Hearth & Home - Magnum Opus 1.75oz
A Fine Balkan
This is a sublime blend. All of the flavours beautifully intertwine to great a wondefully grown up smoking experience. This is a late night tobacco to me. As I write this , i'm finishing off some late night work whilst sipping some champagne. The Latakia is definitely the primary mover yet the Orientals and Perique provide archetypal notes that balances out the smokiness of the Latakia which is a fine example of that leaf. The Virginias underpin the blend and hold it together. It's potent yet restrained leaving you with an overall smoking experience of balance. To me, all the elements are perfectly balanced which is the key to this Balkan. Nothing overwhelms whilst everything stands out. It is indeed a Magnum Opus . The nicotine hit to me is bold yet not overpowering . There's a reason Russ Outlette is considered a master blender and this is a primary example of the why.
Sutliff - Crumble Kake Virginia Perique 1.5oz
This is my midweek go to late night smoke. When you are in the mood for a contemplative late night session. Not too bold. Not too mellow. A medium smoking experience. The cake is a great format as one can slice off exactly the amount one desires and crumble it into a fat bowled pipe. It's raisony. It's classic Virgina but the Perique gives it that little je ne sais pas element that is understated, yet at the same time pronounced. It's quite subtle but I rather like that. The virginias dominate but the Perique is beautifully balanced as an afterburner. Open a good book. Pour a little fine Scotch and think about life and that will put you in the perfect mindset for this sublime little blend .
Captain Earle's - Ten Russians 2oz
Superb bracing full English blend
This is the sort of tobacco your great uncle would have smoked. It's wonderful stuff. Spicy, smoky , STRONG and the crumble cake is one of my favourite formats . A sublime, midday smoke. Everything good about a traditional , high-end English blend. One of my top 5 now.
Mac Baren - 7 Seas Regular 3.5oz
Sublimely mild daytime smoker
I bought this about a month or two again and had a few bowls and let the rest sit in the tin. It's improved since being sat in the aired tin. I take out a generous handful of tobacco onto a tin rolling tray and let it sit for about 10 minutes in a comfortably dry room. It creates the perfect conistency for packing (using the Frank method) and lighting up without really needing a char light. This is my favourite daytime smoke with a cup of strong Colombian coffee. It's mild and moreish with no bite if you smoke it calmy. Delicately aromatic, with hints of cocoa and vanilla and a lovely citrus Golden Virginia hint throughout. Very calming and alongside Cary Grant's blend and Sherlock Holmes - in my top 3 daytime mild smokes.
Peterson - Sherlock Holmes 50g
A fine tobacco from another era.
I'm a great Holmes fan. Growing up with the Basil Rathbone films which they used to show on BBC2 early evenings in the 1980s. My music teacher was a relative of the main actor and I always loved him as Holmes until Jeremy Brett appeared and stole his thunder. There's a lot of pipe smoking in the Rathbone films , by both Rathbone and Bumbling Nigel Bruce as the archetypal Watson. "The House Of Fear" for example includes a multitude of pipe smoking and filling scenes , including a table of gentleman that are the main characters in that mystery , who smoke bowl after bowl of tobacco from various jars in a way that was completely normal in Victorian and pre-WW2 Britain. One forgets that up until the early 80s , nearly ever man over 30 would smoke a pipe. Fine pipe tobacco was everywhere because that was expected. Peterson's mixture here is very much a Victorian pipe tobacco, of a certain style. It's not a heavy , dark upper class blend that Holmes would have most certainly smoked, but it is very much of the more subtle style mixtures that were available at the time. Purists need not worry. I find this a rather lovely smoke. The tin note is wonderful and most certainly has been cased with a fruit - I detect plum / prunes rather than apricot. This is very delicate and you only taste a little of it throught the very mild , gentle smoking experience. The Virginias are very high quality and the Mysore presence again alludes to the Victorian era where the British Empire was at it's nadir and trading into London's ports was immense from its colonies. The East India Company was responsible for the trade in wonderful goods from the Indian subcontinent and tobacco was a key import. This is a very aromatic smoke but not in a cased aromatic way. The flavours are beautifully intertwined and there is no bite at all. I didn't know what to expect from this blend, but for my taste, it's a fantastic daytime smoke. As I write this at my desk, I am calmly puffing away and picture an 1880s oak paneled dining room wearing a velvet smoking jacket. A subtle smoke from a bygone age. Sublime.
