Advice Pipe Smokers

Welcome to the world of pipe smoking. Venturing into Pipe smoking is a voyage of discovery, no one pipe smoker has the same smoking characteristics or preferences, which makes it very hard for your average tobacconist to advise on where a new smoker should start. The following pages are designed to help identify what type of smoker you are and help you find a good basis for enjoying a pipe before you start on your voyage, working through the endless tobacco blends in search of "THE ONE". Keep the basic rules in mind then enjoy this voyage of discovery as you find blends and products you dislike, which will hopefully be closely followed by the discovery of the crème da le crème of tobacco's, "THE ONE". The tobacco that suits your palette and leaves you wanting more and more. And please feel free to put a review on our site and every other site out there to boast about it. Not many people find "the" perfect tobacco blend or pipe for them, you are the lucky one, let everyone know there is hope! You may receive some praise from genuine smokers who are happy to hear you have found "THE ONE" but expect to be envied and even hated if you boast too much.

HOW TO CHOOSE A PIPE?

Take a seat, get comfortable and we will begin!

Choosing a pipe is a very personal thing and we cannot tell you what you WILL enjoy only what you are more likely to enjoy. The only one thing all pipe smokers share in common is the quest for a cool smoke. Very few smokers like a harsh smoke that burns the nerve endings off the back of your throat but this is generally the only standard characteristic pipe smokers generally share in common. The good news is that once you've found a style you like it’s pretty easy to choose your second pipe.

SIZE SIZE SIZE

Overall the biggest factor that will affect your smoking experience is the size of the pipe. Your aim is to get the coolest smoke possible from your pipe. The bigger the pipe the better. Look for thicker walls on the bowl, bigger overall bowl size and a longer stem. As you walk round the streets of Turkey and Egypt you will see endless people puffing away on 6ft tall Hookah gasping at how pleasant and smooth it is. This is because a hookah is a very big pipe and provides the coolest smoke you will ever find. The reason its cooler and smoother is not because it’s not tobacco, it’s because the smoke has much more room to move around and there is not enough heat in the smoke to heat up the whole pipe. By the time it has reached the mouthpiece it’s as cool as ice and very enjoyable. The smoke is also filtered through water, which cools the smoke and filters impurities.

So let’s all buy hookahs? You try putting a hookah in your pocket! Well you get the idea.

The bigger the pipe the less the pipe heats up and the more time the smoke has to cool down. The smaller the pipe the easier it is to carry around. It is up to you to make the compromise. Choose the biggest pipe you are happy to carry around or sit on the sideboard. If you don’t intend on carrying it around a Churchwarden or even a hookah would be a good investment.

BENT vs STRAIGHT PIPES

One of the first questions most people ask, which is best Bent Stem or Straight Stem? The easy answer is bent but it is down to personal preference. A bent stem is longer and therefore the smoke has to travel further so has more time to cool down. The bend also forces the smoke in different directions, which causes condensation and natural filtration from the smoke. You are also less likely to draw any moisture through the pipe.

However it is down to preference. How do you like the pipe to hang, are you going to sit and hold the pipe as you draw. The bent is more popular with sales of bent stems making up about 70% of all pipe sales. In the earlier days of the 1900's a Straight pipe was more fashionable. If you get chance try one of each for size. Let it hang in your mouth and see, how you feel. A straight pipe also stands further away from your body meaning you are less likely to get smoke in your eyes or mark your clothing from falling ash.

ADVICE FOR WET SMOKERS

Roughly 1 in 5 smokers can be described as wet smokers. Due to the way they smoke and natural moisture in their breath they build up more moisture in the bowl than other smokers. As they draw on the pipe moisture can pass through the mouthpiece, giving the smoker an un-pleasant experience. If you are one of these smokers you need to pay attention to filtration.

WHICH PIPE FILTER WORKS BEST

The aim of a filter is to remove the maximum impurities/harmful elements, Moisture, and bad tastes from the smoke without removing flavour. Regardless of the type of filter they all have to sacrifice in on area. Which area you sacrifice is your call?

