A Pipe Smoker’s Inquiry

Preparing for My First Pipe Show

One week from today I will be doing something I have never done before as a pipe smoking enthusiast.  If you guessed attend a pipe show, you would be correct.  I will be attending the North American Society of Pipe Collectors (NASPC) annual pipe show in Dublin, Ohio next weekend, and yes, it will indeed be my first pipe show experience (que audience gasps).


I have been a member of the NASPC for over 5 years now and enjoy reading and contributing to their bi-monthly newsletter entitled The Pipe Collector.  In fact, in my humble opinion, it is the closest current publication to the long-lost Pipe Smoker’s Ephemeris.  This timeless publication, produced by the late Tom Dunn, was a quarterly print that allowed members of the world-wide snail mail pipe club to contribute pipe and tobacco related material for publication in a newsletter.  Several of these quarterly newsletters were hundreds of pages long and can still be found for sale on eBay and other collector websites.  As stated early, much of the content in the Pipe Smoker’s Ephemeris newsletters was valuable information and stories regarding pipe smoking from a generation of individuals who lived the true pipe smoking lifestyle. Nevertheless, if you have not heard of, or are not a member of, the NASPC you are certainly missing out.  And with membership dues being only $10 per year (this gives you electronic access to The Pipe Collector newsletter) you can’t beat the value this offer holds.  For more information on the NASPC and membership options visit their webpage at: http://www.naspc.org

Over the years, I’ve read and followed several other pipe smokers and their attendance to the various pipe and tobacciana shows around the world.  Each story of these tobacco and pipe related excursions has done nothing but peak my interest and innermost desire for adventure to what I can only imagine as a Heaven on Earth encounter.  However, I must admit that my mind is running ramped with questions and concerns in preparation for my first every pipe show trip.  Therefore, I feel the best way to focus my thoughts and concerns is through sharing them with you.  Any insight and/or advice from those of you who have participated in a pipe show is very much welcomed and appreciated.  The following are some of my concerns for the upcoming weekend.

Q:  How many pipes should I take with me?

Pipe Collection Pic

For some people this may seem like a simple problem with a simple solution.  However, my mind continues to over analyze and question itself. To narrow the question even further, how many pipes should I carry on my persons during/at the show?  As far as I know, smoking is indeed allowed at the show and I guarantee I will want to partake with other brothers of the briar. So, how many pipes should I take and how many should I carry while at the actual show?

Q:  How much tobacco should I bring with me?

Pipe Tobacco Collection Pic

Again, for some of the more veteran show goers, this may seem to be a simple question, but remember, I’m a newbie at this.  I have several pipe pouches I intended to fill with my favorite blends, but should I also dig into the depths of my cellar to bring some unopened aged tobaccos? Is it weird to carry around a bag with unopened tins of rare tobaccos to share with others?  I’m assuming there will be tobacco vendors on-site selling a wide variety of hand crafted blends, but should I still bring my own and if so, how much?

Q:  If I have pipes I want to sell or trade can I do so?

Pipe Show Picture

There are indeed a few pipes I am looking to part ways with.  Although I typically put pipes I am ready to relinquish on eBay for auction, would it be frowned upon if I took them to sell or trade?  Further, how do I go about doing so?  Are vendors open to trade or are they only looking to sell the pipes they have for cash?  How do you know if they are open to buying or trading?

Q:  How do you determine a budget for the show?

Money Pic

Yes, I have already found quite a bit of advice related to pipe show budgeting such as only using cash (this will help you stay within your budget range and once you’re out of money you can’t buy anything else).  However, what should this amount really be?  I reflect on my current collection and think “do I reallyneed another pipe?” and the answer is no. But this is my first pipe show and I would really like to get at least one pipe to mark the occasion.  Also, can I expect to get a better deal on pipes for sale at the show or is it the same deals I find online, I just get to look and feel the pipe before purchasing?

Please know these four questions are only a fraction of the conversation in my mind but I want to ensure this is a memorable experience and that I don’t look/act like a complete moron at the show. No matter what, I will be surrounded by other people who enjoy the hobby of pipes and tobaccos just as much as myself and that has to count for something.

If you plan on attending the upcoming NASPC show send me a message through this webpage or via email and maybe we could meet up to share a bowl.  I will certainly report back with pictures and stories in the upcoming weeks and look forward to sharing my first pipe show experience with all of you.  Until then, be well.


Dr. Kyle Andrew Signature

A Pipe Smoker’s Inquiry

Pipes and Paintings

I’ve always had a very keen interest in art, especially paintings.  With my personal artistic background focusing more on the music discipline rather than a visual art specialty, I have always envied those that have the natural ability to paint, draw, and sculpt.  No secret here, I can’t draw or paint…  However, this does not negatively influence my love and appreciation for great art, more specifically, historical works from centuries past.  And for me, there is no better way to take the time for analysis and appreciate of a historical masterpiece than with a great pipe and tobacco.  I love intentionally planning moments to examine fine masterpieces of the past and do so by letting my imagination drift in tandem to the artist’s brush strokes, all the while, accompanying my imaginative playground with the wonderfully aromatic clouds of smoke as they drift into the heavens above.  Essentially, that is what this segment, Pipes and Paintings, will focus on.  My annotations, stories, questions, and thoughts related to paintings and artworks of days gone by.  I hope you enjoy, as I share a small part of my imagination and love, for both pipes and paintings, with those of you willing to adventure into the vast mind of a fellow pipe smoker.

