Our Score (3 / 5)
- Blend Type – Virginia
- Blend Contents -Virginia and Burley, Varietal Unknown
- Cut – Rope
- MSRP – $5, oz Bulk
- Tin Date – Acquired June 2013
- Pipe Material – Corn Cob
- Bowl Dimensions – .690” W x 1.695” D
Initial Reactions and Appearance
This tobacco has been aging since 2013, so opening the jar is fairly exciting and the first whiff does not fail to satisfy. I very much enjoy the straightforward tobacco smell that HBB has in spades. Whether you want to call it leathery, barnyard-y, or earthy, you’re probably right. There’s also the hint of dark fruit that seems to accompany a lot of strong, full-flavored pipe tobaccos.
Happy (Brown) Bogie is an old-fashioned “Rope” tobacco; whole leaves are twisted together to form ropes which are sold in coiled lengths. The outer layer of leaf is roughly textured with color ranging from an oily-leather-brown to almost black. Cut, the rope reveals a midnight vortex of leaves packed tightly together.
Folks often cut rope tobacco into thin slices, making “Coins” which are then loaded whole into the pipe and smoked. However, I decided to cut a chunk of rope into small pieces and then roll out the tobacco into a rough shag. After letting the tobacco dry for a few minutes, I pack it into my well-loved Missouri Meerschaum Great Dane Spool corncob.
The beginning is milder than expected. Having been warned repeatedly that this was a serious tobacco for rough-and-tumble smokers, I sort of expected to be punched out immediately. Perhaps five years was too long, did this age out? At first I find it difficult to pinpoint what the flavor reminds me of, but I am getting plenty of pleasant spice in the retrohale. After several minutes of careful poking and prodding at the smoke, I very suddenly arrive at a few conclusions; A) This is certainly not a mild tobacco. B) This tobacco tastes like tobacco. C) There is a mild floral, almost peaty flavor on the back of the retrohale.
The smoke is strong, no two ways about it.
The flavor has grown in intensity. There’s little nuance or change in the smoke until, for a short period, it surprises me with taste similar to burned green foliage. A little acrid, quite unpleasant. Seeing as my pipe is also suddenly quite warm, I believe this may be as a result of smoking too quickly. I put a little more care into keeping the pipe cool, taking slower draws, and the harshness dissipates. After this, the smoke remains just as powerful, but has taken on more of that floral note from earlier. Those who have smoked Latakia tobacco or enjoyed a peaty scotch will be reminded of those experiences here, but not too heavily. Every draw is still dominated by a deep, powerful tobacco taste. I’m not sure what else to call it!
Either I’ve grown accustomed to the black-peppery spice which once accompanied the retrohale, or it has begun to recede. As I continue to smoke, the flavor remains strong, but there is a friendly richness to it. Close to the bottom of the bowl, more dimensions appear. They are all slight variations on the same tobacco flavor, some leaning towards savory wooden note and others towards earth. Once or twice I detect a not-unpleasant note of creosote, though this may be attributed to my location: I’m smoking next to a train track. In any case the flavors all still proudly proclaim, “I am tobacco!” Then, just at the end, the mildness I experience at the beginning returns once more. A calm end to a very rowdy smoke. Putting down the pipe, I’m left with an aftertaste of oak and quite the nicotine buzz.
Would I Smoke Happy (Brown) Bogie Again?
Absolutely*, with a big asterisk. It smokes cool, I didn’t get any tongue bite, and, though not heavily nuanced, it was quite tasty. On the other hand, this is an in-your-face smoke that would be better enjoyed in a smaller pipe. Even though I prefer a strong smoke, this one is simply too much for regular use in my Great Dane. Maybe we’ll revisit this review with a smaller pipe when I’ve recovered. Enjoyable as a diversion from the standard, especially after a good meal, but not even a weekly choice for me. My supply of Happy (Brown) Bogie is going to be smoked, and it is going to last me a very long time.
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