What Is So Great About Castellos

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sasquatch

Preferred Member
Jul 16, 2012
1,214
797
I watched a show called "Somme" about guys becoming master sommeliers, wine tasters. And it was amazing to me, how these guys with talent and practice could taste a glass of wine and not just make broad assessments like "It's pretty tannic". They could taste a glass of wine, tell you what country it was from, almost always what region, and in some cases the year. And when they missed, they missed by a few miles in terms of region, this hillside vs that hillside. I can't do that with wine. And it would be a brutally ignorant assertion for me to suggest that these guys are somehow making it up, pretending to taste things, inventing a narrative about the wine. Imagine a person who has never had wine before doing a blind tasting.... might do well to get reds and whites separated, but certainly wouldn't be capable of determining American vs Italian wine on the first night without instruction and practice.

Why wouldn't this transfer to pipes? I can tell if a pipe is drilled at 1/8" or at 5/32" for example. They draw differently. Is the claim here that this isn't true? Does a pipe draw the same if the airway is drilled at 1/2"? Or 1/16"? Of course not. And some of us are claiming that with practice, we can determine things like whether or not briar is sufficiently aged when a pipe was made. Some of us are claiming that we find certain irregularities (or rather certain unfortunate regularities) with certain brands. Why would this be surprising in any way? Why would the assumption be that we are making something up?

"I can't tell the difference between ketchup and mustard, so neither can you." That's what I hear in this thread. Well, okay.
 

Jshogan2

Member
Dec 31, 2019
131
202
SC
Exactly this. It’s not like a manufacturer is just going to go and charge 2,3,4x the price of a competitor if their product isn’t objectively 2,3,4x better. No one would ever pay a premium for a name or simply the appearance of luxury and exclusivity.

Haha. Sarcasm noted ;). As you say of course some folks would pay a premium for those very reasons, and that doesn't explain the large % of "workhorse" pipes Castello produces that are pretty reasonably priced if you look around. They _seem_ to suffer such success and intense criticism by serving both of those "types" of pipesmokers, and probably other types in between.
 
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Casual

Preferred Member
Oct 3, 2019
1,909
6,595
NL, CA
Every person must evaluate for themselves how much of the price of a product is for its name, and how much is on the “get what you pay for” principle. Anyone who thinks prices are all one or the other is playing with one hand tied behind their back.

Leaving the subjective evaluation of prices aside, I love my stable of four Castellos. It took a while to warm to their odd Italian proportions (unlike, say, Monica Belucci).

Their all-acrylic army mount is unique as far as I’ve seen. It’s very functional and a pleasure to use and clean. A perfect fit, every time, far less fiddly than a metal one. Likely not as durable as metal, but everything in life is a trade off.

They’ve given me perfect performance so far, which I can’t quite say for my Peterson or Savinelli pipes. Small sample, but for me it’s 100%.

They have given me good examples of thin walled, ultralight pipes, and thick, sturdy, heavy ones. That goes to show a breadth of expertise that makes me more likely to try something sight unseen from them.

I like their bits. A bit concave on the button is a nice touch. I like a chunky button with a thin bit right behind it, and that’s what I get from them. Acrylic is just fine by me, low maintenance and durable.

And that’s what is so great about Castellos.
 

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kola

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Apr 1, 2014
979
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I'd love to see a set-up at a Pipe Show where pipe smokers would be challenged to pick out a specific tobacco blend in a simple controlled experiment. The same goes for another test --- blindfolding smokers and have them pick out what brand of pipe they are smoking, (Costello, Peterson, MM cob,etc.) My money would still be bet on a 99% failure rate. The 1% would be the lucky guess.

Professional wine connoisseurs who create and test wines are a very rare breed of individuals with highly tuned and gifted olfactory senses. I've also heard of a chocolate factory that has it's hand-picked special team of expert tasters that create their own recipe. But I'm guessing there's very few Joe Pipesmokers who could accurately identify a specific pipe (when blindfolded and not allowed to handle it (only by smoking it. I think it'd be the same for picking out a specific tobacco blend. As I've said for years, this would be an interesting thing to do at a pipe show and it wouldn't take much to make it happen. And I think there would be a lot of deflated egos after it was all said and done. And if anyone succeeded it'd be good for some in-your-face bragging rights.

Many men? get so riled up over their favorite pipe brands. Like it's some religious cult following. I find it amusing. I like MM cobs and they get attacked the most by other pipesmokers. Really, I couldn't care less. I've owed a lot of pipes over 40+ years. My best smokers are two JM Boswell pipes. 150 USD pipes. Go figger.' YMMV
 

anotherbob

Preferred Member
Mar 30, 2019
5,687
10,146
42
In the semi-rural NorthEastern USA
I watched a show called "Somme" about guys becoming master sommeliers, wine tasters. And it was amazing to me, how these guys with talent and practice could taste a glass of wine and not just make broad assessments like "It's pretty tannic". They could taste a glass of wine, tell you what country it was from, almost always what region, and in some cases the year. And when they missed, they missed by a few miles in terms of region, this hillside vs that hillside. I can't do that with wine. And it would be a brutally ignorant assertion for me to suggest that these guys are somehow making it up, pretending to taste things, inventing a narrative about the wine. Imagine a person who has never had wine before doing a blind tasting.... might do well to get reds and whites separated, but certainly wouldn't be capable of determining American vs Italian wine on the first night without instruction and practice.

Why wouldn't this transfer to pipes? I can tell if a pipe is drilled at 1/8" or at 5/32" for example. They draw differently. Is the claim here that this isn't true? Does a pipe draw the same if the airway is drilled at 1/2"? Or 1/16"? Of course not. And some of us are claiming that with practice, we can determine things like whether or not briar is sufficiently aged when a pipe was made. Some of us are claiming that we find certain irregularities (or rather certain unfortunate regularities) with certain brands. Why would this be surprising in any way? Why would the assumption be that we are making something up?

