Well, since I started back into pipe smoking, there has been a list of tobacco’s that I have wanted to try. It started out as tobacco’s that I read about on TobaccoReviews.com. From there, it expanded into blends that were recommended to me by friends at my B&M and friends on-line in the various chats, #pipes & #alt.smokers.pipes. (Sorcery.net & Undernet respectively) When looking at my list now, I wonder, what were the reasons for wanting to try these various blends? Often it was because it sounded good, and looking back I notice how many aromatics I have on that list. Most of these were picked because they sounded like something I would want to eat, but since picking up this hobby, I have come to realize, what is good to eat is most often not good to smoke.
I have really narrowed this list down. My tastes have changed just in the last couple months that I have been smoking. I started out liking Va’s and Aromatics, and have graduated to Va’s, VA/Pers and light English Blends. This has been an interesting journey, with many ups and downs and many disappointments along the way. I quickly discovered that I did not enjoy the goopy, overly sweet taste of Aromatics, and that with a little time and patience, Latakia based blends no longer tasted like “Dirty Socks”.
I have found it quite interesting how be base our tastes on those around us. I’m not just talking about the people that we smoke around. I’m referring to the smokers that we spend time around, and in my case, the smoke shop that I spend time at. My shop is of the old school, with the smokers of old that enjoyed the heavy black Cavendish based blends coated in sugary toppings. When browsing the tobacco bar at my local B&M, you find a laundry list of blends that are all sweet, goopy, and have, of course, black Cavendish as their base. This had much to do with the blends that I smoked when I first got back into pipe smoking. I of course, looking for direction, asked my guys at the B&M for suggestions. Of course, they are going to recommend the tobacco’s that are available. After trying every single tobacco at the tobacco bar, I soon realized this was not going to cut it. If it were not for TobaccoReviews.com and the chat rooms, I would have either given up, or settled on one of those horribly goopy aromatics.
My goal was interesting when I started back on the pipe. I was not obsessed with sampling except for one reason, to find an all day blend. I figured that for me, to truly enjoy this, I needed to find an everyday blend that I could fall back on, and sample in the meantime. I quickly realized that one lone blend was not going to suffice, and decided that I would find an “everyday rotation”. Basically, 2-3 tobaccos that were my baseline blends that I could rotate between for my everyday smoke depending on my mood. After graduating to Va’s and VA/Pers, and eventually light Latakia blends, I decided on a simple formula. I like those 3 blend styles, I should find one of each to put into my baseline rotation. So, I decided this was my goal. Find my 3 “favorites” and then I could sample outside of those. This would allow me to always have 3 different go-to tobacco’s in the event I needed an old reliable, but I could still enjoy others on the side. This obviously is separate from my cellaring plans. The intent when I find a blend I like that is outside of my baseline tobacco’s is to get a quantity and cellar it. Obviously first and foremost to enjoy the benefits of aged tobacco, secondly to ensure that it was always handy if the mood struck me.
This brings me to my current situation, and the reason for this entry. I’m pretty sure that I have found at least ONE of my baseline tobacco’s. Middlebury Mixture has become my go-to blend in the “light English” department. Now the difficulty has become that lately I have been sampling several English & Oriental blends that I really like. Whether they have the ability to become an all day smoke and bump Middlebury for the baseline spot is yet to be determined. My VA and VA/Per selection is still up in the air. There are several that are in the running, but I have had such a focus on my English blends lately I have had little time to devote the proper attention to the Va’s and VA/Pers. This dilemma is only worsened by constantly receiving tobacco either as gifts from other pipe smokers, or samples from my B&M. Although receiving free tobacco is not a curse, it can be a distraction. It is difficult to focus on one blend and finish the sample when you have a slew of other blends that sound enjoyable piled up in your drawer.
Today I was lucky/cursed enough to receive 3 samples of some McClellands blends. The upside of these blends is that they are selections that I had on my list to try and they classify as options for all day smokes/baseline blends. They are bulk, they are reasonably priced and are readily available. I will smoke each of these samples and subsequently review them on this site. First is bulk #2030-No. 1 Grade Balkan, made up of stoved Va’s, Cyprian Latakia, lemon Carolina, and Greek Orientals. Second is #2045-Oriental Mixture, made up of light Orientals and sweet Carolinas with a touch of Latakia. Finally #5110-Dark English Full, made up of Stoved Va’s, light Orientals and light Latakia. I am looking forward to trying each of these blends and getting to review them right here.
This is only the tip of the iceberg. Samples of tobacco keep arriving from generous friends. Then, there is the initial list that started with my pipe smoking. Now granted, I can probably edit that list down quite a bit, removing the Aromatics that I no longer have a desire to smoke, however, those I’m sure have been replaced by Va’s, VA/Per’s or English blends I have come across in the last few months. This should be an interesting journey, and I’m quite sure the quest for my all day smokes or “baseline” tobacco’s will not be complete for quite some time. But, then, a new quest begins. Cellaring ! Yes, thats another article all together. Stay tuned.