Tried My Hand at Blending Today

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

michaelmirza

Preferred Member
Oct 21, 2015
639
0
Chicago, IL


Photography by @ewstaples on Instagram. That's me on top.
My buddy Eric bought a couple ounces each of virginia, latakia, black cavendish, burley, perique, and orientals, and something "fired," possibly Kentucky. First of all, it was really insightful for me to smell each of these elements on their own. Second, we had ourselves a little blending party!
I made myself about an ounce of a mixture with a significant base of virginia and burley. From there I added about a pinch each of all of the ingredients listed above, with latakia and perique having the smallest portions. I really wanted just a whisper of those. To top it off (quite literally), I used a little dropper to splash the mix with some really nice, small-batch rum called Parce. The resulting mixture smells like a smooth and creamy English. It's pretty moist right now, so once the flavors marry in the mason jar for a few days I'll take some out and air-dry it for a while to see how it smokes. Eric made himself a little mixture that was way heavier on the latakia side, far too much for my tastes, but perfect for him.
With all that said, we really don't know squat about blending, and this was a pretty unscientific experiment for my first time (I mean I measured in pinches instead of grams or ounces). If you know of any resources that would help to introduce us further into the world of blending (just for our own use, not for business), I'd love to hear them. Thanks!

 

cobguy

Preferred Member
Oct 18, 2013
3,743
0
Congrats ... it's a lot of fun to smoke your own blends!
Keep good records and start weighing everything ... that way you can reproduce the good results.
Spend some time smelling and smoking the individual components to better understand them.
Next up ... whole leaf tobacco! Lots of fun and shows you what tobacco is like with NO casings.
Good luck and happy blending! :puffy:

 

cynicismandsugar

Preferred Member
Nov 17, 2015
772
0
Springfield, Mo
Congratulations on taking a giant first step! Personally, I've never tried my hand at blending, but I imagine learning to blend tobacco is much like learning to play an instrument (or anything that requires patience and skill); after the basics become second nature, you really begin to appreciate all the nuances of the art on a different level.
You're braver (and more determined) than I, sir. I wish you the best! :clap:

 

michaelmirza

Preferred Member
Oct 21, 2015
639
0
Chicago, IL
Congrats ... it's a lot of fun to smoke your own blends!
Keep good records and start weighing everything ... that way you can reproduce the good results.
Spend some time smelling and smoking the individual components to better understand them.
Next up ... whole leaf tobacco! Lots of fun and shows you what tobacco is like with NO casings.
Good luck and happy blending! :puffy:
Thanks for the tips and encouragement, cobguy! Not sure I have the cajones to smoke straight perique though, even for educational value!

 

michaelmirza

Preferred Member
Oct 21, 2015
639
0
Chicago, IL
Congratulations on taking a giant first step! Personally, I've never tried my hand at blending, but I imagine learning to blend tobacco is much like learning to play an instrument (or anything that requires patience and skill); after the basics become second nature, you really begin to appreciate all the nuances of the art on a different level.
You're braver (and more determined) than I, sir. I wish you the best! :clap:
Thanks Jeffrey! But I gotta say, I think Eric was the brave one. He's the one who put in the financial investment! Prior to this, the thought of blending was indeed intimidating. I just worried a lot that I would probably end up wasting all the ingredients while trying to make something decent. But once Eric put all the elements in front of me, I realized that it's actually pretty easy, and fun too! I won't know for a bit yet how well my mix will smoke, but it was easy enough to get the blend pile to smell tasty in an unlit state. The only thing to watch out for is that once you integrate a new element, you can't get it back out! You can only add more of something else for balance. I suppose you could keep each leaf type separate, but then it's hard to know how they'll all work together. All part of the fun! For me personally I think I enjoyed it more because I didn't use exact measurements of portions. I like to keep it free-flowing.

 

hawke

Preferred Member
Feb 1, 2014
1,348
0
Augusta, Ga
I'm only one phase ahead of you Sir Michael. I'm very pleased with Hawke's Indian Moon. I had goals to achieve which I think is important. Not just blend things together and see what pops out. As stated one MUST Keep Records if you want to recreate something. Serendipity does happen and if you don't have records you will be set back "ages"(pun intended). Along the way of smoking many different tobaccos I found a few things that I aspired to.

1. That taste of aged tobacco

2. A blend that would be as close to #1 and still age and become even better

3. Light easily after a short dry out time and continue without relights.

4. Burn cool throughout the whole bowl if sipped

5. Moist enough to aid in both aging and have the ability to blend the flavors together when pressed.(I think moisture is important for the aging process)
Some tobaccos lend themselves to these goals better than others.
The Bottom Line: It must be pleasing to me, if others like it when shared that's just ego feeding, not really need. Just icing on the crumble cake one might say.
It does feel good to have achieved in mixing up a personal blend which I can reproduce and personally enjoy immensely. I have achieved my goals to the best level I can with my current experience and with the different tobaccos available to me. Hawke's Indian Moon, Latakia Blends, and Sweet Aged Straight Virginias are my mainstays.
Blending is quite an interesting part of the Pipe Hobby for me. Good Luck!

