Dogs that Bite

24th January, 2004: Posted by glpease in Pipes

I often hear about tobaccos that bite, yet rarely is this quality attributed to a pipe, however much it may be deserved. I’ve had pipes that would take the smoothest tobacco on the planet, and render it unsmokable, turning its smoke into a bite-sized version of a nuclear reactor meltdown on my tongue. No amount of “breaking-in” of these pipes has ever cured them of their nasty temperament. Of course, there are tobaccos that can transform the most mild-mannered pipe into Lucifer’s eternal oven, and we’ve all experienced one or two of those, but, rarely is a pipe blamed for the phenomenon of “bite.” It’s always the tobacco. Read more…»

Not Just a Piece of Wood

13th January, 2004: Posted by glpease in Pipes

I’ve had a lot of pipes over the years; an uncountable number, really. They come and go, are traded and bartered, smoked for a while, then passed on to their next caretaker. Sometimes, it seems like my collection is more of a temporary home for itinerant pipes than a real collection, though there is certainly a core that remains intact. It’s been a great way to explore most of the better known brands, as well as a few that have never quite risen from the shadows of obscurity. Some have been great, some dreadful, and most have fallen somewhere in between. I’ve had pipes that articulated the subtlest nuances of a complexly orchestrated blend with perfect, harmonious balance, and others that were so bland they would suck the life out of the most flavorful of weeds. Read more…»

There’s Something About Old Pipes

10th January, 2004: Posted by glpease in Pipes

The aggregation of pipes that I refer to as my collection, though it lacks any sort of cohesiveness that should be present if the title were to fit it accurately, can be loosely divided into two categories - those that I purchased new and unsmoked, and, the larger part, those that I acqired as “estate” pipes. It’s the latter category that has my attention tonight. As I write this, I’m smoking a rather old GBD bent rhodesian. The pipe is lovely in every way. Though it lacks the spectacular straight grain of today’s high-grades, though it’s internal construction may not be as precise or as perfect as that of a modern marvel of briar, it is nevertheless wonderfully cut, comfortable in the hand and between the teeth, made from beautiful wood with wild flames of grain, and nary a sandpit. It is classic and timeless in its shape. I smokes delightfully. Further, it possess something truly special, something that is not, can not be duplicated by any of today’s pipes. It is old. Read more…»

How Does it Smoke?

7th January, 2004: Posted by glpease in Pipes

What are we really talking about when we discuss how a pipe smokes? A pipe is at least two things. Functionally, it is a vessel in which we burn tobacco, but it is also the vehicle through which the flavor of our tobacco is delivered. We tend to stuff these two aspects of a pipe’s smoking qualities into one box, treating them almost interchangably, though they really deserve separate investigation. Of course, to many, importantly, a pipe is not only an object of function, but also one of art, satisfying a desire for aesthetic beauty, but that is a different topic, perhaps for exploration at a later date. Read more…»

Recreating the Past

3rd January, 2004: Posted by glpease in Tobacco

Often, especially at pipe shows, I’m asked why I don’t recreate some of the long-lost blends of yesterday - those classics whose passage from tobacconists’ shelves has been often lamented. You know the ones I’m talking about, or, at least you have your own list. Of course, it’s not just the blends that have disappeared, but those that have been changed radically through reorganizations, buy-outs, manufacturing changes, the disappearance of varietal leaf and, probably, cost cutting measures. My reaction to the question is always the same. To do so is pretty much impossible. Certainly, some have claimed to recreate old blends, but every time I sample them, I’m disappointed with the result. Never once, in my experience, has someone really “cloned” a classic old blend successfully, at least not to my perhaps overly critical palate. Read more…»

Used - Not Abused

2nd January, 2004: Posted by glpease in Pipes

This morning, I received a pipe in the post. I’d placed a bid on Ebay, and was fortunate to “win” the pipe, a wonderful old Castello Sea Rock being sold by a delightful woman named Dierdre for her father. It’s a large piece, a G, shape 34 - a beautiful slightly bent Dublin, with a smooth, wavy top, a red pearlized acrylic mouthpice, sporting the once more common “diamond”, indicating the pipe’s destination for US shores. My first reaction upon looking at the pipe was, “My GOD! How could anyone treat such a nice pipe like that?” There was too much cake in the bowl, cracked and chipping, and crawling over the bowl’s edge. The top was coated with hardened carbon and tar, fully occluding the beautiful red-stained wood that graced the pipe when it was new. The stem, while not chewed, did have a couple of toothmarks, and was rather grimy. The overall appearance of the finish was more gray than black. Read more…»