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by William Serad

A chord of memory was sounded by the mention of David P. Erlich Co.’s DPE in the last column, even though Erlich, per se, no longer exists. Others remember the blend quite well, it seems, not just me. Dan Locklair was kind enough to direct me to the website of Leavitt & Peirce (http://leavitt-peirce. com), which continues to offer DPE and other Erlich blends. I understand that they carry on the business of shipping it around the world. It would be difficult to tell what blends they have as there is no list on the website. Give them a call for this old main- stay (617.547.0576), a true American blend with a cubed Burley base. I was going to call them, when I heard from Mr. Stephen Wyman, who was so kind as to share with me his supply of DPE, of which he has grown somewhat tired over the years. His generosity is appreciated. DPE is of a sort found less and less today, but a fine example of it.
I mentioned in the last column that I was beginning an excursion through the drugstore blends of yesteryear, also known as codger Burleys. While a codger is old-fashioned and eccentric, which I probably am, he is also elderly, which I am not. I prefer to think of myself as matured, like a fine wine or a Virginia flake. The nomenclature is thus only partially accurate. I decided to do this personal review because I periodically recheck my tastes to see how they have drifted over time and to see if the center holds. I know I have a seasonal fondness for Latakia, and we are rolling into the fall and winter months, so I have started the same exercise with English blends. I will report on this in the next issue and would ask any of you so inclined to go through a similar process of your own design and relate the results to us. I always like a good Virginia or Va/Per flake, especially in the summer months, so that never needs to be reevaluated. But I have a number of big tubs of Burley blends behind me as I sit at my desk, and I cannot help but look at them before I sit down to work. So, I started the inventory giving little thought to method, with the leaf at my back, just to see whither the smoke bloweth.
Strangely, I did not originally begin my piping with these blends, and it took a decade or more for me to even get to them. That seems to be unusual among the aficionados of the genre, who start off with most of this type largely because of availability, diminishing though it is today. You would not believe how many people I have met who started off with Prince Albert in a Dr. Grabow or a cob. I was introduced when I was full in the throes of searching for the ultimate Balkan, so friendly and placid Burley blends were quite a departure.
It is a general observation of mine that the passage of time does Burley neither good nor ill. Virginias gain character and flavor, and Latakia becomes a ghost of itself over time, especially Syrian. So, I expected my Burley blends to be about the same as when I left them last winter and would expect them to be the same many winters into the future.

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Category: Pipefuls, Winter 2015

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