Towards the end of each year and into the new year, I tend to reflect upon the tobaccos that I've smoked and enjoyed the most in the past 12 months. And since 2014, I've made a "Top Tobaccos" video for my YouTube channel. This goes back a couple of years before The Pipe Nook even existed, and it's always been a fun exercise. If you've never seen my YouTube channel, you can check it out here. But for now, let's get down to the list!
A few ground rules went into the creation of this list. First, it is based on my somewhat limited memory of the various tobaccos I smoked this past year. This old brain just ain't what it used to be. Next, it's not necessarily my "Top Pipe Tobaccos of All Time" list. While I still enjoy all of the tobaccos in the lists from previous years, some of my favorites didn't get smoked as much this year and don't appear on this list, for the simple fact that I smoked a good bit of new-to-me blends this year, and there's just not enough time to smoke 'em all as much as I'd like. Perhaps one day I'll have tried every blend out there and can settle into smoking primarily my very favorites...but I don't foresee that day coming any time soon! There are literally thousands of blends on the market, and while I try to carry a highly curated set of offerings here at The Pipe Nook, I just recently surpassed 100 blends that I try to keep available on the shop! So I've got my work cut for me to stay on top of what's out there.
Also of note is that all of these blends are available here at The Pipe Nook. That's not because I'm a corporate shill; it's because I sell the brands and blends that I enjoy the most. Of course, as a businessman, I'd like to sell a few tins...but quite honestly, I won't get rich selling tobacco! Single tins of tobacco are not a loss-leader...but close enough for a "small fry" shop such as mine. What I'm most interested in, just like many of you, is sharing the things that I gain the most enjoyment from, with like-minded people who enjoy pipe smoking as much as I do.
Finally, you'll see that this year's list leans very heavily towards blends that include either Perique or Dark Fired Kentucky (sometimes both), and towards flakes. Those are the blends that I gravitate towards the most. So this is neither an all-inclusive nor best selling list; it's simply a list of my favorite blends that I've smoked the most this past year. You'll see that there's nothing in the way of aromatics or English blends included (although I'll provide some special mentions). While I do enjoy those kinds of blends from time to time when I'm in the mood, I suppose I've just found my wheelhouse and primarily stick to that. In comparison, sometimes I really enjoy a good salad...but I'd rather have steak! Just my personal preference.
Honorable Mentions - Aromatics
Cornell & Diehl's Autumn Evening - This is a simple base blend of Virginia and Cavendish, to which is added a nice maple flavor. I'd say this is a medium aromatic, not an overly topped blend, which makes the base blend all that much more important.
GL Pease's The Virginia Cream - The name seemingly says it all, but there's more going on here than one might expect. Yes, a pleasant Vanilla & Bourbon flavor is present, but in addition to the "usual suspects" of Virginia and Black Cavendish found in most aromatic blends, Mr. Pease decided to add a bit of Dark Fired Kentucky and Perique to this blend, giving it a different spin than the vast majority of aromatics out there.
Honorable Mentions - Latakia Blends
Captain Earle's Reflections - If you like Latakia in smaller portions, or if you've never tried a Latakia blend and are looking to dip your toe in the shallow end of the pool, this is a great place to start. A mixture of various Virginias, Orientals, Cavendish, and Latakia, there's just enough of that smoky leaf to notice it's there, but it's never overbearing.
Captain Earle's Ten Russians - This is the other side of the Latakia spectrum. You wanna know what a heavy Latakia blend is like? Then welcome aboard! There are Virginias and Orientals present to provide a bit of balance, but there's no doubt who's running the show here.
MY TOP 10 TOBACCO BLENDS OF 2019
10. GL Pease's Penny Farthing - A fine shag cut, this blend isn't for everyone. Shag cut tobacco will burn more quickly than any other tobacco, much like pine straw burns more quickly in a campfire than twigs. As such, if you push it too hard, it will burn hot and not taste like much. However, if you can remember to sip slowly, there is much reward. Comprised of Virginia, Perique, and Dark Fired Kentucky, this blend proved to be right up my alley! And the different cut from the rest of my favorite blends made it all the more interesting. This is currently the only shag cut blend I carry at The Pipe Nook, and it was introduced in 2019.
