View Full Version : Bourbon & Pipes

08-18-2003, 20:14
I am just starting to get into pipes, and was wondering if any of you were pipe & bourbon people. If so, what are some of your favorite pairs of the two?


08-21-2003, 18:44
Well Brian, there doesn't seem to be many pipe smokers here at SB.com. I personally have never smoked a pipe, but am interested. Tell us what you like about it and what tobaccos you prefer.

08-21-2003, 22:45
As I have explained elsewhere in this forum, I became a raving, tobacco addict, and I had to quit, I am convinced, to save my life. (I smoked cigarettes, cigars, and pipes -- 12-16 hours a day.) Nevertheless, I still have a box of my best pipes (I tossed most of my ratty collection back in 1983), just on the off-chance that I develop a terminal illness. In that event, I will revisit my old habit, at least long enough to see whether it still holds the charms that I remember so vividly.

One of my favorite tobaccos was original recipe Balkan Sobranie. Out of curiousity, I just did a search on it, and I came up with mildly depressing results (http://www.tobaccoreviews.com/blend_detail.cfm?ALPHA=O&TID=1525). Of course, everything changes over a 20 year period, and given the demonization of tobacco, combined with the world-wide trend of corporate consolidation, I guess I shouldn't be surprised at anything.

Toward the end of my pipe-smoking career, I gave up the heavily flavored blends of Turkish and Latakia, in favor of naturally cured Virginias and Carolinas (or so they were marketed by my local tobacconist, who sold them in bulk).

I wasn't a bourbon drinker in those days, so I can't make any suggestions about pairings. However, I can still taste Carolina Red in my memory, and I'd probably try something on the dry side, to complement its sweetness -- perhaps EC18. Balkan Sobranie was full-flavored and dry, which suggests to me a bourbon on the sweet side, such as Eagle Rare Single Barrel.

Damn, after all these years, I find myself longing to caress my GBD, straight-grain, squat bulldog and load it to the brim with Dunhill's Nightcap, which had one of the highest proportions of Latakia. I wonder whether my wife found my stash of pipes and tossed them during our last move in 1986.

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield, Recovering Smoker

10-17-2003, 07:31
I would recommend, as BBD has, to begin with Englishes. An English is typically a blend of straight Virginias as the base and Latakia or Perique. The latter are both pungent and Latakia will definitely get you nico-buzzing.

However, as you are young and like cigars, you probably like heavier styles (just guessing) so I would recommend Virginias to start. Be careful, they will tear up your tongue if you smoke them like a cigar. Virginia tobacco has a rich "Heinz 57" or "Ketchupy smell" to it and is richly spicy. Ashton, McClellands, Samuel Gawith and Dunhill put out some nice Straight virginias. Learn to smoke patiently and it will yeild a wonderful full flavor.

11-21-2003, 12:20
I have been smoking cigars for a while now, and have been thinking of experimenting with a pipe. I want to find one at the low end of the price range to start. Links anyone?

Also, I remember enjoying our mailman's pipe scent growing up. The Vanilla, Cherry, Rum or other sweetly-scented mild variety is piqueing my interest right now. What blends would deliver that kind of flavor?

11-21-2003, 15:48
B Dub,

Your initial interest is similar to that of most people who are just starting to smoke a pipe. Back when I smoked, there was Mixture 79, Middleton's Cherry, Rum and Maple, Sail Aromatic, Flying Dutchman -- all guaranteed, or so I thought back then, to make willowy women compliant and less suave men envious. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

However, what most pipesmokers learn is that what smells good wafting in the wind doesn't usually produce pleasant sensations in one's mouth and olfactory passages. In fact, the cheapest of the aromatic blends contain flavorings that include sugar, which burns very hot and very fast, creating unpleasant sensations for the smoker, if not the olfactory spectator.

Although I am not up-to-date on pipe tobacco choices today, I suggest you consult a true tobacconist and inquire about blends based on matured Virginia or Carolina tobacco, which have a sweetness, born of curing, that does not add to the normal bite that any pipe and tobacco will produce in some measure.

In a similar vein, I suggest you ask for guidance regarding your choice of pipe, as well. Let's see now, allowing for inflation over the past 20 years (I used to get marvelous Macanudo and Royal Jamaica cigars at around $2-3, so I'll use an inflation factor of three), I'd guess that the minimum you should expect to pay for a worthwhile pipe is around $50-60. You'll want to strike a compromise between thick walls (good for heat dissipation and longevity) and light weight (comfortable to clench in the teeth, at least for short periods).

Back in the day, my favorite shape was the squat bulldog because its thickness is concentrated in the region of the bowl where maximum heat is likely to be generated. My favorite brand was GBD, but I have no idea what is a good buy in a quality pipe today.