Smokers in a Turkish Coffee House

Painting by: Joseph Nash (1809 – 1878)

Smokers in a Turkish Coffee House Open

I always love people in paintings.  When done well, each carries their own unique personality and identity that either helps or hinders the story being communicated. Smokers in a Turkish Coffee Houseis a prime example of how an artist can utilize facial expressions and focus to communicate a story.  Before we go any further into facial communications of the artwork I must point out the monkey in the room.  What am I referring to you may ask?  Obviously, it’s the oversized churchwarden pipe held by the gentleman wearing the dark clothing in the front right portion of the painting.

Smokers in a Turkish Coffee House Pic 1

I mean, my lord! There are several questions as to the actual functionality of that smoking implement.  First, how the hell does one light a pipe that large (assholes are saying, “with a match”)?  I understand that practice used to be one of the owners/proprietors of the establishment typically would keep a customer’s pipe lit throughout their visit.  But what if this individual was busy and your pipe continued to go out?  Or, what if this extraordinarily long tavern churchwarden pipe belongs to the gentleman in the dark clothing…. how would he light it at home?  Further, what type of draw do you think the pipe has?  Cigar aficionado’s love to boast about the tight draws that most Cuban cigars have.  Well, let me chime in a moment, Havana lovers.  You haven’t experienced a tight draw until you have smoked the above pictured behemoth of a pipe.  Anyway, I digress.  Back to the story being communicated by the characters in the painting.

Several expressions indicate that whatever the gentleman (red circle) is saying, or has said, is not liked by the ‘regulars’ (blue circles).

Smokers in a Turkish Coffee House Pic 2

I use the adjective ‘regulars’ as both the grouping of individuals in the full-scale work, and the use of a hookah, indicates to me these people are friends or acquaintances. Further, the positioning and lighter colors/shades of the messenger (man with a red circle) indirectly confirm his status to be an outsider.  Quite possibly, the men are discussing politics?  Maybe the guest gentleman (red circle) has come in and made comments about an ugly female tavern winch he encountered earlier in the day.  It just so happens, the winch in which he is detailing is the wife of the white turban hookah smoker in the front.  I image the conversation to be as follows:

Red Circle Man: “Wow gentlemen!  Have I had a most unusual experience with the most absolutely horrifying woman I’ve ever encountered.  I mean, seriously fellas, telling this lady she was ugly would be a compliment.”

The gentleman’s comments draw some chuckles from individuals around the room.  Some of the patrons continue minding their own business and conversations while a few have now turned their attention to the newcomer. 

Long Churchwarden fellow: “I beg, who is this you speak of and where did you meet her?  I can assure you, not one of us wishes to fall ill to this terrifying woman you describe.”

Turning his body to address not only the individual who asked the question, but the entire room, the foreigner continues his tale through the wafting clouds of aromatic smoke filling the room.  Now with several individuals paying attention the man speaks in a louder and fuller voice.

Red Circle Man: “Ah, yes!  I will gladly disclose my encounter to you as I would not wish this beast of a creature on the worst of my enemies.”

He takes a long draw from his tavern churchwarden before continuing.

Red Circle Man: “You see friend, I am currently lodging at the Iron Rose Inn, however, found myself at the Pewter Pot Tavern last evening for a drink and possible a turn at the dice tables.  Aside from a good pipe and tobacco, I’ve always found pleasure from a hearty ale and a small amount of gambling.  But woe to me, as upon calling to the bar maid I was greeted by a swine of a human being.”

Blue Circle Man Wearing a Black Turban: “Tell us, was it a bear of a man?  Grizzly and unkept in nature?  That is Pots, the owner of the establishment.”

Red Circle Man: “To my regret no.  Although I do recall seeing the gentleman you are describing, the individual I am speaking of was a woman and would have benefited from such a description as the one you have giving.”

As more heads have now turned to listen to the visitor’s story, the tavern foreigner gains an air of confidence in himself and his tale, being the focus of attention to most patrons. 

Red Circle Man: “My friend, what I tell you next is but a nightmare to say the least.  The woman turned and asked what I’d be having, and I surely shrieked aloud in her face. The sight of such a ghastly individual I’ve yet to encounter in all my journeys.  Her eyes were but remanences of a dark endless well.  Her nose and mouth looked as if to had been flattened by a forty-ton ship. And her hair!  My, my, that unkept, greasy heap of string would have made even Medusa look as though she were but a spring of beauty to be had.”   

Blue Circle White Turban Man Holding the Hookah Handle: “Pray, do tell me, what did you say the color of her hair was?”

Red Circle Man: “Ah yes!  I do understand that you too want to make sure you never have to see such a hideous sight as I.  Why, it was red. As the fires of the devil himself.”

There is a slight pause as the visitor laughs aloud not sensing the awkward silence that has befell the room, accompanied by stares of shock and concern. 

Blue Circle White Turban Man Holding the Hookah Handle: “I beg your pardon ‘friend’ but that would be my wife you are describing.”

This is where the painting displayed above picks up the story.  The stranger is now turning to address the angry gentleman and his friends, while onlookers wait to see how the situation resolves.  You may be wondering how I came to know the story from a single capture of time in ink?  Well, there are several other facial expressions and clues that confirm the truth behind my prediction.  Let me explain.  There are two other expressions that can be disseminated from the painting that help provide evidence to the accusation that the visitor has insulted the hookah smoking gentleman. These expressions are symbolized through worry (yellow) and joy (green).

