Cyprian or Syrian? (Part II)

9th February, 2010: Posted by glpease in Tobacco, Editorial

Since The Fire, there have been more than a few samples of “Syrian Latakia” arriving in my postbox from various suppliers. Some have been no more Syrian than I am. Others have been of such low quality I wouldn’t use the stuff to smoke fish. “We found this ‘vintage’ leaf in an old warehouse. Do you want some?” No, thanks. “Why not?” Um. It’s awful, m’kay?

Though there are blends being produced that do actually contain Syrian leaf, there are some that profess to, but I find some of these claims suspect. Yes, I know what the labels, importers, sellers and other pipe smokers say, but I remain convinced that some of these blend have Syrian Latakia in them in the same way that Churchill’s martinis contained vermouth: “I would like to observe the vermouth from across the room while I drink my martini.” Read more…»

Cyprian or Syrian? (Part I)

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

I’m going to grumble a little. And possibly even rant. It’s my column. I can do that. No one will criticize the reader for stopping here, but there may be something informative, and my grumblings can occasionally be amusing, if not downright endearingly sharp-witted, so you may want to read on anyway, forewarned of what is likely to come.

The past five years have hosted continued discussion about the availability of Syrian Latakia, why can’t I get any, who has it, what blends it’s in, why some manufacturers seem to have no problems with supply, whether or not the whole warehouse fire situation was a ruse, and on and on. There seem to be a great many experts who know more about the supply of unobtainable leaf than I do. If you really know someone in whose basement bales of this mysterious supply of Syrian leaf are sequestered, please, be so kind as to make an introduction so I can get some. Seriously. Read more…»

Balancing Acts

22nd January, 2010: Posted by glpease in Editorial

Developing a new blend can be an interesting confluence of delight and frustration. When I conceived the notion of the Old London Series, I had some things in mind. The tobaccos would be produced in the style of the old London tobacco houses. Rather than blending cut ribbon, the leaf would be blended as strips - more or less whole leaf with the midrib removed - pressed into cakes to comingle for a few days, then cut and tumbled into ribbon form. The goal was threefold; the pressing would integrate the flavours of the different components a little sooner, and a little more fully, a slight fermentation could take place, increasing the complexity of the mixture, and finally, the cut of the blend would be more consistent.

Chelsea Morning was the first blend in the series, and I was instantly thrilled with the results. Because of this method of manufacture, it’s a very different tobacco than it would be were it made using today’s more conventional methods, and it does remind me in some ways of some of the long lost blends of yesterday. This all lands squarely on the delight side of the equation. Read more…»

Reflections in the Mists

14th January, 2010: Posted by glpease in Pipes, Enjoyment, Editorial

This morning, I took a somewhat extended walk after dropping my son at school. Our walk is only a few blocks, and I always seem to be in a rush to get back home to begin the daily routines that have become my work over the past few years. This morning, it just wasn’t long enough.

The air is fog-chilled, and the feeling on my face too inviting to ignore. I decided to take the long way home, wandering towards the shore, and stopping off at the water’s edge to watch some ducks and some coots (birds, not old men) fishing in the still tides. A Castello Collection stack, deeply colored with a rich mahogany patina from years of smoking, filled to its beveled top with some old Garfinkel’s Orient Express #11 was my sole companion. Read more…»


· Newer entries »