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Hearth & Home Sunjammer - Pipe Tobacco Reviews

    April 21st, 2010


By Bob Tate



The pouch aroma of this blend is very nice. In the aroma, I am picking up on the smoky Latakia along with some sweet and spice from the Virginias and the Orientals. The moisture content was perfect for smoking right away. I loaded up my pipe and proceeded to the charring light.

On the charring light, I am picking up on some light smokiness and a little sweetness on the base of a nice tobacco taste. There are some nice, thick billows of smoke coming from this blend. I finished lighting the pipe and settled in for the smoke.
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Interview with Tim Ozgener, President of CAO International

    February 18th, 2010


By Bob Tate


We’ve been intrigued with rumors circulating around the pipe community that CAO might become the new distributor of Dunhill pipe tobaccos in the USA. There have been comments that CAO would increase its presence in the pipe tobacco business in 2010, rumors of new tobaccos, possibly bringing back the old CAO tobaccos, CAO meerschaum pipes and possible Dunhill distribution.

We had a great conversation with Tim Ozenger, President of CAO International (he’s a very friendly and accommodating chap). We talked about the aforementioned rumors and a few other things. Find out which rumors are true and which are not. So without further ado, here is our conversation with Tim:

PipesMagazine (PM): Tim, at the beginning of 2009, there were a lot of rumors that CAO was getting out of the tobacco pipe industry. Is it true that CAO made the decision to no longer be involved in the pipe industry or was it more related to Scandinavian Tobacco Group merging with CAO and there being a switch from Dan Tobacco to Scandinavian Tobacco Group?

Tim Ozgener: Well, Scandinavian Tobacco Group acquired CAO and in the acquisition they stated that they were in the cigar business and were not interested in pipes, although they are the largest producer of pipe tobacco in the world. So pipe smoking is still of interest to them, but they wanted us to focus more on cigars and pipe tobacco in the future instead of pipes. My father retired from the business, but still has some pretty tight relationships with some of the more important carvers in Turkey and he continues to purchase pipes from these carvers in Turkey. It was just made clear that that was not a part of CAO and more of, a kind of, personal decision. So my father has continued to receive pipes from these carvers. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview With Master Blender Russ Ouellette - Part 2

    February 12th, 2010


By Bob Tate

russ-ouellette-01In part 1 of our interview with Russ Ouellette (Blendtobac), we talked about some of the things he has done before he got heavily involved in the tobacco industry. We also talked about how he got started blending pipe tobacco blends, how he maintains the consistency of his blends, some of the problems that he has acquiring certain tobacco components, and a few other things. Here, we pick up the interview where we left off in Part 1:

PipesMagazine (PM): What are some of the major changes that you have seen in the pipe industry over the years that you have been involved?

Russ: Certainly from the pipe end of things, some of the old brands are not quite what they used to be, but there are still a lot of wonderful pipes out there. I think one of the best things to happen is that we’re seeing more individual carvers around the world. There weren’t that many individual artisans in the US in the 70’s even though the market was pretty strong. It was mostly mass manufactured, even though a lot of those brands produced wonderful quality pipes. But now we’re seeing a lot more one-of-a-kind freehand pipes by very, very talented carvers.

In terms of tobaccos though, it’s radically in the other direction where the European cigarette companies have snapped up a lot of the Oriental tobaccos that used to be available for pipe blends and some of those tobaccos that I mentioned to you before just aren’t available. Mike McNeil [McClelland Tobacco] was able to acquire a number of different Orientals because he has a friend in the cigarette business. Unfortunately, I don’t have a contact like that; that would allow me that kind of access. And a lot of the old blends have disappeared; the current versions aren’t the same as what they used to be. The one thing that I think a lot of people don’t understand is the subtle complexities of the tobacco leaf, and they shouldn’t have to. Unless you’re dealing with it, you won’t recognize it unless you’re doing it all the time. One of the problems that I have seen in recent years is that a blend will become unavailable and I’ll get phone call after phone call, you know “Can you reproduce it?” Some people say that they can and they make an attempt, and sometimes they do a great job of it. Read the rest of this entry »