Matchmaking the right pipe to your favorite tobacco

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

Log in

Search on Site

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

Recent Posts

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

eddiedds

New member
Sep 2, 2019
43
16
I'm new. But I already noticed my favorite tobacco tastes different from day to day, pipe to pipe. And I hate that. So, if you be so kind, share with us what you have discovered. Also, what drink is best paired with that tobacco? Here's what I found out:
Unfortunately not sure. But
OGS=Luca Vanetti bent billiard/semi sweet iced tea,
(OGS absolutely failed in a Dr. Grabow Freehand pipe/ with hot coffee)
 

elessar

Member
Apr 24, 2019
181
45
I think it would be difficult to give a definitive answer to your question. Everyone interprets flavor differently and is looking for different flavors. Even the flavors I look for change day to day. You will have to find what works for you at a given time. For me, English blends typically hit the spot in a wide and perhaps shallow bowl. Virginia blends seem to be the opposite. Sometimes i drink beer, tea, who knows. If a blend seems to loose it's luster over time I give the pipe a thorough cleaning. Sometimes that works for me as well. At least it allows the pipe to deliver those flavors I found appealing the first time I smoked a certain blend in it. Finding what works for you is half the fun and frustration of the journey towards pipe nirvana (which I don't claim to have achieved).
 
Reactions: judcole and madox07

hoosierpipeguy

Preferred Member
Jan 28, 2018
2,026
159
You will likely receive a large variety of answers. First, i think it is best to dedicate a pipe to a specific genre of tobacco for best results. I find smaller diameter bowls (.75") work best with flake tobacco. Larger diameter bowls seem to favor more complex blends. That all is personal preference though

I think the drink you like is the right one to smoke with your tobacco, in general. Water if probably the best or a lightly flavored drink as it won't mask or overwhelm the flavor of the tobacco. In my own experience, I find citrus flavored drinks do not pair well with any tobacco. Perhaps it might be okay with a heavy latakia blend. I mostly drink brewed teas with my tobacco aside from a home brewed cup of coffee first thing each day.
 

madox07

Preferred Member
Dec 12, 2016
1,422
49
There is no such thing "what is best".. Somebody may tell you what works for them, and after you try it you would argue that they were wrong. The beauty of pipe smoking is that there are no actual rules, do what you feel like, experiment, and most importantly stick to what YOU like and what works best for YOU. Sure, we could offer some tips and tricks, share our experience with you, but at the end of the day what is best means what works for you and you alone - and there is only one way to find that out - give it a try.

That being said, I personally prefer flake in a large bowl, for example a no 4 pot, or a 320 shape style by Savinelli. I dedicate a pipe for aromatics, one for virginias, one for virginia burley and another for va/per. I also keep a few pipes dedicated to English or Balkans, and I have one stinky pipe in which I love my laklands. I drink whatever suits me on the spot, but I do like coffee or tea most, mineral water works sometimes with a bit of syrup. I rarely combine a pipe with alcohol, mostly if I have wine left after a hearty dinner I do accompany it with a pipe, perhaps even pour another after I finish it. This is what I like, and I like it this way today, no guarantees my tastes won't change down the road. The guys will share what they like, as the same applies to everybody, this you need to experiment and see what you like.
 
Reactions: eddiedds

chasingembers

Preferred Member
Nov 12, 2014
15,945
791
Blends taste the same to me in any pipe so whatever tobacco is used to break in a pipe becomes the genre that pipe will be used for. Favorite blends had pipes bought specifically for them, and extremely favorite blends had pipes commissioned for them. It's just a learning process of what works for the individual.
 
