The State Of Russian Pipe Smoking

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dcon

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Mar 16, 2019
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Jacksonville, FL
I have settled in for a couple of days after my recent 2 week trip to the Russian Federation. As promised, here are my thoughts about pipe smoking in Russia.

I spent a week in Moscow and a week in Saint Petersburg. I may have only this limited data to draw upon, but, I found the pipe smoking situation in Russia to be much the same as it is in the U.S. There are not tons of tobacco shops and most are of the vape and RYO variety that you see in the States. Pipes and smoking were not the main focus of my trip. I did, however, enter every tobacco shop that I came across. I believe that I entered around 6 shops in Moscow and another 6 in St. Petersburg. A couple of these shops were not much larger than the average American suburban closet. These smaller shops usually had a wealth of cigarettes, a fair selection of RYO pouches from various parts of the world, a small assortment of cigars (sometimes one or two cubans in the mix), and either a couple of MB pipe tobaccos or none at all. They all had 2-6 basket pipes for show.

I shopped one tobacco shop in Moscow, on Arbat St. (the preeminent walking shopping district), that was closer in size to an American entertainment district shop, that had a nicer selection and a very nice proprietor. They had tins/pouches by SG, GH, MB, Peterson, Condor, and a couple of C&D. The shopkeeper had, what I would term, an amateurish knowledge of the products, but much better than one would see in the typical American vape shop. They do not appear to have a problem obtaining SG or GH tobaccos. The Peterson and “American” brands were harder for him to get. There were no bulk tobaccos here (or at any of the shops). I have quite a decent variety in my cellar so, I was only seeking to purchase U.S. ”unobtainium”. I bought some SG Night and SG Black Cherry. They did have all the usual SG tins from FVF to Squadron leader but, I luckily have pounds of all the SG products that we can (occasionally) buy stateside. I probably should have picked up some Condor, as I don’t recall ever smoking it. However, I was shopping with my wife that day and I wanted to keep the touring going, and had hopes of scoring bigger fish later in my trip.

Unfortunately, that big fish was never to strike. The one St. Petersburg shop that actually had any quality tins/pouches was the Casa Del Habano in St. Petersburg. They had about a dozen pipe tobaccos (SG, GH, and Stanwell). All of these I either had or (in the case of the Stanwells) I could easily get. Natalia, the lovely shopkeeper at the Casa Del Habanos, admittedly, knew nothing about pipe tobacco and queried me about them. (She was, as one would suspect, a Habanos expert and I will post a review of my wonderful experience there in the cigars section).

The great Russian tobacco search was not totally in vain. The Russian online site pipeshop.ru (recommended by paulie66scandinavian) has a St.Petersburg location that can be entered if an advance call is made. They have an enviable stock of many tobaccos that never see our shores. The bad news is that my wife got a serious throat infection the last few days of the trip and I ended up deleting this stop from my itinerary. I will, however, rectify this omission by placing an order with them to be sent to my Russian summer home to begin my Russian cellar. I will update on this later as well.

Russian shopping itself was very pleasurable. English is either spoken or posted to some degree and communication was not a chore. All transactions can be consummated with a finger on your iPhone. I paid with Rubles one time and with a physical credit card once. Prices were quite good. The exchange rate undoubtedly helps with this but, the tins were comparable or cheaper than US B/M (or some online sites). Food was cheap as well but, that is for another place and discussion.
I hope this illuminates a bit.
 
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dcon

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Mar 16, 2019
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Jacksonville, FL
BTW. I do not recall seeing any pipes being smoked on the whole of my journey. This is similar to my home grounds. Putin has a health push (he is a big health advocate) similar to ours. Vaping and cigarette smoking seemed to be preportional to US levels. I did pickup some Sobranie Black Russian cigarettes that, I have not seen stateside in a few decades and a pack of Standard cigs which, were the smokes of the old USSR prols.
 

lawdawg

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Aug 25, 2016
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That was an interesting read. Thanks for sharing your experience. I doubt my travels will ever bring me to Russia, but I appreciate hearing about pipesmoking in other countries anyhow.
 
