Sunday, Nov 6th Tim, Dock, Steve, Kenny and I headed out to Albany,
NY to attend the First Annual Greater Northeast Pipe Show which
was sponsored by the Habana Premium Pipe Shoppe (HBPS) a.k.a. pipesandcigars.com.
Although our trip planning was erratic and sometimes confusing we
all did finally make it up there to enjoy a great show.
Since Dock had decided go up on Saturday and spend the night, our
plan was to meet at the shop before the show to do some browsing
and pre-show tobacco sampling. I met Tim at our usual rendezvous
location on Rt 128 near the Mass Pike and in a mere two and a half
hours we turning into Habana Premium's parking lot. I couldn't believe
how quickly we got up there. I expected to see Dock already at the
store when we got there but I don't think any of us realize we'd
get up there as fast as we did. He walked through the door about
10 minutes into our bowl of Russ Oulette's Sunjammer blend (which
is supposed to somewhat mimic Dunhill's 965.... the "real one").
We both were enjoying the blend and Tim remarked that it did reminded
him of 965.
Scotty, the owner of HBPS came into the store with that unmistakable
grin of someone who loves their job, in fact, he was so full of
energy I was thinking of asking him for a bowl of whatever he was
smokin'. In all seriousness, if I ever knew anyone who was, without
a doubt "high on life", it would have to be Scotty Bendett. Just
being in his presence may very well result in a contact high and
one that both Serad and Gage would have to agree is "Highly Recommended".
Scotty pulled out a pipe, laid it on the counter and preceded to
tell us that it was made by American Pipemaker Jim DePrey and was
pictured in one of Richard Carleton Hacker's books. It is rumored
to be worth in the vicinity of $1200 and for obvious reasons will
never find it's way into one of my racks.
Although it was early, Scotty said we could head over the the show
and get a sneak peak of the goods, "But make sure your pipes are
put away until you get inside the room", he warned us. I still can't
believe we were able to smoke at a pipe show in New York. Maybe
there's hope for us yet........ Nah!
We entered the show room to find tables in different stages of readiness.
I took a quick tour around the room and was pretty happy with what
I saw in both quantity and price. Dock would have liked to have
seen a few more estate pipes but had to settle for just one table
with 50-100 estate pipes for sale.
Peterson pipes seemed to dominated one side of the room. I recognized
Victor Vitale, the Peterson Rep from when he paid our club a visit
back in April of 2004 and we talked for a few minutes. Although
I'm not a huge Peterson fan, I did see one pipe that was particularly
nice, it was the 2005 Peterson Pipe of the Year, a straight stemmed
silver spigot with Celtic engravings on both sides of the spigot
The celebrity of the day was Eric
Nording, just in from Denmark and sporting a table full of Danish
beauties, a number of which had a unique yellow and black banded
stem, much like a tiger's tale but reminded me of the hat worn by
Dr. Zeuss' "The Cat in the Hat". I found myself looking at
them strangely at first but over time became more and more intrigued
with this new look. I hope to make one a future edition to my collection.
of the big attractions of the show was the Mastro
Beraldi table. Beraldi is a pipe carver from Italy seemingly
unknown to everyone in the room (that I talked to or overheard)
but the workmanship, design and finish on most of these pipes was
top notch. What made them even more irresistible was their price
tag. Scotty recently picked up a shipment of these pipes and opted
to keep the prices low for the show. All but 2 or 3 were priced
below $100 and many came with a second stem or matching tamper.
I walked by this table about 20 times before finally giving in and
laying my money down. Normally, I would put this pipe on the rack
with the rest of my unsmoked pipes making it wait its turn like
the others, but my curiosity to see how it smokes has gotten the
better of me and I smoked it within the week. It seemed to smoke
very nicely, stayed dry and didn't get harsh until the bottom third.
The only problem I had with it was that I couldn't pass a pipe cleaner
through the smoke hole at the bit end of the stem, a problem I could
have avoided by doing the pipe cleaner test before I purchased it.
