Good news, Friends! We know just how much you love Dunhill's tinned tobaccos, and it is to what I can assume will be great applause we have decided to offer you this:
Please, please, ladies and gents, keep your seats for just a minute longer while I explain to you that you can mix and match any four Dunhill tins and choose any particular Dunhill blend to be you're fifth! I know, right? Now's the time to try that one flavor you've never been too sure about, or maybe your feeling the urge to squirrel away some My Mixture. The choice is yours, and you have 'til the end of April, when this spectacular promotion expires.
John Sutherland: Marketing Mngr and Sr. Photographer
Ted, Susan, Bill and I returned from Las Vegas this weekend, after eight days of whirlwind inspection, sampling and buying of much of what the pipe, tobacco and cigar world has to offer. An exhaustive narrative of the show would be both extremely long and pretty boring, so I wanted to hit some highlights:
The Dunhill Room: 8am, Sunday morning: This deserves highlight status every year, but this is such an amazing experience that it deserves particular comment every year. Thousands of pipes were laid out for us to select from. We picked out about 150 and wittled it down to 132 before adding a bunch more and wittling down again. It took four people two hours to select and inspect the pipes; fortunately, that early in the morning on a Sunday, no one else was really all that interested in picking pipes, so we more or less had the entire room to ourselves.
Monday Morning 10:30am to 1:00pm: I don't know exactly how many pipes we collectively selected in three and a half hours, but the rush was on. We pick pipes first thing when the show opens: the pipes cease to be available, but the pipe tobacco and cigars don't change between Monday and Thursday, so pipes are our priority at the start. I hit the Tsuge booth first and picked out a mess of great Ikebanas, thence to the Savinelli booth where I picked out some great Autographs and ordered a crazy number of awesome pipes at a great price. Susan went straight for Stanwells and Winslows. Ted picked out Ser Jacopos and then L'Anatras. Susan and I met at Ashton to pick out upper end Petersons (we can pick things like the Spigots and Supremes at the show). Then I did a bunch of things that will, for now, remain a secret. They'll be hitting the site before long, though! All in all, well, if I had to guess, I'd say we ordered somewhere north of 2,000 pipes in three and a half hours. That's about a pipe every four seconds. It also sounds like less when you consider that's only about 6 weeks supply of pipes for Smokingpipes.com...
The Ashton Dinner, seated next to Tom Palmer and Michael Walters: Tom Palmer is the owner of Peterson of Dublin, that great pipe making establishment that has been in business since the 1860s. Seeing Tom is always a tremendous pleasure. I think very highly of both him and the pipes that he produces and discussing the finer points of pipe manufacturing with Tom is always an education. Michael Walters is the National Sales Manager for Ashton Distributors, which is most famous for the Ashton cigar, but also imports Peterson pipes into the US. Michael's perspective is a little different from Tom's, but thoughtful and quick-witted as he is, it's always a pleasure spending time with him also.
Dinner with Brian Levine and Dan More of Brigham Pipes: The four of us had dinner with our wayward ex-General Manager and his new boss at the Paris Hotel and Casino on the strip. Dinner was excellent, but the conversation, ranging from manufacturing and marketing in the pipe world to the broader matter of the recent increase in new pipe smokers, was superb. This was the first time I met Dan More and I couldn't be more impressed with him and his operation. As the evening wore on, some of his folks met us for drinks and silly pipe marketing ideas and wildly stereotypical jokes about both Canadians and Americans abounded. Much fun was had by all. Perhaps most importantly, these guys think really deeply about how to reach younger pipe smokers and potential pipe smokers. That sort of thinking is surprisingly rare and it was really refreshing to hear.
And much, much more. There are some amazing new blends coming, but I don't want to spoil that particular fun when they arrive. It was a hugely successful show for us and we had an absolute blast at the same time.
When we were ‘blessed’ with second coming of Dunhill tobaccos last Thanksgiving most of us were as concerned about whether or not we would see another dry spell as we were elated at the return of this luxurious line of fine tobacco. Obviously, we were right to worry.
