Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Giving it Away

Have you done your pipe duty?  I find that I am something of an evangelistic pipe smoker.  I don't mean to be, I just have a tendency to want to spread understanding for the great benefits and pleasures of pipe smoking.  It comes rather naturally.  In a recent discussion with a friend I determined that he needed to enjoy the "thinking tool" of a pipe.  Upon finding out that he was open to the idea I made the "starter kit".  This kit included a country gentleman Missouri Meerschaum (a dear favorite of mine), and two very user-friendly starter tobaccos (Black Watch from Edwards and Black and Gold from Altadis).  I directed him to a couple of "how to" videos on youtube.  I feel as if I failed in the one major aspect of sharing that first smoke with him, nevertheless sometimes we do only what we can.

I find people are interested in pipes, and in pipe smoking.  How do you answer their questions?  What would you put in your "starter kit" for a new smoker?  Greater men than I have taken the time to eschew the virtues of pipe smoking, but I earnestly believe the world would be a slightly better place if more people enjoyed a quiet evening, in a thoughtful spot, with a bowl full of good tobacco.

Friday, December 2, 2011

This One

This is my first pipe acquisition in months and months.  I was drawn to a couple of things about it.  First I love the bulldog/rodesian shape.  Second, I love the ebony stain.  Third, I love the slight bend.  It should be here in a few days and I can't wait to try it.  As an added bonus, Smokingpipes.com threw a tin of Peterson tobacco in as part of a Peterson promotion.  Irish flake, here I come!  I really enjoyed the last tin of Irish Flake that I had. That's a tobacco that will really get you up in the morning.  It's going to be an Irish Christmas, for sure!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pipe Depression

I'm not depressed, I am simply pipe depressed.  I haven't wanted to have a pipe in weeks.  I have had a few bowls, but mostly for fellowship's sake (that is with company).  My tobacco stores are drying out, though I am taking some time to care for them.  My thoughts have simply been elsewhere.  When I have smoked I can only stand to smoke my personal 'magic tobacco' Black Watch.  I call it my personal magic tobacco because no matter how many tobaccos I try, and no matter how delicious they are, Black Watch is the place of my continual return.  It is my True Tobacco.  

It is not universally well reviewed.  I have shared some with many friends with hot, cold and totally ambivalent response.  Yet this is the only thing I want to smoke right now.  This is strange.  If you follow the blog you know that I have always had an insatiable lust for new tobaccos, new blends and new experiences.  Yet it seems that I am settling comfortably in (for the time being, at least) to my old standard, the first tobacco I ever really fell in love with. 

I think the "depression" will go.  I have felt a surge in the last two days to enjoy a pipe (though only Black Watch).  Yet it seems strange to me that I can involuntarily lose interest in something that has brought me so much pleasure and thoughtful opportunity.  I imagine the recent increase in volume at work and at home have contributed.  Yet, there it is.  Please tell me, is this experience known to you?  I'm not worried (as much as I am slow to accept the idea that pipe smoking is terribly damaging, I do believe moderating it at times is productive) it just seems quite strange to me.

Where has the love gone?  Russia and Rome.

In the past months I have read (or been reading) War and Peace, The Metamorphoses (Ovid), and the Brothers Karamazov.  I have found them all so interesting and appealing that I have not wanted to leave my indoor room to go out and interrupt my reading with smoking.  Quite interesting in deed.  I won't bore you with my thoughts on the books, but sufficed to say I wouldn't draw a moment of them back and plan to look at each again in the course of my life.

I leave you with one other summer literary discover on my most recent jaunt through Walden by Thoreau:

Light-winged Smoke, Icarian bird,
Melting thy pinions in they upward flight,
Lark without song, and messenger of dawn,
Circling above the hamlets as thy nest;
or else, departing dream, and shadowy form
Of midnight vision, gathering up thy skirts;
By night star-veiling, and by day
Darkening the light and blotting out the sun;
Go thou my incense upward from this hearth,
And ask the gods to pardon this clear flame.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tell the Story and Don't Rush

One of my favorite moments in C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia is found in "A Horse and His Boy" (I could not pick a favorite moments, nor even narrow it down to a top 50).  However, the two horses and their respective humans meet and resolve to tell confide their stories to one another and Bree (the horse mentioned in the title) invites his new friend Aravis to tell her story.  "And don't rush, I'm feeling comfortable."  I think I love smoking pipe in part because it encourages storytelling.  I love hearing a good story, not a gossipy story, but a story about an adventure.  I recently had a great opportunity to hear a great story.