9. Cornell & Diehl's Bluegrass - Another blend made of Virginia, Perique, and Dark Fired, this one is presented in a broken flake. Actually, I would say that it's somewhere in-between a ready rubbed and a broken flake, depending on the tin. Regardless, it's fairly easy to rub out into something that's fun to load into your pipe, and enjoy the robust flavors of these components.
8. Cornell & Diehl's Blue Ridge - A blend of Virginia, Black Cavendish, Orientals and Perique, this is a well balanced smoke that has a good bit of complexity. Presented in a fairly standard ribbon cut. The Perique doesn't steal the spotlight here. That's for another blend...
7. Cornell & Diehl's Chenet's Cake - Do you like Perique? Do you? Well, let's just find out how much. This blend will tell you, and fast! There's no denying Perique is front and center in this blend. Considered the truffle of the tobacco world, Perique in larger quantities can be musty to the nose, which it is here...but oddly, in a good way. It's hard to explain. I'm a big Perique fan, but any more than what's placed in this blend would be too much for me! Presented in a wonderful crumble cake that crumbles out easily into a short ribbon cut.
6. Captain Earle's Honor Blend - I know I gave honorable mentions to two Latakia blends from Captain Earle's already, but of the 8 blends in the line, this is my favorite. It is the only one of the 8 that doesn't contain any Latakia, but it is presented in the same crumble cake as all of the other Captain Earle's offerings. A mixture of Virginia, Orientals, Cavendish and Perique, this blend is similar to Blue Ridge, perhaps with a bit more of a pronounced taste from the Orientals, which to me provides a slight semblance of tartness, but your mileage may vary.
5. GL Pease's Navigator - Similar to C&D's Bluegrass, but without the Perique, this broken flake is a no-nonsense mixture of Virginia and Old Dark Fired, enhanced by a light Rum infusion that marries into the blend during the pressing and aging process. It's like a Navy Flake, but with Dark Fired taking the place of the Perique that's in a standard Navy treatment.
4. Peterson's Flake - This is a straightforward Virginia Flake made primarily of Medium-Bodied Brown Virginias. Peterson has revived this, as well as many other Dunhill blends. And good news: they all taste exactly the same as they did when the Dunhill name was on the tins! Providing an ever-so-slight sweetness with hay-like notes, this is one of the all-time great Virginia Flakes. If you're into straight Virginia tobaccos and haven't tried this flake, you've got some homework to do!
3. Peterson's University Flake - Another simple blend, this time with Burley and Virginia. While I sometimes use the comparison of Peterson's Flake to the taste of tea, University Flake is somewhere in-between my Number 4 and my Number 2 picks when it comes to strength and body. No wonder it wound up in the number 3 slot.
2. Peterson's Irish Flake - While I draw comparisons of Peterson's Flake to tea, Irish Flake is more like coffee. Strong, rich, and robust, this is a blend of Virginia, Burley, and Dark Fired tobaccos. Also known to be a stronger blend when it comes to nicotine, I would recommend sipping this one on a full stomach!
1. Mac Baren's HH Old Dark Fired - It will come as no surprise to those that know me from my YouTube channel that this is once again at the top of my list, where it's been for a few years. Sharing many of the qualities of Peterson's Irish Flake, I sense a bit of an Anise aftertaste, and a slightly lesser strength overall. Still bold, but a bit more refined than the Irish Flake, this is my go-to blend, and what I smoke the most.
So that's my list for 2019. While it was by definition geared solely to my personal tastes, a large part of the joy of pipe smoking can be found in discovering what types of blends you enjoy the most. I've found mine, but I'm always open to new blends, as well. And I encourage you to do the same! If any of these blends strike your interest, throw a few in the cart and see what new favorites you might find in 2020!
You can check out the video presentation of this list on my YouTube channel, here. And please subscribe if you enjoy this conversational style of discussion regarding pipes and tobaccos.
Keep 'em lit,
Just a quick announcement to let you know about an exciting new documentary that is available for purchase or rental that's all about pipes! "Father the Flame" is a film project I've heard about for a few years now that has finally come to fruition, and I'm thrilled to report that it's a beautiful documentary which takes great care to present a highly artistic, yet approachable and honest snapshot of many aspects of modern-day pipe smoking and pipe collecting!
