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Home Blends

Discuss or ask questions about pipe tobacco, pipe tobacco storage and aging, blending, etc.

Re: Home Blends

Postby Geo3rge » Sun Jul 16, 2017 9:15 pm

I like the observation about the condiments and the issue of distribution within a blend. I wonder how this could be addressed. Can the Perique or Turkish be chopped into fine sizes to enable a more even distribution? Difficult to allow for this given the weight and settling in a jar. If these were sprinkled evenly into a mix then pressed, that might be one answer.
Good to read this systematic approach again. Blend 5 seems to be the definitive one!
Well done again. A most interesting account and documentation of your trials.
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Re: Home Blends

Postby Nomad » Sun Jul 16, 2017 9:47 pm

Hadn't thought of chopping them up, but that could work (or just breaking the strands up with the fingers). I don't think settling is likely to be much of an issue. The Revor is very well rubbed out into little rectangles about 2mm wide and 15mm long - basically down to single layers of leaf - and that doesn't seem to settle. Part of the reason for shaking box after mixing by hand was to see if it separated from the Scotch Cake, but it seemed fine. Didn't get lots of Revor at the end when I decanted the mixture into the jars by lifting up piles with my fingers. Maybe a tiny pinch between finger and thumb, but that's miniscule compared to the 20g or so pile that went into it.

Had a very enjoyable bowl this evening in my Alexander Zavvos bent. The aforementioned zingy aspect was more subdued. A lot more sipping with this smoke (still my normal quite high cadence, just less of the big puffs). That's four different pipes I've tried it in, and it's been pretty consistent across them all.
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Re: Home Blends

Postby Geo3rge » Mon Jul 17, 2017 3:50 pm

Good to hear. "Big puffs" can be pleasurable but not always preferable! Zavvos pipes are good ones. I have a couple of them and each smokes very well indeed.
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Re: Home Blends

Postby Listener666 » Fri Jul 21, 2017 5:46 pm

I'm sort of enjoying a blend of GH Dark Flake U/S......with a pinch of C&D granulated Perique. Its quite odd, if I overdo the Perique it's awfull ......and if I under pinch.....its....erm ....underwhelming! Get it right and it'd lovely. I will press some when I get a little more time towards the Autumn.

Interestingly.......I have a Zavvos poker which didn't taste very good for the first few months....erm not sweet would be the easy way to describe it......but it's great with Dark Flake for some reason!
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Re: Home Blends

Postby Geo3rge » Sat Jul 22, 2017 8:56 pm

It's interesting how some pipes affect the taste. I find that sweetness with some of Ian Walker's Northern Briar pipes and also Blakemar Briars.
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Re: Home Blends

Postby Listener666 » Sun Jul 23, 2017 7:55 pm

Geo3rge wrote:It's interesting how some pipes affect the taste. I find that sweetness with some of Ian Walker's Northern Briar pipes and also Blakemar Briars.



Yes, i know some people dismiss this but it's real for me! I have a Jolly Roger pipe by Roger Wallenstein which smokes everything two notches up on the sweetness scale....just had a bowl of Warrior Plug and it tasted ridiculously sweet!
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Re: Home Blends

Postby Nomad » Sun Jul 23, 2017 9:11 pm

Listener666 wrote:I'm sort of enjoying a blend of GH Dark Flake U/S......with a pinch of C&D granulated Perique. Its quite odd, if I overdo the Perique it's awfull ......and if I under pinch.....its....erm ....underwhelming! Get it right and it'd lovely. I will press some when I get a little more time towards the Autumn.


Do you mean the Perique is broken up small? And, are you adding a pinch to a single bowl's worth? If so, it will be difficult to get a consistent proportion from one bowl to the next. I'm finding that aiming to make about 10g is okay - the small amounts of condiment are bigger than for a single bowl, so it's easier to get a more accurate measurement. My test pipe takes about 2g, which would have meant trying to weigh out 0.1g of Perique in the first two blends, on a scale with a resolution of 0.1g. With a 10g batch, the Perique was 0.5g, which reduces the error to about 1/5th of what it would be with 2g.


Interestingly.......I have a Zavvos poker which didn't taste very good for the first few months....erm not sweet would be the easy way to describe it......but it's great with Dark Flake for some reason!


I have two Zavvos pipes, both NOS from the series with the amber and silver band and the light coloured Lucite stem. The other one is a pot that turned out to be rather larger than I was expecting. Both came with stingers, which I removed right away. The draw on them isn't quite as free as it is on my other pipes, although the bent has always been a good smoker in any case, So far as I can tell, they have a small opening at the mouth end - the rest of the airway is a normal diameter. I recently took a small needle file to the hole in the pot, just widening it a little in the slot, and it seems to draw much better. Haven't smoked it enough yet to tell if that has changed. The hobby kit pipe I mentioned in an earlier post also came from Alexander, and that smokes well
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Re: Home Blends

Postby Nomad » Thu Jul 27, 2017 8:41 pm

Blend No7...

