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.

The Growing Fascination with Dark-Fired Kentucky

dark-fired

When I introduced BlackHouse in 2011, it included a small amount of dark-fired Kentucky. It was only the second blend that I had made with it, and I always treated it (and still do) as a condimental tobacco. I knew of Orlik Dark Strong Kentucky and Peter Heinrich’s Dark Strong Flake as being fairly stout […]

Mysterious Tobaccos

oriential_tobacco_leaves

Of all the strains of tobaccos, Orientals and Turkish are, to my tastes, the most exotic, and in a way, that makes them more fun to work with. Virginia, for example, will taste different depending upon the growing region, processing, etc., but it’s still fundamentally Virginia. But there are so many different strains of Orientals/Turkish, […]

Humility

gabrieli

I find humility to be a virtue. I don’t believe that anything is accomplished by brazenly tooting one’s own horn, and I try to live by that. I’ve known plenty of people in my life who aren’t humble in the slightest. Very rarely is this hubris justified, however, and I attribute that to overcompensating for […]

Some Observations on Cigars

I enjoy cigars and have for almost 40 years. But being in the business, and especially since my focus turned to blending pipe tobaccos, I’ve become more analytical about them and have noticed some things that have changed my perspective. With the trend moving toward larger ring gauges, there’s seems to be a common conception […]

The T.A.P.S. Show

taps

I go to a fair number of pipe shows, and each one has its own personality. This weekend I’ll be going to Raleigh, NC for the T.A.P.S. Expo which is held at the state fairgrounds. I really enjoy this show for a few reasons. The friendly, laid-back atmosphere – The venue isn’t very large, but […]

Like Fingernails on a Blackboard

Actually, someone scraping their nails across a blackboard doesn’t really bother me, but there are plenty of things that do. so I thought that I’d present some to you to see if you agree. One thing that drives me nuts is when I buy a cigar that hasn’t been properly stored. Our entire humidor (which […]

Packaging Quandaries

pt-ro10050

One of the toughest things in making new pipe tobacco blends is packaging, and I’m not just referring to artwork. Making decisions on how we’re going to present a product hinges on a number of factors. For Hearth & Home Marquee and my RO Series, we’ve gone with vacuum-sealed 50 gram tins. The reason is that […]

Cigar Review – Diesel Uncut

uncut

Since I prefer full-bodied cigars, it was a no-brainer for me to grab some of the new Diesel Uncut Toros when they hit our shelves. Pretty much anything that comes out of A.J. Fernandez’ factory in Esteli, Nicaragua trips my trigger, so I looked forward to opening the paper-wrapped mazo of ten 6.5 x52 cigars. […]

New Item – Argo Pipes

argo

During one of our brainstorming sessions, we batted around the idea of creating a new brand of pipes with some very specific characteristics. First off, these pipes had to be great smokers. Now I know that seems obvious, but we wanted the pipes made in a way to deliver a smoke like that of a […]

Cigar Review – East India Trading Company Hudson Bay

hudsonbay

People who know me and are familiar with my tastes in cigars know that I lean toward full-bodied sticks, but that’s not always the case. I can enjoy a broad spectrum of flavor profiles, but the one area that usually falls flat for me are the dead medium-bodied smokes. I don’t know why that is, […]