Happy puffing! (Oh, and buy extra refills for your lighter!)

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

11-21-2003, 16:07
That stuff dealing with the sugar sounds like good information. Glad to know it. Virginia or Carolina tobacco. Got it.

As for the lighter, can I just use my Colibri torch lighter? I have plenty of premium triple refined butane for that.

11-21-2003, 16:23
B Dub,

Way back when, the choice was between a wind-proof Zippo and a kitchen match. (Book matches didn't last long enough to get the job done.) The kitchen match won, hands down, because of the problem of lighter fluid soot getting into the tobacco during lighting with a Zippo. That being said, many an old-timer lit his Kentucky Club, Sir Walter Raleigh or Prince Albert with a lighter. (Those were the guys who never cleaned their pipes.)

With the advent of gas lighters, many purists switched, saying that they detected no effect on flavor because the gas burns completely. I think that may be true. (If you can't detect any effect with your cigars, then I wouldn't expect an effect on pipe tobacco. Just don't let the flame get out of hand and put unsightly scorch-marks on the pipe.)

I used a gas lighter at times, but I never got over my sentimental attachment to a wooden match (after allowing the flame to advance from the chemical-laden tip to the shaft of the match). I could always tell when I was about out of matches, but early models of gas lighters seemed to run out of gas without warning and all too often.

Oh, and I suggest that you include the word "matured", or perhaps "cured" when you inquire about Virginia or Carolina. So-called "golden Virginia ribbon" or "golden Virgina flake" will burn like tinder and be less flavorful. They are useful in blends, but for smoking straight, you'll want the matured variety, which will typically be brown and will smell rich and sweet.

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

11-21-2003, 16:34
I really like the Dunhill line of cigars, and associate Dunhill with quality. Do they make a good line of pipe tobacco? If so, which of their flavors would you recommend?

02-01-2004, 23:10
I have smoked pipes for several years. I find that ilike the Meerschaum pipes the best. As for tobacco I had a cigar store that carried its own brands of pipe tobacco. I created my own mixture by combining their Mountain cherry with their Ameretto. I also like a cigar from time to time, but apipe smells better to the others around me. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/usflag.gif

02-04-2004, 23:14
I am just starting to get into pipes, and was wondering if any of you were pipe & bourbon people. If so, what are some of your favorite pairs of the two?

Brian, B-Dub, I am a pipe smoker. You may find something you like among the recommendations of others, but like bourbon, you just have to get around to tasting them all and making up your own mind about what you like.

http://pipes.org/ is one of the best online resources to educate yourself about pipes. You can sign up for the Pipes Digest e-periodical, and join the discussion groups. I also posted a link recently to tobaccoreviews.com, which is a great resource on tobacco tasting.

If you're not sure whether you'll like it, start with a corn cob. Don't laugh: all pipe smokers know that cobs smoke very well. They won't last a lifetime, but they smoke cool and dry. And they're cheap, so no great investment lost if you don't stick with it.

But stick with it. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif I can't emphasize this enough: it takes time to learn how to smoke a pipe properly. You will get your tongue bit, when you're new. You will go through matches til you learn how to keep it lit. You have to learn how to load it, and how to light it, and how to control the rate of combustion through gentle air flow... it takes time and practice. But it is an exquisite pleasure once it becomes second nature.

Go to your local pipe/cigar shop; if the pipe smoker isn't working, ask what his schedule is, and go talk to him. Pipe smokers are always glad to educate a novice. Sniff those jars. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif There is no ultimate blend, just like there is no ultimate bourbon; the pleasure is in discovering the myriad of tastes to be had. Smoke some straight burley, to discover what it tastes like. Smoke a straight virginia, too. Smoke a straight cavendish. Find out what the different tobaccos taste like, then see what they add to a blend.

Good luck.

11-13-2004, 13:48
Airborne, I have been smoking pipes and cigars for quite some time now. I actually started my own shop selling pipes and cigars earlier this year. I used to religiously drink bourbon with my pipes in the evening, but lately I have switched to coffee.

The biggest reason for the switch was that often times my favorite pipe tobaccos got in the way of some of the flavors in the finer bourbons that I like drink rather than enhancing them. These days I will typically smoke a good cigar with my bourbons instead.

I am still first and foremost a pipe smoker. I smoke mostly Italian pipes as well as some of the older classic American pipes from 70+ years ago. I smoke light aromatics like MacBaren Mixture Scottish Blend and various types of Navy Cavendishes. You can read some articles about pipe smoking at my website if you are interested in that sort of thing.

Good thread!!!! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif