Strategic Cellaring: What Role do OTC's Play in Your Strategy

Discussion in 'Pipe Tobacco' started by RTOdhner, Jul 13, 2012.

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  1. RTOdhner

    RTOdhner Well-Known Member

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    There seems to be a differing of opinion on whether a stockpile of tobacco is a hoard or a cellar. Purists might say that a cellar is only for aging tobaccos that one finds to be exquisite, otherwise it's just a hoard. Others might take a more pragmatic approach and consider any act of laying away pipe tobacco to be cellaring, and that a cellar includes both exquisite blends that they want to age as-well-as a good supply of their favorite blends that they want to be sure they will always have on hand. (I'm in the latter camp).

    With rumors of excessive taxation, the end of internet tobacco sales, and the outright (but I think unlikely) possibility that it will be banned completely, what role does the humble American OTC play in your "cellaring" strategy? Do you give them any thought, or are you stocking up? Do you think that they age at all, or do you think they simply remain static?

    I'd say that probably half of my pipe tobacco consumption is in the form of OTC. Walnut, SWR, Granger, and CH are my four favorites. Middleton Cherry Blend and SWRA both get honorable mentions. I can get them locally for $5 to $6 per pouch, or about $50 per tub. Mail order would shave about $10 of the price (and this factors in S&H). Regardless of whether I buy locally or via the internet, OTC's are going to play a huge role in my "cellar." For some reason, if I buy locally then buying by the pouch comes out cheaper than buying by the tub, but if I buy it by the tub then I don't need to invest in canning jars and I don't have the need to store in a dark place. Thus, paying extra for the tub has certain logistical advantages because I can press any cheap bookcase into service as a "cellar."

    Whether they "age" is not a pirmary concern for me when it comes to OTC's because by all accounts they don't, but they do smooth out some. Their strong point is that they have a great shelf life, and they can remain unopened for fifty years and still be as fresh if you opened one today as it was when it was tubbed in 1962. However, having them readily available is a huge concern for me. These are my workhorse smokes, and preferred morning blends. They are certainly not in the same class as "luxury" smokes, but they still serve an important function and they really are not bad smokes if accepted on their own terms. Thus, it makes perfect sense for me to build a hoard of these - especially SWR and CH, since I really like both and both are easy to find here in Johnson County, TX. Thus, I plan on buying a tub per month and will probably not order any "luxury" blends (which I have a pretty good supply of) for quite some time.

    How about the rest of you here at PSF? Do OTC's play a role in your "cellaring" strategy, and if so how big a role?
     
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  2. Artistik

    Artistik Active Member

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    OTCs make up the majority of my smokes. At my age I don't worry too much about stockpiling a lot of tobacco. I recently purchased a tin of SWR and CH that I probably will not need to open for another month or so. I have plenty already opened to last that long, plus some samples that you and others have sent along. When I do open those tins, I will immediately order replacements. The only other tobacco I like to keep in my rotation are an aro - English crossover (Bear Blend) and an aro, Pipers Pleasure, both blended by Boswell. However, I am not sure that aros hold up well stockpiled for a year or more. Furthermore, if I really wanted an aro, I could simply purchase a pouch of SWRA. Now, that said, I have not ventured much into the Virginias and Lakelands. If I find I couldn't be happy without some of those, I might have to rethink this stockpiling thing. Right now, I am just happy that I don't have to have those so called "luxury" blends to completly enjoy my pipe smoking. SWR and CH do me just fine.
     
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  3. SouthBound

    SouthBound Active Member

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    Don't waste your money on that old soapy crap. If you ever feel compelled to smoke Lakelands, go with Sam Gawith. At least they're mildly palatable. Stay away from the Gawith Hoggarth garbage. It's not worth the time or the money.


    I mean it, Artistik. Stay away!
     
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  4. Pschoppy48

    Pschoppy48 Member

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    I keep all of my tobacco in the cellar. The low humidity and darkness keeps things fresh and I also smoke down there so I have my supplies on hand. I do not really buy tobacco specifically for aging purposes because my tastes may change. Both OTCs and premium blends are bought and kept down there.

    I can agree about stocking up on OTCs especially if you can find them on the cheap. Most people, including myself at one point, consider the OTC blends "inferior" to other tobacco, but tobacco is tobacco. I classify all tobacco the same now based on what I like or don't like. I keep just enough tobacco on hand to keep me smoking for a period of time then just buy more as needed. I really don't hoard.
     
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  5. Artistik

    Artistik Active Member

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    The only Lakeland I have is a Condor Flake sample RTOdhner sent me. I have been under the weather here lately and have only smoked pipe a little and only burleys. My sinuses seem to have cleared up so I am going to try the Condor this weekend I have an unsmoked Dip I will try it in. If I can't tolerate the taste after the sample is gone, I will throw the ghosted Dip away. If I do like it, I'll have a dedicated cob.
     
  6. SouthBound

    SouthBound Active Member

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    I won't sugar coat it. OTCs aren't even in my cellar.

