Just a Little Update

1st September, 2010: Posted by glpease in Product News

I’m working on a new blend. In fact, the production prototype is being done as I type this, and I should see samples of it early next week. It fits beautifully with Chelsea Morning and Quiet Nights as the next member of the series. It’s a little more of a straight-ahead Latakia blend - rich with orientals, and possessing a nice solid virginia backbone. It’s fuller than Chelsea Morning, but not as contemplative as Quiet Nights. I think of it as ideal before dinner, or as an all-day tobacco as autumn approaches. Lovely. I cannot wait to taste the samples!

Within the next couple days, I’m going to run a contest to name the blend, since it was so much fun last time. I’ll provide a little more information about it, and see what you creative guys come up with this time. It’ll be a real contest, with real rules, and prizes for the top five places.

Finally, you’ve probably seen that the production work is finished on the 2011 edition of the In Celebration of Briar calendar. I personally think this year’s is the best yet, and hope you like it too. I had to raise the price a little, this year, but it’s well worth it, especially considering the time, and costs that go into the production. I’d love to read your thoughts and comments, if you have any. (That’s what the “Comments” section is for, after all.)

And, watch this space for the contest announcement, along with all the rules. Dust off your thinking caps, and get ready for some fun!

Working on the 2011 Calendar

18th July, 2010: Posted by glpease in Product News

I’ve been working on the production for the 2011 edition of the In Celebration of Briar calendar, and am really happy with how it’s shaping up. So far, the cover has been done, and eight of the internal images. I’ve put a preview of the images up, and will update it as the work is finished.

This is the fifth year for the calendar. Each year’s has been a little different, and this one is no exception. For 2011, I’ve chosen both colour and B&W photos, and am working with both light and dark backgrounds. It’s going to be really striking, and I can’t wait to finish it up and see the proofs! As before, it will be published by Lulu Press, and printed on demand. The finished calendar is 13.5″ wide by 19″ high, spiral bound at the top. It’s printed on beautiful, heavy, smooth coated stock to preserve the rich details. They do a great job, and I’m happy to be working with them again.

I expect to have everything finished well before October, and will announce its availability when it’s been published. In the meanwhile, grab a pipe, light a bowl of Quiet Nights, enjoy the preview.

Quiet Nights Released

3rd May, 2010: Posted by glpease in Product News, New Blends

The Chicago show is over. I wasn’t there, but I’ve heard many wonderful things already, and know there’s more to come. I missed it being there, but that’s the way it goes. I’ll enjoy it vicariously through the stories others tell. Could be worse.

Of course, Quiet Nights was released there, and there have been a few words mentioned on some of the forums. I have received a couple of emails (is that really a word?) with exclamation points following words like, “Fantastic,” and “Wow.” So far, quite promising.

A couple of retailers did have the blend before the show, and started selling it last Thursday, so I’m guessing there are tins in a few post boxes today, waiting to be opened. I really can’t wait to know what people think about it.

I’m always a little nervous when a new release hits the shelves. Sure, I like the stuff, or I wouldn’t have released it. Sure, I’ve tested it on a few others, and they’ve liked it. But there’s a big difference between a small handful of test smokers, and something going live in prime time. You’d think after over a decade of doing this, I’d be used to it by now, but I’m not. It’s my version of stage-fright, which, ironically, I rarely experience on stage.

So, please, forgive my hand-wringing, pacing back and forth, checking the net dozens of times each day until I see the words that will let me breathe again. Even it the reviews are dreadful, at least I won’t have to wonder anymore. But, that’s silly. They won’t be. The stuff really is good!

If you’ve gotten yours, and have smoked a few bowls, I’d love to read your comments here.


And the Winner Is…

14th April, 2010: Posted by glpease in Product News

It’s been a couple weeks since the “Not Contest” was run. I was a bit surprised by the enthusiasm and participation, and there were lots of great suggestions, but in the end, there can be only one winner, and it’s time to announce it. But, not quite yet.

