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.