  I was smoking my church warden filled with 3 Oaks by McClelland and my friend his 1/2 bent rusticated pipe with Irish Flake.  We had a pot of Golden monkey loose leaf tea and there was very little wind.  It was warm but not hot (a welcome change) and the stars shone brightly.

  While pipes smoked and cups steamed I heard all about an incredible adventure in Hungary.  About a people untouched by the power of the gospel who got to hear.  About the surprises and unexpected turns of events that worked out to be even greater adventures of greater impact.  The whole affair was the finest way I could imagine spending an evening.  I could have listened to the story all over again.  We closed the evening catching up on summer reading.  Unrushed conversation over a cup of tea and a pipe is easily one of life's great and simple pleasures.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A New Pipe and Three Oaks

I love the cob. Perhaps it is the dog days of august, the heritage of being an American pipe smoker with what I view to be the most thoroughly American incarnation of pipe smoking. Mark Twain, General MacArthur and so many others have seemed to enjoy this wonderful vehicle for tobacco, and so do I. So on my trip down to Denver I bought a "Country Gentleman." Unfortunately the bark was not included, but I would have loved to have a bark pipe stand! I like the straight stem and I am certainly working my way up to either a "freehand" cob or a MacArthur cob. However, I can hardly find time to finish a bowl in my general cob so that may have to wait. Either way, great smoker, no surprises.
On top of the fact that I love the cob, I also love McClelland tobaccos. Frog Morton being previously reviewed and much loved, this is another Latakia blend by MacClelland. Note: I got the yellow one (syrian latakia) not the white one. Tin description:

Rare Syrian Latakia, with its renowned mellow smokiness, is balanced with naturally sweet Orientals and aged Virginia leaf to create a satisfying blend reminiscent of classic Syrian Latakia blends of old. Formulated by Tad Gage to reflect the character of original Three Oaks Pipe Tobacco, it tantalizes with intriguing differences.

So, you can pick up that this is a "copy blend". It seems like there is some satisfaction in saying things like "I hate copy blends" or "I normally don't like copy blends." However, none of those things would be true. I have never tried the blends they are trying to copy, so I have no gauge for that. Furthermore, I think it is funny that people have a problem with blends that seek to replicate a previous blend. Musical concerts are filled with pieces that have been done well before and we seek to do them well again. I don't mind in the slightest when a brewery attempt to recreate a recipe that they have loved. It seems quite natural to attempt to attain something similar to a great blend of days past. In fact it seems to me to be a rather noble goal. Just like making seeking to make a new blend is a noble goal.

That aside, this tobacco is a great smoke. Delicious. It is my impression that McClelland has a distinct edge when it comes to Virginia tobaccos and virginia blends. I still have never been bothered by the "ketchup" smell, but it does have that nice "McClelland Aroma." In comparing it to Frog Morton it has all of the same advantages of the great virginia tobaccos, and more latakia taste. Where I would give Frog Morton to a first time tobacco smoker and recommend it to anyone who was interested in testing out some English blends, Three Oaks seems a bit more specialized, less accessible. It is nice and full, sweet and spicy. Not too strong, and worth smoking. I don't know if I will buy more when it's gone, but I haven't regretted it for a shadow of a moment.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Living the Dream

It happens to all of us. First you like the way pipe smoking looks and smells, then you finally purchase your first pipe (hopefully one that looks pretty). Then you being your career as a serious smoker. Start with some drug store blends, or maybe your local tobacconist has some aromatics that smell so nice in the jar you just have to try them.
Yet it doesn't end there. Very quickly, you start buying more pipes, more tobaccos (often faster than you can smoke them). You start saying things to yourself like, "I really want to taste the difference between Syrian and Cyprian latakia." Or perhaps, "I wonder how much perique I can handle before I am unable to operate heavy machinery?" Then you start looking at all of the beautiful pipe shapes and wondering if maybe, just maybe, you could make a pipe. After all you have that lathe you bought when you were thinking about becoming a professional baseball bat/table leg maker. This could work! But that turned out to be a lot of work, and when you looked at your collection of pipes you had your beautiful Savinelli sitting next to your self made pipe that looks like it was fashioned by left handed six year olds who were attempting to create something that they could pretend was a ray gun in an upcoming alien invasion. So you decide that pipe making is best left to the pros, and you are glad that you can participate in these aesthetic masterpieces by purchasing them, caring for them and smoking them.