It’s taken a while to get through all the entries. I really liked a lot of the suggestions. Some really put some thought into this, and came up with some wonderful and creative ideas. Some, I admit, I was less enthusiastic over. The real trick here is that the name not only must fit the blend, but it also has to flow with the narrative description that I presented, and that will be printed on the back of the label. This is a bit more difficult than pulling a great name out of a hat, or looking at a map of London and choosing something that sounds romantic. Whitechapel, for instance, has a lovely ring, but let’s not forget what happened there, or what the district is historically know for! And, there are parts of London that even I wouldn’t choose to wander after dark!

But, after a lot of deliberation, a name had to be chosen, and that name is… Read more…»

Not Quiet Nights - Not Contest

22nd March, 2010: Posted by glpease in Product News, New Blends

For those who have seen the comments in the previous post, this won’t be a surprise. What might be is that I’ve also received a flurry of email over the past few months in which people have told me they weren’t excited about the name, Quiet Nights for the new blend in the Old London Series. Fine. Few have indicated why they don’t like it, but why is often hard to know in such things. Why? doesn’t really matter. (Stan Getz’s smoky sax playing and Astrud Gilberto’s sultry crooning come instantly to mind when I think of Quiet Nights, but that’s just me.)

More than one person suggested a naming contest. Not a bad idea, and if it was earlier in the process, I could do it, but it’s down to the 23rd hour, now. The new blend is going to be released very soon, and I’ve got to finish the label art so I can get it off to the printer, so that the stuff can start flying off the shelves once it’s ready. [Hopeful thoughts, mine.]

A real contest would require general announcements long in advance, so people had time to read about it, think about it, and submit their entry. There would be some sort of formal selection criteria, and a way to tabulate results, resolve conflicts in the case of multiple entries, and a ration of legal disclaimers to keep lawyers off my back in the event of someone feeling that their entry was dealt with unfairly. There would have to be formal entry requirements of some kind. And, there would have to be a guarantee of a winner. I don’t have time for all that, and, since I’ve already got an alternate name in mind, there may not be a winner. So, this can’t be a real contest.

Instead, I’ll do a Not Contest. If you have a suggestion for the name, submit it in a comment, and tell me, in 50 words or less, why you think it’s a good name - a better name than Quiet Nights. If I choose your name over my alternate, you’ll get a free tin, public acknowledgement of your creative genius, and the eternal adulation of your peers.

To help get the creative juices flowing, here’s the description of the blend.

X - rich, deep, contemplative. Ripe red virginias, fine orientals, smoky Cyprus latakia, and a pinch of Acadian perique are pressed and matured in cakes before being sliced. The sophisticated flavors and exotic aroma provide a wonderful backdrop for quiet moments of reflection, a good book, and if you are so inclined, perhaps a wee dram.

You’ve got until Sunday, 28th March, 2010, to submit your entry. How’s that?

Chelsea Morning 8oz Tins - Coming Soon

15th December, 2009: Posted by glpease in Product News

But, not too soon.

Okay, I’d really expected to roll out the 8oz tins before Christmas, and it’s true that a couple of retailers have gotten a few of them, but they’re not really available yet. See, the problem is that Chelsea Morning has been a little hard to keep on the shelves. It seems to have gained quite a fan club, as the reviews would seem to indicate. Thanks to all of you for your wonderful support of this new blend. (And, Union Square, too. It’s still going strong, and more and more people continue to discover its pure Virginia virtues.)

Despite this evident popularity, however, some of the retailers are still ordering in too-small quantities, then selling out in two or three days, and placing another order - sometimes three times a week. This, of course, makes it difficult to accurately plan rollouts. (It also makes it almost impossible for the blend to reach the #1 position on a popular “top-10″ list, which I think it would if it stock levels were kept higher and they didn’t sell out of it every three days. Grumble.) So, the big tins won’t really be available until early in 2010, but they are coming. I promise. And, a big thanks to all of you who have enjoyed this one enough to write your wonderful reviews.

While I’m at it, deepest thanks to all who have purchased the In Celebration of Briar calendar, and the Chelsea Morning mugs. If you’ve been wanting one but putting it off, now is the time. It still might not be too late to pick one up for Christmas.

