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Knowing What You Like

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FairlyStable

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Hi all,

When you first began pipe smoking how long did it take you to determine which tobaccos and blends you liked best? How long to develop a regular rotation that seemed to satisfy you best and most predictably?

I have tried about two dozen blends and can find something to like in all of them. A few seem especially good immediately. I feel like I am almost at the point where I want to stop focusing on trying as many blends as possible and settle into a more regular routine.

Of course, I realize that tastes might change over time and that variety and trying new blends is part of the fun, but I wonder for others how many blends you smoke regularly (daily or weekly?) compared to how many you might enjoy more occasionally. How consistent have your tastes for particular tobacs been over time?

Thanks so much!

Ray
 

IHT

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my tastes have changed dramatically.
i went from pipes to cigars and back to pipes. coming back from cigars, i couldn't taste the lighter Vas and Va/Pers, so i stuck with orientals and english blends, some pretty heavy in latakia.
after not smoking cigars for a few months, i could finally start to taste the complexities of VAs and Va/Pers and most latakia blends were too monotone for me, you had latakia and that's about all i could taste... :no:

so, now i'm pretty much a VA/Per and VA smoker. have been since early '06, my tastes haven't really changed that much, if at all.
the board i was a member of, there were some super generous ppl who felt the need to send me tins (even a couple pipes) for no real reason (just some generous and appreciated bombs), so i've got a good amount of my stash from them. my cellar is not really focused, but it's allowed me to try a wide variety of tobaccos.
we also use to do blind reviews for S&G's. then other members came up with a few great ideas, like "Make a Wish" and "pipe tobacco lottery". i've still got tons of samples laying around in jars.

no, my cellar isn't really focused on what i know i like, but it's getting there, and my tastes haven't changed the past couple years... i'm pretty much a VA, VA/Per, and lakeland style smoker. the orientas and latakia blends are used for a change of pace every now and then.
 
A

Anonymous

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When I first started pipe it was with burleys
Then I went to cigs
Then I went to aromatics now Im back to burleys and virginias
 

morleysson

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When I started smoking in 1966, there was the normal cycling through OTC aromatics to uber aromatics, then (surprise!) to many of the fine English blends, like State Express and Constantinople, Exmoor Hunt and Bulwark, unquestionably one of the top five tobaccos ever made. I would alternate these w/ Blue Boar, Edgeworth Readyrubbed, E-slices, and Union Jack, also a classic blend. But, since so many of the those blends are gone, and more blends from the UK are unavailable each year, I went to the last outpost of the 'codger'burleys, like PA and ERRd, hoping that a holding action of smoking them would be successful until we old smokers can be saved. I fear the worst, though, and I may have to change again. Sadly, there is no siren's call to my final destruction through tobacco. :twisted:
 

Mongo

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I've been smoking a pipe for about 30 years (with a hiatus of a few years in there somewhere), and my tastes still haven't settled down. Right now I'm smoking a lot of American-English blends, but it's impossible for me to predict what I'll smoke next. (Right now I'm puffing on a bowl of my leftovers...the bits from the bottom of various tins that get thrown together in a jar.)

My cellar's full of just about every type of mixture. I like the variety. I doubt that I'll ever settle on one type of mixture.
 

vaperfavour

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well, i have been smoking a pipe seriously for about 10 years now, i started with macbarens scottish mixture then at the chicago 1997 i bought a tin of esoterica's dunbar which WAS a blend of virginias with perique and wow!! what a difference i thought that stuff was made for me and only me. i was going througha tin a week then the blend was changed! :evil: now it is so-so.but in retrospect if it hadnt changed, i would never have discovered solani 633 or g.l. pease haddo's delight.so the vaperfavour was born. i will smoke a cigar blend 2-3 times a week, occasionally an oriental. never liked latakia, to me it smells like shit! i know there are some who would say i speak heresy, but if it smells like a farm...... :lol!: i think it is that experience of bliss and wonderment we sometimes get from smoking a pipe that we strive for, that experience of well its hard to explain really but we hopefully all know that experience someone should come up with a name for it. i have found that whatever makes me happy is what i stick with, even though that sometimes means buying pipes costing a thousand dollars or more and spending 100 dolars on rare tins of baccy, which i recently did on a tin of stonehenge flake though i have never tried it, just smelled some sidestream smoke some years ago.oh dear my poor wallet! :no: but i think to myself if i am not good to myself who will be?
 

