Well winter is with us once again, but today it’s sunny and not real cold… yet! It was a very busy summer for both of us which a good thing but with the colder weather things seem to be calming down. We got lucky recently and had a few slower days and thought what better way to relax than to do a review. So without further ado, why don’t we dive right into this intriguing blend that is called FIRE STORM made by master blender Russ Ouellette. He is one hell of an accomplished master blender in a very small league with very few other master blenders out there. He has earned that title!
Pipes used: Eric Burk freehand handmade briar, Irish briar handmade briar, Meerschaum block straight.
Tobacco: Dark fired Kentucky, Perique, Virginia.
Pack methods: 3-Tier, Franks method.
Strength: Medium full
Flavor: Fire Storm is very complex with a nice progression throughout the bowl that’s well-balanced.
Taste: This blend has a nice smooth warm spiciness as well as a creamy, smoky and nuttiness in the background that also has a natural sweetness you tend to get from a well aged Virginia. It is not at all the flavor you get that’s fake and chemically tasting.
Tin note: Very nicely balanced and complex with some spice, nuttiness and a light hint of smoke, rich and caramel/brown butter notes.
Room notes: I am enjoying a wonderful light warm spices with some nuances of smoke unlike you get from a Latakia forward blend. The smoke nuances are subtler and more in the background like a great bass player in a band creating that foundation. It also has a nice rich and natural sweetness that’s never over powering or very forward and leaves pleasant creamy/butter/nutty aromas. This blend is very complex in aromas as no one flavor over takes another.
Notes: Now we get into the nitty-gritty. You all have been waiting to hear about how the hell this stuff really tastes and smokes so I’ll stop teasing you. Without further ado, here we go, hang tight and keep your arms and feet inside the ride at all times and above all enjoy your adventure.
At first opening of the tin, Fire Storm had an aroma that had me intrigued with it’s well balanced and complexity of the aromas. The tobacco has just the right moisture in it and is ready to pack out of the tin. It comes in a nice ribbon cut and well mixed. You don’t get more ready to use than this blend. I took my time doing this review and enjoyed it a few times. Therefore, I used two different pack methods, the 3-tier and Franks method. Out of the two methods I found that Franks method worked better for me on this blend, but try what works best for you and your pipe. After the char light it stayed lit but I did tamp it a few times to keep it lit throughout the smoke.
As for the actual smoking of this blend, it goes as follows. During the first third of the bowl I noticed a nice light smokiness with nuances of warm sweet spice in the foreground and a pleasant light natural sweetness from the Virginia in the background. This reminds me of a caramel nuttiness that highlights a wonderful creamy, buttery influence to the flavor and taste.
Continuing on into the middle third of the bowl I’m really enjoying how this blend is progressing in its flavor. Many other blends I’ve had tried don’t seem to have this progression; they seem more one dimension or one noted so the progression and building of flavor is a wonderful addition. Most notable is how the spice notes change-up a bit as it grows more forward but it never dominates your palate. Meanwhile, the other flavors keep it in harmony by having more body and richness. I also notice a bit more creaminess during this part of the progression.
In the last third of the bowl I am really impressed how this blend continues in its final progression. In each stage I’m finding the flavors and strength never over power another’s individual tastes and flavors, a very harmonious blend indeed! In this last third I’m detecting more of the well-aged sweetness from the Virginia in the foreground. I feel it gives it great body and depth and richness that’s needed in a blend like this to help keep it complex.
After enjoying this tin of awesomeness in different pipes I’m a very happy piper with Fire Storm created by Russ Ouellette as it smokes very cool with no harshness or acrid taste left behind or during the smoke, no tongue bite, stayed lit. Fire Storm releases nice pillows of smoke with a great aroma that doesn’t overwhelm your senses. What I’m really impressed with is how this blend has a fantastic way it progresses during the smoke, just like a great well tuned band where you just cant help but dance or sing right along with them even if you’re a shower singer. Being impressed isn’t an easy feat for me, not that I haven’t had some very good blends before, but this one for me is spot on for my enjoyment and relaxation. It will be on my top 10 blends for sure and feel it can be a great blend for all types of pipe smokers with all different strength levels being as it has many wonderful flavors that doesn’t go up in strength and stays cool while you enjoy each stage of it. Highly recommended!!!!!!
Rate: 5 out of 5
Pipes used came from 2 great pipe makers , all handmade pipes that smoke wonderful, recommend them both!
Eric Berk: can be found on Face book
Irish Briar and here is his link to check out: http://www.irishbriar.com/
The Good Wife’s Review: With a name like Fire Storm I expected to be blasted with smoke, barbecue, and heavy odors. Needless to say I was very pleasantly surprised. From the perspective of someone who doesn’t smoke a pipe I was blown away. The smoke was subtle and reminded me not of sitting in a barbecue pit or of sitting next to a natural fire in a fireplace. It is an odor somewhere hovering in between those two realms. I find it to be an olfactory and cerebral experience sitting in the aroma. Firestorm has a slightly caramel back note hovering under the not quite campfire, not quite fireplace notes and I am constantly searching for that scent just dancing around my nose and out of reach. This tobacco makes you sit up and think; it teases and tantalizes the senses and makes you stop for a moment to consider. I guess it reminds me of my parents best friends house that had an outdoors fireplace. The irony of that statement is going to that house, as a child was always a learning experience. The adults were teachers and engineers and professionals. They would discuss opera and politics and philosophy amongst any other topics and often I was the only child in the mix. Firestorm is like those discussions, slightly over my young head but teasing and just within reach. I was never able to compete on their level in the debates and discussions but I was always encouraged to ask questions and explain what I thought they were talking about. Firestorm is an intellectual’s wet dream, it is subtle and teasing and yet oddly familiar. It encourages discourse and debate and esoteric learning. For these reasons it makes me smile and say, bring me a Shirley Temple and let me get comfy, the floor show will start and I say hell yes!