Smokers in a Turkish Coffee House Pic 3

As we see in the snapshot above, the gentleman identified by the yellow circle is likely the proprietor of the coffee house.  Although he has been tending to guest and working hard to meet their demands, he has also monitored the conversation taking place (eavesdropping).  As soon as the gentleman in the white turban, who is smoking the hookah, announces to the visitor (man with the red circle) that he is aggressively insulting his wife, the owner turns his attention to the gentleman displaying a look of panic and concern.  What possibly could the proprietor be thinking?  Maybe, “Oh no, please don’t fight”or “I hope this resolves better than last time”or “Ouch, Gustav will not be easy to calm after those comments.”  No matter the circumstance, his job from this point on will be to keep the shop calm, ensuring a scuffle does not occur disrupting the relaxing smoking pleasure of other guests.

Smokers in a Turkish Coffee House Pic 4

Now, there is not all doom and gloom to come from the story.  Last, and certainly not least, we see the green circle individuals, most of whom are young children/youth.  Keen observers will note their expressions to be happy and almost playful in a manner. Why, we may ask?  When reflecting back to my own childhood and youth, if I were to be a spectator of such a scene, through my immaturity and youthfulness, I too most certainly would have found the scenario to be funny.  In all honesty, the male child standing next to the visitor is probably an employee of the smoke/coffee shop who is looked down upon and mistreated on a regular basis from the clientele.  For him to experience such a scene would certainly make his day better.

Further, I assume the two young girls in the lower right corner of the painting are the daughters of one or two of the patrons.  As they mindlessly wait in boredom for their father(s) to enjoy smoke and small talk with other men in the shop, they become very amused with the insults being disclosed by the visitor.  For them, this is drama at its best.

In reality, I have no on earthly idea what the artist, Joseph Nash, was attempting to display in this work.  Although this is one of the stories my mind likes to tell, it may be nowhere near the original intention of the artist.  This is one of the beauties of art, especially historic paintings with people in them.  We get to create a story, therefore, allowing our mind to become a piece of the art. And there is no better way to do so than while smoking a treasured pipe with an exceptional tobacco.

Dr. Kyle Andrew Signature

A Pipe Smoker’s Inquiry

Happy Father’s Day

What does it mean to be a father?  Depending on which era or generation this question is posed, we would certainly find significant variations of responses.  I have always loved the image of a middle-aged male coming home from work, dressed in suit and tie, welcomed by a well-groomed house wife (typically adoring an apron of sorts), happy child, and obedient family pet.  All excited that the ‘man of the house’ has returned from a hard day’s work.

oldpipe Father's Day

As this story plays out in my mind, the husband is greeted at the door by his loving wife, who takes his gloves, hat, and overcoat, while handing him the afternoon paper for his reading prior to dinner being served.  The gracious husband and father returns his wife’s greeting with a quick smooch and confidently retreats to his most comfortable chair to enjoy an early afternoon pre-dinner pipe while reading today’s local newspaper.  After picking up his favorite, well-loved Dr. Grabow pipe, and loading a bowl of his favorite OTC blend (Granger or Sir Walter Raleigh) the father sits as his son approaches stating, “Here dad, let me light that for you.”  The father graciously allows his son to provide the first match charring light while inquiring as to what he learned in school that day.

Knowingly or not, this is one of the many crucial lessons the father is unintentionally teaching his son in the scenario above.  No, it’s not that smoking is bad and anyone who does it is a terrible and dirty individual who is sure to be damned to hell.  Actually, it is very much the opposite, in that conversation, reading, and relaxation are all good practices and very much necessary in order to live a successful, fulfilling life.

Pipe Smoking Dad

Home Sweet Home, by J.C. Leyendecker. Detail from The American Weekly – June 15, 1947 (retrieved from Eric Boehm’s Facebook account).

Obviously, the picture and scenario above represent a time from previous generations.  However, the conversation, bond, love, and respect for dad was evident with the outcome being a family that worked together and depended on one another in order to live a happy, successful life.

It could easily be argued that this interaction and loyalty have been overshadowed, and for the most part lost, due to our current fast paced, greedy, self-fulfilling society.  The now obstructed and overemphasized view of equality, rights, and free-speech have given way to the ‘new family’ where most of the values learned in the scenario above, have evaporated like ice in the dessert, or are no longer considered priorities at all due to political correctness (whatever the hell that is…).

For me, I am both blessed and grateful to have a loving family where we still value each other through conversation, relaxation, reading, and the enjoyment of various hobbies (such as board games).  It is well known by my amazing wife and kids how much I enjoy smoking a pipe and reading a multitude of literary genres.  Therefore, I must admit I was completely shocked when I was gifted a new pipe for Father’s Day this year.  Because of our interaction and frequent conversations with one another, my wife was very ‘in tune’ to a specific pipe brand/model I had been stalking lately.  To my surprise, and delight, my kiddos gifted me (at my wife’s discretion) a brand-new Stanwell Hans Christian Andersen pipe today.

Stanwell 1

Stanwell 2

I mean, wow, what an amazing gift!  This only confirms that I am blessed and appreciated by those around me who I value above anything else.  Further, this pipe now holds a special place in my collection and heart.  Even if it proves to be a terrible smoker, which I am betting it’s not, there is no way I would ever sell or trade this beautiful trinket.  In fact, I hope that one day after I’m long gone, one of my own sons will look back at the pipe and remember the joy and happiness it brought me on this Father’s Day. Although it’s not one of my own children lighting a match to provide my first charring light (as seen above), I hope my kids have been able to witness, both today and in the future, the many joys this pipe and others in my collection have brought me.  Further, the most valuable lesson to be had is that of making time for relaxation, conversation, and family.  By far, these are the keys to being successful in this overopinionated, fast-paced world.

To all the father’s reading this, I hope you have a wonderful and blessed Father’s Day.  May your day be filled with pipe smoke, food, family, and libations to celebrate your amazing role as dad.