 

jkrug

Preferred Member
Jan 23, 2015
2,872
1
I have yet to try blending myself and may never try it. Good on ya for taking a crack at it. I hope you eventually come up with a blend that really tickles your fancy. :puffy:

 

michaelmirza

Preferred Member
Oct 21, 2015
639
0
Chicago, IL
Hawke, very cool to look back in your thread about Indian Moon. That's awesome that you're at a point where you're giving samples away! I suppose measuring is indeed important, probably just like it's important for musicians to hit record before jamming. Do you have any tips on how to do DIY pressing without any kind of professional equipment?

 

jpmcwjr

Preferred Member
May 12, 2015
13,529
129
Monterey Peninsula
Congratulations, and thanks for sharing your insights!
The closest I've come to blending is adding straight Latakia to a bag of somewhat dull English blends, "aging" it for a month, and lighting up. Pretty decent! I've got one bag labelled "English grab bag", and is a bunch of remnants of various English blends I've tried, some very good, the rest o.k., but none matching the Pease or STP blends I have tried. The Lat. does indeed bring it up, and of course, the extra "aging". :)
Keep on keepin' on!

 

perdurabo

Preferred Member
Jun 3, 2015
2,788
36
Take some of that perique and make some Rumper. You will be surprised. Get a mini cob so you don't ruin your pipes. Cause it's a dedication after that first puff. :wink:

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
25,923
95
Eric certainly covered many principle bases, including black Cavendish, which is sometimes overlooked these days. Once you have that Virginia/burley base laid down, you can really tweak and tune to your own particular tastes. Another sort of sport is to just use, say, three different tobaccos but tune the proportions. If you get three in the right proportions, you can create some wonderful mixes. The hardest to tame, for me, is all of the above; you get up to five or six different tobaccos and getting it just right is more challenging. I don't mean it's bad, but just more indistinct until you get just the right amounts. That's why I admire the professional blenders who can bring six tobaccos together, as Russ O. does in a number of blends, notably Home and Hearth Midtown Chestnut.

 

okiescout

Preferred Member
Jan 27, 2013
1,530
0
"Keep good records and start weighing everything ... that way you can reproduce the good results."
Exactly, Cobguy.
If you are serious about learning from your efforts, notes are a necessity. No matter what the materials you are blending. Ceramic, paint, gunpowder, baccy, or whatever.
After that knock yourself out having fun exploring the leaf. You are way ahead of the manner in which most of us started.

 

michaelmirza

Preferred Member
Oct 21, 2015
639
0
Chicago, IL
Another sort of sport is to just use, say, three different tobaccos but tune the proportions. If you get three in the right proportions, you can create some wonderful mixes. The hardest to tame, for me, is all of the above; you get up to five or six different tobaccos and getting it just right is more challenging. I don't mean it's bad, but just more indistinct until you get just the right amounts.
mso489, thanks for these thoughts. Making magic with fewer ingredients is definitely the sign of an artisan! I did indeed experience what you're describing by using as many components as I did. My final mixture smells very nice, but picking out individual elements is very difficult now. But I'm not sure that's a bad thing, as I want all the things to work together in harmony. At least I think I do. When I eat a burrito bowl from Chipotle I like to have every ingredient in ever bite, rather than a spoonful of lettuce, a spoonful of rice, etc.

 

hawke

Preferred Member
Feb 1, 2014
1,348
0
Augusta, Ga
Mr Micheal, heres A thread discussing some press methods. I am using a regular caulking gun right now. Its the auto-release kind that's stops caulking from oozing out when you stop pressing. This way is not that strong in PSI but the up side is its consistent each time. It does a nice job though. I can press 1 full ounce in a 1 1/2 diameter tube down to 1 1/2 thick block. The trick is getting it out. Using a couple inner plates works for me right now. The tube has a hole in the bottom where a rod can be used to press the cake out after the procedure. Three days in the press is my goal but 24 hours will do for personal use.
I still have some ideas for improvements but that will get you started.


 

hawke

Preferred Member
Feb 1, 2014
1,348
0
Augusta, Ga
Also Michael, this (image below)is something I use to test out new blends or just for one time mixtures to alter a current smoke to more desirable taste. If I get something to try and I don't care for it as is, I can make it into something smokable. This is some left over Three Sails shag cut which is a Va and has some good nic kick and threw in a hefty amount of Latakia. Both were very dry so I moistened it up a bit and the press will marry the Va and Lat together in a day or so. Doing little things like this gives us an idea of how tobaccos will mix. Later I can add a little Perique to a section of this, press again and find out how that does. All the while I'm using up tobacco I didn't care for that much to start with and learning in the process. The can was full almost to the brim before pressing down.



 

gogosamgo

Member
Mar 5, 2015
244
0
That's awesome Michael! Will you be posting a follow up once you actually smoke it? In case it's the greatest tobacco you've tried, have you considered any names for your blend? ;)

 

hawke

Preferred Member
Feb 1, 2014
1,348
0
Augusta, Ga
Here's one video that shows how hard it can be to get the tobacco out after pressing.

YouTube video
This one shows a press I'd like to make. Maybe PVC with screw caps and design a bolt plunger in the same manner.
What do you think Michael?

YouTube video