But it didn't seem to effect its smoking qualities and is something
I can remedy fairly easily. Overall I'd have to say I'm pretty happy
with my purchase.
many of you may agree, a New York pipe show isn't complete without
the Rolando Negoita table. Roland had somewhere in the vicinity
of 20 pipes with him including many showcasing his distinct style
of "nature's gifts recreated into smoking art". One particularly
beautiful pipe was his nautical shell design which I hadn't seen
before. It almost looked as though he had plucked it from the ocean,
stained it and affixed a stem. I think I saw.....no, I'm sure I
saw Steve Gutz drooling over this one numerous times throughout
the day. I asked Rolando his thoughts about the production of his
winning pipe design from the P&T Contest that has been recently
released by Butz Choquin. He said he's only seen one of them so
far but seemed very happy with the presentation that was included
with the pipe. Rolando also generously donated one of his pipes
to be raffled off along with the other raffle items which included
an Ardor 2003 Christmas Pipe, a Peterson Silver Spigot, a leather
pipe case, three University Pipes and a sleeve of pipe cleaners.
Rob Garborino from the Hudson Valley Pipe Club won the Ardor and
Dock Perry won one of the University Pipes. Unfortunately, I didn't
get the names of the other winners.
Other contenders in the pipe arena were our own Kenny Kasparian
(picture with Rolando above) with his table full of many
beautiful Ardor, Rinaldo and Kai Neilsen pipes; Alan Schwartz of
Ltd. who had a number of fine leather pipe cases, Neerup and
Mastro DePaja pipes and Wessex tobaccos for sampling and purchase.
Other pipes available at the show included pipes by Comoy, Don Carlos,
Sasini and GBD.
highlight of the show was the forty minute talk on blending tobacco
which was given by Russ Oulette. Russ first started smoking a pipe
when he was 18 yrs old. After many years of only being able to sneak
an occasional whiff from his father's tobacco tins, he was now able
to enjoy the tobacco the way it was meant to be enjoyed. Russ' father
was fond of blends made with deer tongue, a condimental leaf that
has stayed popular with Russ to this day. He worked in different
pipe shops where he gained much of his knowledge of tobacco blending
and turned it into an art. His profession changed over the years
but he always kept up with his tobacco blending because he loved
experimenting with new mixtures. In the past few years Russ met
up with Scotty Bendett who soon began hounding him to come onboard
and blend tobaccos for the Habana Premium Cigar Shoppe. After a
year and a half of saying no to Scotty's relentless hounding, he
finally gave in and has not regretted it in the least, in fact he's
now sorry he didn't agree sooner. Russ covered all the aspects that
go into creating a new blend, from the many different ways that
blending tobacco is processed, to which tobaccos compliment others
and why, to what types of tobacco can be found in each of the main
tobacco blend categories. He explained the differences between casing
vs. top dressing and cleared up the common misconception that Cavendish
is not a type of tobacco but rather a way of processing tobacco.
Although the room didn't give Russ the attention and quiet he deserved,
he did have a very captive audience, eager to learn the secrets
of his successful blending techniques. And even though no real "secrets"
were divulged, the information Russ provided was extremely interesting
As a compliment to Russ' talk he had a table full of his blends
for all to sample, a list describing the contents of each blend
and a supply of plastic sample bags so we could try them at our
leisure. I took samples of almost all of his blends and had I been
stopped by the police on the way home I would most assuredly have
been locked up as a suspected drug dealer. Thanks Russ for sharing
and tobacco with us, I look forward to my sojourn through the Home
and Hearth blends.
So the clock was approaching 4pm and the last item raffled off.
Scotty decided to end the show early and adjourn to the smoking
room at the Shoppe to continue the festivities. Tim and I decided
to head back to Mass. while Dock, Steve and Kenny hung around for
a few more hours.
On behalf of the Sherlock Holmes Pipe Club I'd like to thank Scotty,
his staff and all the members of the Habana Premium Pipe Club for
their warm hospitality and for making this an outstanding event.
We're already looking forward to next year.
more photos from the show]