Monday, December 21, 2009

Tobacco Review: "Plum Pudding"

I recently purchased a tin of Seattle Pipe Club's top-selling blend "Plum Pudding" which is a Balkan-style crumble cake made up of Latakia, Orientals, Virginias, Perique and a "secret ingredient". The initial tin aroma is smokey Latakia and a heavy musty scent. The black cakes are tightly pressed and do not break apart as easily as Penzance (which can crumble into a fine powder with the slightest touch). The slices rub out well to long strands of leaf that pack well into the pipe. Because of the heaviness of this blend I prefer a smaller bowl.

Lighting is easy and one is welcomed with a slightly sweet and spicy smoke. The Latakia does not overwhelm the other components and the Orientals keep a steady beat of spice going throughout the bowl. The flavors trade off from the sweetness of the Virginias to the smokiness of the Latakia. This is very well-balanced. There is a hint of a topping but I am unsure if this is simply my own impression.

The tobacco smokes hot even when smoking at a very slow relaxed pace. It does not bite but the taste is almost steam-like at times. After speaking with several other smokers who smoke this blend it appears to be a common characteristic. This may or may not be a problem depending on the individual smoker. For some it is an easy trade-off for a good blend and for others it is a dealbreaker.

The ash left behind is dry and grey. I have noticed that there is usually some moist dottle at the end of each bowl and the smell from inside the pipe is quite unpleasant. One needs to do a lot of cleaning with pipe cleaners after a bowl of this blend.

I like this blend and would recommend this as an alternative to Penzance. It is not nearly as complex as the old Dunhill classics or the GLP English blends but it is a good change of pace on the lighter side. I do feel that for the money there are much better blends in this genre.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Return from Hiatus

Hello all! It's been a few months that life has been so busy that I have had to put all of my blogs on the backburner. It is my hope that I can get back to regular posting now.

Since my last post I have only purchased two new pipes, both are Mario Grandis, and can be seen here:

I have tried a couple of new tobaccos that I will review on here in the near future. During most of the Summer months I was smoking cigars so I spent a lot of time away from pipes. Since returning to the pipe I have noticed that I no longer seem to enjoy them as much as I had before. Perhaps this is just part of the transition process and my old enthusiasm with return.

I hope you have all been well and enjoying some fine smokes!

Monday, July 13, 2009

New Acquisition: Mario Grandi Volcano

Mario Grandi Volcano
Originally uploaded by Jimmy Muraco

I was coerced into buying this pipe!!! (Ok, it did not take much to convince me) I had been looking at this pipe for a few days and was charmed by the shape, grain and overall beautiful design.

Friday, June 19, 2009

New Acquisition: Mario Grandi Chubby Freehand

Mario Grandi Chubby Freehand
Originally uploaded by Jimmy Muraco

Yeah....I was a hard choice between the teal one and this one so I ended up getting them both. I can't help it though as the prices are just too good to resist!

New Acquisition: Mario Grandi Teal Freehand

Mario Grandi Teal Freehand
Originally uploaded by Jimmy Muraco

When I first saw this pipe I thought it was the most beautiful pipe I have ever seen. I had to have it so I just purchased it. This is my second Mario Grandi pipe so for those of you considering getting one for yourself I can vouch that they are very good smoking pipes.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

New Acqusition for 5/05/09: L'Anatra Nosewarmer

L'Anatra Nosewarmer
Originally uploaded by Jimmy Muraco

This is a L'Anatra nosewarmer grade One Egg. Silver band and the famous goose sitting upon the handcut stem. I truly love nosewarmers...and L'Anatras!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Review of Milan Tobacconists' "Rovada"

Like most of the Milan blends, Rovada is silky smooth. The moisture content in the bag is drier than most tinned blends so it is good to go right away. It lights easily and requires few relights throughout the bowl.

It is described as a "Medium English with no trace of sweetness" yet I found Rovada to be quite sweet in flavor. The initial light is Latakia then the sweetness of the blend starts to grow. Rovada has a nice smokiness from the Latakia and some complexity from the five Virginias they employ to create this blend.

Midway through the bowl I have noticed that Rovada can emit a strong perfumed flavor as if one was smoking tobacco sprayed with Chanel No. 5. This has only happened in a few pipes so the exact cause remains a mystery to me.

Rovada burns rather fast and the bowl always seems to end too soon. It never gets wet or bitter and the room note is pleasant enough for even most non-smokers to enjoy. I smoke this blend regularly and have recommended it to many.

New Acquisition: 2004 Viprati VIP No. 7

2004 Vipriati VIP No. 7
Originally uploaded by Jimmy Muraco

My birthday gift to myself is this: My 8th Viprati pipe! This one is of the rare VIP grade. It was made in 2004 and this is the 7th one made that year. It has some stunning grain, a generous tobacco chamber and a flat base so it can sit on it's own. It is the big brother to another Viprati billiard I have in my collection. Molte' bene'!!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

They Sold My Pipe???

Isn't that a gorgeous pipe?

To me, at least, that pipe is a 12 on a 10 scale. I bought this pipe the other night from Novelli Pipes in Italy. To order I had to give an e-mail address to get a confirmation from them that the pipe is available and what the final price would be. Fine enough, I sent the information and received confirmation. I then completed the checkout process. They took my name, address, credit card info and accepted the order. I went to bed a very happy man looking forward to having a very wonderful pipe.