Code: Select all
Component    %       grams
Scotch Cake  51.25   4.1
Revor        22.50   1.8
Latakia      26.25   2.1


The weird gram quantities are just the result of my weighing, and subsequently recording the readings accurately (the percentages are calculated by the spreadsheet from the entered weights). The proportions of Scotch Cake and Revor are the same as in Gravedigger, so this is essentially the latter with Latakia added. This is another experiment to try and get an idea of how much Latakia needs to be added to make what I've been calling a mellow English.

With the first two bowls of this, the Latakia was too dominant, and I felt that there was a lack of the earthiness that I associate with the Revor - my inclination was to try again with a larger proportion of Revor and reduce the Latakia somewhat. I'm smoking the third bowl as I write, perhaps more slowly than before, and the Latakia seems a bit less forward this time, although still there, while the Revor still seems subdued. The Latakia tends to stand out most at the start, after which at steps back a bit.

General smoking characteristics seem to be similar to the other blends - very little gurgle, if any, generally easy to sip and have the occasional larger puff, hardly any relights, no dottle, light to medium grey ash. Mild to medium on the snork, meaning generally mild, with occasional spicy moments, and the burn is a bit cooler than is normal for me. Fairly smoky, but maybe a bit light bodied, reasonable plumes, but no big clouds. My notes say that it's mellower than No4 (which was 50/50 Scotch Cake and Latakia), but still leaning toward Lat or maybe a little spicy. The Revor is noticeable, more so as the bowl progresses, although the Lat aspect remains. Nic hit is noted as mild, but seems to be a bit more prominent with this third bowl - nudging towards medium.

Would I buy a tin after sampling it? I don't think so. (To be fair, it's not intended to be an actual blend, but then, neither was No5.) Overall, it's a pleasant enough smoke, but I feel that the balance isn't quite what I'm looking for. Needs to be more mellow/earthy and with a bit less Latakia, especially considering that there will probably be some Turkish added later. (I think that means I should be aiming for the Latakia to be a bit more in the background with this interim experimental blend, to make room for the Turkish when that comes along.)

No7 was not too bad, all in all. Nice to have a noticeable flavour profile, where it started with the Latakia dominating, went through a less distinct middle, and finished with the Revor standing out. I'll give some thought to proportions and see if I can get the balance more towards the earthy aspect for more of the bowl.

In other news, I've tipped the remains of the previous blends apart from No1 into a single box to make a pensioner's mix, thus releasing the plastic boxes they were occupying. I kept No1 because that was made with the Bright Va, which I wasn't keen on, and because that had a strong nic hit, which I'm curious about.
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Re: Home Blends

Postby KevLa » Fri Jul 28, 2017 3:42 pm

This is really great stuff, Nomad. I'm always interested in blending notes, particularly when written up so well, and without conceit. We've not had such on Tamp & Puff for too long.
Thank you for taking the time, and please keep it coming :)
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Re: Home Blends

Postby Geo3rge » Fri Jul 28, 2017 3:56 pm

KevLa wrote:This is really great stuff, Nomad. I'm always interested in blending notes, particularly when written up so well, and without conceit. We've not had such on Tamp & Puff for too long.
Thank you for taking the time, and please keep it coming :)


As with Kev. A great series to read. More, please.

Btw, anyone heard from or about Jiminks? Not seen his "What are you smoking" entries recently.
Wonder if everything is alright?
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Re: Home Blends

Postby TigerJack » Sat Jul 29, 2017 4:00 am

There are several blends I have made through the years but only one stands out to the point that I keep it on hand year round , I call it "CartersEdge" It consist of 50/50 Carter Hall & Lanes EdgeWorth Ready Rub, makes for a wonderful smoke. G'Day
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Re: Home Blends

Postby Nomad » Tue Aug 01, 2017 12:02 am

Thanks chaps - good to know that there is some interest. Anyone reading is, of course, welcome to mix up any of the blends themselves and give their thoughts.

On to blend No8...

Code: Select all
Component    %      grams
Scotch Cake  50     4
Revor        37.5   3
Latakia      12.5   1


This is an adjustment of No7, which I felt leaned a bit too much towards the Latakia. Both were 8g in total, and the proportions have changed a little, basically 1g less Lat and 1g more Revor. To put it another way, the two base tobaccos, relative to each other, have changed from the 70/30 balance in Gravedigger to 57/43 in this one.

