THREE TOBACCOS AND SOMETHING ABOUT BEING CHEAP
I smoke a pipe, and have a fair hand at blending. In all modesty, I believe I am one of a handful of tabak-mayvens in Northern California (primarily because the anti-smokers have driven all the others to drink, suicide, South Carolina, or the brink of extinction).
As such, occasionally there are times when I must waffle on my blog about the noble weed. Such as now.
Joseph Izrael writes:
"I have an assignment for you. If you do it, you get a beer. Or a commission, whatever you want.
I'm still looking for that incredible blend that you smell in the traffic jam and you go "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH" what wouldn't I give for that stuff! And sure enough, after a few minutes you catch up with the old geezer with a big white mustache in a 1923 Buick Touring. You probably had a teacher smoking it too.
Oh the catch? Well, I guess you've heard of the proverbial "cheap Jew". That's me. I don't spend more than $10 for a tin. But if it's really pikuach nefesh, it can go up to $15. "
Cheap Jew? What a strange concept. To a Dutchman. We Dutch have a hard-won reputation for being the cheapest penny pinchers in the ten worlds. Stingy is first-nature to us. How is copper wire made? Two Dutchmen fight over a penny. How was the rubble cleared after the last big earthquake? Some Dutchman heard there was a penny buried underneath.
I would tell more cheap Dutchman jokes, but two freebees is all you get; those things cost money.
Anyhow, pipe tobacco.
I'll need more information from you - what does it smell like? What type of blend or mixture do you think it is? Can you describe it in more detail?
Need more data than geezer's age and car...... what other tobaccos does it remind you of?
We can probably find it, or a close replica - but it will require some effort. The trade has changed since the days when that old geezer was still the typical pipe smoker.
In the meantime, here are the three tobaccos that I have been smoking recently.
PETERSON'S SHERLOCK HOLMES MIXTURE
This is composed of thin-ribbon cut pale Virginias and air-cureds (the tin says Burley, but it is more like Maryland), top-dressed with a plum-apricot flavouring. I should mention that an aroma of prunus spp is not unusual for matured Virginias - the Japanese and some American brands still fake the smell of well-aged tobacco for their cigarettes with a heavy plum reek.
The top-dressing fades if the tobacco is dried out a bit before smoking, and in any case does not carry over into the smoke. Nor does it leave a perceptible after-presence in the bowl.
It smokes fairly mild, with sweetness on the center of the tongue. Enjoyable, though medium high in nicotine. A short bowl is best, too deep a bowl will likely exhaust your patience. A fine product with a remarkably stupid name. The amateur detective never smoked anything like this. This is not likely to offpiss anyone other than diehard tobacco-haters, and could be smoked with pleasure several times a day.
Lipman's mention of this tobacco made me try it. I very am glad I did.
[A house blend - Grant's Tobacconists ]
This is something that Thomas at the local pipe-shop threw together after grilling me intensely about blending one evening while I was getting smashed on single malt. He must have been drinking considerably less than me, because his first batch was quite good, quite balanced. Two other experimental batches later he had the final product - the only difference being the proportions of two of the five tobaccos in relation to each other. And while he may have gotten some ideas and feedback from me, the inspiration and judgment that went into this blend are his alone. Kudos.
It is a Virginia blend with a touch of Perique. The base consists of two similar matured Virginias and an unflavoured Cavendish. There is a proportion of ribbon.
It grows on you. The taste is medium strength, leafy, and tangy because of the Perique, with a creamy sweet touch from the matured Virginias. It can be set aside and relit without concern. I've actually smoked a lot of it, all three versions while it was in development. Since then I've become the first person to actually purchase it. I find it quite enjoyable.
This is the fourteenth tobacco in Grant's current line-up of house blends, and the only one that I will smoke. If you want it, you will have to order it from them.
Brick and mortar location: 562 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94104.
PH: 415-981-1000. FX: 415-981-1310.
BALKAN SASIENI SMOKING MIXTURE - ORIGINAL FORMULA
Made in Denmark for Peter Stokkebye Tobaksfabrik A/S
Yes, this is the so-manieth iteration of the Balkan Sobranie replacement. It is actually better than the Balkan Sasieni mixture from several years ago, which was too toasted and steamed to replicate anything other than a certain fine tobacco ponginess. I also think that the recipe has been changed - there seems to be more Turkish in the mix, less Latakia. The texture is finecut ribbon, irregular and short.
It's an excellent tobacco, profoundly old-fashioned, with a nice interplay between stinky Turk, nicotine-laden colonial, and just enough smelly Cypriote to accentuate their love-making and chase away your friends. It is of course not the Balkan Sobranie - nothing in this world will ever be like that again. But it is an excellent tobacco that not only echoes the old Balkan Sobranie, but has distinct charms of it's own. The first bowl will probably disappoint you, but halfway through the tin you may decide to go out and purchase California Tobacco Center's entire supply.
Still waiting to try Germain's King Charles Mixture, and some of the Burley mixtures from various sources. Will discuss the Samuel Gawith line-up at some point in the future.
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Labels: BLEND REVIEW