Directed by Chad Terpstra, "Father the Flame" takes us on a journey of discovery about pipes, pipe smoking, and pipe making. The film covers much during its runtime of 79 minutes, including snapshots into the past of pipe smoking, American artisan pipe makers, the Danish masters, Mimmo and briar harvesting, the Chicago Pipe Show, Native Americans and pipe smoking, and so much more. "Father the Flame" is a fantastic accomplishment that's not to be missed!
"Father the Flame" can now be rented or purchased on Amazon Video, here.
In addition, a DVD will be released on June 18, 2019, which can be preordered here.
Don't miss this wonderful and insightful look into the art, passion, and tradition that is inherently bound to this hobby we all love!
Keep 'em Lit,
It's not every day that I introduce a new brand of pipes here at The Pipe Nook. If you've followed me for the past few years, you know that my focus is on the line where quality meets value. As such, I've only been carrying Savinelli, Rossi, and Missouri Meerschaum pipes as of late. Well I'm very pleased to announce the latest pipe company to The Pipe Nook stable: Rattray's Pipes!
Established in 1903 by Charles Rattray of Perth, Scotland, this storied company has produced some of the finest pipes available for more than a century. These pipes are now made throughout Europe, mostly in Germany and England, and are prized for using the best of both modern and Old World pipe making methods.
The attention to detail is first-class in every price point, from striking finishes to top-notch drilling, right down to the handsome pipe bag and presentation box. All of the Rattray's pipes that I carry here at The Pipe Nook are 9mm filtered, but if filters are not your preference, they aren't necessary to enjoy these incredible and beautiful smoking instruments!
I've launched with a modest selection of shapes from the Goblin, Fachen, and Old Gowrie lines, with more series and shapes to come in the near future. In addition, you'll find Rattray's Pipe Cases and tampers in my Accessories section. My initial stock is light, but don't worry - if I sell out of a shape you like, I'll be reordering soon!
I can't say enough good things about these pipes! I've been thoroughly enjoying them myself for some time now, and I'm pleased to finally offer them to you!
Keep 'em Lit,
I'm very happy to announce that The Pipe Nook now carries all 8 of Captain Earle's fantastic tobacco blends!
Captain Earle's Pipe Tobaccos were created by Jay and Louise Jones of Hermit Tobacco Works. Since Jay's passing in 2011, Louise has partnered with Cornell & Diehl to bring these popular blends to more pipe smokers than she could on her own.
These blends were inspired by Jay and Louise's acquisition of an antique meerschaum pipe that was owned by Captain James A.M. Earle, who was most notably Master of the Charles W. Morgan, a whaling vessel built in 1841 in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The Charles W. Morgan is the very last operational wooden whaling vessel in the world from an American fleet that once boasted more than 2,700 ships, and is currently harbored at the Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, Connecticut.
This is a very unique line of tobaccos in the marketplace, as they are all non-aromatic, with no added flavors. Every one of these wonderful blends is comprised of very thin ribbon cut (nearly shag) tobaccos, pressed into easy to handle crumble cakes. The shining star throughout these blends for me is the interplay between the Orientals, which are present in every single recipe, and the other constituent components. Most blends feature Latakia, and many contain Perique, making for a wide range of flavors to explore!
Captain Earle's Tobaccos have become one of my very favorite lines in a very short time since I discovered them for myself, and I'm very happy to present them to my loyal Pipe Nook customers!
Keep 'em Lit,
***Update: See below for a video shot by one of my customers, who goes by Mystic860 on YouTube, of the CW Morgan vessel at Mystic Seaport!
Greetings from The Pipe Nook! I hope you've had time recently to smoke your pipe, and to reflect on the many blessings in life. Recently, I've been compiling a list of some of my favorite quotations in regards to pipe smoking, which I thought would be fun to share with you. The first of these has even found its way onto the back of my business cards. So without further ado, here's the current list!
“The pipe draws wisdom from the lips of the philosopher, and shuts up the mouth of the foolish; it generates a style of conversation, contemplative, thoughtful, benevolent, and unaffected.”
-William Makepeace Thackeray, from “The Social Pipe”
“Nowhere in the world will such a brotherly feeling of confidence be experienced as amongst those who sit together smoking their pipes.”
