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A Game of Tins
    April 7th, 2014

E. Roberts
Call me a misanthrope,
but "All Men Must Die" is an infinitely more appealing tagline than "Winter Is Coming". If living in the Northeast has taught me anything, particularly this year, it’s that there really is nothing redeeming about cold weather. While we don’t have white walkers in New York City—at least according to the Mayor—it seems like the winter has lasted several years already. Times like this are best spent curled up indoors, next to the fireplace, sipping some mulled wine, and indulging in binge-watching television. It is thus with great glee, and a fresh tin of Mac Baren Plumcake, that I hunker down for a Game of Thrones marathon in anticipation of the upcoming season four.

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Sterling / 1776 Tobacco Mega-Review
    March 12th, 2014

E. Roberts
The news is oft-repeated here on the forums and at pipe shows, in the NASPC newsletter, and at our pipe clubs—pipe smoking is on the upswing, it’s experiencing a renaissance, a new golden age has dawned. Classic blends of yesteryear are being brought back from the grave, and new blends are being introduced from the major players more frequently than ever, in keeping with the consumer’s fancy. Thus it was a shocking reality check when I received an email back in November telling me that one of the best blenders in the country was going to close shop for good.

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E. Roberts
Spring is nearly sprung, or at least I sincerely hope so.
With a couple of warmish days in a row (if you can consider temps in the mid-forties warmish), a little bit more sunshine each day, and geese timidly returning north to make goslings, it seems high time to stir myself out of hibernation and get back into the swing of things. Cracking open a tin of Mac Baren’s HH Old Dark Fired, dusting off a few burley-dedicated pipes and letting the needle drop on some Frank Sinatra records serves to complete the scene.

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E. Roberts
“The question everyone has is: Will the old Lane blends come back? If I have anything to do with it (and it’s kind of my job), the answer is yes. But it may take about a year or so.”
Those were the words of Leonard Wortzel, brand manager at Lane Ltd. / STG, on the PipesMagazine.com forums; here we are, one year later, and several Lane Limited blends have indeed been resurrected—among them HGL (Herman G. Lane’s personal smoke), Hazelnut, Black Raspberry, LL-7 and HG-2000. Not to sound redundant, but the return of Crown Achievement to their portfolio is, well, a crowning achievement for Leonard’s evangelism.

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Summertime…and the Livin’ Was Easy
    February 5th, 2014

E. Roberts
How cold is it outside? So cold that lawyers have their hands in their own pockets.
So cold that NJ Governor Chris Christie was able to single-handedly use the weather to coerce North Korea into changing its party alignment to Republican. So cold that I’ve had to resort to bad jokes for a lede-line. So cold that…well, you get the idea. It’s that unpleasant time of year when the shine of holiday anticipation has come and gone, and we’re left to trudge along on the tarnished side of the season, muddling through the slush and counting the days until the spring thaw.

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Play Misty For Me
    January 20th, 2014

E. Roberts
No, this won’t be a review of the 1971 Clint Eastwood film—rather, it’s a thriller of a different sort. By the time this goes to press, Vincent Manil’s ‘La Brumeuse’ will for the first time be available in the US.
Semois tobacco, produced in the Ardennes Valley in Belgium and taking its name from the Semois River, is a peculiarity in the tobacco world. It was the subject of a recent NY Times article, prefaced by none other than our own Greg Pease; from this brief exposure to the American pipe smoker’s radar, fueled by forum discussions and isolated reports of its wondrous smoking qualities and singular taste, enough interest was generated for relative newcomers The Pipe Guys to seek out the gentleman mentioned in the Times article as the premiere producer of the stuff, Vincent Manil, and arrange for its import.

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Christmas at Sea
    January 7th, 2014

E. Roberts
The holiday season, even to the most even-keeled among us, can be a time of added stress.
First there are the social obligations, which, while generally enjoyable, can overextend their demands on our time. Then there always seem to be several projects of the utmost importance that one has to juggle at work around now, and many long nights spent at the office or the workshop, on the road or on the farm. There is however a silver lining to be found, friends, for you and I have discovered the peace that a well-packed pipe and just a little bit of solitude provide, offering a spiritual recharge as anodyne to the holiday hustle and bustle.

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Sutliff Golden Age Tobacco Review
    December 9th, 2013

E. Roberts
Regular readers will note I’ve been systematically making my way through the product lines of Sutliff and Mac Baren over the last year since the latter bought the former.
Getting to know these two blenders’ wares in such an intimate fashion has garnered valuable insight into what makes a tobacconist’s trademark flavors and techniques, and how they differ from their competition. Through many blends I’ll note the recurrence of certain tobaccos, appearing like all-stars in a lineup: Mac Baren’s “special” Cavendish, for example, with its signature maple sugar casing, or a certain combination of a bright Virginia and burley evident in many of Sutliff’s offerings.

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E. Roberts
How many of us can remember the exact moment of our first meeting with what is now an old friend?
I can say with confidence that I remember hundreds of them. I have them charted and spreadsheeted, many of them even with accompanying photographs, and I keep track of them all in my trusty notebooks. By now you may have a worried look on your face and fingers on your phone’s 9 and 1 buttons…but fear not, gentle reader. No, I’m not a celebrity stalker; I’m merely a tobacco enthusiast, and this is my story.

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Peterson Holiday Season 2013
    November 11th, 2013

E. Roberts
I’m a Grinch. I detest winter for a long list of reasons, and dread the calendar’s inexorable march toward the holidays.
Peterson’s Holiday Season blend is one of the few saving graces this time of year. Since 2009 the esteemed blending house in Dublin has been offering a yearly gift to pipe smokers with a special holiday blend, and added a summertime blend to the lineup in 2010. Produced as a limited run of 5000 tins, these seasonal blends are wildly popular and often sell out soon after their release each year. Fortunately, at press time several of the site sponsors still had a few tins of the Holiday Season blend in stock—so if you haven’t indulged already I highly recommend picking some up. My own tins were purchased upon their release in August and transferred to mason jars for safe keeping immediately upon arrival.

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