Kramer's Pipe and Tobacco Shop Father Dempsey

(3.47)
Though originally blended to match Father Dempsey's own preferred smoke, this full-bodied English mixture is now Kramer's most popular house blend and has been enjoyed by the likes of Cecil B. DeMille, Henry Wilcoxon, Samuel Goldwyn, Gene Barry, Mike Kaplan, Mel Tolkin, Fred McMurray, and many others.
Notes: The good father, an Irish priest, and my father Allen Kramer (who came to American as a child from Russia), may have seemed like an odd duo, but they became fast friends. When Father Dempsey was assigned to the Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills, right behind our shop, he would always come in for a visit. The Father was used to buying his tobacco at Dunhill, but told my father he'd rather buy from his shop, if he could create a comparable blend. They spread out his blend on the tobacco bar and my father studied it. He was able to identify the different tobaccos, but not the proportions. So they kept trying different formulas until finally Father Dempsey said, "Stop right there! This is better than my old blend ever was." And soon so many of the Father's friends and parishioners were coming in asking for "Father Dempsey's tobacco" that it came to be called just that. My father would say it has the aroma of a campfire burning--a smooth and full-bodied Latakia based blend. Among those in our rolodex who chose Father Dempsey's blend were Cecil B. DeMille, Henry Wilcoxon, Samuel Goldwyn, Gene Barry, John Conte, Ricardo Cortez, Howard Duff, Herb Edelman, Mel Frank, Mike Kaplan, Jesse Lasky, Sr., Fred MacMurray, Robert Sherman, and Mel Tolkin. Father Dempsey is gone now, but when he passed away he left his statue of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus and the medal he carried through the battle of Dunkirk to my father--and of course, the legacy of what is Kramers most popular house blend.

Details

Brand Kramer's Pipe and Tobacco Shop
Blended By Allen Kramer
Manufactured By Sutliff Tobacco Company
Blend Type English
Contents Latakia, Oriental/Turkish, Virginia
Flavoring
Cut Ribbon
Packaging 2 ounce tin, bulk.
Country United States
Production Currently available

Profile

Strength
Medium
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Extremely Mild -> Overwhelming
Flavoring
None Detected
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
None Detected -> Extra Strong
Room Note
Pleasant to Tolerable
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Unnoticeable -> Overwhelming
Taste
Medium to Full
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Extremely Mild (Flat) -> Overwhelming

Average Rating

3.47 / 4
41

16

8

1

Reviews

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Displaying 1 - 11 of 66 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 28, 2017 Mild Mild Mild Pleasant
This is a well done blend. I really like what they have done with it. The components of this blend are all blended perfectly. The Virginias stay in the background. Just enough to let you know they are there, but not overpowering. The Orientals/Turkish are just right. You Know they are there...but they but they do not overpower. And the Latakia is just right. All in all it just makes for a perfect blend. I can see why Father Dempsey loved it so much. My hats off to the blenders of this fine tobacco. It's a pleasure to smoke.
Pipe Used: Peterson No. 3
PurchasedFrom: Smoking Pipes
Age When Smoked: Fresh
3 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 28, 2014 Medium Extremely Mild Medium to Full Pleasant
The smoky, woody, earthy, lightly musty sweet Cyprian Latakia takes a light lead. The Virginias offer some tart and tangy citrus, with some grass, and light earth and wood as the base of the blend. The Oriental/Turkish is understated, but adds a meaningful dry, woody, herbal, floral, vegetative, earthy, lightly sweet and sour, and is barely spicy. It's more of a secondary player. Though it's medium in strength, and a little fuller in taste, it's well balanced enough to smoke several times a day without tiring out your taste buds. I barely detect the slightest note of a sweetness to the topping. The nic-hit is just shy of the center of mild to medium. Won't bite or get harsh, but has a few small rough edges. Burns at a reasonable pace, cool, clean, smooth, and even with a very consistent flavor to the finish. Leaves little dampness in the bowl, and requires an average number of relights. It has a short lived, pleasant after taste, and a pleasant room note not always found with mixtures in this genre.

-JimInks
86 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 13, 2019 Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
At the risk of sounding more than a little North of cliché, Kramer’s Father Dempsey English blend is the proverbial (if not literal) Holy Grail of pipe tobacco for me.

