I love flake cut tobacco! In this post I'd like to talk about another way to prepare flakes for smoking different than I outlined in an earlier thread: http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/heres-the-rub-a-foolproof-flake-preparation
While tropical storm Isaac makes its way slow and steady into the Gulf of Mexico high pressure is firmly seated over the Ohio Valley. A picturesque blue sky, warm temperatures and a gentle breeze greeted me late Sunday morning as I got up from bed. I admit I am somewhat of a weather geek and the Weather Channel is my favorite TV channel especially when an intense meteorological event is unfolding. The pros have gotten very good at the forecasting game but I find it amazing and interesting how tropical storms continue to defy man's ability to predict the path and intensity of these violent weather patterns.
Anyway back to my story... As I prepared my coffee and looked out the window I decided the patio would be the perfect place to enjoy my wake-up brew and a pipe. I'm not usually a morning smoker but with nothing on the schedule at this time of day I find myself in a relaxed and contemplative state of mind. A condition that goes right along with the enjoyment of a fine tobacco, pipe and a cup of joe.
Lately I've been getting to know this wonderful new blend of hot pressed tobacco from Mac Baren -Old Dark Fired. I grabbed one of my new favorites, a little Stanwell Lovat and a flake while I waited for my coffee to brew. I've been experimenting with a new to me method of flake preparation called the "cube cut" and have really come to like it for several reasons. It's quick and easy; just start at one end and snip the flake across the grain with a sharp pair of scissors, load the resultant pieces into the bowl and light.
At the charring light the tobacco swells and easily takes the flame. Because the pieces are indeed square shaped blocks with gravity feed there is plenty of air space and the ember seems to burn more consistently without the hit or miss that I've experienced with the fold and stuff method. The draw also stays open with just a very light occasional tamp after throwing off the ash.
The third attribute of the cube cut is one shared with the fold and stuff method and probably the main reason why I love flake tobacco. Imagine a loose cut ribbon or even fully rubbed out flake tobacco stuffed into a pipe bowl. As the ember passes down the chamber smoke is continually drawn down through the lower layers of leaf. The tobacco acts as a filter absorbing oils, moisture and other byproducts of combustion that can influence the second half of the smoke and in my opinion not always in a good way. The cubes lying in the bottom of the chamber are certainly exposed to the smoke flow but because they are in fact tightly packed layers of leaf these little nuggets hold their true flavor and essence inside while the passing smoke only affects the outer surfaces of the cube. Eventually the ember reaches the unburnt cubes and unlocks the rich, pure flavors I enjoy without the steamy, harsh or burnt characteristics I sometimes get with loose cut nearing the end of the bowl.
And so I sat in a comfy chair enjoying my coffee and slowly sipping the amazing Old Dark Fired letting the pipe go out once in while to keep the briar cool. I know I don't always practice what I preach but it bears repeating: Smoke slowly and just sip aiming to just keep the ember going. I did that this morning and discovered new flavors from this incredibly great Mac Baren blend that I've not noticed before and can't even begin to describe with words.
If you've made this far through my ramblings I thank you! And if your down south and happen to be in the path of the storm take care and be safe.