G. L. Pease At this writing, there are no questions from anyone named Kevin, though the conspiracy could still be alive and well, and I’m just being lulled into complacency. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you haven’t been paying attention. There are some great questions in this edition, so without further ado, […]Read more
By Russ Ouellette Virginia or Brightleaf or Flue Cured … whatever you want to call it, it’s one of the most widely used strains of tobacco for pipe smokers. You’ll find it in Latakia blends, aromatics and even Virginia blends (who knew?). It’s a versatile leaf with characteristics that make it suitable for a wide […]Read more
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- November 23, 2021 Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 480
Welcome to The Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 480! Tonight we have Rich Esserman back with us for an epic show. Rich is quite well known in the hobby. He has been smoking, collecting, and writing about pipes for over 40-years, and he is best known for collecting large-size Dunhill pipes. We will have Brian and Rich discussing the different types of pipe collectors. Find out which one you are … or are you just a “pipe accumulator”? This episode will go right into the conversation, and bypass the usual Pipe Parts segment. Sit back, relax with your pipe, and enjoy The Pipes Magazine Radio Show!
- November 16, 2021 Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 479
Welcome to The Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 479! Our featured interview tonight is with pipe maker Brian G. Rowley of Growley Pipes. Brian is also a leather crafter and produces handmade merchandise in that area as well. He makes all types of pipe shapes, including some of the classics, but leans more towards the Danish freehand styles. He takes commissions on pipes as well. At the top of the show, We’ll have our “Ask the Pipemaker” segment with artisan pipe maker, Jeff Gracik. Sit back, relax with your pipe, and enjoy The Pipes Magazine Radio Show!
- November 11, 2021 Veterans Day: We Get To Win This Time Sir
A faded Synoptic Weather Chart for the morning of Saturday, July 1, 1916 read “Light to moderate breezes between East and North, fair to dull. Some showers and mist.” A low-pressure system passing over the English Channel and onto the continent pushed a break in the rain on that first day of July. Bright yellow rays punched down into No Man’s Land and alighted on what poet Siegfried Sassoon described, as a “sunlit picture of hell.” That morning, as the winds changed direction, in the hour when the last mist still clung to the meadow, the whistles blew 8 divisions of British troops into the valley of the shadow of death. Overconfidence in the previous day’s bombardment led officers to conclude that enemy resistance would be minimal and that the allied troops would need their shovels and full 50-pound packs to reinforce captured German positions. General Sir Henry Rawlinson had given the command that the infantry should advance toward the enemy at a walking pace, in evenly spaced lines, some evidence suggests that this command was ignored. German soldiers would later report that the offensive looked more like a mass suicide than an assault, writing that they didn’t even have to aim, “We just fired into them, and they kept falling.” That first day marked the bloodiest battle in British history with 57,470 casualties and 19,240 deaths. Military historian John Keegan would later write, “[For the British] the battle was the greatest tragedy. . .of their national military history,” and, “marked the end of an age of vital optimism in British life that has never been recovered.” In 1914, Major-General Ernest D. Swinton was a journalist covering the front lines of the “War to End all Wars.” Exposed to a wide-ranging view of the newly deployed tactic of trench warfare; he happened upon an idea. He began to sketch out a design for an armored vehicle, mounted on tracks like the one he had seen on a Holt Tractor from the United States. Early adoption of the idea was slow with Lord Kitchener canceling one of his first meetings on the pretense that he was, “Too busy.” The introduction of slow-moving armor was a hard sell to the Gentleman Officers who placed supreme faith in the swift, mounted charge of British Cavalry. The project languished unfunded for over a month before Sir Winston Churchill in control of the Admiralty, made the unusual move of allocating money out of a Naval fund, for what he would call his, “Landships.” Swinton would later write, “Thus, at a time when the machine gun destroyer