Swabbed With Vodka, Now Taste Anise

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Can't Leave
Couple days ago I cleaned 3 of my pipes I smoke pretty regularly. I wouldn’t call this a “deep clean” per se, but I did scrape some cake, use some baby wipes, and give them more attention than just a pipe cleaner.

In the past when I’ve swabbed the bowls, I’ve dipped the pipe cleaners in rum. No problem. Spiced rum will even leave a nice, barely perceptible sweet flavor on the first couple smokes after.

This time, I reached for a bottle of straight vodka I had collecting dust in the liquor cabinet. I don’t really care for vodka. Smells like rubbing alcohol to me. And I don’t drink rubbing alcohol. So I figured it might as well get put to some use. Also, I felt like it would be a neutral enough alcohol to do the job. I mean, I’ve known people who carry around water bottles of vodka to keep a buzz going all day because it doesn’t really leave an odor on your breath. (Or so they argue.)

Well, after cleaning and drying out, I smoked a bowl of GLP Abington, a Latakia-forward English. It was the first time I had tried this blend, but I couldn’t even finish it because of the anise flavor I was getting. I like anisette even less than I like vodka.

Thought maybe it was just something in that blend. And I was disappointed, because the tin note was wonderful.

Snagged another pipe, loaded up my current (maybe all-time) favorite blend from Schwab’s in Lexington, KY. An English called Graduate. It was better, and I powered through. But I still caught that anise flavor cutting through.

Had the same experience later on with the third pipe while smoking P&C’s Match Nightcap.

After several bowls in these recently cleaned pipes, that flavor has mostly “burned away,” thankfully.

I’ll not use vodka again for cleaning purposes. Maybe I’ll try gasoline cut with deer urine next time.


Can't Leave
C'mon, you're in Kentucky, you can do better than Vodka.?

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Lol. My favorite shine is just the straight stuff. No flavors added. Just good ol’ corn liquor.

And as for bourbon… well, I live in Woodford County. It’s almost exclusively Woodford Reserve. I’ll go slumming from time to time with some 1792 or maybe some Four Roses or Elmer T. Lee. But not often. I stick to the best. And Woodford’s the best. And it’s not even up for debate. I mean, I’m ok with people having a different opinion than I do on this, as long as they’re ok with being dead wrong.


Nov 24, 2015
So it seems Everclear is the spirit of choice. I’ll see if I can snag it here in KY. But I have a Q for everyone. And it might be a dumb Q. But as the saying goes: there’s no dumb Qs, just dumb questioners. So I might be checking both boxes here.

If Everclear is 90% alcohol, why is it preferable to just using rubbing alcohol?
190 is available in KY.

Higher % of alcohol means it cuts oils better.