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.

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E. Roberts
This is the weather I live for—hot, humid, and hot.
What some disparagingly refer to as the dog days of summer, I refer to as thank God I’m sweating. All the important work of the beginning of the season has come and gone, and it’s finally time to kick back a little and not worry, not even think, about a thing. The stove hasn’t been used in a month and I gave the maid a week off—it’s all delivery, no cooking in this heat. This is the uncomplicated time of year, and I revel in it.

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The Joy of Smokes
    August 5th, 2014

E. Roberts
Perambulating about the Upper East Side the other day I saw the remnants
of an apartment move-out on the sidewalk, looking for all the world like a shipwreck washed ashore. The grim skeletons of lamps and furniture jutting out at odd angles, black trash bags bursting at the seams with last season’s wardrobe, broken pottery scattered over the curb, and the obligatory boxes of books that Manhattanites tend to amass. Atop the pile of discarded volumes was the amusing title, "Sex for Dummies." Was there really such a book? Who would read it? My mind, working as it does, tried to fill in the backstory to this scene: a middle-aged couple hit a few bumps in the road, bought a few books, successfully rekindled the flames they once had, and packed it all up and moved to Borneo to live out their days in connubial bliss…or something like that.

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E. Roberts
Summer’s here, finally, and the time is right for dancing in the streets.
And by "dancing in the streets" I mean, of course, settling into a comfortable lawn chair with some good friends, adult beverages, and a tin and pipe. My often-repeated insistence to pay no attention to popular conventions aside, VaPer blends—that’s Virginia-Perique for the uninitiated—simply and consistently make for damn fine warm-weather smoking. My personal cellar contains a depth and breadth of them that is perhaps less than a surfeit, but much, much more than a dearth. That is to say, around 50 different varieties that I return to with regularity.

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E. Roberts
Okay, I admit it: I have a sweet tooth.
I was the kid that ate dessert before dinner, spent his lunch money on cupcakes, and considered a box of Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs a balanced breakfast. Now that I’m all growed up (well, mostly), and have doctors harping at me about "Middle-Age Health Concerns" and pants that fit a bit tighter than I remember when I bought them, I look to satisfy that craving in adult enjoyments that don’t have such an impact on my waistline. Fortunately, I love aromatic tobaccos, and CAO’s offerings are among my favorites.

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E. Roberts
As a New Yorker, I’m a sucker for anything related to my City. Call it hometown pride, a sense of nostalgia elicited, or simple local fandom, but I’ll freely admit to feeling my heart strings tugged at when I hear Billy Joel or Alicia Keys sing about it, when John Sterling intones "Ballgame over! Yankees win! Theeeeeee Yankees win!", or even when I see a tourist with an "I NY" tee shirt (ok, I admit it, I own one myself). So it is with much anticipation that I open my pouch of Tobacco Galleria Blue Note, from Sutliff. Named in honor of the Blue Note Jazz Club in Greenwich Village, it’s an aromatic blend of burley, Virginia, and Green River Black Cavendish.

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C&D Morning Drive Time Review
    May 13th, 2014

E. Roberts
I have to admit; I didn’t really like this blend at first.
It came to my attention only recently, although it was released just over a year ago—February 16th, 2013, to be exact. It was Cornell & Diehl’s unveiling at the St. Louis Gateway Pipe Show, the first in their "Working Man" series of pipe tobaccos, comprised of a light English and burley blend with just a touch of Perique. The series also includes the thematically blended mixtures Lunchtime Blues (red & bright Virginias, burley and some Turkish), and Five O’clock Shadow (red Virginia, Perique and some dark-fired Kentucky).

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In Mac Baren’s Secret Service
    April 30th, 2014

E. Roberts
The distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success.
In the high-stakes, cloak and dagger world of tobacco blending, it’s the one who holds the most secrets who has the hand to beat when the cards are laid out on the table. After the smoke clears and the dust settles, it’s the dashing fellow in the three-piece suit that walks away with the self-satisfied grin, calmly extracting a classic black billiard—Dunhill, of course—from his breast pocket, filled to the brim with a luscious ebony flake. The aroma it exudes is exotic and flirtatious, perfectly balanced on the precipice of sweet, overlooking the valley of mystery below. Content that his adversaries are thoroughly vanquished, he climbs into his bespoke Aston Martin Centenary Edition and speeds away into the sunset, intent on blending another day …

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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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