Then you think about tobacco. Sure you couldn't grow tomatoes or flowers...but what about tobacco? The fleeting moment of thought that perhaps growing tobacco might be illegal, and then you think..."Wait, we have become totally communist yet? Have we?" And you think about all that probably goes into growing tobacco, and you think how much work the Rattrays, McClellands, the Cornells and the Deihls of the world probably had to learn before they could bring you Black Mallory, Christmas Cheer and Mississippi Mud. So you decide to enjoy what they have to offer (have you picked up on the fact that when I say 'you' I mean 'I' - of course you have - you are a genius.)

Well, one man is living the dream. I was through the resources on the PSB (http://pipesmokingbloggers.blogspot.com/ - go there.) and chanced on a man who has combined desire with courage and undertaken the great task. Exile (the blogger) has grown and dried and is now curing tobacco and he is incredibly open handed with his technique. (http://thepipesmoker.wordpress.com/2011/07/22/harvest/#comment-419) It lit every fire in me to think "I could do this! I really could grow some head of my own." His latest post charts the adventure, the providence and the ingenuity of creating something totally his own to smoke. At this point he's less than two weeks out of reviewing his own tobacco, so check back frequently. If you lose the URL for his site you can always find him through the PipeSmokingBloggers site (http://pipesmokingbloggers.blogspot.com) generously led and flagshipped by Joffre the Giant (http://joffrethegiant.blogspot.com/) as well as see some other great pipe and tobacco related blogs.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Frog in Your Throat?

I picked up 100 g of my old favorite Frog Morton on my trip to the big city last week. This baccy is an always beloved, never disappointing favorite for me. There is some latakia, and a nice dark set of earthy flavors. I have been told that there is a vanilla topping in there somewhere, but I taste only sweet earthy, light, english goodness. This tobacco is good in much the same way that Dunhill's My Mixture 965 and Rattray's Black Mallory are good. After smoking them it makes it hard to imagine a world in which they did not exist. Well worthy of their massively publicized reputation.

It has been said of a good story line that the end should not just "make sense" but that it should be inevitably. It should bring us to the point of saying, "Of course it had to end like that, there was simply no other way." Frog Morton is a tobacco like that. It is enjoyable story, with high points and deep intrigue ending with a simply inevitable ending bringing both pleasure and challenge. Truly fantastic.

The merits of the tobacco aside, the merits of the tin art are not something to be scoffed at. For some reason the frog is a perfect mascot for the pipe. Though I know not why. Let's examine some examples and see if anything comes to be more clear.
Frogs do have a particular way of looking dapper, and distinguished. Yes, they are a bit fat, but they are supposed to be. The pipe seems to fit very well with their distinguished image.
This seems to confirm the "gentleman frog" ideal mentioned above. Even when talking about being broke, the frog still looks his best, even with nothing besides his full suit and what would seem to be a bayou churchwarden beyond any I have seen.
This frog reminds me of one of my life goals: to enjoy a bowl totally in the buff. The circumstances will have to be planned out correctly, as I am not able to smoke indoors. That aside, this frog brings about the congenial friendliness of the pipe that sits back on a toadstool and enjoys the day that is laid out before him.
This gent seems in no way arrogant. I must admit, suspenders do something grand for most any outfit (including a barrel), and this is no exception. I love the clay pipe, and the way the artist seemed to catch the upward gaze of the frog in a way that is optimistic, but not obnoxious.
This curmudgeon brings a less flattering view, perhaps. But then we note the cane that seems to insinuate the dignity of age, and most importantly the animals rushing either to or from their doom behind him. We find this pipe smoking frog to be the only one in the picture with any bit of sense, and a look on his face that tells us that he is well aware of the fact. Perhaps this is the best picture of a pipe smoking amphibian, as it shows the world racing around in circles while the pipe smoker smirks and enjoys his moment!

