The Last Bowl

30th July, 2019: Posted by glpease in Tobacco, Enjoyment, Editorial

Some months ago, a friend gave me a nearly full 8oz tin of Montgomery from March, 2005, the first release, saying, “It’s good. It’s just not my thing.” Richard likes stouter blends. He can burn through sequential bowls Haddo’s Delight in record time. If he was a kid slurping Slurpees, instead, he’d be plagued by permanent brain freeze. (In case you’re wondering, no, he has never burned-out a pipe.) Montgomery didn’t get his heart pumping hard enough, I guess. Whatever his reasons, I was happy to be the recipient of his kind donation. Truth told, I haven’t spent a lot of time with Montgomery, myself. It was the first thing I created for the Fog City Selection, and its development informed the rest of the series. It’s definitely on the lighter side, but it has engaging complexity that swirls around the sweetness of the high-sugar virginias, and the beautiful dark-fired leaf offers depth and breadth to both the aroma and the flavors. Once I’d put the final touches on the formula, though, I didn’t return to it often other than for the occasional “check-up” to see how time was treating it, and even that fell by the wayside after a while.

So, a chance to dip into a relatively freshly opened tin, minted early in the blend’s birth year, was not something I could pass up. He offered. I accepted. I’m glad I did.

Revisiting a tobacco after several years offers some interesting insights. First, the obvious pleasure of seeing how it’s developed over the intervening 14 years has been a boon. And, I’ve enjoyed every bowl immensely. Small pipes, large pipes, wide pipes, tall pipes. I rarely open the big tins for my own consumption; when I do, there’s usually a lot of sharing with fellow pipesters. But not this one. After the first few bowls, I became pretty possessive of it as we renewed our old acquaintance, and as intimate as we’d been during the early days, it was nice to discover that we could cultivate an even deeper relationship. The experience has been rewarding. Every bowl was superb, and some were almost transcendent. It’s been great fun.

Until this morning, when I smoked the last bowl from the tin. There’s always a dose of sadness to be found in the final crumbs from a richly enjoyed tin, especially one with some history behind it, but it’s usually joined by enthusiasm and excitement for what’s to come as I rifle through dusty banker’s boxes to find the next old gem to explore. This time, it’s different. I have ransacked the “cellar,” only to discover that I have no more early tins of Montgomery to anticipate. Lesson learned. I need to remember always to cellar more deeply than I think I should. (A friend once told me “should” is a dirty word. I think I see her point.) I'’ll need to get more banker’s boxes.

As I write this, I’m happy to say, that my transient disappointment has been superseded by another whack of enthusiasm as I stare at a few old tins, thinking about which one to open next, and hope that its contents are as enjoyable as this Montgomery has been.

Smoke in peace.