For those who can’t decide companies such as Butz Choquin are giving the choice. They now come with an adaptor to turn your pipe from a 9mm absorbent filter to a metal re-useable filter.

Absorbent Pipe Filters

Absorbent pipe filters are generally available in 6mm, 9mm tubes but companies such as Savinelli produce variations, which will fit the same bore mouthpiece. The absorbent filter removes by far the most impurities and eliminates moisture from the smoke but substantially affects the draw and flavour of the smoke. They are also disposable so need replacing after a few pipe fills.

Metal re-useable Pipe Filters

The metal filter is suspended in the middle of a moisture trap, which forces the smoke to spiral round the cool metal before passing through the mouthpiece. This causes condensation, which naturally removes tar and moisture deposits from the smoke, trapping them in the shank for a cool pleasant smoking experience. Simply wipe clean in between smokes. This filter doesn’t remove as much moisture as other filters but does not affect the flavour and is easily cleaned. It is a good middle ground filter, which is also cost effective.

Peterson System Pipe Filtration

Peterson have patented a pipe filter system, which forces the smoke round tight curves and naturally removes tar and moisture from the smoke without restricting the draw. Resulting in a very smooth and dry smoke. The system is excellent for wet smokers without sacrificing on flavour. The filter doesn’t remove as many impurities from the smoke but this can’t be done without reducing flavour.

Falcon Pipe Filtration

A spiralled Aluminium stem filters the smoke naturally through condensation caused by the spiralling of the smoke in stem. An absorbent filter can also be fitted under the bowl to further filter the smoke and capture more moisture. This means you have the option of customising your filter.

PIPE BOWL MATERIAL

The main materials used for making a pipe are: Briar, Meerschaum, Clay, Glass, Corn Cob, Gourd and Aluminium. You do get Rose wood pipes, Olive wood pipes, Oak Pipes, Cherry wood pipes etc but these are very rare and for the same price you will get a briar pipe, which is far more suited to pipe smoking.

Briar Pipes

By far the most popular material for making a pipe. Briar can be hand crafted or crafted by machine and has excellent properties for pipe smoking. It is essentially the root of the Erica Arborea tree, which grows in rocky and sandy Mediterranean areas. To thrive in these areas Briar must be very resilient as well as efficiently absorbing and retaining moisture. These properties make Briar ideal for pipe smoking as the moisture retention absorbs moisture from the pipe bowl and briars resilient nature makes it naturally heat resistant. Different parts of the root have better grain and are of higher quality. Each Briar block is graded depending on the grain pattern and visible imperfections. The tighter and neater the grain the longer and cooler the pipe will smoke and therefore increases the value.

Meerschaum Pipes

Meerschaum is fibrous, white clay, which has very good properties for pipe smoking and can provide stunning aesthetic character. The Meerschaum clay is very porous, which soaks up moisture in the bowl and allows cool air into the pipe resulting in a very clean, cool smoke. As the pipe is used the porous clay turns a yellow, reddish brown colour. The thicker carved areas take longer to turn, which gives great definition to the craving and the overall appearance of the pipe. These properties would make Meerschaum far superior to Briar, however Meerschaum is in essence a clay and like your favourite chinaware will break if dropped. Most Meerschaum smokers will save their favourite Meerschaum pipe for the comfort of the home where hopefully if dropped it shall land on a nice shag pile and may survive another day.

Clay Pipes

An early disposable pipe. Clay pipes can be made very quickly and cheaply and produce good results. Like Meerschaum the clay is porous so provides cooling properties as well as absorbing much of the moisture. There tends to be no shape or filter to the pipe so the smoke is not filtered and if made very cheaply the clay can affect the flavour until the pipe is seasoned. They are very fragile so the likelihood of building a carbon layer before you break it is not high.

Glass Pipes

Very easy to clean but adds little smoking character and are easily broken.

Corn Cob Pipes

As the name suggests Corn Cob pipes are made from the core of a corn cob and are surprisingly effective. They are porous so provide a cool smoke, They are cheap and require no breaking in. They do not last a great length of time and depending on your ambience are often not considered aesthetically pleasing.

