Category Archives: Tobacco Reviews

A Fun Restore of a Nino Rossi 1886 Classico in Shape 992

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe is a bit of a mystery to Jeff and me. He keeps a spread sheet and photos of pipes that we pick up and it goes back to 2016 I believe. He has gone through that and cannot find this pipe on the record. However, we both remember finding it. I wonder if it is not on that we found on a trip that Irene and I made to Oregon and met Jeff and Sherry there. We stayed with them and Jeff and I did a bit of pipe hunting. I guess at some level we will never know for sure. I remember that when we saw it we both were struck by the uniqueness of the pipe. It really is a beauty that even the small fills around the bowl do not detract from.

The pipe was quite clean. It has all the marks of Jeff’s clean up work. The bowl is reamed and insides cleaned. The finish is very clean and the rim top and edges look very good. There is no damage on either one. The shank has an interesting joint mid shank. There is a tarnished brass spacer between two sections and each is stained slightly different. The bent saddle stem appears to have been deoxidized as it is also clean and relatively free of oxidation. There are light tooth marks and chatter on both sides at the button. It is stamped with the signature of Nino Rossi on the left side of the shank. Directly under that is the number 1886 which appears to me to be a year. On the left side of the saddle stem it has ROSSI in a oval logo inset. The right side of the shank is stamped Classico. On the underside of the shank it bears the shape number 992 followed by the stamp ITALY stamped vertically at the shank stem joint. It really is an interesting looking pipe. I have included photos of the pipe before I started to work on it.The rim top and inner and outer edges were in good condition. The stem surface looked very good with some light oxidation remaining and some tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button. I took photos of the stamping on the left/right and undersides of the shank. The stamping was clear and readable. The left side of the taper stem had a ROSSI oval  logo inset in vulcanite.  I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the beautiful grain on this well shaped Bent Billiard. I turned first to Pipephil’s site to see what I could learn about the brand as generally the site gives a good summary ( I quote the information from the side bar below and did a screen capture of the pertinent section on the site. I have also outlined a picture on the screen capture that is stamped like the pipe I am working on.

Brand founded in 1886 by Ferdinando Rossi senior. He estabished a factory in Barasso, 5 miles away from Varese. The pipes production by the 850 employees reached 50,000 pipes/day in 1936. Ferdinando Rossi junior headed the company from 1946 until close down in 1985.   I turned to Pipedia to read the more complete history of the brand and learn what I could about a possible date for this pipe ( First I wanted to understand the 1886 stamp on the shank under the signature stamp. I found that it was the year that the company acquired land and opened Fabbrica di Pipe di Radica Rossi.

He acquired a large area of land in Barasso in the province of Varese and founded the Fabbrica di Pipe di Radica Rossi in 1886. For sure there was no lack of skilled workers and Rossi personally recruited 30 craftsmen of different occupations from the environment to get started. After a few years the enterprise had developed well and entered into export trades. In 1892 e.g. the ledgers registered the first pipes shipped to Brazil.

I quote a summary section of the article below.

From, approximately, Twenties, Rossi pipes were marked with “FRB” (Fratelli Rossi Barasso) or “MFRB” (Manifattura Fratelli Rossi Barasso), into an oval and above “OLD BRIAR” (or similar – sometimes, there was also “MFD. BY ROSSI”, as “Manufactured by Rossi”); on the stem, there was generally the “R” letter in circle. However, “FRB OLD BRIAR” was mantained for the “traditional pipes” (for cheap models – see below), surely, to Sixties.

From, approximately, the fiftieth anniverary (1936), pipes were marked with “Rossi” (in cursive font), with model name just under it; on the stem, there was “ROSSI” (for expensive models like “extra”, which had the best quality; “racine”, which was rusticated by hand; “extra grain”, which was accurately sandblasted; “super”, which had the best briar selection, and a limited production; “fiamma”, which was the best selection of Sardinia and Greece briar, and a very limited production) or “R” in circle (for unexpensive models like “standard”, “grana” and “FRB”).

From, approximately, Seventies, until 1985, Rossi pipes were marked with “ROSSI”, into an oval (sometimes there was also “ITALY” on the shank); on the stem, there was “ROSSI”. In these years, appeared the signature “Nino Rossi” (in cursive font): he was the last heir of the factory.

When Savinelli took back the production, it is said that first pipes had a twinbore mouthpiece, with “ROSSI” on the stem, and they were marked with “ROSSI” on the shank. Today most of them had 6 mm or 9 mm adapter (also, for the most part, the stem was made by methacrylate, always with “Rossi” on the side).

The section I have highlighted in Blue above gave me what I was looking for regarding this pipe. It is one that was clearly made between the 70s and 1985 when the company closed. It is stamped as described in the highlighted paragraph. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

As I examined the spacer between the two parts of the shank it became clear that it was oxidized brass. I started there with my work on this pipe. I lightly sanded it with a 1500 grit micromesh sanding pad to break up the oxidation and then polished it with a jewelers cloth that removes oxidation and preserves against further oxidation. It is a pretty neat looking addition with the polished brass. I took some photos of the pipe to show the spacer. I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth. I carefully avoided the stamping on the sides of the shank so as not to damage it. The fills on the side of the bowl and shank are visible but oddly do not bother me too much. It is still a nice looking pipe. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides, rim top and shank end with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The grain really stood out clearly. While the fills are still evident they seem to blend in better at this point in the process.   I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I heated the stem with a lighter flame to lift out the tooth marks (forgot to take photos). They were too sharp and essentially were cuts so they did not lift at all. I filled them in with clear CA glue and set them aside to cure. Once they cured I flattened the repairs out with a small flat file. Once the repairs had cured I sanded them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surrounding vulcanite. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I worked over the stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. This well made Nino Rossi 1886 Classico 992 Bent Billiard with a briar shank extension and a vulcanite saddle stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The rich reddish, brown finish that was used came alive with the polishing and waxing. The brass spacer was a great touch in the middle of the shank. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Nino Rossi Classico is a beauty with combination of great grain and rich stain. Even the fills do not detract from its appearance. It fits nicely in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 5/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 58 grams/ 2.01 ounces. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store shortly. It will be in the Italian Pipe Makers section. Send me a message or an email if you are interested in purchasing it. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. As always there are more to come.

Trying my hand a blending an English/Oriental Blend

Blog by Steve Laug

I guess it has been a couple of weeks now, maybe more when I had a visit with Alex and he gifted me some dried, uncut Basma leaf that he had purchased. When I got home I decided to try my hand at a blend. I had a tin of McClelland’s Blending Latakia that had been here for a while and some various and sundry Red Virginia and stoved Virginia that was sitting here. Most of those were Sutliffe blends. I emptied 25 grams of the remaining Latakia I had here + 25 grams of Virginia (no toppings) + 10 grams of chopped Basma leaf into a large bowl and mixed them together. Once I had them mixed well I put them in a large bail clasp glass jar and set them in a cool place to let the flavours meld. The photos below show the uncut Basma and a top and side view of the mixture. Now the wait began. I let it meld together for three weeks and decided to load a bowl and fire it up. I wanted to see if I had succeeded or made a mess! I used a Frankenpipe that I had put together for this first bowl. I tamped it down with a Morta and Black Palm tamper that was made for me by the late Ed James when he made a Morta pipe for me. I tamped the tobacco down and fired it up with my Bic lighter. I smoked the bowl while I was working on a restoration of one of Alex’s Malaga pipes.The smell of the tobacco in the bowl was inviting and multidimensional. When I lit the tobacco with the flame the flavour of the tobacco was very good. The blend tasted really fantastic. The sweetness of the Virginias, the smokiness of the Latakia and the sourness of the Oriental Basma combined for a really good smoke. I could only see this one getting better over time. I set the pipe aside that I was working on and just enjoyed the smoke. The flavours swirled in my mouth and left Virginia sweetness on my lips and gums and the Basma’s sourness was tasteful on the sides of my tongues. The smokiness rolled around the roof of my mouth and sides. The combination was a rich, flavourful smoke. I am going to enjoy this one as long as it lasts.

