Rusty's wisdom concerning cellaring

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Rusty's wisdom concerning cellaring

Post by coco » Sat Jan 20, 2018 10:29 am

Our late friend Rusty knew more about pipes and tobacco than many of ever will. Please post quotes from Rusty concerning this subject here for posterity.

Should you wish to start a similar thread, please start it in the Library and title it "Rusty's wisdom concerning [category of pipe and tobacco knowledge]."
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Re: Rusty's wisdom concerning cellaring

Post by Del » Sat Jan 20, 2018 11:34 am

Rusty wrote:
Tue Mar 09, 2010 3:03 pm
Del wrote:I just ordered 1.5 lb box of Lux Bullseye Flake and 4 oz of McClelland 2010 from PipesandCigars.com. I asked them to share a few sample flakes of Lux Navy Flake, too.

I've got to stop talking with you so much, Rusty!
I think every well heeled Va cellar should be knee deep in PS Luxury blends. Then Shoulder high in McCl Va's and finally should have Lake District desert Va/Burley's strewn about to resemble a mine field with a much larger supply stacked floor to ceiling just beside the McCl.
Eight years ago, Rusty diagnosed that I really love virginias and va/pers.

Since then, I have tried to follow Rusty's advice: Collecting one part Stokkebye Luxury Flakes and two parts McClelland bulk virginias.

And I thank Rusty for introducing me to Lake District blends. I am not such a huge fan as he, but I am glad to have a good portion of them in my collection.
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Re: Rusty's wisdom concerning cellaring

Post by JudgeRusty » Sat Jan 20, 2018 2:35 pm

On the efficient storage of flakes in wide mouth ½ pint jars:
Can you imagine a snake in a can, coiled round and round? The half pints (250ml here in Canada) are short wide-mouthed jars and I take about 6-10 moist flexible flakes and coil them on their length (so that they are as high as the flakes width) and then seat them on the bottom of the jar, just like the snake. The jar is a little over two flake widths high so I can do it again with another layer of coiled flake, then seal the jar. It's about 5-6 jars per pound if you wind as many flakes as it'll take. As a packing method it works well and preserves the flake form even if it doesn't lie flat anymore.

On Jars & tins:
The small tins are really sized for someone who consumes them in a week or two. There is about 15 to 18 bowls in a small tin. By adding a piece of aluminum foil one can spin them out longer say for a month or maybe a little more. Jars work if one has taken a bowl and then defers going back to it for a while but then smokes it all in a week or two. So as soon as we treat a container like one of the old humidor jars then it becomes clear that tobacco is going to degrade unless one smokes frequently enough to empty it fairly quickly.

On the sealing property of jar lids:
In the meantime I want you to just put the lid on, that you say won't seal, screw the ring on, and then go put it at the bottom of a bucket of water for three days. In fact that is where you should consider storing your jars. There is no air. And they don't leak. Your toilet would work fine for this if you tie a string to the jar and tie the string to something fixed.

After you adopt this strategy I know you're going to come back and tell us that they still dry. And my answer is - any jar that you open you change the air inside. So minimize the number of times you do this by shrinking the jar size so that there are fewer openings.
For everybody else just put the tobacco in as many small jars (sized so that you could consume the contents in about a month) as it takes. It doesn't need to be tight. Make sure the jar is cool and don't obsess about the seal. Place the lid on, and twist the ring over that. Done.

On Jar size:
It doesn't matter. I did these experiments. Do not have the tobacco interfering with the lid. So don't overfill the jars.
If you're going to be in and out of the jar over long periods of time then changing the air in a jar with declining tobacco volume will affect the tobacco. It's best if you consume the tobacco in the jar within a month or so of opening it after sealed storage. That should dictate the size of your jars. I use half pint wide-mouth mason jars and I have done so for almost 20 years. I also use jars that are half that size for some flake tobaccos. I probably smoke a lot more than you so your jars should probably be smaller. The same thing applies to tins. If you can't smoke all of the tin within a month or so then put it in small jars, as soon as you open it, each of which you could finish off within a month or so. Otherwise you'll probably find that you end up wasting a lot of tobacco. This is fairly typical of newbs so it's not the end of the world but it is more expensive that it could be.