And this was all my limited time were able to provide. I will always be blessed with the images of Richard Scary, many of whose animal heroes enjoyed the pipe. And think that other pipe suited animals would be bears, river rats (thank you Wind and the Willows), owls, and certain breeds of dog. While other animals like snakes, foxes, small dogs and chickens are particularly unsuited to pipe smoking.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Monday, May 30, 2011

Warm Smoke and A New Circle!

It took longer than I had expected, but the time has at last come. I have been out almost every single night in the past two weeks enjoying a pipe. The crickets haven't started singing yet, but the stars do shine. Ah, blissful smoke rings rising gently into the glorious inky blackness of the nighttime sky! In addition to this great joy I have some other news:

Pipe Smoking Bloggers
So I have joined the Pipe Smoking Bloggers ring for bloggers who blog about pipe smoking. (Was that a haiku? No? Okay.) Three ways I would invite you to be involved:
1) Keep reading my blog. It really means a great deal to me that you do.

2) Click over to http://pipesmokingbloggers.blogspot.com/ and follow said blog, checking the other followers to find other great and interesting pipe bloggers.

3) If you are a pipe blogger of follow this link to join the crusade (perhaps a bit of an overly dramatic way to put it, but hey, there you have it!) http://pipesmokingbloggers.blogspot.com/p/join-us.html There you will also be given a choice of two "Blog Buttons" which you can add to your blog (Mine is proudly displayed in the side bar at the top.)

Nutty Irishman
Besides the reality that I feel that this Pipe Tobacco by Cornell and Deihl describes me personally in a deeply personal way it was a pleasure to smoke. Here is the "tin description" from C&D's Website:

Imagine a bottle of Frangelico and a bottle of Irish Mist having a head on collision and you'll have an idea of the flavor and aroma of Nutty Irishman, though the end product has a uniqueness that goes beyond the characterization.

The first thing to note about this tobacco is the last thing that I usually notice: room note! I smoked this in my car on the way to Bible Study one night and the next day had someone get in my car and comment on how nice it was, and what air freshner I had used to get that great "nutty smell". I kid you not, it smells that good.

It is a typical C&D's aromatic aside from that. I mean that as a compliment. Natural flavor, high quality bulk tobacco and great light food grade topping that leaves no goop in the bowl or bite on the tongue. This is on my list for my next big order from C&D's. If you like an aromatic this one will get the job done.

Check back soon, warmer weather means more smoking, means more Pipe Reflected reminiscing.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Too Busy Not to Smoke a Pipe

Being in pastoral ministry it is inevitable that everything ramps up to Easter Sunday. It is a blessed time and a celebration I revel in. Any opportunity to gaze most steadily at my Savior with my brothers and sisters in the Lord is a blessing. Yet in the Church that "ramp up" includes extra devotions, services, and special plans for each service. All of this can create the sad illusion of "busyness." And so often my pipe smoking time gets squeezed out (it has also been cold, which makes it tougher to get out). However, I notice that lack of time at the pipe causes a muddled and frazzled disposition that cannot be accounted for other than by facing the reality that I require a great amount of solitude to function in my role as a follower of Jesus, a husband, a father, a pastor and a friend. I have been thankful to take the time, and enjoy a bit more of the generous gift of PipePastor. Some highlights:

Smooth Black and Gold Cav - This one is from Aramark. Very nice, more blacks than golds. It has a tough of that "aromatic chemical" flavor to it, but not much. The beauty of this tobacco is that it does a marvelous job of sweetening as you progress through the bowl. If you like medium cased Cavendish tobaccos this one will serve you well.

Hiland's Snowflake - If Hiland's were my local shop this tobacco would almost certainly make my regular rotation. Hiland's blenders have really mastered that "natural-aromatic" balance. This is what I appreciate about a number of the Edward's blends as well (Blackwatch, Good Companion, Branywine, etc.). G.L. Pease wrote that all tobaccos are cased to one degree or another, and a well cased aromatic shouldn't act so different from a "natural". This one passes the test. The tobacco is good, flavorful, and develops nicely throughout the bowl. The flavor is difficult to put a finger on and the tobacco is mild, but not too mild. Great smoke.

