Smoked my latest pipe for the second time tonight...a large freehand Ben Wade off eBay. For the second pipe, I loaded the bottom half with Bracken Flake, and the top half with Balkan Flake. Anyone else tried this? It was heavenly...
I've been loading my Gawith Flakes (Bracken, Balkan) and the S.G. Kendal Brown #4 Finest Kendal Twist with more of a fold and twist, and topping them with Plum cake as tinder. It helps me get a quick, even toast and seems to light those "heavier" flakes. I've also done a Navy Flake topped with Balkan Sasieni, also with a good result. No real method to the combos here, just intuition.
I've found this is a great way to smoke blends I'm not fond of.
I fill the top quarter pipe full of some blend like a sour english, and the last 3/4 with a fine Va flake.
By fighting my way through the first small part of the smoke, I find I enjoy the last part through delayed satisfaction.
I always just mix the two or three tobaccos and smoke it as a mix. In the past, several Forums members have mentioned smoking good parfaits and said they did shift in the middle and deliver a separate taste. Don't remember who they were, but maybe they'll speak up. The review of the new blend Firestorm mentioned that it has a distinct shift as the bowl develops, without layering tobacco. Virginia, Perique and dark fired in there, and it develops toward the spicy.
I've had success with diluting Nightcap with 965 and I've played around with the parfiat method with some flakes with so-so results. I will say that I was doing this during the summer months when I was smoking outdoors and smoking more often. In the cold weather I stock to a bowlful of one single blend.
I certainly respect your choice and I am pleased that it was so enjoyable for you! Call me a purist if you must, but I dedicate pipes to specific tobacco blends and/or Mixtures so as not to ghost my pipes or cause a confusing outcome of my choice smoke. On the other hand, I do allow some pipes for similar tobacco blends if not specific dedicated blends. I am careful with this, however. One thing that is helpful is that I have forty pipes and I do allow significant drying time between re-use. That is very helpful if experimenting. I also recommend that a pipe cleaner be used after every smoke. And, I always remove the pipe cleaner to allow the pipe to air dry. I have never been disappointed with this process. Thank you for your post. It is encouraging. Experiment and enjoy the discovery that awaits you!