Entries in Esoterica (4)



Updated on Saturday, October 29, 2011 at 6:30PM by Registered CommenterNeill Archer Roan

The weatherman says, “Expect snow today.” The chances of snow this afternoon are 100%. Not much ambiguity there. One hundred percent says, “Snow’s happening. Get used to it.”

Snow? The calendar says it’s October 29th. While I expect October snows in Wyoming, snow is usually fashionably late for the party here in Northern Virginia.

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The Experiment

I have always relied on blenders to create the blends I love to smoke. When I have strayed from my reliance upon their judgment, I haven’t found the results amenable at all. While I think it is understandable to want to experiment, I’ve kept my expectations low and still failed to meet them. Until this week, that is.

Like many pipe smokers, I am a fan of Esoterica Tobaccos and of Jersey Isles’ Germain who manufacture them. Last week, I purchased a tin of Margate from the Tobacco Shop in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The tin had considerable age; the tobacco I removed from it was oily, moist, and fragrant.

Margate– described as a “Full English Blend” – is comprised of Cyprian Latakia and Orientals. The Orientals in the blend are sweet and creamy. They beautifully balance the latakia which is far from overpowering.

I was surprised to learn that Margate had no Virginias in its composition. When I think about the English blends I enjoy most, they all contain a healthy measure of Virginias. Margate contains none. For me, Margate is a wonderful smoke. A rich smoke. An exotic smoke. Although I like it, it is not an everyday English – at least for me.

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Hello everyone. Sorry for this last week’s hiatus in posts. As seems to be more and more the case of late, I’ve been away on business and have had my pipe-blogging hours (5AM to 7:30AM) hijacked by needing to complete a webinar on strategic communications that I finally finished and delivered last Thursday afternoon.

It’s good to be home, having returned home last night. Unfortunately, my study is in a state of near-apocalyptic chaos. In my absence, my wife decided to have the first two floors of our house repainted, so I had to pack up and move all my pipes, tobaccos, and ephemera out last night in preparation for their arrival this morning. If I needed to be reminded that I have acquired quite a few pipes, I certainly got it last night. Nothing like emptying one’s racks and cabinets to drive the point home. This room feels like some alien space to me now, absent all my little briar friends.

Last week was a good week for me, albeit including some tough and stressful moments. A capstone week, my colleagues and I presented the results of 15 months of branding work to my clients’ board of directors. They loved the work so we roll it all out next month. A good friend of mine once told me to enjoy the good moments, because life is not all good moments. These were moments to savor.

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Keep your favorite tobaccos optimally fresh

In working on my book, I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time focused on tobacco blends of late. While I can determine whether or not I like a particular blend by smoking it, I’ve discovered that I can learn a lot more about a blend’s character and finish by comparing it and contrasting it to other blends within the same genre, e.g. Orientals, Virginia-Periques, etc. It is a lot of fun and quite interesting to smoke two or three tobaccos simultaneously. Among other benefits, I’ve started improving my taste-memory by this process.

There is a downside, however. Opening all these tins has presented me with challenges in preserving the condition of the tobacco since it is virtually impossible for me to smoke through these tins before they begin to dry out. At this point I think I have opened some 30 or so tins of tobacco some of which are quite rare and expensive, not to mention very tasty.

Coin twist-type tobacco tinWhen I’ve opened some of these rare old birds - some have as much as 50 years aging in the tin - I have been astounded at the perfect condition of many of the tins’ contents. Conversely, I have also cracked a tin to find nothing but moldy tobacco dust inside. These anxiety-filled moments have instilled no little determination in me to steward the condition of these great old tobaccos when I find them.

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