- The Results and Merits of Tobacco, 1844, Doctor Barnstein
“A pipe is the fountain of contemplation, the source of pleasure, the companion of the wise; and the man who smokes, thinks like a philosopher and acts like a Samaritan.”
-Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton
“I believe that pipe smoking contributes to a somewhat calm and objective judgement in all human affairs.”
-Albert Einstein, 1950
“The fact is, squire, the moment a man takes to a pipe, he becomes a philosopher. It’s the poor man’s friend; it calms the mind, soothes the temper, and makes a man patient under difficulties. It has made more good men, good husbands, kind masters, indulgent fathers, than any other blessed thing on this universal earth.”
-Sam Slick, the clockmaker
"If you can't send money, send tobacco."
-George Washington to the Continental Congress, 1776
"I toiled after it, sir, as some men toil after virtue."
-Charles Lamb, when asked how he became such a prodigious pipe smoker
"As the priest is characterized by his cassock, so the smoker by his pipe. The way in which he holds it, raises it to his lips, and knocks out the ashes, reveals his personality, habits, passions, and even his thoughts."
-E. Th. A. Hoffmann
"...pipe smoking is properly an intellectual exercise."
-Christopher Morley, 1916
“There is no composing draught like the draught through the tube of a pipe.”
-Captain Frederick Marryatt
“A pipe is to the troubled soul what caresses of a mother are for her suffering child.”
“I hated tobacco. I could have almost lent my support to any institution that had for its object the putting of tobacco smokers to death…I now feel that smoking in moderation is a comfortable and laudable practice, and is productive of good. There is no more harm in a pipe than in a cup of tea. You may poison yourself by drinking too much green tea, and kill yourself by eating too many beefsteaks. For my part, I consider that tobacco, in moderation, is a sweetener and equalizer of the temper.”
-Thomas Henry Huxley
“There is nothing like being left alone . . . to walk peacefully with oneself in the woods. To boil one's coffee and fill one's pipe, and to think idly and slowly as one does it.”
"On land, on sea, at home, abroad,
I smoke my pipe and worship God."
-Johann Sebastian Bach
I hope you enjoyed reading this list as much as I enjoyed compiling it!
Keep 'em lit,
Today, I'd like to discuss some of the reasons that many who try their hand at pipe smoking often decide to quit. This is a topic that hits rather close to home to me, as I came very close to quitting before I really figured out how to smoke a pipe and how to achieve the level of enjoyment I've attained with pipe smoking.
As I've mentioned before in various blogs, my great-grandfather was the one and only pipe smoker in my life as I was growing up, and while many friends and family just saw him as an oddball, or saw pipe smoking as "his thing," I was always drawn to it.
Around the age of 20 or so, I decided to give smoking a shot, and I started with cigars. Eventually, I bought a cheap pipe from the drug store and tried smoking a pipe with my great-grandfather. Unfortunately, he wasn't the best instructor...he'd smoked a pipe for about 70 years at that point, but his only instruction was, "just jamb some tobacco in the bowl and light it up!"
Well, that didn't really help me, so I wound up frustrated and tongue-torched more often than not. This went on for nearly 20 years...I'm not exaggerating. During that time, I primarily smoked cigars, but would occasionally drag out my pipe and give it another go. I always wanted to smoke a pipe, but just never got the hang of it.
Just before I turned 40, I decided I was going to learn to smoke a pipe the "right" way, or I was never going to try again. I turned to YouTube for assistance, thinking that perhaps I would find some pipe smokers who had made videos about how to smoke a pipe. Lo and behold, there were a handful of folks, and with the help of a few YouTubers such as Jayson Dagner (The Smoking Dagners), and Kel (SmokeRingsPipeDreams), I got the hang of it, and have enjoyed pipe smoking immensely ever since.
But had I not found those instructional videos, I wouldn't be here today, running a small online pipe shop, and writing about this. So let's delve into some of the reasons people give up on pipe smoking too soon.
Cigars are Easier
I found this to be true in my own experience. While there are techniques to smoking a cigar that prove helpful and assist in the overall enjoyment of cigar smoking, it's much easier to get the hang of it more quickly than pipe smoking.
