Escudo, by all accounts, is a benchmark tobacco that finds its way into the hands of almost every pipe smoker I’ve talked to. Its pedigree as a definitive Va/Per is undeniable to many, whereas some still say it falls a bit on the bland side. Love it, hate it, or harbor indifference; if you’ve ever searched pipe forums online you definitely know of it .I happen to fall somewhere in the camp of indifference.
Escudo is currently being produced by STG out of Denmark, and imported to the U.S. by Lane Ltd. STG/Lane has emerged as perhaps the most important tobacco conglomerate in the world, assuming the mantle of such brands as Benson and Hedges, Borkum Riff, Peter Stokkebye, Orlik, Sail, Half & Half, and Captain Black.
The tobacco components are easy enough to identify in the taste and aroma of the blend. The hay like bright Va’s and the spice of the Perique are both present in the blend straight out of the tin, although the blend suffers from a distinct lack of body for someone used to heavier tobaccos. This lack of body means that the blend shows great variation in flavor, depending on the pipe it is smoked in. In a well broken in cob, I find it to have enough body and presence as a non-committed blend. That is to say, I could mindlessly puff away on Escudo all day, and not really pay attention to it. I find it to be anemic in briar pipes, although the Perique seems to make itself more known to me in briar as opposed to in a cob.
As to nicotine content, I don’t really find it at all. I will, however, caveat this by noting that I have an extreme tolerance to nicotine. The upside to Escudo for me is that it is a quality Va blend that doesn’t crush my palate with sweetness. For this fact alone, it will establish itself as an occasional smoke for me, and a point of interest to see how my tastes change over time.
While I cannot offer undue praise on the blend, it isn’t hard to see where it has earned its reputation over time with smokers possessive of more refined palates. It is a quality tobacco, somewhat forgiving of technique whereas many Va based blends are not, and is reasonably priced. I can see it standing out as a crossover blend for pipe smokers used to aromatics, that want to experience the nuances of more natural pipe tobaccos. I also find the blend to be easy going enough that I would suggest it to someone looking for an introduction to Perique, that won’t burn the hairs out of their nostrils on the snork.
Overall, my view of Escudo is positive, and I will continue to smoke it myself in the future, even if it hasn’t earned a permanent spot in my rotation.