scheme had for six weeks been lying moribund at the War Office, abandoned as an impossibility, here was born on the other side of Whitehall a special organization, well supplied with the sinews of war for its support….In May [Churchill] severed his connexion with the Admiralty, though retaining an active interest in the landship project.” Tanks would eventually be deployed during the Battle of the Somme; but not until mid-September after the rains had intensified. If one were to calculate the delays in the project, the problems of cancelled meetings and intransigent officers; the tally would amount to at least 3 months. Had the idea not faced such an uphill battle; the armored “Landships” might have been available that fateful morning when the whistles blew. A German report of the psychological impact of the tank once deployed against their troops reads as follows: “The monster approached slowly, hobbling, moving from side to side, rocking and pitching, but it came nearer. Nothing obstructed it: a supernatural force seemed to drive it onwards. Someone in the trenches cried, “The Devil comes!” And that word ran down the line like lightning. Suddenly tongues of fire licked out of the armoured shine of the iron caterpillar…the English waves of infantry surged up behind the Devil’s chariot.” It’s hard not to wonder what a difference that factor could have made on the first day of July back in 1916 This Thursday, on the 11th day of the 11th month of the year, we celebrate Veterans Day, formerly Armistice Day, to commemorate the end of hostilities in the Great War. In the 1950s the Congress of the United States changed the name to Veterans Day to continue the extension of gratitude to Veterans of later wars; but they saved the connection to the Armistice of the Great War as a lingering message of remembrance. The lessons learned in that war were short lived; and it was little time before the sons of those fallen on Flanders Field would find themselves a long way from Tipperary, once again. The lesson of the importance of armor was quickly established by the younger men who survived going over the top and battlefield tactics and minds were changed. Except for Field Marshal Douglas Haig, who commanded the Allied Forces on the Western Front. The embittered old Commander would take his faith in mounted Cavalry to the grave. In 1926 Hage wrote that he, “Believe[d] that the value of the horse and the opportunity for the horse in the future are likely to be as great as ever. Aeroplanes and tanks are only accessories to the men and the horse, and I feel sure that as time goes on you will find just as much use for the horse—the well-bred horse—as you have ever done in the past.” One hundred years later, Staff Sergeant USMC [Ret] Jeremy Stafford walked into the famous gun room at Taran Tactical in Simi Valley, slapped his pipe roll down on the table and smiled. Stafford is well tanned after a summer working the streets of Los Angeles in an LAPD cruiser. Stout and trim, the 49-year-old veteran of the Iraq War is built like a college fastback, with shoulders as wide as a door frame. A sleek 1990s style USMC tattoo on his bicep occasionally peeks out from under the sleeve of his shirt. Unraveling a leather chord from his pouch he removed a stout, rusticated billiard […]
- November 9, 2021 Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 478
Welcome to The Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 478! Our featured interview tonight is with novice pipe smoker Warren Byle. Warren is an IT guy that is working on a tobacco project of his own. This episode is another installment in our series of novice pipe smokers (those with 3-5 years of pipe smoking experience) that we pose seven questions to. At the top of the show, (hold onto your seats), Brian will have a surprising review of Captain Black Original. Sit back, relax with your pipe, and enjoy The Pipes Magazine Radio Show!
- November 2, 2021 Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 477
Welcome to The Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 477! Tonight we have Rich Esserman back with us for an epic show. Rich is quite well known in the hobby. He has been smoking, collecting, and writing about pipes for over 40-years, and he is best known for collecting large-size Dunhill pipes. Last time we changed things up, and had Rich interview Brian. We are changing it up again tonight with these two experts having a conversation on various topics in pipes and tobacco. This episode will go right into the conversation, and bypass the usual Pipe Parts segment. Sit back, relax with your pipe, and enjoy The Pipes Magazine Radio Show!