With cigars, you clip the end, light it up, and you're off to the races. Cigars burn more evenly and stay lit better, because they are designed to do so. Provided they're made well, they will smoke evenly to the end with few (if any) relights. Cigar smokers who try pipe smoking will find that there is much more involved in pipe smoking: proper loading of the bowl, treatment of various types of tobaccos, the false light and true light, tamping technique, and relights.
Because pipe smoke doesn't linger on your person as long as cigar smoke, I find that my wife prefers that I smoke a pipe. That's just one of the many reasons I prefer pipe smoking myself, but many cigar smokers who have an interest in pipes simply discover that they'd rather be able to just light up and go. But I found that there is such more satisfaction in taking the time to learn how to smoke a pipe!
Cigarettes are Much Easier
While the vast majority of us would agree that cigarette smoking is the worst form of smoking when it comes to health risks, those who are cigarette smokers definitely have the hardest time adjusting to pipe smoking. This is largely due to the fact that cigarettes are the easiest form of smoking, and pipes are the most difficult. They are at opposite ends of the difficulty spectrum.
You can grab a cigarette, light it up, and be done smoking by the time a pipe smoker can properly load his or her bowl! And when you light a cigarette, it won't go out. Once lit, a cigarette will burn itself down more often than not without you even having to take a single puff after getting it lit. This falls in line with the "instant gratification" mentality that pervades our society today.
Without even getting into the health risks of sucking cigarette smoke into your lungs (most pipe smokers taste rather than inhale), or the extra chemicals that come from burning bleached white paper in addition to the low quality tobacco, I think we can all agree that cigarettes are the "fast food" of the smoking spectrum, whereas premium cigars and pipes are the "Filet Mignons" of smoking. I find that there is simply no comparison between the two, and while eating steak for every meal may not be the healthiest for you, I know that eating fast food for every meal is about the worst diet you can have.
Nevertheless, if we step away from the food analogy, we can see that cigarette smoking is simply the quickest and easiest form of smoking, and those who have smoked cigarettes find that the pipe smoking ritual is much more time consuming and difficult, at least until you get the hang of it. Because of this, cigarette smokers are much more likely to give up on pipe smoking.
No Local Pipe Shops
This one also hits home with me. Two years ago, the last local brick and mortar shop that carried pipes and pipe tobaccos in my hometown closed its doors. Because of this, there are no places left to go to be "in the scene" so to speak. There are no shop owners to provide much-needed information, or to host pipe club meetings, etc.
Now, my hometown has a greater-area population (including suburbs and smaller satellite communities) of about 500,000 people. If such a population couldn't support even one pipe shop, I couldn't help but think that there are small to mid-sized towns all over the country who were in the same boat.
This is what gave me the initial idea to start The Pipe Nook, with which I strive to attain the atmosphere of a "virtual brick & mortar" shop...one that provides information to those interested in pipe smoking. I try to be as helpful as I can to those who contact me with questions, in much the same way that a good local shop owner would.
No Guidance from Other Pipe Smokers
In much the same way that a lack of local pipe shops limits interpersonal learning, the very fact that so few pipe smokers exist these days limits an individual's chances of picking up tips from a friend or neighbor who smokes a pipe. It's very rare indeed these days to see a pipe smoker out for a stroll.
This lack of pipe smoking visibility, in conjunction with a lack of local shops, is what causes many new pipe smokers to obtain their purchases, and find their sense of community, online. Which brings us to the final reason that many interested parties give up.
Too Many Choices
Searching online for pipes and pipe tobaccos provides a daunting amount of choices! There are literally thousands of pipes and pipe tobaccos to choose from. Which pipe brand should I start with? What size and shape? Should I buy a filtered pipe, or non-filtered? What is a Flake, Coin, Ribbon, cake, or plug? What's the difference between Cavendish, Burley, Virginia, Latakia, and Turkish? What the heck is Perique?
It can be overwhelming, and many quickly decide it's just not worth the effort. That's why when I started The Pipe Nook, I decided that every brand I carry would be a personal recommendation from me. I sell Savinelli pipes because I smoke Savinelli pipes. I sell Cornell & Diehl tobaccos because I smoke Cornell & Diehl tobaccos.
