18 December, 2003 The only thing to report is that I've been doing a redesign of parts of the site. The Blender's Notebook section and the Collection pages have all been restyled. Yep. I'm finally moving in to the 21st century, and have redone these pages using CSS. (If your browser doesn't support style sheets, upgrade, will ya'? They're free, after all...) I like the presentation much better, and will be working in my spare time to complete the rest of the site over the next few days, write a couple entries for the Notebook, and enjoy a few bowls. It's getting colder, and is almost beginning to feel like winter, the time for heavier Latakia blends...

Speaking of browsers, if you're a Mac OSX user, check out Camino. It's faster, lighter and more reliable than Safari (which I stopped using because of a miserable memory leak, and it's pitifully slow rendering), and it's FREE.

9 December, 2003 I hate bad news. Even more, I hate good news/bad news things. Still, I'm stuck with a little of both today. I've been WAITING for nearly two months for one of my critical tobaccos to arrive from overseas - one that is essential to Piccadilly and Stratford, among others. The good news is that the boat finally arrived. The bad news is that it's going to take the USDA 3 weeks to approve the sample they took yesterday. This means the effected blends will not be available again until 2004, and the backorders are piling up! (I suppose the good news is that January will be a hell of a good sales month. The bad news is that *I* am nearly out of Piccadilly, myself!) On the other hand, winter is approaching, and we should all be puffing the fuller blends, anyway... I'm off to a bowl of Odyssey, followed, perhaps, by one of Abingdon.
1 December, 2003 I'm having a good time with the Blender's Notebook, though I'm beginning to think it should be called something else. If I don't write some actual blending-related entries soon, I'll have to call it My Looking Glass, or Just a Bunch of Words. I've started putting up part of my pipe collection, too, just for fun. The new site organization is turning out to be much more fluid than the old, and more easily extensible. I'm liking it - I hope you are!
18 November, 2003 Well, the new feature is up. After far too much ado, I've installed the first couple of pages in "The Blender's Notebook." Over time, I'll add some back issues, so to speak, and I'll put new things up as they cross my mind. It's up to the reader to decide whether it's worth reading, or just another vanity page... (Hell. This whole site is just a big vanity page, init? ;)
23 October, 2003 Not much in the way of news. As is obvious, the site's been changed a bit, reorganized slightly, and given a little streamlining. The pipe links are all down for the moment, but something will eventually re-appear. I'll also be adding some new articles soon, and a new feature. Stay tuned...
10 September, 2003 Abingdon! The labels have been sent to the printer, and we're set for an official release at the Richmond show! I've been working on this one for quite a while, and I hope you big Latakia blend lovers will feel that it was worth the wait. This is it the latest member of the Classic Collection, and the fullest blend I've ever done. It will begin finding its way to dealers' shelves late this month.
9 August, 2003

The only real news is the release, finally, of Stratford. You can read about it on the Classic Collection page. A few early reports have been wonderfully positive, and I'm quite excited about this one, myself. If you're a fan of Virginia/perique blends, do be sure to give this one a try.

Abingdon is the name of my next blend, the Really Big Show of Latakia I mentioned in the last news entry. I've put the finishing touches on the recipe, and am currently working on the artwork. I still plan on a fall release, so watch for it in a couple months.

6 June, 2003

In February, I announced the unavailability of Syrian Latakia, and promised we'd work on securing a source. Securing it wasn't that tough, but getting it here has been interesting. The stuff left Syria near the end of February, and spent a couple months floating around from harbor to harbor. I guess it visited every port in the known world before finally landing in New York. Then, the next phase of the odyssey began. During the tobacco's voyages, Syria had become known as an unfriendly nation. Customs, therfore, had to examine the shipment a bit more closely than normal, scrutinizing every nook and cranny.

The good news is that the tobacco was finally released, and forwarded to the processing plant for conditioning and cutting. I've got a bag of the stuff on my desk, and it's fantastic. The quality of this leaf is superb - even better than the last batch, and I'm really excited about it. Production of Renaissance, Raven's Wing and Mephisto will resume within a couple weeks! The other good news is that we acquired enough of this leaf to relax for a good long while.

The bad news, and it's not really that bad, is that this will put the introduction of the new Virginia/perique blend, then next entry in the Classic Collection, a little behind the mid-June time-frame I'd anticipated. I'm expecting it to start production, now, in mid-July.

Speaking of the Classic Collection, I'm thrilled with the response. People are really enjoying the blends, and I couldn't be happier! Thank you for all the wonderful feedback. I've been working on a truly heavy Latakia blend for the range, code-named Newcastle, that I hope to release in September. This is one for those who like their Latakia stout! So, look for it in the fall.

9 May, 2003

I just opened a tin of Robusto from the first run. It's a good time to check in, to see how age is treating it, to get some idea of its future. After only six months, it's showing signs of a long, colorful life ahead. The melding of the individual flavors into a cohesive unit is complete, and the wonderful added complexity that age provides is starting to be apparent. The aroma in the tin reveals added dimension. The smoke is rounder, somewhat fuller and more integrated. There's a wonderful earthiness from the cigar leaf, and the Virginias provide a sturdy stage for the interplay of flavors. This one is really going to shine in years to come.

