Scientific approach to tobacco choice?

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Doctor Chopper

Might Stick Around
Nov 20, 2022
66
124
Wisconsin
I have been a very casual pipe smoker, and becoming more interested recently. I have difficulty choosing tobacco or knowing what I really like. Embarrassingly, I usually choose tobacco based upon name or appearance.

My question is if anyone has made an algorithm or system approach to testing tobacco’s and refining what a smokers favorite blend may be? Some way to hone in on a new smokers favorite without having to try 100 different blends in somewhat random fashion and high cost.

Being scientifically minded, I envision having a representative tobacco sample in 4-5 major categories, and then on to another tier of sampling depending upon ones favorite and so on. Does a list like this already exist?

What method would you suggest a new smoker use to find their favorite?

Thanks in advance to all who assist my journey.
 

bullet08

Lifer
Nov 26, 2018
6,726
30,693
RTP, NC. USA
It's an art. Not science. If you smoked few blends already, you should have some idea as to what you enjoy. Va? Lat? Burley? And so on. There really isn't definite way for someone to figure out what would work best for you since everyone's palate is different. From there, you can check reviews and see what fits with what you enjoyed before.
 

ThermionicScott

Part of the Furniture Now
Aug 11, 2022
772
6,216
Cedar Rapids, IA
Being scientifically minded, I envision having a representative tobacco sample in 4-5 major categories, and then on to another tier of sampling depending upon ones favorite and so on. Does a list like this already exist?
Everyone so far has chafed at the idea, but I think the scientific method in its most basic form could definitely be applied here. There are lists of "gold standard blends" on the Internet with good representative samples from the major categories. You could order a tin from each category you're interested in, give them a fair chance, make observations as to what you like and don't like about them. Perhaps ordering 1oz quantities of component tobaccos like red/bright Virginia, Turkish, Latakia, Burley, etc, and then smoking them individually would help you get a better idea of what each one does in a blend, so that you can form hypotheses about whether you might like a prospective blend from its components. Then the fun part: testing your hypotheses, and learning from your experiments to repeat the cycle. I suspect many people do this without realizing it.puffy
 

ashdigger

Lifer
Jul 30, 2016
10,162
62,457
59
Vegas Baby!!!
Everyone uses the Scientific Method everyday.

You get up, and you’re hungry. You’ve recognized the need.

You look into the fridge. You have three choices.

Time to formulate and test some hypotheses.

One of which is, is it safe to eat expired yogurt. You give that a go. Four hours later you’re feeling funky.

Boom. You have results.

Just do the same with tobacco. Also, don’t overthink it.

I’m sure there are folks here with spreadsheets and tasting notes along with highly detailed pipe and tobacco combinations.

I’m not them. I’m a pipe smoking knucklehead.
 
Jan 28, 2018
10,792
90,551
65
Sarasota, FL
Try to narrow your preferred genre by sampling the different ones. Then sample the so called best blends within that genre to determine your favorites. Start cellaring those. Read here, branch out and sample other blends, from other genres, over time.

Taste is subjective. You cannot apply science or may. You may however apply the process I described above. Our,you can just bounce around and perhaps you'll eventually arrive at the same spot.
 

Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
2,249
5,228
Humansville Missouri
I have been a very casual pipe smoker, and becoming more interested recently. I have difficulty choosing tobacco or knowing what I really like. Embarrassingly, I usually choose tobacco based upon name or appearance.

My question is if anyone has made an algorithm or system approach to testing tobacco’s and refining what a smokers favorite blend may be? Some way to hone in on a new smokers favorite without having to try 100 different blends in somewhat random fashion and high cost.

Being scientifically minded, I envision having a representative tobacco sample in 4-5 major categories, and then on to another tier of sampling depending upon ones favorite and so on. Does a list like this already exist?

What method would you suggest a new smoker use to find their favorite?

Thanks in advance to all who assist my journey.
I just love these sort of mental exercises.

There are really only three big buckets of types of tobacco for the mainstay of the blend commercially available. Burley, Virginia, and Oriental.

And only about three condiment tobaccos, Latakia, Perique, and Maryland.

The amount of flavorings to add are nearly limitless, and the processes such as cavendish, twist, flake, plug, shag, ribbon, and crimp cut are many.

Your exact problem is the grail every manufacturer of tobacco has pondered for over a century.

The best selling bulk blend in the USA is Lane 1-Q. That covers the pipe shop aromatic.


Lane also makes the most popular pure candy flavored intensely sweet tobacco, BCA, the classic black cavendish.


