It’s taken well over three years of planning in my underground lair, plotting with my co-conspirators and we’re finally ready to launch our revolution.
Imagine, if you will, reaching many years into the past and looking at yourself reveling in the most enjoyable pipe tobacco you ever had. It sends your mind reeling, your salivary glands flowing and your heart aching because you know that you can’t have it any more. Then, from nowhere, you actually smell something hauntingly similar to your reverie, but it’s real. You’re offered some to try and you’re not 100% sure, but it tastes close enough to bring back some strong memories. As those reflections set your mind racing, the first salvo of the revolution has been fired, and it’s a direct hit.
On October 5th, the revolution lands everywhere. How appropriate. The first weekend of October this year is when the CORPS annual Pipe Smoker’s Exhibition and Celebration takes place in Richmond, Virginia. Here, many events during the American Revolution took place, and dozens of Virginians burned their way into U.S. history due to their service in the war for independence. This year the new pipe smoking revolution begins with the introduction of the Hearth & Home Marquee Series’ latest entry- Fusilier’s Ration, which will be released simultaneously with sales at Pipes and Cigars.com and samples at our table during the Richmond show.
There was a blend that was my “go-to” back in the seventies and into the eighties, but it sadly disappeared. I used to anticipate popping open the black, red and yellow rectangular tin and crumbling the slices for loading into my pipe. It lit easily, was wonderfully cool and flavorful with the most amazing aroma. It reminded me a lot of the smell of incense from a church, and maybe that’s one of the reasons I associate it with venerable thoughts.
Many years had passed since I last tasted my old favorite, and after a few years of blending the Hearth & Home tobaccos I thought about trying to make something as close as I could, but I hesitated, as I didn’t think that I could attempt it with the tobaccos I had at hand.
About a year later, I came across some really great Orientals and the thought occurred to me that I might actually be able to get reasonably close, but after a bunch of attempts, I wasn’t even remotely happy. Something was wrong, but I couldn’t nail it down. The project went on the back burner.
Some time passed, and I got my hands on some exceptional Virginia, and I thought that it might help in my “holy grail” blend, and after a few trial runs, I felt like I was getting close, but the aroma and flavor were just a bit off. Then it occurred to me that this old favorite had Latakia, great Orientals, excellent Virginias and a touch of black Cavendish and was pressed, but it also had a top dressing or flavoring added. I thought about the kind of
toppings that were used during the era that the old blend came out and began experimenting. Finally, after well more than a dozen iterations and over three years of work, I got a flavor and aroma that resonated in my memory.
Now, I think it’s pretty obvious to anyone who has been a Latakiaphile for a long time that the target of my “obsession” was the Celebrated Bengal Slices. Do I feel that it’s an exact clone? No, that would be impossible for a number of reasons. But it has a strong enough similarity to bring back some strong reminiscences, just like a really good root beer takes you back to your childhood. I’ve felt a lot of pride over the years with the success of a number of our blends, but nothing has triggered my sense of accomplishment as Fusilier’s Ration.
There have been some folks who had cautioned me to avoid doing this as they felt that I could only be disappointed when trying to make comparisons. But I’ve had a great meal at a restaurant and then spent a lot of time at home trying to recreate the experience, and I’ve enjoyed some nice meals in doing so. When I finally got as close as I could, I got a lot of satisfaction and others enjoyed it as well. So I went ahead regardless of the warnings. It may not a duplicate, but it’s closer than anything I’ve smoked in about 30 years, and I’m proud and excited to bring this to market.
You can find Fusilier’s Ration by clicking on the name, or if you’ll be attending the CORPS show in Richmond, I’ll have samples for our good friends to try. Either way, I hope you’ll do us (and me in particular) the honor of trying this tribute that took so long to put together. Join the revolution that is Fusilier’s Ration.