A Month of English

I realize this post won't apply to most of my readers, but I would encourage you to read along and add to your general life knowledge. For those who linked here from my pipe and tobacco message boards, I wanted to share a little experiment I did last month.

I've been smoking a pipe since the mid 1980's (with a large break in the early 2000's as I worked out an answer for my children who would ask why I smoke a pipe). My palate was never really refined and I often missed what other pipesmokers picked up and would describe in a bowl of tobacco. Based on some good advice from the boys over at The Country Squire Podcast (HT: to JD/Beau) and in order to improve my palate and really train myself to taste the differences in tobacco, I committed to smoking just English tobacco for an entire month. 

For those non-pipesmokers, the difference between straight tobacco vs. English tobacco is like the difference you would taste between blended whiskey and a single malt Islay whiskey. English tobaccos have a distinct smokey flavor and smell. For the rest of you who can't relate to tobacco or whiskey, it's like the difference between boiled chicken and deep hickory smoked BBQ chicken.

theMT_English.jpg

My experiment was simple: I chose to smoke (mostly) only tinned tobaccos. I opened and jarred the following tobaccos allowing them to breathe before smoking: Dunhill MM965, The Apertif, EMP, Night Cap as well as C&D Mississippi Mud and G.L. Pease Maltese Falcon. I did add one bulk blend of McClelland 5110 that I purchased from a local brick and mortar under the shop blend name of Sherwood Forest. 

I committed to smoking these tobaccos in the morning, afternoon, and evening. I enjoyed them in a variety of settings. From lunting in nature to sauntering in my local neighborhood to quiet reflection with scripture, good books, jazz and scotch whiskey to delightful reflection of the day with good friends, my wife and my dogs, I worked hard to savor these blends.

The results were magical. Midway through the month, I began to recognize and distinguish what I appreciate in a good English tobacco. I began to develop a taste for the different components and recognize the nuances that many have spoken about in tobacco reviews and comments about favorite blends and favorite blenders. 

I had two disturbing setbacks. First, I fell in love with McClellands 5110. The stoved virginia tobacco makes this delicious and adds to an addicting room note (I'd walk back into the garage after smoking this blend and immediately want more). The disturbing part is that due to many circumstances in the world of pipe tobacco, McClelland Tobacco has shut down production of all tobacco in April 2018. How depressing it is to fall in love with something you really love when you can no longer get it. The second disturbing part is that my wife hates the smell of English tobacco in the air and in my beard (I don't think I need to explain the ultimate result of this setback).

On Easter 2018 (April 1), I loaded up a bowl of Dunhill Three Year Matured Virginia to begin my month of Virginia/VaPers and WOW could I smell and taste the overwhelming sweetness that I had been missing during my prior habit of jumping around English, aromatic, and straight virginia blends. 

If you are struggling to appreciate the intricacies of pipe tobacco (scotch whiskeys, hickory smoked chicken), I recommend trying this experiment and letting me know how it works for you.

Keep your pipes lit my friends!

Quietly making noise,
Fletch

Pipe Smoking

My first pipe - savinelli roma

My first pipe - savinelli roma

Back in 1986, I was a freshman at the University of the Pacific and I purchased my first pipe from a great little pipe shop called The Tobacco Leaf in Stockton, CA. The pipe was a Savinelli Roma. At the time, it was I splurged and throughout college I enjoyed smoking a variety of tobaccos through that pipe. I continued to smoke through dental school and really enjoyed the romance of walking down the streets of San Francisco with smoke billowing out from my pipe. I continued throughout the early years of marriage, but once kids showed up I slowed down and found myself smoking less and less.

Why? Like many things in parenting, I don't think I had a great answer for my kids about smoking my pipe.  Truthfully, I was probably concerned with what people would think and rather than explain what I was doing, I just packed up my pipe supplies and decided to ignore my real and imaginary critics.

The current collection

The current collection

While that pipe was packed away and gathering dust in the garage, many tough discussions have surfaced with my kids regarding faith and behavior. As it turns out, my kids could handle many of those discussions. Likewise, I have also been freed from a lot of the religious behavior and bondage I was stuck in. I also really missed the smell and taste of good pipe tobacco.

So, earlier this year, I brought my pipe out of storage and with the help of eBay I began a new collection. The photo on the right shows the current collection of acquired pipes. I consider this post a coming-out of sorts as I let my readers in on the fact that I enjoy smoking good tobacco in a beautiful briar pipe.

I know this might sound inconsistent, but I still really can't stand the smell or appeal of cigarettes and cigar smoking. The smell from both is a bit offensive and I'm well aware of the dangers of chain smoking and the risk of cancer, so I personally don't understand the appeal of either. If you love smoking cigarettes or cigars, feel free to indulge, but forgive me, because I don't find favor in either. 

That being said, there are a few things I've discovered about pipe smoking in my life. First, my smoking has been a little sporadic. Since I don't smoke in the house, I don't smoke regularly. I find myself enjoying a smoke when I walk with kids, the back porch with my dad, or when I can sneak down to the local pipe shop. Because it is sporadic, it is something I look forward to regularly.

The second thing I have discovered is that smoking a pipe is a super relaxing aspect to my day. Slow puffing and multiple re-lights as I enjoy a bowl of tobacco force me to slow down and enjoy the slower pace of life. I find this slower pace often accompanied by good conversation and reflection on the day.

My pop at our Pipe club - e. crosby tobacconist, Modesto CA

My pop at our Pipe club - e. crosby tobacconist, Modesto CA

Third, the slowing down of life to enjoy a bowl of tobacco has led to a general increase in talking to the people around me as I savor the moments. We don't do enough of that anymore. I have found that enjoying a pipe smoke with Kendra or the kids or anyone leads to deeper conversations. I enjoy those conversations and the camaraderie that leads to with other pipe smokers.

Lastly, I have found that many people enjoy the smell of a pipe and it makes me chuckle when other women tell Kendra how lucky she is that I smoke a pipe. Kendra doesn't see the luck. ;) Some folks connect pipe smoke with a memory of a grandfather or a father, but for the vast majority of people who smell pipe smoke, they will comment how much they like it. I like that it brings others as much joy as it brings to me.

So, if you ever want to join me for a nice smoke, just let me know. I'd love to introduce you to my favorite pipes and tobaccos.

Quietly making noise,
Fletch