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19 April 2011

My Slightly Cracked Stanwell
 From Junk to Treasure

       -Posted by sykes-

A few months ago, we randomly ended up with a huge batch of Stanwells. Out of roughly two hundred pipes total, perhaps three or four had small problems, and so they were correctly rejected by our QC expert, Adam Davidson. If the problems are really minor and cosmetic and we can't return the pipe to the factory, we'll sell these as estates, drop the price and note the problem (slightly uneven stain, for example). If they have more serious problems and we can't return them (which is very rare), we might simply smoke it, give it to a new employee, or just pitch it.

And that's how I ended up with a pretty spiffy sandblasted, silver-banded Stanwell, though one unfortunately also sporting a pretty horrid stress fracture on one side of the bowl. It was a hairline crack, so I can kind of see the guys at Stanwell missing it, but the position and our suspicion that it went pretty deep meant that we weren't going to sell it.

People seem to think that by virtue of my years in the pipe industry and my connections that I must have a massive pipe collection. While it's of extremely good quality, with top notch pipes from Japan, Denmark, Italy and the United States (especially Japan and Denmark), it's not terribly large in the grand scheme of pipe collections, amounting to perhaps forty pipes at most.

It's not like I particularly needed a broken pipe, but I really liked the shape and finish and I'm a big Stanwell advocate, so I decided to go ahead and give this one a try. And I've smoked it maybe twenty times since. Though the stress fracture will in all likelihood eventually cause it to have to go to pipe heaven, it's holding up fine for now. And I'm delighted with it. I find myself reaching for it at work more than other pipes that would have sold for twenty times what this would have, even had it been without the crack. It smokes beautifully, the acrylic stem is surprisingly comfortable and the shape is lovely.

So, what's the point of this little missive? I'm not entirely sure. I'm a huge devotee of high grade handmade pipes. Obviously. I've been a high grade pipe evangelist for many years. I've written hundreds of thousands of words and chatted and thought about high end pipes for untold hours over the course of the past decade. But I love this little, inexpensive (particularly so given its problems) Stanwell. Stanwell makes awesome pipes and I'm consistently impressed. It also goes to show that there are truly enjoyable pipes to be had at a very wide range of prices.

Posted by sykes at 10:55 AM | Link | 1 comment

04 January 2011

Project: Lakeland

       -Posted by ted-

Last week, Adam stole me from my office during the middle of the day. He had a wild look about him, most notably around the eyes, his lips were pursed and his breath was eager. In his left hand he grasped a pair of Stanwell pipes, one of which he nearly violently handed to me. I know Adam well enough to translate this manner of behavior: he had for us a project.

We rushed downstairs from my office to our store, Low Country Pipe & Cigar, where we began to scan rapidly the great wall of jarred tobacco. Adam made it pretty clear rather quickly that we were after something in particular. We were looking for that ‘Lakeland Essence’. After sniffing every jar of Gawtih & Hoggarth tobacco in the shop, Adam decided that we were to fill our Stanwells with a bowl of Ennerdale Flake. The tobacco description goes so:

Predominately Virginia leaf from Brazil, Zimbabwe and Malawi (86%) but with the addition of sun cured Malawi (10%) to add sweetness, strength and to cool the smoke and Malawi Burley (4%) to "carry the flavor" in addition to its cooling and strength qualities. A background flavor of Almond is enhanced with the addition of fruit, vanilla, and the special 'Lakeland style' flavors to give this tobacco its distinctive aroma and taste.

The ‘Lakeland’ flavor has been described in various terms by many people. Some have called it floral or reminiscent of perfume while others have likened it to bar soap. I do get the soap comparison. Not cheap, supermarket soap, though, rather fancy French stuff one must buy per ounce. It’s an interesting flavoring that we found here nearly constitutes the entire backdrop of Ennerdale Flake. If you are looking to put your finger on the Lakeland taste, methinks this blend is a winner.

