That’s right… 17 new pipe tobacco blends fired up the market to begin 2016! At least, 17. In fact, the number is certain to be greater because I’m only counting the obvious major releases that became available in the U.S. at the very close of 2015 and presently, January 2016. Not included are bargain brand blends or house blends that I may or may not have noticed. None the less, this year is already shaping up to provide pipe smokers with a cornucopia of new blends to explore.
Let’s take a look…
Perhaps the biggest news is the establishment of Standard Tobacco of Pennsylvania and their acquisition of three once popular brand names: John Cotton, Bengal Slices and War Horse. The company has enlisted blender Russ Ouellette to recreate these blends as closely to the originals as is humanly possible.
Reports from pipe smokers of the time who enjoyed these original blends state their satisfaction with Mr. Ouellette’s renditions. He had already done a fine job copying Bengal Slices with his Fusilier’s Ration, which I hold as a personal favorite, but he has said that this iteration of the blend is closer, yet, to the original. (I’ve picked up a tin that I am presently comparing, just for the fun of it, to FR. My assessment is forthcoming.) I find John Cotton’s Numbers 1 & 2, and Smyrna to be excellent smokes.
Watch the two videos below from Pipes and Cigars for some of the story behind Standard Tobacco of Pennsylvania and their new pipe tobacco offerings…
Next on my list is from the Nashville-based pipe maker, BriarWorks International. They released three blends in partnership with Cornell & Diehl: a Va/Per, Aromatic and an English. The immediately attractive (and perhaps most novel) thing about these blends is their packaging in a mason jar. Now, I have to say, I think this is some pretty cool marketing. The blends are Back Down South, Bacon Old Fashioned and Pete’s Beard’s Blend. Take a look at this video with Shane Ireland from Smokingpipes.com…
Next up we’re looking at Seattle Pipe Club’s Pike Place. It’s a Balkan styled English with a dose of Tennessee Burley that essentially replaces the role played by Virginias. It also contains Perique. If you’re a SPC fan and haven’t eased your way through a bowl or two of this, yet, I think you’ll find it to be an earthy addition to their lineup.
And here we’ve got a couple pouches of Amphora: Original Blend, and Full Aroma. These are classic Dutch Cavendish blends that have been missing from the U.S. market for some time now but have returned thanks to Mac Baren.
I don’t know what’s happening with me, but I find I’m getting on a “pouch tobacco” kick of sorts, lately. Something about the handy convenience, and dare I say, “charm”, of the pouch, I imagine.
To round out this list, there’s Mike McNiel’s of McClelland and Russ Ouellette’s joint venture, The Mind Meld. As of this writing, their brand provides six mixtures: two Latakia, two aromatics, one Va/Per and one Virginia.
Can even two masters of the tobacco blending art really create six new blends that are both wonderful and different from their other previously made and popular creations? Our curiosity will no doubt drive us to purchase a few tins to find out.
Understanding the need for a company to develop new product to sustain market interest and growth, still…
As if there aren’t enough pipe tobacco mixtures, cakes and flakes to keep the most smoky of pipesters permanently clenched to their pipes, burning through all manner of tobaccos already, it’s hard to imagine pipe tobacco manufacturers can keep currently enjoyed blends on the market much longer at the rate they’re churning out new blends. Or, is the market so small compared to available leaf that the number of differing blends remains insignificant?
Well, the new is always exciting nonetheless.
What I find of interest is the pursuit to reclaim defunct brands and recreate once cherished blends. What is in a name, anyway? I look to address that question in my next post. In the meantime, I’ll relax with a few of these reborn blends within my pipe and ponder the question.
Happy smoking in 2016, with new blend or old.