80+ Tobacco Sampler; Help Develop My Palette

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Harv

Lurker
Jun 1, 2024
27
55
Pattaya, Thailand
Hey All, new pipe smoker here. I ended up on this forum because I was searching around for tobacco samplers and came across @Old_Newby and his killer deal.

As a side note I'm a Veteran and am going to school for an Applied Math Degree. That means I'll have to do some data analytics, so what better way to learn than with something you're interested in.

I've built a spread sheet and populated it with all the different tobaccos from the sampler, and also some information from TobaccoReviews. There are 86 different tobaccos with around 2-3 bowls of each. I'm gonna be adding to the sheet as I go. Stuff like bowl shape and size, or who knows what, then I can mess with data analytics way down the road. The idea is just throw in a bunch of information and when I'm learning data analysis stuff I'll be able to see if there is anything interesting in with, or that I can do with, the info.

So, I figure I got this table constructed I might as well throw it up here and see if you guys have any recommendations for when to try what, or other data points to keep track of. For what it's worth, this might seem pretty intense but it's just the kind of person I am. This is definitely my version of laid back enjoyment. Just looking for suggestions along the lines of hey looking back to when you were developing your palette, like try this one here and if that seems good venture this way or that way if you didn't like it. Honestly, whatever really.

Other than that I've got some experience with cigars, used a few pipes to the extent that I know what I'm getting into. I'm experienced with wine and a bit of scotches. I also smoked cigarettes and dipped off and on for over 20 years.

I'm kind of diving in head first with a purchase of two new Savinelli Pipes, the Eleganza Rusticated 320ks and Roma Lucite 626. I lived in Italy for a bit and kinda have a thing for Italian products, so these are the choices that hit with me. I also have a pouch of Amphora Virginia, a tin of Capsan Blue Ready Rub, Mac Baren Pure Virginia, HH Bright Night, Dunhill Flake, and Golden Sliced. I'm gonna start with the Amphora and another tin or two, if not more, to get used to the pipes before diving into the samplers. For some reason I really felt like leaning towards the Virginias off the bat.

I was planning that I would try the blends in both pipes to see what I thought about the effect of bowl shape/size. So it'd be I try whatever x many bowls of a blend one day with one pipe then try it the next day with the other pipe. When there ends up being three bowls of a tobacco, I'm sure you can guess what I'll do.

All that said, if you're interested here is the spreadsheet on Google Sheets. If you want to search by alphabetical order, right click the letter on top of whatever column you want and you'll see "Sort sheet A to Z," see the picture below. I'm better at math than I am spreadsheets, so if any of you guys are into spreadsheets I'm totally game to learn and definitely shoot me a message.

Sampler Spreadsheet

Ah and if you're curious about how I have the rating column set up, its the overall rating then the ratio of 4 star to 3 star reviews. Thats enough so you can spitball if they're an even split or if there are a significant number of lower stars dragging the rating down.
 
Last edited:

shanez

Lifer
Jul 10, 2018
5,274
24,635
49
Las Vegas
The blend column doesn't look too helpful in terms of what you will actually be smoking. For example, Cult Blood Red Moon will be absolutely nothing like GH&C Bosun Cut Plug even though they are both aromatics.

It's somewhat like categorizing vehicles by number of cylinders. A V-8 American pickup is nothing like a V-8 European sports car.
 

Harv

Lurker
Jun 1, 2024
27
55
Pattaya, Thailand
The blend column doesn't look too helpful in terms of what you will actually be smoking. For example, Cult Blood Red Moon will be absolutely nothing like GH&C Bosun Cut Plug even though they are both aromatics.

It's somewhat like categorizing vehicles by number of cylinders. A V-8 American pickup is nothing like a V-8 European sports car.
Yeah, that's just copied off the TobaccoReviews. I'm all ears if you've got a suggestions.
 
