About Russ

Russ Ouellette is the blender/creator of the Hearth & Home series of tobaccos for www.pipesandcigars.com 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 russo@pipesandcigars.com or by calling 1-800-494-9144.

A Daunting Proposition

JC Smyrna

I’ve put together a number of “tribute” blends. One of the first Hearth & Home Signature Series tobaccos, Old Tartan, was an homage to what my father used to smoke. I did a number of these kinds of blends, including BlackHouse, WhiteKnight and Fusilier’s Ration. I may have opened myself up to criticism as people […]

An In-Depth Look at Perique


As some of you may know, I’ve been involved in blending tobacco for nearly 40 years, and I can remember to this day the first time I opened a package of Perique and smelled it. The deep, dark, fruity aroma hit me like a ton of bricks, and I salivated from the intensity of it. […]

Pipe Academy – A Thorough Cleaning


A customer wrote and asked me to write about pipe cleaning basics. I’ve written recently about what you shouldn’t attempt, now let’s look at an everyday cleaning. For the sake of covering all our bases, we’re going to approach this as if you found one of your grandfather’s old pipes which had been heavily smoked […]

Some Random Thoughts About Cigars

Liga Privada Undercrown Cigar

Since I’m around them all the time, I don’t really think about all the minutiae when it comes to cigars, so last might when I was looking through our catalog, I was struck by some of the things that the public doesn’t know, but might find interesting. Here are my observations: There were two cigars […]

It’s Like Comparing Fast Food to Fine Dining

Like it or not, all smokers are lumped together into a group, usually for the purpose of casting disdain upon us. This is especially true for the antis who site skewed “junk science” to prove that we’re just behind a monkey with a machine gun in terms of our ability to harm. But there are […]

A Different Kind of Blending

In all, I’ve been a tobacco blender for just shy of forty years now. I’ve done enough different blends over that time that, frankly, it’s becoming harder and harder to figure out how not to repeat myself. Luckily, I have people who let me know about unique components so I can keep things fresh. But […]

The Importance of Pipe Tobacco Maintenance


Some people are very concerned about the moisture levels of their pipe tobacco, while for others it’s an afterthought. The degree of impact that the moisture level has will depend on a number of factors, including the smoker. To begin with, the initial humidity level of pipe tobacco tends to be in the range of […]

A Postscript About Pipe Filters


The single most viewed page on Talking Tobacco is my article “Pipe Filters Explained”. When I wrote that, I didn’t really pay attention to an interesting subject – When is a filter not a filter? In my previous article, I addressed the kinds of filters that are meant to be used in a specific kind […]

Getting Started Making Pipes

hobby block

I’ve never made a pipe, myself, but I know plenty of pipe makers, and each one uses slightly different methods. For most people, especially for those without a well-equipped workshop, the easiest way to try your hand at making a pipe is to buy a hobby block. These are pre-drilled briar blocks that have a […]

Perique – A Lot of Work, But Worth It

I’ve been a big fan of Perique since I started smoking a pipe 40 years ago. I was fascinated by the dark, sweet aroma of it in a jar, and enjoyed what it did to a blend even more. I’ve made well over 100 blends in those 40 years, and probably 30 or more have […]