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hoosierpipeguy

Preferred Member
Jan 28, 2018
2,025
157
Seems like the majority of the bowls I smoke are rather mediocre for the first 1/3 of the bowl. Bowl type or shape/size doesn't seem to matter much. Seems to be worse on ribbon than flake but not much.
So I'm guessing it is how I'm packing my pipe. Could be the light but I doubt it. I usually dry my tobacco before smoking, I probably error on more dry than less. I let the first load be fairly loose, second load more pressure, last load I push down fairly firm. Again, if I'm guessing, I may not be putting enough pressure on the second and third load and am relying on tamping after the light to get it right. But rather than fighting this until I figure it out on my own through trial and error, thought I'd ask here. Thanks.

 

hoosierpipeguy

Preferred Member
Jan 28, 2018
2,025
157
Mediocre means the first third isn't anywhere near as enjoyable as the last 2/3. Tends to burn hot and a bit harsh, a number of relight and tamps. I smoke a large variety of tobacco. 5100, McCranies red ribbon, esoterica dunbar, Dunhill elizabethan, Seattle Pipe Club Mississippi River, escudo Navy Deluxe, Stokkybye Bullseye Flake, 40th anniversary, frog Morton's to name a few.

 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
18,113
459
I don't think your packing is having anything to do with the first part being mediocre. Virginias especially will stove to a sweeter stronger flavor as you smoke it, like a cigar cooks and the heat moves down the stick, the same sort of thing is happening with a Virginia. All of those you listed are very mild flavored tobacco. Like choosing the mildest cigar in the humidor. So, the "mediocre" part is just going to have to be the driveway for getting to the good part.

Fortunately for me, I love the driveway mediocre. To me, it's the best part.
You might think about selecting a stronger flavored tobacco, that might meet your tastes. Latakia, dark fire, or big and burley blends might just fit your taste expectations. If you came from cigars, you may enjoy these better.
Or, just suck it up and endure the driveway to the good parts for you.

 

hoosierpipeguy

Preferred Member
Jan 28, 2018
2,025
157
Cosmic, unfortunately, you are probably dead on. I was hoping it was just some technique I could easily adjust. I come from cigar smoking and that describes my experience exactly. I smoke cigars down to where the ash was nearly burning my lips.
I've been trying different burleys and mostly, they've sucked (to me at least). I do like Orlik strong dark Kentucky. I recently tried Solani Silver and Mac Baren HH Old Dark fired. Liked them both. Tried the MB last night and it fits what you said. Lots of flavor from the first light. So it sounds like I need to expand my rating of burleys. I have to admit, I strongly dislike latakia forward blends. I have an open tin of SG Squadron Leader I've tried to like because it is rated highly. I emptied the last bowl half way through and put the tin aside to give to someone who professes to like it.
Thanks for the expert diagnosis.

 

crashthegrey

Preferred Member
Dec 18, 2015
2,810
5
I usually agree with Cosmic, but I'm hesitant to completely agree on this one. If the beginning of the bowl is in fact hot and harsh, and requires tamping and relights, I still lean towards a loosely packed top of the bowl being at least a part of the issue. After your charring light, give a firm push down. Not aggressive, but firm. See if that helps with the first part of the bowl.

 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
18,113
459
Try stuff. I occasionally will over tamp just pull a different effect from the flavors. But, I didn't read that he was getting a loose pack heat. I was reading that the flavors were just mediocre to him.
Virginias aren't for everyone. So, all I am saying is that if you aren't getting much flavor from them now... put them away and try some new stuff. Tastes will change, and maybe next year you will have developed a palate that agrees with them.

 

crashthegrey

Preferred Member
Dec 18, 2015
2,810
5
I have a distinct feeling that it's a little of column A and a little of column B. Try tamping and branch out tobaccos. Sounds like a good plan.

 

cigrmaster

Preferred Member
May 26, 2012
13,668
679
United States
Mark, after you are done packing your pipe, check the draw. You want there to be some resistance. You don't want it to be like sucking air. Also too dry means loss of flavor so you need a little humidity in the blends. Packing too loosely is going to give a hot, flavorless smoke.

 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
18,113
459
Actually the humidity is subjective. The really, really old guys all like a little humidity, and the strapping real men like it bone dry. :puffy:

 

deathmetal

Preferred Member
Jul 21, 2015
7,723
1
Mediocre means the first third isn't anywhere near as enjoyable as the last 2/3.
Your Virginias are caramelizing. Give them some time. Generally, the early part of a bowl of Virginias is not as impressive as the latter, with the reverse for Burleys.

 

hoosierpipeguy

Preferred Member
Jan 28, 2018
2,025
157
I will try tamping a bit firmer. You're probably right about it being a bit of a and b. And I'll try Harris suggestion as well, who knows, even a broken clock is right twice a day. :lol: I agree with cosmic on the strapping big men as well. LOL

 

hoosierpipeguy

Preferred Member
Jan 28, 2018
2,025
157
I am smoking a bowl of Mississippi River. I packed it a bit tighter and the first tamp was firmer. It wasn't great immediately but only took about an 1/8 of the bowl to kick in to a really good level. It continues to get even better. This is quickly developing into one of my regular go to tobaccos. I ordered a couple of pound for aging and a couple of pound of the vintage version as well. To me, at least, I get a lot of Virginia red flavors but the supporting cast of latakia, Perique and oriental add a nice amount of complexity.
So everyone was right ... Even Harris. Thanks for the help guys!

 

chasingembers

Preferred Member
Nov 12, 2014
15,925
737
I can't agree with the resistance issue in the draw, as I smoke my pipes with the same airflow they have when empty, and have a cool, dry, flavorful smoke. I will agree that Virginias are extremely mild, and take time to develop a palate for. Definitely practice on strong burleys and Try some Virginia/Oriental blends. GLP'S Cairo may be just the ticket to lead you down the path to Virginia enjoyment.

 

cigrmaster

Preferred Member
May 26, 2012
13,668
679
United States
Mark, glad it is working better for you. I have always packed my bowls with resistance and I get flavors from the get go. Everyone has their own tricks of the trade and experimenting different ways will help you find what works for you. There is no set right way to do things but as you know Mark, I am always right.

 

hoosierpipeguy

Preferred Member
Jan 28, 2018
2,025
157
I'm on the third bowl since I made some changes. I'm pushing the second and final fills firmer while checking the draw. I push until I get some resistance as Harris suggested. I tamp firmer after the charring and initial light. This has resulted in significant improvements. Hard to fathom how such minor adjustments yields such a difference.
I had opened a tin of Seattle Pipe Plum Pudding a few weeks back and after a couple of bowls, decided I didn't care for it. Considering Cosmic's comments, I decided to try it again as this doesn't seem to be a Virginia forward tobacco. I also used the new packing and tamping techniques. Wow, what a difference! As cosmic suggested, there was more flavor early on. Still got a bit better as I smoked the bowl. Not totally surprising, this is still a relatively mild blend. Unlike previously, I really like this blend. I'll be ordering more.
So everyone was partially correct and all 3 suggestions have led to a significant improvement in my pipe smoking experience. Thank you all very much!
My next bowl will be Mac Baren HH Old Dark Fired. I'm very curious to see the difference with this tobacco as it is clearly more robust than these other blends I smoked today.