And so we blew through our inventory of nearly 5,000 tins of tobacco in a matter of a few days, record time for us at Smokingpipes.com. Then it was all gone. So we waited.
Around Christmas we received a smattering of Flake and Standard Mix from our vendor. This is not what we were waiting for.
Today is what we have been waiting for: ‘Nightcap’, ‘Early Morning Pipe’, ‘965’ ‘Royal Yacht’ and ‘London Mixture’ are back. We have a ton.
So… I’m a little hesitant to put this out there. I fear having banana peels or rotten tomatoes thrown my way. At the same time it’s only fair to extend a (at least) modicum of credit to those of you who know and love Smokingpipes.com and especially, if only because you’re reading this, to those who follow our blog. Thus it is with no small amount of trepidation that I announce an itsy-bitsy price hike on Dunhill tobaccos.
BUT WAIT! A preface, please.
Once upon a time you couldn’t buy Dunhill tobacco in the United States for like three years. Then, suddenly last week, you could (as far as we’re concerned out here in Little River, South Carolina). We were excited. We wanted you to have it. We reduced the price. Then we launched these bad boys without considering how the consumer might feel when we were forced to adjust the price tag back to its proper retail value.
On the one hand we thought our inventory of 4,500 tins might have lasted for more than 5 days which would have pushed this inevitable price adjustment somewhere down the road. On the other hand we were so busy trying to get these tins out to you that we hadn’t really thought much on prefacing the issue. Only now, as we sit here on our second installment of tins do we begin to wonder if we’re about to make some folks upset. If you are one of those folks, then we apologize.
NEVERTHELESS! This is only the bad news. The good news is we’ve more Dunhill. Kind of promising isn’t it? And really now, our price on Dunhill tobacco is still better than most (if not every single one) of our competitors. I’m just saying.
Dunhill pipe tobacco. After months on the minds of pipe smokers the country over, it finally arrived Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Of course, given the hullabaloo that this precipitated, you're probably already aware of that. You may have also noticed that we're again out of stock on all but one of them, just five days later.
We had a huge shipment arrive that Wednesday. We placed a massive order in the summer and were far more worried that we'd gone a little too crazy than that we wouldn't have enough. Needless to say, we were absolutely flummoxed by the response. We had more orders Wednesday than we've ever had in one day before. Thursday and Friday were each almost double our average number of orders too. UPS is picking up twice today to accomodate the volume (literally!) of packages that are ready for them. The nice lady that picks up USPS packages from us was similarly shocked and struggled to get them into the little USPS van that she drives. Ted has already made a separate post on this later today, but this is specifically about the Dunhill tobacco.
We do have another small shipment (just 2,000-odd tins) coming now that should be here later in the week, but that's all there is in the US right now. There's more coming from the manufacturer and we should have another large shipment in December. When Susan and I figured out what to purchase over the summer--4,500 tins in all--we were very concerned that we'd overbought. Needless to say, that was not the problem.
So, what happens from here? Well, there's more coming, but not a lot, later this week. Three or four weeks from now, we expect another full-sized shipment. We'll keep you posted!
1. Take one of the most popular and sought-after pipe tobaccos on the market (We'll use Dunhill)
2. Remove product from US market for 2-3 years. Allow customers to simmer / prevent boiling over with 2 tbsp. of 'Rumor and Supposition'
3. Amid feverish expectation, add 4,500 50 gram tins of Dunhill pipe tobacco to warehouse. Begin advertising its arrival through 'new media' outlets
4. Begin selling product. For maximized stuffing, start selling, at discounted price, the day before a national holiday. In this way warehouse will have 3-4 days of 'swelling' before shipping begins (See below)
Phew! After much ado, a lot of hullabaloo and a great dealing of whimpering,
Dunhill tobaccos are finally on the US market once more. It was noon today when
we were notified to expect a freight of the stuff at any minute. Soon enough, an
enormous pallet found itself at the back door of our shipping department and we
all began to dig in. It’s here just in time for Thanksgiving, ironically.
