Barking Dog tin with Forseti Bent Egg Briar. © 2017 James Hill
Happy Sunday, Pipesmen! Today we’ll be trying out a classic - Barking Dog. Light ‘em if you’ve got ‘em!
Barking Dog is a venerable drugstore American-English cube cut blend of burley, latakia, virginia, and perique. This pooch poses a problem to ponder, however. Just what is the topping? Is it rum? Is it molasses? A combination of the two? I believe it to be rum primarily. The rum almost certainly combines with something sweet, either molasses or a natural sweetness from one of the tobaccos, to make a butterscotch-like flavor. Barking Dog was produced by Phillip Morris and later by the House of Windsor. The original is now unavailable, but a match by Sutliff can be obtained from Pipes and Cigars. (https://www.pipesandcigars.com/p/match-barking-dog-pipe-tobacco/1473107/)
The sad looking boxer on the tin seemed so forlorn that I had to give him a home. I wrote to pipestud (www.pipestud.com) and soon the doggy was winging his way to my home in Houston. Upon his arrival I chose my Forseti bent egg briar - my gift from the Mrs. and daughter for Father’s Day 2017 (thanks again, ladies!) for the initial tasting. The tin note is intriguing. Due to the mysterious alchemy of fermentation and aging, no one scent jumps right out. There is some smokiness from the latakia, a hint of spiciness, and an overall rich, beefy (for lack of a better word) aroma. Perhaps pipe tobacco umami is a good description. The topping is not apparent in the tin note. The Mrs. took a whiff of the tin and pronounced it “Beef Jerky”. With that I gathered my pipe, lighter, tamper, and tobacco and headed out to the back porch to take Barking Dog for a walk.
The leaf was fairly dry, but not so much as to require rehydration. After the char light and tamp, I needed a few more lights to get the bowl going, then a few relights over the course of the bowl. This may very well be a result of my inexperience with cube cut tobacco rather than anything to do with the tobacco itself. Once burning, the flavor is very even. As with the tin note, no one tobacco stands out. Rather, the blend is well orchestrated with a firm foundation of burley and virginia, pleasant overtones of smoky latakia, and occasional trills of spiciness from the perique. The mysterious sweetness/butterscotch flavor weaves in and out like a refrain. The room note is also even, but with a bit more smokiness from the latakia. This smokiness relegates it to a porch or workshop blend at my house. Thus far, the only English or American English blend that has been deemed “allowed in the house” is Lane’s HGL. As the tin says, this dog does not bite. I wanted a second opinion on the flavor so I got on the phone and rang up my partner in crime - an aficionado of blends such as Wild Atlantic and Orlik’s Golden Slices, who for the sake of privacy will be called Smoking Buddy. We lit up and chewed the fat over a pair of bowls, solving the problems of the world, and discussing the ups and downs of teaching High Schools. His impressions were much the same as mine in the flavor department, though he picked up more of a general undefined sweetness rather than an identifiable butterscotch flavor.
I enjoyed Barking Dog, even with the frustration of keeping it lit. I’m slowly working my way through the two ounce tin and still hoping to find my groove with it. Overall, it’s a nice blend, but I don’t think that it will find a place in my permanent rotation. If you’re a fan of English or American-English blends, then Barking Dog, or its Sutliff match, may be something you’ll want to try! Until next time, keep the fires lit Pipemen!
Today’s LP - Rachmaninoff Sonata in G minor, op. 19 and Kodaly Sonata, op. 4
Old Barking Dog advertisement