Publisher & Founder of PipesMagazine.com
Certified Master Tobacconist (CMT) #1858 from TobacconistUniversity.org
My grandfather didn't smoke a pipe, but my uncle and some of my elementary school teachers did. In 1998, my neighbor Sam invited me out, and we ended up back at his place where there was a cigar humidor, and pipe rack on the coffee table. I had my first cigar, and then decided to try pipes too. I love the elegance and relaxation of smoking a pipe. In 2002, I started learning how to make websites, do SEO, and create content. I had a cigar content site and forums from 2005-2008 when it was bought out. In 2009, I launched PipesMagazine.com, which is now the largest, busiest community forums, and article content site for pipe and tobacco enthusiasts. We have one of the longest running pipe and tobacco focused podcasts since 2012 with lifetime industry veteran, Brian Levine.
Welcome to The Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 541! We have a pipe personalities packed show tonight. We’ve been running two different series with two different prominent pipe collectors and authors. We have “Inside Fred’s Head” with Fred Hanna. He is the author of the book, “The Perfect Smoke”, and known for collecting straight grain pipes. The other series is a follow-up to Fred, “Rich Responds” with Rich Esserman. Rich has penned innumerous articles about pipes and tobacco for several publications, and he is known for collecting quite large pipes. We’ll be featuring the final remnants of those two series all in this show. As if that’s not enough, at the top of the show our segment will feature pipe artisan Jeff Gracik with another installment of “Ask the Pipemaker”. Sit back, relax with your pipe, and enjoy The Pipes Magazine Radio Show!
Via Press Release – JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI – January 18, 2023 – For the past ten years, Jon David Cole, owner and operator of The Country Squire Tobacconist, and Beau York, founder of the podcasting company PODASTERY, have been delighting pipe smokers worldwide with their weekly podcast Country Squire Radio. Long time listeners have enjoyed uninterrupted weekly content from the podcast including the celebrated pipe tobacco focused series such as TOBACCO TALK, PIPE CULTURE, SQUIRE SELECT whiskey and pipe tobacco pairings, and PIPE SMOKING 101 as well as the newer series geared to bring the spirit of conversations had over a bowl of premium pipe tobacco amongst good friends such as HALF BOWL HISTORY, FROM THE LIBRARY, and FATHER TO FATHER. As they approach the 500th episode this year, Cole and York have decided the time has come to bring the show to its conclusion with a live recording at The Country Squire in Jackson, Mississippi. “The amount of content for and by the Pipe Community is higher than ever before with newer pipe podcasts, instagramers, youtubers and more” Cole said. “We have enjoyed our tenure representing and at times shepherding a section of the community, but it’s time to increase the spotlight to this next generation of content creators.” Cole and York have often taken cues from their listening audience who, over the years, have made several trips to the famed Country Squire Tobacconist shop in Jackson, MS. This practice has been dubbed a PIPE PILGRIMAGE by fans of the show who have visited the shop that inspired many hours of listening pleasure. “We want to finish strong,” York said. “There is certainly no better way to do this than inviting all of our listeners, who are able to make the trip, to the Country Squire for the grand finale of the show in a Pipe Pilgrimage like no other!” York explained, “we’ll have music, share stories, and record the final episode of Country Squire Radio together, all while enjoying a one of a kind Pipe Tobacco and BBQ pairing of epic proportions.” The Country Squire Radio Finale will be held at the Country Squire, Tobacconist in Jackson, MS Saturday, March 4th. Tickets are on sale today at The Country Squire Tobacconist (thecountrysquireonline.com) For more information, visit CountrySquireRadio.com or listen to the latest podcast “Episode 490: The Time Has Come” from Country Squire Radio (Country Squire Radio on Apple Podcasts)
Welcome to The Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 540! Our featured interview tonight is with Pete Prevost. Pete is a pipe maker and the President of the BriarWorks pipe factory in Columbia Tennessee. BriarWorks is a a pipe maker co-op with several other pipe makers, including Todd Johnson, who co-founded it with Pete. Brian and Pete will be talking about that as well as the up-coming 2023 Muletown Pipe Show which is held at BriarWorks. In a past life, Pete was the guitar player in the band Sanctus Real. Our music segment will feature one of their Grammy-nominated songs. At the top of the show, Brian will give us his comparisons between three different vintages of Sutliff’s Kringle Flake tobacco from the last three years. Sit back, relax with your pipe, and enjoy The Pipes Magazine Radio Show!
Welcome to The Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 539! Our featured interview tonight is with Matthew McCranie. Matthew is the third generation from McCranie’s pipe and tobacco shop in Charlotte, NC. Matthew tells us of the founding of McCranie’s by his grandfather in 1979. There’s a fun Florida connection including inspiration from Edward’s Pipe & Tobacco in Tampa, and some streets named McCranie in Lakeland. We’ll also hear about McCranie’s long-running, highly popular tobaccos, and how things have evolved from the early days. At the top of the show, Brian will give us a recap of his pipe trading from the Chicago and Columbus pipe shows. Sit back, relax with your pipe, and enjoy The Pipes Magazine Radio Show!
