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Surprised by OTC Brands

(84 posts)
  1. mctrav

    mctrav

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    When I started smoking a pipe I never bothered with OTC brands but recently found out that my buddies dad smoked half and half. I can remember loving to be around him reading his paper and smoking his pipe. So I recently acquired a pouch of Half and Half, Carter Hall, and Captain Black White. First bowl of H&H I fell in love..lots of taste and consistently cool, an all day smoke. The CH was good too just not as tasty. The CB was OK just a bit of a chemical taste for me. Tomorrow I will search out some SWR too. I can see why some of the veterans still fall back on these as they are enjoyable all day. Figured I'd post because I read a lot of negatives regarding the cheaper stuff but I found them a must in my rotation. Can't always drink champagne, sometimes beer hits the spot!

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    Yep, OTCs, especially the "Old codger" blends, are pipe tobacco that everybody needs to try.

    OK, I haven't found any that blew my socks off. But most are consistent, tasty, widely available, and relatively inexpensive.

    For me, they are the equivalent of a "Yard 'Gar" -- something you can enjoy without having to focus or think too hard to appreciate.

    The old mantra, "There's a reason these blends have been around a hundred years!" certain applies.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  3. bobpnm

    bobpnm

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    The great thing about pipe smoking is that if you love it, it's a great smoke! The great thing about this forum is that if you have a great smoke, we understand and are happy right along with you!

    Posted 1 year ago #
  4. mikephillips

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    I have only one word to add here:

    FIVE BROTHERS

    Ok, two words.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  5. joshwolftree

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    try the CB gold it's pretty good

    The true measure of a mans worth is how he chooses to chance his mortality
    Junior Member of the Black Bloods
    Posted 1 year ago #
  6. 05venturer

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    I am a fan of Carter Hall, but you need to try Prince Albert also if you are looking for a good OTC.
    Also Captain Black Royal (blue pouch).

    Kent

    Posted 1 year ago #
  7. sothron

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    I try to like OTCs but I seem to be hypersensitive to whatever chemicals they put in them. And I strongly suspect that the formulas have changed dramatically over the years - that they are, in actuality, sheet tobacco made somehow in the shape of pipe tobacco.

    I will say, however, that I've found Walnut tasty in a Kaywoodie with a stinger. And I like the bottom quarter of a bowl of CH. On Roth's recommendation I've mixed up some Wal-Hall and jarred it for tasting in the near future. I've also experimented with some CH/Aro mixes.

    Some swear by CBW but I found the chemical content overwhelming.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  8. bigvan

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    I disagree with the "Champagne and Beer" analogy. To me, the difference between quality tobacco and OTCs is more like "Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold and Natty Light", and there's NEVER a need for Natty Light.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  9. mctrav

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    The use of the champagne and beer analogy is actually quite accurate, because analogies tend to be vague, whereas the one u gave is quite specific to your tastes so it doesn't apply to what I was trying to portray.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  10. wildcat

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    The use of the champagne and beer analogy is actually quite accurate, because analogies tend to be vague, whereas the one u gave is quite specific to your tastes so it doesn't apply to what I was trying to portray.

    You need a new paint brush bigvan.

    For whereas men of an older school, like myself, smoke for the pleasure of smoking...
    A.A. Milne
    Posted 1 year ago #
  11. bigvan

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    No thanks, this brush has served me well.

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    No thanks, this brush has served me well.

    What works for you is great, happy for you. But that doesn't mean your take hits the bullseye -- or even hits the damn target -- for anyone else.

    It's important to share views, but even more important, in my view, to listen to and respect another's.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  13. nsfisher

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    Hmmm, let's please all remember, some like steak, others like hamburgers, some like coffee, others like tea, etc.

    If at first you don't succeed, have another bowl.
    Posted 1 year ago #
  14. brdavidson

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    Smoking some Ch with 1q right now and I'm quite happy!

    Posted 1 year ago #
  15. mctrav

    mctrav

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    Sounds like a good smoke brdavidson

    Posted 1 year ago #
  16. weezell

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    To each(or her) own...

