Pipe tobacco is an alternative to tobacco used in cigarettes or cigars, but, like all tobacco, it comes from the tobacco plant. To make pipe tobacco, the preparation process varies depending on what type of pipe tobacco is being created. The three different varieties of pipe tobacco include Aromatic, Non-Aromatic and English Blend, all of which have distinct flavours and manufacturing processes.
All tobacco comes from the tobacco plant, which thrives in warm climates. Once the plant is ready to harvest, the tobacco is generally cured for somewhere between 70 to 90 days, which allows the plant to dry out and also causes a chemical change called fermentation that alters the flavour of the tobacco since tobacco initially has a bitter taste when harvested. It is during the fermentation process that nicotine is produced.
Aromatic Pipe Tobacco
Aromatic pipe tobacco has a distinct flavour added to it during the manufacturing process. These flavours vary widely depending on the blend and can be anything from cherry to vanilla to rum. These flavours are achieved by adding casings to the tobacco. The flavours from the casing are then soaked up during the process, adding the distinct tastes to the final product. Aromatic tobacco is broken up into two different categories -- semi-aromatic and lightly-aromatic -- depending on how much flavouring is used.
Non-Aromatic pipe tobacco doesn't have any outside flavours. Instead, it relies on the natural flavour of the tobacco after it is fermented. However, in some cases, the flavour of the final pipe tobacco can be altered by specially ageing the tobacco or fermenting it longer, which will make it taste sweeter.
English Blend pipe tobacco is similar to Non-Aromatic but has a few key differences. The term English Blend was originally coined because England would not allow any additives to be put into its pipe tobacco until 1986, so tobacco manufacturers needed a way to distinguish it from Non-Aromatic pipe tobacco with additives. English Blend tobacco distinguishes itself from other Non-Aromatics through its use of "oriental" tobaccos like Latakia, Virginia and Perique. All of these tobaccos have their own distinct fermentation processes to produce individualised flavours, which vary depending on the manufacturer. Similar to Aromatics, English Blend tobacco uses three different categories to denote the strength of the flavour: mild, medium and full-bodied.