Dr. Kyle Andrew Signature

Pipe Tobacco Review

Presbyterian Mixture

Presbyterian Mixture Picture

Recently, a batch of Presbyterian Mixture hit the online markets after a long-standing drought.  Similar to other hard-to-find tobaccos, within a matter of days, the availability of this tobacco was no more.  We are once again forced to stare at the dreaded Out of Stockmessage that fills our spirts with hope that one day, we may again have the opportunity to aggressively purchase more tins of this ‘rare’ tobacco than we will ever need or consume.

In all honesty, I feel I had ample time to purchase more tins of Presbyterian Mixture, however, wanted to make sure I enjoyed it enough before doing so (I know…logic actually prevailed, shocking isn’t it).  Thus, a deep dive into the farthest corners of my tobacco cellar rewarded my daring excursion with a tin of Presbyterian Mixture from 2016.  With a few years of age, my interests were even further piqued and now it was time to see what all the hustle was about.

Info & Overview

Brand: Planta

Category: English

Blend Components: Latakia, Oriental/Turkish, Virginia

Flavorings: None

Cut Type: Ribbon/Course

Available Packaging: 50g tin

Price: $10.00 USD


On to the review…


From the Tin: Initial nose on the tin proved the blend to contain Latakia.  Smokey campfire accompanied by natural dark fruit and woodsy walnut notes dominated the smell from the tin.  The tobacco was almost spot on in the moisture department only requiring 10 minutes of air time to dry.  Overall, the tobacco mixture is medium dark with light Virginia flakes interspersed throughout.

Tasting Notes: Unless you are a pipe and tobacco enthusiast that’s been living under some rock the past 10 years, you will note the great debate of whether or not the blend actually contains any Perique, even though it is not listed in the blend components.  After smoking several bowls of Presbyterian Mixture, I would have a hard time defending the argument that it doesn’t contain Perique.  In fact, I would almost certainly bet there is a reasonable amount of Perique in this blend.  Throughout each smoking experience I was greeted by a hefty dose of spice and pepper.  Certainly, a characteristic of Perique.  In most cases when the spicy pepper appeared it was not balanced well with the other components/tastes which was somewhat shocking to me as the tin had already accumulated 2 years of age.  I noted tastes of burnt toast, nutmeg, and dry wood while smoking and the room note was remanence of an antique sweet perfumed fragrance.  The tobacco burned well and was medium bodied throughout.  Strength of the tobacco was also a straight forward medium proving to not be overpowering in the nicotine department.  The tobacco burned down to a nice white ash each time leaving little to no dottle remaining in the bowl.

Overall Impression: It may be hard to believe based upon the tasting notes above, however, Presbyterian Mixture was just ‘ok’ in my opinion.  I experienced nothing that would cause me to speak negatively of this tobacco, but on the flip side, the ‘wow’ factor was also far from present.  I am sure there are lots of pipe smokers who enjoy this medium English blend, but for me, it’s nothing to jump up and down about. In fact, based upon my smoking experience with this cellared tin, I chose not to purchase any additional tins while still available.  If you enjoy an exclusive, medium Latakia forward smoke, pick a few tins up next time it becomes available.  For me, I think I will pass on the Presbyterian.

Tobacco Score:

3 Pipes

Dr. Kyle Andrew Signature

Cigar Review

H. Upmann Sir Winston

HUpmann Sir Winston Header

I’m not going to lie.  It was only after delving into this month’s issue of cigar aficionado, which features the iconic Sir Winston Churchill, that I even considered revisiting a box of H. Upmann Sir Winston’s that had been peacefully aging away in one of my humidors.  Although not the actual cigar Sir Winston himself smoked, (that is said to be Romeo e Julieta Churchills) Habanos SA crafted the Sir Winston in the H.Upmann marque to celebrate and commemorate Britain’s cigar smoking iron giant.

The box I currently own displays the box code TLR SEP 08, which means the cigars were rolled in September of 2008, roughly 10 years ago.  Let me go on record ending the debate of whether aged cigars are truly better than freshly rolled sticks…the answer is a resounding YES!  If you have the time, patience, and money to store away some great cigars, specifically Cuban cigars, you will not be disappointed by your investment.  Let’s see how these 10-year-old Sir Winston’s are progressing.


On to the review….


H. Upmann Sir Winston Attributes

Size: Churchill

Length: 7

Ring Gauge: 47

Wrapper: Cuba

Binder: Cuba

Filler: Cuba

Country: Cuba

Price: $31.00 USD ea.

HUpmann Sir Winston #8

Pre-light Inspection: The smooth medium brown wrapper on this cigar had an almost redish Rosado hue. The triple seam cap was semi-sloppy and the pre-light smell showed characteristics of a rich velvety chocolate and raspberry.  No soft spots were detected and the cold draw was extremely tight showing notes of straw/hay with a creamy finish.

Tasting Notes and Performance:  Hands down, the H.Upmann Sir Winston performed like an all-star.  Although the draw was a bit firmer than I typically prefer, the cigar burned and smoked very well.  Cigar was mild in strength and medium in body throughout most of the smoking experience.  Cigar tastes included a salty soft caramel start that transitioned to cinnamon, brown sugar, buttery characteristics, and ended with creamy, bready, cedar notes. The room note reminded me of a freshly rising yeasty bread with the cigar producing a lot of thin white smoke. Very much an interesting and rewarding smoking experience.

