Never Give Up!

Atkinson

It’s been said before, but it’s worth repeating: if your first impression of a tobacco blend is negative, put it away and try it again after a few weeks or months — maybe even a year or more. For any number of reasons, you may like it at that point. I’ve experienced this more than once. And even if you don’t love the tobacco after giving it time, you might mix it with something else and come up with a blend you really like. Experimentation can be fun.

I’m having such an experience now. Six months ago I bought a few ounces of Cornell & Diehl Big ‘n’ Burley. Wow! The name is perfect because this product packs quite a wallop, both in flavor and nicotine. I didn’t think this was a tobacco I could smoke.

So I jarred it and put it away for six months. When I tried it again recently, it was just as potent. But I like burley, so I didn’t want to give up. What could I do? I tried mixing it with some Prince Albert, hoping it would take some of the edge off. And you know what? It did so to an extent. I enjoyed this morning’s smoke. But it was still potent, and therefore I want to add more Prince Albert just to see what happens. I am also thinking about adding unsweetened Cavendish to the Big ‘n’ Burley alone. If I understand cavendish correctly, it should round out the burley. I’ll pick some up from my local tobacconist.

Not every pipe smoker wants to fool around like this, and I appreciate that. This is one of the things that separates the hobbyist from the smoker. Our time is limited; not everyone wants to devote time to blending tobacco because that would take him away from something else. Perfectly understandable. But I enjoy dabbling in blending, so I’m willing to spend a wee bit more time to see if I can fully enjoy Big ‘n’ Burley.

I’ll report on my progress.

Bertie and I Return Home

PA canI am now back home, and my excursion with Prince Albert pipe tobacco is at an end. To recap, in the tobacco department, I took only the Prince with me on my weeklong motor trip to Austin, Texas. Only on two occasions did I smoke something else, both times when I was enjoying a local tobacconist’s hospitality. Otherwise, it was the Prince and the Prince alone.

So what are my findings from this personal experiment? Several:

First, Prince Albert sustained my smoking interest. I never grew bored with it or failed to look forward to a smoke. The Prince is a lot more complex than it’s given credit for. It’s considered a drug-store or OTC or codger blend, but it is a damn good one. It’s got body and strength, and it never bites or hits me with nicotine. It is reliably tasty. (I can say only that it tastes like tobacco.) That is why I thought it was a good choice for my experiment.

Second, I enjoyed not having to agonize several times a day over which tobacco to smoke, as I do at home every day. At least for a short while, I could indulge my lazy streak and smoke without having to think about what to smoke. (I still had to choose among the several pipes I took with me, but that was okay.)

Third, I took enough Prince Albert along to carry me easily through the week. Still, I liked knowing that if I needed some in a flash, I had only to get to a Walmart, where it is cheaply available. That was a good feeling.

Fourth, while I thought about the condiments — latakia and perique — of which I was depriving myself, I didn’t really miss them. Oh, I will enjoy them again now that I am home. But I did not experience longings for them. I did, however, experience a longing for the pleasant maple flavor in C&D Autumn Evening. It was the first thing I smoked when I arrived home.

All in all, my experiment demonstrated that Prince Albert is a solid tobacco and probably badly underrated by smokers who limit themselves to “premium” blends. I won’t be smoking it exclusively, but it will be in my rotation.

Prince Albert Update

The Prince is doing fine on our trip. It’s all I’ve been smoking unless I am partaking of a tobacconist’s hospitality, in which case I smoke either a pipe tobacco from that shop or a cigar.

What surprises me is that the only tobacco I am missing on the trip is C&D Autumn Evening. Darn, there’s something about that light maple flavor.

The Prince and I

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Four days into my road trip, the Prince and I are doing fine. I resolved to take only Prince Albert tobacco with me on this trip, and he’s holding up well. Only occasionally have I felt a desire for variety. But that feeling passed quickly, and I soon renewed my appreciation for the Prince’s textured flavor. It is a remarkable blend, whatever it is exactly.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will acknowledge that I had one small bowl of another tobacco. I thought the circumstances justified that slight deviation from my self-imposed rule. Cheryl and I visited En Fuego, a tobacco shop at the harbor in Rockwall, Texas. It’s mainly a cigar shop, but it had one panel of pipes and several bulk tobaccos (no tins at all). Being a newcomer and wishing to enjoy its lounge, I bought a cigar and an ounce of a tobacco labeled “Mark Twain,” which the tobacconist said was “pre-blended.” (It best-selling house blend, “Fuego,” was too rummy for me.) My research indicates it’s Sutliff’s No. 50 Mark Twain, which Tobaccoreviews.com says is

A new pipe tobacco from A&C Peterson designed with Mark Twain in mind. Made with selected choice tobaccos, this blend has a striking, rich aroma. A wonderful Danish style aromatic, with great taste and no bite.

Notes: Now made by the Sutliff Tobacco Company under their banner as per Smoking Pipes website: “Previously known as an A&C Peterson blend, No.150 Mark Twain now flies under the Sutliff banner. A Danish-style aromatic, this mix of black Cavendish, Burley, and Virginia is known for its creamy aromatic flavors and mild strength, making for an easy smoke and a pleasing room note.”

It is a pleasant smoke, which means it has few of the drawbacks of the mass-market aromatics. I’ll smoke more of it when I am home.

Mark Twain No 50

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Getting back to Prince Albert, he will be my constant companion for the rest of the trip, though I am starting to miss perique and latakia.

Albert

Incidentally, here’s what I’ve brought with me: 2 Chris Morgan Bones pipes (Bent Rhodesian and Short Pot), two HIS mini-churchwardens, three Missouri Meerschaum corncobs (Charles Town Cobbler, Dagner Poker, and Little Devil Acorn), and one small smooth bent meerschaum.

Comfort Tobacco

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My Dad, circa 1942

Comfort food is that category of food we all can retreat to during times of stress or other adversity. No two persons have the same list of such foods, of course, but we all know what the term means and why.

I think pipe tobacco blends can be similarly described as comfort tobacco. When I just want to relax and not have to deal with complexity, bite, burn, or nic-hits, I seek comfort in one of a number of blends. Top of my list these days is Prince Albert, which has been around for over 110 years. Exactly what’s in it I cannot say. Tobaccoreviews.com says it’s burley and Cavendish without flavoring. Others say it is flavored. Still others say Virginia and Turkish lurk in the blend. I don’t know. What I do know is that Prince Albert has the pleasant burley taste I identify with plain honest tobacco. It’s mildly sweet and nutty in a way that does not suggest artificial flavoring. I assume the room note is not off-putting.

I’ve been breaking in two Chris Morgan Bones pipes with it, leading me to the conviction that Prince Albert is a fine way to start the morning. Good stuff. It never lets me down.

You can find it in 1.5oz pouches (including six-pouch packs), 14oz plastic tubs (no longer in cans), and bulk. It’s a great buy. It’s easily found online, and my local Walmart carries it.

I recommend it.

PS: My enjoyment of Prince Albert has prompted me to undertake a personal challenge. I’ll be away for a few days later this month, so I’ve decided to take only one tobacco with me: Prince Albert. (I usually pack several.) I’ll bring along a couple of briars, a meerschaum, and a corn cob, most likely the Charles Town Cobbler. We’ll see how it goes.

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