The Right Time for a Change
For the most part, I'm a Virginia or Virginia/Perique smoker these days and have been for about ten years. When first taking up the briar in college, trips to the local B&M usually took place on a Saturday where there the nice lady, Betsy, would greet me with a smile as I walked in. After glancing at the dozen-or-so tins on their counter, I always headed straight to the jars of bulk tobacco where I would commence removing the lid of each one at a time with a twist of the wrist and inhale its aroma down to my toes. Betsy didn't smoke a pipe but she knew what sold. Her most popular blend was "River Crisp", which was a blend of aromatics designed by a local customer. When someone could smoke something flecked with brown and black that smelled like the classic pipe tobacco we all think about, why change it up?
After going through a lot of these tobaccos and scorching my tongue on anything that had a label resembling pie ingredients, I decided it was time to explore. Being the self-proclaimed foodie that I am, exploring new textures, aromas, and tastes is what drives me. Looking again at Betsy’s flock of tins, I picked up Dunhill Standard Medium and took it home. Breaking the seal with a coin and folding back the paper insert to prepare for the initial waft of aroma left me a bit puzzled. Loading a pipe on the front of my fraternity house and taking a few puffs made my eyes bug out (a look similar to someone taking a swig of beer from a bottle that has been used as an ashtray). This was my first dance with Latakia. I took the tin back and she gave it to someone else. Apparently I wasn't ready for such flavors yet. During the same visit, I purchased a tin of McClelland Dark Star and from then on I knew what I wanted to smoke: Virginias; especially dark ones.
Fast-forward a decade and you will find me an employee here at Smokingpipes for almost six years. I've sold many tins of English tobaccos and memorized what makes them good (by other consumers’ descriptions) but never felt the desire to try them. Part of this is because I primarily smoke only three pipes at work, and they are all dedicated Viriginia pipes. I didn't want to foul one up with a ghost. Ted has been trying to get me to try some of his favorite English blends for a year now and recently I acquired a Dunhill 3109 estate that had a small crack on the shank that we couldn't sell. To his delight, I walked into his office and said it was time for me to explore Latakia. Ted's reaction was a bit like someone saying "OK, Adam. Let me try those marrow bones you just roasted. I also want to try all of those curries, scrapple, Russian fish things, and lye-cured Duck eggs from the Asian market." These are things that I love that make people look at me funny.
Ted brought in a tin of Wilderness he had at home. Only about a bowl and a half was left. It was quite an experience; lighting the bowl with a match, watching blue smoke dance with an orange flicker while filling my palate with the subtle flavors of this exotic blend. Smokey? Yes. Sweet? Oddly, yes (but not cloying). Spices like cloves and cinnamon at times? YES! After going downstairs to purchase ten tins of this wonderful tobacco and writing Fred Hanna (the designer of this blend for McClelland), I wondered what took me so long. This tobacco is wonderful and I would encourage all of you to try something different every once in a while. With so many tobaccos on the market, I'm freshly excited about the huge amount I never before gave a chance.
For your consideration today, you will find Dunhill, Caminetto, Luciano, Posella, Johs, Brigham, Savinelli, Peterson, and Vauen. We are also introducing Vallejuelo cigars and Vauen Filters for smokers of 9-millimeter pipes.
Adam Davidson: Quality Control & Pipe Inspector