Smoked one bowl so far, and it took 3 or 4 lights to get things going for some reason. Don't know why - moisture content was normal. Maybe the pack was a smidge tight, but not by much. Maybe I just wasn't paying attention. Anyway, after the first few puffs, it seemed to settle into something fairly Latakia forward, but not excessively so - the change in proportions has resulted in a smoke where the earthiness that I was looking for is much more present. The initial Latakia dominance seemed to ease away after a while and the earthiness came to the fore, but with the Latakia still in the background. Occasionally, the Latakia would stand out a bit more, which I suspect is to do with it being a fresh blend with no melding.

The snork was fairly mild in general, but quite often became more spicy, without being sharp or unpleasant. If anything, it had a lovely balance between the spicier Lat notes and the solid earthy tobacco aspects of the Revor. At these moments, it was excellent. This is also a more smoky blend than the others - medium body, quite creamy, and lots of nice plumes. Even sips produced a decent amount - when sips produce hardly any smoke, I always wonder if it's about to go out, but none of that here. Every sip reminded me that it was burning away nicely, and bigger puffs allowed for plenty of slow exhalation, switching between mouth and snork as desired.

Burn was a little cooler than normal for me. No relights once it was going. No gurgle, no dottle, medium grey ash. Nic hit was mild.

Although this is intended to be an interim test blend, it's a definite improvement over No7. With No8, the overall flavour balance is mellow and earthy with enough Latakia for it to be noticeable without being dominant. There were times when I felt that the Latakia was a bit too subdued (but this could, again, be due to it being freshly mixed and unmelded). Would I buy a tin if this was a sample? I think I probably would. The only thing holding me back would be the thought that this is a precursor to adding some Turkish to bring it more towards being an English. Maybe a little more Latakia would be enough to elevate this to being a blend in its own right. For now, though, the focus remains on finding this 'mellow English' I'm after, and this seems to be a step in the right direction insofar as I didn't want the Latakia too prominent so that there would be room for the Turkish.
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Re: Home Blends

Postby Nomad » Fri Aug 04, 2017 10:01 am

And moving swiftly on to blend No9...

Code: Select all
Component    %      grams
Scotch Cake  44.62   2.9
Revor        33.85   2.2
Latakia      10.77   0.7
Turkish      10.77   0.7


The weird weights are the result of using the rest of No8 and adding Turkish. I wanted to add it in the same proportion as the Latakia, so it was a case of weighing the remainder of No8 and using the spreadsheet to find out the weight of the Latakia in that smaller batch, then just add the same weight in Turkish. So, still a 57/43 ratio between the two base tobaccos, and 50/50 with the condiments, while the overall new blend has a bigger proportion of condiments (from 12.5% to 21.5%).

Suffice to say that the general smoking characteristics are pretty similar to the other blends, so I'll just note that the smoke was maybe a little lighter - not quite as much when sipping (that borderline feeling that it might be going out, but actually isn't), although plumes were still quite satisfying with bigger puffs.

In terms of flavour, I felt this had a better balance between the earthy and spicy aspects. The Latakia was a bit in the background for the most part, although it did come forward at times. That said, while the spicy or peppery notes from the Turkish were certainly present, they weren't overpowering. With this mix, I broke up the strands of Turkish to try and improve the distribution. Overall, the snork varied between quite mellow and earthy/spicy, apart from the odd occasion where maybe there was a concentration of the condiments in the mix, at which point it was preferable to release the smoke through the mouth. Of the previous blends, only No6 has the same four components, but that leaned too much towards the spicy aspects, which is curious because it has relatively less Turkish and more Lat. It also has less Revor, so maybe there's an interplay between the components. The earthy aspect is more noticeable in No9, and the spiciness, while still quite present, wasn't so strong.

Would I buy a tin having tried the three bowls I got from the sample? It was quite an enjoyable smoke, but probably not. I think I'm happy with the ratio between the two base tobaccos, and with the general proportion between those and the condiments, although I dare say that could vary a bit. Given the general flavour balance of No9, I think the next step is to increase the amount of Latakia relative to the Turkish. I think I'm getting close to this mellow English I've been looking for - maybe the next blend or two.

My Latakia supplies are running low - about 15g, which is plenty for experiments, but if I make up a proper batch (50g for melding, plus 20g or so for smoking), it would get used up. So, a trip to the B&M is in order. While there, I'll see if they have any of those herb grinder things with a view to making the condiments smaller to get them distributed better in the experimental blends. (They tend to be 8-10g overall, so 1g or so of ribbon cut condiment is a rather small amount and really quite hard to spread around, even if broken up with the fingers.) I'll probably get some more Scotch Cake and Revor as well, not so much to cover expected needs for the current blending, but just thinking ahead to trying a tobacco press, which I suspect will need a 50g batch at least for each pressing (I'm planning to press a batch of each finalised blend, plus maybe some others, but that's for another post, if not another thread).

