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TimmyBoston

Pipe Smoking

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DrinkyBanjo

I have Rattray Old Gowrie at home, would that be Virginia? That one goes great with a nice cup of coffee.

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MrAtomic

Tim,

Rattray's Old Gowrie is a Virginia. If you're enjoying it without any tongue bite, I'd say you've got your technique down pat. Rattray's makes a couple other Virginias that you may like, as well -- I remember them as very nice, non-syrupy tobaccos. I never really enjoyed the cavendish-style, sweet stuff, though. You might also try the Full Virginia Flake from Samuel Gawith. It's an experience, either way -- the tobacco arrives in big, leathery flakes that you have to cut up, fold or roll into the pipe.

Hope that helps.

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DrinkyBanjo

Every bit of information helps! Thanks!

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bluesbassdad

Random comments follow:

Here's some information regarding tobacco varieties (species?). I think it is generally accurate. One curious omission: no mention of cavendish -- the result of one of any number of processes, not a species. It's a word often seen on some of the slightly pricier, drug-store blends. Also on some premium-priced blends.

I've mentioned before that my pipe smoking, which spanned 25 years, started with cheap aromatics, then progressed through better aromatics, Virgina/oriental blends, matured Virginias and blends of same, and finally a bulk tobacco sold as "Carolina Red".

During the transition to matured Virginias, I liked a bulk blend called "Mohave Malawi", which I found only in a shop in Beverly Hills, whose name I've long forgotten. The base tobacco was allegedly from Malawi; the tobaccanist added Latakia -- which as far as I know has no connection with anything named "Mohave". He also let me try the base tobacco, which I found less flavorful, but quite satisfying. I've seen no other mention of Malawi tobacco in connection with a manufactured blend.

Carolina Red was and remains something of a mystery. The shop owner, who hardly qualified as a tobacconist, said it was a single species, not a blend, which she bought in bulk. It was ribbon-cut, slightly clumpy, and as much brown as red -- although the reddish cast set it apart from other blending tobaccos. As I recall, its aroma was both sweet and spicy. On the palatte it tasted so right that I had a hard time describing it.

Now when I search for ' "carolina red" tobacco ', nothing useful turns up. Online information about Carolina tobacco suggest that it is quite bland, on the order of Maryland, whose blandness is its main characteristic. Perhaps the Carolina that I smoked was cured to produce the aroma and flavor I found so satisfying. Some tobaccos attain their unique character by being pressed tightly and subjected to heat. Perhaps this was one such, although it was hardly dark enough to have been heated very much.

I remember which pipe I was smoking the night I decided to quit "just until my sore throat got better"; it was (is?) a bulldog shape from the bargain bin at Leavitt & Pierce in Cambridge, MA. I bought it within days of going away to college. I was convinced it made me look cool. That's doubtful, considering I was from a hick town in the midwest and had just turned 17, but the pipe turned out to be a gem. It was the equal of many pipes I bought later at ten times the price. (Curious as to whether that shop still exists, I Googled it and came up with many hits, including this one.)

It's at least an even bet that the last tobacco I smoked was Carolina Red (even though I always kept several different blends on hand for variety's sake). If I were to dig through the still-packed storage boxes in the garage until I found the dozen or so pipes I didn't eventually throw away, I wonder whether that pipe would still have some of the aroma of Carolina Red imbedded in the cake -- after 24 years.

If I knew the world was coming to an end during the next six months, I'd make an effort to pick up where I left off. There were times, before my addiction turned me into a non-stop smoker, when the pleasure of smoking was almost overwhelming.

Yours truly,

Dave Morefield

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TBoner

Just a note to say that I had my first Wathens today. It's a bottle from '98.

I have never had a better pairing with my pipe tobacco (currently a 95/5 Virginia/Burley blend). In fact, I have never had a better whiskey-and-smoke pairing, period.

Also, Dave, if you ever need someone to take those pipes off your hands, let me know.

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bluesbassdad

I'm hanging on to them just in case I contract a terminal, non-smoking-related disease -- in which case I'll give smoking another try.

I know; that's pretty pathetic. However, I'm too decrepit and too poor to have a mistress, and I've already owned a motorcycle. I can't think of any other way to give death the finger.

Yours truly,

Dave Morefield

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TBoner

Yeah, I'd probably hold on to the pipes, too.

As for giving death the fniger, I've already planned my course of action should I make it to 80: start pouring Stagg, Booker's, WTRB, and Talisker all day long, always with a Romeo y Julieta Anniversario Churchill or my pipe, and always followed by a slab of chocolate cake. Should make short work of my remaining months (or weeks).