Now, I smoke other pipes and tobaccos that I don't carry here at The Pipe Nook. But if I decide to carry it on the site, it's a brand that I feel is an essential part of the pipe smoking world today. I only carry items that I feel the beginner pipe smoker could most easily get into. I never carry anything simply from a sales perspective, and I've gotten many positive comments from customers who are thankful for The Pipe Nook both as a source of information, and as a limiter of choice in the marketplace that only carries optimal selections for those new to pipe smoking.
I hope you've found this article thought-provoking, and I hope you'll stick with it and be patient with yourself if you're struggling with pipe smoking. If you're interested in further information about the pipe smoking hobby, I would recommend the following blogs here on the site:
"What Pipe Tobaccos Should I Smoke"
"Pipe Smoking 101: How to Smoke a Pipe"
"How to Smoke a Pipe Video Series from The Pipe Nook"
Please feel free to share this blog, as well as these other three, with anyone you know who would like to learn more about the incredibly satisfying world of pipe smoking!
Keep 'em Lit,
Here at The Pipe Nook, I'm often asked many different questions, but there are some that I'm asked more than occasionally. For some reason, I've not had the brilliant idea to include a FAQ page until today! So without further ado, here are the 10 most asked questions.
1. How much is shipping at The Pipe Nook?
Shipping is a flat $5 fee within the United States, and a flat $15 fee for orders shipped to Canada. If shipping for your order is more than that (which is often the case), I cover the rest. The more you purchase, the more you'll save on shipping, and larger US orders often get upgraded from First Class to Priority Mail, so stuff that cart full! :)
2. Do you ship internationally?
No, at this time I only ship within the US and Canada. International shipping of tobacco and tobacco related products requires much research of an ever-changing set of customs regulations and tariffs that are unique to each individual nation. A small operation such as mine simply doesn't have the resources to keep up with it all. Believe me, I wish I could ship anywhere; it's just not feasible at this point in time.
3. Why don't you ship tobacco to Canada or Florida?
Retail shipping of tobacco products to Canada is prohibited. As for Florida, it's a bit more complicated. I live in the state of Florida, and if I were to sell tobacco to my fellow Floridians, I would also have to charge an 85% pipe tobacco surtax. I refuse to do this, so I've made the decision to not sell tobacco to Florida residents. Keep in mind, however, that I can and will ship pipes and accessories to Canada and Florida!
4. What methods of payment do you accept?
You can pay using Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, or your Paypal Account. All payments are processed by Paypal, but you do not need a Paypal account to pay with your credit card.
5. When will you get more of _______ in stock?
Since I'm a small operation, I sometimes run out of certain things. The biggest offenders are estate pipes, Morgan Bones, Mr. Brog, and Savinelli Series III. I try my best to place reorders at least monthly, so stay tuned, and be sure to sign up for my email newsletter for updates!
6. I'm interested in something you don't seem to carry. Will you do special orders?
I realize my selection is a bit limited for more seasoned pipe smokers, although I do believe there's something for everything here at The Pipe Nook! In fact, I would go so far as to say that the vast majority of pipe smokers could spend their entire lives smoking and enjoying only the pipes and tobaccos that I carry, and not really missing much!
There are literally hundreds of brands, pipes shapes and tobacco blends out there, but they are largely variations on a handful of themes. However, if you are interested in a special order of something I don't carry, I will do my best to accommodate your request! If it falls within any of the brands I carry, I'm confident I can obtain it. However, I can also obtain much more outside of those brands, so just ask me using the form on my contact page.
7. What pipe would you recommend for a new pipe smoker?
Anything you see on my site! The Pipe Nook is designed to be a limiter of choice for the new and nearly new pipe smoker. I only carry products that I personally recommend. As such, every brand I carry is what I consider to be "gold standard" products, brands that I feel every collector would do well to have represented in their collection.
There's not a pipe on my site that would be "bad" for a new pipe smoker. However, there are two guidelines I would recommend. I would get a filtered pipe first, as filters help alleviate tongue bite, which is the biggest reason people give up on pipe smoking before they really learn how to smoke a pipe. Also, I would recommend that you not spend too much on your first pipe (say, $65 or less), so that if you decide it's not for you at the moment, you can hang onto the pipe and perhaps try again in the future.
If you start out this way, and decide pipe smoking is absolutely not for you, you're not out too much money. A great many pipes on my site fall in line with these two recommendations, including many pipes by Missouri Meerschaum, Rossi, Savinelli, and Rattray's.