    Now, let me qualify that. When I came over to pipe smoking a little over a year ago, I started with some of the OTCs. Then, I started lurking on this site, reading about all of the wonderful myriad blends available. It didn't require calculus for me to realize that it is cheaper for me to buy a pound McBaren online than a tub of SWR ($32.99) at Tobacco World. My first online order was a pound each of 4 blends I'd never actually tried before; Solent, Golden Extra, Scottish Mixture, and PS EOS. To my taste, they beat the pants off of any OTC I had tried. That sealed the fate of OTCs in my cellar.

    Fastforward to the present. I'm completely hooked on those soapy perfumed florals that Gawith Hoggarth & Co produce. 90% of the tobacco that gets stuffed into Mason jars around my house will originate from that little plot of English soil called the Lake District. Another nail in the OTC coffin.
     
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  7. SouthBound

    SouthBound Active Member

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    Don't throw the Dip away. We can work out a trade of some kind.
     
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  8. Johnny Dingo

    Johnny Dingo Writer of wrongs

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    I keep a lot of CH in my stash. It's the only consistantly tasty OTC I've yet tried.

    I hoard; whenever I get a little extra cabbage it goes to the hoard. I'm not yet at the point where I'm intentionally aging tobacco for some epicurian purpose. I will continue to buy a lot of tobacco until such a time as it is no longer affordable. Hopefully by then I'll have enough to last me.
     
  9. PatDreadful

    PatDreadful Member

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    I used to buy OTC blends because I saw them as cheaper options so I would indeed “hoard” them, buying tubs at a time. When I finally discovered that I could pay a very similar price for bulk blends I moved away from OTC blends. Now, bulk blends make up my everyday smokes. In order to make this cost effective, I have to buy a pound at a time so I still hoard/cellar these but it is more out of necessity than for aging purposes.

    Now with the impending taxation, I am going to really try and focus on four or five blends and try to stock up on them exclusively. I guess this would be considering hoarding but I’m fine with it since I have quite a few tins set aside with aging in mind.

    With all of that in mind, I say pick a few blends that you like (whether OTC or not) and stock up!
     
  10. RTOdhner

    RTOdhner Well-Known Member

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    Two issues that I constantly wrestle with. I love OTC's like CH, SWR, and Granger. They're easily obtainable and relitively cheap. I buy far more tobacco than I can smoke, and one of the reasons I'm building a "cellar" is as a hedge against future price increases. I'm cellaring some of the OTC's because I like them and smoke a lot of them, but also because I think it would be a shame if they ever disappeared. They're icons, and legions of wonderful childhood memories revolve around some of those old school OTC's.

    However, as SouthBound has pointed out, they have gone up in price and it's reached a point where a pipe smoker can buy a 16 ounce pound of MacB Bulk [or C&D bulk] for less than a 12 or 14 ounce tub of the old school OTC's, and I really think that the OTC's are an inferior product. Good, but not as good, and they cost more.

    The only "cellaring" advantage for the OTC's is the logistics involved, because it's easier to store a tub or canning jar of OTC because they're primarily burley based, and ambient light won't really harm them. Many MacB OTC blends have higher VA contents, not to mention higher qulaity tobaccos in general, so I would want to keep them in a dark area - and I am just about out of space in the cabinet. If I shell out another $90 for a dedicated cellaring cabinet, then that's money I don't have for tobacco. However, I do have some extra book cases so I could "cellar" my OTC's there. However, I know of one vendor who offers C&D bulks for about $35 a pound, and for another $2 he will can those bulks. That's $37 a pound, which is still cheaper than the tubs of many OTC's, and again they can be stored in a book case because they are in a can and the light can't harm them.

    So, I guess, OTC bulks play such a prominent role in my Cellar for reasons, primarily, of logistics and nostalgia. They're good enough for me to want to cellar about 10 pounds worth, but I'm not sure how much more.
     
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  11. SouthBound

    SouthBound Active Member

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    Nothing wrong with that. I came over to pipe smoking on a whim, not because someone close to me as a young fellow puffed away on Carter Hall. If I had that personal nostalgia, my attachment to OTCs might be similar to yours, Roy. I'm a clean slate, though.
     
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  12. SmokeyJoe

    SmokeyJoe Active Member

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    None.:cool:


    Who is the vender that will can C&D bulk?
     
  13. RTOdhner

    RTOdhner Well-Known Member

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    Mars Cigars. He has Gentlleman Caller, Virginia Gentleman, Crooner, Haunted Bookshop, Bayou Morning, Cube Cut Burley, Epiphany, Old Joe Krantz, Pirate Kake, and Star of the East. These bulks vary in price from $35 to $45, and he charges another $2 to can the stuff (if you like).
     
  14. SmokeyJoe

    SmokeyJoe Active Member

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    THANKS!
     
  15. cobbsmoker

    cobbsmoker Active Member

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    Like I have said before, I do not think a tub of Carter Hall will ever be out of my reach financially regardless the price or tax laid upon it and I wouldn't care if Mac Baren and Peter Stokkebye bulk tobaccos were half the price of my Middleton blends, I will always buy what I like first and foremost, if that means I have only two tubs of a tobacco I really enjoy instead of 3 pounds of something I don't really like but bought because it was cheaper, so be it! I don't sweat the small stuff, OTC tobaccos will always be available no matter where you go and I have no problem adapting to a new blend if something I like is not available locally, if not, I'll roll me a smoke and be done with it.
     
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