Cornell & Deil Apricot - Okay, this had everything going against it in my pipe. First, I am not a fan of fruit flavors or toppings. Second, it was my third bowl for the night. Third, even if I did like fruity flavors, I am not terribly fond of Apricot. If the previous things aren't true for your this may be worth a try. For me this one simply wasn't what I am looking for. It was also hard to keep lit, but that could be any tobacco, bowl to bowl.

Cross Eyed Cricket - Cornell and Deihl also makes this one. This was a tobacco that seemed to generate a lot of heat on tobaccoreviews.com as many liked and many really disliked it. I am not adamant about the "purity" aspect, so I found it fun, light and playful. I have to tell you that the person I was smoking with really noticed the "room note" as being particularly pleasant. I enjoyed this one, but I will have to do it again to decide if I am going to buy another tin.

Jack-knife Plug - (G.L. Pease). This tobacco is "Holy Crap Stop the presses!" good. Striking. and delicious. My second "plug" tobacco and it is simply everything that I look for in a tobacco. Really high quality. I don't want to say much more about it as I will probably do another post just delving into the beauty of this excellent tobacco.

I would encourage you to take some time out and read Joffre's article Juxtaposing Good Friday and Earthday as it is noteworthy: http://joffrethegiant.blogspot.com/2011/04/good-friday-and-earth-day.html

Finally, I would encourage you to think on these lines by Robert Frost:

The Pasture
I'm going out to clean the pasture spring;
I'll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):
I sha'n't be gone long. -You come too.

I'm going out to fetch the little calf
That's standing by the mother. It's so young,
It totters when she licks it with her tongue.
I sha'n't be gone long. -You come too.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Double Plus Good

Not so long ago I reviewed "Black Gold" from Hiland's Cigars( http://www.hilandscigars.com/). It is still a beloved aromatic which offers continual satisfaction. I have to admit, because of my diet, I had to cut down and only smoke it a few times a week. (I know that really wasn't funny, but it really does taste that rich). PipePastor, however, saw fit to blow my mind again, and I am thankful. I had a hard time imagining that adding a few flakes of Virginia to an aromatic could significantly change the experience (which is the distinguishing factor between "Black Gold" and "Black Gold Plus". At least enough so that I could be bothered to buy some until I ran out of the first supply. As I smoke a bit less in the winter (because the cold weather hurts my body) that wasn't going to happen for a bit. Yet, out of his own personal supply PipePastor, (http://www.youtube.com/user/PipePastor) donated an amazingly generous supply of this treasure (along with enough new baccy's to keep me in fresh reviews for well over a year). But back to the issue at hand, with many thanks for the generosity of this brother of the Briar who is first and foremost a brother in the Lord.

It defies all reason. The thing that kept Black Gold from being my every day, every moment smoke was the fact that it is uniform (necessarily so). It is velvety, smooth and delicious. Tasting of a fabulously decadent vanilla frosted brownie and then some all the way to the bottom. However, the added virginia changes the whole character of the smoke. I won't say for the better, because both really are a bit beyond regular quality measurements. However, this brings things dangerously close to having an "everyday smoke" which (if you have been following this blog, I am philosophically and experientially opposed to). In any event, this gets a whole hearted recommendation. To quote PipePastor, "Get you some!" Call Hiland's Cigars up and order some. Tell them PipePastor sent you, because he did. http://www.hilandscigars.com/

The weather is warming and the pipe is calling. More to come. Tuskeegee (sp?) Airman, Jackknife plug, something tasting of Apricots, and details on a good friend's upcoming venture in the creation of a smoking lounge right here in town. Ah...so good!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Did I just imagine that?