Overall Impressions: The wait has definitely yielded reward with the H. Upmann Sir Winston.  With a little over half a box remaining, I am certainly looking forward to smoking my remaining stock in the very near future.  Although I am a firm believer that cigars do improve with age, similar to wine, there is a window where cigars peak, and if not smoked, begin to lose flavor.  The current 2008 stock are performing unbelievably amazing at the moment, offering any cigar smoker the pleasure and enjoyment we search for each smoking experience.  In my opinion, if you’ve got ‘em, smoke ‘em.

Cigar score:

5 Cigar Boxes

Dr. Kyle Andrew Signature

Pipe Tobacco Review

Dunhill Nightcap

Dunhill Nightcap Pic

In February of this year, I reviewed Dunhill Elizabethan Mixture and discussed the unfortunate circumstance of Dunhill pipe tobacco coming to an end.  Currently, Dunhill blends are available at several online and B&M retailers, however, nobody truly knows how long the current stock will last.  I have heard opposing rumors from both ends of the spectrum regarding Dunhill pipe tobaccos.  *WARNING RUMOR ALERT*  Rumor #1, once the online and local B&M retailers run out of stock, it will not be replaced.  Rumor #2, there are warehouses full of Dunhill tobaccos that will last for at least another year, if not more.

No matter what the case may be, I think we all learned our lesson with McClelland.  If you like it, stock up!  I hope to smoke and review my way through most of the Dunhill portfolio before the end of the year, thus, giving you, the reader, a full analysis of the various blends before you decide to buy and/or stock-up for your own enjoyment.

Info & Overview

Brand: Dunhill

Category: English

Blend Components: Latakia, Oriental/Turkish, Perique, Virginia

Flavorings: None

Cut Type: Ribbon

Available Packaging: 50g tin

Price: $12.45 USD

Tin Date: October 2017

On to the review…

From the Tin: The tobacco is beautifully packed and is comprised of a mix between dark latakia tobacco, dark chestnut Orientals, and medium brown Virginias.  Tin smell is an overwhelming campfire smokiness with minor hints of a dark fruit sweetness.  Moister level is almost perfect straight out of the tin, requiring minimal, if any, drying time.

Tasting Notes: Dunhill nightcap is a completely full-body, full-flavor smoking experience…period. The tobacco burns great and provides a thick white smoke whose aromatic characteristic would be classified by most non-smokers as offensive.  Tastes included essences of damp forest floor, smoked meats, burnt/charred wood, and rich black coffee.  The vitamin N was certainly noticeable which required me to slow my smoking cadence and enjoy the bold profile this tobacco possessed.  Even when I did test the waters by smoking the blend hot and fast, it never gave me tongue bite or dried my palate.

Overall Impression: First and foremost, I would not recommend this tobacco to a novice pipe smoker, even if they are transitioning from other tobacco usage methods.  Further, I would recommend smoking Dunhill Nightcap on a full stomach, as the nicotine level is most evident.  This tobacco is certainly something special and should be treated accordingly. I very much enjoyed smoking through several bowls of this blend and highly recommend it to pipe smokers who love a full-bodied English blend.  Although Latakia is said to mellow from aging, I am certain this blend will only get better with time.  You can bet I will be stocking my cellar with Dunhill Nightcap for enjoyment in the very near future.

Tobacco Score:

5 Pipes

My parting thoughts on this blend are nothing but positive.  Without a doubt, Dunhill pipe tobaccos are something special (at least to me) and Dunhill Nightcap upholds my expectations for providing a most enjoyable smoking experience.  If you are a lover of latakia or strong, full-bodied tobaccos, this blend is a must try. Further, if you are one of the many tobacco coinsurers that are transitioning from cigars to pipe tobacco, this blend may be for you.  Pick a tin or two up and enjoy the gifts we have been given before it is gone.

Dr. Kyle Andrew Signature

Mystery Tobacco Review March/April

Mystery Tobacco Review March/April 2018

Mystery Tobacco 3 pic 1

Why smoke and review pipe tobacco not knowing its components or who produced it?  So, we can provide you, the audience, with an objective perspective on a product easily influenced by a few big voices in a small hobby.  Yes, whether or not you want to accept it, you are a human being, whose interests and perceptions are influenced (like it or not) by the feelings, opinions, and ideas of others.  The purpose of the Mystery Tobacco review segment is not to eliminate these influences, rather, it’s an attempt to neutralize outside commercial influences that harbor unintentional effects on us as consumers/hobbyist. Also, it’s a fun thing to do!

Although we missed a month, we are back with the March/April Mystery Review. The three panelists were given samples of this month’s tobacco with no identifying information and asked to smoke a few bowls and provide their perspective.  Let’s see how this month’s blend measured up to the pipe smoking panelist.


On to the review…


Mystery Tobacco 3 pic 2

From the Tin

Derek: Fine ribbon cut. Natural sweet aroma with a little musty funk.

Corey: The smokiness of the Latakia really stands out as you open the bag and smell the blend. After the initial hit of smokiness, the spiciness of Orientals comes out with a sense of that old-time type smell…of old books and papers spread out on an old, fragrant cedar desk.  The tobacco is finely cut into ribbon pieces, a shag type cut in the old style; reminiscent of the Esoterica cuts.  In fact, this tobacco makes me think Margate!

Kyle: This shag cut is not very appealing to the eye.  My bag/sample is very dry (I hope the others weren’t sent out this dry…).  I smell from the ‘tin’ shows strong hints of both Latakia and faint Oriental notes.  I cannot detect any type of topping or added flavoring, however, as I stated, the tobacco is very dry.  The blend is a mix of both dark black leaf and faint pieces of light brown Virginias.

