This is not a "tobaccoreviews.com", a Pipestud, or a Jiminks type of tobacco review. I’m not in that league. But I just wanted to jot down a few thoughts about the recent re-release of "Stonehenge Flake" by G.L. Pease and the late John Gawith of GH&Co.
Pease and Gawith (and what a combination that is, right?) originally blended this masterpiece in 2001 as a special limited edition of a 1,500-tin run. That event sold out quickly, leaving a few of us to wonder what happened? Stonehenge has not been seen since, to my knowledge.
And now, it is baaaaaaaaccccck! Somehow, I missed the first shipment, and was just waiting like a vulture for new tins to arrive at SP.com.
Reading the copy on the tin art, which is excellent by the way, you find that the Virginias from Brazil, Zimbabwe, and Malawi, are "layered" with Louisiana perique and "just a touch of burley" to add body to the flakes. The cake is steamed, hot pressed and left to mature. Next, the cakes are "thinly sliced." Indeed, they are.
Opening the 2-oz. tin you are hit with a fruity whiff of figs and raisins, and some hay sunning in a field. I also get a slightest breeze of orange, which to me is tangy.
But, that’s just my nose, which is not sophisticated and not so good at this sort of thing. Your sniffer may come up with some other fruit bowl effect.
The flakes are contained in the one thing that I hate about these kinds of tins: the confounding paper that is hard to pull up because the two sides and bottom are attached, like flower petals to a stem.
And the tiny "chad"-like pull up tab is hard to grab with old fingers. Awful arrangement if you ask me. Why not add some class and return to the days of crinkled and light-weight tin paper of the past?
Stonehenge Flake is supposed to be out of the English school, right? So, why not go whole hog and wrap the flakes in that crinkled paper stuff to keep the flakes fresh and properly presented.
Harrumph, balderdash, and all that!
As for smoking, I could not wait to fill up a bowl. My Ferndown Two-Star Bark Lovat was the pipe of choice for this. It is a great pipe for flakes.
The tobacco was fairly damp. Not drippy. Just moist. I loaded up anyway, since I could barely contain my enthusiasm for the blend I had missed so long ago.
Although the Ferndown tried valiantly, the flakes were just too humid. It was a light and re-light scenario, so I stopped and decided to allow the tobacco rest inside the bowl for a time.
I also let the tin air out for two days before filling a Group 3 Ferndown Premier Apple, another excellent pipe for flakes.
Oh, my, what a difference two days make!
You can taste the wonderful Virginias, and the perique is just there on the tongue to let you know that you are in Louisiana land. The Virginias are superb! Superb, I tell you!
The burley is a back-of-the-room player in my opinion, for what it is worth. Not too heavy, not too light, just right to give body and some oomph!
Yes, there is a bit of the GH soap, but it is way off in the distance, like a setting sun, noticeable but in a nice way. You only get a taste now and then.
I love this blend. It is super rich, and easy on the tongue. No bite all the way down. The nic-hit is mild, at least to me and I am a nicwuss!
I don’t know how to compare this to other Pease blends, or even to the original version of Stonehenge Flake. But this is one of Pease’s best in my opinion. I have smoked many a Pease offering and this is the cream de la cream. And, it does have that creamy taste along the way as well.
This is one of the finest from the master blender and the inestimable Gawith tobacco magicians.
Be sure to read Pease’s description of the blend on his web page at Pease.com.
I intend to cellar three tins from my original order from SP and save my pennies to buy more. It is pricey at over $11 for two ounces at SP, but like good wine, you get what you pay for and this is on the order of, say, a 1945 Mouton Rothschild.
Well, okay, maybe not that highfalutin, but these flakes should age beautifully!
You have been warned!
And another thing …
For some odd reason, I have been thinking of my old friend Claude (with the "e") Brown (no relation). Claude loved fly fishing, dogs, and his pipes, but not necessarily in that order.
Claude had been in the public relations business and had retired. He came to fly-fishing late and jumped right in. He loved hunting, too, but now the fly bug had bitten.
One day as we sauntered along the banks of a river in Arkansas, Claude told me the story of his dog, Ol’ Charlie.
"Ol’ Charlie can point trout." He said his dog possessed a rare nose: river trout was all he could locate by smell.
Claude smoked drugstore pipes and tobaccos of the era. They were cheap and he didn’t mind if he dropped one in a river while fishing for trout with a dry fly.
He gave me one of his drugstore pipes one afternoon as we fished an Arkansas trout stream.
I am smoking that pipe today. And thinking of a trout-pointing dog, and Claude standing waste deep in a cold stream, smoking, smiling, and winking.
"Watch Ol’ Charlie point trout," Claude hollered across the riffling stream that afternoon.
Ol’ Charlie, a mixture of English pointer and some other critter, was chasing his tail on the bank, just at the edge of the river.
"Why, there are so many trout in this river, Ol’ Charlie can’t make up his mind which one to point first," Claude hollered to me. Then threw his head back and laughed so long, I thought he was choking on his pipe.
I have always loved that story about Claude and Ol’ Charlie.
It is not often you get to see a trout-pointing dog up close while trying not to laugh your pipe right out of your mouth into a fast-moving stream, reportedly full of trout!