Calabash Gourd Pipe

Sherlock Holmes chosen smoke! (Or was it) Sherlock Holmes is often pictured smoking a Calabash but as we were recently informed by a knowledgeable customer, Sherlock Holmes was only seen smoking a Calabash when his character was introduced to the stage. Made from a fluted fruit "Calabash gourd" that, once harvested and matured can be manipulated and dried, for use as pipe bowl. The plant is then trimmed off flush to make the base for a Meerschaum, Clay or in rare cases a Briar insert. The most common being the Meerschaum insert due to its porous properties. The Large chamber created by the bore of the plant allows the smoke to circulate and develop more than in any other hand held pipe. This large chamber and dramatic curve also stores more fluid and stops any bitter impurities passing through the stem.

Aluminium

It is rare but in some cases Aluminium is used for producing the bowl. It is good for heat transfer but beyond this it doesn’t add much to the smoking character. It is good for use in stems but not generally for bowls.

Brylon

A synthetic material which has properties similar to briar.

STEM/SHAFT/MOUTHPIECE MATERIAL

Pipe stems and shafts are generally made from one of two materials, Aluminium or Briar. Aluminium is not considered as aesthetically pleasing but forms natural condensation, which helps in filtering the smoke and they are fairly robust. All though if abused too much fatigue can damage the pipe and let air in. A briar pipe is un-deniably nicer on the eye and is a tuff material if not made to thin. The Briar also absorbs some moisture from the smoke.

Mouthpieces Can be made using Soft Plastic, Vulcanite, Lucite, Ebonite, Bakelite and in very rare cases amber.

Most modern briar pipe stems are composed of vulcanite or acrylic.

Vulcanite

Vulcanite is a hard rubber, which is softer and more comfortable on the teeth. However it isn't as hard wearing for those who chew their stems. Vulcanite also oxidizes and can become bitter to the taste over time. The stem needs regular polishing/cleaning to remove the oxidation.

Acrylic

Acrylic is harder on the teeth but does not oxidise and is easier to clean. As with anything there are good and bad examples of both Vulcanite and Acrylic stems. It only really applies to budget pipes, which tend to use cheap soft plastic.

DOES THE PRICE OF A PIPE MAKE A DIFFERENCE

It is quite understandable that you may wish to buy the cheapest pipe to see if you get on with pipe smoking. However this is not advised!! "Silver tongued salesman" I hear you cry!

If you buy a cheap pipe you are substantially increasing the chances of you rejecting the hobby before you’ve even started. The more you pay the bigger the pipe, the better the filter system, the better the quality of the bowl material will be and the cooler and sweeter it will taste. If you buy a small, badly made, un-seasoned, un-filtered pipe you will instantly scald the back of your throat and get a bitter taste on the tongue.

The chances are that if you've decided you want to take up smoking you know you’re going to like it. We recommend spending as much as your budget will allow/justify on the biggest pipe you can find for the price (bearing in mind you will need tobacco). Or alternatively search on ebay for an estate pipe (2nd hand.) It will be broken in so wont smoke bitter and you will get more pipe for your money.

Generally speaking if bought new, a £10.00 pipe (if you can find one) will be unlikely to smoke well. These are made for habitual pipe smokers who smoke more out of habit then enjoyment.

A £20.00 pipe will be just about acceptable and will give you a good idea (if it is of a decent size.)

Around £30.00 is what we would recommend for a beginners pipe. If you can afford/feel comfortable spending more it will all be to your benefit. Better pipes use better grade Briar, will be pre-carbonised/broken in and have a better filtration system.

Over £100 you tend to pay for finishing and will not notice the same proportionate difference in the smoking character of the pipe. We are not saying it isn’t worth paying more as there are a lot of benefits but just not in the same proportion. For example you can easily pay in excess of £500 for a High grade. This basically means it is the top grade briar you can get. It will have a straighter grain, will not overheat easily and it will last forever but it won’t smoke 5x better than a £100 pipe. You have to decide if it’s worth it for you. We have customers who have over 100 high grade pipes and cannot smoke anything else. We also have customers who have bought one compared it to a £50 pipe and not noticed a massive difference. You can also get Silver/Gold mounts and caps even diamond encrusted if you wish but it will not smoke any better.

