Mar 312012

Online retailers I have used thus far:




Mar 302012

A listing of the tobacco blends tried, roughly in order.
Some of my reviews
* == unsmoked, but in the ‘cellar’.

  1. Seven Seas Royal Blend(MacBaren)
  2. Chairmans flake (James Barber)
  3. My Mixture 965(Dunhill)
  4. Squadron Leader (Samuel Gawith)
  5. Nightcap (Dunhill)
  6. Eureka (?? Aromatic from the US.. a gift)
  7. Aromatic #7 (?? Aromatic from the US.. a gift)
  8. Irish Whiskey (Peterson)
  9. Full Virginia Flake (Samuel Gawith)
  10. Peterson’s Perfect Plug (Peterson)
  11. Skiff Mixture (Samuel Gawith)
  12. Early Morning Pipe (Dunhill)
  13. Hal o’ the Wynd (Rattray’s)
  14. Old Joe Krantz (Cornell & Diehl)
  15. Marlin Flake (Rattray’s)
  16. Blue Mountain (McClelland)
  17. Tree Mixture (Robert Lewis)
  18. Balkan Mixture (Gawith Hoggarth)
  19. Balkan Supreme (Peter Stokkebye)
  20. Harkness Tower (Owl Shop, New Haven, CT)
  21. Bull’s Eye (Orlik)
  22. Tudor Castle (McClelland)
  23. Revor Plug (Gawith Hoggarth)
  24. Royal Yacht (Dunhill) *
  25. Burley Slice (Wessex)*
  26. Scottish Flake (Robert McConnell)*
Mar 242012


Virginias usually represent the highest percentage in a blend. Although there’s a wide range of Virginias to choose from, including bright VA’s, matured VA’s, and stoved VA’s, in general the lighter the color the tangier the taste, with the darker VA’s lending a deep, rich note to the blend. Unprocessed VA’s tend to produce tongue bite, and stoved VA’s tend to bite much less.

Burley, like VA, is a good base tobacco. It has no sugar of its own, but is relatively bite-free. It should never come to the forefront, but be used sparingly. The “Burley Curse” refers to the habit this tobacco has of overpowering a blend. Burley has a distinct nutty taste, but because of its somewhat bland character, is often flavored.

Cavendish generally refers to a blend of various tobaccos that have been sweetened, stoved, and pressed. Unflavored black cavendish, for instance, is made from Kentucky Green River burley, which is sugared, steamed and toasted, yielding a distinct caramel flavor. In a blend, cavendish can be used sparingly, to add body or flavor, or become the base, yielding a sweet tobacco. It goes particularly well with Latakia.

Perique is a “spice tobacco”, with a distinct peppery flavor. Produced mostly in Louisiana from various base tobaccos, and cured in its own juices, this not only adds spice to a VA blend, but also mitigates a lot of the bite that comes with it. When not part of a straight VA/Perique blend, it should only be added to the point that it becomes noticeable. In a regular VA/Perique blend, it can represent a higher percentage, though 10% is often enough.

Latakia is Turkish tobacco flavored with smoke. Syrian Latakia is strong and bright, while Cyprian Latakia has a deeper, mellower flavor. This is another spice tobacco, and needs a base tobacco to keep it in check. Fifty percent Latakia would be considered a “heavy Latakia blend”. It’s generally wise to use less Syrian than Cyprian.

Oriental is spice tobacco from the Eastern Mediterranean (countries such as Turkey or Greece). Somewhat akin to Latakia, this is spicy and sweet. Most oriental tobacco is a blend. Even a label that refers to it as one distinct type (such as basma), is usually referring to its main component. Turkish is often used to fill out the general impression of a Latakia. Again, on its own, 50% would be considered a “heavy Oriental”.

Maryland and Carolina can be thought of as “filler” tobaccos, used mainly to flesh out the taste of a VA or Burley base. Not terribly distinctive, these can be used to mitigate tongue bite.



Cavendish– A very important process in today’s tobaccos. Cavendishes, in older blends, generally referred to tobaccos which had been treated with flavorings or even sugar water, sometimes steamed (mainly in Black Cavendish), pressed, cut, and rubbed-out. These were the original aromatics. Through the years the term has become watered-down, and is commonly used to refer to any flavored tobacco blend.

Flake– Tobaccos, normally whole-leaf, that have been pressed, and usually sliced, are called Flakes. The pressure aids in the maturing process, and brings out a richer flavor. The most common Flakes are based upon Virginias, and Virginia blends.

Krumble Kake– Cut tobaccos which have been pressed are sometimes referred to as Krumble Kake. It is so named since a chunk of it can be easily rubbed-out into small pieces.

Cubed– Pressed tobacco which has been cut into fine or coarse cube-shaped pieces is called Cubed, with the most common type being Cubed Burley. The thick, chunky pieces burn slowly, so Cubed tobaccos are normally quite cool.

Rough Cut– Tobaccos cut into larger flat pieces are called Rough Cut. This cut burns slowly, and can be used to keep hotter tobaccos from burning too fast.