Tasting Notes

Derek: Packs and lights well. A nice light sweetness is present. I notice some smokiness from a little touch of Latakia. To me, the main flavor is the Oriental. Orientals always bring a “funky” flavor. Married well with the other components for a mild to medium strength blend.

Corey: The initial light ignites the Latakia smokiness and creaminess…it starts off slowly and unassuming.  This is a strong tobacco, strong flavor, full aroma, strong room note that will definitely chase those away that don’t like pipe smoke and will stink up a room. The flavor is great, especially for those who enjoy Latakia, but that’s not all it offers. There comes a spiciness, presumed from Orientals that come into play and create a rich, deep, yet creamy flavor, a type of creosote flavor, which I mean in a positive sense. All of this must be softened by a bit of Virginias, which may also add to the creaminess, pulling any harshness from the Orientals out, so it does have a good balance.

Kyle: The tobacco packs well but burned a little hot in all three bowls I smoked.  There is a pleasant room note that has a musty, old cologne reminisce to it.  I am not sure a non-smoker would care for the smell; however, I didn’t mind it.  The tastes were somewhat bland and ill defined.  I could easily identify a burnt/charred meat tastes and was occasionally entertained by a woody sweat undertone, but other than that, the tasting notes of the smoke didn’t do much for me.  The tobacco was easily medium bodied throughout with a noticeable, but not overpowering, nicotine hit.  The bowl burned down to a nice white ash leaving very little dottle.

Overall Impression

Derek: This is good. It’s like a nice mild Balkan blend. Reminds me of Early Morning Pipe. An all-day blend. I would buy this.

Corey: This tobacco is blended craftily, the cut works and packs well–like old style. The tobacco performs well all the way down to the bottom of the bowl. Smokes perfectly with lots of flavor and aroma, strong and somewhat complex, a good smoky Latakia blend that isn’t too overdone or overpowering. Well worth trying, purchasing, and cellaring especially.

Kyle: Overall, this tobacco was good but far from great.  I am willing to bet the dryness of the tobacco inhibited it from fully performing as it should.  I am not disappointed in the tobacco but would not reach for it again with so many other great Latakia/Oriental choices on the market (if those are actually components of the blend…).  Glad I smoked it but would not purchase again.

Individual Scores:

Derek (4 Pipes)

4 Pipes

Corey (5 Pipes)

5 Pipes

Kyle (3 Pipes)

3 Pipes

Now that we have established our thoughts and scores, it’s time to reveal the tobacco.  The Mystery Tobacco for March/April 2018 is:

Mystery Tobacco 3 pic 3

Esoterica Pembroke (2012)

Info & Overview

Brand: Esoterica Tobacciana

Category: English

Blend Components: Latakia, Oriental/Turkish, Virginia

Flavorings: Alcohol/Liquor

Cut Type: Shag

Available Packaging: 2oz tin

Price: $15.25 USD

There are several questions that come to mind now that I know the brand and age of this tobacco.  Question 1. Does aging tobacco really make it better?  At least for me, this blend was nothing overly special.  It is said that Virginias age much better than any other type of tobacco. With this blend being primarily Latakia/Oriental, I’m not sure six years of age has done anything to improve the tobacco.  In fact, for me (not the other reviewers), it only mellowed the tobacco to the point of bland.  Question 2. There is always a lot of hype around Esoterica blends.  However, is it the actual tobacco/blend they seek or the excitement of the hunt and find of this rare, frequently unavailable, brand (blend vs. brand)?  I suppose more investigation is needed to answer both of these questions and I happily volunteer to be the one to conduct the study!

Thanks again for taking the time to visit The Pipe Professor webpage.  I hope you have enjoyed reading this Mystery Tobacco review and stay tuned for more reviews, news, and general pipe smoking related content.  Until next time, cheers!

Dr. Kyle Andrew Signature

Cornell & Diehl Star of the East Flake

Star of the East Flake

C&D Star of the East Flake Pic

Before coming across Kyle Weiss’s review of this blend on the Pipes Magazine Radio Show webpage, I had never heard of this tobacco.  After reading his review, my interest was certainly piqued, but what caught my attention more than anything was his reference to Star of the East Flake as having the potential to be a very close substitute for Esoterica’s Penzance.  Now, being the Penzance junky I am, there was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity to give this blend a try.  After all, if it even came close to the coveted, but hard to obtain Penzance, then maybe the ludicrous lucky hunt for my Esoterica favorite would no longer have to exist.  So, is it truly a Penzance replica?  Let’s find out.

Info & Overview

Brand: Cornell & Diehl

Category: English

Blend Components: Latakia, Oriental/Turkish, Virginia

Flavorings: None

Cut Type: Flake

Available Packaging: 2oz tin (or) 8oz tin

Price: $9.77 USD (or) $29.33


On to the review…


From the Tin: This tobacco has a very intriguing tin note that will lure any lover of latakia into its memorizing grasp. The smell from the tin offers a burnt, smoky, campfire essence with deep, dark fruits, and rich tobacco notes. The presentation of long dark broken flake cuts is very appealing.  The tobacco is easily rubbed out or brittle enough to be folded and stuffed (larger bowl pipes only).  The tobacco’s moister level is a tad more than I like it, however, minimal drying time is required in order to enjoy this blend.

Tasting Notes: Boom!  Right from the start the aroma and taste let you know latakia is present.  However, let me be clear.  This is one excellent tasting tobacco.  Thick, creamy white smoke that lend itself to a figgy, natural sweet fruit taste.  There was also a minor floral, earth note that appeared halfway through the smoking experience.  The smoke is cool and dry offering a room note that is reminisce of an antique rustic book store.  The strength of the tobacco is medium while the body medium-full.  The tobacco burns extremely well leaving a nice white ash. One of the most enjoyable characteristics this tobacco offered me was the lasting aftertaste experienced long after the bowl was finished.  The taste lingers beyond the completion of smoking, continuing to provide enjoyment throughout the day.  A true sign of a quality tobacco.