Reactions: eddiedds

eddiedds

New member
Sep 2, 2019
43
16
I think it would be difficult to give a definitive answer to your question. Everyone interprets flavor differently and is looking for different flavors. Even the flavors I look for change day to day. You will have to find what works for you at a given time. For me, English blends typically hit the spot in a wide and perhaps shallow bowl. Virginia blends seem to be the opposite. Sometimes i drink beer, tea, who knows. If a blend seems to loose it's luster over time I give the pipe a thorough cleaning. Sometimes that works for me as well. At least it allows the pipe to deliver those flavors I found appealing the first time I smoked a certain blend in it. Finding what works for you is half the fun and frustration of the journey towards pipe nirvana (which I don't claim to have achieved).
This is helpful, thank you. My frustration has been this: using the same pipe, suddenly I'm not getting the sweet flavor out of OGS. It is my favorite. Just last week it felt like it was sweet, but now not so much, in fact I even smoked it in a different pipe, it was still bland. This is puzzling to me.
 

eddiedds

New member
Sep 2, 2019
43
16
Blends taste the same to me in any pipe so whatever tobacco is used to break in a pipe becomes the genre that pipe will be used for. Favorite blends had pipes bought specifically for them, and extremely favorite blends had pipes commissioned for them. It's just a learning process of what works for the individual.
This is a good tactic. I primarily smoke VaPers. I'm still trying to find the ONE. I realize the pipe I use has an important role to play.
 
Reactions: chasingembers

brooklynpiper

Member
May 8, 2018
290
62
I have big pipes to smoke englishes because somebody told me to.
Keep in mind the chamber proportions of your pipe. As a rule of thumb, what I think we see on the market the most today (even though variability is higher than ever) are pipes with chamber size of 1.4"-1.5" deep and chamber widths of .7"-.75". So part of the pipe to the tobacco is finding the suitable measure on both accounts for what you enjoy. I have a small pipe (short and narrow) that I smoke mainly haunted bookshop out of. I find I get a sharper sense of the condimental leaves in these smaller pipes, but that's my strictest.

At the end of the day, the pipe is for looking for great smokes. I'll buy a pipe with a general idea of what I want to smoke in it, but I will run it through a VA flake or a VaPer before committing it to something like a topped english or something with a heavier flavor.

Remember your palate - the tongue gets more battle-worn throughout the day than you realize. I recommend to all new smokers to one morning try smoking a pipe. Some of your dissatisfaction from your smokes may be due to the fact that the timing was off or your palate was weary.
 

craiginthecorn

Preferred Member
May 8, 2017
1,142
71
Sugar Grove, IL, USA
Experiment for yourself. There’s a lot of conventional wisdom with no basis in fact, across a number of disciplines, including pipe smoking. Sure, it’s fine to get advice from seasoned veterans, but just use it as a suggested starting point. Don’t fear defying convention.
 
Reactions: eddiedds

writingraav

Member
Jul 11, 2018
165
222
Taste (flavor) is determined by many factors that change often. What you recently ate, what the weather factors are wile you are smoking, your mood, whether you just had a fight with someone. The list is endless. No matter the pipe or the tobacco achieving a "magic moment" is unpredictable. Most of the time I find smoking is good enough; sometimes it is transcendent.
 

sablebrush52

Preferred Member
Jun 15, 2013
9,714
367
This is helpful, thank you. My frustration has been this: using the same pipe, suddenly I'm not getting the sweet flavor out of OGS. It is my favorite. Just last week it felt like it was sweet, but now not so much, in fact I even smoked it in a different pipe, it was still bland. This is puzzling to me.
A lot of factors can effect the flavor of what you smoke besides the pipe you're smoking it in. Moisture content is a huge factor, batch variations, humidity, what you ate or drank before you lit up that bowl, whether you're having a slight allergy attack, etc, etc. So hopefully you'll find a comfortable range where you can enjoy the blend, variations and all.
 
Reactions: eddiedds

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
26,240
445
I'm so not fussy about pipe and blend pairing. With dry fine-cut blends like Semis (which this spell check will not allow me to spell correctly, the Belgium burley variant, put an "o" before the "i" ) I like a deep chamber that's not too broad. With English blends I like a broader bowl usually. With Virginias I like a smaller bowl. But if I want a certain pipe and a certain blend, and they don't go together, I don't care. I've had good smokes that way.
 

brooklynpipeclub

New member
Sep 6, 2019
32
21
Brooklyn, NYC
www.instagram.com
Part of my ritual is to take a photo of the pipe and tobacco I am about to smoke. I post the photos to my Instagram account under this same screen name. When the tobacco and pipe make for an excellent combination, I save that particular post in a collection called 'great smokes'. This way I have a visual record I can refer back to.
 