There’s been a lot of mystery around the recent unavailability of Dunhill
tobaccos. It’s a complicated story, involving the names of a half-dozen
corporations and parent companies, taking place over the last couple of years.
The long and short of it is, despite a handful of near-misses and would-be
suitors, it has taken Dunhill awhile (too long, most will say) to find the right
stateside importer. But that’s all over with and in the past now, like a bad
dream inside a dream.
Right now there are a handful of 50 gram tins to choose from: London Mixture,
Royal Yacht, Standard Mixture, Standard Mixture Mellow, Flake, My Mixture 965,
Nightcap, Early Morning Pipe, and Deluxe Navy Rolls. With so many choices, I
couldn’t even tell you where I’ll begin to start with these blends; it’s so
unusual to see a whole line rollout at once. I’ll be smoking like a chimney for
the next few weeks, honestly.
Whether you haven’t been smoking long enough to have sampled a Dunhill tobacco
or just never got around to trying it in the first place, you ought to give these
wonderful blends a shot if only to decide for yourself what all the fuss is
about. In all likelihood, you’re as excited as we are. The long, hard wait is
over, and for that we give thanks.
Stingers, tubes, twisters, and doodads: There are (were) just about as many of these as there were
pipe shapes. While not entirely a thing of the past, their heyday was around the middle of the 20th
century. Is there a reason pipe companies aren't using, inventing, or re-inventing these anymore?
Perhaps everything to be stingered has already been stung. This blog is a way for us to let you in on
some some of the conversations we have in the office, and this particular posts comes from a question
someone working for us in Customer Service called me about a few months ago. The question was something
like this: "Adam? I have a customer on the phone and he is asking about pipes with stingers. Um...what's
a stinger?". To this I replied with my vast knowledge of (pretty much) useless tid-bits: "What kind is
he looking for? There are, like, zillions of different stingers. I'm assuming he's calling in about a
Kaywoodie estate, right? The stinger helps determine the age."
Phone silence for about 15 seconds. Transfer. "Sir, I'll have to talk with Adam and call you back
about this one. It should only take a few minutes."
Many companies have used something in their history
to try to make pipes smoke better, to differentiate their product, and thus make them more marketable.
While I don't know who started this, many people think about Kaywoodie pipes, or Dunhill innertubes
(which aren't really stingers). Dunhill came out with the innertube as early as 1910, and these
inventions (patented) were ways to differentiate themselves from other pipe manufacturers. The innertube
to the far right in the picture is an earlier version with a collar, and is stamped with a patent
#417574 (patented in 1912), and next to it is a modern innertube which lacks the collar or stamping. The
idea was that it made cleaning the pipe far simpler; one could do so simply by removing the innertube.
Many people simply threw these away, or they were lost. Once they got dirty, they took a long time to
clean, which is why it is really nice to have them included with patent pipes.
Kaywoodie is the other company people think of, probably because there are just so many older
Kaywoodies floating around in the United States. Kaywoodie began making pipes with an innertube before
1915, and came out with the "Drinkless" stinger in 1924. It was said to cool the smoke down from 850-
degrees to a comfortable 82-degrees in the mouth. One of my first pipes was an old Kaywoodie with the
large-ball stinger, but I found it difficult to smoke using this, and did the sinful thing of pulling it
out. Newer Kaywoodie pipes, starting sometime in the early 1950s, have a smaller ball with three holes
in the stinger instead of four. It does help determine age, since the smaller ball with three holes puts
it sometime after WWII. Many of these were thrown away, or simply snipped off with wire cutters. While
they do attract some heat, condensate, and collect some smoke and tars, many smokers can't make a gurgle
go away with one in place. As we all know, gurgling in a bowl if the effect from smoking tobacco that is
either too wet, or smoking it too fast (which turns moisture into steam which then condenses in the
shank). With most pipes, you just run a cleaner down the stem and into the chamber, and let it absorb
the moisture like a wick. This works very well, but can't be done if there is a stinger in the way.
