The Huge Pipe Review – Part II

by Jose Ruiz

Read The Huge Pipe Review – Part I here…

Now we will jump right into another review with a tobacco followed by a pipe review on a new pipe to me so I will review the pipe as well.

MacBaren Solent Mixture pipe tobacco

The tobacco smoked is from MAC BAREN “The Solent Mixture”

Pipe used: Nordig Eriksen Egg # 2 Keystone pipe
Tobacco: Burley, Cavendish, Latakia, Virginia
Flavoring: Cocoa, Chocolate, Rum, Vanilla
Cut: Ribbon
Pack method: Franks method
Tin note: Sweet notes of vanilla, rum, fruit, grass.
Room note: Cocoa, nuts, light smokiness, some sweetness.
Strength: Medium
Taste: No vanilla tasted, slight wood smoke, nuts, some sweet notes.

Notes: Out of the tin the aroma is unusual. It reminds me somewhat of the famed Esoterica blends in its slight licorice notes. You don’t normally find the licorice used in most English blends as a part of the fermentation process. Perhaps its inclusion is because this isn’t a true English blend but more of an aromatic/English blend. Solent Mixture is ready to pack straight out of the tin and after the first 1/3 of the bowl it has a nice peppery note like you would get from a Perique but its a gentle spicy note. I personally don’t get any vanilla taste, but I noticed some rum flavor and the natural sweetness from the Virginia, as well as nuttiness from the Burley, finished by some light wood smoke from the Latakia. The most unique taste I get is a slightly sour note but it is in a pleasant way, refreshing like citrus fruit not sour like bad milk. During the last 1/3 of the bowl it remains a well-balanced smoke and the consistency in its blending helps maintain taste, strength, coolness, with no bitterness or tongue bite. So after all this what in a nutshell do I think of this blend?? Hmmm? For sure its a unique blend with pleasing aromas and flavors, nicely done blend for a aromatic/English blend, it’s worth a try if you never had it before and like something different to try. If you’re a purist of English or Balkan blends it may not be for you, or maybe it is, if your adventurous and willing to try something a little out of your purist English/Balkan box. The Solent Mixture is a nice blend either way you choose in my opinion.

Rate: 3.5 out of 5

Last, but by no means last of this review, is the pipe review I used for this tobacco review. I’ll get right down to the nitty-gritty of it.


“ Eriksen pipes are the newest innovation from the brilliant mind of Erik Nording and feature a removable bowl that allows you to add Keystones into the base. The Keystones will absorb excess moisture for a cool, dry smoke. Each pipe is lightweight with a nice capacity bowl. Try one and you will automatically see the difference.”

Ok that is being said on a sellers website, so lets see how it really smokes. A canned product review from a marketing standpoint is nice but does it give an accurate portrayal of the product?  I’ll abuse it to see if it really does smoke well and cool. I normally don’t puff like a freight train but since it’s a test and review it needs to be done. It did get slightly warm but never hot where you can’t hold the pipe. The draw was great. Then I smoked it normally and yes it stayed cool and gurgle free as it trapped the moisture. So in a nutshell, yes their claims are true. I can see this being a great pipe, especially for aromatic lovers as most of the aromatics are moist to begin with. It will also be great for those that like to puff aggressively. I also noticed this pipe is also very lightweight and that can be a welcomed pipe for those that smoke as they work and love to clench there pipes no jaw fatigue noticed. The bowl can be removed very easily when you need to replace the keystones but yet is firmly in place. At no point does the bowl wiggle or feel loose. The aesthetics of the pipe look is classy yet functional. My only real draw back of the Nording Eriksen Egg #2, and it is a more personal preference is the straight stem. I hope they will also make them in a bent stem soon as I prefer a bent stem to a straight one. They do have different style bowls to choose from all in briar, which does allow for customization of the pipe. Maybe they can expand to also make the bowls in Meerschaum and different bowl materials in time. It’s a great pipe to have no matter what your doing and easy to care for as the bit comes off nicely to clean it as well as the shank. So maintenance shouldn’t be an issue. The only non-personal preference draw back I noticed was at the tip of the bit. They need to make sure to smooth it a bit more from the molding at the very tip, you can feel it and it is a little rough on the tongue.

