- Kevin Godbee
- Oct 18, 2022
- 1 min read
Welcome to The Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 527! Our featured interview tonight is with Steve “PipeStud” Fallon. Steve has one of the most popular consignment-auction businesses for estate pipes and vintage tobaccos that he’s been running since 2006. Brian will be talking to Steve about which current production tobaccos he thinks are the best. In Pipe Parts, the discussion will be about cleaning the mortise section of your pipe. Sit back, relax with your pipe, and enjoy The Pipes Magazine Radio Show!
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The Pipes Magazine Radio Show features interviews with pipe makers, tobacco blenders, pipe and tobacco aficionados, collectors, and more. Episodes air every Tuesday.
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Written by Kevin Godbee
View all posts by: Kevin Godbee
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- June 8, 2023 Ashton Gold Rush Tobacco Review
While it may seem like an easy gig to review tobacco, I assure you it is harder than it looks. Admittedly it’s no chore to enjoy a new blend on a regular basis. I would wager it’s an exceedingly low percentage of the PipesMagazine.com readership that limits themselves to a single tobacco to the exclusion of the panoply of concoctions available to us in our current golden age. Clearly there is no obstacle to finding another blend; the difficulty comes in making tobacco an essentially new experience, each and every time, to write about. With a limited variety of subject matter, finding and describing the unique nuances of flavor, particularly when wrapped in the familiar, can be a daunting proposition. Effectively, every new blend is a conversation to be had, a discovery to be made, and there is certainly art to this conversation. “If you aspire to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. To be interesting, be interested.” Carnegie was paraphrasing a maxim attributed to the Hellenistic quipster Publilius Syrus and it certainly holds true as an agit of wisdom that has stood the test of time. It is fortunate that tobacco somehow holds a never-ending fascination for me. And so it is that I am continually (and pleasantly) surprised by the conversations I have had with the Ashton blends of late. They fly just a wee bit under the radar, eschewing the special editions and gimmickry that’s so common in the market now (not to imply those are bad things at all, mind you); a small stable of solid, everyday blends done well is a comfortable niche for them to occupy. It’s fitting for the marque, now manufactured by Kohlhase & Kopp, as the brand was built on genuine craftsmanship and refinement in flavor. In March we indulged our Guilty Pleasures, while this month’s installment will be a timely look at Gold Rush, a straight Virginia blend perfectly suited to warm weather smoking. The tin, in a lovely orange-gold hue and sporting a halftone graphic of miners toiling away, natch, promises a medium-bodied, easy smoke, “accented by traces of lemon and honey”. High marks for truth in advertising there. Though the burn characteristics perhaps require a bit more attention than is alluded to in the label copy, the flavor and aroma notes are spot on. Particularly when opening the fresh tin and in the first several smokes, a bright lemony note tempered by a background of honey sweetness prevail. The casing is moderate and pitched perfectly to the tobacco—this is by no means in the aromatic category. The leaf inside, mainly ribbon with some broken flake mixed in, is soft and of a uniform cappuccino brown. With some airing out time, the aroma moves through a spectrum of Meyer lemon rinds to white grape must, settling after some time with clear overtones of milk chocolate-covered raisin—who doesn’t love Raisinets?—along with the brighter citrusy and lightly floral notes, despite the lack of burley in the mix. Noticeably absent, or at least relegated to faint background chatter, are many of the more typical Virginia notes: when it speaks of grass, it’s more lemongrass than fresh cut hay, and the leathery notes are equally subdued, more ‘leather-bound book’ than ‘fresh-oiled saddle’. “It is one thing to speak much, another well.” Sophocles sure hit that nail on the head; it would make a fitting tagline for this blend. The tobacco and I found our common ground quickly and began gabbing away like old chums. While the top of the bowl is a faithful translation of the light and sweet tin note, once the ember is stoked and settled the conversation really picks up. In mid-bowl, the honeyed tones indicated on the tin come to the fore, and gentle waves of spice and green-wood campfire blend into the wildflower top notes deftly. The draft and mouthfeel are perfectly aligned and mild, with no bite unless carelessly overheated. It’s sober, restrained, light. There are no loud pronouncements from the tobacco, no argumentative constituents vying for center stage; but don’t mistake its simplicity of topic as boring or uninteresting. It’s a really good, straight-shooting Virginia flavor with shade, nuance, and turn of phrase, all while retaining a modest humility. Though it’s “just” a straight Virginia, it does this one thing oh, so well. In a literary callback to the last review, Gold Rush is much more Hemingway than Fitzgerald—simple thoughts stated simply, the profound import left to you. Speaking of light and sweet, I highly recommend this as a morning coffee smoke. The daily return to conscious enterprise has never been a favorite process of mine. I simply don’t function until I’ve had the first pot of coffee, fine motor skills and other higher functions generally rejoin at some point toward the end of the second pot, and I usually don’t smoke until well after dinner time. Something about this blend, though, recommends itself to breaking the fast: the uncluttered flavors, the facile smoking, the light dose of nicotine to gently waken and invigorate the senses. To borrow a phrase from another Hellenistic writer, silence is indeed one of the great arts of conversation, and sitting with the morning brew and a pipe of Gold Rush qualifies that gracefully. It is in these moments of meditative silence that I find the tobacco speaks its volumes. My one disappointment with the blend is the rather dull aftertaste, another point in favor of coffee to wash the palate. The room note is likewise mild and not very indicative of how good the flavor is, though it dissipates quickly. All in all, I’m chalking this up as another win for the Ashton brand, and look forward to my next confabulation with the line. Special thanks to Kevin at Davidoff’s midtown flagship location for the always-brilliant assistance, and conversation, about the blends.
