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types of pipes tobacco

Pipe tobacco types

It can be difficult to navigate through the jungle of pipe tobaccos, especiallt if you’re a new to the hobby. Therefore we’ve put together a few lists to maybe help you go down the right way – or at least know which way you’re going! You can read about the various types of tobacco, their basic characteristics, and how they’re typically blended and cut and what it does to the experience.

Of course, what matters in the end is your personal preferences, which you can only establish by trying something different once in a while, but still, it’s always nice to get a few pointers, isn’t it?

Virginia

The most popular type of tobacco used.
It comes in a range of colors. You will find it in most blends for the pipe, but it’s also very common for people to smoke one of the pure, or ’straight’, Virginias on the market. The strenght can be both low or high, but in general it’s milder compared to other types. It has the highest level of natural dextrose (sugar) among the different tobacco plants, and therefore it has a sweet character.
As always, smoke slowly – otherwise you might miss out on the great taste of the Virginia. Because of the high sugar levels it will easily suffer from too much heat, but when smoked with patience it can be one of the most interesting and delicious experiences.

In color it ranges from bright, hayish yellow to dark red and almost black, and each shade has different characteristics tastewise. It’s difficult to translate taste impressions to nothing but words, but in general many people find the brighter types to be lighter and more ’fresh’ tasting with notes of someting like hay, citrus, and summerdays, while the darker ones typically has a deeper, darker taste with hints of dried fruit, caramel, and chocolate.

Burley

Also a very typical component of many pipe tobacco blends.
Unlike the Virginias this one contains almost no natural sugars, and therefore you get a much dryer smoke and taste, and unlike the Virginias the Burley is not prone to burn too hot. It’s used in many Aromatic pipe blends because it easily absorbs the added flavorings.

Colors can be light to dark brown, and the taste is often described as nut-like or with little hints of chocolate.

It can be difficult to navigate through the jungle of pipe tobaccos, therefore we’ve put together a few tips to help you…

Discovering Different Shapes of Pipes

Pipes come in vast array of shapes and sizes. From Classic English Shapes, to the more Free Formed Danish Shapes. It can be a minefield when starting out, so many shape names, which are often subjective and often cause augments with makers and smokers alike.

In this article we will focus on more traditional English shapes, as these are the most commonly smoked world wide.

Many pipe makers and smokers disagree on the names of some pipes, these usually involve the Bulldog & Rhodesian shapes. For the purpose of this article i will use the same names that Dunhill and many UK makers use.

Common pipe shapes

Billiard

Apple

Another common shape for straight pipes. With a more rounded “Apple” like bowl, but shaped much like the Billiard, the stem is again the same as the bowl height and the mouthpeice is often tapered.

Bent (Billiard)

Bent pipes are classed by the severity of the bend; 1/4 Bent, 1/2 Bent etc. The bend in the stem/mouthpiece makes the pipe more comfortable to hang and smoke hands free. A slight drawback to this design is moisture (saliva) can run down the stem into the base of the bowl. The Peterson System and other innovations have tried and succeded to overcome this issue over the years (more Bent shape variations at the end of this page).

Bulldog

A Bulldog shape is defined by the Square shank and tapered rim to the bowl. Bulldog pipes also come in bent and curved variations (not to be confused with the Rhodesian shapes).

Dublin

Very closely related to the Billiard, but with a tapered bowl (wider at the brim). The bowl is also tilted slightly away from stem. The stem remains straight (curved Dublins are known as a Zulu).

Another variation on the classic Billiard, making use of a shorter, often wider bowl. The Pot shape allows for a shorter smoke, ideal if you dont have time for a full 30/45 minute smoke.

Prince

Named after the former Prince of Wales (King Edward VII), this elegant shape features from a longer and more slender mouthpiece, with a short and squat bowl and a slight curve. The result is a light and well balanced pipe.

Bent Rhodesian

Compared to the Bulldog Shape a Rhodesian features a round shank, and often a shorter tapered round rim. The Bent Rhodesian has a half bent stem/mouthpiece that makes for a balanced smoke when using hands free.

