What Does Tommy Shelby Drink and Smoke in Peaky Blinders?

Peaky Blinders drink and smoke

When a certain show reaches the status of a cult, we start to become interested in much more than only its plot and the twists we are eager to see. Peaky Blinders is a type of show which simply forces us to discover more and more about it. It is gripping, addictive and full of interesting facts that should be researched. From the places where it was filmed, through clothes and accessories the main characters are wearing to even more detailed curiosities. 

We don’t want to miss out on anything. We want to know everything there is to know about it. And Tommy Shelby is definitely one of the characters we want to learn more about. He is always seen with a cigarette and a glass of alcohol in his hand. What does Tommy Shelby drink and smoke in Peaky Blinders? Let’s find out.

What is Tommy Shelby smoking?

Tommy smoking

Men and women in Peaky Blinders are often portrayed as smokers and some of them as heavy drinkers. At the time it was allowed to smoke inside and drinking was something pretty normal, even in front of children and especially in women’s company. It showed man’s power and independence. Allegedly, Cillian Murphy, who portrays Tommy Shelby smoked 3000 cigarettes in the first two seasons of the show. There are almost no scenes where we don’t see him with a cigarette. 

Murphy stated that he obviously couldn’t smoke real cigarettes, so he used herbal and non-nicotine ones which are not addictive. And it is not only important and interesting to know what he is smoking and how much of it, but we want more details. We are aware that Tommy smokes in a specific manner and Cillian Murphy explained why. 

Murphy rolls his cigarette in a way it doesn’t stick. That’s why he always rubs it on his lips before smoking. And it became Tommy’s trademark, a ritual of his and one more interesting fact about him we simply must have explained.

Tommy and his brothers, family and associates smoke Sweet Aftons. It was an Irish brand of short, unfiltered cigarettes made of Virginia tobacco. At the time cigarettes were indeed mostly unfiltered. Sweet Aftons were introduced in 1919 and used until 2011. 

Not only men, but also women of Peaky Blinders are heavy smokers. Lizzie Shelby and Polly Gray can also be seen with a cigarette in their mouth most of the time. Both Natasha O’Keeffe who plays Lizzie and Helen McCrory who plays Polly stated that they felt sick very often, since the herbal alternatives were awful. 

All of the cast confessed that they even had some medicinal problems after smoking such a huge number of cigarettes. Finn Cole, who plays Michael said that although the alternatives are softer than original cigarettes, he had lots of issues with them. He even thought he was allergic to them, since his throat would get sore.

What is Tommy Shelby drinking?

Tommy drinking

Along with smoking, drinking is also one of the biggest vices in the show. Almost everyone drinks, and rather excessively. It obviously went well with the reputation those organised criminals had. But apart from that, it is clear that alcohol played an important role then. Birmingham boys and girls in the show are very fond of whiskey. We rarely see them without a glass, especially Tommy who pours a drink to everyone who comes to his bar. 

Shelby brothers prefer Irish whiskey. A special brand was invented for the show, since the whiskey they drink doesn’t actually exist. They drink the Gallglennie Whiskey, made especially for the show. Irish whiskey is famous worldwide and one of the most loved throughout the U.K. and the U.S. It is not a single malt as most whiskeys, but a bold and rich triple – distilled whiskey.


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It is interesting to follow the storyline and learn about this time period, since the characters themselves are based on true ones. We really get a good insight into the lives, habits and rituals that criminal organisations lived by. We get a great picture of their insecurities which are hidden behind their excessive behaviour.

What are his other vices?

They are not only smoking and drinking all the time. They are doing drugs so often that it becomes normal to them. Since many characters in the show are war veterans, they also suffer from PTSP. Along with the addictions mentioned, we can very often see them consummate opium.

Opium was used back then as a coping mechanism. It relieved the muscles and allowed men and women to relax and distance themselves from their everyday struggles. We mostly see Tommy Shelby taking opium, after many of his inner struggles and war he fights with everyone else.

The most common drug used in the show is cocaine. It is a drug popular among the wealthier citizens. It shows that you can afford something that is not available to everyone. Although we mostly see men doing drugs in the show, there is a female character who gets highly addicted to it. Arthur’s wife Linda goes from a good Christian mother and loving wife to an even more rebellious woman who gives in to temptation and slowly welcomes their lifestyle.

As seen above, not even female characters in Peaky Blinders are left untouched by addictions. Many of them even smoke and drink while pregnant. Taking cocaine becomes something so normal that no one even blinks an eye on the sight of it.

As portrayed, this period was obviously very wild and at the time many things haven’t certainly been allowed but certain people didn’t really pay attention to that. We cannot say that it differed much from today, but it was probably something pretty new and unfamiliar then.

Then the Prohibition era arrived and maybe even intensified all these activities. It is all very well and in detail shown and described in Peaky Blinders and that’s why we enjoy watching this show so much. Not only do we follow a gripping, intense and exciting story, but we learn so much about that time, both in the U.K and in the U.S.

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