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Pipe Tobacco Availability Frustration

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  • Started 5 months ago by mordy18
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    mordy18

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    As a new pipe smoker I'm struck by the lack of availability of many highly recommended blends that are supposedly still in production. I wanted to try a tin of Samuel Gawith's pure Virginia flake but it isn't available on line anywhere. Most Dunhill blends are gone (I bought a few tins of the ones I could find, and so far really have enjoyed Durbar). Esoterica? Forget about it. And quite a few others that have had very positive reviews are no longer available, not to mention all the Mclleland stuff that recently disappeared. And then I see people selling huge collections of "cellared" tobacco on this forum or on ebay, often at ridiculous premiums. (There seems to be plenty of Captain Black available.)

    Quite frustrating. Has it always been this way, or are shortages growing? Or is this due to hoarding? Is the premium, desirable stuff more readily available in the UK?

    Posted 5 months ago #
  2. npod

    npod

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    Who is John Galt?

    I understand the frustration. We all feel it, but I especially think it sad for the new pipe smokers. When you are trying to learn about blends and the hobby, it is nice to try the stuff others have talked about. It is a great way to match your pallet to others. And then nothing's available. I made a similar post the other day about how much has changed since just 2015. Believe me, there are wonderful blends out there. Just ask around and keep at it. You might also want to stick to the basics like Escudo, Capstan blue, PS Luxury Bullseye Flake (and Navy) and GL Pease quiet nights, etc to start. The rarer blends will come along, but unfortunately, not as readily available as in the past.

    Neal
    Posted 5 months ago #
  3. hoosierpipeguy

    hoosierpipeguy

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    GLP Union Square is readily available. I'll bet you if I look and call a few places, I could find some tins of SG FVF within 30 minutes or less. You can't buy an Edsel these days. Motorola flip phones are no longer available. Products come and go but there are generally a dozen or hundreds to replace them. You want something like SG FVF, a flake Virginia? These certainly aren't exactly the same but they're very, very good in their own right and readily available. Capstan Gold and Blue Flake. GLP Union Square as already mentioned. C&D Opening Night (discovered thanks to Sable and it is superb and reasonably priced?, John Aylesbury Classic Flake, Orlik Golden Sliced, Newminster 400 Supreme Flake just to name a few. There are many others that are also difficult to get but can be bought over time if you work at it such as Fribourg & Treyer Cut Virginia Plug.

    If you really, really, really have to FVF, you can generally get it from European stores such as Pfeifendepot, Estervalls and Synjeco just to name a few. You're going to pay more but you can get it. And keep your eyes open the next few days, there are other shipments arriving at other internet stores you can jump on. Just takes a little effort on your part.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  4. ashdigger

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    You're not missing out on anything. Plenty of blends to choose from that are still available. If you chase rainbows you'll only catch unicorn farts.

    Go to tobaccoreviews.com, search for whatever hallowed blend you thing you'd like and look for similarities.

    I've never been a fan of 99% of the McClelland catalog and 100% of the esoterica catalog.....why?? Because they weren't worth the effort to hunt for. So i found plenty to love elsewhere.

    Expand your horizons.

    Ubi Ignis Est?
    Posted 5 months ago #
  5. carolinachurchwarden

    carolinachurchwarden

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    +1 to Neal

    I was in the same boat when I first started back to the pipe a little over a year ago. When I first started, it was a cheap ass cob and pouches of Captain Black Gold, cause you know, they smelled like pipe smoke always smelled to me and I liked it.

    When I picked the pipe back up, I was floored by all the blends and companies out there. I couldn't decide what I wanted and had all kinds of trouble trying to figure out what that was. I joined up here and saw guys talking about stuff you just can't get anymore, and the stuff you can is practically unobtainable. I tried looking at all the lists of all the best top tobaccos out there so I could have at least some idea of where to start, but like you, found 90% of the ones I wanted to try were no where to be found. I came along right about the time McC's was shutting down the works and missed the boat on all those blends.

    Since then, I have begun to narrow it down to only going after and stockpiling stuff that's readily available any time I want, in bulk, mostly, but some are tins. PS is always going strong, so is C&D and I've been really been meaning to hit up Boswell's for some of their stuff as it's fantastic.

    There's so many good things out there to discover, but the trouble is, a lot of it is not a staple that many people have been smoking for 20+ years and has the track record to prove how good it is. Some still do, but I'm not going to mention Black Frigate here, nope, not gonna do it. Not going to mention Black Frigate one single time.

    "If you can't send money, send tobacco." - George Washington

    Posted 5 months ago #
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    mordy18

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    Thanks much for that input and those recommendations. I will keep my eyes open. And I am trying to avoid becoming a hoarder myself. I already have more tobacco than I can smoke in a year (I'm trying to keep it to 2-3 bowls a week).