Mac Baren - HH Old Dark Fired 1.75oz
Classic pure smoke.
I'm a relatively new returner to pipes. I smoked one briefly in my twenties in the UK (over 25 years ago) and only knew about what one could easily procure from a tobacconist in the high street , which to a novice pipe smoker was mainly St Bruno , Erinmore, Gold Block and Condor. 'Proper' tobacco blends were for older men who went to London and Dunhill's store or Davidoff. Picking up a pipe again in Canada, where different provinces limited what you can or can't buy , I picked up a plain labelled HH Dark Fired from one of the last tobacconists in Montreal that sell pipe tobacco. Whilst I've enjoyed a fine selection of aromatics and English blends from SP , this was the first pureplay blend I'd tried and I must say it was a wonderful experience! The simplicity of the beautifully formed flakes that rub out nicely . I used the old school method to fill the bowl of my Lavanelli Briar. Char lit beautifully...a quick tamp...and then a full light to enjoy this wonderfully strong mix of Virginias and Burleys masterfully intertwined with wisps of white smoke filling the room with a fine tobacco note. My old teachers at a private school deep in the English countryside used to smoke pipes all day in their masters' gowns. This takes me back to 1980 and chalk boarded classrooms with wooden floors in an old English country house. That's what this evokes. Tradition, old values and fine quality. Recommended
Sir Walter Raleigh - Regular 1.5oz
Basic but reliable
I prefer the aromatic variant of SWR but the original is what it is. A nice solid Burley hit. This is designed for guys who had to work and pick up a pouch on the way to do that work or on the way home. A working man's tobacco for a simpler age.
Sir Walter Raleigh - Aromatic 1.5oz
Old School tradition
Maybe it's because I was born in the '70s, but I have an affection for these old school OTC blends. They are unprentious and just decent mixtures of good tobacco blended to give you a pleasant , simple smoke. I also love retro packaging artwork that hasn't changed in decades. In an world where tradition is frowned upon, it almost feels revolutionary . This , by modern standards, is not really an aromatic . However, there is a charming sweet edge to it that counterbalances the core sweet Virginia and solid Burley base . It's a medium mild smoke , ideal for daytime tasks and the nicotine hit seems decent to my previously non-smoking body. I keep a few pouches of this around, but I can see myself getting a can of this as it really is rather comforting. That's the word - this is a comforting blanket on a week day. I start the day with Early Morning Pipe and then move into this around lunchtime. Tobacco snobs will most likely think this is beneath them . I think that's unfair - a brand doesn't survive this long without reason. Get yourself a pouch and see if you agree :)
Kramer's - Blend for Cary Grant 50g
Delightfully quaint English style blend.
I read with interest about this blend, having got back into the pipe smoking habit after a twenty year absence. This blend epitomises the classic English elegance of Mr Grant himself. It's a lovely refined smoke. Definitely on the milder end of the spectrum with a lovely gentle Oriental mouthful initially with a hint of smokiness and a jolly smooth length . A perfect afternoon smoke , especially on a cold winter's day as it is today. A cup of tea and a bowl of this has put me in a fine mood. Recommended.
Captain Black - Original 12oz
Old school pipe aromas.
I'm a great fan of traditions and Captain Black is a standard , whether you like it or not. It comes from an era where quality pipe tobacco was an expensive luxury for most and these mainstream OTC brands were accessible to all. Captain Black original is a lovely , comforting all day smoke. It has a lovely , gentle aroma and a pleasant, fruity plum room note which seems very familiar. Its the smell of your great uncle's pipe . It's the smell of a cosy library in an old Victorian home. It's old school, affordable relaxation . Always need a 14oz tin of this in the cellar. You won't regret it.
Peter Falk: Columbo and Cigars
- ► CORRECTION:White Owl 'Rangers'.
- ► According to some careful screen detective work with the Bluray copies of Columbo from Japan, the character smokes White Owl 'Hunters' fairly regularly. You can tell by the logo. These are classic OTC counter burners. I had a box of 60 delivered to the UK when I lived there and made a point of carrying a couple with me every time I went anywhere . There weren't bad cheap smokes but it had always intrigued me what Columbo had been smoking for the last 40 years. Great article - everything about Columbo is a wonderful memory of a different era.