House of Calabash For Meerschaums Only

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.


Brand House of Calabash
Series Select Pipe Tobacco
Blended By Steven Books
Manufactured By House of Calabash
Blend Type American
Contents Burley, Latakia, Perique, Virginia
Cut Ribbon
Packaging Bulk
Country United States
Production Currently available


Extremely Mild -> Overwhelming
None Detected
None Detected -> Extra Strong
Room Note
Unnoticeable -> Overwhelming
Medium to Full
Extremely Mild (Flat) -> Overwhelming

Average Rating

4.00 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 4 of 4 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 26, 2013 Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable
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!
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 21, 2015 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
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 28, 2013 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.
PurchasedFrom: House of Calabash
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 07, 2015 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
PurchasedFrom: House of Calabash, Oregon City
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