Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tobacco Review: G.L. Pease Lagonda

I wish I could just drive out to California to spend a few days at Greg Pease's workshop and learn as much as I can about blending tobaccos. Mind you I would still have much to learn, but it would certainly be one hell of a way to start the learning process.

Anywhoo... the most recent addition to Pease's Old London Series is Lagonda. Both the tin and Pease's website describe it as a bit of a latakia-heavy blend, so with fall coming I knew this was one blend I simply must try.

Upon opening the tin I was greeted by an array of various shades of brown and tan. The tobacco smelled sweeter than I was expecting, but it still had that smoky aroma that I absolutely adore. The cut is a tumbled flake - meaning the leaves had all been pressed into cakes and were then allowed to sit and ferment (allowing the aging process to essentially be kick-started) before being cut up and tumbled into what is basically a ribbon cut. As such, this blend is perfect for packing.

Once packed Lagonda lights pretty easily and delivers an immediate burst of flavor, which continues until the end of the bowl. The general flavor notes are pretty standard for an English blend (a woodsy flavor not unlike a nice campfire), but the twist with this blend is the Bright leaf - which delivers a sweetness that tingles the palate. The end result is a sweet and smoky flavor - a nice introduction to Virginia blends for English fanatics like myself.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tobacco Review: McClelland Blue Mountain Pipe Tobacco

This blend has received a great amount of attention recently. It won the People's Choice Award at the 2011 Chicago Pipe Show's Balkan Sobriane Throwdown, despite losing the judges' choice to Black House from Hearth and Home. Now I have not smoked Black House - nor have I smoked Balkan Sobranie 759 (the blend that both Black House and Blue Mountain are based on) - so I cannot make any comparisons, only judge this blend on its own merit.

As such, I have to say that this blend is quite good. When I open the tin I am greeted with a scent similar to that of an aged "Balkan blend" - smoky, sweet, spicy, mouth-watering. The cut is your basic ribbon and the colors range from medium brown to black, which screams out to me that Blue Mountain is not a passive, mild English blend. Given that it is a McClelland blend it is a tad bit moist, but not overtly so. It also packs and lights easily.

As far as smoking qualities are concerned, Blue Mountain is a pretty consistent tobacco blend. The latakia is wonderfully smoky, the Virginias are sweet, and the Orientals provide enough spice for there to be an interesting interplay between everything. It's a pretty straight-forward blend and is less complex than some of the other blends I enjoy, but in this case that's not a bad thing as there still is a nice complexity about the way the tobaccos interact with each other. All these traits tell me that the gold in Blue Mountain is that it should age perfectly.

In the end I have to admit that Blue Mountain isn't my absolute favorite blend, but that it is certainly good enough that I plan on keeping in my regular rotation while also storing some away to age as well.

Currently listening to: Wasting Light by Foo Fighters

Friday, November 5, 2010

Tobacco Review: G.L Pease Meridian

My thoughts on Meridian:

Upon opening the tin, one is greeted with the scent of a classic English mixture: plenty of leather, wood, and spice. The cut is a tumbled flake, which comes out more as a wide ribbon cut, and the appearance is an array of light tans to dark browns with a couple hints of black.

The tobacco packs easily into different-sized pipes and lights easily as well. The flavors are pretty consistent with the tin aroma: leather, woodsmoke and spice - but with more spice in the mix. The interplay between the different tobaccos (Latakia, Virginia, and Oriental) is complex, but not too complex and it allows for a smoker to enjoy this blend while busying himself with something else without missing anything. As Mr. Pease wrote, "Meridian doesn't rely on the latakia for its impact, but rather the balanced interplay between the latakia, the orientals and the virginias... it's complex, but in a gentle way." And it burns evenly without issue.

Final Verdict: Meridian is a wonderful blend with enough complexity to keep any smoker interested, but is also simple enough to enjoy when busy with other activities. Kudos, Mr. Pease.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Update on Restoration Part II

So my wife has a sharp eye.

After I stained the pipe black, she said that it looked like one area needed more stain. I wasn't sure and wanted to buff it out with tripoli first, but after I did it was apparent that she was right. On one side red was peeking through. So, wanting a solid black pipe, I applied another coat of stain - which is now drying.

But this is what the pipe looked like after the tripoli. You can barely see the spots of red in this picture, but I am sure the end product will be awesome:

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Update on Restoration

Upon closely examining the pipe I decided the first course of action should be to clean it with Murphy's Oil Soap as it helps pull tars and dirt off the pipe. After doing this I was surprised at the brown tones that were apparent. And honestly, I didn't like them. So I decided to strip off as much stain as possible with denatured alcohol and use a coat of Fiebing's Black Leather Dye on the pipe. I also rebent the stem as it had somehow been bent ever so slightly upwards, causing there to be a gap between the stem and shank on the underside. After this, I scraped off the oxidation on the shank and sanded it smooth using polishing-grade steel wool.

Thus far is my progress without any polishing.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New Restoration Project: Four-Dot Sasieni

So I bought a sandblasted 4-Dot Sasieni today for $15.00 that is in in pretty dire need of restoration. The stem I can easily take care of - as well as any charring that might have occurred - but I'd like to lighten it up and bring out the reddish tones that shine through when under a bright light. And honestly I'm not completely sure how to do that, but I plan on finding out how and posting it here along with progress reports with pictures. As it is, in normal light it appears almost black.

Under bright light it looks like this, and I'd like for these tones to shine through under any light:

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lastest Pipe Acquisition: A Johs Freehand

So recently my wife and I went down to Myrtle Beach to visit her parents, and while we were down there we stopped by Low Country Pipe and Cigar (aka SmokingPipes.com). I went there with every intent of purchasing a new Savinelli, but when the one I was looking at on their website was sold I decided to take a look around. Both my wife and I ended up in front of a wall of pipes admiring this red danish freehand from Johs and - after looking at quite a few other pipes - we both came back to it.

I left that shop with a new pipe - one which I am thoroughly enjoying the break-in period:



[Yes, I read Hafiz]

Anywhoo... it is a great pipe and is surprisingly light given its size.

P.S. I have a new personal blog if you are interested: Rearview Driver. It is named after a poem I wrote after my first trip to visit my then-future wife.