    I started out with a few different aromatics -- a CAO 4 tin sampler (mostly meh) and a large (much larger than I anticipated) jar of Rocky Patel Pure Prohibition (which I quite like actually, but I have 8 oz of it!). Also a pouch of Missouri Meerschaum Danish blend, which I think is excellent.

    I quickly realized I wanted to try English blends and maybe focus on those and the aromatics may sit for a while. So far I have tried Dunhill BB1938 (which was ok, but need to smoke some more) and Durbar (which I liked a lot). Also bought a ridiculously expensive 100g tin of Frog Morton Cellar on ebay just to have a reference and I had one bowl which I thought was quite tasty and very smooth. I'll be going through that one bowl a week till gone (and won't be buying again). I have unopened tins of: Dunhill London Mixture and Ready Rubbed and some extra Durbar, GL Pease Quiet Nights, Seattle Pipe Club Plum Pudding, Escudo Navy, and Peterson Gold Blend. I will leave those tinned for now. So plenty to sample, but I want to try a pure Virgina -- I think I may try the Orlik Golden Sliced (which I understand has some perique in theory).

    Thanks again. I may be in Rome this summer and will have a pipe and tobacco shopping excursion.

    Posted 5 months ago #
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    mordy18

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    And thanks Carolinachruchwarden. Great to have the perspective of another relative newbie. And I like the beard dude!

    Posted 5 months ago #
  8. carolinachurchwarden

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    If you want a very nice Virginia, you could always try Peter Stokkebyes Luxury Navy Flake. I haven't had any in a few weeks, but it's a really good Virginia Flake. It's got a little perique in it, but not too much. It balances quite nicely.

    Edit: Hahaha, thanks! Yeah, it got maimed back in October, but it's getting back out there. Was up to about 6 inches before the big shave, but I'm back at about 2 inches since January.

    It gets better as you go along, finding new things to try and picking up this or that. I started buying up a few 1 oz samples of bulks I wanted to try and would snag about 3 or 4 of them at a time. All of it bulk stuff to figure out what I might want my cellar to look like.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  9. cigrmaster

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    There are plenty of great blends that are readily available. Some have been mentioned above and you should consider some of them.
    Here is a list of others that are easy to find.
    Solani 633 and 660
    Mac Baren Old Dark Fired
    Savinelli Doblone d'Oro
    Escudo
    Reiner Long Golden Flake
    St Bruno Flake
    Orlik Dark Strong Kentucky
    GL Pease Navigator needs age

    Harris
    Posted 5 months ago #
  10. papawhisky

    papawhisky

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    Have you tried any local B&M's? I walked into one yesterday and they were stocked with many varieties of Samuel Gawith (including FVF) and Esoterica. Because they generally are not online, they don't tend to sell out as fast.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  11. anthonyrosenthal74

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    I'm not going to mention Black Frigate either. Some folks are tired of us Brothers of The Black Frigate talking about Black Frigate all the time. So don't pay any attention to Black Frigate even though it's awesome.

    The true fact of the matter is this. You go on the forums or Facebook or whatever else and everyone is hooting and hollering about how fantastic Such And Such Gourmet Tobacco Company's 5150 Hand Blended Anniversary Virginia Flake No.2 is, you pay 70 bones for a 12 bone tin, pack it in your pipe expecting true heavenly bliss while angels sing and virgins wash your feet.... only to discover it was 80% hype and that 10 dollar tobacco you were smoking before was far better. There are too many great blends out there to worry about the blends you can't find.

    But I'm not going to mention Black Frigate.

    Arrrrr, shiver me timbers! International Talk Like a Pirate Day is September the 19th!!!
    Brothers Of The Black Frigate
    Posted 5 months ago #
  12. brian64

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    Who is John Galt?

    I'm pretty sure he's a hoarder.

    “Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out.” – George Carlin
    Posted 5 months ago #
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    mordy18

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    Funny, I think have a hankering for Black Frigate.

    I'm also a bit dismayed at how few good tobacconists are around -- and I work in NYC, midtown east, and live in Northern NJ. There are still quite a few cigar shops -- JR on 1st avenue and a huge one in Paramus -- and I've bought many a cigar there, but not sure how extensive their pipe tobacco collection is. There used to be a Barclay Rex on Madison avenue around 50th, and I bought a pipe there 5 years ago, but its been gone for a while. That leaves Davidoff (crazy expensive) and Nat Sherman on 42nd, which I can try but I think is heavily cigar focused, and a Barclay Rex downtown. There are plenty of vape shops around!

    Posted 5 months ago #
  14. xingpao

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    Well, you see how the SG is dropping now and hiw Esoterica dropped a week or so ago, so if you want some just keep some cash available for the sporadic drops and make sure to apply for the email notifications,

    Lots here swear by some of the Watch City blends, so give those a shot.

