Three For The Road
    April 3rd, 2015

E. Roberts
It’s the midst of the spring thaw in the northeast, veering between warmish sunny days and snow flurries, and it has my palate thoroughly addled.
It’s as though the barometer has been drinking, to paraphrase Tom Waits, and the thermometer has been bartending. Even blends that I’m intimately familiar with just aren’t hitting their expected stride, at least not for two days in a row. Fortunately, tobacco can be quite forgiving when switching up the rotation. Unlike opening a bottle of champagne, for example, which must be enjoyed in its entirety immediately, opening a tin of tobacco gives you plenty of time to savor it. It can last a few days, weeks, or even months easily—longer if transferred to a sealed jar. With such a wide variety of Sutliff Private Stock concoctions in the cellar to choose from, it’s also startlingly economical to play the field with different blends, so this month we’ll take a brief look at the three tins I’ve been juggling while the weather sorts itself out: Sunrise Smoke, Taste of Autumn, and Archduke Ferdinand.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Number One Virginia
    March 19th, 2015

E. Roberts
Just a little while longer. Nineteen days, two hours, fifty-six minutes and a handful of seconds, to be exact. A little under three weeks, if all goes well, until we’re home free. We’re almost there … must … hold out … for … spring. In the meantime, I’m fortunate to have a tin of Mac Baren Virginia No.1 on hand to see me through to the end of the current ice age.

Perhaps I am overeager in my anticipation of the change of season; snow in March tends to have that effect on me. Virginia No.1 fuels that anticipation with its aroma promising long days, short nights, and all the smells and tastes of a hot, dry summer. This classic blend from Mac Baren’s venerable stable has been a mainstay of their lineup since its introduction in 1957, and one taste is all it takes to confirm the reason for its enduring relevance.

Read the rest of this entry »

One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One Beer
    February 10th, 2015

E. Roberts
If you’re a regular reader of the Guardian, you’ll recall that they recently took issue with writers’ propensity to repeat themselves. To anyone who counts bibliophilia amongst their hobbies, this was a laughably obvious notion that did little to support the author’s dismissal of John Irving. As F. Scott Fitzgerald said when he most eloquently let this cat out of the bag back in the Jazz Age,

"Mostly, we authors must repeat ourselves—that’s the truth. We have two or three great and moving experiences in our lives—experiences so great and moving that it doesn’t seem at the time that anyone else has been so caught up and pounded and dazzled and astonished and beaten and broken and rescued and illuminated and rewarded and humbled in just that way ever before."

Read the rest of this entry »

E. Roberts
The Kaywoodie Christmas Dinner and Northeast Regional Slow Smoke Championship was the highlight of my holidays this year. There aren’t enough pipe parties these days, and this combination pipe show-swap-sale, gabfest, dinner, and competitive event is the perfect mid-winter reunion for old pipe buddies and new. Since I was unable to attend the Chicago show or any others this year due to a hectic schedule, Kaywoodie was the one place I’d be seeing many of these folks in 2014. Amid all the stress and obligation of the holidays, this was sure to be the anodyne I needed.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mac Baren’s Next Move
    December 10th, 2014

E. Roberts
Well the days keep getting shorter, and the nights keep getting colder…and we’re getting older, too.
Winter is well and truly here, and so is some new tobacco, just arrived in the post: Mac Baren’s Dark Twist, as well as a sample pouch of Modern Virginia Loose Cut. With so much more evening time to enjoy each day, a suitable companion for the pipe is a must. Mac Baren, as always, obliges handily with their wares, both old and new.

Dark Twist is one of Mac Baren’s stable of truly classic blends developed in the 1950s and 60s (’55, to be exact), a few of which have been reviewed here at PipesMagazine.com—see our write-ups of Mixture Scottish Blend, Roll Cake, and the erstwhile Burley London Blend. In fact, it’s becoming somewhat of a Christmas tradition to review Mac Baren tobaccos—last year we indulged in some Navy Flake at holiday time, which reminds me it’s time to crack open another tin of that blend after this review.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Very Peterson Christmas
    December 2nd, 2014

E Roberts
It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas … thanks to Peterson’s Holiday Season 2014 edition.

Coming so soon after the recent review of their Summertime and Special Reserve blends, we here at PipesMagazine.com knew we had to kick it up another notch for this review–so we’ll be reviewing a Peterson Christmas 2014 pipe as well!

Read the rest of this entry »

Living the Life of Luxury
    November 4th, 2014

E. Roberts
How do you define luxury? Do visions of Rolls Royce’s Spirit of Ecstasy come to mind, weekend trips in a private jet, a bungalow retreat in Bali perhaps? The dictionary defines luxury as an indulgence, a delicacy, a certain something that has exceeded the basics of necessity and gone far beyond, to the refinement of opulence and even extravagance.

The reason I ask? I’ve been forging my way through Sutliff Private Stock’s non-aromatic blends, and the next in the lineup is their Balkan Luxury Blend 957. Sutliff has really surprised me by stepping up their game considerably in the Latakia department, with a range of blends that display some real moxie. This Balkan Luxury Blend is no exception, bringing an interesting angle to the genre.

Read the rest of this entry »

Cruising the Bosphorus
    October 14th, 2014

E. Roberts
It’s been a long day, the longest one in a string of long weeks.
When there’s work to be done and some passion behind it, you don’t give it too much thought—the show must go on, after all, and the reward of a job well done and appreciated by the masses balms the spirit admirably. At least that’s what I keep telling myself, day after grueling day, in defiance of the obstacle course of life.

A long ride home in the gloaming gives my mind a chance to sift through the day’s detritus, filing away the important bits and winnowing away the chaff. Climbing up the stairs is a cruel reminder of just how physically exhausted I am, how various parts of me ache, parts of me that never used to ache. Toss my keys and wallet on the desk, take off the tie, feed the animals. Tonight calls for a mug of hot tea with just a touch of brandy … okay, maybe two touches of brandy.

Read the rest of this entry »

E. Roberts
In this scenario, I’m the May beauty (indulge me here), enamored in my youthful extravagance
of the much older September paramour, the estimable Peterson of Dublin. Peterson’s seasonal tobaccos are lovingly crafted and opulently presented; they bring 150 years of experience to the relationship. Sadly, this fling is destined to be short-lived; produced in very limited quantities (only 5000 tins each!) and gaining popularity every year, these blends tend to fly off retailers’ shelves. There are no other limited edition blends that I look forward to more eagerly than Peterson’s annual trio (including the Christmas blend, which is yet to be released), and it seems they’re getting better every year. Unfortunately, they also seem to release later every year, at least here in the States, where we’re just now seeing the Summertime and Special Reserve at the end of August. Still, there’s no better way to celebrate the waning of the season than with a bowl of these confectionary concoctions.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hunting for Gold with Capstan
    September 8th, 2014

E. Roberts
"Capstan." To say the name amongst pipe smokers invokes one of those hallowed blends that form the cornerstone of our collective history.
Originally produced by the W.D. & H.O. Wills company well over a century ago, the mantle was picked up by Orlik / STG until recently, when MacBaren assumed production of the marque. Importantly, MacBaren re-introduced it to smokers here in the States after an eighteen year absence, offering both the stronger blue-label and this, the milder-bodied gold label.

Read the rest of this entry »