    Posted 1 year ago #
  17. pitchfork

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    I agree about Natty Light, and while I love a great IPA, for instance, sometimes I just crave a cold, light-tasting Pabst Blue Ribbon.

    Big Van, do you ever just want some buttered toast? For me, that's a plain burley blend like Prince Albert. Similarly, while it's possible to make a grilled cheese sandwich with artisanal sour dough, aged cheddar, heirloom tomatoes and freshly made mayonnaise (yum), sometimes one's palate calls for something simpler, like colby on white. The good OTC blends like Prince Albert and Carter Hall do indeed have their place, even if we can speak more ore less objectively about the higher quality of other, more flavorful or complex blends.

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    Well said, Pitchfork.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  19. brdavidson

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    It is mctrav, fisher blends CBR with CH, since 1Q is similar figured I'd try it, give a nice nutty flavour to th 1Q

    Posted 1 year ago #
  20. wildcat

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    Well said, Pitchfork.

    Well spoken, yes. But reading it, at least from my perspective (and it's all about individual perspective), there is a sense of condescension as regards OTCs. That buttered toast is less than an artisan grilled cheese sandwich, is an assumption by the author. I say that buttered toast is not less than the grilled cheese sandwich, rather it is as different as the night is different than the day. Is night better than day? Is day more beautiful than night? Is a field of clover lit by the sun more beautiful than a field of stars bathed in the light of the moon? The answer is no, they are different. And that ain't bad.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  21. pitchfork

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    Well spoken, yes. But reading it, at least from my perspective (and it's all about individual perspective), there is a sense of condescension as regards OTCs.

    Depends on what you mean by condescension, I guess, but I don't agree that OTC's and McClelland VA's, for example, are simply "different." I think they're different in specific ways that many of us probably agree on. Take Prince Albert, for instance. I enjoy it, but I recognize that it's not nearly as flavorful or complex nor (depending on my mood) as enjoyable for me as a good Vaper like Escudo or Solani 633. I know I'm comparing burley to VApers here, but still... Just the same, I recongize that C&D's Burley Flake #2 (mostly burley, plus a touch of VA) is a higher quality tobacco than Prince Albert. Now, I'm not saying one or the other is better in some absolute, cosmic sense of "better," but the differences are pretty clear. To wit, the tobaccos in C&D's Burley Flake #2 have been treated with more care, retain more of their natural tobacco flavors, have a fresher, more complex taste, higher nicotine, etc., while the tobaccos in PA have been more heavily processed, contain some amount of artificial humectant, plus other unknown additives, etc.

    I don't see how it's condescending to point those things out. I certainly don't imply any condescension towards those who smoke PA or other OTC's, especially as I'm one of them. If there was some suggestion of condescension in what I wrote, it probably stems from the fact that I assume (correctly, I think) that many smokers are condescending about OTCs, just as many beer aficionados are dismissive of Pabst Blue Ribbon or, to name a previous example, Natty Light. That's all.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  22. mctrav

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    I couldn't agree more wildcat, its variety and the many differences that makes pipe smoking such an enjoyable leisure activity, and perhaps the reason why so many people, including all of us here, can sit back with their favorite blend and savor its unique perspective.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  23. captainbob

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    No negatives from me. I smoked exclusively Half & Half for 19 years. I always wanted to learn the art of blending. The first triumph was being able to satisfactorily re-create my favorite Half anf Half. It did take a year! Then I branched out into what evolved into the C&D Captain Bob's Series with Craig Tarler. I learned so much and I am so pleased that I followed my heart. While I no longer smoke Half & Half, I repect it and I understand it. Beyond that I have simply developed three blends that I prefer. So, smoke what you like and above all, like what you smoke!
    __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Posted 1 year ago #
  24. lordnoble

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    Thanks a lot, guys... Now, I gotta bite the bullet and try Half & Half AND Carter Hall. I tried PA and didn't like it. SWR Aro is good, but SWR is a great blend when you don't want to think about it.

