I have been experimenting with blending pipe-tobacco ever since working at Drucquer & Sons in Berkeley. Partly out of curiosity -- what do this and that combined taste like? -- partly out of a conviction that everything I like will eventually become unavailable.
And with the ongoing march toward outlawing all the pleasures of which the meaningful tofu-snarfing know-it-betters disapprove (that being bourgeois white dillwads and anything fun respectively), the prospect of not being able to buy tobacco in the great state of California becomes ever more likely.
In our lifetimes all nicotine products will be outlawed.
And tetrahydrocannabinol obligatory.
On that day, some of these idiots will cream in their sustainably green knickers. At last we're free of evil, and therapized up the wazoo!
Sorry, I got distracted by my severe protestant disapproval of drug-using hippies for a moment. Live and let live, just ignore the damned potheads.
And kick them fiercely when they're stoned.
You know, one of the reasons why China and India are getting ahead of us is because they aren't such a bunch of smirking milksop druggies.
Thirty five percent Latakia, and some Turkish leaf. The rest of the blend consists of Virginia with the merest touch of fire-cured. It's smoky and resinous, and like all medium Latakia mixtures works best in a fairly broad bowl; a Pot, a Prince, or a Squat Bulldog.
I have more than a dozen of the last mentioned shape, many of them very fine old pipes. Most recently I smoked this tobacco in a Sasieni that dates from around my birth year.
The taste is much like a pre-war English.
Orgasmic, and divine.
A mental-sparker of no mean proportion; images of late evening at various cafés in Valkenswaard come to mind, as well as more recently hours enjoyed in the company of Mark and Robin at the cigar club, with Bob as the genial and welcoming host. Relatively quiet times, except for when the visiting glee club from Missouri came to town. I also recall the young lady at the restaurant where I sometimes get bittermelon and chicken over rice. It's a very nice dish, but that isn't the only reason to go there. She has a lovely smile.
This one is ten percent fire-cured, the rest four different Virginias, of which one is a ribbon to promote burnability. It's rather like Rattray's Hal O' The Wynd, though not as pronounced a medium red flavour. An all-day smoke, extremely pleasant and mild, with a sweetness upon the tongue.
Very much a blend for old badgers.
For some reason I cannot get the living room of the house we lived in many years ago out of my mind. Which is odd, because this is nothing like a Dutch cavendish! But the association may go deeper than I realize. Possibly it's the level of nicotine. More likely, the sparkling allure of Virginia.
A peculiar Virginia concoction, with around five percent Perique, and nearly a fifth Latakia. It reminds me of my father, and it took me a while to figure out why. The main impact is the nearly unnoticed absence of any Turkish hue whatsoever. What my father smoked when he was still a teenager in Beverly Hills was a mildly spiced mostly American blend, albeit with a dollop of Syrian. Such things tend to have interesting presences in the nose, combined with what are now profoundly old-fashioned taste-spectra.
This blend has that old-time memory and mood-prompting note.
Naturally it works best in older shapes and bowls.
It yields a spare and ancient fragrance.
Like re-visiting a gentler era.
In the sixties and early seventies my father would work on blueprints at his desk, and pipe smoke would waft over from that corner. At that time I was still too young to indulge -- Dutch tobacconists won't cater to the single-digit crowd -- but the dry aroma has stayed with me since then, still alive somewhere in the back of my mind. His pipes always echoed the perfume of his favourite blends, and the smell always brings him back.
All three of these are fairly recent recipes. And while I have jars with some of my older blends gathering a nice mellowness of age on the shelves where I keep my Judaica, obscuring Halachic texts and chumeshim with commentaries, I have not smoked them much lately. Not even the stinky blend which exemplifies everything most women hate about pipe tobacco, that I enjoy so much.
Nor have I opened any new tins from my humongous stockpile.
I've stashed nearly three decades worth of tobaccos.
Everything I like will become unavailable.
Especially fine smoking products.
But I'm puffing new stuff.
And running out.
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