Broad Cut- Wide, ribbon -cuts, which burn at an average pace, and pack well, are often called Broad Cut.

Ribbon– Narrower than Broad Cut, it burns more readily (a good cut for tobaccos that don’t burn easily), and packs well.

Shag– A very stringy ribbon cut, Shag can easily pack too tightly, and burns easily. At one time Shag was considered an inferior cut.

Twist, Roll Cut and Rope– All are rolled tobaccos, twisted (at least to some degree) to create pressure to help mature the tobacco. Sometimes the tobaccos are cased for flavor. They are normally cut into “coins”, and can be packed whole, or rubbed-out.

And two terms that are important to know-

Casing– Referred to earlier, Casings are flavorings, sometimes using an alcohol base, that are added early in the processing. Casings are primarily used to add flavor to a blend.

Top Dressing– Top Dressings are added toward the end of processing, and their main purpose is to enhance room note, or aroma.

from :

Mar 162012
Capt. Kidd pipe

Capt. Kidd pipe

So, I purchased this pipe from Ebay at a reasonable price. This was the only picture of the pipe, and I was a little dissapointed to find that on the shank (on the other side, obviously) there was a sizeable chunk of filler, about 2mm in width, 1mm in height rouhtly in the shape of the outline of Autralia.

I was tempted to repackage it and list the item as described by the original seller and just hope that I managed to get my money back. But I didn’t, for, you see, Capt. Kidd– despite the ridiculous name– is a ‘seconds’ line of the famed BBB brand. BBB (Britain’s Best Briars) is reputedly Britain’s oldest trademark, with the more famous red triangle of Bass ale being second, and the first to employ an image. Funny how the two oldest trademarks are for products that involve smoking and drinking, is it not?

Filling her up with some of Rattray’s Hal o’ the Wynd (see the poem, below), I enjoyed a very nice smoke. It is a nice pipe– no gurgle, no hiss, no whistle. The air-hole is drilled dead on centre. I’ll keep the pipe, but oh how the filler vexeth me.

There seems but one course of action open to me. Hop on over to youtube and get some instruction on rusticating the darn thing. Two videos were of immense help, the first proving it was do-able, and the second more confidence inspiring: so thanks to flieger671 for Pipe Carving – Appendix 1, Rustication and soulmirrors for A Very Rustic Pipe Rustication!

Step one was to remove the existing polish and stain, this I did with isopropyl alcohol and some sanding with 320 grit wet-and-dry paper. The stain was some old walnut wood stain I had lying around. I understand that pipemakers generally use alcohol-based leather dyes as this penetrates deeper into the briar, but this was all I had lying around.

Then I hacked at the briar in little semi-circles, randomly over the sueface of the briar with a 3mm chisel I found lying in the botton of a toolbox. I did try to use a power drill initially, one that I had clamped in a broken desk vice. Yes the drill fell out. Yes one more that one occasion the bit skidded along the bowl. No this was not safe.

After ten minutes of hacking and re-staining, first in “antique pine” and then again the walnut I had:

Capt. Kidd pipe "rusticted"

Capt. Kidd pipe “rusticted”

And I am pretty happy with that.

Oh, and of course I polished the stem. Starting with 600 grit emery cloth and running progressively though 600, 800, 1000, 1500, 2000 and finally 3000. Pictures do not do the stem credit. It is like black glass.


Hal o’ the Wynd, he taen the field
Alang be the skinklin Tay:
And he hackit doun the men o’ Chattan;
Or was it the men o’ Kay?

Whan a’ was owre he dichted his blade
And steppit awa richt douce
To draik his drouth in the Skinner’s Vennel
At clapperin Clemmy’s house.

Hal o’ the Wynd had monie a bairn;
And bairns’ bairns galore
Wha wud speer about the bloody battle
And what it was fochten for.

“Guid-faith! My dawties, I never kent;
But yon was a dirlin day
Whan I hackit doun the men o’ Chattan;
Or was it the men o’ Kay?”


Mar 052012

So. I inherited a few Peterson tobacco pipes from my father who has been gone a couple of years now. He had what one might call a modest collection, and all were smoked regularly. Nothing fancy ‘just for show’ except one piece. Anyway, I decided that I would do my level best to clean a few of them. I did this just because I was bored… but the more I read, the more interested I became. To the point at which I have listed one on Ebay (pictured below), and have several of the remainer on what pipe smokers call a rotation. I’ve been enjoying a bowl or two every night recently.

There’s something a bit geeky about pipe smoking, so many avenues to venture down. It is anything but casual, and surely the pipe smoker is the most encumbered of smokers with reamers and tampers and pouches, let alone the pipe itself. The arcanery of tobaccos, the lore, the literary allusions; the peace, the relaxation. It requires substantially more effort to enjoy a bowl of tobacco than to grab a quick ciggie at a rest stop on the highway. I like that.FILE0028 FILE0026

Yes, yes. “Smoking kills”, and I understand it is not a flowery death either. But that should be an individual’s choice. Aftter enjoying a bowl of Squadron Leader from some vintage briar wood that used to belong to your father, and that you have loving restored back to smoking condition you might think somewhat more liberally.