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Bob O.
Yeah, I'd probably hold on to the pipes, too.

As for giving death the fniger, I've already planned my course of action should I make it to 80: start pouring Stagg, Booker's, WTRB, and Talisker all day long, always with a Romeo y Julieta Anniversario Churchill or my pipe, and always followed by a slab of chocolate cake. Should make short work of my remaining months (or weeks).

At least you would go with a big grin. :grin:

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MrAtomic

Wow,

I went through this line of reasoning with my girlfriend very recently. She wanted to know when I was going to get rid of the coolerdor full of cigars and the box full of pipes that are currently clogging up our reading room, since I haven't smoked in years. I told her "sure, I don't smoke now, but I'm seasoning those cigars for the future -- when I'm old and ready to take up the habit again they'll taste fantastic." She wasn't amused, particularly in light of the fact that my bourbon collection is starting to encroach on other areas of our living space, and in all fairness, she's got a point. I'll probably get rid of the pipes, at least. Do people buy used pipes in this day and age? I have a couple of Dunhills that deserve to be used instead of sitting idle in their boxes.

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DrinkyBanjo

1. Yes, people by used 'estate' pipes.

2. I'm sure some of your bourbon drinking friends could put a nice Dunhill to good use!

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bluesbassdad

If you decide to sell your pipes, I hope you are able to do so without feeling like you've been shafted.

Back in the early 1970's I bought a flamboyantly styled Nording, about 80% straight grain and with the natural surface of the burl across the top, reasonable perpendicular to the centerline of the bowl. It was a beautiful pipe, but it was too heavy for me to hold in my teeth alone for more than a few seconds. It had cost $35 in 1969 dollars (almost $200 in today's inflated greenbacks). I took it to the store where I bought it (and most of my other tobacco supplies, as well), and the owner offered me $10 for it. I thought he was joking -- or at least doing some hard-ball negotiating. I never got him to budge. To my shame, I took the $10. I'll never forget how quickly he whisked the pipe off the counter, the instant I agreed.

Yours truly,

Dave Morefield

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mythrenegade

Ok,

The link you guys suggested (pipesandcigars.com) has a lot of stuff, and it's overwhelming. Forgive the newbie questions, but I'm clueless here.

I am planning to order the "three pipes for $45" because I have two other friends that I smoke with and one of them asked me to land him a pipe. It seems to be a good price, and since i have no idea what's good and what's not, a closeout pipe should be fine.

Based on what I've read here, I should probably avoid aromatics, and look for virginia tobacco correct?

But then what? Do I need to buy pipe cleaners? What is a tamper? It seems like there is a collection of tools that are a mystery to me. I take a cigar, cut the end off and smoke it. What do I need to purchase to have a good first experience smoking a pipe?

Thanks for the help...

Joel

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DrinkyBanjo

Do not avoid anything, if you like a nice room note a good Aromatic will be fine. It is true that the more complex smokes are usually non-aromatic but do not avoid them if that is what you are looking for.

1/2 of pipe smoking is not offending others in the immediate vicinity. If a nice note makes your significant other more tolerable of the pipe then it could work to your advantage.

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bluesbassdad

Yes, you need pipecleaners. You also need a multipurpose pipe tool. It should include both a tamper and a long, pointy thing for loosening the tobacco (sometimes even while you are still smoking it).

Someone who smokes a lot also needs a tool for carefully shaping and eventually removing some of the cake inside the bowl. Someone who smokes only four times a year (did you say that?) may never need such a tool.

An inexhaustible supply of flame is essential. I used matches by the pound. A butane lighter, carefully adjusted and handled, is probably a better idea.

Everyone tries aromatics sooner or later. I promise not to say I told you so. Heck, you may even like them as a change of pace. However, they present difficulties that make them most unsuitable for the smoker most likely to try them -- the novice.

Adjusting for inflation from my day until now, I suspect the quality of a $15 pipe will be wanting. Back in the 1980's I expected to pay at least $20 for a quality pipe. I'd guess $50 today.

You want a pipe with close grain, no hidden pits or fissures and good alignment of the bore with the bottom of the bowl. Describing one is far easier than identifying one.

Good luck and please keep us informed. I love smoking vicariously.

Yours truly,

Dave Morefield

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mythrenegade

Dave,

What is a cork knocker?