It’s far from a closely-held secret that for years I’ve had a bit of a love affair with the old, Celebrated Bengal Slices. I fondly recall my first experience with it in the late 1970s when, on one of my almost daily visits to Drucquer & Sons, a fresh shipment had just arrived. There it was, in its beautiful gloss black, red and gold livery, dramatically standing out from its peers, calling attention to itself from its perch on the shelf behind the counter. “What’s that, in the black tin?” I asked Ken, who had become something of a tobacco mentor to me. “The Bengal Slices? It’s great stuff,” he said, pulling a tin from the shelf and handing it to me, explaining that it was a Latakia mixture with a difference. The ribbons were pressed in blocks and sliced, so it had to be broken up to prepare it for smoking. “You have to pack it lightly, or it’ll clog the pipe and become impossible to smoke when it expands. It’s got a little bit of scent added to it.” That last bit nearly put me off it; I was still recoiling from early experiences with heavily perfumed, goopy, pouched tobaccos that smelled better than they smoked. But curiosity, as it too often does, had its way with me, and I couldn’t resist the singular beauty of that tin. I bought it, dropped it into my satchel, and off I went. Later that day, I popped the lid and was instantly captivated. The perfect slices, standing at attention in a tight array, dark and mysterious, almost glistening with the same hues as the tin’s lid — black, red and golden. The aroma was rich and bold, ripe with Latakia, orientals and virginias. The scent Ken had mentioned, which I’d taken as a warning, wasn’t at all overbearing, but rather soft and seductive, beautifully integrated with the tobaccos’ natural aromas. It transformed what was basically a “typical” Latakia mixture into something that seemed more luxurious, even opulent. Though still fairly new to smoking flakes at the time, and certainly inexperienced, I had developed a bit of understanding of them. These were different, though — thicker, more robust looking. I gently removed one from the tin, placed it in my palm, and began teasing it apart. It took little encouragement for it to crumble into small fragments. As I filled my bowl, Ken’s counsel about packing forgotten (more likely arrogantly ignored), I looked forward to the first taste of my new treasure. Disaster! The charring light almost went okay, promising something good to come, but the tobacco soon went out, and stubbornly refused to light. Trying to get an ember going was the equivalent to a futile attempt to set fire to a brick of asbestos. Frustrated, I dumped the bowl, and started again, this time heeding Ken’s advice, allowing gravity to do the work. Much better. Even at first light, it was transcendent. The richness of the tobaccos, pressed and fermented in cakes, already set it apart from its ribbon-cut peers, but that scent! Soft and diaphanous, it didn’t clash with the flavor of the tobacco, but somehow enhanced it, bringing another layer, greater dimension to what was already something pretty special, and it remained throughout the bowl, never shouting, but whispering its presence. I was immediately smitten. The next time I was in the shop, I bought three more tins, something I would continue to do periodically through the years. At the time, I thought this was a truly unique tobacco, the only thing of its kind, but I would find out years later that it wasn’t the first, or the only, and that its story was both interesting and infused with dram of controversy. And, as it turns out, the fires of that controversy ultimately forged this tobacco into what became something so very, very special. The Celebrated Bengal Slices was originally made by Sobranie House exclusively for James B. Russell (JBR), and first found its way to market around September of 1977. But, as early as the mid- to late-1960s, Sobranie were making a similar product for Joe Zieve’s Smoker’s Haven in Columbus, OH. Joe wanted to bring something unique to the market, something that hadn’t been done before, so he had Sobranie, who were already making the Haven’s renown Our Best Blend for him, press the ribbons, age the blend in cakes, and cut the cakes into slices. This was different from the more traditional form of flake tobacco, made from whole leaf strips, and resulted in a product Joe called Krumble Kake. It was his intention that this tobacco be compact, like a plug, yet easier than a flake to prepare for smoking. It was a hit, becoming one of the shop’s most successful blends for decades to follow. The controversy finds us in the late 1970s, when JBR contracted Sobranie to make something similar for them. Apparently, it was a little too similar to Krumble Kake for Joe’s liking, and from what I’ve heard, his reaction was predictably cinematic, possibly going as far as threatening to discontinue his relationship with Sobranie over the apparent infraction, so JBR and Sobranie were forced to change the recipe. Whether or not the leaf formulation was changed is unknown, but the changes certainly resulted in that elusive scent joining the party. The Celebrated Bengal Slices was born. (Interestingly, JBR did not register the trademark until March, 1979, though the blend did appear in their catalogue in 1978.) When Sobranie shuttered in 1980, licensing the production of their blends to Gallaher’s, both Bengal Slices and Krumble Kake, being proprietary products, were not transitioned to the new manufacturer. Production of Krumble Kake and the other Smoker’s Haven blends moved to G.F. Germain on Jersey, while Bengal Slices was transferred to Manchester Tobacco Company, where it was produced until 1991, then making its final move to Denmark’s A&C Peterson. For whatever reason, the Danish product didn’t hold my affection like […]
Welcome to The Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 538! Our featured interview tonight is with Rich Esserman. This is our third episode with, “Rich Responds” where we go back to a previous discussion with Fred Hanna, and Rich gives his take. Both Rich and Fred are prominent pipe collectors, researchers and writers on pipes and tobacco for several decades. They are both well-known and well-respected in the pipe enthusiast community. We’ll see where Rich agrees with Fred, and where he has his own take on different aspects of pipes and tobacco. At the top of the show Brian will talk about how to build up your tobacco cellar and what to do in the meantime. Sit back, relax with your pipe, and enjoy The Pipes Magazine Radio Show!