FairlyStable

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Thanks for the replies everyone. It is interesting to know what you have experienced and helps to put my own piping in some context. At this early point it generally seems that VAs and VA/Pers are doing it best for me. At the same time, there are so many blends available I want to try them all for fear of missing something that I would really love! What a dilemma... :)
 

Wet Dottle

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When I started I had no guidance at all. I smoked everything I could lay my hands on, but mostly it was a quest to find cheap and tasty tobacco. I see that as a blessing because it allowed me to develop my own untainted and unpretentious opinions.

Tastes change, but there's nothing like trying as much as you can to find for yourself. After a while you will know what you like and won't have to use the shotgun approach anymore. I still try new blends on a more or less regular basis, but it is now a much more educated search.
 

JohnnyFlake

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I have been smoking a pipe, on and off with cigars, with cigars for about 35 years. Up until a year ago or so, I was mostly into caigsr for a couple of years, but now I am very much back to the pipe. For some unkown reason, I just have that sense or feeling, that this is where I plan to saty for the rest of my life. Oh! I may smoke a cigar every now and then, however, I believe the pipe is permenently back!

My taste with pipe tobacco is mostly geared around Virginias, Burleys and Aromatics. However, there are times that I'll smoke only English Blends for a month or two or Va/Pers for a month or two. So with me the type of tobacco I am into can change overnight.

Many pipesters just don't want to admit they like or even enjoy the cheapy Aromatics. I never could understand why! Personally, there are times I love a bowl of Lanes 1Q or BCA or even TK-6. I love HOWs Barking Dog, however, I also love Esoterica's Dorchester and Dunhill's Lundon Mixture, Momyama, Royal Jeresy Perique and so on. So there you go! I'm all over the spectrum!!!
 

Ben

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I grew up around the smell of Latakia -- Dunhill 965, specifically. It was all my grandfather smoked. Even though he took great care not to smoke around me, he managed to get in several bowls a day. I loved the smell as a kid and instantly loved the tobacco as a young man, circa 1996. From there, I smoked my way through several of Dunhill's other offerings.

Fast-forwarding.... Over the past several years, my collection has centered on the following -- any of which from the English/Balkan selections would suit me fine were I only allowed to have one for the rest of my days:

ENGLISH/BALKAN

Abingdon by G.L. Pease. I have to say that this blend is, quite simply, a modern classic. Only his Renaissance could I even consider a better offering.

Margate by Esoterica. Among the most complex and enjoyable English mixtures that, as a bonus, has a bit of Balkan influence.

Balkan Flake by Samuel Gawith. Balkan it's not, but a rich and savory Virginia/Latakia flake it is. Awesome.

Commonwealth Mixture by Samuel Gawith. At 50% Latakia, it's a kick in the teeth for the timid. It's a very honest blend and could be an all-day English for me.


VIRGINIA AND ITS VARIATIONS

Dunbar by Esoterica. Billed as a blend of seven Virginia tobaccos and Louisiana Perique, this is a big winner for those who want something traditional and of extremely high quality but wish to taste something radically different from the more mainstream VA/P blends (i.e., Escudo).

Full Virginia Flake by Samuel Gawith. Pure VA -- a taste sensation. I vastly prefer this style to bright VAs.

Escudo by A&C Petersen. Classic VA/P, and so very similar -- in my opinion -- to the original that the two no longer merit comparison. Rich, heady, and savory. Sometimes too tasty to handle in large measures. I have tested this against my stash of Cope's Escudo from the 1980s and can tell that with some years of aging, the newer coins will be virtually identical.

