I am in the midst of final exam week, and I'm almost finished! Surely this means more time for painting and smoking.

As we speak, I am smoking a pipe of Smoker's Haven's famous Krumble Kake. This is a good flake-style English blend, one of Smoker's Haven's fantastic custom blends by J.F. Germain and Son.

The packaging is very simple and to the point, being a rectangular tin in a brass color with a very plain orange label marked: "Krumble Kake" and "Distinctively Different!" It is distinctive, but not terribly different from other English blends. However, one distinguishing factor is the tin aroma, which is one of gingerbread and spices. From the moment the seal is broken on the tin, it is plainly apparent how this tobacco got its name.

Two flakes of this tobacco-which are small and thick-folded over and held together, perfectly fill my Amadeus Oom Paul. This tobacco lights very easily, given how finely cut it is. In fact, in the days when I used to rub the flakes up, I would often end up with a handful of dust which, when smoked, would be drawn into my mouth. This stuff only smells like spice cake.

For those in the dark, English blends generally contain a mixture of Virginia tobacco and healthy percentages of what are termed "spice tobaccos", such as Latakia and Orientals. These are what give English blends their robust smokiness.

Krumble Kake is no exception to this rule. The Virginias do not play a dominant role here, instead giving way to the Orientals, giving this tobacco a spicy, almost Balkan-style flavor. The Virginias are present, though, and they lend a sweetness to the smoke that just shows up at the right times, particularly after the smoke is exhaled and the first breath is taken; then one finds a cool, rich, sweetness that is a perfect meld of all the flavors presented here.

Krumble Kake smokes down to a nice salt-and-pepper ash most of the way, and doesn't gurgle or get very wet. It is definitely a mature tobacco, and one which I had to grow into, but now that I have refined my technique and palette just a bit(and I'm still learning) it is a joy to smoke this stuff, as it is not too full-bodied, and has just the right amount of nicotine to hang on to one's senses.

Every time I light up a pipefull of this tobacco, I am reminded of Christmas trips to Columbus with my wife, and smoking between classes in Athens. The only thing I don't like about this tobacco is the price; at $10.50US for two ounces it is too expensive for me to enjoy as often as I would like. But, part of the joy of a fine tobacco is figuring out just when the time is right to pop the tin.


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