Never mind the fact that Father Dempsey is a great tasting, great smoking blend in its own right. For me, there is a somewhat deeper meaning and significance to Father Dempsey’s blend, above and beyond how it merely smokes and tastes.

Father Dempsey’s blend is the stuff I have been searching for ever since the morning I awoke to Richard Pryor’s ghost screaming inside my head: “P
PE!!! TOBACCO PIIIIIIIIPE!!! PIPE TOBACCOOOOOOO!!!”

After years of existing as a degenerate cigar smoker – and having never, ever entertained the idea of smoking a pipe – I literally woke up one day with what can only be described as a religious revelation -- as if I had been commanded by a burning bush: “The redolent scent of Jack Lundy’s pipe, from the fertile fields of your earliest childhood memories on Loma Verde in Palo Alto, 1965 – that is what you shall seek, My Son” . . .

Within three hours of that awakening, I owned my very first pipe (a Peterson rusticated Donegal Rocky, a venerable workhorse, still in regular rotation today). And ever since that day, I’ve been searching for that most sanctified scent which sprang from Jack Lundy’s pipe, more than a half-century ago.

Back in 1965, when I was 4-years-old, Jack Lundy was our next-door neighbor in Palo Alto. To me, Mr. Lundy was “the milkman”: he worked at Peninsula Creamery, delivering milk and ice cream for a living. His daily work attire resembled a World War II officer’s uniform: khaki pants and shirt, with brass buckled belt, bow tie, and a crusher-styled aviator’s cap, replete with leather visor. I remember Mr. Lundy delivering “snowballs” to our home at Christmas: a round dollop of vanilla ice cream, covered in shredded coconut, with green plastic holly leaves at the base of a red candle that sat atop the concept.

But Mr. Lundy was more than just “the milkman” to me; more than just the next-door neighbor. Jack Lundy smoked pipes. He kept a round pipe rack on his end-table, just next to the family room couch in front of the fireplace and television set, where he used to sit, impassively smoking his pipes. I remember Mr. Lundy smoking his pipes as he watched boxing matches or baseball games on his black-and-white TV. When visiting their home, Mr. Lundy would hand me wedges of colored salts that I would then throw upon the logs burning in his fireplace – salts that would produce brilliantly colored flames of red, green, blue and aqua. Turning from the heat of the hearth, I would see Jack on the couch, cross-legged, pipe in hand, puffing ever so gently on his briars.

On Sundays, in the fall, my dad and Mr. Lundy would walk me down the block to the local fire station in order to get the burn permit they needed for burning brush in the yard between our two homes. I can see Jack now, observing that burn, calmly, coolly smoking his pipe. The smell from Jack’s pipe – like the smell of those burning leaves and tree clippings – became one of the signature scents from those distant, dreamlike memories that still radiate from my childhood.

As Baby Boomers, pipes and pipe tobacco were embedded into our generational DNA: not only did many of the men around us readily smoke pipes -- fathers, grandfathers, uncles – but we were also exposed to pipes through books, movies and pop culture. Sherlock Holmes, Bing Crosby, Albert Einstein, Bob Hope, Omar Bradley, JRR Tolkien, Edward G. Robinson and Jaques Cousteau (the list goes on and on) all smoked pipes. In the early days of television – before political correctness and the culture war on everything tobacco related – there was nothing at all wrong with Santa Claus or Frosty the Snowman partaking of the pipe, just as it was equally acceptable for primetime dads like Robert Young ("Father Knows Best") and Fred MacMurray ("My Three Sons") to personify the ideal model of paternalistic benevolence and wisdom, all the while they were smoking their pipes. (Parenthetically: Father Dempsey was a blend that was apparently favored by Fred MacMurray).

Some fifty years hence, I still have no idea what make of pipes Jack Lundy owned (I’m guessing Kaywoodies or Dr. Grabows), nor what brands or blends of pipe tobacco he smoked. All I know for sure is the smell that emanated from Jack Lundy’s pipe. Smell can be a key that opens the mausoleum of memories, and I knew my search for the smell I was seeking ended when I first opened a tin of Father Dempsey. The notes from this tin -- as well as the smoke itself -- were unmistakable, and instantly recognizable: autumnal aromas of burning leaves, and the fragrant, sweet-smelling scent of smoky campfires – poignantly familiar smells that conjured my earliest memories of childhood in Palo Alto California.

