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Beginners tobacco choices:

(24 posts)
  • Started 4 years ago by settersbrace
  • Latest reply from jpmcwjr
  1. settersbrace

    settersbrace

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    I see more often than not a lot of newb postings looking for pipe tobacco suggestions wherein the poster has 6-12 blends selected ranging from sticky sweet aromatics to hard core Virginia/Perique blends and they are trying ALL of them in a relativly short period of time. Discussions range from how bad the tongue is getting fried to how little the smoker is tasting in a blend and so on. What I'm about to suggest is nothing new or profound but it is well worn advice that I was given years ago when I started and I've heard and read it repeatedly over those years but seldom see it quoted on these forums.

    Select a tobacco blend that you've researched as well as you can and one that sounds appealing to you and purchase a tin or 2 ounces of that blend in bulk (if available that way). Smoke just that ONE blend! I don't care if you smoke 1-5 bowls a day or just 1 bowl every 2 weeks, stick with that blend. Unless it absolutely sickens you or you can't stand the taste, stick with it, it's going to teach you how to taste all the variables that the blend has to offer. Try it in different pipes if you have more than one, it's going to change as you continue to smoke it, it'll dry out some, react with the air and your individual PH. If, after you've burned through the entire tin or bag, you decide you love it, get more but also get another blend that is similar but may have some different types of Virginias or orientals or maybe it's an aromatic, get something from the same manufacturer but maybe just a different casing, (flavoring).
    Following along in this pattern will help you really learn what a given pipe blend is really all about and will help eliminate a ton of confusion and make your purchasing decisions less overwhelming. I hope this is helpful to a few of you newer smokers.

    Also, take notes along the way and determine what it is you like or dislike about the blend. If you are able to single out individual components like Latakia or Red Virginias, black Cavendish, etc., find out from the source (as closely as possible) what the proportions are. This isn't always possible but what I'm aiming at here is getting you to establish some baselines as to what your likes/dislikes are. It'll save you time and money down the road.

    De gustibus et cloribus non disputandum.
    'There is no arguing about tastes and colours.'
    Posted 4 years ago #
  2. gloucesterman

    gloucesterman

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    Settersbrace, +1,. Early in my pipe smoking experience I found L.J. Peretti's here in Boston and that was old Mr. Peretti's advice exactly. He was a master blender and forgot more about tobacco than I'll ever know. What's different today is that new smokers don't have someone to point them in the right direction. There's thousands of blends out there and who knows where to start? Over time we all discover what it is that really pleases us. The demise of the B&Ms and the knowledge those people had makes it hard for a newcomer to find their way. Great advice. One of my treasured experiences was to come into his shop for my ration of tobacco, which he would put into the pouch and then he would say "Here try this blend, I think you might like it." You could have a bowl in the shop and then talk to him about it. You got to know about tobacco one bowl at a time. Smart man, Mr. Peretti, he had a customer for life. But what he gave me was an appreciation for a wide range of tobaccos and an understanding of what went into each type. For many newly minted pipe smokers that kind of experience is no longer available. Sad but true!!! Your advice is sound and hopefully will be appreciated.

    Posted 4 years ago #
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    wilson

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    Agreed. Unless something strikes you as absolutely wretched at first bowl, it is always a good idea to smoke a new blend multiple times (and more or less exclusively). Once you get past the first couple of bowls and you start to become accustomed to the flavors, you begin to pick up on some subtleties that may change your perception of the blend.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  4. pipesmokingtom

    pipesmokingtom

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    Additionally, when you're starting out, you're probably not any good at smoking a pipe to be honest. You might be trying and writing off blends that you might actually really enjoy, if you packed them right and smoked them right at the proper moisture. I'm SURE I did that when I started out, because I tried so many difference ones in quick succession. I might go back to some things now that I think about it that way.

    "We have an unspoken, mutual understanding to ignore the things we hate about each other so we can continue to enjoy the things we love about each other."
    Posted 4 years ago #
  5. robwoodall

    robwoodall

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    I wish someone had given me that advice. I started with a Lane aromatic sample pack AND a "Made in America" sample pack AND a couple of "that sounds good" selections. I tried to learn on about 13 different types of tobacco.

    I was less than successful, so I ordered more! I'm really trying to narrow my choices, and I am starting to get the hang of it but it was a longer process than it probably should have been.

