I’ve been on a Balkan kick lately and I was in the mood for something with extra Latakia in it today, so it may surprise you that I reached for a Samuel Gawith blend. While they make amazing tobacco, I wouldn’t say SG is known for their Lat Bombs, they seem to be more known for their Virginia Blends but there is one in their catalog that I hardly ever hear anything about. Commonwealth Mixture.
It’s hard to convey the excitement I feel when I see that Fall has officially begun. I realize it before most people. My reminder comes in the form of sweet sweet smoke because my Autumn starts when Straus is selling Sleepy Hollow again.
It reminds me of when I was little and I saw the first Halloween-flavored McDonald’s adds on TV. They’d be advertising their candy collecting pales with a spookie jingle and I would know summer would soon be over. These reminders normally come before the weather turns, like a little wink and nudge that summer will soon be over and it will be time for Apple Cider and hoodies and technicolor leaves on the trees.
Straus putting out their fall aromatic does that for me now, carrying on a wonderful tradition in my life. So let’s talk about it, and why you might want to try it, even if you aren’t an aromatic smoker.
Penzance. What can you say about a tobacco so magical and elusive that it has entire fansites about it? It has the fanbase of a fictional anime or some kind of bizarre film. There are people who spend hours a day putting their names on lists and making documents and spreadsheets and getting credit card information ready just so they can get a single bag of the mighty Penzance. What is this all about?
There’s a spot near my house where a small creek tiptoes under an old bridge which is haphazardly shuffled about by greenery and has begun coming apart over time.
I’ve been visiting it for a while now. I love to sit under the bridge and smoke with the tadpoles and crawdaddies as I read a good book. I usually pack some coffee and a blanket to keep myself warm because this time of year the ground gets cold and hard, and the water starts to freeze around the edges of the banks, but the middle still runs free.
Winter is waning, although the cold is still making its way in through the cracks. I’ve reached the point where I am ready for warmth again. It’s a frigid morning, and I gaze at the frosted tips of the Kentucky bluegrass out my window flickering in the morning sunrise, scattered by strong, cold winds.
I reach for my Mr. Brog #89, considering what I should smoke. I recently had War Horse Ready Cut and enjoyed it, so I think I will try the War Horse Bar this time. Let’s light up!
It’s 1 p.m. on a Monday afternoon, and I find myself craving some sweets. I’m watching my weight, so a cupcake is out of the question. I reach for my Savinelli 645, considering what I should smoke. It’s cold outside, so I want something that will impart some warmth but also satisfy this sweet tooth. I decide to crack a tin of Stanwell Vanilla.
Megan kept still. She was listening with her entire body.
There were tells that every soldier knew; some taught in basic training, but most learned over time. Silky footsteps whispering in the grass. The metallic chatter of a bullet rattling in its chamber. The muted thunk of gear on gear motion. The slink of a knife pulled from its sheath. The stuttered breath of that last fearful gasp. A nervous heart. All these were thumbprints of an intruder.
It’s 6 in the morning on a Tuesday, and I just woke up an hour ago. I reach for my Mr. Brog #89, considering what I should smoke. It’s cold outside, so I want something that will wake me up and warm my body. Something classy, with an old school vibe. I decide on an unopened brick of Tabac Manil’s Le Petit Robin.
I take a coach to the crossroads watching the mountains through the small window as we proceed to the point where Bulletsville meets with Perdition. It was a bumpy ride. My pipe jostles from my purse and clatters to the hardwood floor. I pick it up and blow it off as the coach suddenly comes to a halt.
When I was a young boy, over 30 years ago, it was common for us to spend some time in the summer and fall months camping at a mountain-base site near Mammoth Cave known as Jellystone Park. Today, many years later, I grab my pipe and sit down to go through some old pictures of my camping experiences while I smoke a bowl of Cornell & Diehl Mountain Camp.
The good pirate Alender Calam laughed to himself as he walked to the binnacle, smiling around his pipe. The last month had been kind to him. He was rich with a dead man’s treasures and now he was on his way to see a very close friend he hadn’t seen in years!
It’s 5 in the morning on a Wednesday, and I just woke up. I reach for my pipe, wondering already what I am going to smoke. I want something that will wake me up and warm my core. Something citrusy, with a springtime feel, is looming in my future. I reach for an aged can of Wessex Gold Virginia Flake.
I step off the stagecoach and find myself back in front of the old bookshop I’d left so far in the past. Catching my reflection in a rippled rain puddle I see that everything about me has changed over the years, everything but one. I pull my grandfather’s pipe from my breast pocket and wedge it in my teeth.
I am hiking the bright Kentucky hinterlands, walking with camera in hand, pipe in my teeth and dogs at my side as the cold dew clings to the cuffs of my jeans and the smell of thick forests sweep past my olfactory senses. There is a blank slate in the clarity of winter air that allows the coppice space to make magic.
The old ones cry out from the dark, moss mottled labyrinth within me. I sit, huddled in my office waiting for it to find my scent. I hear it sliding down the hallway now, mandibles chittering, tentacles search every crevice, every nook, as it sniffs for my natural light.
Only my pipe is with me to comfort me in my time of distress. My faithful friend in hand.
Cornell and Diehl’s Five O’Clock Shadow, part of their “Working Man” series, take something I like very much, the Virginia/Perique Blend, and kicks it up a notch by adding a pinch of dark-fired Kentucky. The results are surprisingly astounding!
The autumn night wind crawls over the rolling hills of the Kentucky landscape in the background. It slips it’s sinewy, leaf-stained fingers through the crack in the window and comes to meet my hands, which are warmed by a crackling match.
My lids feel heavy, and the sulfur dissipates as the starry breeze dances around me, down to my bare ankles where it settles and nibbles at my senses.
I hold the flame to the full bowl and puff short and even for the char as my eyes drift to the full-dark sky past the pane. I move the match in small circles.
J.F. Germain & Son’s Medium Flake is a tobacco you’ve likely seen around, but I’m often surprised at how few people I’ve met have tried it.
Upon opening the tin, I’m greeted with a beautiful presentation. A nice stack of shuffled yellow-brown flakes, slightly moist to the touch. I set a bowl-full aside to dry for an hour.
The tin note is sweet and citrusy with a hint of scattered hay, sliced oranges, and lemons. A light note of dried tea leaf meanders in and out as well. My mouth begins to water at the beautiful aroma.