Recently came across this book for a price I couldn't refuse,Sherlock Holmes said:
I have been guilty of several monographs. They are all upon technical
subjects. Here, for example, is one "Upon the Distinction between the
Ashes of the Various Tobaccos". In it I enumerate a hundred and forty
forms of cigar, cigarette, and pipe tobacco, with coloured plates
illustrating the difference in the ash. It is a point which is continually
turning up in criminal trials, and which is sometimes of supreme
importance as a clue. If you can say definitely, for example, that some
murder had been done by a man who was smoking an Indian lunkah, it
obviously narrows your field of search. To the trained eye there is as
much difference between the black ash of a Trichinopoly and the white
fluff of bird's-eye as there is between a cabbage and a potato.
it's quite fun reading.
It is a well put together book,
although I would have liked to have seen various ash samples illustrated.
I tried to snap a photo of an ashpile, but the results were lacking:
here are a few select pages of the pipe tobacco descriptions:
(Please pardon the crappy photos,
hopefully they are legible.)
The book fails to reproduce the 140 varieties as reported by Mssr. Holmes though,
and this prompted me to try my inarticulate hand at making one up.
I would hope that others may join in with their own descriptions, either fictional or real,
because it seems that CPS is chock full of literary types and quite a few very capable quillsmiths.
Here's my toss:
Crom Dullahan & Co. - Tathagach Bar
Founded at Dungarvan, Ireland, in 1832, this company specialises in hard tobaccos and Dullahan's Tathagach Bar is one of the firms most popular offerings.
It is best known for robust strength, yet smooth mildness, coupled with an aromatic scent unlike any other.
Lime water is used in the boilers for the massive steaming presses, which add traces of a tart citric flavour note.
The engines are fueled by bog-wood , saturating the entire atmosphere, and a peaty creosote smokiness seeps into the leaf,
adding even further undertones to its odoriferous complexity.
It then undergoes repeated liquid immersions, in various steeps, to acquire its unique perfumery -
most notably, the strange pharmacopoeiac elixir contains valerian root , decoction of figs, cascarilla bark extract, and orris oil.
Essence of ambergris is added to prolong the intensity of bouquet.
Tathagach Bar has a loyal following with workingmen, but is of a price not easily afforded by unskilled labourers,
finding most favour amongst blacksmiths, coal heavers, railway workmen, farmers scattered across the countryside,
and rather oddly, a fair number of cantankerous old judges.
The ash is a peppered dark grey, with the inky flecks having a shardlike character.
Density is remarkable. So heavy are the particles of ash that when placed in water, they will actually sink.
Very few other ashes exhibit this characteristic.
Hardened and compact dottles are also often found alongside.