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.
I sometimes catch myself thinking or saying, “If money were no object I’d buy so many more pipes.” But then I catch myself. Would I really?
It stands to reason that given the small number of hours in a day, the more pipes one has, the less often one can smoke any particular pipe. But a pipe smoked infrequently is an unfamiliar pipe. You have to get to know a pipe to appreciate it, and you have to smoke it to appreciate it.
So, yes, I’d buy more than I do, but not as many as I sometimes think.
We’ve all experienced this: one day a particular pipe or tobacco is pure heaven, the next day, not so much. What’s going on? I’m convinced that pipe-smoking, like so much else, is a combination of objective and subjective factors. The pipe and tobacco may be the same day to day (although not necessarily — moisture can fluctuate), but we individually are not. A pipe-smoking experience can be shaped not only by the external factors but by internal ones as well, such as our mood; what kind of day we just had; how long ago we’ve eaten; what we ate; how much or little rest we got; how the weather makes us feel; what are we expecting for tomorrow; and on and on.
We bring a lot to the table each time, so don’t be discouraged by a less-than-perfect smoke. And don’t think about trashing that tobacco or pipe. Relax. There’s always next time.
That’s a phrase Greg Pease of G. L. Pease Artisanal Tobaccos used a few years ago in an interview with Brian Levine on The Pipes Magazine Radio Show (episode 33). It captures something important. To get the fullest flavor of a tobacco, it helps to roll the smoke around so that it hits all taste buds, including those on the underside of the tongue. The idea is to engage the full palate. In doing so, you will move your jaw a bit, resembling chewing. (This need not be really obvious to those around you.) I think this is what Greg has in mind. It reminds me of what wine aficionados do when they swirl wine around in their mouths.
Give it try, and see if it doesn’t make your tobacco more flavorful.
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.