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What I didn't Know that I Knew... View More

Perceptions and Memories

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As I sit here looking out the window to our swamp, I mean parking lot, having dealt with three days of almost constant rain about a week after Hurricane Irene, which was a few days after the first earthquake in my lifetime in the Albany, NY area that was strong enough to be noticeable, I figure that this autumn is going to be....interesting.

I’m working on a couple of new items that I’ve previously mentioned, and I hope to have my final prototypes ready in time to take with me to the CORPS show in Richmond, which is, interestingly enough, about 38 miles from the epicenter of the quake that we felt all the way up here in upstate New York (which is the part with mountains, cows, wineries, and apple orchards).

If you haven’t been to the Richmond show (Oct. 8 & 9), and you can make the trip, do it! You will see scads of pipes by some of the best known American and foreign makers, a huge variety of tobaccos, and some one of a kind buys.

Enough rambling- what I wanted to chat about is how our perceptions trigger memories, and how that impacts what I do.

The number one sense in terms of causing memories to flood back is smell. I’m sure that you’ve walked into a restaurant or bakery and been hit with an aroma that immediately sends you back to your youth.

I’m also sure that you’ve wondered why a pipe tobacco has a particular fragrance, but the flavor is different. That’s intentional. The blender wants you to remember the aroma of a blend, but wants to do something else with the taste.

I bring this up because of my latest project- Angler’s Dream.

I wanted to come up with an aroma that would elicit that visceral memory that would transport people back to sitting on Grandpa’s knee, but I wanted it to have a natural tobacco flavor with just a hint of added undertones.

Since chocolate is very compatible with Burley and Honey has been used often in tobacco blends, I had a start. I wanted a little more of an old fashioned “zing,” so I turned to cinnamon for that element. I knew that the honey and chocolate would be pleasant and noticeable in the room note, but that the cinnamon would have more impact on the flavor. I wanted some feedback, so I took some to the Columbus show and asked some of the attendees to give it a shot. What I didn’t expect was a full-blown review to wind up on a forum. Here is the page: http://www.smokersforums.co.uk/showthread.php?t=98759.

I love to read a review that shows me that the writer “gets it,” and Benjamin Berkeley nailed my feelings about this new entry.

It’s also said that perception is reality. That’s kind of a truism in my opinion. Recently, someone who tested that same new blend said that they tasted maple in it. That’s not reality, but it’s real in the mind of the person who said it. So maybe it’s better to say that perception is reality in the mind of the individual.

My next project will be to work on a couple of new Virginia blends, but without a specific target in mind, so my memories will have little to do with it. I just hope my perceptions are good.