Stanwell Vanilla Pipe Tobacco (A Longform Review For You!)

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It’s 1 p.m. on a Monday afternoon, and I find myself craving some sweets. I’m watching my weight, so a cupcake is out of the question. I reach for my Savinelli 645, considering what I should smoke. It’s cold outside, so I want something that will impart some warmth but also satisfy this sweet tooth. I decide to crack a tin of Stanwell Vanilla.

The aroma of the tobacco that hits me as I open the tin works to further my excitement for smoking it. There are warm touches of vanilla bean in the tin note as well as an undercurrent of vinegar and dark fruit.

I sit down at my desk and slide out my Folding Tobacco Mat. I fluff the tobacco up to prepare for loading. The aroma strengthens. The tobacco is the perfect smoking humidity, dry to the touch but not brittle, which is a welcome change from other vanilla blends I’ve encountered.

I begin packing the pipe.

The mottled ribbon cuts of Burley, Cavendish, Oriental/Turkish and Virginia tobacco pack easily into the pipe. There is no aromatic goop as I pack; no stickiness either and this makes me happy, as I notice hallmarks of a quality fragrant smoke.

I pack the pipe to a medium tightness using the Goldilocks method. I set the rest of the tin aside to be jarred up later in a Ball jar. Once again, I must say that I love the tin note, which is quite sweet and inviting with the warmth of cupcakes cooling in the breeze of an open window on a quiet spring day in Kentucky. Hopefully, this will be better than any cupcakes, which will go straight to my gut.

Upon the false light, I find that the tobacco’s scent of vanilla and dark fruit I smelled in the tin note intensifies with the heat. It lights well straight from the tin and requires no drying time, which is very handy. I get the feeling this blend will smoke well in anything, so long as you pack it nicely with a medium force. There are strong notes of fresh vanilla bean which remind me of my grandma’s kitchen as a small boy. The taste of confectionary goodness comes into play.

You will find me talking quite a bit about my grandmother in my reviews and reminiscing about our time spent in the kitchen and on her farm. I spent a lot of time with her as a young child because both my parents worked on and off and they left me with her quite a bit. These are times I often reflect on as I smoke a good pipe; a farmland childhood.

I give it the true light, and the taste deepens but never builds to full strength.

The vanilla comes in heavy, but not overwhelmingly so, after it has rested and that is par for the course, but I begin to taste light tones of Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup as well, just hints here and there, it never steps over the Vanilla.

The tart sweetness of dark fruits and raisins mix with the more onerous smashed vanilla bean and then settle on a base of Virginia summer hay and the spice of the Oriental/Turkish. It is a pleasing mix of aromas, although I may cellar the blend for six months to settle the vanilla and mix the flavors better, just a suggestion.

It smokes warm, but not hot. It’s not a troublesome smoke, as many aros tend to be; you just need to watch your pacing, which is entirely acceptable for a blend such as this.

The burley comes in light, with a smooth smokey sweet taste under the others, followed by a tart tobacco taste from the Cavendish that I didn’t notice till mid bowl.

The vinegar smell I found in the tin, which may turn some people off, was barely present in the final third of the smoke. Just a hint of sour tartness came through, which still may be a red flag to some. I found it neither pleasurable nor nasty; only there and I worked around it as I could.

The smoke itself is a medium thickness and inviting with a pleasant room note that is fragrant with the vanilla. It passes the “wife test” in that my partner Amanda found the aroma pleasing.

I finish the bowl with whitish gray ash, all the way to the bottom with no relights. An acceptable experience for an aromatic, although not fantastic due to a bit too much-unneeded complexity that wasn’t for me. Other’s may enjoy that aspect of the smoke.

I would say an idea smoking situation would be sitting on the porch on a cool spring afternoon with a glass of sweet tea. I’d smoke it in a pipe with a medium bowl and a more extended stem to cool the smoke. The nicotine is low as far as I could tell. It burns well; it’s easy to prepare.

Other Tobacco Notes:

Stanwell’s Vanilla is an acceptable smoke with quality tobacco. It burns nicely to mottled gray ash. No goop or doddle. And it remains middling for the whole bowl.

Strength Notes: This tobacco is of medium strength, while the nicotine is low.

Cut: The tobacco comes in a speckled mix of ribbon cuts.

Nicotine Strength: The nic hit is low without a noticeable tingle on the tongue.

Drink Pairing: I enjoyed this tobacco with a glass of sweet tea.

Smoking Time: Best enjoyed in the afternoon to relax. It had a medium to short burn time and took about an hour to smoke in a medium bowl.

Pipes Used: Savinelli 645 Piazza di Spagna. It works well in a medium bowl. I would have smoked this in a churchwarden, but mine was resting at the time. I think a longer stem would improve the experience. Otherwise, it will burn in just about anything. There is a chance of ghosting with a blend due to the topping, so keep that in mind.

Age When Smoked: Fresh from the tin.

3/4 Stars. An acceptable vanilla aromatic.

Brand Stanwell
Blend Type Aromatic
Contents Burley, Cavendish, Oriental/Turkish, Virginia
Flavoring Plum, Vanilla
Cut Ribbon
Packaging 50g Tin
Country DK
Production Currently available

All photos are the property of Justin Day at Photography By Day Studio. You can find more of my work here.

 

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