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Over the years I've probably smoked all the main brands of rolling tobacco. but my favourite was always Drum, until a couple of years ago I discovered Old Holborn. I'd run out of tobacco while at work one day, and cadged some for a roll-up, from a colleague at work. It was Old Holborn. I was aware of the brand and knew the name but had never tried it - none of my mates smoked it.
On about the second or third drag I thought - oh my god. It was like I had never smoked before. The taste was so rich, and the nicotine hit was so strong - it almost made my eyes water! I was light-headed. But it was the most satisfying cigarette I'd ever smoked.
I bought a pouch of it some time later - and just devoured it, it was so nice. Pretty soon, Old Holborn became my regular tobacco - although I still enjoy Drum every now and again.
Why so good? Before I elaborate, I'll assume that if you're reading this you're a smoker, and enjoy smoking, and probably already smoke roll-ups. I'll speak in that context.
The downsides first. Perhaps the most blatant - it really smells. I mean, it's a very strong tobacco smell - which I usually like - with a kind of burnt-alcoholic-Christmas-pudding kick to it, and which seems to immediately fill my nostrils every time I open the pouch. Actually, I've come to appreciate the smell now but it's an acquired pleasure which you will probably find off-putting at first. My flat-mate - herself a roll-up smoker - always wrinkles her nose in disgust whenever I roll up anywhere near her!
Also, it's not the most glamorous or ladylike brand. I can't think of any women I know apart from me who smoke Old Holborn, certainly not of my kind of age. Quite a few of my girlfriends also smoke roll-ups, and they think I'm a bit unusual for liking it - although they're very happy to scab some of me when they've run out of tobacco themselves and feeling desperate!
And it's not the easiest to roll. If you're used to something like Golden Virginia you'll find it rather dry and brittle by comparison. For that reason, and also because it's really quite strong, I would never recommend it for people new to roll-ups. I have quite small fingers and am naturally pretty good at rolling (what a talent to boast about!) but I still found it a bit tricky at first. I like to use the thin silver Rizlas, as they taste nicer - and the first time I managed to roll-up Old Holborn with one, it was quite a triumph.
Now the plus-sides. First, the flavour. Old Holborn tastes lovely. I suppose I could describe it as a really full, rich tobacco flavour. Perhaps a bit like Drum blue, or Marlboro Reds - but more so, and deeper, nuttier, stronger. Just how tobacco should taste. Delicious.
As for the actual smoke...some people prefer a smooth, soft smoke, but I prefer something with a rougher, coarser texture, that I can actually feel when I take a drag. It might sound odd, but I think that's one of the pleasures of smoking. For me, Old Holborn is perfect. The smoke has a real edge and bite to it, a sharpness, it's heavy, if that makes sense. I can really feel it hit the back of my throat, or in my nose when I exhale. You get a proper sensation from it.
Now, the sad fact is that ultimately we smoke because we're addicted, and when it comes to the nicotine, that's where Old Holborn really delivers. It's strong, in just the right way: the nicotine hit is gorgeous, a beautiful satisfying release which hits the spot exactly.
In terms of practicalities, Old Holborn is as widely available as any major brand of tobacco, and is one of the slightly more expensive ones. Depending on where you buy it, a small 12.5 gram pack is about £3.10-£3.50. I usually buy the larger 50 gram packs, which are about £12.50, and last me around a week.
I guess, to many people, it is a bit strange and taboo to write a positive review about smoking tobacco, for obvious health reasons, but I am a smoker and my preferred choice of tobacco is Old Holborn.
The reason I like to smoke Old Holborn (I smoke it rolled in Rizla papers with filter tips) is because it has a flavour which I can only describe as a rich aromatic and almost perfumy taste. The tobacco is also cut rougher than other tobaccos and I like this because more air circulates through the tobacco while inhaling from my preferred smoking vessel, which is tailored to my own preferences using the materials I have put in brackets at the beginning of this paragraph. Because of the rougher cut and more air circulation through my smoking vessel, this seems to produce my desired effect of a smoother 'smoke' and giving me the soothing satisfaction of relaxation, comfort and taste.