Overall Impression: Is this tobacco a replacement for Penzance?  In my opinion, no.  It very well may be better than Penzance!  Don’t get me wrong, Esoterica Penzance is an excellent tobacco, however, one must take into consideration its limited availability and extreme cost and ask themselves, “Is this really worth it?”  With excellent blends such as Star of the East Flake on the market, that by the way, is a 1/3 of the price and regularly available, pipe smokers would be crazy not to give this one a go.  If you enjoy a rich, bold, complex smoking experience, Star of the East Flake is a must try.  This tobacco is very much a contender for my 2018 Top 5 list, and who knows, maybe the #1 tobacco of the year.

Tobacco Score:

5 Pipes

Dr. Kyle Andrew Signature

A Pipe Smoker’s Inquiry

Reflecting on a Tragedy

As most pipe smokers would agree, the news of The McClelland Pipe Tobacco Company shutting its doors was both tragic and discomforting.  I specifically use the adjective tragic as McClelland had been in business for 40+ years.  The company was built on what most Americans describe as the ‘American Dream’.  Therefore, witnessing this 40 years of hard work and dedication from both Mike and Mary McNeil virtually crumble to pieces in a 60-day time period, is certainly as I described…tragic.  The pipe smoking community has certainly taken a negative turn because of this misfortune.  With one of the largest portfolios on the tobacco market, McClelland is now but a pastime that smokers from this time period will share with those entering the hobby 20 years from now.

McClelland Pipe Tobacco Logo

We could get into a rather deep discussion regarding the outlying factors for the company’s closure, and yes, it is concerning that such a ‘giant’ in this market melted down so quickly; however, I would prefer this piece focus on the other word I used to describe this downfall of Rome – discomforting.

What does it really mean when something or someone is discomforting?  According to the Oxford Universal Dictionary (1955) discomfort is, “to make uncomfortable or uneasy” (p. 520). To most people this does not sound appealing or pleasant in the least, but maybe it is exactly what the pipe smoking community needed [que audience gasp].  Like many others across the globe, McClelland was one of my favorite brands of tobacco.  I could have easily rushed out upon the announcement and speculation of the company closing and purchased up every available tin of McClelland tobacco to be found.  Believe me, there were several individuals who participated in such nonsensical behavior.  Instead, I chose to catalog what tins I had remaining in my cellar and establish an informal schedule of how to smoke the McClelland tobacco I have remaining in order to enjoy these tobaccos for years to come.  So, what did this endeavor teach me?  Well, I have taken this opportunity of discomfort and used it to learn, grow, and expand my pursuit of other pipe tobacco blends.  In fact, I am now somewhat thankful for the tragedy.  Let me explain.

Man Smoking A Pipe Picture

I am very much a creature of habit.  When I find something I like, I tend to stick with it and am hesitant to make any type of change or adjustment.   Because of my love for McClelland tobaccos, in the past when making a pipe tobacco order, I typically would order those tobaccos (McClelland blends) I knew would provide me with the enjoyment and comfort I seek in pipe smoking.  The closing of McClelland, and disappearance of their products from the market at reasonable prices, has forced me to change this habit and further restart my exploration for new tobacco blends currently available.  When exploring what change means, I am reminded of Marris’s (1975) point that all types of change involve loss, anxiety, struggle or a combination of the three. My discomfort, experienced from circumstances in which I have no control, has forced me to change my behavior, and I must admit, for the better.

Some of the blends I have explored in lieu of this tragedy are proving to be absolutely outstanding tobaccos, providing me with even more enjoyable smoking experiences than I have had in the past.  The following blends are some of those I have recently explored and am currently enjoying.

Boswell’s Titus

Screen Shot 2018-03-18 at 10.46.15 PM

I would describe this as a mild, light English blend.  Easily enjoyable all day, this blend offers the smoker a creamy, naturally sweet experience.  The tobacco burns well and does not overpower the palate.  For me, this is an excellent tobacco to start the day with.  Not too powerful, but still a tasty treat.


G.L. Pease Westminster

Screen Shot 2018-03-18 at 10.47.26 PM

Where have you been all my life!?  Westminster is certainly a hidden gem.  With medium smoky notes that lead to a musty book (well-aged tobacco) room note.  The tastes hint at a figgy/raisin characteristic with further notes of rich molasses and sweet cedar.  This well-crafted English blend has quickly made an appearance in my regular rotation.


Sutliff’s Blend No. 5

Screen Shot 2018-03-18 at 10.48.08 PM

Yes, I was hesitant to pull the trigger on this blend as I typically associate Sutliff with lower end aromatic tobaccos.  I stand corrected.  Blend No. 5 offers the smoker a smooth and simplistic smoking experience.  There is a nice initial spice to the tobacco that quickly melts into a solid earthy, nutty taste.  The blend is mild to medium bodied and can be enjoyed at any hour of the day.


Cornell & Diehl Star of the East Flake 

Screen Shot 2018-03-18 at 10.49.01 PM

I had read several places online that this blend was a great substitute for the ever so difficult to obtain Esoterica Penzance.  Let me be the first to say it is not.  In my opinion this tobacco is even better than Penzance (and believe me, I have smoked my fair share of Penzance).  With aroma notes of musty, old book, and smoky campfire remains, the blend is very complex. Its tasting profile offers the smoker notes of sweet and sour earth, leather, spice, and wood.  This blend is certainly in the full-bodied range and carries a noticeable nicotine punch if not respected by the smoker’s cadence.  Very well crafted and highly recommended.


