Farewell, Old Friend

4th September, 2012: Posted by glpease in Editorial

It is with deep sorrow that I share some sad news. Craig Tarler, beloved friend and colleague, passed from this earth today at the age of 82. I’ve spent much of the day in contemplation, trying to figure out how to process this, and much of the evening drinking in a feeble attempt to dull the sharp edge of loss. None of it has worked, and I’m having a hard time finding words.

Our relationship over the past 14 years has been more than just business, and more than just friendship. He and Patty have been very much like family to me. We’ve shared a great deal through those years, have been through some great times together, and some rough ones. We’ve collaborated on blends, and helped each other with business decisions. We’ve laughed a lot, and endured each other’s bad jokes. We’ve talked politics and religion (things you can only comfortably discuss with those you know will forgive you afterwards), concocted schemes, solved the world’s problems, fought like cats and dogs, shared our dreams, and all the other things friends and families do when they know it’s safe to do so. When I was younger, an overly enthusiastic young bull wanting to charge down the hill, he taught me to slow down a little, walk down and “get ‘em all.” (Those who knew him may recognize the punch line from one of his favourite jokes.) I am indebted to him for all the help he’s freely given over the years, in business, and in life. He could be a real curmudgeon at times, but he always had a heart of gold, and I will miss him deeply.

Time will soothe the sting, and business will continue under the guidance of Craig and Patty’s son Chris, but I will always miss those morning phone calls. “Hi, Greg. It’s Craig.”

Requiescat in pace, old friend. May your star shine brightly, and your pipe always be sweet.

Limited Disappointment

28th September, 2011: Posted by glpease in Tobacco, Editorial

As I write this, I’m puffing on a Castello filled with one of the two limited edition blends I did for the 2011 NASPC show. It’s the eleventh year I’ve had the privilege of doing this, and it continues to be a real honor. Working with John on the concepts and creating the blends is always fun. But, it’s not without its pitfalls. When one of the blends is particularly exciting, at least to me, knowing there will only be a couple hundred tins of it can be a little vexing. I really like this one. Of course, I’ve got a few tins of the prototype, so it’s not like I won’t be able to enjoy it for a while, and save a tin or two for years to come. So, what’s the problem?

I never really crow about these, even when I think they’re something a little special, because all that can come of it is frustration. Only a few people - those who go to the show and are quick to pick up their tins before they sell out, or those willing to pay ridiculous prices on ebay - will have the opportunity to try them. And, if the past is any indication, some of those who do get tins won’t even smoke them. (A couple years ago, the stuff showed up at auction even before the show was over, ultimately selling for five times the show price. Absurd.) Read more…»

Size Matters

2nd August, 2011: Posted by glpease in Editorial

“Matters. Is that the intransitive verb form of the word, or the noun form?” It’s both. I need to rant. Just a little. Sometimes, I’m told, it’s good for the soul, and I’m hoping this will be one of those times.

See, I made the decision early in my business to package my tobaccos in 2oz quantities, and later in 8oz, which is 13% more tobacco than the much more common 50g and 200g tins. I’ve stuck to my Imperial Avoirdupois guns ever since, despite some not insignificant pressure to change to Metric measures to more easily accommodate export sales. (Truthfully, internally, I’m all metric anyway, but have to convert to English measures for manufacture. It would actually be easier to just stay metric through the whole process, but that’s another story.) Read more…»

What is a Balkan Blend?

14th April, 2011: Posted by glpease in Tobacco, Tobacco Commentary, Editorial

This article was originally published on 30th July, 2010, as my inaugural Out of the Ashes column for PipesMagazine.com. It is reprinted here with permission of the publisher. -glp

In the on-line pipe communities, there is often passionate conversation about the classification of blend types, and in these discussions, the most impenetrable clouds of mystery seem to swirl around those blends containing Latakia. What is an “English” mixture, and how can one be distinguished from a “Balkan” style blend? The problem is that both of these terms, despite broad usage, are somewhat ambiguous, at best, and, worse, the commonly held notions of what they mean is just plain backwards. And, yes, I’ll admit up front to being one of the early champions of this wrong-headedness. What? Read on.