Dec 3, 2021
5,256
45,115
Pennsylvania & New York
Fun idea, but, you may need to do more research and further separate the blends into more specific groups—as @shanez mentioned, your Aromatic category is very broad, perhaps, too broad. Gentleman Caller has Deer Tongue as a component, which will have vanilla notes, but not be vanilla. You also may wish to invest in a number of inexpensive cob pipes and use a different pipe for the various genres to avoid altering the perceived flavours on your palate too much.
 

bullet08

Lifer
Nov 26, 2018
9,310
38,906
RTP, NC. USA
I like things simple. Usually "Like" and "Don't Like" columns. But, yes, you will need to separate the blends little more by what type of tobacco. But a lot of blends will have multiple tobacco types in them. Separating them might involve going with reviews, or developing your palette to understand or at least what you think they are. Also, 2 or 3 bowls might not give a good impression of that a blend is about. Usually it takes at least a 2 oz tins over period of time, for me at least.
 

shanez

Lifer
Jul 10, 2018
5,274
24,635
49
Las Vegas
Yeah, that's just copied off the TobaccoReviews. I'm all ears if you've got a suggestions.
I would add a sub-blend category column next to the blend column you have to further break things down. Within aromatic you could have vanilla, fruit, chocolate, lakeland, etc. or whatever works for you.

I use my own categorization labels based on how I see things and not others labels.

The sub-blend category will also be useful for other blends as well and not just aromatics. For example, I use dark fired in conjunction with Va/Per. I'm not a huge fan of DF in a Va/Per. Although sometimes it really adds to the blend I find it most often overpowers it.
 

kcghost

Lifer
May 6, 2011
14,301
23,782
77
Olathe, Kansas
I just couldn't cast as wide a net as you are. I just smoke some VaPers until I found three I liked and stopped. I also ended up with a Westminster as my occasional English tobacco. Don't care for aromatics, burleys, Orientals, and the rest of them. Good luck in your search.
 
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Aug 11, 2022
2,493
19,498
Cedar Rapids, IA
I would leave plenty of room for your taste impressions, and write down whatever you can perceive. It's interesting to note how my opinions of various blends have changed since the first time I smoked them. Quite often, it's a testament to my smoking skills getting better.
 

FLDRD

Lifer
Oct 13, 2021
1,898
7,207
Arkansas
By the time you make it through a long list like that and note your impressions, my experience tells me that it would be quite different the 2nd time through. The experience is necessary, but likely to dramatically change over time.
 

Harv

Lurker
Jun 1, 2024
27
55
Pattaya, Thailand
I just couldn't cast as wide a net as you are. I just smoke some VaPers until I found three I liked and stopped. I also ended up with a Westminster as my occasional English tobacco. Don't care for aromatics, burleys, Orientals, and the rest of them. Good luck in your search.
I hear ya. I guess that's kind of what I'm planning on doing. I've got a few tins of straght VAs that seen highly recommended, then I'm gonna try the VAs in the sampler. I'll make sure I do that for the other blends too.
 
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Pipeh

Might Stick Around
Feb 28, 2023
55
86
Southern California
If you want to make it more complicated, you should consider that blends can change over time, either the manufacturer changes, or the factory formulates it differently, or the growing conditions of the tobaccos are different, or the length of time and conditions of storage can change. Also, the circumstances of each smoking session can change, depending on how you load the pipe, the weather, and your health and mood.

So if you think you may want to grow your spreadsheet beyond your set of 86 samples, you might consider not just having a single row for each blend. You might want to add a row for each individual tin or bulk purchase you make. Include a date of manufacture, as well as a date of opening the tin. You might want to have another spreadsheet with each pipe, and then keep another spreadsheet with data on each smoking session, which references which pipe was used, and which tin of tobacco was used, so that way you can see how the age of the tobacco can affect your experience.

Just a guess, but right now, with 80+ samples at your disposal, you are swimming around trying to get your bearings and trying to see what it is about the different tobaccos that you like or don't like.

