Ahh, just the thought of April showers bringing May flowers is enough to demand a commune with flora and fauna, to look up and around and admire nature’s latest colorful canvas.
And, likewise, May is the perfect time to roam the hills and dales with a fine briar and a pouch of your favorite blend. The weather is generally exactly right for walking and puffing (a pipe, that is, and not from an uphill huff and wheeze).
The Pundit dons walking shoes each May, searching for some of the more elusive wildflowers in the mountains and the flatlands. It is a fun, rewarding, and energizing experience.
Not to mention some needed exercise in the old-fashioned way—walking.
Take the beautiful and elusive fire pink wildflower (Silene virginica) in the family Caryophyllaceae. This beauty of the wilds is a Pundit fav. Unfortunately, some reports say this gorgeous wild thing is becoming harder to locate. I have found that to be true as well.
These Merry Month of May wildflower jaunts always go better with my pipe. That is especially true when I find a new wild plant with which I have never crossed paths before.
Out comes my handy-dandy plant identifier on the old smartphone, take a seat in front of the new marvel and contemplate its history with a pipeful.
Take time to enjoy your surroundings and savor the natural world around you, including the briar and leaf, another aspect of nature’s bounty.
With this spring’s arrival, the Pundit has found new loves among freshly minted blends. At times, I do return to some old familiars—Sir Walter Raleigh, Half & Half, Prince Albert, etc., the drug store blends of yore.
On a nostalgic note, the codger blends return me to college classroom days when many of my profs in English lit and history puffed the aforementioned tobaccos.
I relish those fond memories and can even recall the herbal-like scent in the classroom as smoke sifted out over aspiring scholars.
Now, some favorite offerings for out-and-about walks from the minds of Jeremy Reeves at Cornell & Diehl, say, or the mystical intellect of G.L. Pease, both of whom have fashioned some of the fine blends in the past dozen years.
Pundit is just featuring a couple of the master blenders here. Lo, there are so many great tobacco blending gurus today that it would take a long shopping list of names to do the subject a deserved justice.
So, just a couple the Pundit is trying as of this writing.
Folklore: Ran across this blend from Reeves C&D Small Batch production last year. Cellared for a bit of aging and preparing now to break it out for the real test—outside on a “naturalist” walk, ahem and ahem!
The original blend description said Folklore paid “tribute to the traditions and customs of cultures across the globe. . . Small Batch Folklore celebrates five distinct flue-cured varietals, elevated by delicate accompaniments of genuine St. James Parish Perique, lightly smoke-cured Kentucky, and exotic Kasturi leaf from 2015.
“This solid-brick crumble cake is rich and elegant, with notes of sweet fruit, citrus, warming spices, and woodsy undertones.”
The beautiful blend was also the first 16-ounce offering in the C&D Small Batch lineup. If you missed it, sorry. Sold out now at Smokingpipes.com.
Next up is one of my absolute favorites, G.L. Pease and Drucquer & Sons First Amendment.
Pundit is naturally attracted to this blend, not only for its fond farewell on the palate, but also because it is easy on the tongue and retro hales like a floral bouquet.
Please excuse the long explanation snatched from Smokingpipes.com here, but it has the history as well as the blend’s makeup:
“Founded in 1841, Drucquer & Sons was a famed London tobacco shop that relocated to Berkeley, Calif., in 1928. The shop was more than just a tobacconist though; it was a community. It was where some of the greatest tobacco blenders in recent memory — like Carl Ehwa of McClelland and Gregory Pease of G.L. Pease — first plunged their hands into fragrant tobacco. The historic shop may be gone, but its rich history and brand of pipe tobaccos continues, reformulated from their original recipes by Gregory Pease (and made by Cornell & Diehl) for the modern smoker.
“The First Amendment to the Drucquer catalog in 40 years, this blend celebrates the collective right to free expression with an enduring formula of Red and Bright Virginia tobaccos and fine air-cured leaf, seasoned with Cypriot Latakia and Louisiana Perique, then pressed and aged in cakes and sliced.”
And a final note on another Pundit love, Cornell & Diehl: Sun Bear Mountain Flower.
“Sun Bear Mountain Flower combines top-tier Bright Virginias with two distinct varietals of matured Oriental leaf. Natural casings of silver tequila and elderflower complement these tobaccos, alongside a drizzle of raw, unpasteurized honey to elevate the leaf’s inherent sweetness and floral notes.”
Previous Sun Bear versions were sweetened with honey from a variety of farms or gardens, and even honey from Reeves’ honeybee hives. Some of the natural sweeteners were “ethically sourced wildflower and blackberry honey from a family-owned apiary in Morganton, N.C., the community in which C&D called home for over 20 years. The organic Mountain Flower honey complements Sun Bear’s tobaccos, elevating their fruity and floral notes for a bright, refreshing character and a creamy rounded finish,” according to the SP.com description.
As the portrayal says, Sun Bear Mountain Flower is not an aromatic but a composite of Virginias and oriental flakes.
My favorite tobacco reviewer, Jiminks, gave Sun Bear a four-star rating when this version of the small batch from Reeves arrived in 2022.
And before departing our spring fling, here is a final pipe smoking notable for May:
Harold Wilson, former United Kingdom prime minister. Born March 11, 1916, in Huddersfield, England, and died, on May 24, 1995, in London.
I’m an optimist, but an optimist who carries a raincoat. Harold Wilson.
And from the Pundit: Like fine tobacco and wine, age cures immaturity and the rough edges.