Dark-Fired Kentucky as a Condiment

Something about dark-fired Kentucky does me in nearly every time. This form of burley is beloved by many, but it doesn’t love me. Mac Baren Bold Kentucky overwhelms me with nicotine and sheer flavor. In technical terms, it applies its loafer to my derriere with great force. So does Peterson Irish Flake, which is a blend that only includes Kentucky. Even Amphora Kentucky Blend, which I expected to be milder, isn’t much milder. (On the other hand, Mac Baren Old Dark Fired is too bland.)

So what to do? When in doubt, blend!

I blended the Amphora 50-50 with Sutliff 515 RC, a wonderful red Virginia. (Lovers of the late great McClelland 5100 Redcake, check it out.) The Kentucky was more manageable but still too strong. So I increased the 515, maybe to 2-1. Now it is lovely!

Let that be a lesson. Before you trade or chuck, blend! What’s to lose?

Comfort Food, Comfort Blends

Christopher Morley

We all know what comfort food is. I should encounter no controversy when I say that this kind of food serves a deep need in us human beings. It’s often the subject of food and competitive-cooking shows.

So why not comfort pipe tobacco? Indeed, why not?

Here’s my view of what makes a comfort blend, which is partly inspired by The Artful Codger and Eric The Blue Collar Pipe Smoker.

Let me preface this by saying that I do not mean in any way to disparage the hugely talented crop of tobacco blenders we’ve been blessed with. They are amazing, and I hope no one misunderstands me.

Nevertheless, in contrast to boutique blends (let’s call them), comfort, or codger, blends are not out to dazzle you with exotic ingredients and combinations. They are just there to help you relax, to comfort you. That’s a valuable service.

In an earlier life, I was a low-level stage magician. I entertained at kids birthday parties and adult functions. In this capacity, I came to associate with excellent amateur, semi-pro, and even professional magicians. (Long ago I interviewed James Randi and Milburn Christopher, as a kid I knew a real old-timer, Doc Irving, who was a friend of my father’s.)  Anyway, hanging out a bit with magicians, I realized they fell roughly into two broad categories (though they overlapped): those who wanted to entertain the public and those who placed a higher value on entertaining — dazzling — other magicians. This is no put-down of the second group, but it does differ from the first.

Tobacco blending resembles this (for me; who else?), and I’m now at the point where I am less interested in being dazzled by the blenders’ undeniable skills and more interested in the comfort that smokers traditionally sought from their pipes.

To each his own. Live and let live. Replace your divots.