Smoking a pipe can be, quite frankly, more difficult than rocket science. Rocket science, as it were, has the benefit of being governed by the laws of physics. Pipe smoking is, at best, governed by the law of averages. Given the subjective nature that those averages are factored on, it is impossible for me to tell you what to expect from any particular pipe or tobacco. What I can do, is muse over whether or not I like a particular pipe or tobacco, and allow you to draw your own conclusions. In order to do this, you first need to know a little about me.
I am a man with simple tastes. My favorite pizza is pepperoni and extra cheese. I take sugar and milk in my coffee, I hate the texture of onions, and I don’t do well with bitter flavors by themselves. In the foods I eat, and beverages I drink, I enjoy a balance of flavor. Whenever I use onion powder, I balance it with garlic powder. When I eat BBQ wings, I mix my BBQ sauce with chipotle sauce, and I dip my wings in ranch. I almost always balance out mustard with ketchup, and I am not a fan of heat for the sake of heat.
When it comes to alcohol, it gets even more complicated and subjective. I don’t like beer at all, but there are some beers that I do enjoy when the mood strikes. I hate Bud Light with a passion, but I do love the occasional Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat. I like my wines semi-sweet to sweet, and I usually take my whiskey straight. I’m not a fan of Canadian whisky, although Crown Royal Black is smooth enough to catch my attention once in a blue moon. I’m not a stranger to the occasional Cuba Libre, but I prefer my rum straight and strong. Captain Morgan’s Black Cask and Sailor Jerry are both amicable to my palate, and I rarely turn down Jack Daniels, Gentleman Jack, Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, Tullamore Dew, Jim Beam, or Maker’s Mark when it comes to bourbons and whiskeys. As a guilty pleasure, I have been known to pair Yukon Jack with a mild cigar, but the snake is indeed prone to bite.
When it comes to tobacco, my tastes are likewise simple and balanced. Being somewhat sensitive to PG, I don’t smoke many aromatics, and I tend to get indigestion when I smoke Perique. Perique, as it were, is another one of those guilty pleasures that often comes back to bite me. I do enjoy many English and Balkan style tobaccos, and I’m learning how to distinguish the various components in such blends. I love Prince Albert, and I’m not ashamed to say so, although my tastes also branch out into Virginias, Mild Aromatics, and stronger fare as well. My favorite tobacco for the moment is Cornell and Diehl’s Briar Fox. Overall, you can expect that I am looking for balance and smokability. Unless I am getting a heavy dose of PG, I am not prone to tongue bite, but I do take note when a tobacco seems particularly fatiguing on the palate.
It would also be helpful to note that I rarely ever smoke cigarettes any more. This didn’t come about as a conscious effort to improve my overall health, as I’ve never really been a heavy cigarette smoker at any point in my life. It happened, rather, as a consequence of being ill a few months back. Once I was feeling a little better, I lit one up, and noticed that it gave me a headache and made me feel like I was being run through a blender. Couple this with the adverse effects that FSC paper has on me, and the difficulty of finding suitable rolling tobacco in my area, the decision wasn’t hard to come to. This decision also carries the unintentional effect of allowing me to taste more of the nuances in food and tobacco that was otherwise muddied by tar built up in my throat and sinuses. For anyone out there who smokes cigarettes heavily, and is trying to get the hang of pipes or cigars, I would suggest at least quitting long enough to let your sinuses and throat clear up a bit. It does pay dividends when it comes to tasting other forms of tobacco, and the subtle nuances found in foods and beverages.
I believe that this should be sufficient to provide enough background about my tastes in order for readers to draw reasonable conclusions about the tobacco reviews I write. If there is anything else you would like to know, feel free to post questions in the comments section, and I will do my best to answer pertinent questions.