Category Archives: General

Ped is back with cigar reviews

“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.

Mark Twain cigar


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.

Friday tidbit

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.

Balkan Luxury Blend 957

Many years ago the was a blend called Balkan Sobranie 759. A rather smooth tasting Balkan made up of mixture of rich Virginia, Latakia and rare Yenidje tobaccos. Unfortunately it is not made anymore.
However a tin of the original, now aged tobacco, was distributed, prior to the 2011 CHicago Pipe SHow, to master blenders to try and reincarnate.. The 3 winners were then released under the Black House, Balkan Luxury Blend 957, and Blue Mountain.
Being a Balkan lover of the old school Balkan Supreme by Stokkebye I was quite impressed with the 957. Carl at Sutliff really outdid himself with this blend. It is a fulfilling all day smoke filling the palate with the sweetness of the orientals and the aroma of the Latakia and Cavendish with a smidge of Perique for spice. To this palette it is far better than the Black House and Blue Mountain as they are a heavier bland blend which make it difficult to smoke bowl after bowl during the day.

I can smoke this continually all day and not get bored. My palette enjoys this. As will yours.

Sutliff CD Blend

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Days like I have had the last 2 I have just wanted to smoke a tobacco that has flavor and will stand the test of not got getting boring bowl after bowl.. That tobacco has been CD Blend the last 2 days.. Hearty and flavorful.. Reminiscent of the classic tobaccos you just smoke.. This tobacco is a reblend of the old House of Windsor Country Doctor.. Burley, Virginia, Latakia, Flake and Perique combine to provide that Old Time flavor that will take you from first cup of coffee, thru the soda to the beer and straight to the whiskey before bed.. A great classic smoke.. Enjoyable from Sun up to Sundown

Hearth & Home : Stogie


By Rod Ellis

I’m a cigar fan. I love the way they smell and taste, and I love the fragrance a quality Stogie brings to a room. It seems only natural, then, that I would take a walkabout among the pipe tobaccos to discover a “cigar” pipe blend that I could truly enjoy. I’ve tried several, finding most to be good. Tonight I’m smoking the aptly named Stogie blend from Hearth and Home. Although as I puff I realize that I still have not found “excellent” among these blends, I have found one that is very good, and that, to my taste, rises above the others I have tried.

Stogie is not much like the Ghurka Ancient Warriors that I favor, and only distantly resembles the Cuban sticks I’ve treasured on balconies and courtyards in Mexico and Central America. Still, from top to bottom of the bowl the presence of cigar makes itself known, and does so in a way that I enjoy.

There’s something a bit raw about Stogie, perhaps a bit of wildness. Although it is far too smooth to compare to the rough, rolled tobacco I’ve enjoyed directly from Guatemalan fields, it is somehow reminiscent of such earthy, unsophisticated, and wonderful smokes. Unlike some of the other cigar blends I have sampled, it firmly speaks “cigar” with every breath. It is not sweet, although a hint of Virginia adds a certain smoothness. The burley is distinct, and the whispers of oriental and perique are just that, whispers. And yes, the maduro flavor is clearly and distinctly present, a treat to those who love their cigars.

Stogie tastes like tobacco, pure and raw and natural. It seems to have plenty of nicotine, having taken me from exhaustion to relative alertness in the course of single bowl. The room note will probably not earn many non-smoking fans, yet I think other smokers will find it interesting and inviting.

I’m enjoying this blend very much. I put up about half a pound, and will be interested to see how it ages. If you are a lover of cigars, I think you will enjoy H&H Stogie.