Three Nuns by Imperial. So much time had passed between bowls of this stuff that I found no reasonable benchmark for this blend when I smoked from one of the tins I recently got in a trade. The taste is fantastic and much different enough from Escudo that it warrants a look.


OTHERS

These are my go-to tobaccos for a change of pace: Esoterica's Stonehaven, J.J. Fox's Dorisco Mixture and Banker's Mixture, Butera's Kingfisher, Semois (i'm knee-deep in a 100-g bag of shag cut at the moment), and Three Castles (a bright VA shag orignally for pipes, then marketed to RYO cigarettes).
 

Ben

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vaperfavour":w15e61g9 said:
at the chicago 1997 i bought a tin of esoterica's dunbar which WAS a blend of virginias with perique and wow!! what a difference i thought that stuff was made for me and only me. i was going througha tin a week then the blend was changed!
Interesting. I picked up my first tin of Dunbar in 2004 and have been enjoying the blend ever since. What would you say is the difference in the more recent production? I like it as-is, so I suppose that's a lucky thing for me.
 

FairlyStable

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Great stuff, everyone. Thanks.

I know it’s a nice feeling when it all happens just right. I suppose we have moments that signal us – pipe epiphanies, if you will. My first pipe this Saturday morning was a bowl of Best Brown Flake in my backyard as the sun was rising behind and shining through the trees. The air was bright and still and the flake was perfect. In total, the experience was sublime. It’s a simple thing, really, but it felt like magic nonetheless.

This experience made me love BBF. Every smoke of it won’t equal this one, but it has been tasting so good to me. I guess this is how we know. Big moments and little moments that add up to us returning again and again to something. I finished that smoke of BBF Saturday looking forward to the next one, waiting in anticipation. I felt as I might if the Brazilian Women’s Beach Volleyball Team had just phoned demanding that I begin fathering their children and telling me they would arrive at my house shortly. Okay, almost that much anticipation... :face:

I would love to hear about some of your moments of “pipe epiphany” – an especially memorable coincidence of setting, mood, and smoke that just seemed to bring it all home.
 

Justpipes

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I have smoked a pipe on and off since I was a teenager but only smoked a pipe on a daily basis for the last 10 years. In the earlier years it was the run of the mill OTC blends but most of the time Sir Walter Raleigh. Something about it appealed to me and still does occasionally. My dad smoked a pipe and the two blends I remember him smoking the most were London Dock and Borkum Riff. He smoked the Borkum Riff in his later years after London Dock wasn't available. I never got the chance to try London Dock and the Borkum Riff of today is morbid.

About ten years ago when I developed my permanent fascination of pipes and tobacco and discovered the world of "high grade" tobaccos I started smoking a lot of heavy Latakia blends and liked them quite well. I smoked a lot of SOTE. Then I discovered C&D Yaller Dawg and didn't look back until it was unfortunately no longer available. It has always been easy for me to settle on one blend and be satisfied with it. When Yaller Dawg disappeared I went on a quest to find something satisfying and both affordable to smoke a lot of. One day sometime in 2004 out of curiosity I purchased a can of Middleton's Walnut, mainly because the historical significance of the description was intriguing to me, and the rest is history! What a phenomenal blend and at a great price to boot! I will regret the day that it changes drastically or goes away all together.

Since I have fairly recently gotten back on the board scene some folks here on the BoB have tried to corrupt me with a few fine offerings such as GLP Cumberland which is quite good but it would never replace Walnut as my everyday, day in and day out go to blend. I never have really cared all that much for straight VA blends. Some are ok for a change of pace but I am a Burley based man all the way now!

It's kind of like an old Pentecostal hymn I remember form long ago that goes something like this...........

"If yoouu don't liikke Waallnuutt, theerree'sss sin in yourrrrr liiiiffffeeee".

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
 

alfredo_buscatti

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I have so many blends, mostly straight VA and VA/Perique, that it is impossible to say which of them I will be smoking. To complicate, thankfully, the above, a lot of my tobacco has 2 or 3 years of age, and for no apparent reason, I'll think of smoking a 3 y/o and will, on the spot, designate it for aging to 5 or 5+ years.

