Room to Breathe (Fribourg & Treyer Vintage Flake in an Antique Brigham Partially-Rusticated 347)

A specially aged Virginia cut plug. A natural, mid-brown slightly fermented Virginia. This Navy Cut gives a full smoke experience for all natural Virginia flake lovers

Sounds delicious!

That’s what has to say about Fribourg & Treyer Vintage Flake.


The back of the tin simply states;

Cold-pressed gold and brown Virginias with full-bodied tangy

And tells us it is made in Germany, which probably explains why the English seems broken.

But regardless, I am on the first leg of my wife’s new book tour, and we have spent two days in the company of her very good friend, a beautiful lady who I like very much.  On the other hand, approaching a week in, space to yourself is at a premium.

I remember back in the mid-eighties aboard the Algonquin I shared a Midshipmen’s Berth with three other midshipmen in the middle of their officer candidacy school.  I am distinctly reminded of those days, and finding 10 minutes of peace and quiet in our RV while my wife, and my hubby are entertained by our hosts, I find myself ruminating on my time a board that ship.

Coupled by the fact that we are just short kilometres off of Lesser Slave Lake, so the air, though not briny, is damp, and the prairie winds are rocking the RV like a boat on the water, and I am veritably having flashbacks.

And like those good old days, room to breathe was a precious commodity, cherished for the moments that you have it.  Sometimes it was alone in your Berth, other times you stood out on the watch deck, alone and scanning the night.  Even in those days there was no smoking below decks on a ship, so while I sit here reminiscent of my Midshipmen’s Berth, there would have been hell to pay if I’d been caught smoking my pipe there.

So while I’m reminiscing I open the tin of Fribourg and Treyer vintage flake, and stuff my nose in for a good smell.  As anybody who knows me is aware, my sense of smell is very limited but with my nose in the can the perfume of fermented Virginia tobacco takes me back to a little German tobacconist in West Berlin that I walked into in 1987, and for the life of me I cannot remember the name of it.  None of the tobacconists in Berlin now are the one, at least not those with a net presence, though I doubt the middle-aged man who ran it at the time would be the sort to have a web presence, and I hope he is still in business, or at least has passed his business on to his descendants.

It’s interesting, and perhaps psychosomatic that it would remind me of that tobacco shop as there is nothing else about the tobacco that is inherently German, except the name.

I have, however, always admired the Germans for their quality workmanship in any craft that they put their mind to.  Every German craftsmen that I have ever run into, from bakers, to butchers, to tobacconists, to brewers have always put their heart into their work, and provided you with the best product they could produce.

So then I decide what pipe to use, and while looking through my collection (of course I brought it with me) I am prompted by a memory of a few days ago when I arrived in Edmonton on Saturday.

Struggling for material to fill the slots on my magazine, I willfully manifested content.  First there was my celebrity treatment at Burlington Tobacconist on Whyte, which led me to the review.  Then there was acquiring a special blend of tobacco only available at Burlington, and when I went to my friend’s place where we were staying, the third part of my manifestation occurred.

I arrived to find my friend Bythor in good spirits, though I feared he would not be as he had suffered a medical amputation of his right leg below the knee between the time I last saw him and now.  He takes me aside to his den and shows me his collection of antique Brigham pipes, which I of course ogled with envy, before he proceeded to gift them to me with a simple request that I enjoy them, and write about them.  So this Brigham partially rusticated 347 bent Dublin is the sort of pipe that I would have admired when I was in the service, and was made in the early seventies, so it’s even the sort of estate pipe that I might have been smoking, if I had seen it.

So, enough recollecting lets actually talk about the tobacco finally.

I fold and stuff a single flake into the bowl of the Brigham and light it with my BIC.  The tobacco is an easy light, and I am soon smoking merrily.

The little cabin soon fills up with smoke and I am forced open a porthole, though the aroma of the room is mellow and sweet.

I am about halfway through the delicious bowl when my hubby comes in, so much for space, though I’m happy to see him.

I would describe the taste as “pure Virginia goodness”, and the smoke is very satisfying, adequately charged and enjoyable.

We visit for a few minutes before he heads off to bed and I sit to finish the rest of my pipe.  When I finally tap out my pipe, after about an hour’s smoke, the flake has smoked down to a fine ash without dottle.

It is now eight bells of the first watch, and if I were still on the Algonquin I’d be headed out on the deck for my first smoke.  I think I’ll go see what my wife is up to now, thanks for reminiscing with me.

You can get Fribourg & Treyer Vintage Flake at or for about $10.85 USD for a 1.76 ounce can.

Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em!

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