Nica Libre 1990

The search for the finest under 4 dollar cigar continues.. Todays smoke was a Nica Libre 1990.. Blend Specifics

Wrapper: San Andreas Maduro

Binder: Nicaraguan

Filler: Nicaraguan

The Nica Libre 1990 is a well constructed box press cigar with a brown maduro wrapper. The band is very similar to the band on the Padron Anniversario series,of which this is an obvious copycat. The draw is consistently perfect on these cigars, providing for lots of smoke.
A medium to full body taste of coffee, black pepper, and chocolate creaminess make this a very enjoyable lunch smoke with a nice nic kick.. My smoking buddy was a little put off by the smoke smell but the taste was enjoyable. After an even burn and into the 2nd to 3rd inch a bit of an unneveness occurred but after a few minutes the burn corrected and remained even thru to the last 1 inch.. All in all a great smoke and a worthy contender.

Happy IPSD to you all…

On this day each year we take a breather and celebrate the noble art of pipe-smoking and the noble spirit which pervades the brotherhood/sisterhood of the briar.

We will put into practice the time-honored and ancestral traditions of raising our pipes in toast to each other in the evening in unison and, thus, share a bowl together.

Pipes being used as a friendship is nothing new to us, there have been many occasions threw out history were pipes have been smoked to keep the peace of friendships burning. The peace pipe was and still is used by the Native American’s in ceremony or also used in medical purposes. The pipe would be lit and passed around, each and every person would be required to take a puff of the cool smoke. It however was not just the native American’s who were doing this. There are many African peace pipes too, some of them look like large clay pot or sculpted ivory. These pipes were made for the soul purpose of being used as an friendship pipe or peace pipe.

For those of us that smoke a pipe know there is more too it than just filling a bowl and lighting it. For many of us it is a ritual and sometimes an deeper sense of meaning and a comfort. One very famous pipe smoker Sir Walter Raleigh took his clay pipes with him to his execution on the 29th October 1618 for treason under the rule of King James I. His leather tobacco pouch was found in his prison room with a few clay pipes and tobacco in it, written on the leather in his own hand it said ‘Comes meus fuit in illo miserrimo tempore’ ‘He was my companion during that very unhappy time’. We as pipe smokers have a lot to thank to Sir Walter Raleigh as he opposed the law that King James had against tobacco and smoking. It was in may 1607 that a man named John Rolfe planted the first tobacco seed in James Town in Virginia. The Company expected the colonist to start industrial enterprises in Virginia that would return profits to the Company. The colonists in Virginia tried a number of different enterprises: silk making, glass making, lumber, sassafras, pitch and tar, and soap ashes, with no financial success. It was John Rolfe’s experiments with tobacco that developed the first profitable export. The Spaniards later found the natives and took the tobacco seed to the Mediterranean and it spread to other countries. Sir Walter Raleigh is credited with introducing tobacco to England, now perhaps he didn’t introduce it, but he certainly played a vital role in smoking and trading with it and therefore is remebered as one of our greatest pipe smokers.

I am sure many of us can related to a time like this where we have used our pipes not as a tool for smoking, but a tool for comfort when there has been nobody else around, perhaps a tool to relax and think. I never like too think of my pipe as just something used to stuff tobacco in and puff tobacco with. I think of my pipe as a friend, as an work of art and tribute to nature and craftsmen, as a tool to help me think and to relax, as a way of making conversation and a way of bringing friends together. For me personally I own many pipes that are attributed to some of the best and hardest times of my life. Some of these pipes were gifts and some of them I have personally bought but have shared in these times.

It is threw smoking a pipe that some of my greatest ideas have come to pass. I tribute that to the fact that a pipe calms you down and your thoughts . It clears your mind helping you focus and see the end result. There are many great people who can attribute there achievements due to pipe smoking J RR Tolkien, Albert Einstein all have used a pipe to calm there thoughts. The greatest of things can be achieved threw a pipe. A pipe is also a great tool to start a conversation wanted or not, there have been many times I have smoked a pipe and somebody says ” You don’t see that very often, my granddad used to smoke a pipe “. People are curious and want to know more which automatically starts an conversation. It sometimes what I like to call as an ice breaker, it breaks the ice between you and somebody else. Pipes are something we also engage in with other pipe smokers bringing us sometimes to one place from all corners of the earth. I talk in particular about pipe shows, and pipe smoking clubs where some of us gather together to talk, to share about pipes and tobaccos, and also to have a drink. It is I believe one of man’s simplest made objects put together to smoke something this earth has given us, yet is so complicated in it’s use. It’s a wonderful, fantastic object that if used wisely you will get great pleasure from.

