Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Bollocks du jour no. 2

Perhaps not the ultimate in hubris, but a fair contender anyway, the comments from Mars on the deep frying of Mars Bars had me in stitches. Now I am looking forward to hearing just how flogging calorie-rich chocolaty sweets relates to their "commitment to promoting healthy, active lifestyles"... 

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Bollocks du jour no. 1

With apologies to Ben Goldacre for borrowing the wonderful phrase, 'bollocks du jour' from his book "Bad Science" (which surely belongs on any thinking being's list of essential reads), I present the first in an occasional series of internet gleanings replete with wrong thinking, bad science, worse use of statistics and arrant stupidity. And this first one isn't even about tobacco!

There seems to be a distinct dearth of science in this Daily Wail report claiming that using electronic gadgets for two hours before bed time can cause sleep problems. Of real interest is the line at the bottom of the article saying that "The study was funded by Sharp Laboratories of America". Even more interesting to discover that the main business of Sharp Laboratories of America is in the field of video and display technology. The original article is here, and it seems to contain little very extra information, not even a suggestion of the size of the subject groups included in the research which does tend to suggests a lack of statistical validity.

It does make you wonder if Sharp Laboratories of American already has a solution to the 'problem' in the works...

Friday, 29 June 2012

Tobacco Control Tactics

It's great to see the launch of a new site dedicated to exposing the lies, dodgy science and sheer vindictiveness of the tobacco control industry, otherwise known as neo-puritans, health nazis, state sponsored bullies and all round bad guys.

Tobacco Control Tactics is the place and it deserves every bit of support it can get from all of those people, smokers and non-smokers alike, who are fed up of being dictated to by unelected (and probably unelectable) curmudgeons who seem to take delight in removing every last ounce or gramme of enjoyment from the lives of all those they disagree with.

H.L, Mencken hit the nail on the head when he wrote, "Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy." There was a man who was up to snuff!

Those neo-puritans could use a little more of this...

Monday, 4 June 2012

Laurel and Hardy: The Bagpipes and the Snuff Box

A classic. And the papier-mâché snuff box is rather nice too.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Peterson Darwin Deluxe

One of my most handsome pipes and a very fine smoker indeed is my superbly grained Darwin Deluxe. It's a big bowled pipe yet comfortable in the hand and not too arduous to dangle from the teeth. Well worth every penny. I reckon the pictures speak for themselves.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Snuff Review: Abraxas Premium Batch

This, the first Abraxas snuff to be revealed to an unsuspecting public, remains my favourite though I doubt I would ever use it as an all day snuff. Apart from the cost (probably the most expensive snuff in history) the wonderful scent and flavour are just too rich for constant use. But as an after-dinner, evening indulgence it is both decadent and sublime. 

But I get ahead of myself. Abraxas Premium Batch is a coarse, rich dark brown, moist snuff, not so much scented or flavoured as suffused with rich and probably expensive spirits. For me the grind and moisture level are perfect, though the jar did need to be left open for a while first to let the ammonia fly free.The flavourings are complex indeed. The initial impression is of a good quality cognac with more than a hint of old port and I suspect some good quality coffee in the background. The sheer depth of flavour is amazing and it lingers and lingers. The base tobacco has something of the Cuban cigar in it, though whether it is made with Cuban tobacco or not I couldn't say. 

If one didn't know one might guess that this an old Fribourg and Treyer blend, such is the quality of the snuff. But no, this one only saw the light of day in mid-2011. Admittedly the maker has said that he has been refining the blend for 30 years. If it takes a man 30 years to produce such a snuff I can only say that it was 30 years well spent.

Five stars all the way!

Charles Peterson 140th Anniversary Pipe

This is one big pipe! Peterson produced this one to commemorate the company's 140th anniversary. It is a copy of Charles Peterson's favourite pipe. Mine came with the fishtail mouthpiece seen in the photographs below and I have since had a P-lip mouthpiece made for it by Peterson's. It certainly gives a long smoke!

