New Pipe Tobacco Smoker: Year 1 Recap

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tirefire

Starting to Get Obsessed
Happy New Year all!

After over 30 years of smoking premium cigars, I just completed my first year as a pipe smoker. I sampled 19 tobaccos—a burley blend, a handful of aromatic and Virginia blends, and a bunch of English/Balkans. What did I learn? Well, the aromatics (save one) are too mild and burley is not for me, at least for now.

Spring and summer 2023 were devoted to trying Englishes and Balkans. At one point, I had eight (8) tins open. Quiet Nights led the standings wire-to-wire. I don’t mind Balkans as long as the orientals are not too far ahead of the latakia. Peretti’s Tashkent and Royal Blend were pretty good but the last-minute order addition of Cambridge Flake was surprisingly good on this palette—I ordered a half-pound paint can.

Late summer and fall were devoted to Virginia blends. VA/perique and VA/DFK blends are fine but I found that I like all three components (Virginia, DFK, perique) in a VA blend. The only straight Virginia in my supply is Union Square (danged fine stuff).

The aromatic on the list is The Virginia Cream. The blend scorched the tongue a year ago, but after some time in the jar, this Virginia-based aromatic with perique, DKF, and bourbon/vanilla topping was pretty much all I smoked in October . . . I have a couple of tins warming up for next autumn.

Pipe-wise, I had six (6) by the end of the second month of smoking but added only one more to the collection the rest of the year. Of the seven (7), three are Rossi rusticated briars and four are MM cobs.

As I start year 2 of puffing on pipes, Quiet Nights and Cambridge Flake are my favorite English blends. Union Square, Old Gowrie, and The Virginia Cream are my top Virginias. A few tobaccos are on the “to try” list: Drucquer & Sons Trafalgar and Loch Ness, Peretti’s Park Square, and something latakia-forward from Captain Earle’s (TBD). I may add a pipe or two in 2024. There is another Rossi briar I’ve been eyeballing. Plus, maybe a meer-lined briar . .
 

sardonicus87

Lifer
Jun 28, 2022
1,135
11,866
37
Lower Alabama
Quiet Nights is one of my top English. Based on your English preferences, you might also like Sutliff Crumble Kake English #1—this one is a medium English with a very musky leather taste if that's the aspect you like about English blends.

You'll probably enjoy the Drucquer & Sons too. So far, I have only tried Merry Monk—it's a good medium English that's mildly sweet and a little floral. Greg Pease is doing the D&S stuff, he's the same one that made Quiet Nights. For what it's worth, Loch Ness is the only other D&S tin I have, but I haven't tried it yet, just from reading about the different ones, that's one of the ones I was most interested in. I'm presuming it'll be another winner for me, might be for you as well.
 

PipeIT

Lifer
Nov 14, 2020
4,542
27,727
Hawaii
I thought I knew exactly what I liked after 3 years, nope, it certainly surprised me, how it constantly changes.

I believe the one thing that will help you, is to remain open minded, on all the leaf/blends you supposedly like, don’t like at this point in time, your willingness to always be open, by what I’ll explain below. ;)

Just remember, thinking about the different Leaf Varieties, Virginia, Burely etc., is one thing, then you have all the various ways in which to process, Cavendish as an example.

Next, you mix up all the various leaf varieties and add them into a blend. Then you apply various casings for PH balance, mouthfeel, etc... And last, toppings to add in various flavors, you don’t typically find in natural tobacco.

When you deeply consider the vast, endless ways in which to create blends, don’t sell yourself short into likes/dislikes at this early of a stage in pipe smoking.

Don’t get me wrong, a person can start figuring out the enjoyment of various blends early on. I’m only suggesting, with what I am mentioning here, combined also with more time and experience you will quite possibly see change.

Simply put, the leaf might not be enjoyable through certain processes and blending with other leaf, but then processed and joined with other leaf in another way, it takes on a whole new world. :)

There are just to many variables at play, when it comes to pipe tobacco.

Also, always remember, the moisture/dryness of many blends, greatly effects tastes, along with packing and cadence. Just changing up these things, can certainly make the differences between good and bad outcomes, of so called blend enjoyment.

So, a lot of the blends you didn’t like, dry them more, quite crisp, pack lightly, then, barely light, only taking a few sips, let the pipe go out and cool down before lighting. Now see what you notice, of any difference with this technique of smoking.

To many people don’t dry their tobacco enough and smoke to fast, always with this thought of needing to keep a pipe lit. Don’t worry about keeping it lit, it’s not a cigarette.

To much fire and heat, actually destroy a lot of complexity in complex blends. ;)

Complex good tobacco is to be sipped and savored. :)

Trust me, when I say this, in 3-4 years, you will probably be singing a different tune. LOL 😆

Have fun and enjoy the journey! :)
 
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TheWhale13

Part of the Furniture Now
Aug 12, 2021
803
3,420
Sweden
Wonderful stuff!

You might think about delving into, and only smoke one blend. This would allow you to really find out a lot about it, and learn a lot of stuff in the process. Trying to find the right moisture, packing it right, and how to smoke it. Mac Baren Scottish Blend might be the one to do this with. Complex and sweet.