    I bet you that I could run you out of money long before I could run out of places to track the blends you are talking about even at regular prices.

    I understand the frustration, but I promise you can build an awesome cellar from what is still readily available now. Lastly, you can always post that you are searching for XY and Z and I bet you will get some help very quickly.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  15. papawhisky

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    I have this weird sudden urge to go back and buy the rest of their tins of Black Frigate. It's like I'm compelled...

    Posted 5 months ago #
  16. smudgersmissingleg

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    If you are living in America then you literally have hundreds and hundreds of readily available blends and I would concentrate on them, the harder to come by stuff you can pick up on the way.
    At the beginning I found it a daunting prospect but gradually its built up, a few tins here and there, birthdays & Christmas and any time I have some spare cash I buy some UK stuff to age or get an order from Germany or America to add things I can't get over here.
    Give it a couple of years and you might be surprised how much you can squirrel away even on a modest income, that's been my experience anyway.

    Chris

    Posted 5 months ago #
  17. mtwaller

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    I am also frustrated by the scarcity of so many good blends. I’m new to pipes, and now I finally have enough pipes built up to where I can focus on sampling and cellaring various tobaccos, but they’re always out of stock. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of blends available that I’m sure I will love. But I know people hoard the “gold standard” type blends, and if you want to get them you have to buy every tin you can afford and be Johnny on the goddamn spot when they post online, because they sell out quick. It’s frustrating and induces a level of anxiety which seems to run counter to what pipe smoking should be. That is to say, relaxing! I don’t want to be that guy but I feel like I should start hoarding my few favorites, lest they go the way of the dodo, or become so scarce as to be effectively unobtainable. Sorry to be negative, but I feel your pain.

    “There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion”.
    Posted 5 months ago #
  18. hoosierpipeguy

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    They're not close to "always being out of stock". I started my cellaring efforts in January 2018. In that time, just to name a few, I have managed to accumulate:

    90 tins of F&T CVP and 29 tins of Vintage

    15 tins of BBF and 27 tins of FVF. 12.72 lbs of bulks of FVF and 9.53 of BBF

    11 tins of Wessex Campaign Brigade Dark Flake

    14 tins of Astleys No 44

    I could on and on. If you want to put in some effort, you can find what you want. Perhaps not today, perhaps not tomorrow but within a few months, you can get it done. Or you can keep waiting on the announcements from smokingpipes, tobaccopipes and P&C and see how that works out for you. Or you can waste your time posting here about how they're impossible to get.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  19. recluse

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    Who is John Galt?

    Posted 5 months ago #
  20. redglow

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    My experience has been similar.

    I just returned to piping in January after an 18 year respite. Quickly found my favorite old Dunhill Nightcap, amongst others, was wiped out. Never to be heard of again.

    3 months later, I have a stockpile of excellent tobacco (and probably a lot more interesting) on hand that I had never tried before and had never heard of until I started reading the forums and reading reviews on tobaccoreviews.com

    Some of my favorites are that are readily available:

    Peter Stokkebye Luxury Bullseye
    Peter Stokkebye Luxury Navy Flake
    Escudo Navy De Luxe
    GL Pease Odyssey
    GL Pease Quiet Nights
    GL Pease Gaslight
    GL Pease Westminster
    GL Pease Filmore
    Mac Baren HH Bold Kentucky
    Mac Baren HH Burley Flake
    C&D Bayou Night

    The list goes on and on.......

    My point is, don't get frustrated trying to nab some of these unobtainable mixtures. Pick up some great, readily available tobaccos. Sounds like you're on the right track.

    Occasionally, you'll run across opportunities to pick up some of the rare tins. The opportunities will come along and you can add those to your collection. If they don't come along, it won't matter. You'll have a great collection of fine leaf on hand to satisfy all of your tobacco needs.

    Good luck. Chime in a few months from now and let us know how your collection is coming along.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  21. shanez

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    Quickly found my favorite old Dunhill Nightcap was wiped out.

    Give Ashton Artisan's Blend a try. It should scratch that itch.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  22. redglow

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    Thanks for the recommendation shanez!

    Posted 5 months ago #
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    frozenchurchwarden

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    In my opinion the closing of Dunhill and McClelland signalled the beginning of the end (Or for fans of some blends that really would be “The End”).
    We’re currently falling off a cliff into a valley that will take decades, if not centuries to climb out of (No More Latakia? It’s impossible to guess what it would take to get that started again).
    Not that pipes and tobacco will ever die off entirely (especially in less regulated countries), but if enough markets shrink due to regulation then the modern economy of supply and distribution could be on its way to collapse.