And here's the same pipe with the P-lip mouthpiece. I think the colour of the pipe is more accurately depicted in these shots.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Snuff Review: Abraxas Dragun

The fourth offering from Abraxas, Dragun is significantly different from the earlier three.  Rather than being dark and moist it is a pale yellow brown and it is relatively dry. The grind however is still medium coarse, thus rather proving my earlier point that dry snuffs aren't always fine in grind. The grind and colour remind me of the Dutch Mettaijer Snuif and also of the fabled Spanish Jewel but the flavouring is quite different to either. Mettaijer has a vinegary top note while the Jewel was cheesy and sweet and Dragun is spicy and sweet. A curious combination perhaps but it works well for me. 

The notes on the Mr Snuff site mention several spices as being in the flavouring for Dragun, chilli, cinnamon and nutmeg, and I'm not going to argue about any of those. All seem to be present, but the initial scent I get is of something much sweeter. A hint of apples and raisins with cinnamon perhaps, or something along those lines. I find the chilli tends to makes itself known as that initial sweetness fades. Finally the tobacco itself comes forward coupled with a heft nicotine kick. Very satisfying and very moreish, even if it does tend to make me sneeze, just like the Club and the Cerise Connoisseur! I suspect that, while the grind of Dragun is finer than that of Club and Cerise, it's the dryness that starts me sneezing (though high dry toast doesn't have that effect on me). For the latter reason alone I'll give it four stars rather than five, though 4.5 would be more accurate. Another must try snuff from Abraxas.
Dragun snuff in a papier-mâché box
Update: I have recently received a tub of Dragun from the second batch. Same great flavour but the grind is slightly finer, resulting in an even better product which is much less sneezy than before. Now it's a solid five stars for Dragun!

Peterson Antique Series 1910 Bulldog

This Peterson Antique Series 1910 Bulldog is one of my favourite pipes. It has a good size bowl without costing a fortune to fill and the army mount P-lip mouthpieces always work well for me. This 1910 design was just one of a whole series of pipes which Peterson produced in the 1990s copying much older shapes. The hallmark on this one is for Dublin, 1998.

The pictures will tell the rest of the story.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Snuff Review: Abraxas Cerise Connoisseur

My take on the Abraxas Cerise Connoisseur. This review has also been posted on Snuff House.

Another excellent snuff from Abraxas, the Cerise Connoisseur was the third to be released. Like the Abraxas Club, it is dark, very coarse, moist and rich in flavour. Fresh from the 15g glass jar it needed some airing to reduce the expected ammonia but that is never a problem. One whiff of that smell tells me a snuff is as fresh as it gets so all is well. Like the other Abraxas snuffs this one is also described as a premium sort and the price reflects that. Even at that price this is a wonderful snuff, positively decadent in its depth of flavour.

The initial scent blast is of cherries of course, as the name proclaims. In fact leaving a jar open nicely scents the entire room! But the flavour is not just of cherries. It's more of a cherry brandy with the alcoholic liqueur adding an extra dimension to the overall experience. There is also something else lurking in the recesses of this blend, something somewhat bitter-sweet which I can't quite place. I'm sure as time goes on with this snuff I'll find more flavours just waiting to be discovered.

The only drawback for me, once again, as with the Club and Dragun snuffs from Abraxas, is that the coarse grind tends to make me sneeze a lot and once again, that's my only reason for only giving this excellent snuff four stars rather than five.

Snuff Review: Abraxas Club

Abraxas Club was the second premium snuff to be released by Abraxas. Like the others it is very much a premium snuff both in terms of price and flavour. Luckily mine came as a sample in a 15g plastic pot, preserving my bank balance somewhat.

So far only available online from Mr Snuff, Abraxas Club is very coarse, moist and scented. In coarseness and moisture level it ranks with the rappees and it is nearly as dark. The premium nature of this snuff really lies in the flavouring or saucing. I decanted the contents of the 15g pot into a larger 25g tin (an old Samuel Gawith one still in good condition) to give the snuff a chance to breathe a bit, thus enhancing the flavour. And flavour seems to be just the right word here. This stuff is good enough to eat!