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paulie66scandinavian

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Jul 28, 2016
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@dcon , Thanks for sharing your tobacco shopping experience,in Russia as you may already know takes a little bit effort and time to get there'But yes , Amphora line up and G&H blends are pretty well represented nationwide,I was more than surpriced when You mentioned Condor' has landed there as well,in Moskva at least, as for the PipeShop.ru ,I'd adive to keep in touch with them those folks wont let you down,that's for sure,yet it might be worthwhile to mention they have pretty comprehensive selection of various pipes from which to choose from, both lower and higher ends manufactures + artisan ones ,in the past I have bought one Altinay meer ,one Peterson, and one Radice Rind from there, and was happy with their service, yet good thing is that the store managers are both what we call pipe enthusiast and are supposed to know their trade, Mr Lev,the co-owner smoke himself uniquely Former pipes, that tells something of his passion I guess
Ps, Speaking of the traditional Russian Cigarettes called Papirosy, there are still few left which are mainly produced for export market and can only be found at tobacconist shops, namely, Tri Bogotyrja and Gertsegovina Flor, not to forget the Belomorkanal brand which' is rather for local domestic consumption costing 1 euro
 
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cosmicfolklore

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Aug 9, 2013
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Pipe smoking is maybe too much of a materialistic thing to have survived communism? After you've shared your pipe and tobacco with the neighbors, you probably would feel less compelled to stand in line for hours to get more. puf
 

dcon

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Mar 16, 2019
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cosmic Russians do "enjoy" a good line. However, I am not sure that the ultra-capitalism that exists in Russia today would be recognized by Americans. The Russians used to be notorious smokers (perhaps to a greater extent than the America I knew in the 60s). Having a Russian born wife, having studied the country a large amount, and now having visited; I can state categorically that, the average American perception of the USSR and of the current Russian Federation (both good and bad) is not exactly reality. I will try not to venture in to the political but...
 

dcon

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Mar 16, 2019
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Jacksonville, FL
lelik I enjoyed my first trip there. My wife inherited a place a few hours outside of Moscow that we will be summering in when I retire in 3 years. I still have not been there. The two cities are a very enticing mix of old (sometimes ancient) and ultra-modern. I went to a mall in St. Petersburg that makes anything in NY or LA pale in comparison. Commerce was thriving despite the belief that the economy is stagnate. I am a politics and history fanatic so, I could not possibly absorb all that there was to witness in just two weeks. The palaces, churches ( yes, they not only have them but, by the hundreds+), and historical sites were breathtaking. One could spend weeks at the Hermitage alone.
 

dcon

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Mar 16, 2019
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Jacksonville, FL
instymp it is quite the amazing city. Prior to going, I would have thought that it would be pretty new and sterile, believing that much had been destroyed in the Battle of Leningrad. To my surprise, much of the city itself remained intact and buildings hundreds of years old lined many of the streets. The only place that I visited that the Nazis had substantially damaged (and had been ’restored’) was Petrogof, the Summer Palace.
 
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trubka2

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Feb 27, 2019
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Glad you had a good trip dcon. I've been going at least once a year since the early 1990s, have spent several years there cumulatively (mostly Petersburg lately) and married into a Russian family 15 years ago, God help me. The pace of change in the capitals really hasn't let up over the last 25 years. It's alternately astonishing and sad. For future trips, make sure to check out supertabak dot ru when in the capitals. That's kind of their equivalent of SPC, and they have lots of stuff we can't get in the States. You order online and can either pick it up at a subway station the same day or get it delivered by courier pretty much immediately if you're in town. Most the pipe tobacco trade is person-to-person, though. The Moscow and Petersburg pipe clubs are, of course, legendary. My father in law won the Moscow slow smoking championships a couple times, which he's justifiably proud of.
 

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