    Maybe I shouldn’t scream “The Sky Is Falling” quite so loudly though, people are right it’s not hard to keep a positive outlook.
    There is still more variety than you’ll ever try, and the nature of each primary category of tobacco isn’t going to change just because of a few brand names disappearing.

    Posted 5 months ago #
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    bent1

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    Try Mac Baren HH line, lots of fine blends. HH Pure Virginia is a tasty blend http://www.tobaccoreviews.com/blend/10062/mac-baren-hh-pure-virginia.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  25. brian64

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    But I know people hoard the “gold standard” type blends, and if you want to get them you have to buy every tin you can afford and be Johnny on the goddamn spot when they post online, because they sell out quick. It’s frustrating and induces a level of anxiety which seems to run counter to what pipe smoking should be.

    People are cellaring all kinds of blends...not just the ones that are typically out of stock.

    And in the near future, some of the blends that are now readily available will likely no longer be so easily obtainable...and then those blends will be perceived as being gold standard unicorns.

    So, imo, the best thing you can do is identify a few readily available blends that you really enjoy and start accumulating as much of them as you can reasonably afford and don't worry about the unicorns...if you catch one of them every now and then it's just a bonus.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  26. dochudson

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    Take a look at L.J. Peretti blends, Boswells, Watch City, etc.

    Posted 5 months ago #
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    jeff540

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    Perfect advice, ID those blends you enjoy and keep funds set aside when they cross your path. Since McClelland's closing last year I've managed to set aside literal pounds of my favorites Esoterica blends (Brighton and Kingsbridge) and expanded into many other blends that I didn't try before (enjoying some MacBaren HH Latakia Flake at present).

    Posted 5 months ago #
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    celticbrewer

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    Feel you as a newer smoker. Those non attainable blends feel more desirable. Relax and explore your palate with the thousands of great blends and then narrow it down to what's worth your time and money

    Posted 5 months ago #
  29. hiplainsdrifter

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    Picky people gotta pay more. With anything, tobacco included. If you just HAVE to see what Frog Cellar tastes like, it is going to cost you a lot. When the box pass was still active on this forum I had the opportunity to try a lot of blends that were or are now unobtanium. This served to teach me to narrow my focus. Find a few blends I really like and stock up on those. Buy up a few unicorns when available to sell to newbs who can't live without em.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  30. ashdigger

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    ^^^ best comment of the thread and words I live by.

    Posted 5 months ago #
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    cfreud

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    I've been on a GL Pease Virginia-Kentucky, Virginia-Kentucky-perique binge recently. Blends like Jack Knife Plug, Triple Play, Sixpence and Navigator are just horrible. Don't order them.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  32. brian64

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    ^ If they're in stock it obviously means they're not any good.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  33. ashdigger

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    ^^ TRUTH!!

    Posted 5 months ago #
  34. chasingembers

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    Four words. Income tax return season.

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    Posted 5 months ago #
  35. sablebrush52

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    Here's a little perspective from a relatively long time pipe smoker, going on 47 years. There are a hell of a lot more blends available today, even with the loss of McClelland and "Dunhill", than were available when I began. McClelland didn't even exist when I started enjoying the pipe. A lot of blends that I used to smoke are long gone, showing up at stratospheric prices when they resurface.
    I don't waste any time bemoaning what's not available or what's no longer produced. I've seen a lot of blends disappear.
    I came late to the cellaring game and I made the effort to put away tins of what I liked because experience told me that they wouldn't always be around. And, I also discovered new blends to enjoy. So what if I can't walk into a neighborhood tobacconist and pick up a tin of Sobranie made Balkan Sobranie or 759. So what if State Express London Mixture isn't available. There are literally thousands of blends of every description on the market.
    I don't waste time hunting unobtainium online. I've found other sources and cellared what I could buy from them. There are a few generous souls, like cohibajoe, who find the drops and share that with members here, but all that means is that there's a wealth of it in the wild because the online stores are still a small part of the overall picture.
    You're beginning the voyage and there are far more ports of call than you realize.

    It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt. - Mark Twain

    It is pointless to argue with a fanatic since a dim bulb can't be converted into a searchlight. - Jesse Silver
    Posted 5 months ago #
  36. derhammer

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    Give Ashton Artisan's Blend a try. It should scratch that itch.

    +1
    Also Peter Stokkebye Proper English helped to cope the lost of Nightcap for me.

    Pierre
    Posted 5 months ago #
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    foursidedtriangle

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    Where there is demand there will be a supply. Just remember when reading any advice here is that your perspective is different, many people here are hardcore smokers for decades. You are probably not even sure if you will smoke next year. I can tell it to you straight that panic buying is encouraged here to keep the sinking tobacco industry afloat because (read this carefully) if there was an actual shortage no one would say a word.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  38. chasingembers

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    I can tell it to you straight that panic buying is encouraged here to keep the sinking tobacco industry afloat

    Where and when did you read anything like that here? Please provide links to the threads.

    if there was an actual shortage no one would say a word.

