"While strangers on the train sit beside each other in silence, their shoes are making friends." - Anonymous
I do not typically smoke around others, as I tend to find the perceived need for commentary and discourse a bit fatiguing. Pipe smoking is, for me, a singularly private hobby, and the idea of gallivanting about with a pipe seems to evoke a sense of affectation more than a means of comfort, similar to the idea of wearing a red silk smoking jacket to Starbucks. I do occasionally venture out with a briar, though, finding myself at the park or an outdoor patio nursing an ever-present cup of coffee to accompany a Va-Per flake. And every now and then, I'll spot a similar sight.
The other day, I had just knocked out the last remnants of dottle from a bowl when I noticed the sound of quiet, deliberate footsteps. An older gentleman, dressed in a tweed coat, high-waisted trousers and a collared, button-down shirt was making his way up the park path. His canvas loafers were faded from the sun, and the pipe he smoked was seemingly just as weathered, though both the briar and loafers seemed to be performing admirably. My own pipe was tucked away at this point, nestled up against a pouch of tobacco in my satchel, but the gentleman's smoking instrument seemed to reflexively gesture in my direction like some sort of pipe smoker divining rod. He smiled and nodded, diverging carefully from the bricked walkway before moving to sit.
We sat in silence for a comfortable, timeless period. The cool breeze trickled through the pines, waves crashed in the distance, and cars glided by, all while the old man and his pipe maintained a light, metered cadence, wisps of smoke emanating from his bowl and dissipating into the air around us. I never learned his name, nor anything about him, except for his apparent affinity for outdoor walks, Prince Albert, and tamping with a golf tee. He extricated his own dottle with the tee's pointed end, and with some effort, was back up on his feet. He nodded once more to me, as if to thank me for reciprocating the silence, and I watched as his canvas loafers disappeared into the distance.
I've been collecting tobacco tins for a while. I don’t know why. Maybe they serve as a visual reminder of all the blends I’ve tried, each with their own story and memories. But most likely it’s because they make for really neat decor. Flake tins are the most convenient to display, easily stacked and packed, though round ones tend to have labels that catch the eye. I don't try to salvage labels that have been damaged, but neither will I turn down a dented or cracked tin. Until recently, they'd been living in a tidy stack in a footlocker, shoved into a closet, and opened only to add new pieces to my collection.
But I got a bookcase a couple of weeks ago, and decided to dedicate the top shelf to displaying the tins. They would seem more useful on display, at least visually.
It was a two-pipefuls job. It took time not only to put the flat-pack furniture together — an endeavor that can launch even the most patient into an orbit of profanity and frustration — but in the careful arrangement of the tins themselves. After the fourth time I knocked the entire display over, I dug around in the kitchen drawers until I found the putty left there, meant for posters, but perfect to keep the more awkward tins upright. The others, thankfully, stacked with their labels on display.
All told, it took about two hours between the construction and the arrangement, but I was pleased with the addition to the room. I stood back to survey my work.
I had not counted on the cat, however, who had made a home on top of the bookcase while I worked. I stood with hands on my hips, pleased with my interior decorating acumen, and watched in slow-motion as she took one step, then missed the next and clawed her way down the front of the bookcase as gravity challenged her balance, sending all the tins, each formerly puttied in position — to the floor.
I sighed, put down my pipe, and reached for more putty, pondering momentarily whether to apply it to the tins or the cat. With the patience of a pipe smoker, the tolerance of a cat lover, and knowing the tins would complain less boisterously than the cat, I returned to my work on the display.
The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) has hired a new regional lobbyist. The trade association announced the hiring of David Jessup to take on the IPCPR’s regional lobbyist position. Jessup has significant experience with government affairs and has most recently served as chief of staff for Michigan’s Sen. Jim Marleau. It’s in this position where Jessup became an expert on budget process, coalition building and media relations.