Joel

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DrinkyBanjo

I believe a cork knocker is a cork that you stick to an ashtray to tap the pipe against to loosen up tobacco.

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bluesbassdad

Correct! For example, see here.

Among experienced pipe smokers they are also known as "stem breakers".

They are often included on ash trays designed for pipe smoking.

Yours truly,

Dave Morefield

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mythrenegade

Well, I took the plunge. I ordered a bunch of stuff from pipesandcigars.com. I got three pipes because I roast coffee with two other guys and that's when we typically smoke (which also increases the frequency of when I smoke from about 4 times a year to about twice a month), so I got a pipe for each of us. Here's what I got:

---

Pipe Closeout Special (Bent)

These 3 packs will consist of discretionary hand picked closeouts we have received. They will come in assorted shapes and finishes. Picture may not represent actual pipes in pack.

PLUS FREE POUCH OF TOBACCO WITH ORDER!!

---

This was $45.99 and ostensibly is a $75 value...

Then I got a few things that Dave suggested:

Dill's Premium Pipe Cleaners (32 cleaners)

Pipe Tool - 3 in 1 Czech Tool (3 pack)

Then I got two bulk tobaccos and one sampler pack:

Eric's Bulk - Old Lodge (4 ounces)

A blend of the finest grade Latakia's combined with Stoved Virginias, and a hint of Balkan. This is a heavy blend perfect for cool nights with a shifter of fine Port.

McClelland Calypso Black (4 ounces)

A mysteriously provocative tobacco having a distinctive character with a universally appealing aroma both in the pouch and in the room. Soft, sweet, refined black cavendish.

Tin Sampler - Aromatic "Paper and Metal"

Individually these tins and pouches would sell for three times as much in a tobacco store. But due to an overstock you are the real winner. All of these tobaccos are imported from Europe and are made with the finest quality tobacco. This package is sure to bring a huge smile to any pipe smokers face! What a price! 6 items in all including Thomas Radford Sundays Fantasy 50g tin, Exclusiv Sherry & Cherry 50g tin, Brookfield Aromatic Pouch 50g, Golden Blends Mild Chocolate Pouch 50g, Exclusiv Wild Mango Pouch 50g

So, once it all arrives I'll begin to try these things. Thanks for all of your help! I'll keep you posted as to what I like and what I don't.

I have no idea what I ordered. I picked them based on the descriptions and what I imagined my tastes would be. I ordered the aromatic sampler to try as well.

Joel

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bluesbassdad

Joel,

I envy you the adventure you are about to undertake.

From the description I gather that the Old Lodge may be a tasty blend. However, including it in your starter assortment may be a bit like using OGD 114 to introduce bourbon to a teetotler. :shocked:

May you always enjoy your vices in moderation. :grin:

BTW, has anyone advised you regarding the break-in process?

Yours truly,

Dave Morefield

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mythrenegade

Everything I know about pipe smoking I learned from this thread. So, not only has no one advised me, I have no idea what you are talking about :-)

The stuff is due to arrive Wednesday. All advice is appreciated. What should I start with, what is the break in process, etc.

Joel

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bluesbassdad

Joel,

There's a traditional way to break in a pipe; the tradition is at least partly grounded in experience.

First gently remove the stem. Twist in one direction while gently pulling. If there's a metal gadget sticking out of the stem, remove it. Clean the inside of the bowl to remove any dirt, sawdust, stray finish material, etc. Start with a damp washcloth that you don't mind throwing away. (Some smokers swear that rubbing the inside of the bowl with your favorite liquor both cleans and adds flavor. I can't swear to that.)

Use a dampened pipe cleaner to remove debris from the inside of the stem and the shank of the pipe. Bend the cleaner double to clean the mating surface of the shank. Clean the stem in hot water and dishwashing detergent; you don't know where it's been. Rinse well, and dry thoroughly. Reinsert the stem in the shank.

The first time you smoke the pipe, fill the bowl 1/3 full at the most. Do your best to turn it all into ash before you give up and dig out the leftover tobacco. (There will always be some.) Try to avoid scorching the inside of the bowl with your match or lighter. The goal is to coat the inside of the bowl with residue from the burning tobbaco, not to char the wood itself. Some charring of the wood will occur naturally from the heat of the burning tobacco; just don't try to hurry the process along with a flame.

After you remove the unbrunt tobacco residue run a pipecleaner through the stem, all the way to the bottom of the bowl. Repeat with fresh cleaners untill one comes out clean. Bend a pipe cleaner double and gently brush the inside of the bowl to remove loose ash.

