About Me:
Wife & I own a cigar & pipe store in a rural area.

Planta - Anno MMVI (Sweet Pear Mixture)
Grousemoor, not Grasmere. Stupid owls woke me up, can't get back to sleep.

Planta - Anno MMVI (Sweet Pear Mixture)
Pick a pear.
Bergamot? Wow, just goes to show you how personal tastes are neither valid nor invalid, just different. I don't get any bergamot in this. Just pear and quality leaf. In fact, I make an Earl Grey tea blend (with a similar base leaf mix) for customers at the cigar & pipe shop my wife and I own, and while it has more than just bergamot (no PG, thanks), the top note is clearly bergamot. That blend tastes nothing like this. In fact, we sell the Planta MMVII and MMVI, both of which I love, because they are so different from other blends we sell. I came up with the EG blend because I couldn't find anything close to EG on the market. It's also proven to be one of our better sellers, despite the pipe tobacco tax in our state being 95% (not a typo). For me, it's pear, pear, pear on this...and a mighty fine blend it is. For me, the Grasmere tastes predominantly of lemon grass. I love the taste of Planta MMVI, and I love Grasmere (when I'm in the mood for some). I'm more of a coffee drinker, but do drink Earl Grey tea from time to time, and enjoy it quite a bit. To me, Planta MMVI doesn't taste like Grasmere nor MMVI at all. It does, however, have a fresh, clean taste of just the right amount.