Do you think you can finish the tobacco in a jar within a month or so? If not then they're still too big. I smoke 3-5 bowls every day (sometimes more). A two oz. tin or pouch lasts me three days if that is all that I'm smoking. I find that the half pint size fits my needs pretty well.

Many people have a variety of tobaccos on the go. So they have jars in the cellar that they don't open but they also have a number of jars on the go. So you should be able to finish all of the jars that you have opened within month or so. If not then the jar size is still too large. Go smaller.
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Re: Rusty's wisdom concerning cellaring

Post by plainview » Sat Jan 20, 2018 4:11 pm

Rusty wrote:
Sun Nov 05, 2017 1:28 am

Many tobaccos don't tolerate 5 - 10 years age very well and they lose flavour. The other thing that can happen is they lose the toppings over 3-5 years and a bland tobacco remains. This depends upon the topping constituents and we just don\t know until we try it. Most of the topped GH flakes lose toppings over a surprisingly short time.
Rusty wrote:
Sun Nov 05, 2017 1:28 am

IMO pipe tobacco products do not improve with age. They do change with age and whether we like the result of long age is largely a matter of taste, that can vary with the product and of course our experience and expectations, but they were all at their best in the first year after they were made, I think. So pipe tobacco products that still provide a smoking experience quite similar to off the shelf 1st year flavour (to be readily recognizable) at a decade or more are unusual. The most usual affliction from longer age (ie at about a decade or more) is a noticeable loss of flavour in the tobacco itself and of course loss of toppings. Most of the beneficial changes have occurred in the first year after manufacturing and thereafter there is a long slide to something less.

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Re: Rusty's wisdom concerning cellaring

Post by calvinistanglican » Sun Jan 21, 2018 6:56 am

Over the years, Rusty and I had many conversations mostly through email as I had moved out of the province. I have about 2,059 emails with underlying threads that span all sorts of topics.

Here is a post of his that he sent me back in 2006. He had quoted a posting on SmokersForums about cellaring and had this to say:
I'm a little surprised at some of the advice. It's not that it's necessarily wrong but it's pretty specific to the ones giving advice. It doesn't consider the OP situation.

For Canucks there are several conditions necessary before investing in a cellar:

1) Commitment to pipe smoking: Not an easy thing! Or something to be taken for granted. It's not something one decides upon within the 'PAD/TAD noise' of an online group. A pipe smoker should have some real personal commitment to smoking pipes, say at least two years smoking a pipe, first, and then revisit cellaring. Cellaring involves breaking possession laws, investing hard earned money, and making a longer term investment in the hobby. Silly to do this without a deep feeling of commitment that it's worthwhile.

Here's an example: I think "Greg" [name was changed by me] has probably quit. Nobody has heard from him at all and he hasn't shown up at any of our meetings. He may not even know yet that he's drifted far enough away from it to call it quitting. I think he's probably more typical than atypical of young smokers. It's not like our culture makes it easy. His lifestyle and his fiancé are opposed to smoking. It's understandable and he was smart, he didn't invest a lot. He may even come back later.

2) Reasonable amount of well-rounded experience smoking a lot of blends over a year or two. This goes with item 1 and provides a base of knowledge to understand what's (personally) worth cellaring. It also gives the smoker some perspective on where his tastes might go in the future. Inevitably his tastes will change. Don't just cellar the few blends that are favourites. Cellar for the long term and select good representatives of blend styles that you may want later (this one calls for judgment, but all investing does). Use judgment.

3) One has to understand and have a stake in the reason's) for cellaring.

