We here at Smokingpipes obviously have a passion for pipes and fine tobacco, so it's expected that we should have some favorites. Therefore, in the spirit of broadening the horizons of others, I am proud to present our first Employee Spotlight on Pipe Tobaccos, where members of our intrepid staff give insights into their tastes and tell us a little bit about some of their favorite blends, both at the moment and of all time, and what made these blends. Conversations about tobacco can become contentious, especially when personal opinion is involved, but that's exactly what this little exploration is: opinion, not fact in the least bit. That being said, if you are persuaded to try some of these mixtures for yourself, our wide variety of available tobaccos are sure to assist you in your search.
Sam Bowden- Customer Service Representative
Of everyone contacted for this article, Samuel Bowden has the most eclectic taste, describing his smoking habits as "a bit rabid" and stating that "I mainly choose blends on near impulse, and the odds of smoking two of the same tobaccos in a row are less likely than that of a monsoon in Death Valley." As such, he has three different tobaccos to tell us about. The first of these is Newminster No.400 Superior Navy Flake, a blend that drew him in thanks to its sweet and complex aroma, and that kept him in its hold with notes of citrus, hay, baked goods, and spices. One of his standby blends is Dreams of Kadath, a member of Cornell and Diehl's Old Ones series and one that attracted his eye thanks to its mysterious tin artwork, Lovecraft-inspired name, and foreboding description. Its evolution and alluring tin note have kept him enthralled for some time, and this blend ranks as one of his all time favorites. On the English side of things, he names Sillem's Black as his preferred member of the family, drawn in by the striking and mysterious tin packaging and entranced to stay by the sheer complexity of the mixture, attesting that "every time I smoke it I taste or experience something different."
Tyler Caldwell- Customer Service Representative
I've known Tyler Caldwell for well over half a decade, and in that time he's proven not only to be a valued and reliable friend, but a mentor on all things tobacco-related, teaching me a great deal about cigars and guiding me on my path as a tobacconist. For Tyler, Windjammer by G.L. Pease has acquired a vaunted position amongst the other blends in his collection, and is "by far my favorite blend to date." As for what initially drew him to it and kept him coming back: "When I feel like smoking a pipe but do not have a particular blend in mind, Windjammer is my automatic choice. I'm a sucker for flake/broken flake, which is what initially drew me when it was first released. The tin note amazes me every time I crack one open — the nasal tingling of the Perique, the sweet boozy scent mixed with plum/stone fruit, definitely tugs the heartstrings every time." If that weren't enough, it also holds the distinction of being the first tin he'd ever purchased and "and immediately smoked through in its entirety."
Alan Britt- Customer Service Representative
Another of our valued customer service representatives, Alan Britt put it quite concisely, saying: "Without a doubt, I have been smoking Cornell & Diehl: Gentleman Caller more than any other tobacco right now. I tried Deertongue for the first time recently, and this has been the blend that truly made it sing for me. There's a natural vanilla, cinnamon, and almost minty undertone to this blend that I love. Combining those sweet elements from the Deertongue with the breadiness from the Virginias, this blend oftentimes reminds me of baking Christmas cookies with the family. Being the nostalgic dude I am, tapping into this memory makes me want to reach for this blend daily (and I have been)."
Truett Smith- Merchandizing Manager
As the manager of our Merchandizing department, Truett has handled more pipes than most of us will ever get the pleasure to, and as one of our hosts on the Mystery Tobacco Review, has sampled a wide variety of blends, though his current favorite is Mac Baren's Navy Flake. He's "always been drawn to Mac Baren's flakes because of how well they're cut and their aging potential," and is generally a big fan of what he calls "the signature Mac Baren top note.
"For Navy Flake in particular," he continues, "I like how it's a bit fuller than a pure Virginia but still has some bright, grassy notes interspersed with darker hints of malt and molasses. There's nothing special about my selection, but in recent years, whenever I open a tin of something, I smoke that pretty much exclusively until the tin is empty." He appreciates the complexity of this blend, as it allows each tin to show him a wide range of interesting flavors, and his single-tin approach enables each blend to be explored to their fullest potential.
Shane Ireland- Vice President and Director of Smokingpipes.com
The most senior member of our staff that I had the pleasure to interview for this article, Shane's job is something of a dream come true for many of us, and both his wealth of experience and frequent travels have afforded him access to some blends that are oftentimes hard to come across, all while enjoying our own Cornell and Diehl blends. In his own words: "The last month I've only been smoking McConnell's Scottish Flake (which is my all-time favorite) and the new Warped Saint Espresso. Scottish Flake has stayed in my no. 1 spot for nearly ten years. It's medium-plus in flavor and strength and has a nice balance of sweetness, tang, and gentle spice. It's the ultimate all-day smoke for me and it ages incredibly well. The tin I'm currently smoking is 10-years-old (which is about the sweet spot)." On Saint Espresso, he tells us that it "is something I've been craving frequently since I reviewed it a few weeks ago. I'm mostly smoking it in a meerschaum, which seems to allow the natural leaf's character to shine. It burns and behaves better than any other Aromatic/Cavendish blend I've smoked and the aroma and flavor are excellent," comparing it to "a perfectly pulled shot."
Chris Panos- Customer Service Representative
Our final responder, and another member of our talented customer service team, Chris Panos is an enthusiast of Virginia/Perique blends, though one has held his attention for some time recently. "I've been stuck on Sam Gawith's St. James Flake for a couple months now. Even though I tend to bounce around between my favorite VA/Pers, I keep finding myself coming back to SJF." Chris has some history with this blend. "I first discovered this blend while exploring Sam Gawith's catalog and fell in love immediately ... the Bright Virginias give the blend its dominant flavor of tangy, almost tart, sweetness, while the Perique provides a deep, fruity element that carries with it a touch of pepperiness. The most unique aspect of the blend is the fermented flavor that you get from the aged Virginias," and, while his favorite Va/Per blend is actually Cornell and Diehl's Red Carpet, St. James Flake holds a treasured place in his rotation.
The Virtues of Exploration
While we here at Smokingpipes possess quite the diverse spectrum of tastes, the proverbial surface hasn't even been scratched in this article. The magnitude of mixtures available on our site, let alone throughout the pipe world, is shockingly expansive, and to try them all would be a truly Herculean task, which is why we hope that this has been both informative and enlightening to all those who are still looking for a blend that's just right. One of the most rewarding explorations in all of pipedom is this vast range of blends and finding favorites by chance. Even if you happen upon some that aren't right for you, being able to enrich your palate with new flavors opens the possibility of detecting new flavors in old favored blends.
Tagged in: Cornell and Diehl G. L. Pease McConnell Newminster Reviews Tobacco