    I'm trying, now, to stick with a couple of favorites, but I haven't been able to resist a few new blends as well as continuing to dip back into my earlier purchases.

    Oh well, I might learn patience one day...

    Posted 4 years ago #
  6. maxx

    maxx

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    I think that getting one tin per blend might be a good idea, rather than more. You might not like a blend. I ran into that with Royal Yacht. Other blends, l enjoyed and have bought, or will buy, again. One blend was okay but not compelling enough to order again. Part of learning how to smoke a pipe is learning how to taste, so I agree with the advice to focus on fewer blends to give yourself time to know them.

    "Curiosity is one of the most permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect."
    ~ Samuel Johnson ~
    Posted 4 years ago #
  7. gtclark

    gtclark

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    Great advice, settersbrace. I still remember the moment it "clicked" for me, over a decade ago. After roasting my tongue on Captain Black Gold mixture, I bought a 4 oz. bag of no-name black cavendish from the local grocery store (I believe it was the stuff blended by Dream Castle). I had smoked about half the package in a Grabow billiard, and had improved my smoking technique to the point where I was getting a cool smoke without many relights. However, I was disappointed about the lack of flavor I was getting from the tobacco. One Sunday morning I was smoking my pipe on the way to church and I remember thinking "It has to be better than this - people wouldn't smoke pipes if this was all there was to the experience!" I left the pipe in the car and attended the church service. On the road back to college I re-lit the pipe and began smoking. After about 10 minutes, I suddenly began tasting the most wonderful roasted vanilla and coffee flavors - right now I could take you to the exact place on the road where it happened - it was an epiphany, in every sense.

    I don't have the pipe anymore, and I haven't enjoyed black cavendish for quite some time. However, I'm sure I would have given up if I hadn't committed to just one blend until it finally revealed its secrets. The flavors were there the whole time, but I couldn't taste them until I had spent enough time with the tobacco to develop my senses. I think it's a lot like alcohol - when I turned 21 a friend brought over all different types of fine whiskeys and expensive beer. I sampled it all, and it all tasted terrible! A few weeks later I was at a friends house, and they offered me a bottle of regular old American lager. I didn't care for it, but kept sipping just to be sociable. They offered me another, and it was pretty good! When I finally had the opportunity to sample better varieties, I could appreciate it. If I had kept sampling, it would have taken me longer to get to that point.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  8. cigrmaster

    cigrmaster

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    Every new smoker should buy a tin of Peterson Irish Flake and smoke it until you don't puke. Once you can handle this blend, then all the others are a cake walk. Make sure you smoke it first thing in the morning in a large group 6 pipe, and get that puppy smoking so you have billows of smoke.

    Seriously though setter makes some good points and I would recommend a nice mild Virginia Flake like Astleys no 109. It is nice and sweet, never bites and is nice and mild. It has some nice molasses flavors and smokes nicely in every shape pipe I haave tried it in. I personally do not recommend aromatics that smelll nice but have no flavor. Now if anyone disagrees with my selection, then they are a complete neophyte.

    Harris
    Posted 4 years ago #
  9. phil67

    phil67

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    Every new smoker should buy a tin of Peterson Irish Flake and smoke it until you don't puke. Once you can handle this blend, then all the others are a cake walk. Make sure you smoke it first thing in the morning in a large group 6 pipe, and get that puppy smoking so you have billows of smoke. [:nana:]

    Nah... better yet to smoke and chug like a freight train with Peterson Irish Flake or S.G. 1792 on an empty stomach while on a boat and dealing with a hangover to get your toes properly wet. If you can handle that decently then perhaps you might enjoy loading up your bowl with some syrupy crap like Molto Dolce while using a blow torch to keep it lit and listening to it crackle and pop!

    ~I started out with nothing, and still have most of it.~
    Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company. Mark Twain
    Posted 4 years ago #
  10. andrew

    Andy

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    Additionally, when you're starting out, you're probably not any good at smoking a pipe to be honest. You might be trying and writing off blends that you might actually really enjoy, if you packed them right and smoked them right at the proper moisture. I'm SURE I did that when I started out, because I tried so many difference ones in quick succession. I might go back to some things now that I think about it that way.