I do have my favorites, too many to list, but at the moment am violating my rule to only have two tins open at any one time and have the following tobaccos designated as "smoke now":

Escudo
Embarcadero
University Flake

also taking into consideration 3 samples, more to arrive soon, thanks to the generosity of Ol' Dawg, a true gentleman that I met at the TAPS show.
 

vaperfavour

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Ben, to answer your question the first 20 to 30 tins of dunbar were a shag cut versus the broken flake it is now. it was very finely cut shag, so much so, a buddy and i used to roll it for cigarettes on occasion. it was very salt and pepper. it was also very strong in nicotene. i miss it. to this day i know of no other shag cut vaper. g.l. pease stratford i would not consider shag cut. it was really god. starting about mid-bowl the pepperiness of the perique would ramp up and the vitamin n would make my toes tingle. What a feeling!!!!!! if i only knew then that fav tobaccos could change and disappear i would have stocked up! :no: nowadays it seems like there is a menthol taste that i dont like.
 

FairlyStable

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So far today I have smoked in this order:

Briar Fox
Night Train
Long Golden Flake
HOTW
Best Brown Flake
Haddo's

Briar Fox seems to be settling in as a nice first smoke of the day for me. LGF and HOTW likewise seem to really hit the spot on a sunny afternoon. Haddo's, Bow-Legged Bear or Nightcap seem to close the day nicely. Mix in various flakes and cakes on different days and all is well. This is so much better than cigarettes.
 

sonarman

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I started off smoking English Blends but have really only been smoking Va's, VaPer's, and burleys. I have a good amount of plain orientals in the cellar because of Embarcadero and another Va that has some oriental leaf in it. I try to like the English blends but I get bored with anything that has Latakia in it, it just seems to overpower the blend no matter how little there is in it.
 
A

Anonymous

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Smoked Codger Burleys (mostly Granger) back when they were good (1960s). Tried tins of Balkan Sobranie for the heck of it every once in a while, and always wondered why they even made the stuff.

First tin of non-Burley was Balkan Sobranie Virginian Nr. 10 in my first non-news stand pipe (1973). It was true love at first encounter. With that as the standby I'd naively expected would always be around, tried various others just to see what they were like (Rattrays back when Rattray made it, Dunhills from Dunhill, Three Nuns, Presbyterian -- the usual suspects). Meh . . .

When BSVa10 went extinct (during a pipe hiatus), the search began, already pretty much narrowed-down to Virginia flakes.

There are people who seem to like nearly everything. And, if nothing ever whacks them upside the head with how mind-numbingly, horizon-expandingly good it is, they'll be generalists.

Others find themselves centered, non-specifically, in genres (Englishes, VaPers, Burleys &c.) and rotate through these.

It's ultimately a matter of what flips your switch.

:face:
 

gilgawulf

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Yak":dt7xqima said:
First tin of non-Burley was Balkan Sobranie Virginian Nr. 10 in my first non-news stand pipe (1973). It was true love at first encounter. With that as the standby I'd naively expected would always be around, tried various others just to see what they were like (Rattrays back when Rattray made it, Dunhills from Dunhill, Three Nuns, Presbyterian -- the usual suspects). Meh . . .

When BSVa10 went extinct (during a pipe hiatus), the search began, already pretty much narrowed-down to Virginia flakes.


:face:
Have you tried Virginia Memory # 10? I just got some in the mail and have been enjoying it thoroughly. I'd be interested to hear the opinion of someone who smoked the BSV#10 as to how well this incarnation stacks up.
 
A

Anonymous

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Yes. An impressively generous Bro here sent me a whole jar of it.

It's obviously high quality stuff.

But without Cuban cigar leaf (illegal here), Syrian Latakia (for all practical purposes, extinct), some oriental I can't identify that probably isn't grown any more, plus steaming and hot-pressing the recipie, the resemblance, IMHO, is not a striking one. Ditto Robusto.

Then again, others really like both and find them nice substitutes for it.

:face:
 
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