I've been smoking Piccadilly like there's no tomorrow. I've had to hide my "aging samples" to ensure that I don't just smoke them up! Once the current tin is finished, it's on to Kensington and Blackpoint. A few have commented that these tobaccos remind them of "the old days." This was my intention. I'm happy others are finding it so.

16 Apr, 2003

Reports are coming in on the new blends, and have been very positive. A few questions persist, so I thought I'd mention a couple things. The blends are arranged on the page in order of their fullness. Piccadilly is quite light in the Latakia department, but has plenty of other things going on to keep the smoker's interest. Kensington is next, followed by Blackpoint, and finally Charing Cross, which, while having a healthy dose of Latakia in it, is far from a smoking bomb.

The tamper depicted on the Piccadilly label is a twisted stirling silver piece by Larry Roush. Larry is one of my favourite pipe makers, and his silver work is extraordinary, as well. You can read more about Larry and his pipes here. I don't sell Larry's pipes, but I sure like to smoke them.

Ther's no news on the Syrian Latakia, yet, except that it's on the way. One of these days, it'll arrive on our shores, and the currently missing blends can again be produced. But, one thing that is certain, the new blends are NOT replacements for the missing ones. The Classic Collection is something completely new, and stands on its own in the range.

A new blend will be added to the Classics in June. No hints, apart from the fact that it's a Virginia blend with some perique added...

1 Apr, 2003

No foolin'! The Classic Collection is here! They are already on many dealers' shelves, with more orders coming in. Give them a try and let us hear from you. Your comments are always appreciated. Also, check out the wonderful Tobacco Reviews web site. Sign up, write a review or two, and be immortalized! They've done a great job with site, and it's really become a valuable resource for pipe afficionados everywhere.

New projects are underway, and I anticipate some interesting announcements over the next few months. This promises to be an exciting year!

25 Mar, 2003

The Los Angeles show was a great success for the club and for the community! Hats off to the organizers. The new blends were very well received by those who tried them. Thanks to all who braved the thundering herds to get to the jars and try a bowl or four.

Alas, not all news can be good. Some light-fingered miscreant stole several pipes from the show, including a beautiful Kent Rasmussen from my table. I have put up a page to show pipes that have been stolen and can be documented for those who have been violated by this sort of vile wretch of a pipe thief. We'll not likely get our pipes back, but if enough of our close-knit community knows about these, perhaps it will be difficult for the miscreant to peddle his ill-gotten booty, and he'll think twice before doing it again. And, if I DO ever get my hands on the guy...

20 Mar, 2003 The labels for the Classic Collection are back from the printer, and they look great! I'm taking samples to the LA show with me so people will have a chance to taste them. It looks like the release will happen pretty much on schedule. That's a first!
14 Mar, 2003 There is now a page for the Classic Collection where you can read a little more about them. Now, at long last, I'm going to take a day or two off...
10 Mar, 2003 I've been working like a slave for the past couple months on a new project, the GLPease Classic Collection. The first four blends in this series will be announced and released at the end of this month, or early in April. I'm really excited about them! It almost makes up for the headaches of the Syrian Latakia fiasco...Watch this space for more details as we get closer to the release!
9 Feb, 2003 Ken Lamb has put up a new page to list all the US pipe shows, with dates and contact information all in one place! Check out www.pipeshowsusa.com. Great job, Ken!
1 Feb, 2003

Some bad news: As of last week, there is not one ounce of Syrian Latakia available in North America. When we called our supplier to place an re-order, we were informed it was gone. Many frantic phone calls later, it was clear. It truly is gone. The supply that we believed to be constant was not. We're out. Effective immediately, Renaissance, Raven's Wing and Mephisto are out of production until we can get a new supply of Syrian Latakia.

I hope this is a situation that can be resolved in the near future, but can not predict when this will be. When I started producing my blends, I made a promise to myself that if I could not get the leaf necessary to produce a particular blend exactly as I intended it to be, I would drop the blend. I will NOT reformulate and try to pass the new recipe off as the same thing as the old one. That's not my way. The blends have their own personalities, their own signatures, and it would be doing them, and you, a disservice to make changes mid-stream.

While the Syrian plays a fairly minor role in Raven's Wing and Mephisto, it is the supporting cast of Renaissance. It is possible that I can produce a replacement for Raven and Mephisto that will satisfy most of those who enjoy them, but these will be different blends with different names. Who knows? Perhaps they'll even be better than the originals! I'm in the middle of the development process now.

Renaissance, I'm afraid, can not be replicated or replaced without Syrian Latakia. I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you're going to know about it soon enough, and I figured it would be better coming from me...

Not all the news is bad, though. I've been working on a couple of new things, and one is close to being ready for release. I would say that in early March, you'll see at least one new GLPease blend. This is a classic style English mixture. It's by no means an attempt to copy any particular tobacco, but pays homage to some of the wonderful mixtures from the old, great blending houses of England. Watch this space for an announcement.

In the meanwhile, I hope you will continue to enjoy the rest of the range, and perhaps this news will encourage some of you to explore some of the GLPease blends you've been thinking about trying, but haven't. If you like Latakia, give Samarra a chance! Try Robusto, even if you think you don't like cigar leaf in your blends. It's a unique tobacco!

29 Jan, 2003

Not a lot of news to report, but I've had a few questions about silver hallmarks come my way, and I thought I'd share a great link for information on them:

Hallmark Database - Click Here .

News from 2002