I’ve made a lifestyle of being out-of-place, and last night was no exception. I dropped in at what I think qualifies as a Herf at a great, tobacco-friendly pub in Buckhead called The Churchill Arms. The only problem is that I was the only one smoking a cigar. Which isn’t to say that tobacco wasn’t being smoked by the attendees. It was. It just happened to be the kind you pack into the bowl of a pipe. The situation reminds me of the joke whose punchline is “Leave it to a [insert your favorite ethnic slur here] to bring a knife to a gun fight.” And I was the guy in the brackets. :)
But it all worked out. As it turns out, everyone there also happened to be well versed in pleasures of a good cigar. And, as luck would have it, I used to smoke a pipe back in college with a friend of mine. (A wee fellow I creatively refer to as “Shorty”. Shorty: Small in stature, large in choreographed Kung Fu fight sequences.) But my pipe smoking experience wasn’t all that useful. The only pipe tobacco term I could remember was “Cavendish” of cherry Cavendish fame. Not exactly highbrow stuff in a circle that prefers rich, but unflavored (non-”aromatic”) tobacco.
I’m not sure if it was a courtesy generously extended to me or not, but cigars dominated the conversation. It began with a discussion of the Rocky Patel Vintage 1992 torpedo I selected for the evening. (It goes pretty well with both Smithwick’s and Hoegaarden, by the way.) I recently got an amazing deal on these and have happily smoked half-way through a 10-cigar “sampler” in a little over a week. (Full review on its way soon.)
According to the pipe-herf host (a great guy who works at the local, upscale Tinderbox in Lenox Mall), the reason I’m getting the deals on these cigars is that everybody is all abuzz about the Rocky Patel’s Old World Reserve. (The moral of the story: Being behind the times sometimes saves you some money.) I guess I’ll have to give the Old World Reserve a shot, once I’ve made it through my 92′s. ;)
One of the great things about the evening, aside from the pleasant aroma quality tobacco was the exchange of useful information. While these “brothers of the leaf” were very knowledgeable regarding cigars and tobacco in general, they weren’t at all aware of some of the great internet cigar resources available to them. I was happy to tell them about my favorite video cigar review website, The Stogie Review (especially now that they have a review index, huzzah!) and share with them Cigar Monster, which is a pretty good (but random) site for cigar deals. (The Dog Watch Social Club also came up, but of course, they were confused by the name. Who isn’t when they first hear of it? Luckily the guys at Stogie Review link to it, so I just told them to go there.) Oh yeah, I know what you’re thinking. I didn’t give into the temptation of self promotion. Not because I think it’s necessarily a bad thing, I just think it’d be fun to see if they find this blog on their own. That and I didn’t want them to get all star-struck with me an my 8,500 hits. ;)
In return they passed along what looks like a good site for pipe tobacco information and blend reviews called, simply, Tobacco Reviews. According to the stats shown on the home page, they have information on 2,705 different types of tobacco, and a whopping 18,059 reviews! That’s around six and a half reviews per tobacco, which isn’t too shabby. If you happen to stumble on this page looking for information on pipe tobacco, I would definitely encourage you to check out Tobacco Reviews.
Even though I didn’t bring a pipe with me, I was talked into taking some pipe tobacco samples home. The host had met with a pipe tobacco representative before the event, and was flush with about a dozen tins of free tobacco. Intrigued by the abundance of free and delicious smelling leaf, I decide it was time to dust off the ol’ pipe. So I took half a dozen little plastic bags of pipe tobacco home. Among the blends I took where Peaches and Cream (a.k.a. “the marriage saver” or “the peacemaker”), Pegasus, Mississippi Mud and Autumn Evening. Are those great names or what?
Due to prior commitments, I had to leave after a few very short hours. But my smoky evening wasn’t quite over yet. As luck would have it, when I got home, my old college pipe was exactly where I thought it might be, complete with a box of unused filters, your standard pipe tool, and a bunch of pipe cleaners. It was a sign. :D
I opted to try out the Peaches and Cream blend that night. My wife claimed to smell the peaches in the tobacco, but to me it smelled more like the amaretto-flavored coffee creamer I’ve had in the past. Either way, it had very pleasant pre-light smell. The smoke itself was incredibly smooth and mild, especially when compared to the Rocky Patel I had earlier. (Which is not to say that the cigar was even slightly rough. The pipe does have a filter, after all.) The flavor wasn’t as sweet as I would have expected. And that’s a good thing. (I half expected the pipe version of a Swisher Sweet.) While smoking it, I did detect the peach flavor, but it seemed more like a peach herbal tea than biting into the fruit. Or possibly even a bit of mild dried apricot.
I’ve noticed in some of the pipe tobacco reviews I’ve seen that there is a tendency to compare the tin smell to the smoking flavor. I’d have to say that this blend does not quite taste like it smells, there is a noticeable difference. I’m not sure if that is a mark of quality or a strike against it. Either way, the blend was a nice, light, cool smoke. I think it’d be a great compliment to a relaxing weekend morning with the newspaper. I don’t know if I see myself buying a tin of this particular blend in the future, but I’ll be sure to light up the last bit of the sampler I have sometime this weekend when I’m relaxing.
Oh yes, one last thing. The pipe-smoker’s herf takes place every other Tuesday at The Churchill Arms. (The next one should be July 10th.) I can’t promise that every event will have free samplers (heck, I’m not running the thing), but you never know they might. And there’s a pretty good chance I’ll be there, smoking a cigar. Maybe I’ll see you there.