We are dawning at a time where smoking is a taboo, governments crashing down on us telling us smoking is bad, harmful and is being banned. However the more I look into it the more I see that smoking has all been put into one page. We all know smoking cigarettes is unhealthy, however what about pipes and cigars? One of the the biggest killers at the moment is Stress. Nowadays people seem to be too busy. Some of us take working holidays, we try to juggle a family life with our careers. Smoking a pipe or cigar is something you don’t do when in a rush. You take the time to prepare the smoke, kick back and puff away for what can be 15 minutes to over an hour, it’s an focus and a stress relief. Many pipe smokers actually can live longer than even none smokers. It is something that can be truly enjoyed to it’s best. One of the best things about tobacco is you can age it like you can with a fine wine, and the older it gets the more refined the flavor is. This also stands true to the art of pipe smoking the longer you have practiced and refined the art the better you will become at it.

There was a time in the past were a boy would come of age at 16. In the eyes of the law he was a man. Just like his father would have him to shave, his father would have bought him a pipe, showed him how to pack it, smoke it and clean it. That pipe would have been treasured and is art passed down threw generation to generation. Sometimes noble families had large Meerschaum pipes that were carved with there family coat of arms and would be mounted in silver with amber stems. These pipes would be heirlooms and perhaps only smoked on the specialist of occasions. There was an old practice once which used to be found in England, Holland and America ( you can still find this practice in some parts of America ) where you would be given in a tavern a clay pipe, after you had smoked it your name would go on and it would be hung in the tavern. When you returned to the tavern your pipe would be awaiting you. These pipes are known as tavern pipes.

For some of us pipe smokers and none pipe smokers we have memories which may involve a pipe. Granddad smoking Captain Black in a Dunhill, and all of a sudden you can remember the smell of his pipe as if it was yesterday. Or perhaps some us have memories of those Christmas times after the dinner smoking a pipe with the whole family around beside the wood burning fire, or the Christmas after dinner walk. What ever it maybe for some us, there memories sparked up by a pipe and sometimes those memories are the happiest we have.

So let us today celebrate this ancient art of smoking. Let us remember the people around us or the people that have passed away that share in our passion for the finer things in life. We should be sharing in friendship, knowledge and respect for each other of all walks of life. It is a passion that I smoke and learn about tobacco’s and pipes and a passion many of us share. In times of peace and in times of hardship your pipe will always be ready for you. For me that’s a great comfort and joy to know. There many things we should celebrate in life and the art of pipe smoking is one of them. And as laws get tighter together we must stand, for it is up to us to keep the art of pipe smoking alive. It is a day to celebrate our pipe artisan’s and tobacco blenders, and up to us to support them for without them the art would be lost. I personally would like to make this article a tribute to a few people whom are pipe smokers and have support me. To Mr John Hines ( Pipe artisan ) , Benyumin Mechel Haselton ( ) , Angela Meek ( Corncob maker ) and Jacquie Love ( pipe smoking friend ) AND of course to everyone else whom I have not mentioned it does not mean your not as important for it is all of us that makes these groups and sites work.

P. A van de Gevel

Riccardo Santia


Behind every Artisan pipe there is the Artist. Since I began working on several months ago I have been wanting to bring the Artist closer to the pipe smoker. With the advent of social media and my participation therein I have met several makers and many of them I now count amongst my friends.

In previous Cob Tuesday postings I have featured Riccardo Santia several times.. His ultimate cobs are some of the finest I have seen. Imaginative and creative.