Posted by ted at 9:00 AM | Link | 3 comments

17 August 2010

Video: Stanwell Hans Christian Andersen VII
 Soren Aagaard talks about the latest entry in the series

       -Posted by sykes-

The new Stanwell Hans Christian Andersen VII shape is a little special. For the first time, Stanwell is trying to tie it all together a little bit, presenting the first 3,000 pipes in a presentation box, complete with a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale. The shape was designed by Poul Winslow with the particular fairytale in mind. Anyway, I'll let Soren Lundh Aagaard, Managing Director of Stanwell, do the talking...

Posted by sykes at 2:50 PM | Link | 5 comments

12 August 2010

IPCPR 2010, New Orleans, Part I
 Fun stuff from the Big Easy

       -Posted by sykes-

It's been a whirlwind here in New Orleans over the past few days. Providing any sort of logical, or even chronological, order is beyond me at this point. So, in addition to eating our share of beignets and drinking coffee at Café du Monde, though really, Brian ate his share and nine other shares, and listening to Jazz in the Quarter, we've actually done some work. Or, whatever it is we actually do that we pretend is work to the folks back home so that they don't know what a raucously good time we're having while we're away. Seriously, the show has been lot of fun, but we've also covered tremendous ground, literally and figuratively. Here are some highlights from Monday through Wednesday, picking up where we left off after the last IPCPR post, where we'd just finished up picking out tons of particularly pretty Dunhills...

Oh, and also, we'll have a bunch of videos when we get home. Our cunning plan to edit and push videos from the road has hit a technical snag or six, so I think we're surrendering on that particular front until we can use real hardware and software back at the office. We do have some seriously fun stuff, including videos with Soren Lundh Aagaard, Managing Director of Stanwell, Rocky Patel, and many others...

Monday afternoon we picked out a few dozen Castellos at the Castello pre-show event. Usually, we'll pick out months worth of updates of pipes, but we were a little more restrained this year because we'd just bought a ton of awesome Castellos when we were in Italy in late June. Still, we added some great pieces, especially Sea Rocks and Old Antiquaris, which were a little thin on the ground when we were at the factory eight weeks ago. You'll have to wait to see what we have, but there were some sandblasts that had Brian and me swooning...and Susan and Alyson rolling their eyes a little bit at our enthusiasm (though, secretly, they're super-excited too; they just pretend they're not sometimes; simply witness Susan's intent pipe selecting to the right).

That night, we met Kevin Godbee from for dinner at Susan Spicer's restaurant, Bayona. As I might have suggested previously, and while I don't want to turn this blog into a restaurant review page, I have a bit of weakness for the culinary arts. And Susan Spicer is an artist. The food was excellent and the company was even better. We spent a great five hours talking about the growth in pipe smoking among younger men that we've all been noticing and what we could do to help foster that and ease their entry into the hobby.

The first morning of the show is always a mad dash for us. No one needs to particularly hustle to cigar booths: it'll be the same cigars later that afternoon, but for pipes, it's imperative that we get to pick early. I hit Tsuge immediately, while Brian and Alyson went to Savinelli, and Susan went in search of Stanwells. After selecting a dozen Tsuges, I dashed over to pick out two dozen (or thereabouts, counting and speed picking tend not to go together) awesome Paolo Beckers. He's been experimenting with a new wood that has properties very similar to briar, but is lighter and blasts beautifully. We'll have more on that later, though. We all ended up back with the Stanwells, and picked out lots while we were there, including, we think, some pretty interesting stuff.

From there, the entire crew visited the Ashton booths to select Petersons. There are a few really nice new lines that will be available over the coming months, including the new version of the Kapet with a nickel band and a fantastic new Mark Twain shape. Plus, of course, the Peterson Pipe of the Year, of which we've already received the first few, pictured to the right. They also had a particularly good selection of Spigots that we could select from this year, plus we finalized an amazing deal for some very special Petersons that we'll be able to share with you in about two weeks, but for now, I'll have to keep mum-- I promise it'll be huge, though!

Tune back in tomorrow evening for more notes from the show...including our discussions with CAO about Dunhill tobaccos coming back to the US...

Posted by sykes at 12:51 AM | Link | 2 comments



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