While pipe tobaccos must be planted, grown, picked, processed, and aged with great skill and care, proper blending must also be used to create a great product. In fact, most pipe tobaccos sold are blended in some way: even a pure Virginia tobacco may be blended with various crops to achieve consistent flavor+aroma over time.
Pipe tobacco blends are divided into two major categories: English and Aromatic. English blends, also referred to as Balkan, are composed of Oriental, Virginia, Latakia, and Perique tobaccos. Aromatic blends are composed of Burley and Virginia tobaccos with flavorings added (i.e. Cavendish).
English blends are the oldest and most unadulterated category of pipe tobaccos. These blends originated in England and Scotland centuries ago and they have been characterized by their use of Oriental and Latakia tobaccos. Since the late 1800s [and the introduction of Virginia tobaccos], English blends have been using a heavy base of Virginia mixed with ample Oriental and spiced with ‘condiment’ tobaccos like Latakia and Perique. English blends have a fuller body and stronger flavor+aroma than aromatic blends.
Perhaps a better name for these blends would be “fragrant” or “sweetened”, since they are cased and topped with sugars and flavorings. Aromatics use a heavy base of Virginia and Burley, often in the form of Cavendish tobaccos. While aromatics can be thought of as the ‘beginner’ tobaccos, they produce aromas like cherry, chocolate, caramel, and vanilla, which many people love.
A personal pipe tobacco blend can be any recipe that the consumer mixes at home or directs their Tobacconist to prepare. Whether a blend is created by a manufacturer or a Tobacconist, it must balance the tobaccos' flavor+aroma qualities with each leaf's density, cut, and burn rate.