|I started pipe smoking with a couple of Turkish hand-carved block meerschaums and when I found out that Steven Books makes a blend intended to color a meerschaum the best color I had to get some. When I asked Mr. Books why this blend is especially good for coloring meerschaums he told me about how each different type of tobacco will color a meerschaum differently. A straight Virginia would color a meerschaum a different color than, say, a straight burley. With For Meerschaums Only, Steven takes these colorations into consideration. So in a way, Mr. Books not only masterminded a delicious, antiquated tobacco blend, but found the perfect paint for the canvas, if you will! A true artist.
Steven Books is a blender who pays homage to history. He's not just a master blender, but he's a sort of tobacco historian. He succeeds in making blends that taste as though they are from a bygone era. I read many pipe tobacco reviews, and I've noticed a common thread: many reviews state "it doesn't taste like it used to." I'm guessing this means that in our consumer-driven world of mass-production, a bit of the passion and spark has been taken out of the large corporate blends such as Dunhill or Orlik. And if you feel this way, I highly recommend getting a hold of some blends by Steven Books. His aim as a blender is to "make them like they used to."
For Meerschaums Only (FMO) is one of these blends that pays homage to a blend from long ago. It's an "American" English blend containing burley, virginia, latakia and perique. The latakia is used in very small amounts and is not a major player in the flavor or aroma because long ago American settlers didn't smoke latakia in their blends- they had never even heard of it. The virginia and perique are the dominant flavors and aromas, with the burley mellowing the blend out and the hints of latakia giving it just a dash of smokiness. I'd say it's medium in strength and medium to medium-full in body and taste. It has a wonderful finish, leaving a great tobacco taste in your mouth that isn't too harsh but isn't too soft.
FMO definitely has an English flavor, yet noticeably lacking that latakia smokiness. The perique spicekick is there and lends the blend a tang or a bite, but not a tonque-bite. Also, it is a VERY dry smoke, which is a good thing for meerschaums. I've read that you want to avoid smoking aromatics in a meerschaum because of the wet residue they leave behind. FMO leaves behind little to no residue at all, making the cleaning of the inside of your bowl very easy. Even Dunhill Nightcap leaves behind a sticky residue at times. But FMO is very dry. Very easy to clean your meerschaum after smoking FMO out of it.
I really feel as though this blend would very closely resemble blends smoked back around the time America was first colonized, back before briar wood was discovered and men smoked from either clay or meerschaum pipes, back when the American colonists had easy access to virginias, burleys, and perique but limited to no access to orientals and latakia. Brilliantly done, Steven Books! Your blend makes me hesitate to smoke any else but it out of my meerschaums!