It’s pretty amazing to me to hear people talking about things from the past that they miss. A number of times I’ll hear somebody waxing nostalgic about a product or even a person, and I distinctly remember them complaining about the item or the person when they were around. In the pipe and cigar world there’s a lot of wistful thinking about certain things. I, for one, really miss Bari pipes. They were well-made Danish briars that always smoked like a champ (for me) and had really comfortable stems. I wish I could still get John Cotton’s No. 1 & 2 Medium, which I found very enjoyable. A lot of people who’ve been around premium cigars don’t remember that the Fuente family owned a factory in Nicaragua during the seventies, and they made a cigar back them called Flor de Orlando, which I would stack up against any of the powerhouse cigars of today. It was undoubtedly strong, very complex and reasonably priced. When the Sandinista/Contra conflict occurred, the Fuentes lost their factory and those great cigars were gone for good.

There are modern-day tributes to a number of old products, some of which are mine. BlackHouse, WhiteKnight and Fusilier’s Ration are all my takes on classic blends, and they’ve been very well received, so I assume that other people believe that they’re pretty faithful reconstructions. But there are a number of resurrected brands that should have been allowed to continue their dirt nap. If there are still a number of people still living who tried a product during its heyday, please don’t make a new version that’s nothing like the original. There was a brand of pipes that I loved. They were classic designs with a bit of a twist, which made them easily identifiable. In recent years, someone got the rights to the name and started cranking out large, clunky-looking briars with open grain and uncomfortable stems. I won’t mention the name, to protect the guilty, but I get angry any time they try to sell us these pipes.

A number of blends have changed over the years, for various reasons. An American classic tobacco had to change about a decade ago because one of the flavorings used was no longer available. It was quite a task for the blender to use other top-dressings to get close, and he did an amazingly good job. Some blends changed because the leaf that made it distinctive has gone away. In some cases, a tweak to the recipe kept the flavor close enough that most people wouldn’t notice a difference, while with others, they’re so far removed from the original that, if it were my decision, I would no longer use the same name.

I’m really not going anywhere with this because, though there are products I miss, I’m well-satisfied with what’s available today. I guess that my mind wandered into the current craze of pipe and cigar nostalgia and it made me…well…nostalgic.

About Russ

Russ Ouellette is the blender/creator of the Hearth & Home series of tobaccos for in Bethlehem, PA. He has been a pipe smoker and blender for over 30 years, and enjoys feedback from the pipe smoking public. You can reach Russ at or by calling 1-800-494-9144.