    -Jason

    The preceding statement is not to be construed as fact, but merely conjecture.

    Proud member of the BlackBlood Society
    Posted 1 year ago #
  25. mctrav

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    You're welcome Jason, but hey at least they are cheap and easy to come across

    Posted 1 year ago #
  26. yaboofive

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    The way I figure if a blend has been around long enough for my grandfather to remember the aroma from when he was a kid then there might be something to the blend. My grand father gave me some of his fathers pipes in an old box and to my surprise were some old OTC blends still in their pouches. The tobacco was mostly dust. But as a tribute to great grandfather I grabbed as many of the blends as i could to keep the old pipes happy.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  27. sparroa

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    I have had a few enjoyable smokes with the OTC blends in the past but I have concluded that I do not enjoy them enough to justify smoking them. They are moreso "set it and forget it" smokes rather than "contemplation" smokes and at only one bowl a day or less I do not want a mild tasting blend that smokes itself.

    As others have said, I have a sneaking suspicion that the OTCs may have gradually declined in quality over time.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  28. portascat

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    Hell, I got a good two dozen or so tins, jars and pouches of various things on my shelf for that kind of thing.

    So...what do I smoke?

    Balkan Saseini
    Ceberus
    Ambassador
    Alamo

    today, I made an order. Two cans of Balkan, two can of Fusiliers Ration. Ceberus was out of stock, and I have a lot of Ambassador. The Fusliers sounds interesting, so it is an experiment.

    All of that to say I have quite a lot of tobacco, most of which i enjoyed at one time or another. And would likely enjoy it again if I lit up a bowl. But I am lazy.

    Smoke what you like, when you like. If one or two blends get your rocks off, spend you money on them. Or most it, anyway. Branch out from time to time on a whim, but no need to feel you aren't a real rock-and-roller because you ain't smoking 47 blends that nobody else has heard of.

    "To seek freedom is the only driving force I know. Freedom to fly off into that infinity out there."
    Posted 1 year ago #
  29. wildcat

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    Smoke what you like, when you like. If one or two blends get your rocks off, spend you money on them. Or most it, anyway. Branch out from time to time on a whim, but no need to feel you aren't a real rock-and-roller because you ain't smoking 47 blends that nobody else has heard of.
    Well said as usual.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  30. yadan

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    One of my favorite smokes is an OTC: Amphora Red. I love to alternate it with Dunhill Blends and other non-OTC's.
    Blogs and posts about the more expensive tobaccos never disturb me so long as they are not written with a snobbish attitude.

    Milton Berle, a great American comedian of the 1950's, smoked fine Cuban cigars, and when he discovered that George Burns, another great comic, was smoking cheap, OTC stogies, he was appalled and tried to persuade him to take up Cubans instead (which Burns, of course, could easily afford). But Burns refused, simply claiming he loved his cheap cigars. Enough said.

    "I'm always easy to please since I'm always satisfied with the very best." - Oscar Wilde
    Posted 1 year ago #
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    Not to mention the fact that El Producto paid George Burns to smoke them and provided all of the cigars for free.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  32. bigvan

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    Either you can discern the differences in quality of blends, or you can't. If you can't, buy the cheapest stuff you can find and may you be happy and content for the rest of your days, because everything will meet your standards.

    If you CAN discern differences in quality, then there will be some that fall below your level of minimum acceptable standards.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  33. portascat

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    Either you can discern the differences in quality of blends, or you can't. If you can't, buy the cheapest stuff you can find and may you be happy and content for the rest of your days, because everything will meet your standards.

    Sweet Angel of Death, take me now.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  34. wildcat

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    Either you can discern the differences in quality of blends, or you can't. If you can't, buy the cheapest stuff you can find and may you be happy and content for the rest of your days, because everything will meet your standards.

    Sweet Angel of Death, take me now.

    I vomited a little...

    Posted 1 year ago #
  35. 05venturer

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    Sweet Angel of Death, take me now.