- June 6, 2023 Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 560
Welcome to The Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 560! Our featured interview tonight is with Jon David Cole. JD is the Owner/Tobacconist at The Country Squire in Jackson, MS, and he is the former co-host of the podcast, Country Squire Radio, which ended their 10-year run earlier this year. There was a big event to close out the show that we’ll hear about, as well as JD’s first experience as a vendor at the recent Chicago pipe show. At the top of the show, we’ll have an extended “Pipe parts” discussion with two user submitted questions – one about aging tobaccos and if there’s any difference between topped and non-topped tobaccos related to aging, and the other asking for suggestions on how to slow one’s pipe puffing cadence.
- June 1, 2023 Looking Ahead, Far, and Near
In attempting to make sense of my years-long pipes and tobacco hobby, I have looked back and ahead through the mists of time. My muses on June’s contemplative journey with you are quotes from the Pulitzer Prize-winning and former U.S. Poet Laureate, Robert Frost, the great New York Yankee catcher Yogi Berra’s unassailable philosophy of life, and the distinguished historian and writer James Michener. First the Poet: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” Now the Catcher: “When you come to the fork in the road, take it!” And the Historian: “…millions of years ago, when the continents were already formed, and the principal features of the earth had been decided, there existed, then as now, one aspect of the world that dwarfed all others. It was a mighty ocean…” Until one day when… “with a patience difficult to comprehend… trees and vines and crawling things eventually crept.” These philosophies describe much of my passion for pipes. I realize this is an odd viewpoint, but it has been a truth-seeking trip as well as a personally rewarding adventure. Like others in Pipelandia, you, as I, have marveled at the many profound thinkers and remarkable artists who have taken up the pipe. This enthrallment fits with Pundit’s love of geology and how it describes not only the earth we share, but even us pipe smokers as well in some ways. For example, let me recall an experience far back in time. One bright morning, standing atop a high point in the Blue Ridge Mountains, my geologist friend pointed to a shimmering cerulean-hued rim illuminating in the distance. That range, he announced, was once the bottom of the ocean off the coast of North Carolina. How many years ago? I asked. Oh, the geologist replied, 600 million years ago, give or take a million or two, when the world was flooding, erupting, uplifting, arising. That’s known as the orogeny, or mountain building time. These spectacular events took place as massive tectonic plates muscled against each other for dominion. Thus did the valleys and ridges of our very own Blue Ridge Mountains form. In fact, all portions of our present land assembled in similar fashion and pace, followed by our vast oceans and all flora and fauna. Trees and oceans are the two major sources for many pipes we enjoy today. The burl of the flowering heath shrub is native to the Mediterranean and provides briarwood for our precious pipes. Briar burl is part of the tree’s root system. Seas off Turkey formed the ancient raw materials for meerschaum pipes. Meerschaum translated means “sea foam,” or sepiolite, from compressed prehistoric animal bones and sea shells. The silica-like glittery detritus of animal bones and sea shells settled on sea floors near Turkey over the eons. And why is Pundit staring out into space? It has to do with looking back over a lifetime of writing and pipe smoking, give or take a year or two. Like you, I have pipes dear to the heart. Smoked, loved, and retired as good soldiers must. And there were the missed opportunities. In the 1960s, a young Pundit failed to do the right sort of search and research for his pipes and tobacco obsession. Many famously named pipe brands sold for what today would seem bargain-basement prices. But out of reach of a poor college student. Looking at some of those same pipes today on estate sales has Pundit’s head a-twisting. Like those tectonic plates. And have you noticed the price of vintage tobacco? Yes, like you, Pundit cellared his favorite blends, especially the beloved and now departed McClelland’s brand. Not just some of them. An entire range of the treasured McClelland blends have faded over the horizon. The thrust of this epistle is today we have more opportunities to soak up treasure-troves of pipe and tobacco knowledge from online sites such as PipesMagazine.com, and a host of others—all of them rich in wisdom and advice. One can learn an encyclopedic amount of pipe knowledge in an afternoon. And this is not even close to addressing what can be found on sites selling estate pipes and tobacco. It’s enough to make your head swim in a sea of