Not only does Father Dempsey’s blend reawaken the distant memories of my early youth, but the history of Kramer’s tobacco shop itself only adds a little something more to the magical mystique of this blend (say nothing of the amazingly remarkable story of Father Dempsey himself, the man for whom this blend was named). Even the kitschy, old-fashioned, 1950s/1960s era labelling that encircles the tin calls to mind special remembrances of a time long gone.

Having only recently discovered Father Dempsey’s blend – along with the remarkable story of the real Father Dempsey and the House of Kramer itself -- I only even more recently learned that the original, one and only Kramer’s brick-and-mortar shop in Beverly Hills was shuttered not all that long ago (December 31st, 2017). Having picked up the pipe in 2013, not only was I distressed by the fact that I was unaware of Kramer’s existence, but more deeply saddened by the fact I never got the opportunity to make the pilgrimage, even when I had the chance to do so.

While there are many celebrated, well-known English blends out there, for the category of Quintessential English Blend, I cast my nomination ballot to Father Dempsey.

48 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 21, 2014 Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
This is the king of English blends for me. The best way to describe Father Dempsey's is "clean". It's a wonderful blend that calls out "My Mixture 965" from Dunhill - But the GOOD 965, and not the stuff that they make now (which isn't terrible, but compared against the original it's a shadow).

I'm not a huge English fan (they sometimes can be too mild for me), but if I am ever in the mood for a pipe tobacco that calms me down and isn't sweet then Father Dempsey is it. They really know what they are doing.

Strength is medium, no flavoring/casing I can detect, and the room note is pleasant (no sweetness - it just smells like pipe smoke). I haven't had this aged, but that's mainly because I can't keep it in my house long enough to find out if it matures with time.
Pipe Used: Flame-grain Stanwell
PurchasedFrom: Kramer's Pipe Shop (online)
Age When Smoked: 2
35 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 21, 2011 Medium Extremely Mild Medium to Full Tolerable
Fr. Dempsey doesn't remind me of my beloved Dunhill's but it doesn't need to as it stands well on its own. A latakia heavy mixture that manages to be just restrained enough to allow the other tobacco's to make their presence known. Fr. Dempsey should be a fan of any full English smoker. It's a 3 1/2 star blend in my book and will find a place in my cellar.
31 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 23, 2019 Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant
This is the other Kramer's Blend I bought back in May last year along with Danny Kaye Mixture, which I reviewed earlier. I smoked a bowl of each and then put them away for future scrutiny. I liked Father Dempsey better than the Danny Kaye blend and consider it to be a much more well balanced mixture. Father Dempsey presents in the bulk as an ocher-to-brown ribbon cut and the aroma tells you instantly that this is an English blend. You can sense the equal proportioning between the Orientals and the Latakia; a trait that sets it apart from it's constant comparison companion - Dunhill 965. Also, Father Dempsey is a little sweeter than 965 and you can tell this in a side-by-side comparison of aromas, as I have done. Finally, I get, consistently, a faint aromatic element in Father Dempsey on retrohale. There is nothing like that in either 965 or Aperitif; the other Dunhill Blend that some of us feel was the Father's original blend. I think its possible that the blend Father Dempsey showed the senior Mr. Kramer was, actually, a Dunhill shop blend that they had been putting together for Father Dempsey prior to his reassignment. Obviously, I agree with reviewer Steel Cowboy 2011-05-21 that this blend is not 965 but does stand on it's own merits independently. I also agree with reviewer The Sunday Evening Pipe Smoker 2017-08-04 that Father Dempsey has more Latakia than 965. For a medium/heavy English in a very crowded field, Father Dempsey does quite well for itself and I feel it deserves four stars.
Pipe Used: Kaywoodie Billiard - 2001 NASPC year pipe
PurchasedFrom: an Ebay seller
Age When Smoked: seven years old
18 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 21, 2016 Mild to Medium None Detected Full Tolerable
I was given a good sample of this about four years ago from a forum friend. I was still a relatively new piper at the time and was just spreading my wings into latakia blends. I recall loving this blend a lot back then. In the flood of buying frenzy and sample trading that followed this one got buried.

I unearthed the jar a few months ago and finished it off. Time and exposure to several other blends have not helped in rating this blend. At the time I first tried it, this blend would have been a 4 star blend, but it has dropped to less than 3 stars as my tastebuds and cadence have evolved.

