2015: A Year in Review

12/31/15 by Sykes Wilford

Another year has come and gone. While geopolitical woes abound, at least in our little corner, our little world of pipes and pipe tobacco, it has been a good year. The upswell in enthusiasm for all things pipes that we've seen over the past few years continues apace. And all things "pipe," like moustaches over the past few years, seem to be finally broaching the mainstream consciousness in a way they hadn't previously. To whit: while Christmas shopping with my wife in one of those junky gift-y stores that I hate (and of which she is rather fond), we saw assorted novelty pipe stuff merchandized next to novelty beard wax. Moreover, she found me a pair of socks with pipes on them for Christmas. No more do people see me with my pipe and say something like "I didn't know people smoked pipes any longer," or "my grandfather smoked a pipe, but I haven't seen anyone do so in years." A couple of weeks ago, I met a couple of budding pipe smokers at a friend's backyard gathering. This never used to happen. And, suddenly, through no effort of my own, I'm vaguely cool. I'm really not sure what to do with that. Regardless, the world is certainly becoming a better place for us pipe smokers.

From another perspective, it has unquestionably been a good year. We've had opportunities to do new, interesting things at Smokingpipes.com. Early in the year, we did a limited release of 2,000 tins of Samuel Gawith Squadron Leader with Perique, slightly nervous that we might have committed ourselves to a multi-year supply of it, only for it to sell out in less than a day. The Bruyere St. Claude exercise was much the same: we thought they were cool; we just weren't sure anyone else would. They were snapped up as quickly as we could ready them for the website.

We were also able to do some interesting longer-term things. Antoine Grenard of Chacom and I worked more to round out the Ropp brand to include more, different pipes in the Vintage series, plus adding the Bonaparte and the Honoré de Balzac lines. The Ropp brand, an homage to early 20th-century French pipe making and principally using bowls turned during the early and middle years of the 20th century, started as one of those projects we do for love, only to find that others are as excited about these pipes as we are.

In much the same vein, Savinelli worked closely with us on a number of interesting projects, ranging from older lines they still had some of, such as the Capri and 2000, to interesting new things like the "311 KS" Poker, the first shape Savinelli's added to their standard lineup in over a decade, as well as the Giubileo d'Oro and Punto Oro Petites.

On the tobacco front, the re-release of Dunhill's Baby's Bottom ranks as one of the most exciting events of the year, along with the extension of Cornell & Diehl's Cellar Series to include Bourbon Bleu and Old Grove. 2015 saw a lot of great new tobacco releases, though, including McClelland's Red and Black, Greg Pease's The Virginia Cream, and Mac Baren's Pure Virginia, to pick a handful of my favorites of the year.

And while I've enjoyed lots of new pipes and pipe tobacco in 2015, I find myself with companions from 2014 as I write this, smoking G. L. Pease Sixpence in a Savinelli Petite Rustic Apple, rather like this one. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose...

So, thank you for making 2015 another wonderful year for us at Smokingpipes.com. We've been able to continue to do what we love, exploring the world of pipes and pipe tobacco with you. We look forward to continuing to serve your pipe interests in 2016. Thank you, and Happy New Year.