    I gotta go grab me a cobfull of CH

    Posted 1 year ago #
  36. captainsousie

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    Just ordered some CH, SWR and PA along with my last TAD order (PS LBF and EF...gotta love the alphabet soup). So I could give them a try and see what they're all about.

    The beer analogy works to a point and so does this one. We brewers/beer-snobs tend to look at BMC (Bud, Miller, Coors) with a bit of disdain but to tell the truth, very few of us could replicate the products and most people go their whole lives happy with them. we can insult and look down our noses all we want but in the grand scheme of things it doesn't make a damn bit of difference and it doesn't make us better brewers/drinkers.

    Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.
    Posted 1 year ago #
  37. mctrav

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    Its kinda funny how threads like this can bring out arrogant replies from tobacco snobs, the whole point of this thread was to give props to blends that most of the old timers smoked and how I was surprised that they are enjoyable for what they are. Just because I can admit they have their place does that mean my standards are less than that of someone who only smokes the hardest to acquire tobacco? No it doesn't. And the funny part of my analogy is that I never drink, just thought it worked. Now for a bowl of carter hall followed by a bowl of stonehaven.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  38. portascat

    portascat

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    I only smoke Virgin Virginia, handpicked by Virginia virgins, cured in the Virgin Islands, smoked out of virgin briars that I have shipped via Virgin Airways.

    Punk.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  39. portascat

    portascat

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    And I DO drink.

    Punk.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  40. portascat

    portascat

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    And if you knew how effin rare Virgina virgins were....well, you would know they were pretty effin rare.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  41. captainsousie

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    That was amazing.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  42. sparroa

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    The way I look at it - I only have one liver so I'll take it easy on the BMC (imbibing only on occasion) but generally sticking with the craft beer styles that I enjoy most.

    The same goes for the OTC brands. Smoking does not exactly extend the lifespan so I tend to limit the blends that are "just okay" in favour of those that impress me more whenever I choose to light up.

    I agree that outright snobbery is not desirable but we have all seen the guy downing Colt 45 or smoking some "Best of the Rest" floor sweepings blend and we shudder a little - I don't think there is anything wrong with having personal standards as long as you don't bash other people over the head with them.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  43. mctrav

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    +1 funny stuff!

    Posted 1 year ago #
  44. judcole

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    I've been through a good number of the codger burleys, just to see what they are about. None of 'em really ring my chimes. The only one that does anything for me at all is Walnut. Personally, I think the Hearth and Home burley blends are much better (I tried several of them last year), and they aren't that much more expensive. If you want a simple, uncomplicated burley, you are much better off with H&H Classic Burley Kake or Old Companion, as far as I am concerned.

    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 1 year ago #
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    If you want a simple, uncomplicated burley, you are much better off with H&H Classic Burley Kake or Old Companion, as far as I am concerned.

    CCK is good, but it's an aromatic, which is fine, if that's what you're looking for. I haven't tried Old Companion, but it seems to be a classic old codger burley, as Jud says, with better quality tobaccos; JimInks reviewed it and found it light, sweet and quite mild. Both are relatively inexpensive in bulk @ P&C.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  46. captainsousie

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    Love Boswell's Premium Burley and that's another step-up burley blend from what I've read.

    @simenon Yep, not wanting cheap stuff is not a problem, putting down those who do is.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  47. nsfisher

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    Either you can discern the differences in quality of blends, or you can't. If you can't, buy the cheapest stuff you can find and may you be happy and content for the rest of your days, because everything will meet your standards.

    If you CAN discern differences in quality, then there will be some that fall below your level of minimum acceptable standards.

    Come on now mate, this is a good natured opinion, now this is extreme even for YOU

    Posted 1 year ago #
  48. sothron

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    I'm becoming a big fan of Angler's Dream. Any other fans out there?

