John Brandt keeps the Wilke blends alive : Pipes and Tobaccos Magazine

John Brandt keeps the Wilke blends alive

— In Fall River, Massachusetts, home of Lizzie Borden

by Marc Monroe Dion

Sometimes it’s hard not to think of pipe smoking as, if not a lost art, then maybe an art of loss.

John Brandt, owner of the Old Firehouse Smoke Shop in Fall River, Massachusetts, doesn’t agree. Not only does he run an old-fashioned pipe and cigar store; he’s also brought back the famous Wilke Tobacco blends that were in danger of extinction.
Brandt’s shop is a 10-minute walk from Lizzie Borden’s home. The store itself is located in an old firehouse that later became a gathering place for Civil War veterans. The church across the street was attended by Lizzie and her family.

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But back to the art of loss: These days, you may have lost the right to smoke at your job, even in the break room. Other states won’t let you smoke in bars. Some of us huddle on the porches of our own homes, enduring an icy wind or a blazing sun for the sake of our beloved pipes. Great pipe brands have disappeared or been debased. Entire lines of pipe tobacco have disappeared, many of them because of taxation and regulation. There are many blends you’ll never taste again.

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But we have not been defeated. In the back room of a quiet, comfortable pipe shop, John Brandt is making the legendary Wilke blends for those who want a tobacco experience that goes back well over a century.

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Category: Fall 2018, Feature Article

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