    This is very true, there are alot of blends I'd written off because of things like not using the right pipe (ie English pipe for an aro) most Va's because they were too moist, etc... I'm glad I learned and revisited them.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  11. settersbrace

    settersbrace

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    I can tell you all that when I first really discovered premium tinned and bulk tobaccos and fell in the trap that many do, buying this and that, Virginias and VaPers were so odd tasting and bitey that I could not figure out how the reviewers were coming up with all the delicious reviews I was reading. Fortunately, for me, I got some mentors and I stashed away a lot of those unopened tins to come back to later. Many dollars would have been wasted had I not learned how to familiarize myself to the different blends.
    Having and returning to baseline (favorite, well understood) blends kind of acts as a reset for the taster, I like to try new and different blends and genres of tobaccos but still smoke the tried and true blends daily. If something is off when I smoke my Dunhill EMP it means something is most likely off with my body's chemistry or PH. It happens, maybe I didn't brush well enough or I ate something very spicy? Those little details can mess up a trial smoke on a new blend if you're not mindful of such things and you might end up passing by an otherwise great blend.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  12. settersbrace

    settersbrace

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    I can tell you all that when I first really discovered premium tinned and bulk tobaccos and fell in the trap that many do, buying this and that, Virginias and VaPers were so odd tasting and bitey that I could not figure out how the reviewers were coming up with all the delicious reviews I was reading. Fortunately, for me, I got some mentors and I stashed away a lot of those unopened tins to come back to later. Many dollars would have been wasted had I not learned how to familiarize myself to the different blends.
    Having and returning to baseline (favorite, well understood) blends kind of acts as a reset for the taster, I like to try new and different blends and genres of tobaccos but still smoke the tried and true blends daily. If something is off when I smoke my Dunhill EMP it means something is most likely off with my body's chemistry or PH. It happens, maybe I didn't brush well enough or I ate something very spicy? Those little details can mess up a trial smoke on a new blend if you're not mindful of such things and you might end up passing by an otherwise great blend.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  13. judcole

    Jud

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    Good advice. There's a wealth of wonderful blends out there,and the internet makes it too easy for newcomers - they simply get overwhelmed.

    Thought in the early morning, solace in time of woes,
    Peace in the hush of the twilight, balm ere my eyelids close
    Rudyard Kipling
    Posted 4 years ago #
  14. jorgesoler

    jorgesoler

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    Avoid aromatics.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  15. ckgdrums

    ckgdrums

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    Being new to this, I have had to rely on the advice and recommendations of the people at my B&M. They, so far, have been spot on with the blends they have "pushed" my way. Having been a cigar smoker for the last 5 years, my tolerance for nicotine has built up to the point to where a "few" bowls of Pete's Irish Flake doesn't bother me, and is my go to... especially in the mornings over coffee! Love that stuff!

    Posted 4 years ago #
  16. brass

    brass

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    Excellent advice. Even now, when I try a new blend, it becomes my new daily smoke. I go through at least two bowls a day, if not three. I will switch off in the evening for a little variety but for the most part, I dedicate myself to the new blend.

    On more than one occasion, I tried a tobacco that was so different, my taste buds rebelled. Germain and Kendal Creme come to mind. But I smoked through the tins and soon would find myself enjoying the novel flavors.

    We base our tobacco crawls on the same principle, smoking one new blend a week, rather than just sampling two or three bowls.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  17. settersbrace

    settersbrace

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    Avoid aromatics.

    There was a time when I'd've agreed with that but the truth is there are many superior quality aro's out there. The trick I suppose is to find one that really works for whoever is trying it. The fruity, goopy stuff like Blue Note and Devils Holiday I'd say avoid at least for the new smoker, they have enough in the way of moisture issues, slobbering and whatnot, ( it's true, really). I've come around somewhat with aromatics and many of us smoke or have smoked aromatics without even realizing that they are classed that way. One of my very favorite VaPer blends is technically, an aromatic, I only recently discovered this and guess what, I still love the stuff.
    Former cig and cigar smokers should IMHO, start out with a medium to full bodied English or Balkan blend because there's a lot of complexity there that they won't even realize until they smoke a lot of it but there's enough there to keep them intrigued.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  18. tarak

    tarak

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    I think advice on HOW to smoke is probably more important than WHAT to smoke in the beginning. For example: me. The first "real" tobacco I bought was Escudo. I didn't know anything about tobacco types, I just saw it was a top selling tin on SPC.