Mystical Magical Latakia: A Journey Back to the Old World

Blog by Norman Skiba

Norman is a new contributor to rebornpipes and I welcome him to the blog. He is a member of the Meerschaum group on Smokers Forum UK and trying to add fresh life to it since the death of Fred Bass. I have enjoyed our emails back and forth over the past week and when he sent this second piece I really appreciated his thoughtful reflection on his favourite blend of tobacco. I invite others of you to write your own and add to the sense of community we have.  Thanks Norman. – Steve

If it were not for Latakia, I never would have stayed with the pipe.  I never liked cigarettes, even the Indonesian Djarum’s and Kretek clove cigarettes.  The Bidi’s of India are just plain nasty!  The Turkish were still not even close.  But there was and still is something about Latakia and the heavy English and even Balkan blends that intrigue me to this very day.  To me, the aroma is just wondrous!

When I first started smoking a pipe it was in my mid-teens.  I tried the (Palladin’s?) Cherry Blend, Borkum Riff, Sail, and two sips of Sir Walter Raleigh – yech!  Then one day I walked into this tiny smokeshop and pipe maker – Smokestacks it was called – which I had been to before and bought a nice natural finish prince he made that was a very nice pipe and my first decent pipe, and I  fell in love with what I smelled.  I asked him what it was that he was smoking, and he said a new Turkish blend he had blended, and it was Latakia that I was smelling.  I knew right there and then THAT was for me.  And to this day it has ever been, although in various manifestations.  Looking back I can say that maybe the first phase of what used to be called drugstore pipe tobaccos lasted a month or two.  I then found Latakia.  So I feel I was fortunate in that case.  I bought an ounce of this stuff to smoke and went through that rather quickly and then bought a 1/4 lb. of it.  I then saw this tin of the White Label Balkan Sobranie and bought that and loved it even more. Within a couple of weeks or so I found the tins of Balkan Sobranie Black Label No. 759 and that was history.

I started to buy really nice pipes that were made by the late Milt Kalnitz using 100 yr. old Grecian briar that he made for me and also some pipes from his personal collection.  I also had gotten a nice meerschaum or two from him.  All this time I was smoking the 759 Mixture and he had the larger round cans of it and not just the thin round tins.  The smoke shop was called Bellezia Tobacco.  They also had Bengal Slices which I also smoked as an adjunct to the 759.  That was all I ever smoked until one day I stopped for reasons I no longer recall.  Then 759 was no longer available.  It still isn’t. This blend was so funky – in a good way – to me – but people around you would wonder if you were smoking your underwear or your socks.

A funny ‘true’ story: In 1972 I used to have to fly a bit for school and also as a professional musician. I had to put up with all that cigarette smoke in the cabins or even next to you – which at that time you could smoke on planes. Well I was smoking Balkan Sobranie Black Label #759 then, I had this huge free-form Danish Preben Holm – I mean a huge bowl. So I lit it up and smoked the whole bowl – people looked at me rather strangely and some thought I was smoking my socks – but no one said a word. But later I thought they must have thought I was nuts and also could not wait for the plane to land!  I still have to laugh!

Anyway, when I got back into my pipes I knew another famous musician from California that I played a concert with and he had some wild Danish free-forms too and I smelled a wonderful sweeter Latakia English blend and he said it was a Dunhill custom blended My Mixture – No. A7859 – soaked in Jamaican rum.  I had Dunhill in New York City auto ship me a pound every month.  It was actually a very nice blend and unlike 759, but Latakia.  Life moves on and I took a hiatus again. When I started again briefly it was impossible to get any of my former favorites so I stopped.  I did try the McClelland’s Oriental Mixture #14, but that was just Ok and had changed from the earlier ones I tried years before. But it never wowed me like 759.  I later found Greg Pease’s Abingdon and found that to be the best at the time and still believe it is a great tobacco, and if I had to – I would smoke it.  However, The Dark Lord came up with Gaslight!  And that was it after all of these years of searching. The Holy Grail! (To me and my likes.) Yes I have tried some others; even a half pound of Penzance was acquired but never finished it because it just didn’t do it.  Gaslight was the Magical Mystical Wondrous blend that is so superb in my Mind that I see no reason to smoke anything else. It IS Special; yet I see no need to have a bowl on a special day and the rest of the time smoke other things.  Every day and every bowl is special so why not smoke it every chance you can in a nice pipe.  I think of it as analogous to a nice bottle of pinot noir which I love – some people say I am going to put this away for a special day.  I have no problem laying stuff down to age and save; however, what I say is that you take a nice bottle of wine and open it and enjoy it and it can take an average day and make it extra special and magical. The day does not make the wine – the wine makes the day Special! That is what Latakia and Gaslight do for me.  Now to sit back and have a bowl in my floral meer.

