17 New Blends And Counting, Kicking Off 2016 With A Pipe Tobacco Cornucopia

horn of tobaccoThat’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…

Standard Tobacco of Pennsylvania
Standard Tobacco of Pennsylvania

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


pike placeNext 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.


Amphora pouches

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.




Over the Moon Contest, and the Winner Is…

Earth-from-moonWell, it wasn’t me…

My First Ever Entry In a YouTube Community Video Contest

So, I started with a couple of videos over on Vimeo because there seemed to be a burgeoning pipe community there. Unfortunately, not much is happening. The great migration of YouTubers to Vimeo due to a number of issues with the whole Google thing that was much talked about in pipester videos has apparently gone nowhere. To quote one presenter, Tin Man, in reference to the Vimeo pipe community, “it’s a ghost town.”

Indeed, it is.

Because no one wants to make a video just to watch themselves, at least, I don’t think most people do — well I don’t, anyway — I began to consider if I should just stick to the territory as well. Then I saw one of the YouTube presenters was throwing a video contest called, ‘Over the Moon’. It was to honor the 45th anniversary of the first moon landing, and I thought, what the heck. The point was to address where you were at the time of the landing (if you were even born then), if you think it was faked, and what tobacco you would sneak aboard as a trip-to-the-Moon memento.

Now, most of these videos just have the presenter doing a talking head thing in front of the camera. I had the urge to do something different: I wanted to tell a story through which my answers were given. Admittedly, I got a little off track as the logic of my tale took me into a bit of a turn, but I rather liked it. Needless to say, I did not win (the winners were talking heads). But that’s entirely O.K. It compelled me to make my first YouTube pipe community video.

In the making of this vid, I hadn’t much time so I skipped necessary credits as well as the editing of flubs, etc. (I think it’s only right that I fix the missing credits. I’ll leave the flubs.) May I present to you, my first YouTube pipe community video, ‘Journey to the Moon, and the Tobacco I’d Carry’…


Dark Tale of a Special Pipe Acquisition

Peterson Dracula pipe and Dunhill London MixtureThe Spooky Blood-Drenched Story of How I Came to Own Another Pipe

My latest episode of “Pipe Acquisition Disorder” began with the innocent reading of an article in Science. The video below tells the tale…


Earthquake Weather, Stoker, Blood, and Peterson… from SoCal Pipester on Vimeo.

Shopping for that perfect example of a particular pipe you’re looking for can be daunting. When it came to this Peterson, I saw immediately I wanted it in their style #69. That was easy; finding one with an acceptable random black swirl in the red stem, that took a bit more browsing.

There are — to this nerdy guy’s eye — some really cool smoky swirls in a lot of these Dracula pipes. But then, there are as well quite a few that just don’t do it for me. If I couldn’t find a swirl pattern suitable to me then I’d rather have no swirl at all.

“If there were one with just a touch of a swirl, I’d dig it.”

And there was…

I snagged it!

Now, admittedly, these are not the best quality pipes in fit and finish that Peterson makes. Heck, they’re only a bill+, but I found it to be a fun purchase, and I enjoy smoking it. I’m dedicating it to Balkans (which to me means a Latakia blend with a significant amount of Oriental leaf).

As always, I’ll keep some ‘baccy by the door for ya.


Brigham Voyageur and First Test Video

Brigham Voyageur and Klondike Gold pic
My Brigham Voyageur that features Brigham’s Rock Maple filter system and a tin of Brigham’s Legend Series, Klondike Gold Virginia Flakes

Brigham Voyageur and My First Test Video on Vimeo

So I put together my first Vimeo pipe community video featuring my Brigham Voyageur rusticated straight billiard (along with my Wessex Bristol — both of which, I learned of after purchase, are manufactured by the Lorenzetti pipe company), and offer a few thoughts on value oriented tobacco pipes.

Wessex Bristol tobacco pipe pic
My “classy photo” attempt of my Wessex Bristol tobacco pipe made in Italy by Lorenzetti. IMHO, a dandy little pipe.

Give it a view and feel free to offer up your insights, constructive comments and observations…

Brigham Voyageur & the Lorenzetti Value-Priced Smoking Pipe from SoCal Pipester on Vimeo.


Here’s a couple more pictures showing pipe style examples not in the video, just for fun.

Wessex Bristol pipe examples
Wessex Bristol pipe examples


Lorenzetti Cabaret pipe sandblasted examples