Furthest Right

Pipe Meditations (April 3, 2023)

Blend: Nightcap and Old Joe Krantz
Type: English (Latakia, Virginia, Orientals, Perique) and American (Virginia, Burley, Perique)
Strength: medium-to-strong

Just about every pipe smoker likes to throw together a couple off-the-shelf blends for a change. Often this can bring out the strength of the constituent components, and sometimes it mellows out whatever we might want to avoid about a certain blend.

For example, when you are on the road somewhere with few options, pick up a bag of Ohm Natural and mix in a couple pouches of aromatics that appeal. You can mix flavors there, for example throwing in some cherry with your Captain Black.

Shake that up really well and you get a medium-heading-toward-medium-to-strong Burley blend with the overtones of the aromatics, but not the clobbering soda pop top flavoring that you would experience if you smoked them alone. The blends synergize each other for a new, brighter flavor.

An old favorite here consists of combining Nightcap and Old Joe Krantz. The former is a strong English with added Perique, giving it a spicy date or prune flavor, while the latter uses Perique to bring out the sweetness of Virginias warmed up by strong Burley.

Mix them together and you get an “American English”: the standard English blend recipe of Virginias, Latakia, and Orientals, but with the strength of Burley. Both blends add Perique to give a little kick and piquant spice, but together you get a harvest medley tamed by its extremes.

In general, English blends can clobber you with too much Latakia and would benefit from Burleys since too much Virginia makes them so sweet the flavor ends up thinner than it should be. A good English blend tastes like a spicy cookie or biscuit, perfect to accompany tea.

Scottish blends incorporate Cavendish into the English mixture in order to mellow it out and have a great gingerbread flavor, like Dunhill 965, but the Burley intensifies the flavor without altering it much. Tossing some Burley into 965 makes a flavor like spice cake.

Part of the fun of pipe smoking is that, well, you get to play with fire, fiddle with briar, and carry around cool stuff like lighters, tins, matches, knives, and tampers. But a great deal of joy comes as well from experimenting with tobacco to see what new worlds unfold from seemingly unyielding spaces.


Thinking about English blends in a country that owes most of its ways to English culture and almost all of them to Western European behaviors, one might wonder what it is to have culture. Is it to be American to simply throw Burley into everything you smoke?

Culture after all is like a warm pool. You do not notice it until you get out. If you find pockets of cold water floating around under the surface, the illusion is broken, and it becomes time to find a towel and one of those multicolor dayglo cocktails with a little paper umbrella in it.

Barack Obama talked about the “arc of history,” a Utopian idea borrowed by Marxists and Jacobins to imply that their progress leads to an ultimate state of human Enlightenment and not just another middle class dream that turns out to be deceptive.

(When one speaks of the middle class outside of a Leftist context, one is talking about the upper half of the middle classes, or those with enough brains to Know Better who nonetheless are so afraid of lack of social acceptance that they flock to one illusion after another.)

History has more of a loop than an arc. At first we look at the world, figure out how to live in it, and improve quality; once that is done, all sorts of people with no known use spring up around us, and we try to accommodate them, making our society into a third world ruin in the process.

This can and does happen without diversity, but in the process of decline, such a society inevitably reaches toward diversity as one of its many easy solutions that make everyone report happiness but lead to a subtle, unstoppable, pervasive, and permanent gloom.

We are on the far side of the loop now. We have lost culture and can only revisit it through old books and tobacco blends. Consequently, we are heading to the point where the useful people realize it is time to ditch the useless and get back to time-proven methods that eternally produce quality.

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