Addendum – I like Greg and he is a master tobacconist/blender/creator; however, it is not my intention to use this little text piece as a means of offering free or hidden advertisement for his blends. They are mentioned in context to the actual relevant info in this short piece.


Seven “Collectible Tobacco Tins” from the Recent Estate Sale

Blog by Steve Laug

At the recent estate sale that my brother visited, along with the batch of pipes that he purchased he also picked up 7 unopened 100 gram tins of tobacco with some age on them. They are all English/Oriental blends. Six of them are McClellands Tobacco Company blends that I have found are always better with a bit of age on them. On eBay and other venues these unopened tins are marked as collectible tins. The age on these tins lend them to being quite “collectible” to any pipeman.

My brother and I are willing to sell one or all of them to anyone who resides in the US. I apologize that they are not available outside of the US at this point. My brother has them and lives in the US so he will mail them.

The first of these is a 100 gram unopened tin of Frog Morton on the Town, blended by McClellands Tobacco Co. It is marketed as an elegant Oriental blend, fragrant with Basma and smooth and rich with Latakia. The stamping on the bottom of the tin dates to 2008. I am asking $20 for this tin. The second unopened tin is from Iwan Ries. It is their 140th Anniversary Gourmet English Blend. I am not sure who tinned it. This blend commemorates the anniversary of the Iwan Ries Tobaaconist shop in Chicago. The shop opened in 1857 and 140 years later would have been 1997. This is a well-balanced blend of naturally aromatic Turkish tobaccos, smoked Latakia and mellow aged Virginia rich in flavor, rich and cool-burning. The date stamp on the tin appears to be from 2000. I am asking $20 for this tin. The third unopened tin is McClelland’s Personal Reserve Blend, British Woods. It is billed as a Medium-Full Mixture. It is a distinguished Oriental mixture, slow burning and cool smoking. Heavy with fragrant Latakia, spiced with Macedonian leaf, lightly softened with Matured Virginia. The stamping on the bottom of the tin dates it to 2014. I am asking $20 for this tin. The fourth unopened tin is another McClelland’s Personal Reserve Blend, British Woods. It is billed as a Medium-Full Mixture. It is a distinguished Oriental mixture, slow burning and cool smoking. Heavy with fragrant Latakia, spiced with Macedonian leaf, lightly softened with Matured Virginia. The stamping on the bottom of the tin dates it to 2014. I am asking $20 for this tin. The fifth is another unopened tin of McClelland’s Personal Reserve Blend, British Woods. It is billed as a Medium-Full Mixture. It is a distinguished Oriental mixture, slow burning and cool smoking. Heavy with fragrant Latakia, spiced with Macedonian leaf, lightly softened with Matured Virginia. The stamping on the bottom of the tin dates it to 2014. I am asking $20 for this tin. The sixth unopened tin is a fourth tin of McClelland’s Personal Reserve Blend, British Woods. It is billed as a Medium-Full Mixture. It is a distinguished Oriental mixture, slow burning and cool smoking. Heavy with fragrant Latakia, spiced with Macedonian leaf, lightly softened with Matured Virginia. The stamping on the bottom of the tin dates it to 2011. I am asking $20 for this tin. The seventh unopened tin is McClelland’s Personal Reserve Blend, Bombay Extra. It is a full mixture – a rich, full Oriental Mixture, perfect after dinner. We begin with Bombay Court and enrich it with mellow, Red Virginias, a touch of Perique and Latakia. A satisfying, naturally fragrant evening smoke. The stamping on the bottom of the tin dates it from 2009. I am asking $20 for this tin.