Riccardo saw my piece a few weeks ago about Missouri Meerschaum possibly bringing the corncob bulldog back to market and we began a dialog online. Based in Canada , Riccardo is a very talented maker and was glad that he took some time to answer a few questions:

Describe how Riccardo Santia pipes started

In 1990 I Picked up a briar started kit from Ginny at Pimo’s and away I went. I fell in love. Then I picked up a corncob pipe from an antique shop. I held on to it forever until the time was right. Just studying it, how it was made, the finish the feel , the look and the material. The time was right to make one like it, and it was a challenge. I read any material or videos I could find, but when it came to cobs, it was very limited. I thought how would they make this back in the day? What materials would they have used and away we went. Michelle and I just kept plugging away. The first few finishes fell apart. I had to change the mixture. After about 3 months of experimenting, I believe I had done it. R. Santia Pipes didn’t take off until I met Scott Markwood from and Dave Neeb at Mkelaw Pipes. These two fellows got the ball rolling and it hasn’t stopped. Pipes and Tobacco Magazine then did a couple write ups and of course, just about everyone who purchased a pipe went on you tube and just shared their experiences, and I thank everyone out there.

How would you differentiate between what we are use to seeing today in a corncob and your creations

Missouri Meerschaum cobs, are the best in the world. They have been around since the 1800s. I wanted to take the cob to a different level or place, I wanted to make it the best possible, I guess you could say Ultimate lol. The pipe makers always seem to come up with different styles with their briars. Other pipe makers who focus on cobs have added wood shanks and quality stems and they look really nice. But not only did I want to add a new shank and stem, I wanted to so something that I have never seen anyone do yet as to my knowledge . I wanted to change the finish, something that looked, and felt like a briar and had the benefits of a cob. My partner Michelle and I, came up with a half rusticated, half smooth finish, which is our biggest seller. I also like the look of a bamboo shank, the quality of the acrylic and/or vulcanite stem and the added briar bottom or heel to prevent bottom burnout. If requested, I also offer carbonized bowls to prevent burnout, for the walls. Since its start about 2 and a half years, they are selling like corncobs lol
I wanted the smoker to be proud to smoke an Ultimate cob pipe in public. Having heads turn or asking what type of pipe is that, and not just for testing out tobacco but to be a main stay or in a rotation. I’ve had excellent reviews so far and constructive criticism. I thank everyone out there for the support. I’m also making corn dog ( bulldog) which is very large pipe, the reed style and the V-shape look.

Tell me a little about the corndog that you sent to me?
As we know MM doesn’t make bulldogs any longer. They may make a come back not sure yet. So a few years ago I thought why not bring it back, using briar shank and good quality stem. I think that one is acrylic, due to the weight of the shank, I wanted something stronger. I believe that one you have is my first attempt Corndog. The finish is a little of both rough, smooth and in between. I think that one is 3 years old. I used a small mac cob. The cob is smaller due to the dry weather they had.

What are the benefits of the Bamboo Shank?

I mostly use bamboo but occasionally use briar or oak for my shanks. I wanted to copy the look of the pipe that I had found in the antique shop. The look was beautiful, after working bamboo, I found it was strong, flexible and very light, and absorbent, I believe it absorbs the heat and moisture very well.

What or Who influences me the most?

Great question. I have many pipe makers that I admire. Along with family and friends, who support me, Along with you tubers out there who continue to offer great ideas for my next pipe.
But one name that comes to mind, would be Tom Eltang, I admire his finish. He may not remember but years ago I had asked about his stain he uses. He was so kind to speak with me about pipes for about half hour.

What is your favorite pipe besides your own?

Hmmm I have quite a few. The corn cob I found in the antique shop, the one my son Jake made out of our local field corn, Petersons , Dunhills, a Randy Willey, a Tim West and a commissioned Julius Vesz.
Im going with the one my son made me.

I want to thank Ricardo for the opportunity to chat with him about his craft and sharing a pipe with me..Check out his site at