Today, as I was lighting my pipe, I experienced something that I haven’t for some time: A full and wonderful realization of all that pipe smoking can be. This may be a bit difficult to explain, but please allow me to try.
As I lit the pipe, hovering a match just over the surface of the tobacco, gently drawing in and moving the match back and forth, I marveled at the sight of those individual ribbons of tobacco twisting and turning as they caught, then slowly settling and beginning to glow a beautiful orange. As I tamped the surface oh-so-lightly, I was struck by the interesting thought that all of these individual ribbons were now transforming into something else, something new. That surface, a smoldering thin cake of tobacco which allowed me to savor the taste and aroma of a favorite tobacco, inexplicably drew my thoughts back to those times as a young boy when I would watch my great-grandfather puff at his pipe, seemingly without a care in the world. It seemed like a magic trick, the puffing and tamping, the creation of slowly swirling gossamer blue-gray smoke, the indescribably comforting aroma.
I realized as I slowly drew breath, watching the tobacco of my first light gently rise and fall in the intensity of its glow, that I was performing magic, all on my own. It was a transformative moment, a collision and temporary merging of the here and now with lucid and beloved memories of days gone by. In a way, it was as if I were somehow impossibly both sharing a smoke with my great-grandfather, as well as sharing a moment with that bright-eyed young boy that was me, who was so amazed by it all. Oh, the things I wish I could share with that old man, and with that young boy!
But just as quickly as it began, time snapped back into place like quicksilver, and I was left with my pipe and my thoughts of just how much I miss both of those people, and how dearly I love them. If not for that old man, I may not even be smoking this pipe now. And without this pipe, I may not find the time to remember that boy at all. And I’m so thankful for all three--the old man, that young boy, and the pipe that gifted me with such a cherished little glimpse back through the years…
Keep ‘em lit,
Like many of you, I've still been processing and coming to terms with the loss of our friend, John Harden, also known as Matches860 in the YouTube Pipe Community. Thinking about John got me to thinking about creating this list, for those who aren’t ready just yet to start freight-training Haunted Bookshop all day! These are good, lighter alternatives to what I think were John's “Big 3”: HB, OJK, & BNB.
My order of personal favorites of the Big 3:
I wouldn’t call any of these blends that I recommend here personal favorites, since my favorites tend to have a stand-out flavor or profile, such as Old Dark Fired or Chenet’s Cake. I just love blends that make more use of Dark Fired Kentucky and Perique. BUT, I keep circling back to these! They’re intriguing without trying to be rock stars.
To me, an “everyday blend” means a light to medium, typically burley-based blend. Maybe that’s unfair, but it’s what most of the old codger blends are, so perhaps there's something to that. I can see how these blends might be considered nondescript at first glance, but can become old friends over time. They leave you curious…you might find yourself wanting to coax out their secrets!
First, let's cover some Honorable Mentions I wanted to include that are just a bit too “mentionable” - They stand out a bit too much for the main recommendations list for an all-day type blend, in my opinion.
So without further ado, here's my main list of no-nonsense, "true tobacco" tasting, lighter alternatives to Haunted Bookshop, Old Joe Krantz or Big ’N’ Burley.
Well, there you have it! I hope you'll find a new favorite in this list, or perhaps you'll find that you're ready to tackle one of the Big 3 after all. Either way, I had fun coming up with this list of All-Day tobacco blends!
Keep 'em lit,
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