Having smoked many tabacs over the years as they were released upon the masses it is always with a trepidation that every once in awhile one will come along that knocks me for a loop. It isn’t often. Last year there were two. One of them Old Dark Fired lived up to its hype while the other Gaslight did not. While Gaslight is a fine tabac for older smokers to me ODF better met my smoking habit with glee.
When I was asked if I would try a new Mac Baren tobacco to be released in Chicago I was more than enamored with the honor and the potential. Not knowing what to expect, since it was being kept on the hush, I stalked my mailbox anxiously awaiting its arrival. Within 2 days it did. HH Latakia Flake
The 100g tin, gold in colour with the HH elegant logo peeked my interest as did the name, Latakia Flake.. Hot Pressed Pipe Tobacco. Opening the tin for the first time revealed 3 stacks of dark brown flakes with yellow speckles . The scent was sweet and inviting.
Rubbing a few flakes for my tester cob revealed even more joy. Slightly moist I let it dry for 20 minutes before packing the pipe. Packed lightly the bowl filled with 1 flake leaving the remainder for a second bowl.
Once lit the tabac smoked like a dream. Smoky, sweet and the orientals added a very nice touch making the mouth want more. And more did it deliver all the way to the bottom of the bowl. Leaving a fine white ash with easy clean. A worthy tabac this is. Per had done his magic again.
I have smoked several bowls of this in the rubbed method in several different pipes and all with the same result. A very smooth sweet smoke with a lot of nuances and enticements.
On a whim this past Sunday I was on the line with Ped, a very close friend and by chance grabbed my 2001 Caminetto Rhodesian and a flake of Latakia Flake. I rolled it out of the tin direct to the bowl and lit. After a few relights it took hold and for the next hour I enjoyed a wonderful slow smoking bowl filled with the exuberance of the LAtakia, the sweetness of the the Virginia and the exotic taste and aroma of the Orientals. Again an old dog tried a new method for prepping the tabac and packing the bowl adding a new dimension to the art of smoking.
9 months ago I was on Instagram as a regular and one of my IG friends led me to Paul Menard. While he had only been making pipes for a few months at that time, mostly from wood that was harvested on his property and using a lathe that he acquired from a neighbor, I was very impressed with his designs. I called them “da bomb”. I contacted Paul and started following him and it turned into a relationship at first of IMs and chats. At that time he was using Etsy store and was not getting much traffic.
So impressed I was with his designs I asked him if he would be interested in a PR piece on pipes.org as a new pipe maker. He agreed and we did the piece. In gratitude he sent me one of his early billiards which some became one of my favorites and still is.
Early in the fall of 2013 I asked him if he could design a monster nose warmer for me that was bent stem and massive bowl for those cold Colorado days. Within days My mailbox had this pipe in it and I was impressed. While we didn’t get the normal cold weather we normally get in CO the warmer got a fair bit of use this past winter and I am sure it will get more usage thru the next few decades.
A few weeks later an IM came thru from PAul which said that I should “stalk my mailbox”.. A beautiful shop pipe and leather pipe holster arrived. I wear the holster everyday with my spare pipe rotation..
Pauls Pipes are works of art from a very humble pipe maker in Santa Cruz CA.
While our conversations and chats have grown infrequent I still follow Paul and his pipes grace the pipes.org Facebook page at least once a week or so. Hard working and experimental designs are making Paul the maestro de pipa. If you don’t have a Pauls Pipe you are missing out on a true maestro.
Happy 1st anniversary Paul.
Recently I tried the famous CAO Acid Blondie Belicoso cigar. This an 5 X 54 torpedo and is from the blue acid line. The cigar is flavor infused, has a thin medium wrapper with a buttery feel, almost no veins and tight seams.
The aroma of the cigar is unique. Acid cigars are infused with oils, and this smells like a kitchen preparing for Christmas. Very herbal, like sweet potpourri, vanilla extract, sandalwood, etc.
First light reveals a great draw, plenty of light smoke and a very oily sweet flavor much like glycerin and candy. A bit of the potpourri flavor is there, but it’s mostly just sugar. Apparently this is the best sold cigar in the world. To be honest I am having a hard time wondering why.
I know these cigars are bought alot by women because it has the sweetness to it or by unseasoned cigar smokers. For me personally it brings back bad memories of an over sweetened trifle cake soaked in brandy and then set alight. I must admit the smoke draw is very good on the stick giving decent amount of smoke with each puff.
Now something I really hate and I find uncalled for nowadays with any cigar. After finishing the first quarter of the cigar I felt it was time to remove the band ( this cigar has no thick band ) , they have used so much glue too hold the band on the cigar that while trying to take it off I ripped the outer wrapper. Luckily the under bidding held in place otherwise the cigar would be ruined before it got half way. On the back of the band has a fortune thing…nice for you CAO !,
Now tell your staff not to do that with cigars.
