|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
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
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
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
|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
|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
|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
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: