Although the sale of factory-rolled cigarettes has faltered in recent years, the industry as a whole is still doing extremely well.

According to a 2016 report, one tobacco company alone wrote up nearly $40 billion in gross sales, even though the industry as a whole only spent about a quarter of that on advertising.

A large component of this continued success has been a shift towards alternative products as cigarette sales stagnate.

One popular tactic is to target niche markets. Pipe smokers, cigar aficionados, and hand-rollers are all desirable customers to court.

But these customers have more demanding tastes than the average cigarette smoker. Earning their custom requires offering them a selection of quality tobacco blends to suit their tastes.

To capitalize on their business, you will need to understand how quality tobacco is blended, rated, and how to pick it out for yourself.

How Tobacco is Blended and Rated

Commercial tobacco comes in three general varieties: Virginia, Burley, and Oriental.

From there, the tobacco can be further divided up into different subcategories, depending on its region of origin, the part of the plant taken, and the quality.

The basic characteristics of these types of tobacco are as follows:

Virginia Tobacco

Virginia, also known as flue-cured tobacco, is so named for having originated in the U.S. state of Virginia.

It is sometimes also called “bright tobacco” due to because of the yellow-orange color it turns during the curing process. The heat-driven curing process renders the tobacco into a dry, mold-resistant product, making it suitable for long-term storage.

In addition to its native North America, it grows well in subtropical regions with light rainfall like Zimbabwe and southern Brazil.

Virginia blends only contain flue-cured tobacco. No additives or flavors are used in its production. Even without additives, it can have a broad range of nicotine levels, spanning from 1-3.5%.

It is the preferred tobacco type for cigarettes in Canada, the United Kingdom, and its native United States.

Burley Tobacco

Burley tobacco produces a slightly greener leaf relative to Virginia tobacco.

It requires heavier, higher soil to grow than its Virginian cousin. It is a popular crop in the states of Maryland and Kentucky, as well as Malawi, Uganda, Indonesia and the countries of Central America.

Burley is treated through air-curing. The primary difference between this process and flue-curing is that air-curing takes place under ambient conditions; no additional heat is applied.

The end product is similar in that it produces a dry, mold resistant product. It differs, however, in that almost none of the tobacco’s natural sugars survive the process.

This imparts an almost cigar-like quality to the tobacco, but can also make it somewhat irritating. Sugars like molasses or licorice are often added after the fact to temper this quality. It is sometimes blended with Virginia or Oriental tobacco to make an American blended cigarette.

Oriental Tobacco

Oriental tobacco is the hardiest of the three main varieties.

Grown in the arid regions of Turkey, the Balkans, and the Middle East, Oriental tobacco has an aromatic flavor. It is sun-cured, a process that encourages chemical changes that contribute to its unique flavor.

Top Tobacco Blends

To understand some of the variances in the different types of tobacco, it is helpful to sample a few for yourself.

To that end, here are some of the best-selling and highest-rated blends available.

1. OHM Pipe Tobacco

OHM is a premium American blend.

Its flavor profile is slightly grassy and sweet, with a toasty mouthfeel. It is very mild and pleasant, making it well suited to both smokers new and old.

2. Kentucky

As the name would imply, this is a pure, dark fired blend of Kentucky-grown tobacco.

A potent blend, Kentucky tobacco has an above-average nicotine content. It burns wells and provides a steady flow, and is well-cut for packing.

3. Cherokee

Cherokee is one of the best sellers worldwide.

It comes in a small variety of flavors. Each blend is lauded for being a smooth, easy smoke, making them all good entry points for new smokers.

4. Gambler

Gambler is a fairly inexpensive American blend.

It is smooth, easy-to-light smoke. Its full, rich flavor stands up to some of the best, and more expensive, blends on the market.

5. Largo

Largo is another high-quality, high-value blend.

Perfectly cut and reliably moist, Largo is an excellent smoke. It’s rich, comforting flavor makes it n excellent choice for any occasion.

6. Good Stuff

Good Stuff is an additive-free blend, making it the choice for the all-natural smoker.

It is a slow-burning tobacco, perfect for a relaxing, leisurely smoke. It is smooth and easy on the throat. 

7. 752°

752 is another blend from the makers of OHM.

It comes in a couple of different varieties, each accounting for differences in taste. 752 Gold is the gold standard for a casual smoke. It has a modest amount of added flavor and smokes smoothly. It is an excellent all-around blend.

8. 4Aces

If you are going to name your product something “4Aces”, you had better be confident in its quality.

Fortunately, this blend is a winning hand. It is a pleasurable, refined smoke at a lower price point than similarly excellent tobaccos.

9. Criss Cross

Criss Cross is a superb tobacco for rolling or pipe packing.

Produced in America, it is a smooth, mellow tobacco available in a variety of flavors. It is not by accident that Criss Cross is one of the most cherished pipe tobacco blends available.

10. Golden Harvest

Golden Harvest produces the closest to a perfect bunch of blends as you are ever liable to find.

It is additive and preservative free, making it great for all-natural smokers. It is mild, but not entirely without a kick, which makes it great for novice and venerable smokers alike.

Despite not using flavor additives, it nevertheless comes in a variety of blends. Whether you opt for the blue, yellow, green, red, or silver blend, you can count on a distinct and memorable smoking experience.

The More You Know, the Better You Can Buy

Not all tobacco blends are created equal.

As the tobacco market becomes increasingly specialized, your ability to thrive depends on your knowledge of your product.

To make the best-informed bulk tobacco purchase, contact our regional team for more information and for quotes.