Okay, I've gotten to the point where I can't remember what it is like to feel warm and smoke a pipe at the same time. I think back to the days when I would sit on my back porch and smoke a bowl to the bottom and sing softly to myself, and I wonder if I made the up. I think of the times smoking outside with my dear brothers of the briar and I wonder if they weren't part of some wonderful novel that I read myself into being fully unwilling to accept the reality that I will never again be able to enjoy a bowl in my life. Ah, me. I want to time capsule this moment so that I will remember when comfortable smoking has returned, not to take it for granted!
That being said, I have tried one new tobacco recently. That being G.L. Pease's Haddo's Delight. And, for my tastes, it is DELIGHTFUL. I love this blend because it can actually stand up to a stiff cup of coffee. I also like this blend because it doesn't have a Je n'sait quoi. I know exactly what makes it great. You don't have to read the back to feel it all the way down: virginia, perique. Delicious. I obtained this in a trade with Givensdroid on Youtube (great pipe channel...check him out!). In which I shipped off a tin of Early Morning Pipe, which I was not wild about. Haddo's Delight is a perfect contrast to EMP. Full bodied and delicious, all the way down to the bottom of the bowl.

I have to admit, the weather has made be a bit smoking lethargic. I have been going back to basics (Black Watch, Black Gold, Nightcap, Black Mallory). I haven't been compelled to try much new. I think because my smoking time is so precious that I don't want to risk disappointment. I love how the change in seasons reveals my relationship to the pipe weed I love. I will still go out for it, but not nearly so frequently. I do enjoy it, but I don't miss it in the sense of addiction. A week or two, even three, without a pipe doesn't bring any physiological effects. This was never the case when I was smoking cigarettes, but then a cigarette was never enjoyed so thoroughly.

As I write I am longing for another bowl full of MacClelland's Christmas Cheer 2009. I have it downstairs, but, alas it is late and it is cold, so I shall go to sleep instead. Happy puffing to all, and to all a good night!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Great things I don't love...

I don't love ballet. I just don't I have tried, watched ballet and have never been able to get into it. This is strange because I do love opera, and all other manner of classical music (of course Bach is the favorite, but others are well loved). I have never been able to appreciate Cigars. I like them just fine, but I simply can't afford (in time or money) to get a better working knowledge of cigars, they are great they just aren't for me. I really appreciate a good brandy, a good bourbon or a good scotch, but have no taste at all for expensive tequila, rum or white wine. It is not because any of the things that I don't like are inferior to those I do, and I make no apology for this reality.

This is the case with Early Morning Pipe. My first impressions I brushed off because I wasn't in an ideal situation to try a new tobacco (a few drinks and a bowl of Irish Flake had come before it). However, each time I load up this tobacco I am left wanting. Not wanting for quality, but wanting for that power packed flavor that I get from London Mixture or Nightcap. And it's not there.
At this point you are probably thinking (Correctly, I may add), "You moron, that is exactly what it says on the tin!" The words mellow and delicately flavoured (complete with superfluous British U in the word "flavour") should by no means have made me expect any more than what I got. The funny thing about this tobacco is that it reaks of quality. The tin aroma is glorious, the colour nuance of the tobacco make it look nearly edible (though perhaps only a pipe smoker would think so). However, this tobacco is to the point of having no real "punch" for me. It is like drinking a Bud Light from the supermarket after Guinness extra stout. It just lacks any real distinction for me. For the more delicate palate this may be the way to go, for my crude brusque skull cave this one just doesn't reach the spot.

This one is a fan favorite, so if you think you may like it I would say go for it, just know that it is MILD. It is easily the mildest high quality tobacco I have ever tasted. Don't say you weren't warned. I think a good portion of this is that I rarely have the opportunity to enjoy my pipe in the morning and I suppose if I were the type to roll out of bed and light up a pipe this maybe just the thing, but I'm not. I did do an experiment and try to put it as the first thing on my tongue for the day, starting early one morning and I still was not quite picking up enough to make this a tin that I would buy again. I'm glad Dunhill is back, ( Nitecap, London Mixture). And there are still 2 more Dunhill's on my wishlist (965 and My Mixture), but this one won't be back in my rotation. I will have to give it another shot in a decade or so to see if I haven't grown up a bit! Happy puffing to you, good smoker! And may the smoke continually satisfy!