Along with a touch of the farmyard (proving freshness) the initial scent is of brandy (or is it a particularly rich rum?), closely followed by coffee, a touch of chocolate, an underlying nuttiness with hints of citrus and an almost plum-like fruitiness. Finally the base tobacco shines through with the occasional reprise of the other scents. Quite amazing snuff, though I must confess that it tends to make me sneeze. I put this down to the coarseness of the mill. Perhaps if I were to add a little extra water it would reduce that tendency.

The only thing that stops this from being a five star snuff for me is that sneeziness, so it gets four.

Snuff Reviews

Along with adding pictures of and comments about my many pipes to this blog, I also intend to properly organise the snuff reviews on this site, eventually copying all my snuff reviews from my old wiki site. I expect to take the time to expand upon some of the reviews as I progress and I will also be adding the comments to the growing collection of reviews on the Snuff House website. That place should be the first port of call for any online snuff user.

The snuffs I like best will get five stars (★★★★★) and those I like least will get one (★).

Pictures of snuffs from Snuff Store (UK), Toque Snuff Ltd. Bernard Schnupftabak GmbH and Pöschl Tabak are used with permission and gratitude.

A Peterson 999 "Chubby"

One by one I intend to move, or at least copy, the notes and pictures on my pipe collection from the wiki site where they currently reside to this blog. With a bit of luck I'll add a pipe a day until they are all here. I intend to do it one pipe per post and expand on the notes I may have made on various pipes previously. I'll also start copying all the snuff reviews from the old site.

I'll start the process with this lovely old Peterson 999. I have mentioned this one before, but this time I will expand on the notes.

This is a London made "chubby" 999. Chubby relates to the thickness of the shank compared with earlier and later versions of the shape. They appear to have been produced like this in the middle years of the 20th century though as ever, precise dating is impossible.

It is marked on the left side: Petersons (walking P) over London & Dublin. On the right side: 999  London Made over England.

It's a fine chunky pipe, cool smoking as as comfortable in the hand as clenched between the teeth.

For more information on the history and dating of Peterson pipes, Jim Lilley's superb resource for Peterson pipes on Pipedia is not to be missed.

Friday, 4 May 2012


This one image says more about the state of things in the world today than a thousand words could ever do.
At least I have my own small piece of Virginia in my back garden...

Small Changes

It looks like the company that hosts my wiki site is changing the way they do things and it seems to me that they really aren't interested in the small user like myself. While I may be able to keep a basic site there I am in the process of moving some of the content there to this blog. Just covering my back of course, as I wouldn't want to lose all that content. Might be time to investigate Wordpress too...

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Viking Blonde...

No, what you might think (no dodgy stuff here!) - just another new snuff from My Smoking Shop in Preston.
Viking Blonde is a classic SP style snuff. In flavour it is close to Samuel Gawith's SP No. 1 High Mill. No real surprise there as I am sure Viking Blonde is produced by Samuel Gawith. The 25g vacuum sealed tin a a bit of a give away. The snuff is medium-fine, moist and nicely flavoured with bergamot. A good, solid every day snuff and well worth a try.

It is also fairly similar to the Traditional SP from Snuff Store, though that one is darker and somewhat subtler in flavour. I bought some more of that this week, along with some of their Golden Pinch and Cafe Noir. All excellent snuffs and the 10g tins they come in are a big improvement on the old "baggies". Their service is lightening fast as well.

Monday, 6 February 2012

A Pair of Petes

The postman has been busy bringing another couple of Petersons to join the herd.

First to arrive was this Silver Mounted Army 86. A rather petite pipe but full of character and a great clencher.

Second was this Peterson Sports 3. I've been after one of these out of production pipes for a while as I like the p-lip and so didn't care for the newer Outdoor range. It's just 11cm long and so is perfect for slipping into a pocket.