30 min in at the 1/2 way point the flavors have changed to become a smooth sweet earthy taste , while the special flavors are still slightly there but only come out on the long finish. Finishing at 50 min to the nub, the last third was the same since the 1/2 way point.
Overall I honestly have nothing good to say about this stick That’s not to say that you should not try it and many others will surely like it. After all as I mentioned it’s the best sold cigars in the world right now. This cigar may work with acid type cocktail or something along those lines but it’s definitely not a cigar I feel for an after dinner wine.
Lastly, if you do buy these cigars you must store them away from your collection as this will taint everything else in your humidor and that would be a waste of an good Cohiba.
A new fantastic tobacco is being introduced in CHicago
Mac Baren’s description of HH Latakia Flake:
This is a hot pressed flake tobacco, meaning that during the pressing steam is added to mature the tobacco further and to ensure a mellow smoking experience. A blend of bright Virginias, spicy Orient, a bit of burley, and a fair amount of Cyprus Latakia is the foundation of HH Latakia Flake.
The taste is complex with the smoky note from Latakia in the front seat, the subtle sweetness from the Virginias working in the back, and the mellow spiciness from the Orientals popping up from time to time, creating an intimate interplay where all tobaccos play their role and contribute to this unique smoking experience.
HH Latakia Flake has very little casing and no top flavour at all. The only taste you will experience is the natural taste from the tobaccos used.
A mellow, yet satisfying tobacco, with a lot of nice, smoky aroma.
look to Pipes.org for a review on May 1.. it will def be of interest.
Spring is in the air and the Chicago show is on its way.
Pipemakers around the country are busy carving up a storm and baccy blenders are almost ready to titillate our palettes with new tabacs.
Meanwhile here at the homefront the pipe changing season is beginning.. Heavy Englishes and Balkans are making their way back to the cellar while lighter Virginias, VaPers and some Orientals now become the go to choices.. Along with some interesting Aromatics. This year I will be adding more Plugs, Flakes and Shags to my artillery.
To smoke them requires smaller bowls so my assorted cobs and smaller briars become the norm this time of year.
Oh how lovely this season change is…
And do not forget the cigars, small craft beers and the distilled beverages.
“Alec Bradley Spirit of Cuba”
I decided on a Saturday morning to visit my tobacconist on the open market, while looking threw his humidor I came across a cheap stick call “Spirit of Cuba ” by Alec Bradley. Not expecting much for € 2,50 I was pleasantly surprised by it. The first thing I like about the cigar is fact you have too cut the off it, I always find it a joy to be able to cut the end off your own cigar. it’s a ritual for me and adds to the joy of smoking it, a lot of the cheaper cigars can already have pre- cut ends on them. Of course this doesn’t stop me smoking them I just prefer to have my own ends to cut. The wrapper is light brown and well constructed I would say no cracks or flaws in it each leaf tightly bond as it should be I found a lot going on with this smoke. Pre – light draw was nuts, floral and sweet tobacco. First third no spice, but some tangy coffee notes, maybe some leather. The floral undertones are there like in the prelight. Burn was even, 1.5″ flaky light gray ash before it falls off. Draw was fine. wrapper is toothy and thin, very lacy veins. Decent construction. Stick is firm when cold but softens up to a leathery sponginess once warmed up. gets No nicotine buzz, but I actually prefer that. Burns surprisingly slow. Second third the tanginess moves to the front. Too much I’d say for my pallet. A touch of spiciness enters in. Floral still there. Band peels off no problem and I must admit for a lower grade cigar they made a nice band for it. Small 1cm crack in the wrapper appears where he band was. Still very even burn. No touch ups needed yet. Room note is toasted Beer-nuts (remember those?) on leather. . I gotta commend the burn. It’s perfectly straight still going into the last third. The crack has grown to a full inch now. A good cheap morning smoke on the weekdays flying solo. I’d buy again if the opportunity presents but won’t seek it out. A great Cigar however if your looking for inexpensive to fill your humidor up a little.
” Joya de Nicaragua Rosalones ”
The JdN Rosalones is a discount stick that manages not to scream “discount”. The wrapper is velvety in texture with a definite orange-red, rust-colored hue that we like. The band’s color choices and embossing might not be up to “premium” standards, but they are nice enough. The second band is completely unnecessary of course. Besides that, the presentation is fine.
Pre-light draws on the Rosalones produce a pure cigarette tobacco flavor. It’s a flavor that strongly resembles the smell of a freshly opened pack of Marlboro. Nothing else can describe it. The Joya de Nicaragua Rosalones produces a thick, wavy burn line during the first third that improves slightly over the course of the smoking experience. The cigar’s tight ash falls just before an inch and there’s a good ratio of foot/draw smoke. Speaking of the draw, resistance is great and the cigar also handles long rests between puffs well. Overall, this burn is steady and reliable. First puffs on the Rosalones are pure spice. This is not a black pepper, but a particularly hot and long-lasting capsicum that strikes the back of the tongue for long periods between puffs. The nicotine strength isn’t full, but the pepper note is very defined and a little singular at first. A bit more depth develops toward the end of the first third.
