Friends Tobacco tin with Bendetto Shamrock Briar. © 2017 James Hill
Salutations fellow Pipemen! Today I will be reviewing an old-time American pipe blend, Friends. Light up and let’s get started!
Friends, a combination of burley and virgina topped with rum (rum cured according to old ad copy) was produced by the United States Tobacco Company of Richmond, Virginia, and later, the House of Windsor of Yoe, Pennsylvania, from at least the early 1940s through the 1990s. Unfortunately, this blend is no longer available. The eye-catching yellow tin features a charming illustration of a man and his dog - best friends to be sure! I obtained a 30-40 year old factory sealed 12 ounce tin from the esteemed Steve Fallon - the pipestud (www.pipestud.com), In short order the tin arrived on my doorstep and my acquaintance with Friends began.
When I broke the seal and unscrewed the lid I was greeted with the scent of dark chocolate with just a hint of alcohol - this stuff smells fantastic in the tin! I removed the paper insert, which has an ad for a ballpoint pen on a chain with a sticky base plate. The typeface and design appears to be totally 80s. Underneath the insert I found a full bag of lovely, dark brown leaf. Opening the bag, I found that the leaf was at an ideal moisture level. The years have been very good to this tin. Have I mentioned that the tin note is very chocolatey? WIth the bag open, the chocolate aroma became even more pronounced. Friends definitely passed my smell test! The Mrs. and daughter (chocolate lovers both) were also quite impressed with the tin note. An auspicious beginning to this friendship!
For the first smoke I chose my Benedetto Shamrock - an Italian copy of a Peterson bent military mount briar. Based on my experience with other burley blends, I used a lighter pack. After a charring light and tamp, Friends lit easily and stayed lit, with only one relight, through a 30-40 minute bowl. The smoke was silky smooth and deliciously chocolatey, as was the room note. There was not a bite to be found. Pipestud wrote that smoking Friends just naturally made a fellow want to pet his dog. Well, we don’t have a dog but the family cat - as true blue a buddy as any dog - joined me in my chair as I smoked for quality lap time!
Friends is flavorful, smooth, and satisfying, You could even say that it’s Chocolate Rum Cake in a briar! I will definitely be ordering more unopened tins to add to my cellar. Thanks again to pipestud for making these wonderful (and sometimes head scratch worthy - Greenbriar, anyone?) vintage tobaccos available.
Until next time, keep the fires burning, pipemen!
Today’s LP - Jorg Demus and the Schubert Quartet playing Schubert’s Trout Quintet and Sonatina in A Minor for Violin and Piano. Deutsche Grammophon/Privelege Stereo 2535 225
Friends tin insert. © 2017 James Hill