Rate: 3 out of 5

Read The Huge Pipe Review – Part I here…

The Huge Pipe Review – Part I

by Jose Ruiz

Well I hope every one had a great and safe 4th of July.  I looked forward to a few days of relaxing and having fun, of which I did both. Today’s review will be a bit longer than normal, as I’ll be having several items in one big review. We are including some product reviews also in the mix; as well as two tobacco reviews and a new pipe in the line-up.

OK first will be on the product reviews as I got a really badly ghosted pipe from friend of mine and he couldn’t get rid of the ghost in the pipe. I’m sure your wondering what the hell is a ghosted pipe? Do I need to get an exorcist or what!!!!!! For those who aren’t aware, the meaning of a ghosted pipe is that whatever was smoked in it leaves an offensive smell and taste when you smoke it again. Some tobaccos can do this from time to time, especially some aromatics. It gets quite upsetting when you paid a respectable amount of cash for a quality pipe and all of a sudden can’t get the flavor and odor of a smoke out of it. My friend had tried to clean it as best as he could and still this pipe ghosted and so he gave it to me. I figured I have nothing to lose but time in trying to fix it.

The products I used on the ghosted pipe is DENI CLEAN, DECATOR HAZE-AWAY (stem oxidation remover), DECATOR SHINE-BRITE (stem polishing compound) both of which I picked up at Smokes on Main in West Bend, WI.

What I did first was ream out the bowl to as much bare briar as I can get without damaging the bowl with my reaming tool. Then I used bristle pipe cleaners to ream the shank with Deni Clean also, swapped it out with regular clean pipe cleaner soaked in Deni Clean and stuffed the bowl with cotton balls to just below the rim; soaked with enough Deni Clean to get it wet (if any gets on the outer part of the bowl wipe right away to prevent accidental removal of the stain or finish on the outside of the bowl). Let it all soak for a few hours, or better yet over night. Then remove the used cotton ball and you will see the gunk that came off with it. Wipe the inside of the bowl with a rag or paper towel till clean and as dry as possible. Now is also the time to remove the soaked pipe cleaner from the shank and pass a clean pipe cleaner through it till dry also. Let the pipe air dry over a day or two before smoking it. This way you know the pipe is all dry and free of chemical; did this for the stem also.

After all that I used the DECATUR HAZE-AWAY first then I used DECATUR SHINE-BRITE on the stem to rid of any oxidation, and shine the stem. For both products you just rub it on the stem and let it dry before using a rag to buff it out, like waxing your car back in the day. You will love the results visually on the stem and it leaves no bad after taste on the stem at all. Both products are very easy to use.

Drew Estate Meat Pie pipe tobacco

Now for the tobacco review, and I did use the pre-ghosted pipe for test purposes to see how the end results of these products work. The first tobacco I’ll be reviewing is from DREW ESTATE – MEAT PIE.

Pipe: Oom Paul full bent rusticated
Tobacco: Latakia, Oriental, Turkish, Virginia
Cut: Ribbon
Pack method: Pour and tap
Tin note: Nice campfire smokiness, natural sweetness, citrus, grassy notes.
Room note: Somewhat pungent from the Latakia with sweet grassy notes and nuances of fruitiness.
Strength: Medium- medium strong
Taste: Balanced blend that is also smooth and no bitterness, complex and rich.

Notes: I looked so forward to trying this blend as I have heard great things about it. The tin art is appealing and out of the tin it is ready to pack. The tin aroma is of a rich, complex, balanced blend as I can infer from all the different tobaccos that are in the tin; from the wonderful smokiness from the Latakia, the citrus notes of the Turkish/Orientals, the sweet grassy notes of the Virginias. I just can’t wait to light it up and taste them all. After the initial char light in my Oom Paul pipe I was amazed how good the taste is. It just pops on your tongue with all of the fantastic flavors from the blend and nothing overwhelms each other. So after the first 1/3 of the bowl the taste/flavor/strength remain constant and pleasant and balanced. There is absolutely no bitterness and it smokes cool, with no tongue bite. I’m enjoying it with a hot cup of coffee with cream and sugar; it pairs well and is blissful. Now for the last 1/3 of the bowl, guess what? It’s still a fantastic smoke through the whole bowl!!!! SOOOOOOOOOO all in all Meat Pie by DREW ESTATE makes me hungry for more and more!! I highly recommend this for all English lovers and lovers of Latakia and possibly even for new smokers who want to try English/Latakia blends. You won’t be disappointed!!!

Rated: 4 out of 5

Read The Huge Pipe Review – Part II here….