Now for the Virginias.

Peter Stokkebye makes the most famous Va Per, Luxury Navy Flake


And their Virginia Slices are just straight Virginia


Now to fill out the five tobaccos you’ll need an English.

There are a zillion choices but Balkan Supreme seems to have been the most popular for decades.


You’ll note several of those are out of stock.

The calculus of supply and demand are why.:)
 
Last edited:

judcole

Lifer
Sep 14, 2011
6,572
23,017
Detroit
Gads, how did we ever survive in the old days without forums and all the other WWW stuff to help us overthink the process of choosing tobacco? I remember walking into Campbell's Smoke Shop in East Lansing, staring at tins of tobacco, and finally buying something that looked interesting. Did the same at the local drugstore before that. Smoked some classics that way. Missed some others. Ah, well. puffy
 

Doctor Chopper

Might Stick Around
Nov 20, 2022
66
124
Wisconsin
I just love these sort of mental exercises.

There are really only three big buckets of types of tobacco for the mainstay of the blend commercially available. Burley, Virginia, and Oriental.

And only about three condiment tobaccos, Latakia, Perique, and Maryland.

The amount of flavorings to add are nearly limitless, and the processes such as cavendish, twist, flake, plug, shag, ribbon, and crimp cut are many.

Your exact problem is the grail every manufacturer of tobacco has pondered for over a century.

The best selling bulk blend in the USA is Lane 1-Q. That covers the pipe shop aromatic.


Lane also makes the most popular pure candy flavored intensely sweet tobacco, BCA, the classic black cavendish.


Now for the Virginias.

Peter Stokkebye makes the most famous Va Per, Luxury Navy Flake


And their Virginia Slices are just straight Virginia


Now to fill out the five tobaccos you’ll need an English.

There are a zillion choices but Balkan Supreme seems to have been the most popular for decades.


You’ll note several of those are out of stock.

The calculus of supply and demand are why.:)
Thanks Briar Lee! This is exactly what I was looking for. I am sure that other new pipe smokers will appreciate the advise as well.
 

coys

Starting to Get Obsessed
Feb 15, 2022
192
420
Missouri
On the advice of some folks here I googled up a list of “gold standard blends” that are among the classics. Buy one of each and by the end of those tins you’ll know which categories might be to your liking, and then you can explore that genre further.

If you want to get more scientific about it, you could analyze anything you end up liking by its components and try other blends with similar components. Of course you won’t know precise ingredients or proportions, but you could determine that you like a blend that’s VA, Kentucky, and a certain Oriental and look for others like it.

Try something like-

Aromatic: Lane 1-Q
Codger/burley: Sutliff Ready Rubbed Match
VA: Sutliff 507C Virginia Slices
VaPer: Sutliff Victorian
English: Kramer Father Dempsey
Balkan: Sutliff Balkan Sobranie Match

Bonus is that all those are available in bulk so you can buy as little as 1oz of each.
 
Last edited:

Doctor Chopper

Might Stick Around
Nov 20, 2022
66
124
Wisconsin
On the advice of some folks here I googled up a list of “gold standard blends” that are among the classics. Buy one of each and by the end of those tins you’ll know which categories might be to your liking, and then you can explore that genre further.

If you want to get more scientific about it, you could analyze anything you end up liking by its components and try other blends with similar components. Of course you won’t know precise ingredients or proportions, but you could determine that you like a blend that’s VA, Kentucky, and a certain Oriental and look for others like it.

Try something like-

Aromatic: Lane 1-Q
Codger/burley: Sutliff Ready Rubbed Match
VA: Sutliff 507C Virginia Slices
VaPer: Sutliff Victorian
English: Kramer Father Dempsey
Balkan: Sutliff Balkan Sobranie Match

Bonus is that all those are available in bulk so you can buy as little as 1oz of each.
Thanks Coys, appreciate the advice!
 

HawkeyeLinus

Lifer
Oct 16, 2020
3,049
20,054
Iowa
This is how scientific I am - our early winter became a Thanksgiving thaw and I’ll get some time on the deck - I’ve decided I’m trying Peterson University Flake for the first time. If it doesn’t ring any bells I’ll try it again in a few months. Based on other tobaccos I like that have some things in common it should be good - we’ll see but mostly just because. I’ll probably have something else not at all similar to it as well, maybe something comfortable, maybe not.

I like Peterson’s Sweet Killarney - it seems well despised on Tobacco Reviews, lol. There you go.