    Posted 1 year ago #
  49. brdavidson

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    Ive ordered a 2oz sampler of Anglers Dream, so I hope its really good

    Posted 1 year ago #
  50. tbradsim1

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    I am an every day man, I smoke Carter Hall on the Tractor, when I"m working in the garden, it reminds me of simpler times, smelling home baked bread, the feeling of putting on clean clothes after a day of hay baleing, the acid taste of an old fashioned coke brought to you in the field on a hot day, all the good things that make us Americans, I Smoke Carter Hall And I"m Proud Of It,thats my story and I"m sticking to it. The old cajun

    The Old Cajun
    Posted 1 year ago #
  51. brdavidson

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    Amen Cajun!

    Posted 1 year ago #
  52. dervis

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    I have the bank records to enjoy as much over priced steak as I want, sometimes you cant beat a hotdog, souse, or fried catfish. I pray my enjoyment of such things never fades. Sometimes simple is just better.

    "You have to be a man first before you're a gentleman. "

    John Wayne
    Posted 1 year ago #
  53. wildcat

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    Old Cajun & Dervis
    http://www.naden.de/blog/bbvideo-bbpress-video-plugin -->

    [+] Embed the video | Video DownloadGet the Video Widget

    Posted 1 year ago #
  54. nsfisher

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    Old Cajun & Dervis

    Exactly right.

    Money ain't the problem here, I have tried many of the "High Quality" blends, but I guess I just enjoy the simplier things in life.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  55. judcole

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    sometimes you cant beat a hotdog

    Even all hot dogs are not the same. Some have better quality meats than others.

    Likewise, some fairly simple blends have better quality tobacco than other simple blends. The H&H blends, for example, have better quality tobacco than the codger burleys, but some of them are not complex blends at all. The same goes for MacBaren. Burley London and Mixture (Scottish Blend) are both simple, all day sorts of blends, but with tobacco of a higher grade than Prince Al or Carter Hall. MacBaren Latakia has the same quality I have enjoyed in Walnut or Sail Green - the touch of latakia. MacBaren tobaccos may not be up to the highest standards in quality, but they are a step above Carter Hall, et al.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  56. cigrmaster

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    I think we should all take bigvan out back and kick the shit out of him.

    Every board needs it's resident snob, he is ours and once you get to know him, you won't take him too seriously. He likes to have fun once in a while. He really is a good guy despite the incredibly insensitive bile he spews.

    Harris
    Posted 1 year ago #
  57. peckinpahhombre

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    This thread is incredibly amusing.

    I can't wait for the thread where bigvan shows off his cob collection.lol

    Posted 1 year ago #
  58. cigrmaster

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    Peck, lol. bigvan is a closet cob and otc smoker, in fact he told me his favorite is Middleton Cherry and that he likes to dump it on his bed and roll around naked in it.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  59. flyguy

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    I am trying to keep an open mind about tobaccos. After all, it was the OTCs that got me started in pipe smoking in the first place.
    For instance, I was about to write-off all aromatic tobaccos when my son sent me 2 oz of a B&M aromatic jar tobacco. Love the stuff!
    I am open to anything tastey. Can't wait to try rothnh's Wal-Hall!

    “Apples for walking, and a pipe for sitting.”
    ― Samwise Gamgee
    Posted 1 year ago #
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    He likes to have fun once in a while. He really is a good guy despite the incredibly insensitive bile he spews.

    When someone tries makes another person appear small, unimportant, or irrelevant, and sadly often thinking that doing this somehow makes them appear bigger, smarter, and more important the person doing that, in my eyes, shrinks in respect, their opinions matter less and is of lesser importance himself.

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    Can't wait to try rothnh's Wal-Hall!

    Actually, Michael's (nsfisher) thread got me excited about trying this. I started smoking a pipe packing it with Carter Hall 40+ years ago and I've always liked it. I'm not a huge latakia lover, but Walnut sounded like a great match that would add a little punch to CH. So voila! Wal-Hall. I really enjoy it and nary a day goes by that I don't enjoy some.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  62. flyguy

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    Either you can discern the differences in quality of blends, or you can't. If you can't, buy the cheapest stuff you can find and may you be happy and content for the rest of your days, because everything will meet your standards.

