Hungry-Man dinners, really? I couldn’t believe it—or rather, I could believe it, all too easily on second thought. The celebrity host of a popular fashion-themed show frequents the same supermarket as a colleague, who sees him in there a couple times a week stocking up on the packaged meals. On the one hand, it was contradictory—here was a fashionista of the first order, someone who probably spent more on a tie than I do on an entire suit, the spokesperson for a lifestyle that demanded egregiously expensive self-branding in order to be de rigueur; a scion of taste, a taste-maker, in fact. On the other, I could easily understand that the guy’s professional schedule likely dwarfed mine by the same margin as his ties in terms of being hectic. Perhaps his lunches were all of the power variety, spent at the city’s finest five-stars, and when he was finally home from a long day all he wanted was a sodium-laden box of comfort food. I get it, I really do, and this confirms to me the value of not being a snob when it comes to taste—that even if it’s demanded in one’s professional life, it needn’t be in one’s personal life.
Which brings us to a most delightful package dropped off by the mail carrier the other day, courtesy Lane Limited: an advance screener of a certain classic burley in ready-rubbed format. That’s correct: Leonard Wortzel and company have heard the pleas of the common-man cognoscenti and revived the legacy of one of the all-time greats of OTC burleys with their answer to the fabled Edgeworth ready-rubbed. It doesn’t carry the name of its antecedent due to the legal disincentive of pursuing copyright and trademark, but it is the same recipe and it certainly embodies the spirit of that erstwhile blend. That it carries the moniker of Lane Limited Ready-Rubbed should be no discouragement, and perhaps be a better thing in the grander scheme for establishing its own legacy in time.
Perhaps the comparison of LLRR to a TV dinner is a bit of a stretch, but bear with me. First of all, it is without question firmly in the comfortable and economical camp of tobaccos, much like a packaged dinner replete with meat, vegetable and dessert is comfort food and a cheap square meal. When you get right down to brass tacks, though, this is a tobacco that can hold its own amongst the more precious boutique-variety specialty tins (composed of only the finest exotic tobaccos from far-away lands, of course) and due to its comparative economy, it can go a fair bit further when running that race. The bottom line is that it’s a damn good smoke, regardless the price or presentation, and it is on that quality which it shall be judged.
It certainly retains that earlier blend’s ease of packing, lighting, and puffing. One of the most effortless smokes I’ve had, to be frank; it takes to a match and rarely requires more than a second touch-up to find the heel. The taste is solid, uncomplicated, and satisfying. With a mildness that recommends it as a benchmark in the all-day smoke category, it’s easy to like. Not quite as nutty as Half and Half, milder and purer than Sir Walter, and less tart than Carter Hall, it is its own creature altogether in the pantheon of great OTCs. The cut is classic burley cube-chunk all the way. In the smoke, it’s in more of a woody, graham-crackery vein, with just a hint of cocoa, while the room note displays a bit more of the characteristic burley roasted nut aroma. It certainly evinces a “classic” vibe, as commented on by some friends I was taste-testing near over a few rounds of drinks in the backyard. If I had a nickel for every young lady who said I reminded her of her grandfather in these situations, I’d be a wealthy man. As it is, I simply invite them to sit on my lap for the full effect. No matter what pipe or chamber size you choose it smokes with equanimity, though it certainly gains a little something extra from the sweetness of a fresh Missouri Meerschaum. I tend to prefer smaller bowls, finding it perfect for my vintage Medicos. Thankfully, it tends to burn through to ash with very little moisture or residue, so eschewing the filter is an easy choice.
Sometimes, you’re just in the mood for a smoke, not an experience. Driving, doing the yard work, doing the Sunday crossword, lounging on the beach or just kicking back with a cold one—this is that kind of smoke. Appreciate it for what it is, and you’ll find yourself returning to it often. It’s comfort smoke, the memory of what your grandfather or uncle enjoyed, simple, relaxed, easy as a spring afternoon; and most of all, memorable for being all of that.