The reasons for cellaring?
a) Protect the future availability of tobacco generally and preserve specific blends that may be discontinued
b) Future cost avoidance - taxes, and inflation. This is the financial support for cellaring.
c) Enjoy rare aged tobaccos in the future. If the cellar provides tobacco for as long as it can this will almost certainly be true.

Cellaring is a long term investment in the future. Thoughts?
The only thoughts I can put forward right now have to do with the aging of tobacco and the degradation of flavouring or topping on some tobaccos? He was absolutely right about the tax, access to, and availability of blends.

I'll keep digging for more stuff to put up here for you all.

E

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Re: Rusty's wisdom concerning cellaring

Post by calvinistanglican » Sun Jan 21, 2018 7:07 am

I found a 'back and forth' concerning that post I just submitted above....here it is:

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Re: Rusty's wisdom concerning cellaring

Post by calvinistanglican » Sun Jan 21, 2018 7:18 am

Here is another gem from Rusty back in March of 2007 speaking about Greybeard's cellar (a SmokersForums username/member) and the thread topic was Cellar Heft:

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Re: Rusty's wisdom concerning cellaring

Post by calvinistanglican » Sun Jan 21, 2018 7:20 am

Later on in March of 2007 he found a thread on SF that was talking about a cellar of three years being maintained:

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Re: Rusty's wisdom concerning cellaring

Post by calvinistanglican » Sun Jan 21, 2018 7:31 am

Here, he was bringing up the subject of "Slots". Slots? Yup...slots.....here you go.....typical Rusty:

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Re: Rusty's wisdom concerning cellaring

Post by ReverendThom » Sun Jan 21, 2018 9:18 am

I was talking to Rusty last year via PM about stocking up on some of my favourite English blends and I said:
Do I recall you telling me before that Latakia is not the best long-term cellar option though? Mostly virginias for any real length of time?
His reply:
To tell you the truth it's very hard to pick tobaccos for long term storage eg 10 years and more.

There are so many surprises, in fact, that it's bewildering. Virtually every single one does change but not for the better in any case that is objectively true. And honestly it is a matter of taste too. Saying things like "not for the better" cannot exclude taste. How many organic things, packaged in tins, improve with age? It's not for nothing that they all have a best-before date on them. This is true with tobacco too.

It's quite possible that the loss of flavour is ok for some people. Or that the balance shifts. Some tobaccos are not as noticeably affected by age. For example, many Burley blends are almost unaffected by age. I still have Edgeworth Sliced, that is over ten years old, and it's still surprisingly the same as it was back in 2005. I am shocked every time I open one. Does anybody ever talk about Burley blends and age? No.

Others seem to be like cardboard so it's not all Burley blends. Virginias are not immune to age either and the idea that they all improve is nonsense. What would improvement be like? After talking to Coco and others about very old Mac Baren tobaccos (40 years old) they love it when the flavour resembles cookie dough. No specific flavour at all but sweet and docile. Cookie dough. It's nothing like the blend it was. I think if one likes the tobacco off-the-shelf new that it should remain that way. That's the best. This is the way pipe smokers smoked tobaccos for decades at least. Now if a hobbyist smokes only periodically then why not smoke superlative aged tobaccos that ... have been damaged by age.

The truth is that the tobaccos are fine with less than 5 years age. They're not better. But rather much closer to the way they were intended to be. They still have flavour. Some Virginias are less affected by age eg McClellands. They'll easily go better than a decade. many of the C&D Burley and Virginia mixtures do very well at withstanding age as well.

Most of the blends I smoke are a decade old or more. The balance in latakia mixtures changes as the Latakia softens to something more like leather. So the blend really departs from what it was. It's disappointing if one appreciates the robust Latakia flavour. Don't go more than 5 years age on these.

If you're only holding tobaccos for 5 years and less then none of this is really a problem. Ten years and over? Very few do well.
"Pipe smokers used to be among the smartest people walking around. It's not true anymore." - Rusty

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