Recently, I’ve gotten a number of letters and emails from younger pipe smokers who’ve asked me to write about tobaccos that I would advise them to try in their early pipe-smoking sojourns.
As a new pipe smoker, you should consider where you get your information and whether or not the information you’re getting would be given to you if the person providing the information knew your pipe-smoking history and experience. Let’s consider such a scenario.
Pipe Forums are wonderful places to learn. However….
Most beginning pipe smokers are men who are comfortable inside social networking environments. They are facile at searching out pipe-smoking forums in order to learn what is popular among those who they perceive as thought-leaders in those online communities.
It doesn’t occur to the researching new pipe smoker that these thought-leaders have likely smoked a pipe for decades, and that tenure matters. These thought leaders are at a different place in their pipe-smoking trajectory than is a new pipe smoker, smoking tobaccos that may be full-bodied and nicotine-laden. More mature pipe-smokers may very well sing the praises of Stonehaven or 1792 or Samuel Gawith’s Full Virginia Flake, smoking them daily, but if the average newbie were to tuck into a bowl of 1792 or Stonehaven, the likelihood is that he would experience technicolor projectile-vomiting. This is true of many popular tobaccos among experienced pipe smokers.
I have one close friend who did exactly this and wound up buying four tins of 1792, convinced that he would love it. After having smoked half a bowl, he found himself green, lying on the bathroom floor, sweating profusely, wanting to die. While I love to exaggerate for humorous effect, this paragraph is no exaggeration; that’s how he felt. If you smoke a pipe long enough, you will eventually visit this dark corner of the universe, yourself. I advise you to delay your arrival as long as possible.
When you ask for tobacco recommendations, make sure the person to whom you’re speaking knows you’re new to pipe-smoking.
Tobacco recommendations are most useful and rewarding when they consider the particularity of the smoker. What someone might recommend to me would depend on the recommender’s knowledge of my history, preferences, and tolerance for nicotine. Someone offering a blend recommendation to you should consider the same things. What we like, ourselves, is often irrelevant. The bottom line is that there are no universal goods or bads when it comes to pipe tobacco blends, with the possible exception of the aforementioned and imaginary Mincemeat Blend. That would likely be a violation of human rights accords, subjecting the blender to trial at The Hague.
It is difficult to make dependable recommendations to another pipe smoker. We all have different body chemistries. We all have different flavor preferences. What one pipe smoker likes, another pipe smoker may not enjoy. That having been said, there are some choices that are fairly reliable when it comes to starting out smoking a pipe.