Of course, smokers have received the wrath of prejudice because of modern awareness of health. I agree that one should not smoke around non-smokers and I also believe that if somebody wishes to smoke then that is their choice. The reasons for prejudice towards smokers can be applied to many habits which humans aquire - the main reason being that smoking is 'bad for you'. It seems now that smokers have been the target of such prejudice and by some deemed as anti-social and if you notice the current social and media fashion is to target obese people in the same way and brand them as being outcasts on society. When there are no smokers and there are no more obese people in our society, I can assure you that another group of persons will be the target of social prejudice. If smoking and obesity is regarded as perhaps a form of self-harm and something which may be a drain on medical and health institutions, then there are many people who will fit into this bracket who do not smoke and are not obese. For instance, is driving a car a bad habit? Driving cars increase the chances of fatalities and pump out unhealthy gases into the air we breathe. People who develop the habit of worrying and worry to an extreme increase their chances of developing both mental and physical problems. The person who enjoys adrenalin adventure sports at the risk of injuring or even killing themselves. General sports men and women who put themselves at risk of injury. People using aeroplanes to get to exotic destinations. High heeled shoes which increase the chance of accidents to the novice high-heeling shoe wearing lady or gentleman (in some cases) - this list could probably go on forever. Will we be targeting the people I have described above and more and more people with the same prejudice I have mentioned?
Democracy, freedom of choice and speech exists only if a person/society accepts there will be behaviours, thoughts and habits which do not conform to their own and I believe as long as nobody hurts or inflicts any damage onto another person or thing then everything is 'rosy in the garden'.
After this review and my little added viewpoints I am going to roll a cigarette rolled with my aromatic Old Holborn tobacco and enjoy my smoke accompanied with a hot cup of coffee.
Excellent and very accurate review, Zombietheo. I am a newbie to the old 'Holborn, having being more or less forced to find a new tobacco after Imperial Tobacco destroyed Drum (read my review here - http://www.dooyoo.co.uk/tobacco/drum/1288202/). A friend recommended trying out Old Holborn, as it's very rich in flavour and has a more than satisfying nicotine delivery. So, I went and bought a pouch of Old Holborn and was pleasantly surprised!! The first roll up out of it actually felt like my first real smoke in months, and I got a nicotine hit so strong off it I started sweating! Really nice flavour to it with an almost Vanilla-ish character to it, I find..
I also smoke it in liquorice Rizlas with Swan extra slim filter tips - burns really well and has no foul aftertaste (i.e. Drum). The tobacco itself is very consistent as opposed to finding bits of stalk and the occasional half a tree in your pouch which has to be thrown away (i.e. Drum). The highlight of Old Holborn for me is definitely the nicotine hit. I don't feel like I'm smoking as much.. I'm putting less tobacco in roll-ups, but still getting the nicotine hit I'm after. That elephant's a bit of alright, too.
A friend of mine recently returned from a holiday in Spain, with 20 x 50g pouches of Old Holborn, so my supply is extremely healthy at the moment.. and the BEST part is, unlike ANY other imported tobacco (i.e. cheap 50g pouches of Drum and Golden Virginia) - foreign Old Holborn actually TASTES THE SAME!! I was very surprised - there are some brands of RYO tobacco that taste different depending on the shop you're buying from in the UK - and here, I've got a pouch of Holborn from Spain that tastes practically identical to the stuff I buy from my local shop.
Another point - many many RYO tobaccos lose potency when you get to the bits at the bottom of the pouch.. yet I've noticed with Old Holborn that this is not the case. Granted, you're still open to spillage (which can get annoying when you roll so close to your laptop) - but the bits still maintain taste and nicotine delivery.
mm, the smell of pipe tobacco and ground angels.
This is perhaps the best of all tobacco's ever made or smoked, from the outset you know you're in for a treat with it's shiny, ever so shiny packaging - that .jpg doesn't do the the shinyness of the midnight blue packaging justice and that awesome elephant on the front or back.
It reeks of history (Richard Llyod & Son having established the firm in 1932) and excellent taste; on opening the packet you may be lucky to have some flashback to christmas days with plum pudding and the old grandfather smoking his pipe...or just the smell of rich, sweet tobacco goodness. It smells very good to me, but thats probably memory association.
It's a finely cut dark Virginia tobacco and may be harsh at first or produce a 'bit of a head rush'. It's good in a rolly and equally good in a pipe.
Where as Amber Leaf may smell like honey, this smells a bit more like rum and raisin.
It's much moister than other tobaccos which seem dry and flaky (Amber Leaf, Golden Virginia, and Cutters Choice and this seems to add to the flavour and holds it's moisture well despite the lack of a zip-lock. It has a strong full taste and is very nice with licorice rizla and a plain old extra slim filter. Menthol filters aren't too bad, if you're into that sort of thing, but does seem to have an odd juxtaposition which may liven up the mouths of some jaded long term smoker...emphasis on the may
Now some verifiable fact; it was owned by the Gallaher group who are now owned by Japan Tobacco International who at the time of writing have a stock value of 278,200 ¥ (TSE). This seems good. It's also one of the top 5 popular tobacco products in the UK (the blue one) and the yellow, milder, one is somewhere at the top in Greece. If not at the top.
It's easy to see why, it smells classy and distinctive, goes nicely with old spice and the optional pipe and most importantly it's consistent and has been throughout at least the last 12 years i've been smoking it..