Nothing is normal in the year of 2020. With that, it’s time for a re-revival of a once-popular Dunhill-branded pipe tobacco, one I am fairly fond of, Nightcap. The sad part is, Nightcap under Dunhill doesn’t exist anymore. After decades of being handled by Murray’s after some back-and-forth by Dunhill itself, Scandinavian Tobacco Group (or “STG” for short) was tasked to take over the contents of Dunhill’s tins. It’s far more confusing and detailed than that, however, it’s interesting to me that now all of Dunhill’s pipe tobacco bears the name of “Peterson.” Yes, the same Peterson that makes pipes, that has their own tobacco line. Peterson now adorns a former pipe making company and tobacco making company Dunhill even though they make pipes and also have their own tobacco. The good, short news of it is: if you miss Dunhill pipe tobacco, you’re in for a treat.
It’s been probably eight to ten months since Peterson finally scrubbed the “Dunhill” name off of a host of it’s more recognizable pipe tobacco tins. It was slow to reach all corners of the market, but for the past few months it’s been relatively easy to find Peterson’s switchovers. Early Morning Pipe, De Luxe Mixture, Flake, Standard Mixture, Elizabethan Mixture, Royal Yacht, My Mixture 965 and yes, my choice for reviewing this month, Nightcap, all have tin graphics that are familiar. Simply seeing “Peterson” above them is odd, but it’s worth noting that if you liked the pipe tobacco over the last two decades (give or take), you’re in luck: STG was stuffing Dunhill’s tins with the same leaf that now bear’s Peterson’s name.
Me? I’m delighted by the fact Peterson adorns Dunhill’s familiar tins. Peterson itself is a fantastic company run by wonderful people. These same people I tried to order a stem that had cracked on a Peterson 80S model, my favorite, wouldn’t let me. No, I called them, and with credit card in hand, they simply asked for the line my pipe was from and my address, and almost with a mischievous snort over the phone said “Thank you, Kyle,” giggled and hung up. I called back and they said not to worry my order was on its way—and not to worry. Some weeks later I had a stem perfectly fitted for my pipe and a tin of Irish Flake. I use a pen name, and didn’t give them my real name. That meant any “pull” I might have wasn’t even known. This means the average Joe must also get treated pretty well by Peterson. That made me a fan for life. Alfred Dunhill isn’t forgotten, his idea with pipes is simply being handled by people who could take on the tradition in the 21st Century.
Peterson’s Nightcap, as mentioned before, has a tin that looks very familiar to the defunct Dunhill product no longer available. Opening the tin, it’s a smokey and pungent mix of citrus sweets, tangy sours and I’d be lying if I said I was surprised. I’m very familiar with this blend. I had the opportunity to get familiar with the Murrays version of Nightcap when it was still Dunhill (but pre-STG) and I found I liked the STG product better. Early Morning Pipe is one of my top three favorite pipe tobaccos, and Nightcap is a delight in its own right. The mahogany strips of tobacco peppered with dark spots of Latakia and bright spots of Virginia look just as they did eight years ago when I first tried this stuff.
The first lights are a good test if you’ll like this tobacco or not. Latakia isn’t everyone’s favorite, and Nightcap is one of those English blends that does Latakia correctly. Sometimes a Latakia-heavy mix is nice, but for the most part it’s a component. A quarter-pound hot dog with another quarter-pound of mustard doesn’t make a lot of sense, but some people are really into it. The initial puffs of Nightcap are as strong as the Latakia will get, period. The first quarter of the bowl, in fact, has a pretty dominant Latakia nose to it with a great mouthfeel of some rich Virginias which give it a lemon tang and a silky, custard-like mouth feel.
Around mid-bowl is where Nightcap settles into itself. This tobacco needs some fairly regular tamping if you find relighting is a bother. This tobacco doesn’t respond well to heavy puffing, either—so tamp carefully, and have a lighter handy. The midway point is where the Latakia calms down a little and a meaty quality picks up. A wheat-like grassiness is faint and very pleasant here. This is also where the nicotine can start to kick in. I really dislike using the term “leathery” as a flavor, because I’m sorry, I don’t lick, eat or chew leather. There is, however, on the nose, a quality that is similar to leather. It holds the rich qualities forward and really pairs well with a rye or a bourbon.
When the stoking of your pipe hits the last third of the bowl, this is where things get interesting. Some time back I had a debate with some folks whether Nightcap did or did not contain Perique, the spicy Louisiana leaf people either seem to love or hate. I’m sensitive to Perique, and I was shocked to learn Nightcap might feature it. If it is in there, the end of the bowl is where it starts to wake up. The dregs of the bowl, the simmered and stewed tobacco at the heel is often what I live for when I light up a pipe. Nightcap gives one of the best experiences in this regard. Like an afterparty, the main act joins in, the crowd, the roadies, even the sound guys. Nightcap finishes with a bang, and in just the right way. By the time you may be looking at your pipe and saying, “…I do believe I’ve had enough,” there’s usually not much more than a puff or two, and it’s over.
Peterson’s Nightcap, or any Nightcap you’re likely to have, really, does things real, and does things right. While not an everyday smoke for me, it travels well, is easily found (now, thankfully) and has never been too complex or haughty, nor is it basic or boring. It’s flavorful, honest, fairly stout and puts a smile on my face. Nicotine can be variable. As a matter of fact, I don’t like smoking this at night. It’s not the strongest tobacco I’ve ever smoked, but something with the way the nicotine is delivered it lingers for a long time. I dubbed Nightcap with the moniker “Nightmare,” for a reason: anyone that has had too much nicotine before sleep can likely attest to having some very odd dreams. Early Morning Pipe is far tamer before bed, and Nightcap is a great way to kick-start your brain in the morning. Well, my brain anyway—your experience may vary.
While this year is topsy-turvy, grab a tin of Peterson Nightcap. It took a long, weird time to get to where it is today, largely because people that know good products knew this was also a good product. Dunhill might be but a fading memory for most of us, but the tradition lives on in its own way through Peterson.
Smoke what you like, and like what you smoke.
- Editor Rating
- Rated 5 stars
- Peterson Nightcap Tobacco Review
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Nightcap was a favorite under the Dunhill brand, and it still is under the Peterson brand name.