a work-a-day, tide-you-over average sort of tobacco. Just watch out for the tarry mess.