Not every $60 Stanwell is average. Not every Castello is a champ. Most of the Castellos I have owned smoked superbly. But there have been some dogs. There's only so much the carver can do in terms of examining the briar for quality and smoking qualities. The better question would be, if you had 25 $60 Stanwells and 25 Castellos and rated the top 25 out of the 50 of them combined, what would it look like? I'd be willing to bet 20 or more would be named Castello.
I recently purchased 2 pipes, a new Stanwell made in Italy and an estate Castello Trademark. First bowl in the Stanwell, Lane Ltd. RR, boring old burly. First bowl in Castello, quartered chunks of PS Luxury Bullseye Flake. The smoke in the Castello was empty, hollow, thin. The smoke in the Stanwell is delightful, cool, flavorful. Could it be that the virgin bowl is untainted and I just need to run a few more bowls through the presmoked C?
What are the specs on said pipes?
I know from experience that some wider chambered bowls do poorly with certain blends compared to their smaller counterparts. To me, they can taste airy and sort of blah. Lots of factors here, give us the details!
It would be a comparison if the same tobacco had been smoked in both pipes. PS LBF is a favorite of mine, but only after it's had 4 or more years of aging. Fresh it tastes like cardboard. Also there's the matter of prep. PS LBF does better when it's smoked quite dry.
Occasionally you find an inexpensive pipe that smokes really well, but don't make a generalization out of it. Some of the best makers produce duds, rarely, but it happens. Some of the more modestly priced makers produce a really exceptional pipe, above their average. Also, there are a variety of factors that go into the pricing of a pipe.
Try smoking the same blend, repeatedly, in both pipes. That will at least give you a baseline for a comparison.
All of my pipes perform well, and they come from a variety of makers and at a variety of prices. In the end, it's more about technique than pipe.
Sorry to say, but there is no lesson there as to quality of Stanwell v Costello, nor old v new. Way too many variables, and no scientific basis for comparison; way too small a sample.
The lesson might be: Mileage varies! It might be the estate pipe is ghosted. It might be....
As much as I love Stanwell pipes, especially the real ones, what you have here, sir, is a cast iron lawn dog. It doesn't bark jump or take a dump. It's an apples and pomello fruit comparison. nail down the controllable variables a bit more and take another run at it.
I mean, of course the answer could just be that you got a great stanwell and the Castello is mediocre for some reason. Or that you find it so where someone else might find it transcendental.
One thing strikes me - if the Castello was retort cleaned... the pipes I have had that were retorted were indeed hollow or thin, just kind of devoid of goodness. Get some cake in there and report back.
I didn't realize you made that judgment after one bowl in each. That's kind of like flipping a coin and if it comes up heads deciding heads will always be the result when flipping a coin. If it wasn't done already, ream the cake out of the Castello real good, clean it up and smoke 10 to 20 bowls of the same blend in each. Then you at least have a reasonable comparison.
It could be that the reason the Castello was on the estate market was because it is a dud.
I think sasquatch is onto something with the suggestion that a retort (or an aggressive alcohol cleaning) could leach out any seasoning that a used pipe may have acquired.
I'm off estates for the time being. I enjoy working on stuff but tired of inheriting other people's problems. It's always a gamble with estates, sometimes you win big and sometimes you go home with an empty wallet. More often the latter I think..
I picked up a Stanwell Relief 234 shape of ebay as an estate for cheap. It arrived in the sock and inspection revealed that it had clearly never been smoked. Score! I've been very happy with the quality of this pipe. In fact it is the one in use on my avatar photo. Not a big sample size but I can say that this Italian made (designed in Denmark) Stanwell is a favorite and smoked very well from the first bowl.