I have been out of my favorite pipe tobacco--Bayou Night from Cornell & Diehl--for a few weeks now. Waiting on the IRS to give me back some of the money they took from me by threat of force and all that. So today I finally placed an order for three pounds of bulk tobacco (three different blends), which at my rate will last me not quite a full year.
So for the past few weeks I've been going back into some of my more "premium tobaccos." I must say that I prefer the relatively cheaper bulk stuff from C&D to most of the more expensive varieties. Today I thought I'd try, for my commute-home smoke, some St. James Woods.
St. James Woods is made by McClelland's, and anyone who has smoked their stuff can tell you that their tobacco pretty much universally--that is, regardless of blend--has a unique characteristic smell. Some describe it as "ketchup-like." I would not describe it as anything but, "that McClelland smell."
Anyhow, St. James Woods is a Virginia/Perique blend, which is why I ordered it because I have so enjoyed other similar blends (e.g., Three Nuns, Escudo). It's okay. I know some will be shocked and horrified that I have such understated praise for it. I guess my palate isn't sophisticated enough or something. I have nothing against it, but it isn't what I would reach for when I'm thinking of my favorite blends. One problem I have with it is that it is so wet.
I've had this batch in a Mason jar for over a year now, and the stuff is still wet. Doing a relight in my pipe today, I slurped up some concentrated St. James punk that made me utter a sound similar to the title of this post. I had to run a pipe cleaner down the stem a couple of times before it was safe to continue.
Other blends I have been biding my time with are the more enjoyable (to me) Luxury Bullseye Flake--another Virginia/Perique, and 1792 Flake, a Virginia flavored with tonquin extract. The flavor of tonquin extract can't really be described, but you can read my thoughts on the matter at the link (also further thoughts here and a more humorous take here). Of these blends mentioned, the 1792 is definitely my favorite--maybe because it has a bigger "hit" than the others (from what I've read about it).
A "flake" tobacco is made by taking the base tobacco (usually some variety of Virginia) and pressing the leaves into slabs, or "flakes." It is the usual custom to "rub out" the flake before smoking it--"rub out" meaning to break it into smaller pieces before loading so that it lights and burns more easily. Flakes should be smoked more leisurelily than bulk, or "loose leaf" tobaccos. I think that was probably my mistake today in choosing St. James for the drive home when I'm still coming down from work. Bulk tobacco is better for that situation. Although I have smoked 1792 several times when coming home with no ill effects.
Anyhow, the three blends I ordered today are my usual favorite Bayou Night along with another favorite, Gray Ghost, and a new favorite I've added to the list: Exclusive. That last one is another Virginia/Perique but with some Cavendish added. "Cavendish" is the term for any tobacco that has been artificially sweetened, and often flavored, although in this case no flavoring has been added. I normally steer clear of anything with Cavendish in it, but a while back when I got a sampler to try I had two ounces of this stuff and enjoyed it thoroughly so I'm going for a whole pound this time.
Gray Ghost is an unusual pipe blend in that it's a mixture of Virginia and maduro cigar leaf.
I probably didn't get the order in soon enough to receive it by this weekend, nevertheless, I'm really looking forward to restocking the cellar with some old standbys.