What can I really say about this tobacco that hasn’t already been said? Dunhill Nightcap is one of the best known pipe tobaccos on the market today, and it’s plain to see. Ask around on the web and at your local B&M, see what people say when you tell them you’re in the market for a full-flavored English pipe tobacco. Whether you get a bare top ten list from a google search, or a perfumed dissertation from the whiskered gurus at the pipe store, more likely than not the name “Nightcap” will at some point be uttered. It’s no wonder I ended up buying a tin as my first ever pipe tobacco. The stuff is ubiquitous, online and offline.
Not only are people going on about the flavor and tin note of Nightcap, they’re also talking about the very future of the brand and whether now is the time to stock up on this old legend.
More on that later.
For now, I’m going to assume that there are a dozen or so pipe smokers in the world who haven’t had Nightcap, and for you guys (and gals), here’s a review.
The tin describes the contents within as:
“A rich flavoured smoking mixure for the evening with its period of relaxation and leisure”
TobaccoReviews.com lists Nightcap as an English style blend with “Latakia, Oriental/Turkish, Perique, Virginia.” I personally love English and Scottish styled blends that incorporate spicy Perique, such as Cornell and Diehl’s fantastic Bayou Night.
Nightcap is made in Denmark and manufactured by Scandinavian Tobacco Group under the authority of Dunhill Tobacco of London Ltd., a brand of BAT (British American Tobacco). I purchased a 1.76oz / 50g tin from SmokingPipes.com for, at the time of writing, $9.15 USD. Nightcap is also available in bulk (more on that later, too).
Being the first pipe tobacco I ever smoked, or even handled, my initial Nightcap experience was understandably a bit of an enigma to me. I certainly enjoyed the smell, with its smoky, overtones and its promise of tangy undertones. I remember thinking it smelled like a campfire fueled by some exotic wood I’d only now just encountered.
Having smoked many an English blend between now and then, I still consider a whiff from my swing-top jar of Nightcap to be one of life’s finest and most simple indulgences. Oaky, grassy, pleasantly sour, but creamy; there are some seemingly clashing aromas here, but somehow they all get along wonderfully.
I might have spent more time smelling the jar than actually smoking this blend. Either way, one does not complain.
The ribbon-cut product is easy on the eyes, too. Thick black streaks and whisps of tan crumbs with everything in between. It’s kept its moisture well since the transplant to my large jar, not to say that it was ever soaking.
I was damn excited to light up that first bowl.
Since then, I use my dedicated English pipe, a (1970s?) La Strada Volare 171 bent bulldog. I think its voluminous bowl, thick walls, and sensible, utilitarian “twist” (notice the shank is no diamond!) make it the perfect candidate for puffing on a big English, punctuated by sips of tea or gulps of ale.
That said, Nightcap is not as heavy to me as it once was. This is not to say that it isn’t a full flavored affair: it absolutely is. But perhaps I’ve just exposed myself to many a heavy tobacco, or perhaps the blend has softened over the months spent in a large jar. Whatever it is, I think I actually enjoy it more now than I first remember.
I’m not sure if wearing slippers will enhance this experience. Better safe, than sorry.
Anyway, gone is that sharp-sour, back of the throat tang I remember. Everything is well-blended and creamy now. The Perique is still there offering up spice and more spice, but the smoky Latakia both tempers, and is tempered, by it. It’s a cool smoke. My tongue remains unburned and never-bitten throughout.
Boy, this is actually kind of mellow.
The ribbon burns evenly down to a white ash. Now that I think about it, I don’t think I’ve ever had lighting issues with Nightcap. Even as a lowly pipe-virgin. It’s definitely too wet for me now, but I’ve developed a taste for the drier side of life. As a right-out-of-the-tin tobacco, you could certainly do worse.
Damn, this is smooth stuff.
What time is it? I’ll just rest my eyes…
Ah you’re still here, awesome. And good morning, I guess.
In any case, I’m sure you’ve heard the rumors that BAT is discontinuing the Dunhill brand altogether. “They’ve” cited some upcoming regulations or taxes or other such administrative predicaments.
You may have even read that the Scandinavian Tobacco Group that blends Nightcap is looking to buy the rights to it.
My advice here is two pronged:
- If Nightcap really is going away you need to buy your body weight in pounds.
- If Nightcap is here to stay you still need to buy your body weight in pounds
Hey, can you smoke this stuff in the morning too?
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