Friday, February 4, 2011

SWR, Salt and Vodka

If I've ever lied to you, dear friend, I apologize. If I've ever misled you, I confess it and ask your forgiveness. However, I make it plain once more. I have not become so much a man of taste that the very simplest things have no allure to me! I picked up a pouch of this tobacco when stocking up on Carter Hall from the grocery. Hopefully, the CH won't be quite as dry as this pouch. This is a nice burley blend available over most counters that might have pipe tobacco behind them. This is most certainly in the ball park of Prince Albert and Carter Hall. It is nice and nutty. Not too bold and never terribly complex. A fine, classic American blend.

The critique? It is quite simple. At my local grocery store I pay around twice as much for this as I do for the comparable OTC blends. The result? I probably won't be picking up another pouch of this delightful blend. This is the standing problem with simple burley blends. It is difficult for burley blends to catch up in the "bang for the buck" area of life when compared to Prince Albert and Carter Hall. Not that there aren't some great ones out there. Cornell and Deihl have some fantastic burley blends that are crowd pleasers to say the least (I believe I even reviewed "Crooner" and know that I enjoyed it, once I learned how to work with the cubed burley). So, there you have it.

I have been spending some time refurbishing a set of 16 pipes that April got off of eBay. The process has been fun and has led me to invest in new reamers, tobaccos and alcohols. The last is not because the process is driving me to drink, but rather because I have been attempting to get the mustiness out of them as they sat unused for quite some time (even to the point of having cob webs all over them). The idea of filling pipes with salt and alcohol seemed strange and unwelcome to me, but tonight I have done that with the four best of the lot. I am hoping the strange residual taste and smell gets drawn out, however, after the intense reaming that they all received at my very hand I am interested to see. 8 hrs into the treatment the salt growing quite dark. The results are yet to be seen!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Too cold to smoke...

I freely admit that I have been a bit pouty the last few days. I have young children and whenever they are awake I want to be with them. If then can come out while I puff merrily on my pipe then all is well and right with the universe. However, if it is too cold to bring them out into the frigid air then I cannot, in good conscience make them miserable to suit my desire to puff away, even at the finest tobacco. Additionally, if it is cold during the day, it is yet colder once the kids have gone to bed. This means that I am unable to enjoy my pipe nearly so much (even if I can get out to smoke it). Ah well, one more reason to be thankful for the spring and summer months.

I haven't been posting nearly as much here as I have been taking up much of my free time with my other project "Clandestine Pipe" on YouTube. (http://www.youtube.com/user/ClandestinePipe) Be that as it may, I have been wanting to write this message for a while. A new pipe came into my hands (actually several new pipes came into my hands in the last two months). But the one I wish to focus on today is a Mauro Armellini Church Warden pipe. It is my first church warden and I simply adore it. Here is a picture of it:
I love the bend as well as the "rodesian" shape to the bowl. It is the perfect sitting and sipping pipe. As much as the last few days have been too cold, we have had something of a reprieve from winter in the last few weeks, sometimes being to sit out and smoke in little more than a jeans and a light jacket. This bowl has been a steady companion, and fits the evening smoke perfectly. I have filled it most commonly with Dunhill's Nightcap, and have enjoyed it every single time. I have yet to write my article on Early Morning Pipe, but that will just have to wait, I still don't feel like I have come to a full enough understanding of EMP to be able to write on it coherently.

In any event this Churchwarden has already been a faithful companion on more than a few evenings of sitting and puffing and has made for great conversation amongst my brothers of the briar whom I smoke with most often here. So, with great thanksgiving I enjoy this pipe and the bag of Rivendale that accompanied it. Edward's Pipe and Tobacco in Denver wins yet another point. They always treat me well, and Bryan always remembers my name, but even better they always treat my mother and wife well when they go in to purchase something for me. It may sound a bit silly, but it means a great deal to me that they always are kind, gracious and respectful when helping the loving women in my life find "just the right pipe" for me.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Famous Pipe Smokers and their Tobacco

I received a beautiful birthday present of a church warden pipe (thanks Ma!) which I will feature in a future notice, but this post is inspired by my mother in a different way. She is apart of a series of postings dedicated to Kenneth Graham's master work The Wind in the Willows (http://fraiselachrymose.blogspot.com/) this is a wonderful book that weighs very heavily into what I view the perfect life to be like. She asked me if anyone smoked a pipe in that book. If memory serves, the Rat does. Even if he doesn't ever do it in the book (which I believe he does); he ever will in my mind. This got my mind rolling around the other famous pipe smokers who never told us. So I thought I would expose them, as well as the tobaccos that they smoke:

The Rat from wind in the willows smokes stoved red virginias, and some Frog Morton for a treat. Usually from his clay pipe (living near the river is a bit humid for briar) and when he is in the mood for a good sit from a larger calabash.