    Do you even read any of the threads on here? Many of us guessed the closing of McClelland and Dunhill for over a year before it happened, and pipestud even has a blog on his website about the possible loss of Cyprian Latakia that was discussed here.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  39. judcole

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    Some tobacco companies are rather small concerns. Others are quite large.You may have trouble picking up SG or Esoterica, but will have no trouble with MacBaren. That does not mean Esoterica is better - just a smaller company.

    Thought in the early morning, solace in time of woes,
    Peace in the hush of the twilight, balm ere my eyelids close
    Rudyard Kipling
    Posted 5 months ago #
  40. pipehunter

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    For people new to pipes, I can both understand the frustration and suggest it's really not a big deal. Sure, it's lamentable to see fine blends (and blenders) disappear. Certainly, I miss greatly Troost Slices (Van Rossem's) and Frog Morton (original). I haven't found something to replace either one, exactly, but I keep looking for blends I like as much with similar profiles, which is part of the fun of exploring.

    As has probably been pointed out many times before, though, there are still available some of the finest blends ever made (in my opinion)...and they are largely always in stock, can be easily ordered off the internet. While I'm no expert, I've been sampling widely for almost 30 years and early on tried many great tins from the 50s-70s, as they were more curiosities then than collectibles and priced accordingly.

    Just a few examples of some blends still available that may rank among the legends of old (to my own taste):

    Peretti blends -there are quite a few (and I think the company offers samplers). Tashkent maybe my favorite oriental ever

    RO Perique Sereis - GP-11 is particularly nice but they are all worth trying to find one you like

    Robert Lewis - for the English blends. Production on these must be pretty low, as they go out of stock relatively quickly, but nothing like Esoterica or others. Orcilla Mixture is a good one to try.

    Watch City Cigar - Ernie has a some great blends, there was a cavendished oriental that is no longer around, but he makes some amazing slices

    HU Tobacco - I've tried most and like all of them, at least half a dozen are among the finest tobaccos I've had (has to be ordered from Europe, so shipping can be a pain)

    Even more widely available, I like:

    SPC Plum Pudding
    Ashton Artisan's Blend
    Savinelli Doblone d'Oro
    HH Aniversary Kake
    Magnum Opus
    Pease Samarra, Quiet Nights, Union Square, Westminster (really quite a few)

    SG Skiff blend is a little harder to find but not unobtainable. Definitely worth it, in my opinion.

    There are so many really. There was a thread recently about Cabbie's Mixture, which I hadn't tried in a while but cellared a few years back. I forgot how good that one is. It's probably available now, too.

    Cheers and Good Luck!

    Posted 5 months ago #
  41. thesmokindragon

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    What we also have to remember
    is that over time our tastes
    change, so what we loved and hunted...10yrs later might just
    be meh, hehe...have had it happen to
    me several times on some of my best/loved
    blends 10yrs ago...enjoy today's blends
    as others have already said there are great ones that are regularly available.

    Some of my favs and are in my regular rotation today;

    GLP's Temple Bar, JackKnife Plug, Triple Play

    C&D's Mad Fiddler Flake, Dreams of Kadath and many many other C&D blends..just a few to choose from, lol

    Posted 5 months ago #
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    mordy18

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    Thanks for the great perspective and practical recommendations.

    In particular, I would like to thank "hoosierpipeguy" for his insightful and helpful comments. I will forever hold his intrepid and hound dog like pursuit of the finest tobacco as an example to be emulated as I continue to explore the pipe smoking hobby.

    In particular, I have taken to heart his comment:

    "Or you can keep waiting on the announcements from smokingpipes, tobaccopipes and P&C and see how that works out for you. Or you can waste your time posting here about how they're impossible to get."

    Coming from someone with 1,548 posts on a pipe smoking forum in the past year, it is clear that he is a man who doesn't waste his time, but rather values it and knows how to spend it wisely. It is particularly refreshing to see that not all pipe smokers are laid back, helpful and agreeable sorts, as it would seem from most posts here, but rather than some unadulterated douchebaggery is also to be had.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  43. johnbarleycorn

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    Unadulterated douchebaggery indeed. Plenty of that to be had.