Canadian

Like its brother the Liverpool, a Canadian pipe has a longer oval stem with a short and tapered mouthpiece. These often 6″ long pipes offer a cool smoke and are suited more to those who like to hold their pipe when smoking. You can leave these to hang from your mouth, but the length really amplifies the weight of the bowl.

Liverpool

This long pipe differs from the above Canadian, by having a round stem. A Liverpool is often considered to be like a Billiard with a much longer stem. These pipes are not as popular as the Billiard, or even its cousin the Lovat. Liverpool (and Canadian) smokers are often tall and find other pipes look too small for them.

Lovat

The Lovat is another member of the Billiard family with the overall proportions being much the same, and is closely tied with the Liverpool shape. The Lovat has a slightly longer shank than the Billiard and uses a small Saddle mouthpiece.

Chimney

Another cousin of the classic Billiard shape, with a taller and often thinner bowl. With a narrow bowl, the smoke is cooler and very well suited for Gold Virginia flakes. The tobacco burns slower and its easy to build up a good ash, keeping the tobacco smoother/cooler.

Straight Rhodesian

Like its bent counterpart, the Rhodesian differs from a Bulldog. The shank is round, compared to the square shank found on the Bulldog. The top the of the bowl differs as well, with a more rounded and smaller tapered rim.

Poker

A shape that has always a cult following, the basic and almost engineered shape appeals to many. The Poker shape is two cylinders at 90 degree angles to each other, the larger for the bowl and the thinner for the shank. The shape is now made by many American Pipe makers, some are famous for them.

Cherrywood

Not to be confused with the wood, the Cherrywood is based on the Poker. With an angled base and a curve in the stem a cherrywood is much better balanced and suited for hands free smoking.

The Zulu is a little more than a curved Dublin, the bowl is angled a little more, while being set off beautifully by the curved mouthpiece. A well balanced pipe that can be smoked hands free or like a straight pipe.

Panel Billiard

Yet another variation on the billiard, this time with straight side to the bowl. The most common Panel Billiard has 4 straight sides, but hexagonal and other shapes exist but rarely in regualr production. Some artisan makers carve patterns within the panels to produce some spectacular pieces.
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Hungarian & Oom Paul

In essence these are full bent Apple(Hungarian) or Billiard(Oom Paul) pipes. An uncommon pipe in regular production and a very challenging shape to make (many pipe makers wont or cant make these). The best shape for smoking hands free, a little more effort is needed to get a draw though (the angles are very tight).

Diplomat

A variation of the Prince shape. It differs from the Prince with a thicker, less delicate stem/mouthpeice and a slight tapering on the bowl. The Diplomat benefits from the curved stem, this allows less pull when smoke freely and also less bulky in a jacket pocket.

Brandy

A wide based billiard with a bowl that tapers inwards towards the rim. The shape resembles a Brandy glass and makes for a comfortable grip. The Volcano shape is very similar but with a much wider base.

Cutty

Based on the classic Georgian clay pipe shape. The long and slender stem is finished off with a small foot and low angled bowl. This classic shape has been in production for centuries in many materials.

Churchwarden

A long stemed pipe with a wide array of bowl shapes. Favoured by those who enjoy a very cool smoke, the extra length allows the smoke to cool. Classed as a “Reading” pipe in Germany and many parts of Europe, as the book can be held infront of the pipe.

Calabash

The shape is named after the Calabash Gourde(made from Calabash and Meerschaum). This half to full bent pipe is often fitted with a horn or precious metal insert and a lip on the rim of the bowl.

Vest Pocket

A clever little pipe, small and slim with a rotating stem. It can be twisted and put away in a shirt or jacket pocket. The small chamber makes for a quick smoke and the compact design gives it a little protection in your pocket while working.

Bent Variations

Like the “Bent Billiard” above most pipe shapes can come with either a bend in the mouthpiece or a bent stem and mouthpiece. Here are a few examples;

Bent Apple Bent Dublin Bent Pot Bent Brandy

This is not a complete list, over 100 shapes and styles are produced world wide. Each country has its own styles and shapes. Many factories release limited edition pipe, often in unique and unusal shape.

To see more of these pipes please have a look around our selection.

Pipes come in vast array of shapes and sizes. It can be a minefield when starting out, so take a look at our helpful guide ]]>