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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Transitions

Today's pic is a little mini shot - a preview of what the photos for the Talbert Pipes online catalog will look like in the future. Since our current camera and lighting capabilities seem to have ruled out the old-style "white background" photos, I had to cast around for a bit to settle on a look that would be decent for the overall layout of the site. While drop-shadows for pics are probably as hackneyed as everyone using the Papyrus font, it at least adds a little relationship between the photo and the page, rather than having them simply lie flat. One thing I am very pleased with is the superior color accuracy that I'm getting using the grey backgrounds - No more cases of a pipe being four different colors in four different photographs! So, not all transitions are bad.

Alas, I cannot say this in regards to the new Orlick-produced versions of the faithful Dunhill tinned tobaccos. This is quite annoying, because I am among the first people to ignore or chuckle ruefully at that vast swath of humanity that can't stop complaining about how the "old version was always better". (Doesn't matter what it is, what subject, what decade... "Dial telephones were better than pocket-sized wireless phones because..... well, because!") I usually feel sad for these folks that can't accept that things do change, and I want to stress that I'm not writing about the Dunhill transition as a whinge about the good old days... but it will probably come off that way anyway. I've now had the opportunity to sample an entire tin of both the new Nightcap and the new Elizabethan, and alas, I am sorry to say but these will no longer be taking places as regulars in my tobacco cellar. It isn't that they are bad blends - both are light, mellow, and Nightcap in particular has a pleasant sort of creamy quality to it. It's that they have become nondescript blends, to me at least. I would not hesitate to recommend either of these to a new pipe smoker - I think they would be ideal starter blends. However, I'll repost here what I recently wrote on alt.smokers.pipes:

"What puzzled me was how identical the blends looked side by side - the bright ribbons are a bit brighter in the newer stuff, but otherwise it would visually appear to be the same mix. I tried two bowls side by side - one Murray's and one Orlick - in clays to test my perceptions. The funny thing was, on first light they were very similar to me - for about the first fifth of the bowl I could barely tell them apart. But as the Murray's version smoked down, it had a very rich sort of raisin/fig flavor to it that was absent from the Orlick version, which just remained soft and creamy. It seemed odd because, to my tongue, the rest of the tobacco (the "wrapping" of the flavor, as it were) was much the same. The Orlick just seemed to be missing that bit of Fig Newton note in the flavor. Odd."

Which leads me to wonder if my European friends know what Fig Newtons are... I can't recall if I've seen any in stores here or not. In any case, as regards the Dunhill tobaccos by Orlick, my opinion is simple - both Nightcap and Elizabethan have had their corners and rough edges filed off. They've lost their intensity, their kick, and their love-it-or-hate-it style to emerge as polished, well-rounded performers who will likely be pleasant to all and loved by few. Considering how much I like a bit of spice stirred into the mix, count me as less than enthused with this particular bit of progress.