8. What tobaccos would you recommend for a new pipe smoker?
This one is a bit trickier, as it depends upon whether you personally like Aromatics, Virginias, Burleys, Latakia, Perique, etc. Also, are you coming from cigars, cigarettes, or have you never smoked anything before?
I'd say that if you really want to get to know what your personal tastes are, you'll need to start with at least 5 different kinds of blends to get your bearings. I wrote a blog titled "What Pipe Tobaccos Should I Smoke?" which can be found here. I go back and update this particular blog from time to time, to include new blends I add to the site.
Keep in mind that if a particular kind of blend bites you more than others, that doesn't mean you can't enjoy it. For me personally, certain Virginias tend to nip to varying degrees. Try using a pipe filter to see if it helps; pipe filters make a world of difference for me!
9. I'm completely new to pipe smoking, and have no idea how to do this! Can you help?
I wrote a blog titled "Pipe Smoking 101: How to Smoke a Pipe." This is a 1-Page reference guide that you can print out to help get you started, which you can find here.
For those who want to go a bit more in-depth, I created a 25-Part video series on YouTube, which you can find here. It's pretty conversational and low-tech, but I planned it out to be easy to understand and in an order of importance that makes sense, at least to me. I hope you find it helpful!
10. How to I become an expert pipe smoker?
You're definitely asking the wrong guy! It took me nearly 20 years to finally "get it," which is why I've created blogs and videos to help you on your way and not waste the kind of time I did.
Beyond that, however, I would say that while there are certain universal tips, pipe smoking is a very personal thing, and what works for one person may not work for another. In addition, pipe smoking is a multi-faceted interest, and I don't think anyone ever truly stops learning. Keep in mind that mistakes are part of the learning process. And as with many of the best things in life, I strongly believe that the journey is more important than the destination. To me, the middle of the bowl is much more enjoyable than the bottom of the bowl.
I hope you find as much fulfillment in your times of quiet reflection with your pipe as I do!
Keep em lit,
Savinelli's Series III Unfinished pipes have been one of my best sellers. That's because they're some of my best smokers! And it doesn't hurt that they're some of the most affordable briar pipes on the market today. But it's no secret that I'm a big fan of 9mm filtered pipes, so I was ecstatic to find that I could special order Series III pipes with 9mm filtered stems! For me, this is a match made in Heaven, and I just couldn't wait to offer them to The Pipe Nook Faithful!
Featuring the same unfinished briar bowls as Standard Series III pipes, the comfortable vulcanite stems are made to accept Savinelli's 9mm balsa filters. They can also be used with 9mm activated charcoal filters, although they will be a looser fit, allowing some smoke to pass around the exterior of the filter.
I sell charcoal filters as well as balsa filters in the accessories section, so my suggestion is to try them both to see which you prefer. And of course, you can choose to smoke them without a filter in place, and consider them to be "mini reverse calabash" chambers. Either way, these are incredible smokers at a fantastic price!
Because 9mm Filters provide a drier, cooler, easier to manage smoke that in no way affects the taste of your chosen tobacco, I consider them to be "training wheels" for new pipe smokers. However, because of the benefits mentioned above, I personally prefer to always smoke with 9mm filters in place for those pipes in my personal collection that accept them. I just don't see a downside to them, myself.
I think you can tell that I'm excited, and I hope you're as excited as I am! To my mind, there's no better time than now to pick up a Series III pipe. I've been enjoying my 320 9mm for about a week now, and have been enjoying some of the best smokes I've ever had. Check out The Pipe Nook store for more details, and be sure to look for the "9mm" designations in the item titles. Of course, I also have the standard Series III pipes still available as well!
Keep 'em Lit,
Cornell & Diehl is a company that's been on my radar, and in my pipe, for some time. One of the Great American Pipe Tobacco Manufacturers, Cornell & Diehl rose from the ashes of Atlas Tobacco Company back in the early 1990's. New owners Craig and Patty Tarler worked tirelessly to build what I believe is one of the "Big Two" American Tobacco Companies.
Although many of their blends are favorites of mine, many are also too strong for my taste. As such, I've kept away from the "Cornell & Diehl Question" until now. However, I've come to realize that I can't only carry my personal favorite blends, since tobacco taste is so very much a matter of individual preference. But what I can do is select particular brands that I can stand behind, and Conrnell & Diehl is certainly among them!
