|Kirsten has been around for decades. A classic, old-time pipe shop, located at the Fishermens Terminal near the old Ballard Bridge in Seattle. Kirstens is the last stop for a lot of old salts and fishermen before they head out to sea for Alaska.
They have a fine selection of briar pipes, their own unusual Kirsten Pipe Company radiator pipes which they have been manufacturing for something like 75 years, and some superb custom blends of pipe tobacco. The Mariner Mixture is their best-selling favorite. The white-haired gentleman behind the counter told me they sold two tons of Mariner Mixture in 2008.
Mariner Mixture is one of those old-fashioned aromatic blends that you will end up returning to time and time again - an old steady. Smells wonderful in the pouch. Packs easily (but make sure you do not pack it too tight). It is very moist, so I recommend letting it dry out for a couple of days, unless you like a hot pipe, bite, and sogginess at the end. But if you let it dry a little, you will be rewarded with a wonderful pipe-smoking experience. You can pick it up by the pound or two-ounce bags either in their shop or online.
If you follow the instructions above, and lightly tamp as you work your way to the bottom of the bowl, it burns fine, leaving a grey ash at the bottom with a couple of pieces of carbon dottle. As with all aromatics, however, it can get a little harsh at the very end - but it leaves no unpleasant "ghosts" in the pipe.
Mariner Mixture's room note has no equal. Anyone within smelling distance will compliment you. The taste? It is similar to Captain Black Royal, but not as syrupy sweet. Good billows of dry, nutty-sweet smoke. Just a good, all-around aromatic that you will end up smoking more of than all your other expensive blends. Oh, and did I mention the price? You cannot beat it.