    And little Sir John and the nut brown bowl proved the strongest man at last
    Posted 5 months ago #
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    ekert

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    Grumpy SOB, absolutely. Douchebag, that's probably the last word that comes to mind when thinking about Hoosier. He has been quite helpful to myself and many others (re-read his first post on this thread, it was a sincere attempt at sharing some insight and knowledge). Telling you that you have to be proactive if you want to obtain some of the harder to find blends is just reality, he just worded it in a way that doesn't pander to snowflakes.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  45. eggrollpiper

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    I'm a little low on unadulterated douchebaggery today but still feel the need to add my endorsement to the cornucopia of thoughtful and wise posts.
    I second Ashdigger on Mclelland and Esoterica. Esoterica blends have been my most sought after and least enjoyed. They seem like an aquired taste (the non english ones) margate is nice, but nice not earth shattering. If someone put a Stockebye blend in an Esoterica tin it would also always be sold out.
    Of those already mentioned I would recomend Peter Stockabye all three flakes but particularly twist flake for pure Va. Also theres a Stockabye bulk Va. non flake and Sutlif Va. Flake are nice unadulterated Va. only. Oh and Macbaron HH Navy Flake was my first Va. and flake and has a nice mild aromatic quality.
    And if your looking for more English try C&D Star of the East and Lane Crown Achievement.
    Lastly for a blend that will keep not only the ladies away but the undead as well there's H&H Cerberus.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  46. carolinachurchwarden

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    Funny, I think have a hankering for Black Frigate.

    I have this weird sudden urge to go back and buy the rest of their tins of Black Frigate. It's like I'm compelled...

    The subliminal messages are working (rubs hands together).

    Honestly though, I love Black Frigate for just about everything it's about. It's a very solid blend and readily obtainable, at least for now.

    +1 on the Mac Baren HH blends as well, they're a phenomenal product. Just tried the HH Balkan at one of our pipe club meetings and it was fantastic! Highly recommend it if you're into Blakans.

    Lots of good information here from guys that have been at this a helluva lot longer than I have been. I've been all over the place because as many others said, there's so much out there today that's readily available that I have heard is great, but I just can't try them all. I could try, but I'd go broke, have to sell a kidney, and be living in a box behind the 7-11 if I did.

    The best advice I have is to identify blends you like and try them by the ounce. If it's a tin you want to try, buy it, try it, if you don't like it, jar it and give it some time as your tastes might change.

    I've found that the best helper for me has been the tobacco locator tool over at Smoking Pipes. From that, I can search by strength, room note, taste, family, etc., and narrow my selection down to what I like most. It helps, but there's still a shit ton of blends to pick through. That's why I have just been trying my way through stuff an ounce at a time to see if I like it.

    Pick out some blends that never seem to be out of stock and give them a try. You might discover your favorite is a blend that has an endless well of supply. A lot of the blends that always seem out of stock are truly not worth the hassle, IMHO. At least not online. Like others said, check B&M's for stock of it if you really want to try it. I bought a bag of And So To Bed a while back, but it doesn't match the hype, for me. It's smooth and good, but not a head above other similar flavor profiles. I got it from a B&M and paid $54 for the 8 oz bag. I'll smoke my way through it, but would I buy it again? Probably not.

    It's sort of like this, does a blend smoke or taste any better simply because it was impossible to get and you finally snagged one? Not really. Maybe in someones head they can think so, but not to me. I buy it if the time is right, the price is right, and I want to give it a try. Some people love them, but if I can find something similar that might taste better to me and I can always find it, that's the one I'm going with.

    Case in point, I tried an ounce of PS LNF. Love the stuff. Always available. Going to buy more eventually, but stocking up on some Englishes at the moment. I tried PS LBF. Love the stuff. Always available. Going to stock up on it eventually. MacBaren HH ODF, same thing. Love it, it's available, it's delicious. These blends, however simple they may appear, are going to become the basis of my cellar. That and Black Frigate. Did I mention Black Frigate before? Well if not, just once more, for emphasis.....Black Frigate!

    Happy Hunting! Happy Smoking! Carry On!

    Posted 5 months ago #
  47. cigrmaster

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    mordy18, good for you. Hoosier is a douche bag of the highest order. I have known him for over 20 years and I don't think I have ever met a bigger douche bag.

    Mark, mordy certainly told you where to go, lolololololol

    Posted 5 months ago #
  48. hawky454

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    particularly twist flake for pure Va

    I wouldn’t really call that a pure VA, I think it leans more towards an aromatic than a pure VA, it is heavily cased and pretty sweet. If that’s your thing than great but one might be dissapointed if expecting a straight up, unflavored VA Flake.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  49. sablebrush52

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    MacBaren HH ODF, same thing. Love it, it's available, it's delicious.

    And, it will disappear in a few years due to the FDA Deeming regulations unless MacBaren decides to pony up a few grand to cover the costs of having it deemed. So don't wait too long to hoard cellar some.

    If someone put a Stockebye blend in an Esoterica tin it would also always be sold out.

