A lone wolf on aromatic or Oriental pipe tobacco : Pipes and Tobaccos Magazine

A lone wolf on aromatic or Oriental pipe tobacco

by Ben Rapaport

Is an aromatic or Oriental blend one of your preferred pipe tobaccos? In a sense, it’s a trick question. Today, the distinction between aromatics and Orientals is sharply drawn in the minds of many American pipe smokers. “Aromatic,” in the popular American sense, refers to blends — predominantly Burley or Cavendish — with flavorings added by the manufacturer. But this is a modern-day usage, one that entered the parlance many decades ago, when our American tastes for sauced and flavored tobaccos became the rage.

However, in the classic sense in which my question is posed, the term “aromatic” refers strictly to Orientals. These were the original aromatics, long before flavored blends took over that moniker. In a much earlier time, and even today among many pipe smokers outside the U.S., Oriental tobaccos were and are the true, botanical aromatics. This is owing to the high concentration of natural flavors that form right in the Oriental leaf as it matures. These natural aromatic properties impart to Orientals the distinctive sweet-andsour flavor profiles for which they are famous. I will sometimes use the terms “aromatic” and “Oriental” interchangeably — in that older, classic sense.


If you want to know the “whole what’s what,” I introduce Frederick A. Wolf, an unsung luminary and, without question, the most prolific writer about Orientals. Frederick A. Wolf may not be a household name, but his singular contribution to the science of tobacco should not go unheralded.


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Category: Ben Rapaport, Fall 2018, Feature Article, Tobacco Articles

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