Before he served as Marleau’s chief of staff, Jessup was the director for grassroots midget and director of government affairs for Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM). At SBAM, Jessup successfully advocated for ground-breaking business tax reform, eliminating business tax obligations for 95,000 small businesses, which resulted in $1.8 billion in tax relief for job providers in Michigan. Jessup’s communications, grassroots advocacy and lobbying expertise will be of great help to IPCPR’s efforts in his territory states.
Greg Zimmerman, IPCPR’s chair of state government affairs, commented: “David’s wealth of government affairs experience makes him a key addition to the IPCPR state team. We view his appointment as a sign of IPCPR’s commitment to protecting members from government overreach. I am confident that David will be instrumental in advancing the interests of the premium tobacco industry.”
For all the latest news from IPCPR, visit ipcpr.org.
Hiking in the woods behind my house the other day, I ran across a squirrel with an attitude. I presumed her to be female because, like females of all species, she disapproved of my presence. She was standing in the middle of the trail and didn't seem to want me to pass.
I asked if she was rabid, but she didn't answer. I moved to walk around her, but she scurried in front of me and blocked the way, chattering about whatever squirrel news was on her mind. I moved to the other side of the path, and she blocked me again, unintimidated by the difference in our sizes.
I sat on a rock and lit a pipe, looking at the squirrel, trying to figure out what was happening. Squirrels don't just come down from the trees and begin conversing with humans; it's social suicide. If her friends had seen her talking with me, she would be an outcast. How could I explain that squirrels and humans don't mix and that I couldn't be her friend?
She seemed awfully interested in my pipe. She approached to within a couple of feet and stretched toward it, sniffing and sneezing. Then she bolted off the left side of the trail. I guessed that was the end of our interaction and rose to continue my hike, but she came back and started yammering in her chirpy squirrel voice, then bolted off to the left again, returning a moment later. I could only surmise that she wanted me to follow. Smart squirrel.
She barreled through the woods, waiting when I fell behind, until we came upon a small clearing with a single maple tree, 15 feet up which rested a precariously balanced squirrel's nest with the chattering of baby squirrels coming from it. Hanging immediately above was a small but growing bee hive. I immediately recognized the problem and didn't need the explanation of the squirrel, who was clamoring incessantly and demanding a solution.
I climbed the tree and started blowing smoke into the beehive. I'd read that smoke interferes with the pheromones bees use to communicate, and that it additionally causes the bees to prepare for evacuation in case of forest fire by eating as much honey as they can to take with them, causing lethargy. It took just a few minutes of my Virginia/Perique blend to render the bees happily passive. I moved the squirrel's nest to a higher branch and secured it with pipe cleaners.
The squirrel looked things over and seemed satisfied, but then decided I should leave and went up the tree to scold me from above until I departed. She was done with me.
I relit my pipe with new appreciation for my favorite McClelland blend. It had done a fine job of dispatching those bees. I guess that's why it's called Beacon.
I suspect it has something to do with the control a pipe smoker has. A cigarette is one-dimensional; you light it and that's it. A cigar is similar, with perhaps a bit more nuance of flavor and burn. But a pipe offers a world of options beyond the comprehension of those who succumb to simplicity.
First, of course, is the number of different tobaccos available. Currently, tobaccoreviews.com lists almost 7,000 different pipe tobaccos. Some of those no longer exist, but it's safe to say we have thousands of choices of tobacco with an embarrassing wealth of variation for any mood.
Then we have the different pipes available, with an astounding choice in shape, size, type, material, and maker. There's something for any taste whatsoever.
Furthermore, we prepare our tobacco to our own preferences. A flake may be rubbed out as coarsely or finely as we wish for different burning properties, for example. And many of us dry our tobaccos to different degrees of humidity according to our personal preferences. Some tobaccos work better if they are more dry; some can maintain quite a bit of moisture and perform remarkably. But it's our choice.