PIPE FINISHES

One more area to consider is the finish. Two main points to consider here. What is it hiding and how does it affect the smoking characteristic?

Many say that a rustic finish will smoke a lot cooler than a smooth pipe. This is because the bumps/grades have more surface area, which allows more air to pass over it and cool the pipe down, in the same way fins cools an engine. They also are easier to grip.

What is it hiding? If a very dark stained, Rustic pipe has imperfections it will be hard to see but it is not necessarily a problem. It may be very small and may not affect the smoking character of the pipe. On the other hand a smooth finished, light coloured pipe may have no blemishes but you will pay more for this luxury. If you fancy a rustic finish the only option is to buy a reputable brand and gauge it by price. To gain a reputation in such a prestigious trade as pipe manufacture takes many decades to achieve and a reputable pipe manufacturer will not risk loosing it by chucking an expensive price tag on a defected block of briar.

Any pipe below the £100 mark is likely to have some imperfections on the bowl, which have been cleaned up. Briar is a natural wood and it can’t be helped (like the knot in the middle of your oak dining table.) How big an imperfection determines whether it is a defect and will affect the character of the pipe. When a factory receives blocks of briar they are graded and the more you pay the higher the grade (fewer imperfections and tighter cleaner grain.)

Pipes under £15.00 will be made from the cheapest grade briar and is almost guaranteed to have a defect which, has been filled then stained to hide it. If you look closely you will be able to see this. This obviously affects the smoking characteristic of the pipe and in bad cases can even drop out as the pipe heats up. It also gives you some clue as to the quality of the grain in the briar. Big defects suggest wide grain and bitty wood, which will burn away and heat up easily. Burning wood results in a bitter hot taste.

£15-£30 should be acceptable briar with no defects but is likely to have imperfections/blemishes in the Briar, which will have been covered up but probably still big enough to notice.

£30-£50 some imperfections, which shouldn't be easily visible and shouldn't affect the smoking character.

£50+ No noticeable imperfections and an excellent smoking character.

£100+ No imperfections bigger than a pin head.

BUYING A PIPE AS A GIFT

if you are thinking of buying a pipe as a present/gift you need to do your homework. To the un-trained eye a pipe is just a pipe! Wrong!

Choosing a pipe can be a very personal thing and a smoker can be quite specific with what they smoke.

This does not mean it can't be done and receiving a pipe that you actually like as a present can be quite special and the smoker will appreciate how much effort you have put in. In our experience as long as you get the main points right it is rare a pipe smoker will not like the pipe. And of course if the smoker does not like the pipe you have bought we will always arrange a suitable exchange with the smoker or a refund. (Subject to the pipe not been smoked and in as new condition)

RESEARCH

Check out the smoker’s current collection.

Does he/she have one pipe or a collection of pipes. If they only have one try find out if they like it and if so get something as close to it as possible.

If they have a collection, do they have a favourite? Are they all Bent? Are they all a similar size or shape? If so take note and look for the factor that they all share, and then try finding something similar.

Is it a total mix of sizes, designs and shapes. If it is a total mix life has just got easy for you. As long as the smoker uses them all they like variation and you can more or less choose any pipe that you think would suit them on appearance and your budget.

MAIN POINTS TO LOOK FOR

Finish

Is the finish on the bowl Rustic or Smooth? Does it look Traditional, or ornate.

Size

See our measuring guide on this page.

Shape

Is the pipe straight or bent

Mouthpiece

Does it have a big lip or is it flat. A big lip is known as a Dental lip.

And if you are very sly and very unsure what you’re looking for send us the pipe or a picture of their collection along with your budget and we shall give you some options.

