Be careful to whom you pay attention.

You probably shouldn’t smoke what he’s smoking, but you should defintitely seek his advice.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.

Next: Tobacco Recommendations for the New Pipe Smoker

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

« Advice to New Pipe Smokers on Choosing Tobacco | Main | You can't smoke Créme Brûlée. »

Reader Comments (3)

while reading the part about turning green i had a flashback to about three years ago when i started smoking pipes. i went to SF and loaded some advice (and my own assumptions) i bought some escudo. before this time i had only smoked some gentle VA flakes and very much enjoyed the experience but when i packed a big bowl of escudo and started puffing away like a beginner, boom! i went from - hmmm, this tastes great - to sweating and feeling like i'm going to barf in no time flat. thankfully, i've since learned which tobaccos work for me and which don't.

looking back it was a bit of a rite of passage. and a great lesson too; some baccys work for me and some do not. and the ones that don't but taste delicious, i smoke them in a small bowl and slowly lest the green-nicotine-beast pays me a visit.

maybe beginners should talk to neophytes before the experts! :) perhaps the "experts" don't even remember a day when the nic beast last paid them a visit. or maybe it never did. i hope to remember that day so that i never let it happen again. tobacco is a powerful plant medicine to be enjoyed, and respected!

thanks for the post (and wish i had seen it three years ago!)
February 1, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdusty-z
So true Neill.

For those of you who have a case of nicotine overdose - you'll know almost immediately because of the pronounced nausea - drink a little coke, or take a spoon full of sugar, have some dry crackers or toast, lie down, in a half hour or so you will re-emerge with a life-long caution to puff new to you blends and notorious nicotine heavy blends slowly. Been there, regretted that.
February 2, 2013 | Registered CommenterCountrygent
Certainly trying to be an e-mentor involves a bit of forethought and responsibility. It's worth trying to view tastes objectively rather than personal likes - especially if little is known about the advisee.

Looking forward to the recommendations!
February 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJimbo44

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.