I've also enjoyed the control over the draw that a pipe offers. With practice, it isn't difficult to maintain perfect draw. When I smoked cigars regularly, I was sometimes disappointed in the draw; if it was too tight, there was little to do except poke a flue through the stick with a paperclip. But with a pipe, and with good tamping technique, however firm or easy a draw you prefer is easily attainable.
Maybe we all have a bit of control freak in us. Maybe those who are drawn to the pipe are people who prefer having direct command over our smoking experiences, rather than just accepting standardized and regularized, prefabricated tobacco consumption.
Or maybe we're all nuts.
My grandfather used his pipe to call the six Tobys (all of his dogs were named Toby) by lighting a bowl of Granger when they were out exploring the farm, and they would come howling and barking from whatever distance they'd traveled. The "heel" command was delivered via Carter Hall. It wasn't an instantaneous command, but Grandpa didn't mind. He needed it mainly when the Tobys were mobbing a visiting stranger, so he was leisurely with the process of adding Carter Hall to his pipe to call them off. Most visitors by that time had somehow combat crawled through the jumping and licking dogs back to their vehicle and fled, which suited Grandpa.
It didn't work when the revenooers came, though. One drove down the driveway and emerged from his pickup, standing fast under the Toby tsunami until Grandpa Carter-Halled the six dogs to the porch.
The stranger came to the house and said, "I'm — "
"I know who you are, Agent Smoltz," said Grandpa. He was seated at a small table on the porch with five or six pouches of tobacco open, and he was mixing a small amount together in careful increments. "You and your boys have been trespassing all through my swamp for the past week."
"I thought you may have noticed. If not, I wouldn't have six men injured from deadfalls and traps. I'm here to tell you we've located your still and my men will be destroying it in the morning."
"Don't know what you're talking about, Agent. I'm a law-abiding taxpayer." An admirable lie. Grandpa broke every minor law he could, as long as it hurt no one, just on general principal, and bartered and made everything he could to avoid paying taxes of any sort. He'd been making some of the best moonshine in the county for decades. His personal preference was for store-bought liquor, but he said it was his civic duty to screw the government.
"Fine, if that's what you want to say. There's nothing you can do to stop it now."
Grandpa was now rolling his blended tobacco into a tight ball between his palms. He held the sphere up to his eye, oriented it carefully, and placed it slowly into the top of his pipe bowl, then lit it.
The dogs stood and milled about, nudging one another and sniffing the air. They seemed confused, but understanding struck them simultaneously and they bounded off east across the fields, baying and barking and carrying on.
The agent smiled. "I knew you'd do that," he said. "We couldn't find your still, but I knew if I said we had, you'd send those dogs to check on it. I have men and dogs of my own to track them." The barking of strange dogs and shouts of strange men drifted through the woods to the south, moving toward the baying of the Tobys.
"You don't say," said Grandpa, applying another match to his bowl and puffing into the westerly breeze. A few minutes later, the distant sounds of the two groups of dogs converged and there was some short yelping, followed by faint human shouts of alarm. A squawk blared from the agent's truck and he jogged over to it, pulling a walkie-talkie the size of a mailbox out of the cab. "Smoltz! Come in!" said a shrill voice through the speaker. "The dogs tricked us. They led us into a quicksand pit in the swamp and abandoned us. We're all stuck and sinking fast. Help!"
The Tobys were returning now and they surrounded the agent. However, there were now 10 dogs instead of six. "Four of these dogs are mine," said the agent. "I need them to find my men."
"Help yourself," said Grandpa. The agent stepped forward but froze when all 10 dogs crouched and growled with bared teeth.
"Looks like you're mistaken," said Grandpa. "Those are my dogs. Right, Toby?" All 10 dogs turned to look at him, tails wagging. Then they turned back to the agent and growled.
"Where are my men?"
"Don't know what you're talking about, Agent. Now get off my property."
"You win. Show me how to find them and we'll leave you alone."
"Deal. I have a map right here."
"How long do they have?"
"The quicksand is five feet deep. They were never in danger. They're probably uncomfortable, though. I bet there's more pee in that swamp now than there was."