This morning I received an e-mail from the site owner telling me that the pipe had already been sold! He stated that the reason this happened was that the sales system they use had not been updated! While this is bad enough, it gets worse: the pipe is STILL (as of 4/21/2009 6:00 p.m. EST) listed for sale and is STILL taking personal information from anyone wanting to buy it! See for yourself here.

In the explanation e-mail, the site owner wrote that I should find something else on his site to why would I do such a thing? I feel like I am victim to the old "Bait-and-Switch" scam! Not only do I not have that pipe but this guy has my information and credit card data!

If you chose to order a pipe from Novelli be aware that what you see may not be what you get.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New Acquisition for 03/24/09: Boswell Bent Billiard w. shotshell

Boswell Bent Billiard w. shotshell
Originally uploaded by Jimmy Muraco

Gorgeous bent billiard witht he famous Boswell sandstone stain (my favorite Boswell finish). This pipe sports a new stem material which I guess you could call a "vanilla fudge swirl" acrylic stem. The finishing touch is a band made from a shotgun shell. I think this piece is stunning.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

New Acquisition for 3/18/09

Viprati No. 7
Originally uploaded by Jimmy Muraco

Another sweet Viprati pipe. I really love how these pipes look and smoke!

Monday, March 16, 2009

New Acquisition for 3/16/09: Sasieni RR Light Canadian

Sasieni RR Light Canadian
Originally uploaded by Jimmy Muraco

I really love the Sasieni 4-Dots...especially in the Rough Root Light finish. I bought this one today and am looking forward to enjoying many smokes with it.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The 2

Inside the jar was a large blob of briar hideously mutilated by some sick twisted creature. It had a jagged plank of hard rubber sticking out of its back orifice and a gaping hole in its head. The "face" was contorted in geometrically impossible distortions. Looking closer I realized that this was not just a piece of wood but was actually a pipe!

Whoever, or "whatever", created this monstrosity must have a heart of black ice and a terminally diseased mind. While this pipe seemed to be functional I could not see how anyone would have the courage to actually smoke this thing.

A note fell out of the jar and on it was an address to a web site. I went to the site and found that it was the home of a ghoul who calls himself "The Pipe Butcher". It was this "Pipe Butcher" that created the pipe I just received.

From the site I learned that the pipe's name is Bilious Tortoise and he's really not that hard to get along with. Bilious says that while he is smoker-friendly, he really does not enjoy the company of other briars. Territorial to the extreme, Bilious has recently taken a fancy to a cute little meerschaum brandy and they enjoy sharing a common space on the same pipe rack.

Bilious has expressed an interest in writing a few columns here on "Straight grain" so stay tuned to read about pipe smoking from a real pipe's point of view. It should be fun. Until then, beware the Pipe Butcher!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

New Acquisition for 02/12/09: Boswell Straight Grain Freehand

Boswell Straight Grain Freehand
Originally uploaded by Jimmy Muraco

While browsing some sites this morning I came across this gorgeous pipe by JM Boswell and I could not resist buying it. This makes Boswell #24 for me. I just know that this will be a fine smoking pipe.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Horror...

The horror...

It arrived this afternoon. A plain brown box on the porch sitting on top of a patch of ice discreetly delivered with no signs of who placed it there. I brought the box into the house immediately in fear that the contents would be damaged by the bitter cold air.

Upon opening the box I found newspapers from a faraway land and what appeared to be glass. I cleared the paper debris and pulled out an ancient glass jar. By the looks of the lid it had been sealed for long-term storage, almost as if whomever sealed it did not want what was inside to come out. There was a large bed of what seemed to be corn cob grounds. I do not know what one would use such a material for as there is no recipe known to mankind that employs ground up corn cobs. It is not an edible matter, nor is it used for fuel or anything practical, so why did some stranger leave this tightly sealed glass relic full of unusable waste matter? Then something happened...

Something inside the jar was moving. I quickly put the jar onto the floor and moved far away so I could watch from a safe distance. For what seemed like eternity there was no movement other than the rapid beat of my palpitating heart. The cob started to rustle then it began to be strewn all around the inside of the jar. The thing in the jar started to shake and convulse like it was possessed by some vile force that was penetrating it's very soul. I feared that the glass would surely shatter at any moment. Soon this creature was going to be unleashed upon the world bringing unspeakable horror with it. Whatever was in there was angry and it wanted out...NOW!

There was a sudden silence. Nothing moved and the jar remained intact. I slowly, cautiously, inched towards the jar. The air was so thick with suspense one could slice it with a knife. As I got within inches of the jar a flash of tan and black appeared on top of the cob grounds! It was then that I was face to "face" with pure horror. This was not good.

To be continued...

Friday, January 02, 2009

New Stanwell Line: Harlequin

Stanwell has a new line of pipes called "Harlequin" and they are very similar to the Kirsten pipes in design. Apparently you buy a bowl and a stem that are interchangeable. The stems come in various colors and seem to be made of acrylic. The bowls are genuine briar bowls that screw into the stems. I have added a couple of pictures as examples of the new series.

So are these new Harlequin pipes a great new thing or just plain ridiculous? Personally, I am on the fence with this one. Let us know what you think!

To see more about these pipes or to purchase one, they are available at Dan Pipes, Danmark.