It’s been called by afficianados to be the best tobacco in the world, described as earthy, rustic, and yet delicatley herbal and floral. The promise regarding the contents of the 100gram package I will soon have in my possession is “it will be unlike any other pipe tobacco you’ve ever had.”
Semois tobacco is a product of the Ardennes Valley in Belgium. It gets its name from the Semois River that winds through the valley. What makes for the unique qualities of the leaf is the misty, Sun-deprived climate in which it grows. Believed to be a descendent of Burley, Semois has mutated into its own subvarietal. Its processing by blenders is basically one of drying, fermenting, shredding and packaging… the product, 100% tobacco, no additional essences of any kind.
Having become extremely popular throughout Europe around the end of the 19th century, it began losing market share to cigarettes after the Second World War, and today, only three boutique manufacturers remain.
La Brumeuse, “the Misty One,” a full flavored, full strength rendition of pure Semois, produced by blender Vincent Manil is now available for purchase in the U.S. through ‘The Pipe Guys’. With its new introduction into the U.S. market, I’m curious to see if this product becomes the next highly-sought-after-and-hard-to-obtain pipe tobacco. You might want to get yours right now, while you can. I do mean, right now. Until further notice, you gotta get it from The Pipe Guys.
SoCal Pipester’s 2014 Pipe Tobaccos to Start the Year…
If you’ve read what my favorite tobaccos of 2013 were, be assured I’ll continue to load up a bowl or two of those throughout 2014; however, this year I have a hankering to revisit some old favorites as well as sample some new, or new to me, blends – especially, some light aromatics.
Indeed, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, for a number of reasons I count myself among those who generally dislike aromatics. But because of extenuating circumstances, for 2014, I’ve set course for a new mission in pipe tobacco exploration: to find a couple of aromatic tobacco blends that meet my criteria for the spring and summer seasons, and then something for the fall.
Why the focus now on aromatics?
Firstly, although my wife grew up in a household where both parents were lifelong cigarette smokers, she cannot abide the smell of tobacco. And though I do my best to keep even the residual aroma of my piping pleasure at bay, you know how difficult that can be. So I’m thinking maybe I should re-double my efforts to find a smoke that might garner the response, “Hey, that’s almost like incense!” rather than, “At least that’s not as bad as the other stuff I’ve smelled,” which is about the best remark she’s given me regarding my pastime.
Secondly, the anti-anything-tobacco anywhere, anytime lobby is unrelenting in its campaign to eliminate it from our lives. The federal government has been considering classifying and regulating tobacco products in the same manner as they would a drug. The “Tobacco Free” movement in California doesn’t just want to help people to stop smoking but wants to criminalize those who do. In the Los Angeles suburb in which I live, one cannot walk the streets pipe alighted without running the risk of a hefty fine by happening to within 25 feet of a no-smoking zone – whether anybody else but the constable is around or not.
Now, I have always understood the need to be thoughtful about the exposure of others to my secondhand smoke. And I have always agreed with the notion that we should ban smoking from certain public and private spaces as long as exemptions were allowed for taverns and smoke shops and the like. Cigarette butts laying about? Don’t get me started. But today’s anti-smoking propaganda is going beyond the pale.
So… in the event that I’m somewhere outside of a “safe-to-smoke zone” enjoying my latest pipe or tobacco acquisition, and the fragrance of my activity comes within olfactory range of another person, I’m hoping – as with my wife – the reaction to an aromatic might be one of, “Wow, such a nice vanilla scent!” rather than, “Off with his head! Off with his head, now!!”
Among the criteria that this aromatic tobacco must meet is that it be of quality leaf, not overly cased or topped, taste pretty danged good, not cherry, be a complete joy for me to puff my way through an entire bowl, burn to a fine enough ash, leave little to no dottle, and present a great smelling smoke trail. Note that, of course, this is fairly subjective, as by nature the entire pipe smoking experience is.
To this end, in addition to settling back with a pipe of 1792, Special Latakia Flake, Brown Flake, Royal Yacht, Bob’s Chocolate Flake, and Drew Estate Meat Pie (oh, haven’t tried Gaslight, yet, guess I ought to pick up a tin of that, too). I’ve also already grabbed a couple of Drew Estate aromatics, Harvest on the Hudson and 7th Avenue Blonde. Additionally, I’ll be loading up bowls of Stanwell Melange and Vanilla, Brigham Ripely Avenue, Peterson Sunset Breeze and if I can still pickup a tin, maybe I should give their Summertime Blend 2013 a go, haven’t heard if they’ve got any 2014 summer blend coming out.
I’ve got a couple ounces of Comoy’s Cask No. 5 lined up, as well as Mac Baren’s version of Capstan Gold Flake.
So that’s what I’ll be up to this year, tobacco wise, so far as I can see for the moment. How about yourself?
If you’ve got an aromatic recommendation I should consider, let me know. In the meantime, I’ve certainly got some smoking to do.