Shapes of Things and géométrie

1 May 2023

The second entry in the new Zeitgeist collection, géométrie is full of surprises. It's sort of a modernist reinterpretation of the traditional Virginia/Oriental mixture in plug form. It's got great aging potential, but because of the pressing, it exhibits a wonderfully deep and mature flavor even in its youth. Notes of freshly baked bread, a subtle malty sweetness, and hints of baking spices and delicate floral notes emerge from the combination of the Virginias and Oriental leaf.

When I first saw the plugs in their final form, I was reminded of the proto-cubist movement, which inspired the artistic direction of the label. The name came out of a stream-of-consciousness word salad when I was talking about it with a friend. The French spelling is because France was the birthplace of Cubism, and as a quiet wink to René Descartes. Finally, it's lower case because I think it looks cool, and because I've always kind of liked e.e. cummings...

Slice it thick or thin; rub it out fully, or leave it coarse. I've been experimenting with cutting a slice 2-3mm thick, about 3/32", then cross cutting it into cubes and gravity filling the bowl. Or, making sort of "matchsticks" that are cut to length to fit the bowl, and stacked vertically with a little twist. Both are great ways to enjoy this one. And, for some bowls, finely shaved and rubbed out to a shag works wonderfully.

From the label:

Overlapping planes of vintage, sun-cured Basma and Izmir leaf reframe the malty, natural sweetness of mature red Virginias in this modern expression of the classical Virginia/Oriental archetype. Aged in cakes to deepen and enrich the flavors, this structured, plug-cut tobacco is poised to engage and intrigue all of the senses.

At every phase, this has been a really fun project, and the final result exceeds my expectations in every way. Early reviews have been very positive as well. I hope you enjoy géométrie as much as I have enjoyed creating it.

géométrie was released in April, 2023.

Announcing Bankside

8 November 2022

Inaugurating my new Zeitgeist Collection, a range of tobaccos designed to celebrate the often avant-garde and rebellious themes of the modern era, Bankside is a strikingly modernist reinterpretation of the archetypal Virginia/Perique flake. From a bold, traditional canvas of Red and Bright Virginias and genuine St. James Perique emerge subtle, contrasting strokes of dark-fired Kentucky and Cypriot Latakia tobaccos, originating exotic, smoky undertones that support and enrich notes of sweet cream and the Virginia's citrusy tang.

I've been tasting the final prototype for over a year, and absolutely loving it. It's proved itself for great aging potential, and I'm sure it will deliver well into the next decade. The early reviews have been fantastic, and I'm very excited about this one. It's now released and in general availability, so should be on your favorite retailer's shelves. Enjoy!

There's a really nice piece by Chuck Stanion here if you want to read more.

Bankside was released on 8 November, 2022.

Set Your Sails for Windjammer

5 February 2021

I've been thinking about this one for a long time. Rich, full, flavorful and satisfying, with just a bit of sweetness, and enough complexity to keep it interesting from first light to last puff. Presented in a cut-cake style to allow preparing it to suit both the smoker's choice and the weather. Why Windjammer? The nautical theme seemed right for a slow burning blend that can be enjoyed both at home and at sea. Plus, I just liked the name, and it charted the way for some killer art...

From the label:

A rich and satisfying cut cake comprising sweet, ripe virginias, nutty burleys, unflavored toasted black cavendish, and a generous measure of perique. A splash of dark rum ties it all together, and adds a bit more sweetness. As you enjoy this slow, clean burning flake, you’ll find hints of cocoa, black walnuts, and dried fruits enhancing complex, natural tobacco goodness. Full on the palate, with a delightful aroma. Enjoy smooth sailing with Windjammer.

I've been exploring the prototypes for a few months, and the final product is exactly what I was chasing. It's been a fun journey, as it always is, and I hope you'll love it as much as I do.

Windjammer was released in February, 2021.

Revving Up for Spark Plug

17 January 2020

This has been something of a dream project for me, and I'm happy to say that it's on its way. Spark Plug is the latest blend to find a home in my Heirloom Series.

Here's what the label will tell you:

Deep and dark. Powerful yet refined. The smoky, leathery backdrop of Latakia is layered with an almost incense-like spice of rich orientals, with fine Virginias added for depth and a subtle sweetness. Like the classic roadsters that inspired its creation, Spark Plug has an alluring charm that invites you to rev it up and take it out for long drives in the country. Sliced thick or thin, it will never leave you stranded.

I've been smoking prototypes for nearly a year, and am absolutely loving the final product. As always, working with Jeremy at C&D has been a pure and effortless joy, and Calvin has my often impenetrable design briefs and transformed my concept into the wonderul label seen above. My deepest gratitude and appreciation goes out to these guys for their continued willingness to work with whacky ideas and make them a reality.

Spark Plug is available now. Get some from your favorite retailer, and get ready to start your engines!

Announcing Penny Farthing Shag Cut

10 July 2019

I'm really excited to finally be able to announce this one, my first new release in nearly two years. Penny Farthing is the first shag cut to be presented in the range, and it's taken a long time to get this one just right, including the cut. It's a true shag, about 32 cuts per inch, blended from bright and red Virginias, spiced with Louisiana Perique and a hint of fire-cured dark Kentucky. It's easy to pack, and easy to smoke, opening with a sophisticated sweetness, and evolving in depth and complexity throughout the bowl to a rich, satisfying finish. Because of the fine cut, it can burn fast if you really want it to, but taking your time, sipping gently, will offer the best reward, allow the flavors to fully develop.

Just Released - Regents Flake and Temple Bar

12 July 2016

I've been working on these two for a couple of years, and am thoroughly pleased with the results. They're similar to one another, but also very different, and the differences make them fun to explore together. These are pure tobaccos, free from casings, added sugars or flavorings of any kind. And, as with all my blends, theyll age beautifully in the tins.

Regents Flake starts as a base of red and bright virginia leaf, seasoned with generous amounts of fine oriental tobaccos. A very small percentage of perique is added to enhance the fruitiness of the virginias, as well as to work its magic amplifying some of the lovely exotic, almost floral qualities of the orientals. Pressing and aging in cakes brings out the best of the leaf, after which the blocks are cut and sliced into flakes. The aroma is rich, malty, fruity and just a little earthy. In the bowl, beautiful virginia flavors, subtly sweet, are enhanced by the spice and sweet/tart character of the orientals, and the room note is wonderful.

Temple Bar is made from the same components, but optimized for presentation as a plug. (Temple Bar. See what I did there?) Sliced across the grain, thick or thin, and rubbed out to your preferred texture, the taste can go from subtle to intense, with a similar flavor profile to Regents Flake, though somewhat more fruity from the added fermentation that takes place within the plug.

During the final stages of development, I smoked these in every sort of pipe I could think of - briars, cobs, clays, meerschaums and even calabashes - with a wide variety of bowl geometries, trying to find what worked best, and what didn't. As expected, different pipes delivered different results, but I couldn't find anything that I'd consider "better" than anything else. In fact the converse, more importantly, was true, and I really enjoyed it in everything I smoked it in, though the calabash (a real one, with a large gourd) muted the flavors somewhat. And, yes, they're really delicious in a cob.

These were released for general availability today, and should be on your favorite GLP retailer's shelves by the time you read this.