HOW TO SMOKE A PIPE

You've spent a lot of money on a pipe and no doubt spent many hours deliberating over which, one. You have selected a damp, sweet, cool smoking tobacco to try now for the moment of truth, are you going to like it? If you do it wrong and scald the back of your throat/tongue with the first draw you'll never touch it again and your pipe will soon be on ebay soon to be part of a very smug pipe smokers collection.

HOW TO FILL A PIPE

1st Fill

If it is a new pipe you need to carefully break in your pipe. A more expensive pipe will already be carbonised to give you a start but you still need to break it in. Follow the instructions below but only half fill the bowl and pack it tighter than you usually would. Smoke out of the wind and do not let the pipe over heat.

The process of filling a pipe is simple, but if you get it wrong you will not enjoy it and tobacco is too precious to waste.

You should pack the tobacco in the bowl in layers, the tighter the tobacco is packed the slower it will burn and the more you will have to re-light it. The looser it is packed the hotter it will burn, with less flavour and more bitterness. (You can also damage your pipe if it gets too hot) You have to find a compromise that allows you to keep the smoke and pipe cool without having to permanently hold a light to it or exhaust yourself drawing on the pipe. (Please note: Tobacco blends vary and the burn rate can be dramatically different depending on additives, brand and the tobacco leaves used to make up the blend)

Take a pinch of your chosen pipe tobacco and sprinkle it into the bowl until the bowl is 3/4 full. The first pinch at the bottom should only be tamped down lightly to leave some air can circulate at the bottom of the bowl. Then Tamp the second layer down a little more firmly, the third tamp more firmly still, and so on till the pipe is filled (half-filled for a new pipe.) The tobacco shouldn't feel loose but should still have some spring. If you held the pipe upside down the tobacco should not fall out effortlessly.

As you fill the pipe, draw through the mouthpiece to check on the draw. Do not be afraid to start again. If you pack it wrong you risk wasting a bowl full of tobacco.

HOW TO LIGHT A PIPE

It is generally recommended NOT to light your pipe with a Petrol lighter or cheap matches. Any strong overpowering scents can taint the whole pipe fill and with persistence can affect the seasoning of your pipe.

Your goal is to light the entire tobacco surface in one go first light. The first light is known as "charring." Use a wide flame and spread across the tobacco, drawing on the mouthpiece with a long, smooth even draw. Then smooth and tamp the tobacco slightly with a tamper (or index finger if you are thick skinned and brave.) Then repeat the above steps and draw away to your heart’s content. Do not be scared to let the pipe go out this is natural and is ensuring you are getting a cool smoke. Many smokers take one puff then re-light when they fancy another. Do not allow the pipe to totally cool between puffs as the tobacco will react with the ash and moisture and taint the flavour.

HOW TO MAINTAIN/CARE FOR YOUR PIPE

GENERAL CARE

Empty your pipe soon after you've finished the fill. Do not leave moisture and ash to react in the base of the bowl overnight.

In an ideal world you could put a pipe cleaner through your pipe im-between every fill but in modern day living this isn’t realistic.

But bear this in mind and clear as much moisture/deposits from the pipe as often as possible without solvents as these may affect the seasoning of your pipe.

Ideally a pipe should be rested for a couple of days imbetween smokes to allow it to dry and the briar/meerschaum to absorb any moisture. If you only have one pipe this isn’t possible but try to give your pipe time to rest and don’t over burden it.

If you start to get bitter tastes while smoking your pipe it is likely your pipe either needs sanitising or a good rest. Specific fluids and sprays can be purchased to sanitise your pipe or some smokers like to soak them in Rum or Brandy.

HOW TO BREAK IN A PIPE

A well broken in/seasoned pipe will ensure a sweet, cool smoking pipe for many years. But it doesn’t come easily, a lot of patience and skill is required.

The aim is to build up a layer of carbon or "cake" around the inner bowl, which is a deposit from the ash and sugars in the tobacco. This Carbon serves as insulation, protection, sweetener and moisture trap. The Thicker the Carbon the less your pipe will heat up as it is porous allowing air to circulate through the pipe. The pipe will also smoke sweeter as the carbon absorbs sugars from the tobacco.

