Project Pipe-Making

Pipe maker

I have an idea for a TV reality show, inspired by one of my wife’s favorites, Project Runway. I call it Project Pipe-Making. Over the season several aspiring pipe makers would be given a series of challenges for which they would be judged by a panel of established pipe makers and collectors. Contestants might be challenged to make particular classical shapes, freehands, smooths, carveds, sandblasts, straights, bents, churchwardens, etc. They might be required to use different pipe materials (briar, cherrywood, pear, clay, meerschaum, corn cob, etc.) and stem materials (vulcanite, acrylic, ebonite). Other criteria could be also used. The contestants would have access to high-grade tools and machines, just as contestants on fashion-design and cooking shows do.

The contestants would then be judged on craftsmanship, aesthetics, and originality. A stunning prize would await the winner. This would be a great way to give a boost to up-and-coming pipe makers. Something similar could be done for tobacco blenders, but that would be less interesting for viewers, I’m afraid.

I realize that in our anti-tobacco culture this idea has as much chance of being accepted by a television network as a sitcom about an inept Nazi POW camp. (Hey, wait a minute!) I thought it was worth proposing it anyway.

On Blending Tobaccos

If you are curious about types of tobacco and what they mean for the pipe smoker, Cornell & Diehl, a company I grow fonder of with every passing day, has an excellent two-part primer on its YouTube channel. Jeremy Reeves, C&D’s head blender, gives a good, clear presentation from which I learned much.

Here is part 1.

And here is part 2.

PS: The YouTube Pipe Community (YTPC) is a great source of pipe-smoking tips and and reviews. In the future I will post about my favorite channels.

Podcasts for Pipe Smokers

Updated May 5, 2018

We’re blessed with three podcasts (that I know of) dedicated to pipe smoking:

The Pipes Magazine Radio Show with Brian Levine

Pipe and Tamper with Mike Murphy, and

Oom Paul with Olie Sylvester (not in production, but look through the archive).

All three hosts interview great people from the world of pipe-making, pipe-collecting, tobacco-blending, and retailing.

You’ll learn something every time, so check them out!

UPDATE: A helpful commenter reminded me that I neglected to plug Country Squire Radio. My bad! I haven’t listened to many episodes yet, but I’ve liked what I’ve heard.

First Impressions

Mark-TwainStanding

I want to report favorable first impressions of C&D Epiphany and Sutliff No. 150 Mark Twain, the two bulk tobaccos I picked up at shops during my road trip. Epiphany was inspired by what Albert Einstein smoked, Revelation. From Tobaccoreviews.com:

We have a delightful new light English blend called Epiphany. Epiphany is reminiscent of the original Revelation blend that was said to be the favorite of a certain reknowned thinker named Einstein. Epiphany is another classic Tarler/Runowski blend of Va, Burleys, Latakia and Perique in perfect balance and harmony.

Notes: Reminiscent of old original Philip Morris – Revelation (not the House of Windsor version).

The site also says it has a citrus flavoring, but this is extremely light if present at all. Some Virginias can taste citrusy.

Regarding Mark Twain, Tobaccoreviews.com says:

A new pipe tobacco from A&C Peterson designed with Mark Twain in mind. Made with selected choice tobaccos, this blend has a striking, rich aroma. A wonderful Danish style aromatic, with great taste and no bite.

Notes: Now made by the Sutliff Tobacco Company under their banner as per Smoking Pipes website: “Previously known as an A&C Peterson blend, No.150 Mark Twain now flies under the Sutliff banner. A Danish-style aromatic, this mix of black Cavendish, Burley, and Virginia is known for its creamy aromatic flavors and mild strength, making for an easy smoke and a pleasing room note.

These are aromatics at their best, by which I mean the hint of flavor in no way masks the taste of the decent tobaccos.

UPDATE April 28: I’m finding Mark Twain a tad on the mild side but still pleasant.

Bertie and I Return Home

PA canI am now back home, and my excursion with Prince Albert pipe tobacco is at an end. To recap, in the tobacco department, I took only the Prince with me on my weeklong motor trip to Austin, Texas. Only on two occasions did I smoke something else, both times when I was enjoying a local tobacconist’s hospitality. Otherwise, it was the Prince and the Prince alone.

So what are my findings from this personal experiment? Several:

First, Prince Albert sustained my smoking interest. I never grew bored with it or failed to look forward to a smoke. The Prince is a lot more complex than it’s given credit for. It’s considered a drug-store or OTC or codger blend, but it is a damn good one. It’s got body and strength, and it never bites or hits me with nicotine. It is reliably tasty. (I can say only that it tastes like tobacco.) That is why I thought it was a good choice for my experiment.

Second, I enjoyed not having to agonize several times a day over which tobacco to smoke, as I do at home every day. At least for a short while, I could indulge my lazy streak and smoke without having to think about what to smoke. (I still had to choose among the several pipes I took with me, but that was okay.)

Third, I took enough Prince Albert along to carry me easily through the week. Still, I liked knowing that if I needed some in a flash, I had only to get to a Walmart, where it is cheaply available. That was a good feeling.

Fourth, while I thought about the condiments — latakia and perique — of which I was depriving myself, I didn’t really miss them. Oh, I will enjoy them again now that I am home. But I did not experience longings for them. I did, however, experience a longing for the pleasant maple flavor in C&D Autumn Evening. It was the first thing I smoked when I arrived home.

All in all, my experiment demonstrated that Prince Albert is a solid tobacco and probably badly underrated by smokers who limit themselves to “premium” blends. I won’t be smoking it exclusively, but it will be in my rotation.

Yes, We Have No Pipe Tobacco

When I go out of town by car, I make it a point to see if gas stations along the interstates and other highways carry pipe tobacco. Sadly, in the last few years I have yet to find one that does. They have lots of cigarettes, cheap cigars, dip, and chewing tobacco — but no pipe tobacco whatsoever. (At one station, the clerk tried to convince me that Red Man is pipe tobacco.)

It makes me kind of sad because it suggests that no one is asking for it. At least I did.