Perhaps the most difficult thing to do as a writer, specifically one who is supposed to concentrate on pipe tobacco, is to focus on what I’m supposed to write about when it seems everything else happening around me is much larger. On one hand, if you’re reading this, you’re here to get away from everything else. We have that in common. Even if just for a moment, it’s important to not focus on what is being hyper-focused upon. I’d hate to sound ignorant or callous simply assuming things in the world at the moment are pleasant enough to just smoke, write and sip a little bit of rye and think everything is normal. Things are far from normal: routines are disrupted, but that isn’t stopping me, nor should it you, to take a break. I have no lofty answers to what is going on or where it will all go, but I’ve personally been through worse. Perhaps you have as well. With the recognition pleasantries out of the way, grab a smoke, pour a drink, and join me in my words about this month’s pipe tobacco: Seattle Pipe Club’s mellow English, Mount Rainier. As a minor side-guest, I have a bottle of reasonably-priced Old Forester Rye whiskey which I found to be a very delightful companion.
Picking anything with Latakia this time of year isn’t something I normally do. I usually grab a good Virginia-only, but these are interesting times. Summer is by far my least favorite of the seasons, and I usually complain about it at least once during one of my reviews, but we’ll have none of that this time. Nothing is normal, and so, go with the flow. Something with a little smoky backbone really tempted me recently for some reason.
Seattle Pipe Club designed a good-looking tin graphic for Mount Rainier, which is made by Lane Limited. It’s basic, slightly metallic, simple in font and yet stately and bold. Opening the tin, there’s no shortage of Latakia scent that greets the nose. Pungent without being overwhelming, the contrasting ribbons of light and dark are a little dry to the touch and a bit more crumbly than most ribbon-cut strips of tobacco. Loading a bowl is easy and straightforward, and packing for the right draw is a cinch. I prefer when tobacco is a little on the dry side, so I was perfectly happy with this setup. The apartment I live in currently faces east, and so smoking in the morning during the summer is just about out of the question. The western Nevada sun is brutal at nearly a mile in elevation, and so evening smoking has become the norm. I still haven’t determined if it’s body chemistry or environment that changes the flavor or experience of a smoke, but I have always enjoyed evening smoking. The world winds down, and I go right along with it. Plus, popping open the cork of a bottle of spirits at 08:00 seems a little Bukowski-esque. Not that I haven’t done it; it’s just a little too hot for that kind of activity. Please, pardon the digression.
The first few puffs on Mount Rainier are gentle and flavorful. This isn’t an overwhelming punch of Latakia, but it does take a few minutes for the smoky stuff to tone itself down to make way for the other components. There’s a lovely lemon-like citrus that floats around the tongue and upper palate that is very enjoyable. I’m reminded of my sous days when occasionally we’d require grilled lemons as part of a particular dish, and I am fond of grilled citrus fruit. There’s a soft grassy quality that zips in and over the tongue, which I also find very pleasing. Orientals are light and fleetingly there on occasion, more on the nose than anywhere else.
Midway through the bowl is where slightly dry tobacco can cause some maintenance issues, and here, Mount Rainier needed some gentle prodding. Tamping can sometimes be a frequent requirement, but the flavors are worth it as it then comes in small bursts. This tobacco never produces voluminous, thick smoke, but it isn’t too thin—and the best is in the middle. Smoldering away gently, this is a great slow-puffing mixture, where the draws taken slowly in the mouth truly benefit the experience. In fact, the slower you puff, the more the Oriental leaf tends to lend itself with some light spice and a slightly herbaceous quality. The lemon-like nature is solid and present mid-bowl as well, with the Latakia acting as a lovely backup. Black pepper, and a chicken-like meatiness are also present now and again. The rye whiskey that I chose for most of this tobacco’s enjoyment, a basic $25 bottle of Old Forester, compliments the experience well—it’s the least “spicy” of rye whiskeys I’ve enjoyed, a little on the sweet side, and pairs absolutely wonderful with this blend. If softer beverages are your thing, pick out a good green tea, or even black coffee.
The end of the bowl turns Mount Rainier down in flavor-volume more so than I would have expected. It doesn’t intensify or have a concentrated experience like a heavier tobacco can, which to be honest, is kind of nice for a summertime smoke. Interestingly, the Orientals or Latakia components lend a little more spice as the cherry dwindled. It was here especially I found I preferred this tobacco in briar pipes more than cobs, and it is really good at bringing out the good nature a properly cured and well-seasoned briar. Briar pipes brought out the natural sweetness hidden in Mount Rainier, where as some cobs brought forth a more ashy flavor by the time the final puff was to be had.
My final thoughts on Seattle Pipe Club’s Mount Rainier are as simple as the mixture: an easygoing, well-rounded smoke, with nothing flashy or remarkable about it, other than it’s easy to toss in your pipe and do whatever it is that needs doing. Nicotine is mild to moderate, the flavor is clean and honest, and the Latakia is nicely balanced to the other components. The room note is about average for a Latakia, which most didn’t seem to mind. The neighbors downstairs from me like to smoke cheap cigarettes in the evening, and they made some snotty comment about Mount Rainier a few times and went inside, shutting the door. You can’t account for taste, apparently.
While not being a whiz-bang-wow experience, there’s little to dislike about this tobacco. It’s not something to pass by if you’re into the gentler English experience. There’s a quite a few tobaccos available just like this, but Mount Rainier gets a leg-up for it not trying to do anything that it can’t. It’s not being sold as a mind-opening tobacco, but one that can join the genre and sit squarely there without insecurity. I’d recommend it to beginners on up to experienced smokers alike.
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to take some personal time and simplify right now. Wherever you are, whatever pipe and tobacco you choose to smoke, kick your feet up and your cares down even–if just for a moment.
- Editor Rating
- Rated 4 stars
- Seattle Pipe Club – Mount Rainier
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A solid everyday tobacco for both beginners and experienced pipe smokers.