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    5 Facts about Gawith, Hoggarth and Co.
  • ► Thanks, Mr. W. Gawith & co seem to get a little less notice in the U.S., but really, GH puts out several good blends covering a fairly wide spectrum and tastes. Hopefully the OP will post after trying 1-2 of them. OP, just make sure the package doesn't say "potpourri" on the outside. That should help.
  • ► Oops..I should have been clearer on the Brown Flake. Be sure to get the blend made for the American market, or you'll be smoking petunias. Incidentally, way the other direction, try the Grasmere Flake as a palate cleanser once or twice a week. Bit of Lakeland in there, but predominate flavor by far is a casing that tastes like lemon grass.
  • ► I enjoy a large number of G&H products (and for that matter, Sam G, too). ..,For Mike C, if you can handle a very strong tobacco, I heartily recommend GH's brown rope. However, if you're not used to smoking strong stuff or are still fairly new to the hobby, GH BR will probably make you hurl and then faint. The Curly Cut is far less punitive (as in none); it's Virginia, and the flavors developed are natural as far as I can tell. The Balkan Mixture is also good. It's well-balanced, medium in body, and tasty without adding any junk to it. And don't overlook their Best Brown Flake. If it's not GH's top seller in the US, it has to be in their top 3, I'd think. Medium-bodied, it's just VA and Burley, treated to the flake creation process, which brings out a lot of nice natural flavors (note, some people claim to pick up the Lakeland scent and flavor--likely what you refer to as floral in each of the blends I mentioned. I've either picked up no such flavor and scent, or only the faintest whisper of it....BTW, the SG black cav just adds the right touch of cooling and slight smokiness. Wouldn't care for it by itself, but man, is it versatile, willing to sing backup instead of trying to take over whatever you are making. So pretty please, SP, get some more in. Or maybe get some from GH if you can. Most of the black cav sold in this country interferes with just about anything you might try to make on your own, with casing that is pronounced and complicates the blending process.
    Cigar Basics: Cutting and Lighting
  • ► A handy hint for using a guillotine: for most cigars with a rounded head, set the cutter on a flat surface (such as a table), then clip. This usually removes just the right amount, but do a test draw. A second clip may be needed. If draw is still tough, your cigar is probably plugged. You can also buy a guillotine with a backing for the same effect. For a public gathering, however, I often bring cigar scissors just to show off. :)BTW, first time I met Don Pepin was at his small Calle Ocho factory. After some pleasant chat, he picked up a cigar to light for me...he clipped it expertly with his thumbnail. Perfect cut. I wouldn't recommend it, and it's probably common in some regions, but it impressed the heck out of me.Also, with butane lighters, I recommend the torch style. The burn much hotter, which not only helps light more quickly, but it also burns fuel to the point where no one I know can taste any gas.
    Cigar Basics: Selecting and Examining
  • ► " I wouldn’t recommend climbing atop the strength scale on a first go." LOL. Yeah, when Oliva first released their El Cobre cigars, I turned green smoking it. Nearly fainted. Now I could smoke one for breakfast, on an empty stomach. Oh, and don't think you're a weirdo or somehow aren't making a natural progression of some kind if you prefer to stay with milder cigars. I know some people who have smoked for 20 years, and still like mild cigars.
    Durbar and Aperitif: Old vs. New
  • ► Well, whatever you do, if you've never tried a previous version of a newly-blended brand name or line, don't try the old one. Not unless you want a monkey (that either can't get fed, or gets fed only with lots of $$$) on your back. May seem like a treat to try an aged blend, but if you love it, you can go nuts and/or broke trying to get more.
  • ► I've never smoked the H&H Blackhouse, but I can vouch on the Blue Mountain. Well, all of my tins say Blue Mountain...I'm assuming with the short turn-around time, Balkan Blue is the same blend. On paper, the description might lead you to believe it's just another Balkan. However, McC clearly used some excellent leaf with an incredibly deft hand from the blender. It's not only one of the best-balanced pipe blends I've purchased in the last year or so, but one of the best, period. If I heard someone wants to compare it to any other blend or brand, I'd tell them that the blend is flat-out good on its own, regardless of possible comparisons. And I really don't smoke Balkans that often...I'm more likely to pick up a hearty English or VaPer, so a Balkan that wows me is a pretty rare bird. Actually, in that same vein, I'd also strongly recommend McClelland's Legends and Wilderness blends, too. They look similar on paper, but the components aren't all alike, and the blends are both excellent as well, again regardless of whether they compare to anything else. Fred Hanna blended Legends and Wilderness as far as I can tell. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he blended Blue Mountain/Balkan Blue. If he did, that has to be tobacco blending's equivalent of a grand slam.
    How to Cellar Pipe Tobacco: Part Two
  • ► Really good, very helpful info. I'll add a couple of things. One, I wash the Mason Jars before using them (and yes, get the wide-mouthed...look on the boxes and check jars to see difference). Not to sterilize them, but because I wasn't there when they were boxed, and I don't know who all may have stuck what into them. Simple dish soap and water, plus I use deionized water to rinse to eliminate spots (water where we live is pretty hard, even with a softener on the house). Also, you can buy a funnel to fill the wide-mouth jars. I'd normally fashion my own, but given the amount of use and the cheap price, I'd say get the funnel, and clean after use.Additionally, I like both Syrian and Cyprian Latakia for different reasons. I've smoked some aged English blends with Syrian leaf, and I think the Syrian Latakia ages more gracefully than Cyprian does. My guess is that either the Cyprian has further to fall, typically being more pronounced and brighter in flavor, or it is all in my head. On more Oriental-forward blends, probably best to go only a handful of years.Conversely, Perique seems to age quite nicely. I usually add some to a VaPer, as I love the stuff, and nearly every blend lacks enough to satisfy me. To my taste buds, a well-aged VaPer can be amazing, especially in flake form (my preferred VaPer format). I add the extra Perique when smoking, but mixing it in when cellaring could mellow the entire blend and allow the flavors to marry better if you're not as much of a Perique nut.Finally, I also like a number of aromatics. I've given up trying to figure out which will age well and which won't. Seems to be too variable, but there are some that seem to age better than others. If you're wondering about a specific blend, I recommend checking online for opinions as to whether a particular blend is believed to age well or not. If a blend isn't to your liking to start with, I wouldn't expect the passage of time to elevate it, but I've seen a lot of reviews where a reviewer says "I didn't like this at first, but tried it again a couple of years later and it was fantastic". I wouldn't stock up on a stinker, but won't toss one I don't like until I've given it at least a year to age. And yes, this comment is likely longer than the article. Sorry, just trying to help.
  • ► Mr. I, happy to help. I've found with both cigars and pipe tobacco, there are opinions all over the map, but I've learned to watch for the constants, and opinions that get repeated, when looking at a long-term deal or an expensive purchase. Lots of people have advised me along my pipe journey with posts, reviews, etc. Cigar & pipe people seem to generally be inquisitive and also generous with information. Just trying to pay it forward. I've recently had to move a ton of tobacco around, as my wife and I set up a cigar & pipe store in April, so I can't say for sure where everything is, but if you want, I could see if track down a couple samples for you (I have a large number of tins and jars to sort through, but I'm happy to do so if you wish). As for the Latakias, it just struck me that if I was to put music to them, Syrian Lat would probably get Sade's "Smooth Operator", whereas Cyprian Lat would be more like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers' "Give it a Way".
    How to Prepare Rope Tobacco
  • ► FWIW, I have a whole stack of single razor blades as a result of having some glass fish tanks and a desire to remove algae buildup. I've found that for cutting rope and plug, these razor blades work quite well. I just cut on top of newspaper or paper towel, and if I want to rub it out, I cheat with a couple quick bursts in a coffee grinder. Hardly even seems like work, doing it that way, and I can still have the coins or flake effect if I'm in the mood to fold.
  • ► The grinder does make quick and easy work of sliced rope, flake, etc. I can't claim to have discovered the idea, I just followed another guy's lead. The razor blade does, in fact, make slicing fairly fine coins, and I've smoked some rope that way. Burns very nicely. Just be sure you get a blade that only has one sharp side. I suspect a light pair of gloves might help anyone with tender hands/skin, too.
  • ► Um...just to be clear, that's me. Didn't realize I had posted before selecting a handle. --Tom :)
    In Praise of Perique
  • ► My only complaint about Perique is that about 98% of the blends that have the wonderful leaf have too *little* of it. That's easily remedied by keeping some good blending Perique on hand, which I do. A good VaPer boosted by Perique just always seems to hit the spot for me, and I like a huge range of pipe tobacco, from the heaviest English blends to the sweetest (high quality) aromatics. Some McC's St. James Flake with a couple years of age, quick zap in the spice grinder, mix in some Perique, and I'm a happy boy. Other times I'll make my own, say with some McCranie 1983 red Virginia or other well-aged good Virginia. Whoever invented the stuff, the process, etc., should get a posthumous Nobel prize or something.
    The Faces of Meerschaum
  • ► Just sold one of my favorite estate meers @ the B&M my wife own. I didn't spend a ton of time researching it, as I had tons to do (which is the best you can hope for when owning a small biz). Also, once I do the refurb, I've usually seen enough of the pipe to last a lifetime. Anyway, on the stem and rim of meer pipe, the two horses were each up on their hind legs, either goofing off or squaring off, not sure which. Sure hated to see that beauty go, but someone left with a great deal on a very unusual pipe. Half the reason we do this stuff, isn't it retailers?
    What to Smoke this Holiday Season
  • ► Always like the McClelland HS, although I have to say that time doesn't do much to improve it, so I'd say crack the can open once you get it and enjoy. Have several of the annual VA's. Some day I've got to enlist the aid of someone to help me do blind tasting on the various years, especially as some near the 20 year mark. Would be nice to hear from anyone who has already done so. They do generally seem to age quite nicely, but I've never compared them side-by-side.