I know that I'm still trying to explore and figure things out myself. I have a lot (a lot!) of opened tins (stored in mason jars), and I probably have 2X as many unopened tins. TAD hit me hard. It was hard to keep track of.

At the moment I am at a stage where I realized I was trying too many things that I wasn't really getting to know any of the tobaccos very well. So my current process is to only keep 3 or 4 jars in rotation, and smoke them until they are empty.

It's kind of neat to see your excitement, but I know I couldn't keep track of all the info you are collecting. Just wouldn't be enjoyable to me. But obviously, if you look at the number of WAYS posts, there are many people who really dig it. If I was inclined to keep track of stuff, perhaps when I finish a jar I would ask myself: on a scale of 1-10, how likely am I to buy this tobacco again?

Analogy: I don't keep a log of the food that I eat - if I'm at the grocery, I think, oh, I'm in the mood for lamb, or oh, these peaches look good, and I buy it. Is every meal I eat the best I've ever had? Maybe no, but my waistline would suggest that I'm pretty happy with what I eat.
 
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Harv

Lurker
Jun 1, 2024
27
55
Pattaya, Thailand
If you want to make it more complicated, you should consider that blends can change over time, either the manufacturer changes, or the factory formulates it differently, or the growing conditions of the tobaccos are different, or the length of time and conditions of storage can change. Also, the circumstances of each smoking session can change, depending on how you load the pipe, the weather, and your health and mood.

So if you think you may want to grow your spreadsheet beyond your set of 86 samples, you might consider not just having a single row for each blend. You might want to add a row for each individual tin or bulk purchase you make. Include a date of manufacture, as well as a date of opening the tin. You might want to have another spreadsheet with each pipe, and then keep another spreadsheet with data on each smoking session, which references which pipe was used, and which tin of tobacco was used, so that way you can see how the age of the tobacco can affect your experience.

Just a guess, but right now, with 80+ samples at your disposal, you are swimming around trying to get your bearings and trying to see what it is about the different tobaccos that you like or don't like.

I know that I'm still trying to explore and figure things out myself. I have a lot (a lot!) of opened tins (stored in mason jars), and I probably have 2X as many unopened tins. TAD hit me hard. It was hard to keep track of.

At the moment I am at a stage where I realized I was trying too many things that I wasn't really getting to know any of the tobaccos very well. So my current process is to only keep 3 or 4 jars in rotation, and smoke them until they are empty.

It's kind of neat to see your excitement, but I know I couldn't keep track of all the info you are collecting. Just wouldn't be enjoyable to me. But obviously, if you look at the number of WAYS posts, there are many people who really dig it. If I was inclined to keep track of stuff, perhaps when I finish a jar I would ask myself: on a scale of 1-10, how likely am I to buy this tobacco again?

Analogy: I don't keep a log of the food that I eat - if I'm at the grocery, I think, oh, I'm in the mood for lamb, or oh, these peaches look good, and I buy it. Is every meal I eat the best I've ever had? Maybe no, but my waistline would suggest that I'm pretty happy with what I eat.
Ah man, I 100% get what you're saying. I think the other part of this is that I'm gonna use the samples to guide my purchases, not to gauge the blend itself. So I've got a handful of tins of VAs coming to start and then after those, I'll try some of the VA samples and decide which tins to order next. Kind of repeating the process with a few tins of highly recommended VaPers, Burleys, and so on that aren't on the list to start.

But if I find something that hits with me along the way I'll make sure to pause there and take it in for awhile.

Now I'll definitely build a sheet for all the different blends, and think about ways to incorporate random stuff like time of day and mood, last meal etc. Fortunately I'm a pretty scheduled person for a lot of things, so that actually shouldn't be hard or a headache to track.

When you're 37 and in a STEM undergrad you kind of have this weird blend of absolutely no free time to do anything but all of the downtime in the world.
 
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