This realization may be why many companies abandoned the idea all together, but the huge success of
Dunhill and Kaywoodie is also why so many people tried to invent the newest doodad. As you can see in
the photo, some had spirals to try to direct the smoke in a certain pattern, others were pointed to make
it streamline, and others were blunt to really increase the surface area. Some shop pipes can even be
identified by the stinger alone, so they can be useful in research, if anything, and only a few
companies used them in recent years (only Kaywoodie and a few Tsuge models actually come to mind).
Whether marketing, functionality, or just plain inventiveness make so many stingers possible, I doubt
if anyone collects them. It might be fun to see hundreds of different designs in a case at a pipe show
for people to look at, while (most likely) smoking a pipe without one.
Also, this missive is far from complete. I'd love to hear your thoughts, comments, or
corrections, in the comments of this blog entry.
Stepping back to a couple of
weeks ago for a moment, when Kevin Godbee and I were in Denmark in late July, we established, finally
and definitively, that Dunhill tobaccos would be coming back to the United States in September or
October, first through conversations with Orlik and then, finally, getting confirmation from British-
American Tobacco. The first day of the show, Tuesday, while we were at the Ashton booths, talking about
Petersons with Tom Palmer (Managing Director of Peterson), Michael Walters (Sales Manager for Ashton),
and Evan Carpenter (our regional sales representative), it became clear that we better get an order
together for CAO for the Dunhill tobaccos. Susan and Brian dashed over there, while Alyson and I
continued to work on Petersons. They placed an order for many thousands of tins of Dunhill tobacco for
late September delivery (which might be a slightly optimistic ETA, so we're actually figuring on early
October). The really important thing was to secure the Dunhill in appropriate quantities. Even in these
truly massive amounts, we are a little concerned with stock problems in the autumn given all of the
folks out there waiting for it to become available again. We'd return to both Ashton and CAO later in
the show to conduct cigar and accessory business, but getting the pipes taken care of with Peterson and
the tobacco taken care of with CAO took priority over all else late Tuesday morning.
Having wrapped up all of the pipe buying,
we moved into a more normal pace for the rest of the show. After a quick lunch, we had a meeting with
General Cigar to talk about their new products, including some really interesting new cigars from La
Gloria Cubana, including the new Serie-N cigars, plus the new Artesanos Obilisks. While Susan and Brian
actually conducted the business-y bits, Alyson and I set about interviewing Yuri Guillen, factory manager for La Gloria Cubana about all the new stuff. General also had a cigar roller based in
Miami up for the show, so that was fun to watch too (and we have video of all of this we'll work on
getting up over the next few weeks).
After that, the chronology of it all starts to get a bit blurry. Brian and Susan had a meeting with
Oliva Cigars, of which I caught the tail end, while I did some quick following up with pipe folks that
we'd already been to see, and tobacco folks to set things up for later in the show. As the day wore on,
we visited the Villiger-Stokkebye booths, both because we needed to give them an order and also because
they were in charge of feeding us Tuesday night. We spent some time talking with Kevin and Gary from
Villiger-Stokkebye, plus Brian and I touched base on a couple of projects with Erik Stokkebye and the
representative from Scandinavian Tobacco (Orlik's parent company) who was present for the show. Susan
set to work structuring our ordering for the next couple of months with Gary, Villiger-Stokkebye's all
round logistics guy, which requires a fair bit of planning: a whole lot of tobacco travels from
Charlotte, NC to Little River, SC every week. After that, Erik, Brian and I attended a short trade
organization / legislative meeting that started right after the show, while Susan and Alyson went
immediately to Altadis' cocktail party. Altadis puts on quite a party and had we not been anticipating a
serious dinner with the Stokkebye folks later that evening, we could have spent all evening there. We
did get a chance to talk to a couple of senior people about the tobacco regulatory environment, which
was good for keeping us in the loop.
Speaking of which, a major topic of conversation at the show was the TTB's definitions of pipe
tobacco and according regulations. It's terribly esoteric and convoluted, but the short and long of it
is that, after extended conversations with Mike McNiel from McClelland and Paul Creasy and others from
Altadis, we're actually feeling better about the situation than we have in recent months. The TTB and
ATF seem to be handling this fairly transparently and fairly, at least by governmental regulatory body
standards. Much remains to be seen, which may take years to be established, but it seems like everything
will generally remain as is in the mid-term.