Pooh smokes mostly from a corn cob pipe, but occasionally pulls out an old rusticated pipe with an 1/8th bend in the stem. He smokes honey cavendish, of course.

Brave old Captain Nemo is fond of smoking Burley based blends in a straight billiard shaped pipe.

Chuck Norris, never to be outdone, holds the tobacco in his bare hand. Lights it with his burning rage, enjoys it in such a way as to not influence children to smoke, while deriving more pleasure from it than most mortals are capable of experiencing. He then delivers the only truly objective tobacco review that is available to humanity and posts it on tobaccoreviews.com using a different handle each time (so there is still some challenge for the rest of us).

Who else smokes a pipe and we don't know it? What do they smoke?

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Next Step

Could this be what beautiful tastes like? I never would have known! It is no secret that Dunhill tobaccos have returned. The return of Dunhill tobaccos has been much celebrated by the internet pipe smoking community, and with good reason. I am told by word of mouth type sources that Dunhill used to outsell every other brand of tinned tobacco available. This was the experience of one Tobacconists down in Denver, anyhow. I, however, took Dunhill tobaccos for granted, never trying one before they left us. No one told me how good they were, or sang their sweet songs until they were already quite gone. I chanced upon a tin of London Mixture some months ago and was impressed to no end. But, as those closest to me will tell you, I am easily impressed.

I have often wondered if it is a bad thing to be easily impressed. I have to admit I am a bit overawed by this amazing world, by the amazing and wonderful people in it. It seems like there is no charge for being amazed with life. I'm not sure what people gain out of being difficult and ornery, but that's not my problem here! Perhaps I just watched Pollyanna too many times as a child, but if you meet me, you can make a wild guess that I like you, and am interested in what you are going to say next. Call it a character flaw; I'm not changing.

But back to the tobacco. So I finally got my hands on a tin of Nightcap and a tin of Early Morning Pipe. I just got it today, so this is a "first impression" review. I smoked the Nightcap, because it is night. I am very strict about observing the tobacconists wishes of when he or she thought that said tobacco was to be enjoyed.

I didn't expect much. People often romanticize anything once they can't get it anymore. It is so safe to say, "That was the best tobacco ever!" Once you can't get it anymore. I think it also lends fodder to the whiny negative hearts who always long to look back and find the best things in memory and the worst up ahead. I personally believe the best tobaccos are yet to be made, but enough religious talk!

This tobacco is delicious. It is smooth, yet full bodied, the blend virginias and latakia is perfect, beautiful, wonderful. The tin aroma smells very similar to London Mixture. This is a query that I have had for some time. It seems that tobacconists manage to maintain a thread of consistency through wildly different blend. C&D's tobaccos all have a strange (but lovely) Cornell and Deihl aroma. MacClelland's tobaccos are famous for having a vinegar, or ketchup aroma when the tin is first popped. If you were to hold a pouch of fresh Prince Albert under my nose and then one of Carter Hall, I would never be able to tell the difference (both Middleton tobacco). However, it may just be the result of some similarity in the blends, in this case.

This tobacco smokes extraordinarily well. Truly a delight, cool and smooth, and it only required one relight (this is usually a result of a tobacco that I know well, but in this case it smoked easy). The bowl (standard size) that I smoked in took around an hour plus to smoke, and there was still some noticeable doddle after all that. (I had to go in, as my toes were cold). In any event, I would invite you to try it, if English blends are your speed. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I look forward to enjoying Early Morning Pipe tomorrow at 5:30 am - SHARP.

My prediction: I predict that those of us who never tried it before will say: "WOW! This was great, but I will continue to smoke my other tobaccos as well!" and those who enjoyed these tobaccos before will begin soon to pine for "old" Dunhill and to talk about how they were before. This will leave everyone wondering if they aren't really after the feeling that they had those years ago, rather than the tobacco...