It seems fairly clear that the term “Balkan” as a blend descriptor derives from the legendary Balkan Sobranie, and came into common usage as a way to describe tobaccos that are similar in character. That’s not really a problem, but, subsequent discussion of what this term might mean has led us down an entirely wrong path. A “Balkan” blend simply isn’t what it’s often said to be. Read more…»

New Year, New Decade, New Pricing

30th December, 2010: Posted by glpease in Editorial, Product News

As 2010 comes to a close, and with it the first decade of G.L. Pease (hard to believe!) I’d like to thank everyone for their wonderful and loyal support throughout the years, for all the kindnesses shown through hard times, and for the friendships that have been made as a result of my little tobacco venture. It’s been a wild ride, for sure, and a fun one. I’m looking forward to 2011, and to the beginning of our second decade. There are some exciting things in the works, including the upcoming JackKnife Plug, and many more in the planning stage. If it’s half as fun as the last ten years has been, it’s going to be a blast.

Unfortunately, there’s some less pleasnt news to share. We’ve been looking at all the cost increases we’ve had, and those we’re facing, and have had to make the difficult decision to raise prices slightly. Everything has gone up—labels, tins, leaf—so, effective 7th January, 2011, the price of all 2oz and 8oz tins will increase by 50¢, and 1lb tins will go up $1.50. It’s not a big increase, we’ve held it to the absolute minimum necessary, but it will help to offset rising costs, while still providing the value that our Imperial Packaging offers. (When comparing prices with other brands, remember that our 2oz and 8oz tins deliver almost 13% more tobacco than the now more standard metric packaging of 50g and 200g.)

Wishing everyone a safe, happy and prosperous New Year! See you in 2011.

Keeping Secrets

5th November, 2010: Posted by glpease in Tobacco, Editorial

I’ve just gotten off the telephone with C&D. We’ve been working on a couple of things, and Chris rang to tell me the latest prototype of one of them was being shipped out today. I’m having a hard time containing myself—this is really exciting for me. And, I’m not going to tell you what it is.

I’ll say just a little. Up to this point, this has only been an idea. I’ve done some experiments, explored different components in the blend, gotten the proportions of the various tobaccos close, but until this new sample arrives, I have only a hint how the final product is going to look, taste, smell. And, I can’t wait. I’m hoping it’s going to at least approach expectations.

This is something rather different from anything I’ve done before. The combination of blending components is a little different for me, and the production methods are different, and the result, I hope, is going to be very different. And, there’s the very real possibility that it might be a complete flop. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve had a wild hare in my bonnet (metaphors intentionally mixed to protect those with more delicate sensibilities) before, have spent weeks in development, only to emerge from the other end of the tunnel with something almost completely wrong. Of course, these times are not wasted. Often the greatest knowledge comes from experiments gone wrong, so I take my notes and move on to the next thing. And, no one, until now, ever knows about these less-than-successful attempts.

But this is so different, and so exciting, I just can’t help but share some of my enthusiasm. Even though I’m still keeping secrets.

I’ll try to be patience, awaiting the arrival of my parcel from North Carolina. It’ll probably need a little adjustment before it’s really ready to go into production, but that’s the way of things. I’m just hoping it’s not a complete flop. If it is, you’ll probably never read another word about it. If not, watch this space for developments!

-glp

P.S. No latakia in this one. None. Not a trace.

The Celebrated Bengal Slices

23rd August, 2010: Posted by glpease in Editorial

When I was a young pipester, a relative newcomer to the fold, I was always deeply intrigued by The Celebrated Bengal Slices. There just wasn’t anything else quite like it. The rich, wonderful tobacco, served in their elegant little black, red and gold tins had the deep Latakia flavours that I loved, along with a beautiful pressed virginia sweetness and exotic oriental spice, all harmoniously joined together and augmented with a delightfully subtle, artfully and precisely applied floral note. (To be clear, this is not the aromatic version, which was, even to my inexperienced mind back then, an abomination against all things sacred.) Legend has it that this was Balkan Sobranie, pressed into cake form and thickly sliced. Given the credibility of the fellow who originally told me the story, I’ve no reason to question this. In fact, everything that I’ve learned about this blend through the years has provided more credence to the claim. Read more…»

