We’re all familiar with dessert wines and liqueurs. But what about dessert pipe tobacco blends? I often like a sweet blend after a savory meal. This can be an aromatic, but not necessarily. Peter Heinrichs Dark Strong and various Virginias serve very well in that capacity. But for me, certain aromatics work well too. I’m thinking of Cornell & Diehl Autumn Evening, Mac Baren Vanilla Flake, and Cult Blood Red Moon. All of these nicely offset any savory dish.
Of course, a good English can hit the spot too. But don’t overlook something sweet.
I don’t dedicate my pipes to particular blend or even genres. I smoke the tobacco I want at the moment in the pipe I want at the moment. I refuse to be hamstrung by self-imposed rules and limitations.
I realize that many pipe smokers disagree, which is fine. Your own enjoyment is what counts here. But I want to put my approach on the record.
I am just not haunted by ghosts of tobaccos past. Maybe I that’s because I have an unrefined palate, which is as much a gift as a curse. Maybe it’s because I don’t mind the faint taste of latakia or perique or maple or even Lakeland in everything I smoke. I’m not sure. What I know is that I don’t mind. At any rate, they don’t call it “ghosting” for nothing. Ghosts are faint and barely visible (or tasteable). So I’m not going to worry about them.
It’s dawning on me that I have yet another way to divide tobacco blends: tobaccos to work by and tobacco to relax by. What do I mean?
I find that when I am working — I spend much of the day at my laptop writing or editing — I want to enjoy my pipe without being distracted by it. If I’m smoking a complex and highly flavorful blend — the kind that makes my mouth water — I have a harder time concentrating on my work. The same goes of course for a high-nicotine blend. No mystery there
But if I am smoking something that is simply tasty, perhaps even one-dimensional, it remains in the background. I can enjoy the pipe without its taking center stage. For me, that’s just right when I have to get work out. This applies to when I am doing serious reading also.
On the other hand, if I am simply relaxing or if the smoke is my main object of attention, then I want all the flavor I can get. In that case contemplation of what’s going on with my palate is a distraction from absolutely nothing. So bring it on!
I’m sure I haven’t said anything startling, but there it is.
Some pipe smokers strain to avoid relights and berate themselves when they fail.
I have come to welcome relights. Relax. Go slow. Sip. Put it down. Let it go out. Talk to someone. Relight. And look at that pile of burnt matches with pride — a measure of relaxation achieved perhaps.
I find it’s better that way. Hence my lack of interest in competitive pipe smoking.