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This is an American English style blend to provide something from an era not many tobacconists are aware of. Before the mid 1800s, English style blends were traditionally made with Virginias, Orientals, and Turkish. American English blends were made with Virginias, Orientals, and Turkish, along with burley and perique. Latakia was noticeably missing in both of these blends during those early times. England was such a world power on the seas that trade allowed for tremendous variety of tobacco varietals to be used in their mixtures from all over the world. When that began to wane, latakia began to be introduced in England in greater quantities, and by the wealthy almost exclusively. It was used in the very famous and sought after Balkan Sobranie in the mid 1800s. It wasn’t until the 1870s that latakia was introduced into the United States. My blend includes latakia but in a small quantities, providing a mixture more closely resembling the early English and American English style blends. It was originally designed to color meerschaums either in a coloring bowl or without. (Don’t worry, if you are a briar smoker it smokes equally great in your favorite briar). My approach is an American English style blend where there is a small amount of latakia which gives a slightly sharp taste, lightly sweetened with the burleys, Virginias, and perique. It burns very well and is noticeably softer than a full blown English blend. I found it delightful over all these years that my Reserve and Ancient Reserve both reflect that ongoing passion conceived from this original blend.

BrandHouse of Calabash
Blended BySteven Books
Manufactured ByHouse of Calabash
Blend TypeAmerican
ContentsBurley, Latakia, Perique, Virginia
ProductionCurrently available
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None Detected
Medium to Full
Room Note
Pleasant to Tolerable

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DrumsAndBeer Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
DrumsAndBeer (203)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

I am quite fond of tobacco mixtures that fall into the “Americanized English” phylum. I have smoked a handful of these blends over the years and this House of Calabash offering is by far and away the mellowest and most exquisite of the bunch. For Meerschaums Only Select is a deft combination of focused bittersweet flavor, mild piquant spiciness and subtle latakia presence.

In some ways this is similar to Cornell and Diehl’s Epiphany. It’s certainly in the same ballpark. However, everything about For Meerschaum’s Only Select is less amplified and altogether more refined. Comparatively, the burleys are softer and sweeter, the spiciness is not as edgy and the latakia is more integrated into the overall flavor and more noticeable in the fragrance. There is no topping that I can detect, so any noticeable sweetness is likely coming from the high quality aged leaf that Mr. Books uses to varying degrees in many of his blends.

For Meerschaums Only Select performs like a dream. The thin even cut ribbons are easy to pack and burn perfectly. It smokes dry and clean. For what it’s worth, I found that I prefer smoking this in a briar pipe.

Pipe Used: Meerschaum & Briar

1 person found this review helpful.

SteelCowboy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
SteelCowboy (685)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

After smoking the excellent “For Meerschaum’s Only Reserve” blend before smoking the less expensive “For Meerschaum’s Only” blend I was expecting a bit of a letdown. Fortunately, there wasn’t one. FMO is, like most of the other Books’ blends, really well done. Just a few minutes of dry time I was treated to a blend that, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, is masterfully balanced. It has been a while since I have smoked the FMO Reserve blend, but it seems to me that the Reserve blend is slightly sweeter than this blend although this blend isn’t without a hint of sweetness. Even though I have smoked both blends in a meerschaum, I prefer both of them in my briar pipes. Having now smoked most of the Books’ blends that are available on the internet (I believe that there are more at Books’ shop, The House of Calabash), it would be easy to pick out a Books’ blend blindfolded as there isn’t, to my knowledge a blender like him in the marketplace.

Purchased From: House of Calabash

1 person found this review helpful.

A. Morley Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
A. Morley (97)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

It’s odd how well the name of this blend suites it. It really does taste better in a meerschaum. I am sure that it colors them decidedly well also, though my experience with For Meerschaums only hasn’t extended that far yet.

The cut is truly appealing. Mr. Books tends to employ a smaller, thinner cut of tobacco in so many of his blends, leading to an easy fill (for the skilled smoker) and an effortless and consistent burn.

Insofar as the blends to be had from House of Calabash on a consistent basis, For Meerschaums Only is probably my favorite. Mr. Books, the venerable proprietor, is forever inventing new blends and tinkering with old ones, but he does have his flagship mixtures. There’s a lot going into and going on with this one. The bright to brown Virginia that composes the base of this blend are very nice. More toasted and rounded than sweet and piquant. More of the tang and the pleasing bite comes from the Turkish. I’d say that more than one sort of “Turkish” tobacco is in there, but I won’t hazard to say which ones. Think goat cheese on toasty bread.

The burley softens things, as burley is wont to do. This is an interesting example of good burley playing more of a condimental role that a base leaf. There are only niggling amounts of Perique and Latakia and I am perfectly happy with this arrangement. They add a whiff of creosote tang and pungent spice intermittently throughout the smoke and never anything more. There’s no reason to be constantly confronted with the boldest of tobacco flavors. This is not to say that the blend is necessarily light or mild. There’s a little bite and a little piquant rasp in the flavor of every puff, but you mostly notice that broad, friendly Virginia.

A seasoned pipeman who wants an everyday blend would do well to consider this blend, in addition to the meerschaum fanciers for whom it is intended. I only have the few meerschaums, but I’ll often pack a bowl of meerschaums only in any pipe that suites me and have never regretted the result on any occasion.

Pipe Used: Various briars and meerschaums

Purchased From: House of Calabash, Oregon City

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