Giving Marty the Spotlight

20th July, 2010: Posted by glpease in Editorial

Long-time friend, and well-known pipe purveyor, Marty Pulvers, has posted a thoughtful commentary on his site regarding Dunhill’s current attitude towards pipes, smokers’ requisites and tobaccos, the very commodities responsible for their decades-old success. These things, along with their consumers, have been methodically relegated, over recent years, to the dusty, cobweb filled back rooms. And, now, it appears they might rather simply forget that these products, and those who have loved them, ever even existed. A shame, really. Read more…»

The Accidental Blender

6th July, 2010: Posted by glpease in Editorial

Some tobacco manufacturers collect their tailings, the little bits of blended tobacco that are left over after packaging, and sell them as bargain blends. You never know what’s going to be in them, and they’ll never be the same twice, but they’re cheap, and some smokers enjoy the adventure. Me? Not so much.

What would happen, say, if one of my accidental “blends” turned out to be the most fantabulous blend ever produced, and dozens or even tens of dozens of enthusiasts from around the globe - a massed hoard of the world’s pipe smokers bought it, loved it, ran out of it, and then arrived, pitchforks and torches in hand, pounding clenched fists angrily upon my door, demanding more of last month’s Bert’s Blend. (Bert was the name of the chimney sweep played by Dick van Dyke in Marry Poppins, in case you’ve forgotten. It seems a fitting sobriquet for such a blend.) As I’d never be able to reproduce it, my sometimes vivid imagination can easily paint the ensuing doom drenched nightmares of finding myself pilloried in the village square at dawn, being pummeled by bushels of rotting fruit and pouches of Mixture 79. (I wonder if anyone remembers how to actually pillory someone.) Read more…»

Things Is What They Is…

3rd June, 2010: Posted by glpease in Editorial

Except when they isn’t.

Some of the tobaccos being branded today with old, established names are a good example. And, yes. I’m about to rant a bit.

Some of these “recreations” are fine tobaccos, to be sure. They taste good, smoke well, are carefully made, and well presented. They are just nothing like the originals, the real thing. If they were called something else, I would likely have no trouble with them, but when I see those old labels, and those old names, very specific expectations are formed, based on my experience with the originals, and not one of the new ones comes close to meeting those expectations. So, as good as they may be, I cannot seem to get past the cognitive dissonance that’s created by the differences. Read more…»

In Memory, 1996-2010

6th April, 2010: Posted by glpease in Editorial

He came to me 14 years ago, a young dog; a furry, frenetic, non-stop, spinning ball of perpetual motion. At the shelter, they’d called him Rocky. It didn’t fit. Taz fit. He drove me nuts. He drove Pasha and Kismet, my other two dogs at the time, nuts. Anything that looked even vaguely alive was something to spring upon, a trait particularly annoying to the gophers that poked their unknowing heads from the security of their holes, only to find a bounding wolf, all four paws high in the air, descending upon them. Taz never got more than a snout full of dirt, but he never tired of the sport.

For the first few days that he lived with me, I was almost convinced that his energy was more than I, or the other dogs could live with. But, his boundless enthusiasm and constantly wagging tail won me over. And, his snuggles. And his intelligence. He was one of the special ones, and I knew he’d settle in, or I’d just get used to him, or both. He wasn’t always easy to live with, but neither am I; we both had things to learn. Read more…»

The Back Room

18th February, 2010: Posted by glpease in Editorial

Almost every Saturday, you’d find us there. The back room at Drucquer & Sons’ Piedmont Avenue store would be haunted by pipemen, sitting, standing, smoking, drinking from the never-empty coffee pot, sharing whatever old tobaccos had been discovered languishing, forgotten in the back of some out of the way tobacconist’s shop - “That old stuff? I’ll give you a deal if you want all six” - or rescued from the dusty shelves of antique stores or the attics of friends of friends - “My father smoked a pipe.” It was a time when pipe smokers weren’t exactly in vogue, but neither had we been disenfranchised by a society of nannies bent on destroying anything that resembles pleasure for its own sake. We gathered. We socialized. We showed and told of our recent acquisitions, and sometimes traded them. And, we smoked. Read more…»


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