Allow the pipe to dry at least a day before smoking it again.

After every dozen smokes or so, after the pipe is completely cold, remove the stem and clean inside the shank with a doubled pipe cleaner. Unless the stem is fitted perfectly, there will be a small gap where debris can collect.

After repeated smoking, when the inside of the bowl is almost completely covered with tobacco residue, start filling the bowl a little higher each time you smoke it.

Common pitfalls include allowing residual liquid to evaporate in the stem (leaving behind unpleasant flavors), allowing liquid to be aborbed into the shank and bowl (ditto), filling the bowl too full too soon -- resulting in uneven conditioning (aka, "caking") of the bowl, and failing to allow complete drying -- resulting in a soggy cake that is more likely to fall apart prematurely.

The most common pitfall is to puff too hard and too often, causing the pipe to overheat. The outside of the bowl should be pleasantly warm to the touch, not uncomfortably hot. Overheating can permanently damage the bowl. (Don't even think about breaking in a pipe by lighting it and holding it out the window of a moving car. Also, don't ask me how I know that's a bad idea.)

Yours truly,

Dave Morefield

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mythrenegade
Joel,

There's a traditional way to break in a pipe; the tradition is at least partly grounded in experience.

Man, I was REALLY hoping you were about to go into a comment about some sort of marital activity :-)

Well, I suppose that can come afterwards...

Thanks for the advice! I knew this was complex, but I can tell I'm going to need more pipe cleaners. One last thing before I try all of this: Which tobacco should I try first? Should I just go with the free stuff that came with the pipes? I assume from your earlier comments that I should avoid the aromatics at first.

Joel

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bluesbassdad

As Tim (DrinkyBanjo) noted, other people's response to the aromas you release cannot be totally ignored -- even though that's what I usually did. :blush:

With no description of the free pouch you mentioned, I'd suggest you start with either the Old Lodge or the Calypso Black. I'd guess the latter may be more pleasant for bystanders. (What was that term Tim used? Was it "room note"? Very classy.)

I think I'll give the nod to the Old Lodge by a slight margin. It sounds as though it might be a little strong for a new pipe smoker; however, you're already a bourbon drinker, and that should count for something.

I predict you will find the OL a little easier to pack to just the right density for easy puffing and even burning. You should feel a bit more than a slight resistance when you try to draw air through the pipe. Check occasionally while you're loading it. If it feels too firm, empty it, and start over.

Cavendish, which is a rather broad category in regard to flavor and aroma, is usually a little clumpier, although you can rub it between your palms to separate it further, and it's more susceptible to uneven packing. It also may be a little sludgier and harder to keep lit.

Yours truly,

Dave Morefield

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mythrenegade
I think I'll give the nod to the Old Lodge by a slight margin. It sounds as though it might be a little strong for a new pipe smoker; however, you're already a bourbon drinker, and that should count for something.

I was concerned about this, and then i realized that I smoke big heavy cigars. I can't imagine this will be stronger than something like a Cuban Montecristo #2... If it is, well, all the better!

The package should arrive tomorrow. I'm really looking forward to it. Thanks again for all your help.

Joel

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mythrenegade
With no description of the free pouch you mentioned, I'd suggest you start with either the Old Lodge or the Calypso Black. I'd guess the latter may be more pleasant for bystanders. (What was that term Tim used? Was it "room note"? Very classy.)

Ok,

The stuff arrived today. w00t!

The Calypso Black smells like everything I've ever imagined a pipe smelling like. The room note should be fantastic, and I'm hoping it's good to smoke.

The "English" has a bit of a cigar smell to it. Something in the aromatic sampler is giving off a very bad smell. I had to put all five of them in a second ziplock to keep it from overwhelming everything. I hope I don't end up tossing all of that.

The Old Lodge smells awesome. It has a rich tobacco smell coupled with the smell of a campfire. This stuff immediately brought back memories of the old lodge we used to own in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. I think it would have done that even without the name.

I'll probably smoke the english tonight, simply because it looks really dry and relatively easy to ignite. I don't know if I'll like it, so I might bring some of the old lodge along as well.

The pipes are an interesting collection. I have attached a photo. I like the look and feel of the larger pipes, probably the red one, not the black one. The black one has a very rough, almost natural wood finish.

Sorry about the picture being lousy, I didn't have good lighting so I had to use a flash. Never a good idea.

Joel

post-1407-14489813051811_thumb.jpg

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