This Year’s Pipes

PUM2015

This year’s pipes from the forum is out!

As always I have purchased one of each!

I have been collecting them since 2010.

Once again, they have been hand-crafted by Poul Winslow.

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Black, Not Colored

SilkieChickenI’m all for political correctness, but when it becomes almost criminal to wish an American “Merry Christmas” because he might not be a Christian, and can become offended, or when Christmas trees are banned at some premises because they may upset adherents of other religions, then this political correctness shit, in my opinion, has gone too far.

Things have become so ridiculous, all in the name of political correctness. Where is common sense? Common sense, apparently, isn’t that common.

Last week, Sherlock star, Benedict Cumberbatch, was pilloried for referring to black actors as “colored.”

Let’s first get the context right. In a TV interview in the US, his words leading up to his usage of the word “colored” were all about praise for fellow Brits David Oyelowo and Chiwetel Ejiofor, both black.

Cumberbatch said “I think as far as colored actors go it gets really difficult in the UK, and a lot of my friends have had more opportunities here (in the US) than in the UK and that’s something that needs to change.”

He didn’t use the word “colored” in a derogatory manner.

His comments were quickly criticized online by people who had nothing better to do. Instead of just sticking to scratching their scrotums in silence, they accused him of using an “outdated term that has the potential to cause offense due to the connotations associated with the term and its historical usage.”

This, despite not a pip squeak from the organization established to fend for the rights of black people, and which to this day, continues to call itself the NAACP, acronym for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. (It once called itself The National Negro Committee.)

The actor, who is a nominee for actor in a leading role at the Oscars (and the voting for that is still taking place) was obviously afraid that his supposed gaff will affect his chances of winning so he immediately tried to save his ass by apologizing profusely. Damage-control mode, geddit?

He issued a statement saying “I can only hope this incident will highlight the need for correct usage of terminology that is accurate and inoffensive.

“The most shaming aspect of this for me is that I was talking about racial inequality in the performing arts in the UK and the need for rapid improvements in our industry when I used the term.

“I feel the complete fool I am and while I am sorry to have offended people and to learn from my mistakes in such a public manner, please be assured I have.

“I apologize again to anyone who I offended for this thoughtless use of inappropriate language about an issue which affects friends of mine and which I care about deeply.”

Trust me, soon enough, the words “black” or “African American” will also be considered politically incorrect.

What are we to do?

Things change so fast.

Start behaving like a chicken, like the cowering Bendydick Thundersnatch, er, I mean, Benedict Cumberbatch?

Talking about chickens, I love black chicken soup. How do I purchase a black chicken in a politically correct manner, if in future even the term “black” when referring to the pigmentation of living things are no longer deemed acceptable?

My question is totally irrelevant right?

Yup – as irrelevant as critics of Cumberbatch and as irrelevant as Cumberbatch’s own stupid statement.

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Our Own Single Malt

PUMWhisky

The German pipe smoking forum I belong to has commissioned Braeval to bottle 30 bottles of its 18-year-old single malt as our official tipple.

This is a Speyside whisky that stands out for its complex frutiness paired with sweet oak aromas. Goes extremely well with pipe tobacco, which is the reason why we chose it.

Braeval is one of the youngest distilleries in Scotland, built in 1973 primarily for the purpose of producing blends for Chivas.

The front label was printed using the Japanese woodcut method on special Japanese paper. It is designed for easy detachment in case one wants to frame it for posterity:

Woodcut

Each label was painstakingly printed by hand:

Printed

The front and back labels:

Label

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Number One Whisky-Drinking Country in the World

BigPeat

Back when I was Mr Ignoramus quaffing cheap hooch, when I heard someone using the term “triple malt whisky” I scoffed, thinking it was a lame attempt at oneupmanship – the “you drive a BMW 5 Series, but I’m being chauffeur-driven in a BMW 7 Series” kind.

But I’ve since learned. (When you stop learning you stop growing right?) There are single malts mixed together in a blend and some marketing people have termed it “triple malt” – a wrong choice of words, if you want to be technical, because the moment anything is blended together, it is just blended, even if it’s a blend of three single malts. But for those hung up on definitions, blended malts combine the single malts from two or more distilleries and occupy the ground between single malts and blended Scotch whisky. (Chivas Regal, for example is a blended Scotch whisky. Ballantine’s is another blended Scotch whisky.) The term “blended malts” was only standardized in 2009 and further bewildered – some might even say, bamboozled – Scotch enthusiasts because these concoctions were also often confusingly labeled as “Vatted” or “Pure Malts.”

In my last post I wrote about Monkey Shoulder, but there are other triple malts around.

One I like is John Walker & Sons Odyssey, blended by Johnnie Walker’s Master Blender, comprising a blend of three single malts.

I’m sure the Master Blender, Jim Beveridge – with more than 8 million barrels of whiskies aging in numerous warehouses throughout Scotland – would have quite a headache trying to decide just which three of these casks to choose from to craft a superpremium, super-refined vatting. But he managed to pull it off, and the result is a taste sensation quite out of this world, that is, if you are fortunate enough to be able to get hold of a bottle.

The other triple malt worth trying is Douglas Laing’s Big Peat. From the distillery’s literature, Big Peat is a feisty Islay character who has a sweet side too – he carries a big peaty (“phenolic”), beachy, oceanic, rather ashy selection of malts only from the island of Islay…you will detect a massive amplification of sea-faring qualities on the nose, palate, and finish…

There’s more marketing BS:

  • Nose:  Opens fresh, salty and clean – developing to malted barley dried over peat – with a damp earthy character
  • Palate: Ashes, sweet tar, beaches and smoking chimneys
  • Finish: Long and lingering, it replicates the palate with salty, tangy liquorice, smoke, bonfire ashes – being foremost: PHENOLIC

Of course one must be naïve to think that there’s a single (super?) human being out there with the ability to discern all those supposed nuances in a dram of booze! But part of the fun of drinking is to discover for yourself what it is that your palate can actually detect!

And from yet another distillery, William Wemyss, comes the following blended malts: The Hive, The Spice King and thirdly, the Peat Chimney – all worth a try.

Americans always talk (and very loudly) as if they know everything but – according to the latest statistics (see chart below) – they drink less than half a bottle of Scotch per person per year; this is pale in comparison to Singapore, we drink nearly 13 bottles per person annually.

Trust me, we Singaporeans know what we are talking about. Many of my friends consume at least a bottle of Scotch a week. And I’m not talking about cheap shit. I’m talking about the real good stuff – the real rare superpremiums!

The increase in sophistication in Singaporean aficionados is driving more demand; in fact, some brands, like the Bruichladdich, is made available exclusively in Singapore first, then in Tokyo, Taipei, Shanghai and Hong Kong and eventually to the rest of the world later.

ScotchPerCapital

 

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Monkey Shoulder

MonkeyShoulder

Monkey Shoulder Triple Malt Scotch Whisky is a so-so tasting blend of three Speyside single malts – Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Kininvie.

The whisky takes its name from the injury suffered by those manual laborers in the olden days who painstakingly turned malting barley with big wooden spades during the whisky making process. This posture had the tendency to cause their arms to hang down a bit like a monkey’s, so they named the condition “monkey shoulder.”

The concoction is supposed to have a delightful nose of sherry, cinnamon baked pear, butterscotch, barley, strawberry and Bourbon vanilla which are all complemented by tangy, sweet nut, citrus, mint, oak and orange peel flavors.

Reviews, however, are mixed but one thing I have to agree is that the packaging is rather clever indeed.

It looks like King Kong’s about to escape from its cage!

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A Thoughtful Gift

A simple Vietnamese aluminium coffee filter and a package of chon or weasel coffee, the Vietnamese version of Kopi Luwak, from my buddy Nyit.

A simple Vietnamese aluminium coffee filter and a package of chon or weasel coffee, the Vietnamese version of Kopi Luwak, from my buddy Nyit.

Not all who wander are lost (Tolkien) and not all who declare themselves to be simple are necessarily simple.

But I am indeed a simple man. I believe in certain basic fundamentals.

Simply, I believe in friendship (backed with action of course – if you claim to be a friend but can’t even be bothered to wish me a simple “Merry Christmas” or  “Happy New Year” then that act speaks for itself).

I believe in being filial and being respectful and appreciative of one’s parents and elders.

I believe in not bettering ourselves at the expense of others.

I believe that fortune favors the brave.

I believe in picking myself up after a stumble and if necessary I will do it again and again.

I believe in free speech but I also believe that freedom of expression doesn’t mean open season on anyone and everyone.

I certainly don’t want on my hands, the blood of those who have died because they were gunned down for drawing blasphemous cartoons intended to offend religious sensibilities.

So for a simple man like me, a recent gift of coffee from Phu Quoc, presented by my buddy Nyit, has touched my heart in more ways than one.

In addition, it speaks volumes about Nyit’s character.

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At Long Last, a Longchamp!

Longchamp

Iggy beat me to it, purchasing this off eBay, but was kind enough to let me have it at the price he paid.

This is an unsmoked estate pipe, a much-coveted large Longchamp Leather Billiard made in France in 1959. (Much-coveted because my first Longchamp was left behind at another place at another time…long story.) Anyway, an estate Longchamp Leather of this quality is rare indeed. (Thanks, Landrick for the find.) It’s in mint condition, with no oxidation of the shiny mouthpiece at all.

The pipe is covered in fine calfskin and made from Algerian briar.

This pipe, I like very much.

This Iggy, I like much much too.

Thanks, Landrick and Iggy!

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When You Need a Little Laughter

Ban this!

Ban this!

This is the time of the year when people send out year-end letters to friends to update them of their year’s activities. This rather old-fashioned and tiresome habit has long lost its luster – it’s as painful as sitting through a slide show of some egomaniac’s vacation pictures. It’s scary that some people even assume that others want to know how each month in their 2014 went. (Yup, some of these letters are broken down into months, gosh!) I was disappointed that a supposedly closed friend deliberately left me out of her recipient list but am relieved to be spared the probably cringeworthy details. It was an embarrassing moment for her when she realized that I now know that I wasn’t one of those deserving enough to receive her update, despite us being friends for 20 over years. The moment came when a third person whom she has only just met this year – and who received her update – asked in front of my friend if I too had receive my friend’s update. It was the perfect Korean soap opera moment. I could almost hear the accompanying music!

Anyway I find letters to the press more fun to read. Most, unlike many of those vainglorious annual updates provide endless hours of amusement.

On Wednesday a 20-year-old national serviceman wrote in to say how tough it is to be in basic military training; while lamenting about the hardship he faces, he pleads for people to give up their seats in public transport for NS men like him so that they can get some rest before another tiring week.

Hello, Mr Strawberry, earlier generations of NS men were trained by the Israelis and they had had to roll naked on the parade ground among other practices, so please don’t talk to me about hardship ok. Man up will you? Sissies are losers!

Another writer felt there have been too many rape scenes on local dramas.

She claims this is how TV stations “sensationalize TV shows without contributing anything meaningful to society.”

She is of the opinion that such shows demean and objectifies women by having them raped on screen.

Dear Madam Loke, (that’s the self-righteous prude’s name), if I’m not wrong, the drama seeks to reflect events of the olden, lawless days in a historically-correct manner and some women were indeed raped then. I don’t think rape scenes dominate – for that one has to turn to Bollywood. Moreover, the rape scenes on local TV weren’t depicted like porn. But should the producers whitewash away those criminal acts anyway? Or are you suggesting that women should not be “raped on screen” – your very own words – but behind some other screens so you can carry on your life merrily thinking that such atrocities don’t happen in order that you can stay forever in a state of denial?

In yet another newspaper, yet another half-wit moron has lobbied to make Singapore a smoke-free zone. Yet again.

Sure I support that.

From now on, no more stir-frying of food, ban satays, (see picture above), imprison people who grill their steaks, shut down all bak kwa stores and shoot all those who burn incense in temples. Plus no more barbecues; cars should be banned, only bicycles allowed. How about that? And no farting, burping and belching too.

You want smoke-free right?

Frigging idiots.

The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.

The number of stupid people in our midst simply staggers the imagination!

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Put the Past Behind, Forge Ahead to Create a Desired Future

KeepCalm

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Three Precious Gifts

For Christmas this year I was inundated with gifts from family and friends.

Among them are three tobacco pipes.

The top left one is a Poul Winslow flame grain pipe; simply lovely.

The little sandblasted pipe next to it is a vintage ROPP from France and its’ uniqueness is that the entire mouthpiece – and it’s a pretty long one – is made of horn.

Finally my favorite of the lot, a gift from my youngest son – a clay pipe.

It is sometimes referred to as The Colonel Tavern Pipe and is made by Williamsburg Pottery, Lightfoot, Virginia based on the style used in England and the American colonies in the 18th century when clay pipes would be made available for free at taverns where patrons would enjoy a smoke with their tankard of ale.

The pipe is long so as to allow for the bit to be snapped off for the next smoker to use.

Cool, eh?

With the shisha ban, perhaps pubs should introduce the clay pipes here.

Hey, start shitting bricks will you, the relevant authorities!

YuletideGifts

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