    So I bought it. And smoked it like a chimney. And it tasted like cigarettes and burned my mouth. I hated it. Fast forward a year, and I actually knew how to smoke a pipe, and wouldn't you know...Escudo is one of my favorites!

    Posted 4 years ago #
  19. puffndave

    puffndave

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    I've little doubt that I should have started that way, although the very first blend which I tried five or six years ago is one which I'm still striving to find a close match for available online. I walked into B&M Edleez in Albany, and reached for "Ed's Best", which is composed of White Burley, Pressed Burley, and their own take on black cavendish, and is as flavorful as it is pleasingly aromatic to those who have been around me when I smoke it. I have since tried Cornell and Diehl's Autumn Evening, H&H Classic Burley Kake, and Owl's Head, but they all taste too much like heavy licorice to me by comparision. Damn, still frustrated!!! While I've no desire to put a good blender out of business, New York prices and taxes are tough on me.

    Current favorite 'baccies:

    Peterson Irish Oak, MacBaren Navy Flake, H&H Classic Burley Kake
    Posted 4 years ago #
  20. cigrmaster

    cigrmaster

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    Another suggestion I will make is you should try a blend from every category, i.e a VA Flake, Vaper Flake, Vabur Flake, English Blend, Va red ribbon, aromatic( a high quality one), a Balkan blend, a English Perique blend, something with some cavendish, a burley blend. You never know which category will really sing for you. Also make sure you try different blends in different pipes as you never know what pipe will make a blend that magical one. I would alsso suggest dedicating pipes to certain blends. An English blend followed by an aromatic in the same pipe is not going to give you the true flavors of that aro as the English will over power it.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  21. mso489

    mso489

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    Great advice and various opinions. One excellent nugget -- take your time. The vast variety of blends and tempting reviews and descriptions make us all want to order 25 different blends at once. The rewards of backing off and taking your time are huge. No harm in ordering small quantities. Stick with one or two blends for months. Part of enjoyment is learning to enjoy, and one major secret is taking your time.

    Posted 4 years ago #
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    drunkblowhard

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    I am the pipe newb in the room for sure. And this advice to pick a single tobacco and spend some serious quality time with it In order to crack the mystery of it makes so much sense I can't even deal. I have gone out a tried probably a dozen differs types of tobaccos, one or two bowls each, looking for my preferred style. And I'll be the first to admit that I don't think I've gotten any of the true enjoyment that ANY of them have to offer because as soon as I've tried one and have the flimsiest grip on how it tastes, I feel compelled to try the next one and the next and the next. The end results is a haze of poorly informed opinions about what I think I like.

    So I have decided that I'm picking one single tobacco, and I'm going to smoke only that tobacco for the next 60 days. All of June and all of July.

    Here's the question that I'm sure you all knew was coming… What tobacco should I pick to spend two months with?

    My limited dabbling has led me to believe that English tobacco is generally too gruff for me, but aromatics are generally too sweet…

    Posted 4 years ago #
  23. settersbrace

    settersbrace

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    I'm going to recommend my everyday favorite, Dunhill Early Morming Pipe. It's available in bulk, affordable and very tasty. You'll see opinions that are all over the map on this and others but I'd say ignore them, form your own. I recommend this blend because it is easy to enjoy if smoked properly and by that I mean slow. Once your pipe is lit and going good, just sip. This advice applies to ALL pipe tobacco btw. There's just a hint of Latakia present and some say there really isn't any but I can get just a hint.
    This blend will allow you to learn how to get to know a pipe tobacco because of it's very subtle complexity, there's a lot going on with it if you take your time and really get to know it.
    From here your possibilities are endless, I smoke a plethora of different blends weekly but I start each day with my beloved EMP.
    Enjoy!

    Posted 4 years ago #
  24. jpmcwjr

    jpmcwjr

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    I've just read the following thread, which invites newbies and experienced folk to join in. It's called a "Tobacco Crawl", and sound like a good learning experience, and a good time. I was able to order the group of four tobaccos tonight, and will join the "crawl" when I receive my order. Perhaps I will see some of you there?

    I know that you believe you understood what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
    Posted 4 years ago #

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