Another scary aspect for me as a small retailer is that they have so many blends, I just can't imagine carrying all of them! Cornell & Diehl have spent the past 25 years creating a great number of top notch blends. Based in South Carolina, they currently have more than 100 blends! I'll be adding blends as I can, but will be starting with some of my favorites, as well as some popular ones, some "must try" offerings, and new items of interest as they become available.
Cornell & Diehl uses some of the best tobaccos from the US and around the world to create top-notch blends, including Burleys, Virginias, Perique, Latakia, Aromatics and more! There's something for everyone in the C&D line, and I'm pleased to present what I feel is an excellent selection of them here at The Pipe Nook. I hope you agree!
Keep 'em Lit,
I'm here at Gray Manor, back in the West Parlor (my garage), smoking some Dunhill Dark Flake in one of my treasured Neerup pipes. I just can't say enough good things about Neerup--they check all the boxes for me: looks, engineering, and that magical characteristic that I like to call "smokability."
For it's part, the Dark Flake is similar to Dunhill's Flake, but is like an old friend you haven't seen in a while. He's changed a bit, has some new experiences to share, and it's a lot of fun catching up. Or to put it another way, if Dunhill Flake is your serene uncle who has a calming effect on conversation, Dark Flake is your sea dog uncle who spent some time in the merchant marines, and has a few more off-color stories to tell. But you love 'em both, and you're glad to spend some time with each of them.
Today, I want to talk about a common complaint from newer pipe smokers. "No matter what I do, my pipe just won't stay lit!" When I got started in pipe smoking some 20 years ago, I had the same lament. I came from cigar smoking, and cigars just aren't as "hands-on" as pipes tend to be. Cigars are designed to continue smoking right to the end, and as long as you take a puff every minute or so, you're good. The occasional cigar may burn unevenly, but it will burn, and keeping one lit is not usually a problem.
When I switched to pipes, I had the same mindset, and got frustrated to no end that my pipe kept going out. I attributed it to some sort of failure on my part, and would increase my smoking cadence to "Ludicrous Speed." What I received for my troubles was a mouth full of lava, and a pipe that still would not stay lit!
Through the years, I've learned a few tips and tricks about the art of pipe smoking. Learning to pack your bowl in the "sweet spot" (neither too loose nor too tight), when and how to tamp, and how to navigate several other variables such as wind and humidity have all added to my success at smoking a pipe. But that doesn't mean my pipe stays lit from the charring light to the bottom of the bowl. In fact, that almost never happens without a little boost from a flame every now and then. In fact, I've had to re-light my pipe while typing this several times. And that's okay!
The bottom line is that pipe smoking is not cigar smoking. They are very different things, just as cigars and cigarettes are very different (thank God). I would think the most difficult adjustment would be had by cigarette smokers trying to switch to pipes, since cigarettes will practically burn their way to ash all by themselves, but never really get the chance to burn out because the smoker is constantly and manically pulling that ember towards its final curl of smoke.
So let's take a look at why you've come to the pipe in the first place. Is it because of the enjoyment of smoking? Or is it because you like to come to the end of things? In other words, are you enjoying the journey, or just looking for the destination? Pipe smoking has no destination aside from the relaxation it can provide, and I get there with the first puff!
You have to come to pipe smoking with that mindset that the journey is the most important thing. Because the final destination is simply an empty pipe that you have to clean. Let's think about it in terms of eating. If you race through your meal, all you have to look forward to is doing the dishes, and possibly indigestion. But if you take time to chew your food, enjoy the flavors, and sometimes even set your fork down while enjoying some good conversation or a drink, the meal is much more pleasant and enjoyable. But if you're eating in a hurry, it's not nearly as nice an experience. The same with pipes: if you're constantly watching the clock and racing to the end, perhaps that's not the best time for you to have picked up your pipe in the first place.
I can't begin to explain the many ways that pipe smoking has enriched my enjoyment of life. It has been a catalyst for me to calm down, take time out daily for myself, and just enjoy the little things in life. And a pipe that goes out is also one of those little things. These days, I've come to enjoy relighting as just another part of the journey.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to re-light my pipe...
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