questions and answers. At the same time, many apex pipe prices that once seemed out of reach, have now risen to stratospheric heights. But now let’s switch from orogeny and ocean-formation to more historical happenings. While reading a bit of history recently, I was reminded once more of the generosity of Pipelandia. How many times have you joined your pipe-puffing buds in the local pipe club, and someone brought in a bag of tobacco to share all around? Perhaps even a bag of delicious, cellared Virginia leaf! Or, in some cases, be given a pipe with which to puff said aged blend? During World War I, Alfred Dunhill and the historic Dunhill Company sent boxes of tobacco and pipes to the boys in the trenches. If you have ever visited the graves at Verdun, the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, or the Somme-American Cemetery, you know why those pipes and tobaccos were important to the soldier boys. The boxes were from home, providing a bit of love and relaxation in a world in turmoil. Now for a notable pipe smoker of the past: Burl Ivanhoe Ives, was born June 14, 1909, and died April 14, 1995. Ives, as most of us old-timers know, was a folk-singing legend in the 1950s through the 1990s, and narrator of the classic and much-beloved 1964 Christmas television special “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, which still airs around Christmastime to this day. In addition, he was an actor and country music star over six decades. His hit song, “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” became a holiday standard in the 1960s. Let us end June’s visit with a quote from the great, jolly singer: “When you’ve set goals and dreams, you don’t feel old.” Now that, my […]
- May 30, 2023 Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 559
Welcome to The Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 559! Our featured interview tonight is with Jason Smith. Jason has lived in Cincinnati most of his life, and his first influence towards pipe smoking was from his grandfather who seemingly only didn’t smoke his pipe if he was sleeping. This is the ninth in our series of interviews with “Journeymen Pipe Smokers” – guys that have been smoking pipes between five and 10 years, and Jason has a great journey to tell us about. At the top of the show, Brian will have a review of Solani Blue Label Blend No. 369. Sit back, relax with your pipe, and enjoy The Pipes Magazine Radio Show!
- May 23, 2023 Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 558
Welcome to The Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 558! Our featured interview tonight is with Dr. Kyle Andrew a.k.a. “The Pipe Professor”. Kyle holds a PhD in the field of educational leadership. His “The Pipe Professor” YouTube Channel has 93 videos, and 2.3k followers, and he has been at it for eight years. He reviews all kinds of pipe tobacco, and does an occasional cigar review as well. At the top of the show we will have an installment of Pipe Smoking 101 covering the inside of the bowl, or the tobacco chamber. Sit back, relax with your pipe, and enjoy The Pipes Magazine Radio Show!
- May 16, 2023 Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 557
Welcome to The Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 557! Our featured interview tonight is with Steve Davenport. Steve is a geologist working in the field of environmental consulting. This is the eighth in our series of interviews with “Journeymen Pipe Smokers” – guys that have been smoking pipes between five and 10 years. At the top of the show we will have Jeff Gracik reporting on the “Battle of the Briar” pipe making competition that was held at the Chicago pipe show. Sit back, relax with your pipe, and enjoy The Pipes Magazine Radio Show!
Very good advice regarding shank-mortise maintenance.
I really enjoyed your conversation with our friend Steve. His celebration of tobacco available today was refreshing. Steve’s suggestions, choices and taste profiles were well presented, and will be of great benefit for both newer smokers and us old farts who bemoan the supposed loss of all good tobacco blends.
The Segovia piece was just plain sublime.
However, in honor of Steve, maybe you should have played Willie Nelson’s “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys.”
Thanks for another great show.
Just a terrific show with Steve Fallon as usual. May have been the best one you have done with the ‘Stud.
Your piece on cleaning the mortise was informative. You don’t have to do it very often but when you do it is important to do it right.
Steve really knows his tobaccos. His suggestions could be of use by geezers and newbies. Now, whether we will listen is another story. Codgers are pretty set in their ways and newbies are usually mired in the quagmire that is today’s aro world.
The Segovia piece was excellent. His classical playing was just thing I needed to hear. Dino’s suggestion was possibly right because we know Willie smokes.