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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Yes, Virginia, There Is Burley

I almost called this post “Damn Burleys!” That’s not an insult but rather an expression of respect, just as the old Washington Senators fans used to cry, “Damn Yankees!” (There’s an old Broadway musical by that name.)

What I’m getting at is that my exploration of full-bodied burleys has to a large extent eclipsed my taste for straight Virginias. I still like them, but now that I’ve smoked robust burley blends, Virginias seem kind of tame. Add perique or latakia — or both — and some Virginia-based blends hold their own. I love Dunhill (*wah*) Nightcap, My Mixture 965, and Elizabethan Mixture. I like Navy Rolls. I also love McClelland (*wah*) Dark Star and Dark Navy Flake. But to my palate, Cornell & Diehl’s Haunted Bookshop, Pegasus, and Pirate Kake really shine by comparison. I have to watch out for the nicotine hit, but these are some mouth-watering tobaccos, so flavorful.

If you think burley means only Prince Albert, Carter Hall, Granger, and the matches for Edgeworth Ready-Rubbed — all good though mild blends there’s a world of robust burley blends waiting for you.

Give one or two a try. But handle with care.