You cannot build up this layer of Carbon overnight. It has to be done carefully and gradually.

Depending on the quality of the pipe the manufacturer may have pre-carbonised the pipe for you to start you off and will mean your first smoke will be a lot nicer as the briar is not being charred during smoking. It also means there is less chance of you damaging your pipe during the initial build up.

With a new pipe you must break it in slowly. Start with a tightly packed half-filled bowl. Draw slowly and do not smoke it where the wind can catch it and flare up the flame. Imbetween puffs tamp the tobacco to ensure it doesn’t start to burn hot. The Carbon will build up where the embers are so you want to consistently and slowly draw until you reach the base of the bowl. More care must be taken at the bottom of the bowl as this is the most difficult area to build up a cake and is probably the most important.

Allow the pipe to cool and air overnight.

Then repeat the process gradually building up the amount of tobacco until you have a good cake up to the rim.

After a few pipe fills carefully remove the moisture from the bowl, being careful not to disturb the cake.

After a patient 6/7 bowl fills you should have a good cake and will notice a substantial difference from the first light.

IS REAMING A PIPE ESSENTIAL

This is where the debate begins? How much cake do I allow to build? All manufacturers will tell you not to allow a build-up of more than 2mm. This is because the expansion of the cake at a different rate to the briar during heating and cooling can cause your bowl to crack.

However we have never seen this and we have seen more than one pipe with only enough space to insert a pencil brought in for re-stemming/re-finishing. These customers have had many years of use and swear by a large Carbon build up and we've been given strict instructions not to allow the pipe repairer to touch the Carbon. To the extent we have felt obliged to put tape over the bowl and written do not touch!

I will note that these have tended to be experienced pipe smokers who buy high grade pipes in excess of £100. (CLAUSE: Manufacturers recommend no more than 1/16 of an inch or 1.5mm build up. We do not endorse a bigger build up just note that some smokers do let the carbon build up further)

HOW TO REAM YOUR PIPE

There are many reamers on the market all claiming to be the best. Your main aim is to make an even layer of Carbon around the inside of the bowl (including the base) If one section is thinner or has a groove in it the heat will work against this area and build up with the potential of cracking the bowl or burning through. The lower the grade of pipe the easier this is likely to happen.

There is only one Reamer that we will swear and stand by. That is the Senior Pipe Reamer. It is by far the best reamer ever made and allows for a PERFECT ream every time.

You can ream a pipe with a knife, but make sure it has a rounded end so as not to damage the base of the bowl and the likely hood of getting it even is unlikely. Not impossible and it is better than nothing but not ideal.

There are the hedgehog reamers. These are only good for clearing large stubborn build ups, DO NOT rely on them for a good even ream.

The British Buttner style self-adjusting reamers are pretty good and will do a satisfactory job if used with care and consideration.

PARTS OF A PIPE AND MEASUREMENTS

Buying a pipe online is not recommended as it is better to feel the shape weight and comfort. However the gradual decline in tobacconists means many don’t have any other choice.

To make it easier we have measured and weighed every pipe so you can compare them easily. However this is no use if you measure different parts to us. Here is a quick guide.

Overall Length

At the very longest part, from the end of the mouthpiece to the very furthest part.

Overall Height

When the top of the bowl is level, i.e. the pipe is stood up the overall height is from the end of the mouthpiece to the bottom of the bowl

Bowl Height

When the bowl is level, from the top of the bowl (rim) to the base

Bowl Diameter

The widest part of the bowl measured externally

Bore

The inner diameter of the bowl.

Pipe dimensions2

THE MOST POPULAR STRAIGHT PIPE SHAPES

THE BILLIARD

This shape has become one of the most popular in straight briar pipes. It has a simple straight shank and the bowl is set at 90 degrees to the shank. The bowl shape is very cylindrical with straight sides. There are many variations of this shape such as the Liverpool, with a longer shaft and shorter mouthpiece, the Canadian/Lumberman with an oval (squashed shank and short mouthpiece) and the Poker with a flat base enabling the pipe to stand up.

