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How many bowls for an accurate evaluation?

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CPT/VSG

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How much of a tobacco do the BoB think is necessary to smoke before posting a fair review? McCelland says 4 oz. is necessary to learn the nuances of one of their tobaccos. I don't follow that rule but don't post a review of a tobacco unless I've smoked at least 2 oz. A couple of pipes just seems inadequate. Thoughts?
 

jhuggett

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I usually think in terms of 2 oz to get a good idea of a tobacco. I don't think my palette is all that sophisticated though so maybe some would require more.
 

ftrplt

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I give a new 'baccy at least 4 bowls, in different pipes; more if I throw in Meers/clays/cherrywoods/olivewoods, etc. Works for me!! FTRPLT
 

Muddler

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I think that's the issue with me: matching the pipe & tobacco. Sometimes a tobacco really displays all that it is in a certain pipe. If you don't get that right, you're going to miss out. Of course, put the other way, you may think a pipe is a dud until you find the right tobacco for it. I also find that sometimes a tobacco won't shine straight out of the can. So I'll leave it a few weeks & try it again & so on. For me, 2oz is probably enough to decide if I really don't like it.
 

glpease

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I think it's entirely possible to decide that something is not to your tastes within a bowl or two, but to really begin to understand a blend, it must be smoked in more than one pipe, and several times in each. Reviewing a blend should be, in my opinion, more than just a "like or dislike" statement.

Every tobacco leaves some ghosts behind that will influence subsequent bowls to a greater or lesser extent. If the tobaccos are in the same "family," these effects can be minimal, but not even then, they're not insignificant. It can take several bowls of a new blend of a similar general type to really shine through and reveal itself more fully. (Of course, no one I know can devote a new pipe to every new blend, so we have to live with these little hauntings, and attempt to mitigate these lingering effects through repetition.)

I tend to devote a pipe to a blend for at least a dozen bowls if I really want to begin to learn its subtleties. Not everyone wants to do that. For the most part, we smoke our pipes purely for enjoyment, and it's not necessary to go to such lengths.

But, I often compare pipe tobaccos to wines. There are times when you just want to quaff something pleasant, and enjoy it, and other times when a more critical tasting is where much of the fun lies. In those cases, most wouldn't even consider "topping up" their glass with something different than what was already in it, yet many people routinely do that very thing with a new tobacco.

When I like a tobacco well enough to explore it more deeply, I'll devote the time to learning its nuances. Most of the time, though, it's enough just to enjoy a great smoke. If I were writing reviews, which I don't do, other than for my own personal pleasure, I would spend the time to get to know what I'm reviewing.

I have a deep admiration for the guys who write the review column for P&T. They not only have to spend time and repeated bowls on the tobaccos they like, they have to do to explore just as deeply the ones they don't. I can only imagine the scorched tongues they must sometimes suffer. ;)
 

alfredo_buscatti

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Usually if I smoke 2 ozs of a blend I can write a decent review; sometimes, though I don't feel I've gotten it all. So I smoke 4 ozs.
 

smokey422

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I usually try to smoke about 2 oz. before I make a decision, but if I really like or dislike a blend I may decide before then.

Smokey :pipe:
 
A

Anonymous

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In some tobacco's 1 bowl is more than enough

in those that are complicated 2oz is about right for me to find out if it's a keeper
 
A

Anonymous

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The best answer, IMHO : All of the above.

Factor in that even similar tobaccos don't pack identically. Embarcadero is not real picky stuff ; Full Virginia Flake is. It can take a while to zero in on the optimum with a new one. An wrong pack = a bad smoke. (Often followed by a shit-for-brains "review" @ tobaccoreviews, excoriating the blender for the "reviewer's" own clueless ineptitude).

I've found that Perique residue lingers a lot longer in a pipe than you'd perhaps suspect, "coloring" everything that follows it. And some tobaccos -- probably for no good reason that anyone comprehends -- seem to awaken slumbering residues to a much more noticeable degree than other tobaccos.

From the butterfly perspective, it hardly matters, seeing as a given pipe will just be smoking something different next week anyhow. For butterflies, the question's academic, and the answer is,"never."

But if you've found a favorite and want to get to the bottom of it, I'd say that at about the point where you're running the third (2 oz.) tin of it through the same two or three (dedicated) pipes that suit it (and vice versa), you're past the noise and into nearly pure signal. Approaching that, you're coming closer but there are still surprises poking their little noses out every so often.

Then again, it depends on your acuity of taste. If you've got a 25-cent palatte, four of five trips around the block are probably enough to put you at the limit of what you can register. (This is why I study reviews by guys I know have more acute perceptions than mine -- they describe perceptions I'm shooting for). (Incidentally, I am pleased to report that, by dint of intense and singleminded effort, I actually managed to taste the malt and the qrapefruit in Laurel Heights ! Accomplishments like this are cherished ones).

:face:
 

adauria

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What Greg said... but then that's his job isn't it!

As for me, I can tell in a few bowls usually if it's a like or dislike. Now to fully uncover nuances and really "understand" a blend, 5-10 bowls maybe (and my palette is not too sophisticated).

I've found that I can actually accelerate my understanding of a tobacco by smoking it in a meerschaum pipe. I'm not saying that I will get all the nuance of smoking the same tobacco in a briar long enough to get the pipe and tobacco working together, but you do get a nice, unadorned taste of the tobacco in the meer that you may never get smoking the same tobacco in a bunch of briar pipes. YMMV.

And I generally don't write reviews. In fact, I don't even often repurchase the same tobaccos unless they really speak to me (e.g. GLP Westminster, SG FVF, Nightcap, EMP). And I only buy in tin quantities, so there's no need for me to decide if I am going to make that big investment in lbs of the stuff.

-Andrew
 
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