Filling the Bowl

27th December, 2003: Posted by glpease in Technique

When I first began to smoke a pipe, or rather, when I became serious about our delightful pastime, I seemed to find myself nearly obsessed with the techniques of pipe smoking. I read books, talked to inveterate pipe smokers, conducted experiments, all in the interest of increasing my enjoyment of my new hobby. At every turn, though, I found contradictions. It sometimes seemed that if one were to poll 100 experienced pipesters, one would return with at least 101 answers to each question. Still, after over 20 years of puffing, I sometimes have the idea that I know no more today than I did when I touched my first match to a bowlful of tobacco. Read more…»

‘Tis the Season

19th December, 2003: Posted by glpease in Tobacco

This has nothing, really, to do with the holidays, despite the lyrical allusion in the title. But, as we approach the winter solstice, as the sky changes from blue to gray, as the sun sets earlier, the rains come, and a chill fills the night air, changes, too, come to my pipe smoking. During warmer months, I more often reach for a lighter blend, perhaps a Virginia/perique, a light English or subtle Balkan style. Certainly there are times when I still want a good wallop of Latakia in all its glory, but mostly, it’s the more subdued blends that appeal to me then. Read more…»

The Pleasures and Perils of Perique

18th December, 2003: Posted by glpease in Tobacco

Alliteration aside, perique is one of the most fascinating and temperamental of the tobaccos. No other leaf in the blender’s spicerack has the ability to destroy a blend quite like perique. Bold words, yes, but even the smoky pungency of Latakia must walk in the murky shadow of the piquancy of perique. I said it. I’m prepared to back it up. Read more…»

Duckling into Swan

12th December, 2003: Posted by glpease in Pipes

This is the story of the transformation of a pipe. Perhaps the title is a little misleading. The pipe was never ugly. In fact, it is, and always has been, quite lovely, but beneath that beautiful skin beat a heart as black as the cake I scraped from its capacious bowl. Read more…»

The Fickle Palate

5th December, 2003: Posted by glpease in Tobacco

There are pipe smokers who can smoke the same blend, day after day, year after year, never seeming to tire of it, never wishing to try something new. I am not among their ranks, I am afraid. I can’t really even comprehend such unfaltering allegiance, though I’m often jealous of it. I sometimes long for a tobacco blend that I could smoke happily until the end of my days, but I know myself, I know that such a blend could never exist; my palate, and my pipes, are far too fickle. Read more…»

Evaluating Pipe Tobaccos

2nd December, 2003: Posted by glpease in Tobacco

I’ve read a lot of tobacco reviews, and some of them really puzzle me. It’s remarkable, even unthinkable, that someone would be so bold as to believe they can “review” a blend after only a single bowl, or even two (thought, I’ve been guilty of this myself on more than one occassion). Tobacco blends do not reveal themselves instantly. They emerge in layers, responding gradually to the smokers mood, the environment, the pipe. Even a blend that fails to impress upon first experience can expose its charms to the smoker after many subsequent smokes. Tobacco is complicated stuff. It takes time to get to know a blend. Read more…»

Matching Pipes and Tobaccos—Part 1

1st December, 2003: Posted by glpease in Pipes, Enjoyment, Technique

For quite a while, I’ve been attempting to discover some rhyme and reason for why some tobaccos just seem to “work” better in some pipes than others. At first, I looked to the conventional wisdom of my pipe smoking brethren to find answers. “Flakes are better in small pipes.” “Latakia blends are best smoked in larger bowls.” What I found there was a lot of disagreement, both amongst the folklore I collected, and within the context of my own experiences. I had to seek further to find the key to this particular mystery. I attempted to forget everything I thought I knew about the subject, and set out anew. Read more…»