"I can't tell the difference between ketchup and mustard, so neither can you." That's what I hear in this thread. Well, okay.
Warning going off topic here:
funny thing people love to point out about wine tasters and their failures doesn't apply to master sommeliers. The thing is any of us could b.s. our way into being a wine expert at a restaurant all we have to do is trick the manager. The master guys actually have to really show real proof they know their stuff. Just a silly side note. People often cite the failure of basically self styled wine experts at tasting differences and being fooled by fancy bottles as proof that wine tasting is a fake thing. When what was really proven was that many people who claim wine expertise are blowing smoke.
 
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paulie66scandinavian

Preferred Member
Jul 28, 2016
5,438
8,621
Finland-Scandinavia-EU
Every person must evaluate for themselves how much of the price of a product is for its name, and how much is on the “get what you pay for” principle. Anyone who thinks prices are all one or the other is playing with one hand tied behind their back.

Leaving the subjective evaluation of prices aside, I love my stable of four Castellos. It took a while to warm to their odd Italian proportions (unlike, say, Monica Belucci).

Their all-acrylic army mount is unique as far as I’ve seen. It’s very functional and a pleasure to use and clean. A perfect fit, every time, far less fiddly than a metal one. Likely not as durable as metal, but everything in life is a trade off.

They’ve given me perfect performance so far, which I can’t quite say for my Peterson or Savinelli pipes. Small sample, but for me it’s 100%.

They have given me good examples of thin walled, ultralight pipes, and thick, sturdy, heavy ones. That goes to show a breadth of expertise that makes me more likely to try something sight unseen from them.

I like their bits. A bit concave on the button is a nice touch. I like a chunky button with a thin bit right behind it, and that’s what I get from them. Acrylic is just fine by me, low maintenance and durable.

And that’s what is so great about Castellos.
Yes Sir I have to confess I'm not that crazy about Castello or any other Italian (exempt Savinelli)rather odd aesthetics but that is compensated by a very fine smoking experience my Castellos provide each and every time
 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
33,461
25,470
Castello gets big points for generating enthusiasm with its customers. One Forums member who has a number of handsome Castellos said he prefers a different up-market Italian pipe. They're pricey for me, but I tend to like the smaller ones that don't get marketed as much in the U.S., not because they don't cost as much, but because they are lighter weight and tend to be a little more understated in design, which I like. But no Castellos in my stable.
 

chasingembers

Captain of the Black Frigate
Nov 12, 2014
26,821
34,026
Embers I'm sorry you got a gurgler, I guess it can happen with any brand here and there.
Yep, loved the shape and finish though. The button was a tad sharp, in hindsight I should've gotten an ebonite one made for it but that was prior to knowing that could be done.
 
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oldgeezersmoker

Preferred Member
Oct 7, 2016
2,178
4,068
Most are too big, particularly those sold here. Us 'mericans apparently like things big, like 4k and GG size Castellos', so that is what stateside retailers sell. I'm probably odd-man out here.
I enjoy the lunkers, but I have in recent years acquired smaller ones, down to Group One Dunhill size, that are great pipes.

it is impossible for me to be “objective” about Castellos. I have been fascinated by them since circa 1980, when I first heard of them. There was a mystique about them then, and I am still under the influence 40 yeas later.
 

wyfbane

Preferred Member
Apr 26, 2013
4,684
2,241
Washington
There has been a lot said over this course about Castellos. I agree that there is some "IT factor" going on with the pipes. I also agree that their overall quality control is probably higher than most pipe producers. As a person who has classic shaped pipes, I appreciate the eccentricities of some Italian pipe makers. This may not get me invited to the pipe maker forum, but I do like odd shaped pipes... while recognizing that they are oddly shaped.

One thing I will say is that it is much harder to get a good deal on a Castello. Because of their mystique and actual quality, everyone knows about them and you pay for what you get. Admittedly they are a great value, but you can often find a Cavicchi or Don Carlos of simillar quality for less money in my experience.
 
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fjc623

Member
Nov 24, 2014
137
322
New York
Please keep in mind that Castello has a hold on the briar distributor Mimo that caters to Castello company.

I’m confident that there is something going on here.
Draw your on conclusion
 
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kola

Preferred Member
Apr 1, 2014
979
1,322
Mimmo has the best briar, so it's said...and it appears to be true, IMO.
He also sells his briar to other pipe makers as well - not just Costello.
 

sasquatch

Preferred Member
Jul 16, 2012
1,214
797
Please keep in mind that Castello has a hold on the briar distributor Mimo that caters to Castello company.

I’m confident that there is something going on here.
Draw your on conclusion
This is no longer true. I was having beers with Mimmo in an airport a few years ago, and Castello had told him to pound sand not long before.
 

sasquatch

Preferred Member
Jul 16, 2012
1,214
797
Mimmo has the best briar, so it's said...and it appears to be true, IMO.
He also sells his briar to other pipe makers as well - not just Costello.

15 years on a block does magic. Mimmo's wood, fresh out the gate is pretty poor, just like everyone else's. Give it ten years, it hardens up, turns dark brown and sweetens. This is what Castello, and no other manufacturer, does. Savinelli brag about using 3 years aged briar on their very best stuff.
 
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kola

Preferred Member
Apr 1, 2014
979
1,322
^^^ Thanks for that info. And kudos to Castello for aging Mimmo's briar for so long. Maybe I'll change my mind and search for an estate, but their smooth apple shapes seem rare and hard to find.
 
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