Chelsea Morning Mugs

16th November, 2009: Posted by glpease in Product News

When Maltese Falcon was released, I was given the wild idea to have mugs made, sporting the wonderful artwork from the label, and engaged the fine folks at Café Press to do what they do so well, and produce them on demand. The mugs were beautiful, so when Key Largo was released, more mugs! Now that Chelsea Morning is getting some press, gaining some fans, and I’ve had a couple of requests for, you guessed it, mugs! Of course, who else but Café Press to produce them, again? I just finished up the artwork for the 8oz tins, so it seemed sensible to make the mug art ready too.

Mine arrived today, and I think they turned out great. I took a quick photo, shown here, and am now off to have a nice cup of tea. Order one, or a seven day set, and enjoy your morning cup, along with your morning bowl, in Chelsea Morning Style!

Order from Café Press

Cover of the Rolling Stone?

22nd October, 2009: Posted by glpease in Product News

Well, not quite. But, In Celebration of Briar did get some notice by Pipes Magazine, who did a brief piece on it. Check it out.

2010 Calendar Update

19th October, 2009: Posted by glpease in Product News, Pipe Sightings

It’s ready. It’s done. It’s put to bed, and shipped to the publisher. It’s available now! Last year, I got the thing ready way too early. This year, it’s a little late. Maybe for 2011, I’ll have it just right. You can view a preview of the photos that are included, as well as last year’s selection. I’m really happy with the final design and the photographs. There’s a bug in Lulu’s “preview” generator, so if you look at the preview on their site, the tops and bottoms of the images are cut off. Quite silly.

The calendar is 13.5″ x 19″ - quite large.  It’s printed on beautiful, heavy, coated stock. This isn’t the cheap flimsy thing that you find in the bookstores. It’s printed “on demand,” so there won’t be hundreds of copies destined for recycling after 2010 is just a memory. Yours, on the other hand, will be kept to look at year after year.  Many people frame some of the photos after the month is over to decorate their office or den walls. The price is just $35.

It takes about 7-10 days for printing and delivery, but I suggest ordering early to get a jump on the new year.

It’s been great fun putting this year’s together, and I know you’ll really enjoy it.

Chelsea Morning to be Launched at CORPS Expo

11th September, 2009: Posted by glpease in Product News, New Blends

The CORPS Expo is coming up in October, and it seems like the perfect time to launch the Old London Series with its first member, Chelsea Morning.

I’ve been working on this series for a year. The idea has always been clear to me. I wanted to produce a series of blends in classic styles, using time honored methods, but with each designed specifically to compliment various parts of the smoker’s day. Yeah, I know. It’s not a new idea. Others have done it. We know their names. But, I haven’t done it, and I wanted to bring my own twist to the concept. The series will consist of four blends. I had actually planned on releasing three of them at once, but the other two aren’t cooperating. The prototypes have been good, but not right, so they’re still under development.

Chelsea Morning, however, is ready to go. Comprised of a variety of sweet red and yellow virginias, fragrant orientals, a measure of rich Cyprus Latakia, and a pinch of L.A. Poche’s brilliant Acadian perique. The leaf is blended in layers and briefly pressed to integrate the flavours before being sliced and tumbled into short ribbons. The final form is between a broken-flake and a ribbon-cut tobacco. It’s easy to pack, easy to smoke, and is a great blend with which to start the day with the morning cup. The flavours are lively and engaging, with a subtle fruitiness and gentle smokiness that wakes up the palate. For those expecting a Latakia powerhouse, this ain’t that. The Cyprus leaf provides depth and character; it’s certainly present, but it’s not the dominant voice. In that respect, Chelsea Morning is similar to Piccadilly, my previous ‘English Breakfast Mixture’ from the Classic Collection. But, it’s also very different. The orientals present in this one add another dimension to the smoke. It’s really a delightful blend.

Of course, it would be silly to say that it’s only enjoyable in the mornings, but to my tastes, that’s when it shines its brightest. Over the coming months, as I polish off the edges of the others in the series, it will be joined by Afternoon Tea, Cocktail Hour and Quiet Nights. I’m really excited about this new blend, and the entire series.

And, just because I know someone will ask, no, it is not a ‘clone’ of that other famous tobacco with ‘Morning’ in its name. But, if you liked that one, you should certainly give Chelsea Morning a try.

Feel free to talk amongst yourselves.


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