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Maltese Falcon - What am I doing wrong?

Wet Dottle

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I finally tried some Maltese Falcon and am now in the middle of the second 2 oz tin. This is the problem: the first 1/3 bowl is great and I couldn't be happier. Then, it turns bitter and becomes very unpleasant. I've tried everything I could think of: different pipes (even dedicated a new Ruthenberg to it), different times of day, different ambient temperatures, but there wasn't any appreciable difference. Perhaps larger bowls work better, but in the end the bitterness always comes. I do like that first part of the smoke, but can't make it last.

What am I doing wrong? Need suggestions, please.
 

PipeBrew

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Slow down, and if it gets even slightly juicy, use a pipe cleaner.
 

Buddy Springman

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I concur with the slow-down. My usual suspect when I encounter bitterness.

Maybe a bit more drying would help.

Buddy
 

howellhandmade

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Maybe a parfait -- fill the first 2/3 of the pipe with something else.

Always practical,

Jack
 

glpease

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There are a few possibilities. The first is that the blend just doesn't work for you. Your body chemistry, and your tastes, may simply be at odds with the chemistry and flavour of the Falcon, and what others may find enjoyable about it, you may find insufferable. For this, there's no cure. BUT, before giving up on it, I'd like to offer a couple other suggestions.

Try drying the tobacco a bit, and packing more loosely. Often, a tight pack can result in bitterness, and when coupled with moisture, this can be amplified. The distillates from the burning tobacco accumulate in the lower layers, and to those who are "tasters," being sensitive to bitter things (about 65% of the population), the resulting bitter components can be detected. Some like it, some do not. If you're a slow smoker, the bitter components can actually be enhanced, not mitigated. Drier tobacco, more loosely packed may reduce the effect.

Try smaller bowls: Personally, I find Latakia blends with big flavours, like Maltese Falcon, work best in smaller bowls; large bowls can be overwhelming to the palate, and as the bitter principles increase, which they will as any tobacco is smoked, some become acclimated to the more subtle flavours, and the bitter ones are all that continue to be detected. Sometimes, taking a short break, or drinking something to refresh the palate, like green tea, can bring things back to normal.

Try cleaning the shank: This may seem obvious, but tars that build up in the shank of a pipe can adversely affect the flavour of the smoke. Usually, this will result in a sharpness, even "bite" (always attributed to the tobacco, but often, the result of a fouled shank!) that can be mitigated with a good cleaning. You can feel gunk in the shank when you insert a doubled-over pipe cleaner. A little alcohol and a few pipe cleaners can work wonders.

If none of these things are found to help, then it just may not be the blend for you. There are many highly-regarded blends that I simply cannot smoke because they don't play well on my palate. We all work more or less the same, but each of us reacts to the basic stimuli of taste and smell differently. (There are some cheeses revered by the French that send me running in horror from the room...)

If any of these things is of help, I hope you'll follow up and share your experience. Stuff like this, when shared, always helps by expanding the body of understanding amongst the brethren.

Besides, I'm always curious. ;)

-glp
 

Wet Dottle

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Thank you all for the suggestions. They shall all be tried.

Thanks for your intervention, Greg. That first third of the bowl is awesome and I want the experience to last. I will post here the results of the experiments. On my way home, I will go by the b&m to get another tin. Now, lets start scrubbing shanks... :face:
 

Natch

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Wet Dottle,

Something you might try is dump the dottle. As many of my friends among the BoB's already think I'm a barbarian (I like Kirstens and 9mm filter pipes) this may give them further conformation.

I'm sure you've noticed the numerous tobacco reviews that indicate the changes as the bowl progresses, and many indicate that the tobacco improves lower in the bowl and that nuances of the tobaccos come out as it's burned lower. But I've found most tobaccos do not improve as they near the bottom of the bowl. I've found that I enjoy the taste most at the first light, and it degenerates past mid-bowl. So what I often do is use cheap cigarette rolling tobacco (which is a nice, light, fluffy cut) and chopped up end caps clipped from cigars to load the bottom third of the bowl. When the taste starts to get bitter, I dump the wet dottle.

This way you're dumping cheap tobacco, not the expensive stuff. I even let the bottom filler get bone dry, so it absorbs more of the juices and gives a dryer smoke. Of course, you have to keep an eye on the cake lower in the bowl and occasionally I'll burn a flake to the bottom of all my pipes to keep that cake constant, but this works for me.

May not work for you, but you might give it a try.

Natch
 

smokey422

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I've found that Maltese Falcon can sometimes smoke a little wet so you could try drying it or use a pipe cleaner if you get some gurgling while smoking. I really like this blend, Greg, you done good!

Smokey
 
A

Anonymous

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On the basis of half a tin of it so far, with this stuff, any bitterness at all is moisture-related -- shank, bowl or both.

Try a gravity feed (only). If it starts getting moist-bitter, dump the top ash (to let the air get to it) and put it down for an hour to dry back out. Re-light, and you're back on the road again. Or, should be.

:face:
 
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