Customer Review: Foundry Elements Cobalt Robusto by Thurston Howell IV

Foundry Elements - Cobalt robusto

Back again with a special stick from those strange folks at Foundry Cigars.

The Cobalt robusto, aka “The Goblin,” is from the Foundry Elements line created by master blender Michael Giannini. Now there’s not much info on any of the cigars he makes, but I can tell you that the Cobalt robusto is 5 ¼ x 54 and it contains Nicaraguan, Mexican and Mysterious tobaccos. The element the cigar derives its name from is used to build alloys and bring components together. The same can be said about this cigar because it brings all these different tobaccos together to make a truly unique smoking experience.

Things to notice when the cellophane comes off is the big band which is very cool looking that sticks with that steampunk vibe that all foundry cigar have. The cigar has a rather strong sent of cedar to it. The wrapper has a nice brown hue with no cracks in it. You’ll notice that cigar is more oval shaped then round, like it was box pressed. It cuts with no issues and has a good draw, one that’s not too tight but doesn’t feel like I’m drinking through a straw.

The first few puffs bring a whole assortment of flavors for you to discover. It has a taste of cedar and almonds, which is an unusual flavor combination, but it works. There’s also a slight acidic taste to it, which leaves a tingle on your tongue. There are some spicy notes that I can’t put my finger on. All together this is quite the flavor experience and we’ve only just started.

As I smoke more into this cigar the flavors seem to intensify, showcasing how the flavors work together. The ash is a nice white color and holds together well. I did notice an irregular burn line near the start of this cigar but it quickly corrected itself. This cigar also doesn’t need to be constantly watched while it burns. I’ve let it sit in the ashtray for a few minutes while I’ve worked on this review and it hasn’t needed to be relit. As I come to end of the Cobalt robusto, I’ve noticed a strong surge of spice bringing things to a nice end.

A few notes. I’ve noticed the smoke is relatively light so this could be a great social smoke. It is a mild-medium bodied smoke so even a beginner smoker would enjoy this little treasure. I would say this cigar lives up to its namesake and gives us something new, unlike anything else I’ve tried.

My hat is off to you Michael, You’ve once again made a cigar that truly one of a kind and I look forward to whatever brilliant creations you bring us next!

Customer’s Review: The Vega Fina Gran Toro by Thurston Howell IV

Vega Fina Nicaragua Gran Toro

It’s been awhile since my last written review and what a gem to be given. So let’s start with getting some facts out of the way. This blend comes in three different sizes: Corona (5 ¾ by 42), Robusto (5 by 50), and Gran Toro (6 by 52). I’ll be smoking the Gran Toro today, which is perfect for the lovely weather we’re having here in Wisconsin. This is a very reasonably priced cigar at only $6.05 per stick.

This is a Nicaraguan cigar all the way through, from the wrapper to the filler. The wrapper is a Nicaraguan Habano 2000, binder is Nicaraguan Seco, and the filler is Nicaraguan Ligero, Nicaraguan Viso, and Nicaraguan Seco. The wrapper is a nice dark tan color with a few veins and bumps. Upon smelling the foot of the cigar I get some subtle note of chocolate and cherry. The cigar cuts easily and has an excellent draw. Let’s light her up and see how she smokes.

As I take my first puff of this cigar the word that jumps to mind is spice. It hits the tongue and back of my throat hard. With each puff there is quite a large volume of smoke, probably because of the easy draw. After the few puffs it mellows out and brings in a subtle sweet taste. It really rounds out the flavors and makes for an enjoyable smoke. As I get through the first third of the cigar I notice how well the cigars burns. Nice and even. It’s been very well rolled to the point where the ash stays on the cigar without always needing to be knocked off or falling from its own weight.

About halfway through the cigar now and seems to have developed a black pepper taste. It’s quite interesting as far as flavors go. Overall I’d say its medium to full flavor but medium strength so not too harsh for every day smoking. As we come to the end of the smoke the flavors seemed to mellowed out but leave a nice tangy aftertaste. There were a few issues while smoking that I noticed. It liked to go out if you weren’t paying too close attention to it, which isn’t good if you’re trying to socialize. The smoke is very thick and likes to linger so it’s best to smoke outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. One problem my stick had is that the wrapper started to crack slightly as I got further into the cigar. I hope it was just my cigar and not all of them.

Overall I would say this is a fantastic smoke and it would be foolish to pass it up.