- November 2, 2021 Cornell & Diehl Sunday Picnic Review
It’s been quite some time since I sat down to write one of these reviews, so naturally I turned to a blend that is an old favorite—Cornell & Diehl’s Sunday Picnic. Sunday Picnic, from C&D’s Simply Elegant series, was one of the first labels I really fell in love with when transitioning from whatever was offered in bulk at the tobacconist to discovering the world of “luxury” blends, and one that is well-represented in my cellar. While I wasn’t really aware of it then, it’s a blend that would come to exemplify my favored taste in tobaccos for the pipe—sweet Virginia body, counterpoint of Perique, and a dash of Oriental for spice and complexity. I tend to refer to these as “VaPerO” blends, although as an acronym that doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. With tasting notes going back to 2010, I can readily quantify and qualify the variety of flavors and experiences I’ve had with this particular mixture. Spoiler alert ahead for those of you who are building your cellars: age certainly does work its magic on this blend, deepening the composition considerably after a single year and perhaps peaking after four or five, leveling out to a fine plateau. Let’s hope that age is so kind to me, in fact. Presentation points are earned first for the tin art, retaining the central figures of the classic Robb Pritchard artwork, now enlarged and further highlighted on the field of, naturally, Turkish blue. The fragrance in young tins tends very Virginia-forward, with brighter citrusy character and the familiar chocolate-covered raisin notes of Perique. Developing incrementally with age is a rounder, complex umami bouquet, evincing shades of truffle, black tea, lavender, waxed leather, pomander balls, sandalwood. The fresh flakes are dense and uniform, with a pleasing striation of color—light blond to leathery brown in young tins, rich supple reds to black in older ones. A bit moist straight from the tin, I generally prepare by taking out three flakes or so—enough for a couple group 3-ish pipes—allow for some air-dry time, and then roll gently in my hands to the desired consistency for loading, in this case fairly well shredded, as opposed to a more fold-and-stuff preparation. From the char, this tobacco always manages to take a light easily. The Izmir in the aged blend plays its characteristic role most noticeably in the top half of the bowl, with its particular nutty and slightly astringent tone readily recognizable—think Earl Grey, weathered oak, cedar campfire. The Perique too first announces its peppery-sweet character here in fine concert with the rest, offering a tingle in the nose and retrohale up front, quickly mellowing to tease out the umami in concert with the Virginia. Somewhat decreased with significant age are the young tin’s more prominent bready notes and high lemony tinge, those flavors having been tempered down to supporting roles with time. As mentioned, just a year in the cellar builds remarkable character in the blend. Enjoying this particular tin from my stash, dated June 11 2007 (from the first production run, or thereabouts) with a hefty fourteen-and-a-half years on it is, well, a not-so-guilty pleasure indeed. While the top of the bowl is mildly sharp with nutty, dusty overtones from the Turkish component—pecan shells, fine cigarettes—it quickly exhibits an exceptional kernel of sweetness in every puff, with the best comparison that comes to mind being a lychee wrapped in a campfire. Young tins of course highlight more of the lemony-peppery synthesis of the Virginia and Perique up front, somewhat pushing aside the Izmir until an equilibrium is achieved. Puffing is easy and light, with just the slightest draw able to keep the ember going. For my money, it makes a great accompaniment to pursuits such as curling up with a hefty book, hunkering down over a chess board with a friend, or a walk in the park to enjoy the autumn foliage; that is to say it does not demand much attention while smoking, nor is it so uninteresting as to be easily relegated to thoughtless background noise. The flavor composition reaches a crescendo mid-bowl, and manages to hold tempo through to the heel. While it may start off a bit sharp, the drier, more piquant notes begin to recede a bit and fall in step with the sweeter, richer Virginia-Perique structure once it’s warmed and a good cadence is established. Reaching into the mid-bowl, it becomes a colorful, complex harmony of flavors that speak well of the blender’s art—it’s not by accident that the Cornell & Diehl brand earned the reputation that it still enjoys. Individual notes are easily discernible, with none drowning out or overpowering each other; it’s a truly cohesive blending. With a tin this well-aged the sweetness is rich and pronounced, yet for all that not in a flavored aromatic sense by any measure—this is the supple sweetness of premium leaf. I prefer this particular flake in a pipe on the smaller side of medium—the ’65 Dunhill bulldog and K. Anastasopoulos freehand pictured both have chambers roughly ¾” wide and 1¼” deep, with straight sides. To note, the Dunhill sports an inner tube which can be finicky with too much moisture; with this blend it’s never a problem. Too large or tall a bowl, for me at least, seems to muddle the flavor profile, while too wide a taper ignores the top end and over-concentrates the bottom. In these group 3 sizes, it’s a perfect 40- to 60-minute smoke which in my estimation is best enjoyed with a coffee or wine that’s decidedly on the sweet side—think a large flat white in the cooler weather, or a nice Port, sparkling moscato, or ice wine in the warmer months. With its mild-to-medium strength profile it perfectly satisfies the nicotine craving, and makes both an exemplary morning coffee smoke and an after-dinner digestif. As for the room note and sidestream smoke, it’s fairly mild and conventional. Owing largely to the Izmir, it’s in the range of fine cigarettes—perhaps too smoky […]