And that evening, we had an amazing culinary and historical experience courtesy of the wonderful
folks at Villiger-Stokkebye. And for that story, you'll have to tune in again for the next part of the
IPCPR trip overview...
It's been a whirlwind here in New Orleans over the past few days. Providing any sort of logical, or even chronological, order is beyond me at this point. So, in addition to eating our share of beignets and drinking coffee at Café du Monde, though really, Brian ate his share and nine other shares, and listening to Jazz in the Quarter, we've actually done some work. Or, whatever it is we actually do that we pretend is work to the folks back home so that they don't know what a raucously good time we're having while we're away. Seriously, the show has been lot of fun, but we've also covered tremendous ground, literally and figuratively. Here are some highlights from Monday through Wednesday, picking up where we left off after the last IPCPR post, where we'd just finished up picking out tons of particularly pretty Dunhills...
Oh, and also, we'll have a bunch of videos when we get home. Our cunning plan to edit and push videos from the road has hit a technical snag or six, so I think we're surrendering on that particular front until we can use real hardware and software back at the office. We do have some seriously fun stuff, including videos with Soren Lundh Aagaard, Managing Director of Stanwell, Rocky Patel, and many others...
Monday afternoon we picked out a few dozen Castellos at the Castello pre-show event. Usually, we'll pick out months worth of updates of pipes, but we were a little more restrained this year because we'd just bought a ton of awesome Castellos when we were in Italy in late June. Still, we added some great pieces, especially Sea Rocks and Old Antiquaris, which were a little thin on the ground when we were at the factory eight weeks ago. You'll have to wait to see what we have, but there were some sandblasts that had Brian and me swooning...and Susan and Alyson rolling their eyes a little bit at our enthusiasm (though, secretly, they're super-excited too; they just pretend they're not sometimes; simply witness Susan's intent pipe selecting to the right).
That night, we met Kevin Godbee from PipesMagazine.com for dinner at Susan Spicer's restaurant, Bayona. As I might have suggested previously, and while I don't want to turn this blog into a restaurant review page, I have a bit of weakness for the culinary arts. And Susan Spicer is an artist. The food was excellent and the company was even better. We spent a great five hours talking about the growth in pipe smoking among younger men that we've all been noticing and what we could do to help foster that and ease their entry into the hobby.
The first morning of the show is always a mad dash for us. No one needs to particularly hustle to cigar booths: it'll be the same cigars later that afternoon, but for pipes, it's imperative that we get to pick early. I hit Tsuge immediately, while Brian and Alyson went to Savinelli, and Susan went in search of Stanwells. After selecting a dozen Tsuges, I dashed over to pick out two dozen (or thereabouts, counting and speed picking tend not to go together) awesome Paolo Beckers. He's been experimenting with a new wood that has properties very similar to briar, but is lighter and blasts beautifully. We'll have more on that later, though. We all ended up back with the Stanwells, and picked out lots while we were there, including, we think, some pretty interesting stuff.
From there, the entire crew visited the Ashton booths to select Petersons. There are a few really nice new lines that will be available over the coming months, including the new version of the Kapet with a nickel band and a fantastic new Mark Twain shape. Plus, of course, the Peterson Pipe of the Year, of which we've already received the first few, pictured to the right. They also had a particularly good selection of Spigots that we could select from this year, plus we finalized an amazing deal for some very special Petersons that we'll be able to share with you in about two weeks, but for now, I'll have to keep mum-- I promise it'll be huge, though!
Tune back in tomorrow evening for more notes from the show...including our discussions with CAO about Dunhill tobaccos coming back to the US...
Hours of Operation:
Our website is always open and you can place an order at any time. Phone/office hours are 9am-7pm US/Eastern (GMT -5:00) Monday-Friday and 10am-5pm US/Eastern (GMT -5:00) on Saturdays. Our Little River, SC showroom is open 10am-7pm US/Eastern (GMT -5:00) Monday-Sunday.
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