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With Pipe and Pen  Blog » Larry’s Blend

2010 Doctor of Pipes Award Dinner

    May 17th, 2010

 

By Bob Tate

2010 Doctor of Pipes Award - Cigar and Pipe Dinner

2010 Doctor of Pipes Award - Cigar and Pipe Dinner

On Saturday night of May 1, after the first official day of the 2010 Chicago Pipe Show, we attended the Cigar and Pipe Cocktail Party, Dinner and Doctor of Pipes Award Ceremony that was held in the New Orleans Ballroom on Bourbon Street at the Pheasant Run Resort. The Cocktail Party was 6:30-7:00pm and the dinner was 7:00-9:00pm. The tickets for the dinner were $65.00 each and were well worth the price of admission.

For the Cocktail Party, they served bacon wrapped scallop hors d’oeuvres while we all stood around chatting on Bourbon Street. At 7:00, they opened the doors to the ballroom to admit the attendees of the dinner. Upon entrance to the dinner, they were handing out ‘goodie’ bags. The bags contained a selection of about 10 various premium cigars, pipe cleaners, a tin of E. Hoffman Spilman Mixture, and a one ounce sample of Hearth & Home Larry’s Blend. Everyone was standing and sitting around socializing and having a few drinks waiting for dinner to be served.
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Interview With Master Blender Russ Ouellette - Part 3

    February 14th, 2010

 

By Bob Tate

russ-ouellette-01

This is the conclusion to our Russ Ouellette (Blendtobac) interview. So far in our interview with Russ Ouellette, we have talked about how he got started blending pipe tobacco blends, Perique tobacco, some of the challenges that he faces obtaining certain tobacco components, how he created Larry’s Blend, and many other things. Here, we are picking up the interview where we left off in Part 2:

PipesMagazine (PM): We have heard from quite a few people in the industry and have seen for ourselves that a lot of younger people are starting to get into pipes. Have you noticed this as well and have you seen a resurgence in pipes and pipe smoking?

Russ: Yeah, we’ve had a number of guys under 30 [years of age] who have stopped in to visit or join our pipe club and we’re seeing more and more of it. Some of it is kind of a trendy thing; a group of local college students, or whatever, will decide that they want to get together and smoke pipes. And because, I think, we do a very good job at our retail store of helping the new pipe smoker get started and give them the information that they need to stay with it, they tend to gravitate towards our store and they start hanging out on a regular basis because we have a lounge.

They like to get together and they’ll sit there around the card table and smoke their pipes. Our customers are such a great bunch of people that the older lawyers, doctors, and business people don’t look down their nose at these 24 year old kids sitting there smoking pipes. It’s a very comfortable environment and we’re doing what we can for the people who’ve made the decision that they want to smoke a pipe and we’re going to make it as enjoyable as possible for them.  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 »