Billiard

THE APPLE

Almost the same as a billiard with an apple shaped bowl. It is generally renowned for being more comfortable to hold. Again there are many variations with different shank shapes.

Apple

THE DUBLIN

A classic pipe shape, similar to a billiard with a tapered bowl. A common variation is a Zulu with an offset/slightly angled bowl.

Dublin

THE BULLDOG

Another classic shape, which is built to be robust and smoke cool. A straight pipe, with a diamond shaped bowl and shank, which adds strength. Traditionally it has two carved grooves round the widest part of the bowl, which helps in cooling.

Bulldog

THE MOST POPULAR BENT PIPE SHAPES

BENT RHODESIAN

A very common pipe shape, generally a large pipe with thick walls, the bowl is shallow and diamond shaped, with a semi bent, thick round shank.

Bent rhodasian

BENT BULLDOG

A large pipe, with a diamond shaped bowl and two carved grooves at the widest part of the bowl. It has a full bent diamond shaped shank.

Bent bulldog

CALABASH

Probably the most popular pipe and famous shape. The Calabash has a deep, exaggerated tapered bowl, and an acute bent stem. Made famous by Sherlock Holmes.

Calabash

BENT APPLE

As the name suggests the bowl is apple shaped, it has a traditional full bent stem.

Bent apple

CHOOSING A PIPE TOBACCO

Finding the right tobacco is no easy task. Every pipe smoker has different tastes and varying opinions on every aspect of smoking so you can't rely too much on recommendations. Picking the most popular isn’t a good start either.

So what is the answer?

Unfortunately apart from a few basic guidelines that we will provide below it is down to trial and error.

And now you’re thinking about the expense! Do not fear all our loose pipe tobacco's are available in 12.5g sample sizes and regardless of whether you like it or not it won’t go to waste!

RECYCLING YOUR MISTAKES

Get a sealed box of some sort and every time you buy a tobacco you aren't sure of chuck it in the box. As you will no doubt buy some sweet, some bitter, some dry and some damp tobacco's you will end up with a balanced tobacco blend you will enjoy.

One word of warning, WRITE DOWN WHAT YOU'VE ADDED!

I have told hundreds of people this trick over the years and countless smokers have returned 6 months later overwhelmed with the results they came up with but the utter frustration soon follows as they try to recall what they added to it. I have one customer who did this nearly 10 years ago and last time I spoke to him I still hadn’t got close to it!

RIGHT WHERE TO START?

Can you recall your early introduction to tea and coffee? I will hazard a guess that it was enjoyed with a heap full of sugar and a good splash of milk or cream. Unless you have been smoking cigars for the last few years the same can be applied to pipe smoking. Start sweet, damp and cool and gradually remove the sweetness as your palette starts asking for something different. Look at the contents, blends that are Cavendish based are always a great place to start such as the Gawith and Hoggarth American Blends. These are sweet, cool and very forgiving. Then try a different blend with some Virginia in and see what you think. Hate Virginia try one with a bit of Burley and so on. Soon you will identify what tobacco's you like and be able to guide yourself along the journey of self-discovery.

For more comprehensive tobacco descriptions please see our "TYPES OF TOBACCO PAGES" IF POSSIBLE PLEASE PUT A LINK HERE TO THE PAGE

Aroma

Unless you have a specific desire for a savoury flavour, a sweeter tobacco will be more enjoyable and will provide a nicer room note.

Strength

Generally start mild and work up as your palette desires. However mild Virginia based tobaccos tends to burn hot, which can be more offensive than a strong tobacco.

Cool/Hot

A dark tobacco will smoke cooler and more enjoyable but in some cases can be a sign of a stronger tobacco. Eventually you may find that you enjoy the extra bite given from a hotter smoking tobacco.

Content: As you smoke a tobacco note how it smokes and read the description so you know what tobacco's make up the blend. As you try new blends you shall gradually learn to identify the tobacco content and what suits you. Then before long you should be able to choose a tobacco just from its description.