An open letter to my good friend, the Blogosphere's resident Cigar expert.

As a fellow connoisseur of the noble leaf, Nicotiana, I wonder if I could prevail upon you for some advice. Early in my smoking career I developed quite a taste for Turkish tobaccos. So much so in fact that on an overland journey to the east, I reduced my co-driver to apoplexy by working my way through 5 large duty free tins of The Balkan Sobranie consumed in a rustic Bavarian pipe. My normal smoking pleasure since then has been Camels but sadly, their “subtle blend of Turkish and Domestic tobaccos” is not what it once was. Both thoughts for my health and consideration for others, compels me to descend to the infernal “Light” variety rather than the full strength untipped of my youth. And I feel sure that Messrs R.J.Reynolds, the proprieters, no longer pick the finest Latakia and Perique leaf but rather use the sweepings from the floor as often as not.

To whit, the point. For all these long years I have been searching for a supplier of a turkish, virginian blend of hand rolling tobacco, or custom “cigarettes” made from same, but sadly without success. My inquiries in various purveyors of tobacco products have been rebuffed with either blank stares or mutterings to their partners of “stuck up git, innit”. I confess I have been perplexed that the elegant (and fragrant) establishments I remember with their rows of humidors and pipe displays seem to have been displaced by some combination news agent and toy store so perhaps I am in the wrong place.

Many, many years ago I did try the Tobacco Emporium in Burlington Arcade (now a shoe shop) but I suspect that my attire prevented an honest answer. Though I felt that I cut quite a dash in my ripped jeans, combat jacket and woolly hat, I understand now that this was not quite the right approach even if the staff in nearby Charbonnel and Walker were too polite to comment. Ah the Foolishness of Youth! Dunhills produced a similar reponse, but then I have always found rather suspect their own devotion to their brand. They may be in St James, but they have an air of the Nouveau Riche about them quite unlike say Locks, the hatters.

As I write this, it has occurred to me that perhaps the answer is to seek out Sobranie Black Russians (https://www dot or even (god forbid, I have no wish to appear as some consumptive poet) Sobranie Cocktails but I have heard a rumour that these were discontinued some time ago. I certainly haven’t seen hide nor hair of them since dear Aunt Mildred’s funeral, of which the least said the better, a decade ago.

So you see my dilemma? My addiction demands to be fed, but I am unable to find a ready supply of a product to feed it that will both satisfy me and enhance my standing among my peers. I live in hope that you can provide me with some pointers.

I remain, sir, as I began,
your most obedient servant.

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[ 03-Jan-05 6:35pm ] [ ]