Strength picks up and matches the intense spice in the flavor core. There are occasional hints at more complex, savory undertones during the middle and final thirds. Nothing develops enough to balance the capsicum spice that takes on a dry, grittiness in the second half. For the price, it’s hard to beat the Joya de Nicaragua Rosalones. This cigar’s singular flavor does produce an interesting twist or two. There’s probably not enough going on with the Rosalones. It’s good, but it can’t really compete with the better € 5-8 sticks. But hey, it doesn’t have to.
While it has bee a few days since any new content has appeared, DO NOT BE alarmed.. I have not given up smoking and the black cars have not come for me.
Sutliff South Seas- I recd this in the mail the other day and on a day after a snow and with temperatures warming i immediately popped the tin. Warm temps sun and a cob on the beach came to mind as I filled the bowl and set it down to dry a bit while I sipped on a CHocolate Porter. Lighting the still a bit damp baccy took a while but once it held the light the flavor and aroma of the tropics came thru. Rum, Coconut and some fruit emanated in my palette along with the chocolate from the porter.. Though it was only 50 degrees is felt like an island beach. I enjoyed it so much and for further research I packed it with me for an all day smoke experience to really put it thru its paces.
Same results, Delicious as an all day smoke.. Enjoyed it all day except for a mid day lunch smoke of a Quorum Corona. Definitely a buy again aromatic for spring an summer smokes.
Sutliff Mans Best Friend- As a lover of plain smoking baccys with no or very little casing I found this tobacco to be an interesting choice. A smooth toasted Burley cube blended with premium grade Latakia and Lemon Virginia Flake. Cased with a uniquely mild rum top dressing to produce a subtle pleasing flavor and room aroma.The cubes work well in a wider bowl as they are hard to fit in the smaller bowls. So I grabbed my SAntia bulldog for the day and loaded her up A very nice step back into reality on a stressful morning . NIce nic, great flavor. Easy light and smokeability.. Very flavorful with the latakia and lemon essence in the mouth. Definitely a classic reborn. Similar to Barking Dog but smoother and not as rough a smoke..
From GQ tobaccos website
thin, hand spun twist. Made from strong Virginia’s and soaked in sweet Maple sugars. The resulting tobacco is ideal for slicing up and smoking in a pipe. The thin nature of the rope makes this more flavoursome than the thicker (Irish) twist, but more teedious to cut. We also carry this as a cut twist, perfect for loading straight in to the pipe. To smoke this is very rich and strong tobacco. The smoke is peppery with lots of earthy and musky flavours. The added maple, adds a little extra sweetness, but in no ways makes this your usual aromatic. Carries a very high nicotine hit too and is ideal for those who want a good replacement to cigarettes. A big hit in a short time frame, ideal in a small pipe for 5 minute smoke breaks.
This tobacco is also enjoyed as chewing tobacco. Thin pigtails like this have been chewed by first sailor and then miners, drivers and anyone else who cant smoke in there daily routine. When chewed, a sweet and very spicy flavour is released. Much stronger than the Oliver Twists and other Gawith Hoggarth Black (steamed) twists. Not recommended for those new to chewing..
GQ tobacco always carries this with Extra Flavour, so it may be a little sweeter than brought elsewhere. Even with the extra sugars, this is still a spicy smoke or chew!
Tobacco is made by Gawith Hoggarth and not available in the states. I was lucky enough to get a few samples from the “underground tobacco railroad” and it is worth the endeavor
In addition to being a true American treasure, Mark Twain was rarely seen sans cigar. The man’s list of positive attributes didn’t stop there – humanitarian, novelist, humorist, scholar, plus world class jump roper and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu master. Just kidding about that part. Mark Twain cigars also happen to bring an extensive list of positive attributes to the table. All smooth and mild, all tasty, all extremely affordable, all monster Churchill sizes ranging from 7”x50 to 8”x54. Draped in a silky Connecticut shade wrapper and generously filled with an aged blend of Nicaraguan long-fillers, Mark Twain delivers a flavorful, mild to medium-bodied experience. Notes of oak, cream, white pepper add to a rich tobacco core, completing a mellow but eventful 60+ minutes of your time.
Available thru Cigars Internationa. For 3 bucks, these big boom sticks are the ultimate value-priced handmades. Definitely worhty of this weeks Under 4 buck sticks for weekend enjoyment.
For all of you who don’t listen to the Pipes Radio Podcast. Last nights episode gave us a little tidbit as to the Chicago Pipe show. Apparently the integration of pipe and tobacco is catching hols. Apparently Missouri Meerschaum will be introducing 4 new tobaccos under their own brand.. These tabacs are being blended by Russ Oullette, the master blender for Hearth and Home.. I can hardly wait.
I am also hearing rumors of Seattle Pipe Club and Sutliff introducing some new blends at the show.. Will keep you informed as we learn more.