    Some think it would be an improvement. Personally I like several of the Esoterica blends a lot and have no reason to tear them down just because they're a little more difficult to obtain. The mania and price gouging around them is caused by smokers. Germain's is a top quality, but relatively small, blender. Dunbar is one of my favorite blends and there's nothing like it. But I didn't waste time with online stores. I simply bought from B&M's at regular retail prices, a bag here and a bag there, over years, never being a piggy about it because there is always more, until I felt that I had enough to enjoy for years.

    There are a lot of other blends I like just as much that aren't in short supply, at least not at the moment. Just about everything cycles in and out of stock. The current situation does seem a bit more extensive than in years past, but I remember that in 2014 nobody could find a tin of Wessex Campaign Dark Flake, people were going nutz, and it was gone for months on end. Same thing has happened in the past with Rattray's and Samuel Gawith blends.

    McClelland, with the exception of it's red Virginias, wasn't a big part of my cellaring, and I don't regret that. I have from them what I liked best, and it's enough to last me longer than I'll be around. Though I knew about their closing months before it was announced (worst kept secret in the piping world) I didn't stock up on blends I didn't smoke. Their Grand Orientals were very good, but there are oriental blends made by others that are every bit as good in a different way.

    The idea that any one tobacco blend is going to bring about a satori experience is ludicrous. It's all just tobacco.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  50. ashdigger

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    The idea that any one tobacco blend is going to bring about a satori experience is ludicrous. It's all just tobacco

    But what if I'm a new pipe smoker who can't think for himself, and I constantly worry that I've missed out on something I've never had, and now my imaginary stellar status as a REAL pipe smoker is somehow impugned?

    Posted 5 months ago #
  51. eggrollpiper

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    How did I know someone would make sure to point out that twist flake has an aromatic topping. However calling it heavily cased is a little extreme. The consensus is that it has a honey topping which brings out the natural sweetness of the Va. however it's not sold as an aromatic and imho very mild in the flavoring.

    Posted 5 months ago #
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    mordy18

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    Just for the record, I didn't call Mr. Hoosier a douchebag, just said he was engaged in douchebaggery. He may or may not actually be one. I don't know. But snarkily telling someone on a forum (especially a new guy) the specific purpose of which is to exchange ideas and maybe educate people, that they are "wasting time" by asking a question, while touting one's own prowess, is clearly douchebaggery.

    But I digress. One clear takeaway from this thread is that between my gun safes, worktable, cigar humidor and now growing tobacco collection I will need e a bigger room in my basement (or cellar if you prefer) and stronger lock on the door to keep my wife out. Thanks all once again.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  53. hawky454

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    Also, it is one thing if you have tried something and love it, then I’d say it’s worth the hunt but even still, I don’t put much effort in myself but over the years I’ve been able to acquire a whole bunch of my favorite Esoterica’s with very little effort on my part. Sometimes ya get lucky, sometimes friends point you in the right direction but for me Dunbar & Tilbury are certainly worth the hunt, to others they may not be worth it but I personally wouldn’t go out of my way for a blend I’ve never tried before.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  54. sablebrush52

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    Pure anything generally tastes like crap. Almost everything is either cased, topped, or both, including the so called "natural" blends, not to mention steamed, baked, flambé, and served with a side of mac and cheese.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  55. hoosierpipeguy

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    mordy18, good for you. Hoosier is a douche bag of the highest order. I have known him for over 20 years and I don't think I have ever met a bigger douche bag.

    Mark, mordy certainly told you where to go, lolololololol

    Yep Harris, douche bag describes me perfectly! All because I have a low tolerance for whiners. No problem, I'll be padding my tobacco cellar and smoking aged unobtainiums while mordy is still crying and pouting about how he can't find SG FVF. Here's what is even more ironic. I've bought 10 to 20 pounds worth of aged unobtainiums and difficult to get blends right here when members have posted tobacco for sale. I bought $1000 worth from Salted Plug alone. The past 2 days, I received a tin of McClelland 3 Oaks Syrian, 2 tins of 5 year old Astley's No 44 and a tin of 5 plus year old Aylesbury Luxury Flake. Traded a tin of Penzance for the 3 Oaks and $20 per tin for the other 3. Thought that was reasonable.

    Thanks for being concerned about my personal time management mordy. A rather foolish comment considering I own and manage the operations of a $5M plus Construction Company in 3 states and am heavily involved in a software company I started 9 months ago. Plus a great family with 2 incredible grandchildren. You'd be amazed at what you can accomplish if you spend your time doing instead of whining.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  56. mso489

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    So many good blends available. Let's just hope that remains true.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  57. eggrollpiper

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    Sable I tend to agree with you about pure anything tasting like crap. At best it can be one note note but what I think has been pure Va. seems very pedestrian and gets boring quick. And when they've been interesting it's proby from a perique ghost. So since I dedicated one lonely pipe to pure Va.s it doesnt come off the rack often.
    Aside from the douchebaggery my favorite thing about Hoosier is his humility.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  58. hoosierpipeguy

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    Aside from the douchebaggery my favorite thing about Hoosier is his humility.