Reactions: eddiedds

nunnster

Member
Apr 17, 2019
126
24
I don't think there is any rhyme or reason to why certain blends taste better in certain pipes, it's just trial and error until you find what works. Atleast in my experience I cant figure out any real reasonings to it, because it's often something I ponder about while smoking.

Common wisdom has informed me that wider, shallow bowls make English blends taste better, but my two favorite pipes to smoke english's out of one is my slimmest (cant fit my thumb in it, my index finger barely fits, tightly) and it is on the deeper end and the other one is only slightly fatter and somewhat shallower. But then I have another "standard" sized bowl (thumb fits comfortably inside) that is slightly shorter than either of those two and I think it makes enlishes taste dull lack luster. My widest and shallowest bowl I thought would be perfect for flakes, but turns out it's best as my aromatic pipe. Flakes do much better two vastly different bowls; one is my deepest and widest bowl, (I can fit 3 and a half OGS flaked packed with almost no restriction on the draw) and the other Is my smallest, I can barely fit one full flake in it without it being packed too tightly. And I could go on and on about the qualities of my other pipes and what type of tobacco smokes best in them or what falls flat in them...but all that would be to say, I truly have no idea what makes a pipe and tobacco combo work, or what makes it not work. To me, it doesnt seem how wide or narrow it is, how deep or shallow it is , if the draw is tight or loose, the thickness of the walls, or the style/shape and/or the bend of the stem. I am sure that there must be some sort of combanation of factors that makes certain tobacco types smoke better than others. But for the life of me I still havent figured it out.

To make matters even more confusing, I have two identical pipes in terms of maker and shape, and one of them smokes english's well but makes every thing else kind of meh, while the other is much better at Va's, and va/pur's but makes English blends meh. Its maddening I tell ya.
 

trubka2

Senior Member
Feb 27, 2019
430
627
already noticed my favorite tobacco tastes different from day to day, pipe to pipe. And I hate that.
Oh, man. That's one of my favorite parts of it all. After decades of cigarette monotony, I love it that every smoke in my pipes is completely different from the last. And whenever I try to control it or figure it out, I get it totally wrong.
 
Reactions: writingraav

mngslvs

Junior Member
Jan 24, 2019
52
13
Last night I smoked a straight Va, my go-to smoke, in a Castello. I couldn't make it work. After smoking for a while, with the bowl 2/3 empty, I packed in some Peretti #8 slices, which are as close to the holy grail as I've come, an absolutely fabulous tobacco. I couldn't make it work. I just couldn't get the flavors or enjoyment that normally comes. So I quit smoking earlier than usual :( Think the problem was that I felt like merde all day, bad night's sleep, just...off. It would be nice if every smoke was as good as the best we ever had, but sadly this seems not to be the fate of mortals !!
 
Reactions: jpmcwjr

judcole

Preferred Member
Sep 14, 2011
4,681
37
Detroit
You can smoke the same tobacco in the same pipe on a different day, and it is going to taste different. It depends on what is going on with your body chemistry at that particular moment. There is nothing you can do about this - it is what it is.
 

cigrmaster

Preferred Member
May 26, 2012
13,668
679
United States
I have experimented quite a bit over the years and found some magical combos that I stick to. For example I have 2 Rad Davis Lovats that smoke my 2007 Stonehaven like a dream. I have a Rad Davis Billiard that smokes my Wessex Brigade Campaign extremely well. There are many other examples as well, I also have examples of certain genres that go great in certain pipes. I dedicate all of my pipes to genres and specific pipes and it works just fine for me.
 
Reactions: jpmcwjr

lawdawg

Preferred Member
Aug 25, 2016
810
284
Fred Hanna theorized in his book "The Perfect Smoke" that some briar could be better than others, possibly based on soil and weather conditions in which the tree grew, much like grapes with winemaking. He went on to say that nobody has really explored this possibility or has any understanding of the possible ramifications, himself included, but he suspects that some yet-to-be-understood aspect or aspects of the briar might make one pipe deliver a superior smoking experience compared to another pipe.

I think he might be on to something, as I've got a couple pipes that just deliver a fantastic tasting smoke, and others that seem to be equally well made but somehow fail to deliver the quality of smoke. Of course the cause could boil down to any number of issues rather than the briar itself, but its an interesting thought nonetheless.