Slow down more than you think you need, dry more than you think you need. Gravity fill. Retrohale.
 

tirefire

Starting to Get Obsessed
I thought I knew exactly what I liked after 3 years, nope, it certainly surprised me, how it constantly changes.

I believe the one thing that will help you, is to remain open minded, on all the leaf/blends you supposedly like, don’t like at this point in time, your willingness to always be open, by what I’ll explain below. ;)

Just remember, thinking about the different Leaf Varieties, Virginia, Burely etc., is one thing, then you have all the various ways in which to process, Cavendish as an example.

Next, you mix up all the various leaf varieties and add them into a blend. Then you apply various casings for PH balance, mouthfeel, etc... And last, toppings to add in various flavors, you don’t typically find in natural tobacco.

When you deeply consider the vast, endless ways in which to create blends, don’t sell yourself short into likes/dislikes at this early of a stage in pipe smoking.

Don’t get me wrong, a person can start figuring out the enjoyment of various blends early on. I’m only suggesting, with what I am mentioning here, combined also with more time and experience you will quite possibly see change.

Simply put, the leaf might not be enjoyable through certain processes and blending with other leaf, but then processed and joined with other leaf in another way, it takes on a whole new world. :)

There are just to many variables at play, when it comes to pipe tobacco.

Also, always remember, the moisture/dryness of many blends, greatly effects tastes, along with packing and cadence. Just changing up these things, can certainly make the differences between good and bad outcomes, of so called blend enjoyment.

So, a lot of the blends you didn’t like, dry them more, quite crisp, pack lightly, then, barely light, only taking a few sips, let the pipe go out and cool down before lighting. Now see what you notice, of any difference with this technique of smoking.

To many people don’t dry their tobacco enough and smoke to fast, always with this thought of needing to keep a pipe lit. Don’t worry about keeping it lit, it’s not a cigarette.

To much fire and heat, actually destroy a lot of complexity in complex blends. ;)

Complex good tobacco is to be sipped and savored. :)

Trust me, when I say this, in 3-4 years, you will probably be singing a different tune. LOL 😆

Have fun and enjoy the journey! :)
Understood, thank you for your comments. I won't totally write off styles and/or blends. For example, Maltese Falcon is supposed to be this great sweet, smoky tobacco. I got some of that but whatever topping/added spice it has just sits on my tongue and burns for the entire smoke. Of the entire tin, I had two or three bowls where that "spice" was certainly less noticable and it was a wonderful smoke . . . It even had me ranking it up there with Quiet Nights. I will probably revisit the Falcon later down the road.
 

tirefire

Starting to Get Obsessed
Wonderful stuff!

You might think about delving into, and only smoke one blend. This would allow you to really find out a lot about it, and learn a lot of stuff in the process. Trying to find the right moisture, packing it right, and how to smoke it. Mac Baren Scottish Blend might be the one to do this with. Complex and sweet.

Slow down more than you think you need, dry more than you think you need. Gravity fill. Retrohale.
Thank you for the suggestion!
 
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Apr 26, 2012
3,407
5,880
Washington State
Sounds like you had a productive year. Found some tobaccos you enjoy, some not so much, and some to try at a later date. As you progress all aspects will come easier, and you'll find more tobaccos that you enjoy and others you dislike. Happy Smoking.
 

Servant King

Lifer
Nov 27, 2020
4,280
23,595
39
Frazier Park, CA
www.thechembow.com
I second @PipeIT with regard to blend preferences changing, which has happened to me many times (relatively) in the five years and change I've been smoking a pipe. In fact, I'll even take that a step further and extend this into pipe preferences as well. It's impossible to tell how much change will transpire over X amount of time, so when possible, it's a good idea to have some mason jars handy for stuff that's to be revisited later on down the line. Of course, when you have as many jarred blends as I do (about three dozen) the temptation there is to just sell/trade something for the sake of downsizing. So if the "to be continued" strategy is doable, I say go for it. Same goes with pipes--there's no real upside to having the feeling of regret that you sold or traded away a pipe you didn't care for aesthetically, only for your tastes to do an about-face later on.

Just my three cents (blame inflation).
 

PipeIT

Lifer
Nov 14, 2020
4,542
27,727
Hawaii
Of course, when you have as many jarred blends as I do (about three dozen) the temptation there is to just sell/trade something for the sake of downsizing.

Man my mind is playing tricks on me. 🥴

It’s Japanese 101 Philosophy! LOL 😝

For the Sake of Downsizing

F941A4C1-8CF2-49FE-A55F-B0999A993E9F.jpeg


P.S. This also reminded me of when I lived in Japan for a year in the mid 80s. I always believed before I lived there, the Japanese were steeped in traditions of honor, respect and living a conservative lifestyle that supposedly reflected this. I’ll never forget, when I saw two beautifully dressed Geishas, in their Kimonos, beautiful makeup, hairdoos, wearing white socks with their traditional Geta wood sandals, the entire look, staggering arm and arm, holding each other fumbling down the street, it certainly blew that perception of Japan out the window! LOL 😆

I guess you could say, I realized living there, Japan needed a serious alcohol/Sake downsizing. 😲

Man, the Japanese drink and smoke... LOL 😝
 
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