As an aside, I've been finding this very interesting and have hardly smoked a commercial tobacco since I started blending (I think I've had one bowl of SLF). Changing the components and their proportions has helped me to better associate the smoking impressions with the particular tobaccos. Kev's comment that I write without conceit was notable - it's probably because I'm relatively new with pipe smoking (been at it for about 3 years, but have gone through long periods of not smoking a pipe), so I don't really know what I'm talking about. Plus, I smoke roll-ups, so maybe the more subtle flavour aspects are lost on me.

That said, I do wonder about the relevance of some of the reviews that one reads. I think some of the very specific flavour comments might be particular to the reviewer - at a certain point, things like mouth chemistry, the pipe, the smoking style or rate, even the reviewer's personal experience of other flavours or aromas, become factors in the perceived experience of a particular tobacco, and are thus more of a person-specific description. It's worth noting that people often say that they need to try a few bowls of a tobacco before they get a clear idea of what it's like, and that appears to imply that there is variation within a given blend, but is perhaps really variation in the reviewer from day to day. So, that, and my relative lack of experience compared to many pipe smokers, leads me to describe my impressions of the blends in fairly general terms.
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Re: Home Blends

Postby Nomad » Mon Aug 07, 2017 5:59 pm

Blend No10...

Code: Select all
Component    %   grams
Scotch Cake  40   4
Revor        30   3
Latakia      20   2
Turkish      10   1


I'm not quite sure why I made it up in those proportions. The base tobaccos are still 57/43 relative to each other, and I shifted the Latakia and Turkish from 50/50 to 66/33, but I also changed the ratio between these two groups from about 78.5/21.5 in blend No9 to 70/30 in this one. The effect of this was to actually reduce the overall proportion of Revor in the mix when I was looking to increase it. Just call it bad arithmetic.

I also a made a change in method thanks to the use of a cheap herb grinder on the Turkish. The grinder is quite small and doesn't make the baccy especially small, where it falls through little holes into a chamber under the grinder part. This one has sort of diamond-shaped plastic protrusions inside, and no holes. The idea is that, the more turns you give it, the more the tobacco is broken up. After some experimenting, I found that the Turkish was reduced to something similar to the Latakia after 4 turns one way and 4 turns the other. In other words, it was still discrete bits of tobacco, and not ground into anything like a powder. I mixed it with the rubbed-out Revor first to see how it distributed, and it seemed to be good - I spread out the Revor, sprinkled the Turkish over it, ad then lifted bits of the two onto the rest a few times. That was then mixed in with the Scotch Cake and Latakia. The grinder is quite small - the 1g of Turkish was about all that would fit in. For larger quantittes, a bigger grinder would be needed, or the grinding done in batches.

The overall flavour balance of this blend was still lacking a bit in earthiness, which doesn't surprise me given the arithmetical faux-pas. The balance between the Latakia and Turkish was better. What I did notice was that the spiciness of the Turkish was much more consistent through the bowl - there was much less of what I had experienced with other blends, where the snork is sometimes mild, and then suddenly quite strong and spicy for a few puffs. It was still fairly mild during the early part of the bowl, and stronger towards the end, but not really becoming too much. So, it would seem that the little herb grinder has made a difference.

There are two or three more bowls of No10 to go, but my thoughts at the moment are to increase the Revor proportion and keep the 66/33 ratio of Latakia and Turkish the same. What's undecided as yet is what to reduce to make room for the extra Revor - either the Scotch Cake, the condiments, or maybe a bit of both. I'll see what I think after the rest of the sample has been smoked.

In my notes from the smoke, I've said that the nic hit was quite strong, and that the plumes were decent, although sips were low to medium, meaning I sometimes felt that it might be going out - but I also note that there was only one relight.

I've been wondering if the pipe I've been using has become ghosted (the Parker straight Apple basket pipe), so I got a cob to try the blend in that. The overall smoke seemed milder, so I decided to ream and clean the Apple. However, I'm smoking another bowl in the cob, and it seems more like the first bowl in the Apple (Lat/Turkish quite prominent, earthiness still subdued). I'll use the Apple for the next bowl and see how it goes.
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Re: Home Blends

Postby Geo3rge » Tue Aug 08, 2017 9:25 am

The herb-grinder sounds intriguing. I use a handheld herb-cutter (mezzaluna?) to chop up tobacco shreds. Not for blending, rather to make them manageable for packing. St. Bruno Ready Rubbed is much too coarse and springy and I've noticed a fair amount of stem material in it as well.
A couple of minutes rocking back and forth with the blade really does the trick to obtain a finer, more even cut.
And, it's quite a satisfying job to do, as well.
Interesting, as always, to read your fine-tuning of component parts. Excellent stuff.
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