    I just call them as a I see them. Admittedly, my filter is pretty open most of the time which has, over my lifetime, gotten me in hot water now and then. It is both a blessing and a curse. But it is what it is. If mordy is going to the Chicago Pipe Show, I will humbly and happily supply him with a few bowls of Unobtainium pipe tobacco and buy him a drink. That's me in the photo with the gray hair and a big pipe in my mouth. Other than that, look for the loud, arrogant douchebag sitting with a bunch of guys having a great time.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  59. ophiuchus

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    Now, now ...

    So many good blends available. Let's just hope that remains true.

    Amen.

    I do agree that availability of some well-regarded blends is frustrating. Keeping things in perspective is important to a great many things. Some of the old coots here (myself included) espousing the virtues of our favorite old blends have been squirreling away tobacco into our humble hoardes for decades; meanwhile, there are sooooo many new things out there that don't get all the attention that might fit the bill for a new favorite. Focus on those before they disappear for one reason or another.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  60. dmcmtk

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    Hate to be a contrarian, but between bulks and available tins, I'm having no trouble finding good tobaccos.

    Dave
    Duke Street Irregular
    Posted 5 months ago #
  61. hawky454

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    it has a honey topping which brings out the natural sweetness of the Va

    I totally disagree that it just has a light honey topping, that sounds like you’re describing Solani 633 or maybe even PS Luxury Flake. PS Twist Flake has a very strong vanilla or as some describe it, coconut casing that is very much meant to be tasted in the smoke. I understand that one MUST always come in here and say that ALL tobaccos are cased and while that is true some are cased to amplify the natural flavors of a blend while others are clearly meant to be tasted along with the natural flavors of the leaf. Twist Flake has more than just a little honey topping, it’s very fragrantly obvious that it is flavored with vanilla/coconut whereas something like Full Virginia Flake is cased only to bring out the natural flavors of the leaf, I don’t taste any added flavors and I don’t think 99% of other pipe smokers taste any added flavors in FVF. But the difference is, that’s what FVF is going for, a pure tasting VA flake whereas Twist Flake is not going for that and that’s totally fine, I enjoy it every once in a blue moon. I for one would be upset is Mac Baren’s Pure VA Flake tasted like vanilla or anything else other than what I’ve come to expect from what we pipe smokers refer to as a natural or pure VA but you got it, even Pure VA Flake is cased with something, it’s just not tasted as an obvious flavoring agent.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  62. olkofri

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    Availability? You Americans are living in toby heaven.

    Come north of the 49th parallel. You'll see what real unavailability is! And let's not forget even the commonest of tins is $50 CAD.

    Not the sweet, new grass with flowers is this harvesting of mine;
    Not the upland clover bloom...
    Posted 5 months ago #
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    ekert

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    Yes, but you have poutine readily available so I'd say we're even.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  64. olkofri

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    Ewww, poutine...

    I'd rather smoke Craptain Black.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  65. hoosierpipeguy

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    Watch City has several SG blends RIGHT NOW including Full Virginia Flake. mordy, do you need me to order some for you?

    Posted 5 months ago #
  66. chasingembers

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    It is particularly refreshing to see that not all pipe smokers are laid back, helpful and agreeable sorts

    Those actually exist?!

    Posted 5 months ago #
  67. diamondback

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    Never try MacBarren HH Old Dark Fired. Stay away from the Black Frigate crew as well. Cap’n Embers is very liberal when it comes to flogging. Any imagined wrongs will get you a quick hundred lashes from the cat-o-nine.

    “Well, I can’t cure death. This is bad, Morty. You’re trapped in a dead man. Listen, if the situation keeps darkening, do yourself a favor and pop by Pirates of the Pancreas. Obviously I’m biased, but I think it’s great, Morty. It’s a bunch of *belches* pirates running around a *belches* pancreas. We don’t whitewash it, either, Morty. I mean, the pirates are really rapey.” - Rick & Morty
    Posted 5 months ago #
  68. brian64

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    Watch City has several SG blends RIGHT NOW including Full Virginia Flake.

    Thanks for the tip.

    I've been traumatized by all of the douchebaggery around here and have been hiding in my whine cellar all day...but I had to come crawling out for some FVF.

    I feel better now.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  69. diamondback

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    Hoosier is aite... fer a danged Yankee.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  70. krizzose

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    I’m making my first trip to the Chicago pipe show. I’ll have to find the douchebag handing out bowls of unobtanium at the douchebag table.

    Posted 5 months ago #

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