    If you CAN discern differences in quality, then there will be some that fall below your level of minimum acceptable standards.

    None of us are saying we can't discern the the difference in quality, but what is wrong with just smoking what we like?
    Heck, we all smoke less expensive blends that we enjoy. If we didn't we would burn through our stash of Stonehaven or FVF in no time flat.
    When I was young, I was a fly fishing snob. I looked down on bait fishermen until I discovered I just enjoyed fishing. Now I fish any ol' way and enjoy the moment.
    I have discovered I enjoy pipe smoking much the same way. It doesn't matter what tobacco is in the pipe as long as I am enjoying myself.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  63. bigvan

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    To be clear, I haven't made a single comment directed towards anyone personally. If some have interpreted my dislike for their chosen blends as an affront to their character, that was not my intent. Sure, I think there are some blends which are of pretty low quality, but don't we all? That was the only point I was trying to make with my last post; we all draw the line somewhere as to what's acceptable and what's not.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  64. judcole

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    Why does disliking OTC blends, and saying so, make you a snob? There's a little thread right now by this guy who doesn't like Old Dublin, and several guys agree with him. I enjoy that blend very much. But I don't think those guys are snobs 'cause they dislike one of my favorite blends.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  65. pitchfork

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    To be clear, I haven't made a single comment directed towards anyone personally. If some have interpreted my dislike for their chosen blends as an affront to their character, that was not my intent.

    Overlooking for the moment his infatuation with Middleton Cherry, I'm with bigvan on this point. Of course he's still wrong about the value of cheap beer.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  66. bobpnm

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    I only smoke Virgin Virginia, handpicked by Virginia virgins, cured in the Virgin Islands, smoked out of virgin briars that I have shipped via Virgin Airways.

    Punk.

    Thank you to Portascat for the best post I've ever read!

    Posted 1 year ago #
  67. portascat

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    Life is full of mysterious little surprises.

    To maintain a bit of appropriate distance from the subject matter, some of the best 'attention' I have received from ladies didn't always come from the 9's and 10's.

    The boss of my second job took the entire shop out to eat at a high end steak house. Open tab at the bar and the menu, order what you like, live it up, etc. I ordered a ribeye, and it was moderately good at best. Not remarkable at all. Last week, on a whim, my wife and I went to a chain Italian joint (Carrabas, for those who know what that is). I ordered a "Sirloin marasala", which is just sirloin with a mushroom based topping. The steak itself was seasoned perfectly and was the best damn steak I have had in a long time.

    I like bologna sandwiches with cheese and mustard.

    My Harley is usually dirty.

    I like Stella Artois beer, but have drank plenty of Silver Bullet and Lone Star. And if you offered me one to drink, I would be mighty pleased to have it.

    I have a pitbull, and she gets gassy sometimes right by my chair. And I don't really mind.

    I have never bought any of the bottom tier pipe smoke, mostly because the retail taxes on it are so high as to make even that exorbitant at the store. The only stuff I buy retail is a the B&M as a courtesy, and it is probably re-labled Sutliff, Lane, or Peter Stockebye. But, if someone sent me a bag of the cost cutter stuff in a flavor I could comprehend, I would try it.

    What all this is supposed to mean, I don't know, but I am just a simple kind of guy with complicated problems.

    If you, like me, recognize every one in this video as someone you have ridden with, drank cheap beer and cheaper whiskey with, married your sister and then divorced her, but you still like the guy, and so on...well, you know what I mean, then.

    [+] Embed the video | Video DownloadGet the Video Widget

    Posted 1 year ago #
  68. portascat

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    And, Bob, to prove I mean what I mean, you have NEVER read me posting about how to build up cake!

    Posted 1 year ago #
  69. portascat

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    And what the hell is a bologna sandwich? I mean baloney.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  70. terry

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    The only otc blends that i've tried is CB and CH..not bad.

    Posted 1 year ago #

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