Grumbling, the agent snatched the map and drove off while Grandpa tapped out his pipe and refilled it with his usual Granger, lighting it contentedly and leaning back in luxurious comfort, the 10 Tobys all lounging around him.
@motie2 I am continually amazed at the information you are able to unearth! I would say that approximately half of my time here at TPL is spent reading articles, etc., that you have posted. I should add I consider it time well spent.
Thank you brother...
I had smoked Virginia blends before, but not many. At that point, I had mainly been exploring the world of English mixtures. It's not that I didn't enjoy Virginias, but none had truly captivated me. I was a rookie when it came to the nuance and subtlety of flue-cured leaf and, even more so, tobacco in general; I was still early in my pipesmoking journey, and there was much I hadn't tried.
That winter evening, though, as I reclined in front of the fireplace, pipe in hand and book in lap, I popped a tin of G.L. Pease's Sixpence. I methodically rubbed out a flake and packed the bowl. After the charring light, the embers dancing into a dome above the rim, I administered a final tamp, crossed my warmed legs, and cracked open the tome.
I'm a poor multitasker, so typically when I read, I too often find myself so engrossed in the author's words that I neglect my pipe, resulting in more relights and the bowl lasting longer than it would normally. This time, however, the opposite occurred. Mere paragraphs into the newly started chapter, a mixture of sweetness, spice, and the gentle depth of liquor arrested my attention. My eyes still moved over the words in front of me, but my imagination was no longer in the fictional world. Instead, my mind focused on the flavors that flickered and danced across my taste buds.
I had never tasted tobacco like this before, and my delight quickly turned to skeptical suspicion. I must have packed the bowl differently this time. Or the flavors from dinner must have mixed perfectly with the flake's components. Perhaps, the warmth and comfort of the fire in front of me had somehow influenced how the tobacco burned or affected my perception of its taste. There simply was no way that tobacco could taste this good without some other extrinsic factors at play.
Regardless, I was committed to enjoying the bowl, sure it would be the best experience I would ever have with Sixpence — replicating all the variables would be nigh impossible in the future. I closed the book, leaned back, and finished the bowl in slow, peaceful elation.
The next evening, I was determined to prove my theory. This time I went for a walk before dinner. No book, no fire, no prior flavors to affect the smoke.
I've never been more glad to be proved wrong. The Virginias, Perique, and notes of liquor were married in the same mysteriously delicious way as the night before. I had finally caught a glimpse of what the vast family of tobaccos could offer. There was another world out there awaiting discovery. I was anxious to explore.
Along with most Americans, I like caffeine, particularly coffee. But when I wake up, coffee is not the first thing on my mind. I like a morning boost just like everyone else, but my preferred stimulant is nicotine.
I snus, I dip, I snuff, I chew. I smoke an occasional cigarette, usually in the late hours of the Chicago pipe show. And I enjoy cigars regularly. I know what cigars I like and when I like to smoke them, which is most weekends when I drink vile domestic beer and grill. But I am a pipe smoker, and think of myself as a pipe smoker, and of all the ways to savor tobacco, it is in my opinion the most delicious way to enjoy the miracle of nicotine.
When I smoke a pipe, I'm in complete mastery of the airflow that fuels the bowl's fire and, subsequently, the smoke volume I require in the moment, depending on my mood or temperament and craving. And, of course, pipe tobacco tastes good. The near endless variety of nuanced flavors available to the pipe dwarfs those of cigars.
Most cigarettes taste like butt. Chaw and dip are delicious, like Skittles are delicious, but they're fairly basic in flavor, usually cloyingly sweet, and the available U.S. product mix is boring. There are also few makers in the market, which is nearly barren of innovation. But chew tobacco and moist snuff do the trick, nicotine-wise. Nasal snuff does too, but it makes me sneeze, so I tend to refrain. As an allergy victim, I'm not wont to induce needless sneezing fits.