In the end, I am indeed saddened by the loss of a great tobacco company.  However, to think I would have never expanded my search to find these amazing blends because of my loyal dedication to one specific company, and a few specific blends, is almost more concerning than the quickness in which McClelland left the market.  Overall, I encourage my fellow pipe smoking friends to not be scared, upset, or anxious at the current discomforts we are experiencing, rather, embrace them as an opportunity to change and grow.  An opportunity for us to explore other fabulous pipe tobacco offerings.  After all, sometimes it takes discomfort in order for change to occur.  And most of the time, it is for the better.

Dr. Kyle Andrew Signature

Mystery Tobacco Review #2

Mystery Tobacco Review #2


With the first Mystery Tobacco Review segment being such a hit, we decided to continue on with this column and hope you enjoy these objective evaluations on various pipe tobacco blends for months to come.  For more information about the Mystery Tobacco Review project, please read the first Mystery Tobacco Review here.

Without further ado, let’s jump into the January 2018 mystery blend.  Similar to last month, the same three reviewers have graciously devoted their time and energy into smoking sample #2.  Enjoy!

On to the review…


From the Tin

Derek: Nice fine ribbon cut. Reminds me of Dunhill.  The tobacco is dry, but that is on me for not storing it correctly.  The aroma is unmistakably English. Not a lot of Latakia.

Corey: The aroma is sweetness from Virginias, but also some savory notes from either burley or dark-fired Kentucky or perhaps both.  Typical ribbon cut that is bright with just a few darker pieces of tobacco, it is possible that the darker leaves are Latakia (making it a light English-style blend), but my guess would be more toward the dark-fired Kentucky as it smoked more like a VaBur and seem to fit that flavor profile.

Kyle: Beautiful looking in the bag with lots of light and medium brown tobacco pieces.  From the smell and sporadic pieces of dark leaf I am guessing this blend contains Latakia and could very well be an English blend.  The ribbon cut is very nicely done, however, I found two thick stem pieces in my sampler bag and the tobacco is a little drier than I typically like to smoke.  Aroma from the bag was a light smokiness, dry spice, and nuttiness (there very well could be some burly present in this blend).

Tasting Notes

Derek: The moisture level and cut make this tobacco easy to pack and light.  My first impression is that this tobacco is a mild English blend.  There is a natural sweetness.  Very pleasant.  Very little smokiness from Latakia.  I can taste a good bit of Orientals in this blend.  As I smoke through the bowl, the Oriental “funk” turns into a fragrant spice.  No bite, no overheating.  The sweetness lasts throughout.

Corey: Lit well and took the char light perfectly…the tobacco wasn’t too moist, it was on the dryer side because I had left the pouch out too long before I got back to smoke it that day. But it didn’t seem too moist or dry before.  Room note was full of sweetness and a savory undertone like leather…and a slight bit of steak sauce. Burned all the way down perfectly with no relights needed, producing a good amount of smoke plume. Tasted just like it smelled, a mixture of sweetness with a delicious, savory flavor that just subtly teased the taste buds. The flavors weren’t too overpowering or strong, would call it a medium strength tobacco with just the right amount of flavor. Really enjoyed smoking this tobacco, no fuss, no tongue bite, no bitterness, and no bad aftertaste in the mouth.

Kyle: The sample packed well and lit well and generally performed nicely throughout the smoking experience.  I noted tastes of spice (on the initial charring lights), a dry grassy hay, and an ash/charcoal tastes while smoking.  Overall, each bowl was consistent but just dry and bland.  Aroma was of a smoky campfire leading me to believe this blend to be an English of sorts.  Strength and body were mild to medium.

Overall Impression

Derek: It is an interesting blend.  The Orientals seemed to take over in the second half of the bowl.  Despite being dry, it did not smoke too fast or get too hot.  This may become my preferred way to enjoy tobacco.  I enjoyed the sweetness and mild flavors that built up throughout the smoke.  I can see myself enjoying this one in the future.

Corey: I would certainly recommend this blend and purchase it myself.  It was an easy tobacco to smoke…didn’t take too much fuss or thinking, just performed well. I really think this blend would do well with cellaring as it already had that sense of blended flavors that a good cellared tobacco should have.

Kyle: Overall, this tobacco wasn’t bad, but wasn’t good either.  It was just kind of there.  I’m sure there are plenty of people who would enjoy this smoke but the combination of Latakia and Burley’s (if there are any) in this blend just didn’t do it for me.  I would say pass on this blend.  I don’t think I will be purchasing any in the near future.

Individual Scores

Derek (4 Pipes)

4 Pipes

Corey (4 Pipes)

4 Pipes

Kyle (2 Pipes)

2 Pipes

Now that we have established our thoughts and scores, it’s time to reveal the tobacco.

Mystery Tobacco #2 is:


Cornell & Diehl Father the Flame (2017)

 Info & Overview

Brand: Cornell & Diehl

Category: English

Blend Components: Burley, Latakia, Virginia

Flavorings: None

Cut Type: Ribbon

Available Packaging: 2oz tin

Price: $10.63 USD

Well that does it for this month’s Mystery Tobacco Review.  I suppose I was the odd man out on this blind review, however, hope you have enjoyed the thoughts and opinions presented.  As always, feel free to leave questions and comments below and thanks again to both Derek and Corey for their time and expertise.  Until next time, cheers!

Dr. Kyle Andrew Signature