I found this blend to be fuller to my tastes than I remember and I felt the oriental component and the latakia kind of dominate the blend making it a little heavy on the smoke and sour component to my tastes at this point in time. To me this blend needs more sweetness or, in the alternative, something to smooth it out some. It is just a little too sharp and edgy. This is something I don't mind when a blend is giving me different taste profiles through the bowl, but this one is a little monochromatic in flavor, IMO.

Don't get me wrong as the blend is definitely smokable. To me it drops somewhere between 2 and 3 stars and I am going to round it up to 3 for my earlier impressions, but there are many Balkan blends I would reach for before this one.

15 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 25, 2017 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable
The tobacco appears to be roughly equal amounts of black, tan and brown tobacco. It is mostly a chopped medium ribbon with a few "fish flakes." The tin note is campfire and a slightly grassy, sweet.

Smoked, this is quite good. Moisture level was fine for me, and I just codger scooped from the tin. In terms of the latakia, it is a mild-medium, and so not a bomb. There are sweet Virginia notes, and the Orientals provide a slightly sour spice. There is a lot of flavor here, but nothing really overpowers. It is a nicely balanced for my tastebuds and it is easy to follow one bowl with another. There is a light, somewhat delicate quality to the smoke, and it does not seem to produce palate fatigue as some latakia blends do for me.

Key to liking this is probably not having an aversion to latakia or a discernible Oriental note. It is easy to recommend.
12 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 26, 2011 Medium None Detected Very Full Tolerable to Strong
Another "Old Timey" blend from the folks at Kramers. This one is a very full and very well balanced English blend. Great for after dinner or a chilly night. I keep reiterating how this stuff reminds me of Perretti, Wilke, and Barclay-Rex. Latakia forward with the orientals bringing up the rear. This is for the experienced smoker and the very understanding and tolerant wife. Think of Wilke's #400 or Peretti's Taskent. A very full 3 stars!
12 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 09, 2022 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant
I remember for decades poking my heading in Kramer's right off Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. I was always headed to the far end of Rodeo to the old Dunhill store. Enjoyed hearing the laughter from the customers and staff at Kramers. Often a tourist would pop-in and grab a cigar for his stroll down Rodeo, or to sit on one of the few available benches while his credit card was maxed out by his bride and/or new girlfriend at the Rodeo shops. To be honest, I never tried any of their house blends. I am a burley smoker and nothing caught my interest. I regret that now. If you have enjoyed Balkan Sobranie, 965, Aperitif, the Frogs, the Rattray's....just order Father Dempsey. It is incredible. It hits all the right notes. Take your time...don't attack it like a steam engine train...savor it. I lack the words to describe its subtleties. There is a symphony going on here, but it also is a sonata. My only regret: I wish it came in a larger tin. Wait, I have another regret...I should have bought some in the store decades ago.
Pipe Used: Dunhill
PurchasedFrom: SmokingPipes.com
Age When Smoked: Fresh
11 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 18, 2019 Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Medium Tolerable
Unfortunately I do not have the tastebuds of the amazing Jim Amash, so my reviews are pretty crappy when compared to his.

What I can tell you is “ditto” to Jim’s review of Father Dempsey’s blend, and that I really enjoy this blend. I’ve been smoking it all day long and it’s a fantastic Autumn blend for chillier weather. It took a couple of tries to get lit (I believe due to some sort of topping, but don’t quote me on that) but once it did start going I smoked the entire bowl without another light and I’m using a Savinelli Mega Pot with a pretty massive chamber.

If you enjoy a light-to-medium English blend I believe that you will almost certainly enjoy this blend. A shade stronger than 965 IMHO, and to me it tastes a bit like Russ O’s White Knight blend; if you enjoy either of those, or blends akin to those, give this a try.

I’ve never had a Kramer’s blend before, but I’ve enjoyed this so much, in fact, that I’m gonna order the rest of the Kramer blends carried at SmokingPipes and try them all out. I definitely personally recommend Father Dempsey’s Blend (and I’m a Baptist, so that’s high praise hahaha) and I absolutely think it’s worth the price of a tin.

I would also recommend smoking this blend in a pipe with a large chamber as it’s a pretty long cut of tobacco and seems to pack better in a big bowl.
Pipe Used: Savinelli Mega 315
PurchasedFrom: SmokingPipes
Age When Smoked: New tin with date of September 2019
11 people found this review helpful.
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