I adore nicotine in the same way I adore caffeine or sugar—which also act upon me in ways that add focus to my work and generally sharpen my memory. But pipe smoking, for me and others, is as much about galvanizing quiet and clarity as it is about the simple pleasure of sensing in the palm and fingers a warm, beautifully shaped pipe that brings quality and contentment to the moment.
Whether from a time-honored factory like Savinelli, or Peterson, or Chacom, or from the creative individual mind of a craftsman you may have met, or whose work you appreciate on Instagram, pipes are magical, talismanic objects of ritual use. The ritual is burning delicious tobacco in a wood bowl to create smoke to breathe. The effect is flavorful, memorable, and stimulating, in part thanks to nicotine, which, if I may repeat myself, I unapologetically enjoy.
From our friends at http://www.smokingpipes.com
Thursday, January 31, 2019
by Rachel DuBose
Maintaining a tobacco cellar is no easy feat. There's the budget for new tins required, as well as the patience to keep them sealed until they're at their peak. Once opened, there's the matter of storing and transporting the blend as I move through the day-to-day, from finding a mason jar in which to stash the excess, to packing a pouch for my pipe bag — with not too much, nor too little.
And then there's the matter of storing the sealed tins.
My home is not large, and I share it with a roommate. As tempting as it can be to stash tins in any spare space available, I swiftly ran out of space on the bookshelf — especially when it was also stacked with empty tins of my favorite blends — and it's frowned upon to cram tins into the baking storage under the oven, or behind the rice in the cabinet. The shelves in the laundry room did nothing but shed their wares when the machines ran, shaking tins from their previously safe locations.
The answer came from a surprising place: the dumpster by my apartment.
I'm not normally a fan of snatching discarded items, though I've made exceptions in my time. This one was for a foot locker, its leather cracking slightly at the edges, but its hinges and latches still in good shape. I loaded it into the back of my car immediately, and with my neighbor's help, carted it up the stairs.
It seems appropriate, now, that my collection of tobacco has its home in a discarded treasure, neatly sitting in the floor of my closet. It's the sort of classic item that suits the old-school nature of pipe smoking as a hobby. Even more than that, it's perfectly suited to aging tobacco — an item with its own history, even if only of salvation, and with enough age to be up to the task.
Tobacco Business Magazine held its second annual Tobacco Business Awards in Las Vegas on Feb. 11, 2019, with close to 270 premium tobacco retailers, manufacturers and media in attendance. Held in conjunction with the Tobacco Plus Expo (TPE), the Tobacco Business Awards was designed to honor and recognize exceptional businesses, professionals, and products of the tobacco, vapor and alternative industries. This year’s winners are as follows:
TOBACCONIST OF THE YEARHavana Phil’s Cigar Company of Greensboro, NC
TOBACCO CHAIN OR FRANCHISE OF THE YEARCasa de Montecristo
ACCESSORY MANUFACTURER OF THE YEARBoveda
NEXT-GENERATION PRODUCT OF THE YEARCannadips
MASS MARKET PRODUCT OF THE YEARPanther Cigarillos by Royal Agio Cigars
NICARAGUAN CIGAR OF THE YEARDrew Estate Florida Sun Grown (FSG) by Drew Estate
DOMINICAN CIGAR OF THE YEARDavidoff 50 Years Limited Edition Diademas Finas by Davidoff Cigars
BOUTIQUE CIGAR OF THE YEARBig Papi by David Ortiz by Tabacalera El Artista
CIGAR OF THE YEARFlor de Selva Maduro No. 15 by Maya Selva Cigars
WOMAN OF THE YEARLiana Fuente
ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEARMichael Herklots
LEGACY AWARDNestor Miranda
HUGO CHAIRMAN AWARDErnesto Perez-Carrillo
This year’s award ceremony was sponsored by Djarum and Drew Estate. Full coverage of this year’s winners will come in the March/April 2019 issue of Tobacco Business Magazine.