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choosing pipe tobacco

How do you choose your first tobacco pipe?

Very long… long… short… curved… straight… filtered… unfiltered… how much to spend. What a dilemma!

Each type has its own characteristics and small advantages to offer. Above all, it is a question of personal preference. Everyone has their own tastes, and choosing a tobacco pipe is first and foremost about responding to a shape, a colour (there are tobacco pipes of every colour these days) and a finish (sanded, rustic, natural, plain, etc…).

There are some who will go into raptures of ecstasy in the presence of the “extraordinary” types of tobacco pipe; which, though technically perfect, I have to admit leave me completely indifferent. So it really is a matter of personal choice, a choice that only you can make. In making your selection, take into account the way in which you intend to smoke the pipe: what follows will help you.

Very long tobacco pipes (around 270 mm)

Tend to be smoked in private because carrying them around is problematic due to their size. They are difficult to hold in the mouth and tend to be supported in the hand. The big advantage for first time smokers is that the length of the stem cools the smoke, which allows the flavour of the tobacco to be better appreciated. These kinds of pipes, known as “reading” pipes, are intended for peaceful smoking in moments of calm relaxation.

Long tobacco pipes (around 170 mm)

Represent a compromise between very long smoking pipes and curved pipes. These pipes are very light and therefore easy to hold in the mouth. Comfortable and very pleasurable, these smoking pipes are often preferred by women and are greatly appreciated for those restful moments. They also offer the advantage of producing soft smoke at the stem end.

Warning: never dismantle a hot pipe; wait until it has cooled down…

When detaching the stem, always hold it close to the shank: the stem is thinner and therefore more fragile on these kinds of pipes than on traditional pipes.

Bent tobacco pipes :

sit well in the mouth due to their shape. Be aware of the weight however: upwards of 70/80 grams it can begin to be a burden on the jaw when held in the mouth for long periods.

Straight smoking pipes :

Some recommend these pipes for beginners, though there is no hard and fast rule. They are not recommended at weights of 80 g or more, however, because they then become relatively heavy in the mouth (example: the ButzChoquin “Makalu Unie”), unless you hold the pipe in the hand more often than in the mouth that is.

Short smoking pipes :

Though the size of these tobacco pipes makes them convenient and they are often attractively shaped, I do not recommend them for beginners, who as a general rule do not control the temperature of the pipe very well because they tend to draw or suck too strongly. This leads to the smoke being too hot when it reaches the mouth, which can cause irritation and thus does not permit the flavour of the tobacco to be appreciated. The choice of tobacco and the manner in which the tobacco pipe is smoked (calmly) will play an important role.

Filtered or unfiltered :

Eighty percent of French pipes offer two options: a 9 mm filter, or a metal filter used via an adaptor. The 9 mm type filters (activated carbon or foam) partially clean the nicotine from the smoke; they also soften it however. Personally, and to my great regret, I have never been able to smoke an unfiltered pipe, though I am not typical in this respect. I will now take the opportunity offered by this paragraph to provide an answer to a question I am often asked: filters should be changed every time you smoke a fresh pipe.

Finally, how much should you spend on your tobacco pipe?

This will obviously depend on how much you can afford. For a first time purchase, keep things reasonable, relative to your budget, but never purchase one of the new pipes you sometimes see on sale for €20 or €30 (you will not find any of those on this website!). If you want to give your first experience every chance of success, it is better to approach it in the right way. Once you have discovered and familiarised yourself with the art of pipe smoking, and if you enjoy the experience, you can always revise your budget, knowing exactly what you are looking for this time. Read our more comprehensive article how much does a pipe cost.

Here is what you need to know when choosing your first pipe.

Choosing The Right Pipe Tobacco

With so many different types of pipe tobacco available on the market, choosing one can be a daunting task. Some have a heavier, full-bodied tobacco flavor, while others are more light and aromatic. Just because your buddy enjoys the heavier pipe tobacco doesn’t necessarily mean you will too. If you’re struggling to choose a brand of pipe tobacco, keep reading to learn more about the nuances between the different varieties.

Virginia Blends

Here’s an interesting fact that may surprise some of you: approximately 60% of U.S. tobacco is grown in the U.S. The fertile soil combined with warm year-round temperatures offers the perfect climate for this versatile crop. Tobacco grown here is rightfully called “Virginia blends” – for obvious reasons.

You really can’t go wrong with any premium Virginia blend pipe tobacco. While the exact flavors and aroma vary depending on the particular brand, most Virginia blends are characterized by rich tobacco flavors with hints of sweet fruit. A good Virginia blend pipe tobacco will create a burst of flavor in your mouth that’s sure to satisfy your taste buds.

English Pipe Tobacco

Based on the name alone, you might assume this type of pipe tobacco comes from the other side of the pound; however, English pipe tobacco simply refers to natural blends of tobacco with no added flavors or additives. Most tobacco companies add flavoring ingredients during the curing process, which sets their product apart from the rest. English tobacco, on the other hand, is entirely natural and contains no addition flavors.

English tobacco possesses a stronger, more filling smoke that many people prefer. Since there’s no flavoring additives used in its production, it has more of an authentic tobacco flavor than other varieties.

Burley Pipe Tobacco

Burley is a variety of pipe tobacco that’s gone through an air-curing process to achieve a unique flavor. Although it’s not as popular as Virginia or English blends, it’s still a delightful alternative that shouldn’t be overlooked. The air-curing process intensifies some of the attractive flavors and aromas of the tobacco, creating a smooth, delicate blend with hints of nuts and caramel.

In Conclusion.

The only way you’ll know which pipe tobacco is best suited for your taste buds is through trials and error. Pick up a pack of each of the previously mentioned varieties to light up. While you’re enjoying them, make a mental note of which ones you prefer and which ones you dislike.

With so many different types of pipe tobacco available on the market, choosing one can be a daunting task. Some have a heavier, full-bodied tobacco flavor, while others are more light and aromatic. Just because your buddy enjoys the heavier pipe tobacco doesn't necessarily mean you will too. If you're struggling to cho ]]>