Contact me through my email or through a private message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.


Samuel Gawith’s Squadron Leader: tobacco review 

Samuel Gawith’s Squadron Leader Flies HighAfter reading more than one post singing the praises of Samuel Gawith’s Squadron Leader and learning it was more of a Balkan blend, not a Latakia-bomb, and knowing my general fondness for Samuel Gawith’s blends, I began to watch for a chance to pick some up. The description says: “Bright and Dark Virginias blended together with […]

Squadron Leader, Pipe Tobacco, Samuel Gawith, Balkan, pipe

Cerberus: a tobacco review 

Cerberus: The Three-Headed Dog without a BiteI was quite excited when I opened the package from Erin; first I had received a blend that I’d been curious    to try for some time and secondly it was dated 10/18/14, already aged over two years! The tin had traveled quite a distance and was rather cold when I opened the package so […]

Review, tobacco, Cerberus, pipe

Peterson University Flake: a lesson in subjectivity

Just after the first of the year a new tobacconist opened in my area. Though they are primarily a cigar store, the last few months they’ve started really delving into pipes and pipe tobacco, giving me a new choice to shop locally; they are about 20 minutes away so it’s not very often I get […]

Tobacco Review – Burlington on Whyte’s Montego Bay Blend

The website, describes this great tasting tobacco as a unique earthy but sweet, herbal tobacco. While in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada I visited the shop and was able to open various jars of house tobacco and get a feel for the aromas and look of the tobacco. I spoke with the house blender, Chris and described the kind of tobaccos that I like, particularly Virginias and Virginia Perique blends. At the price of Canadian tobacco I did not want to make a mistake and pick up a blend that I would hate.

I opened the jar of Montego Bay and sniffed the aroma. The look was of a mottled light and darker brown ribbon cut tobaccos blended together. The smell was of a sweet, pungent Virginia, the grassy undertones but on top of that there was a subtle sweetness in the smell. I asked Chris if the tobacco had any topping and he assured me that it did not. The aroma was from the blend itself not from toppings.


I purchased 50 grams of the blend and left the shop. Over the rest of my trip I smoked the blend in an old bent pipe that I always use when I travel. It is a Virginia pipe and it always delivers a good smoke for me. The sweetness was subtle and the good Virginias – both red and yellow came through beautifully. I liked that aspect of the blend a lot but there were two unidentifiable tastes that haunted me with each smoke. In my hotel room I looked at the blend in a bright light and I could see flecks of green in the blend. I separated a few of them out and put them on my tongue. Ah, I knew what I tasted – it was an herb called Deer’s Tongue. It has been repeatedly spoken of on the pipe and tobacco forums and blogs as adding a very earthy, sweet almost minty vanilla flavor to the blend. I would not describe it as minty vanilla but rather as a very herbal taste, not bitter or sweet but with a taste like vanilla bean or mint leaves. It is not an overpowering taste but it is very evident. There was another taste there that I could not quite get to but I was guessing it was some Oriental tobacco that was used as a condiment in the Virginias.


I smoked it for the remainder of my trip and quite a bit more in the month and a half since the trip. I really like the multidimensional flavor of the blend. The mixture and layers of flavor added to the Virginias by the Deer’s Tongue and the Oriental make this a thoroughly enjoyable smoke regardless of the time of day. Its flavor stays with you after you smoke it on the insides of your lips and mouth and gives a reminder of the fullness of the smoke.

After smoking most of the 50 gram bag I emailed Chris at Burlington and asked him to confirm what I tasted in the blend. He responded with a prompt email. I was right about the Deer’s Tongue it was there as a condiment. I was also correct in tasting an Oriental. This particular one was Dubec. It had just a bit of astringency to the taste which is what I have come to expect from Orientals. It is not bitter or tangy but has a definite taste and effect on the tastebuds toward the back edges of the tongue. I like the taste of Dubec and I really liked the addition of it in the Montego Bay Blend.

I have just enough left for a few more bowls and then I will have to either give them a call and order some more or visit again when I am there in September. We shall see. It is a great blend and one that is worth a try if you can stomach the high prices that the tax structures have added to tobacco in Canada.