What’s the difference in a $50 pipe and a $500 pipe other than the price?

The main difference is smoking quality. While you can find from time to time a very good smoking lesser grade of pipe the odds of you getting a superlative smoke from a lesser grade are considerably greater than if you get yourself a good high-grade pipe. You really can tell the difference. If you have always wanted to try a good high grade pipe, check out the Estate pipe section of the site you can get what would have been a much more expensive pipe for about half the normal price.

I’ve burned a couple of pipes out. What am I doing wrong?

Burning out a pipe can happen for several reasons. First and foremost is that briar being a natural substance can have internal flaws that when the pipe is smoked can give way and cause a burn out. Generally if you experience this problem more than once the problem may be with you. Don’t use the Cigar Torch lighters they burn much to hot for a pipe.

What are most pipes made from?

There are two main materials pipes are made of. One is Briar and the other is Meerschaum. Briar comes from the large node that forms at the base of the White Heath tree or Erica Arborea if you want the scientific name. It grows in hot dry sandy areas. Mostly around the Mediterranean area and the portion that is used for pipes is where the tree stores its water supply. Thus the wood is very dense yet porous so it is less likely to burn and is perfect for sponging up the tars and helps disperse heat better than any other wood. Meerschaum is a German word that stands for Sea Foam ancient mariners would find it floating on the ocean they then would snag a piece from the sea and in their off moments would carve it into pipes and various items for trade. Meerschaum is a mineral that is created by many thousands of sea creatures remains being pressed for eons and thus a rock of a sorts is made and mined and made into pipes. Again this is also a very porous material.

What is the best way to load the pipe with tobacco?

The best way to load the pipe is by just taking small quantities of tobacco and lacing them into the bowl. You don’t want to just push amounts into the pipe until it is full as that will stratify the tobacco and it will then separate when heat is applied thus the reason so many pipes go out to quickly after being lit. You need to sort of lace the amounts together as you are loading so that the whole bowl is somewhat tied together. When you are finished the best thing to do is test the pack by tamping gently on the top of the tobacco and making sure it is firm yet spongy to the touch. Then you should also draw through the pipe and make sure it draws free and easy with no restrictions. You want the pipe to be full but you don’t want to press it into a hard ball. That would make you puff to hard on the pipe and thus make the smoke that much hotter.

Is there a difference in the way a straight pipe and a bent pipe smoke?

There is some difference as most people go with a bent pipe especially when they first start smoking a pipe. They believe it will cause less of the moisture to get into their mouths. But, a bent pipe by its nature will cause some condensation to form in the bit or mouthpiece and it also helps siphon some saliva out of your mouth into the pipe. I normally find that a straight stem pipe will smoke dryer than the bents but the bottom line for this is get what you would prefer. If you like the shape you will probably enjoy the smoke much more.

How often can I smoke my pipe?

Pipes need to rest after being smoked if you are a purist then you will only smoke your pipe once in a day and then let it rest for at least a week until you smoke it again. Whether you smoke briar or meerschaum they are natural materials and they need to cool and dry some before being smoked again. The old rule of thumb is to have at least 7 pipes in your collection so that you can smoke a pipe for a day and then let it rest while you go to the other pipes in your collection. That way you only smoke one pipe per day and give them a week to rest. If you do this you not only will enjoy your pipes more but they will last longer as well. A good briar or meerschaum should last an average of 40 years if taken care of properly.

Wow, my tongue’s on fire. What’s the deal.

There can be several reasons for this as well. The first thing to check on if this is happening is did you get a good briar or meerschaum pipe. Some companies here in the good Old USA make pipes for pressed briar or meerschaum, which does not do the job of the better-made pipes. Once you know you have a good pipe then it could be the way you have packed your tobacco. And, it could also be the tobacco you are smoking period. Some tobaccos will have a bit more of an acidic quality to them and can cause tongue bite alone. Virginia tobaccos while having the greatest natural sugar content thus giving a very nice smooth flavor can be very hot to smoke and take a bit more care in smoking than say a cased Cavendish which has added sugars but will burn a bit more mellow. And the last thing is you just may be smoking way to fast. Some when they first start smoking a pipe seam to think it will go out and will try to puff to hard and to fast just slow down. Your pipe is not going any where so relax and puff at a leisurely pace you can always relight a pipe. Another good piece of advice is do not try and rekindle your pipe by puffing harder if it is close to going out just relight the pipe.

What do I need to start smoking a pipe?

In order to start smoking a pipe the best equipment to have is of course a good pipe to start with. You will need a Tamper and some pipe cleaners and lastly some form of flame or a way to light the pipe. A tamper is a tool used to continually push the tobacco back together in your pipe and usually will have tools designed for removing the left over tobacco at the bottom of the pipe bowl. Pipe cleaners are used to swab out the excess tars and condensation in your pipe and can be used liberally to run through the pipe to remove moisture. And finally to get your pipe lit you need a lighter or some matches anything along this line should work.

Can I use my cigar lighter to light my pipe?

In most cases we would recommend you not use a cigar lighter to light your pipe. Many of these lighters may be of the torch style lighters and they burn much to hot for a pipe and will cause burnouts to occur. Use a nice pipe lighter or just matches they all work much better.

What kind of tobacco should I try first?

This is not such an easy question to answer. There are so many different types of tobacco out there and so many different flavors to try. I would suggest if you have not tried smoking a pipe at all to get at least one of each of what we would call the three main categories of tobaccos. The categories are Virginia, Cavendish, and English. Virginias are the most naturally sweet and for the most part will not have any added flavorings these tend to burn a bit hot and take a bit of trial and error to find out how to smoke them well. The Cavendish style of tobacco is usually meant to be a tobacco with flavorings and sugars added. These will normally be a burley tobacco based blend. These tobaccos will usually burn very cool and these are the tobaccos that most people start out with. The last category is the English tobaccos or the Latakia blends. Latakia is a smoked tobacco sort of like a smoked ham or turkey so to speak. They are heavy in nicotine and have a heavy sort of peppery taste to them.

We would recommend that most smokers try at some point or another one of each of these categories and you should find from that which direction or directions you wish to go towards. Many people will find several tobaccos to their liking and even the most determined smoker will have a few tobaccos that they regularly smoke.

Pipe Tobacco FAQ’s

What is an Oriental tobacco?

Oriental is a tobacco farmed mostly in Turkey. But it can also be grown in other parts of the world, such as Russia and the Balkans. Some of its better know varieties are The best known types are Cavella, Yedidje, Samsun, Izmir and Bursa. This tobacco is used to sweeten and to mellow a blend. It is used widely in many tobacco blends.

What is Virginia tobacco?

Virginia is a naturally sweet (dextrose) tobacco leaf and is another widely used base tobacco for blends. It is far and away the most popular tobacco used in blends. It is grown in Virginia, North and South Carolina and Georgia. Types from North Carolina are known as Old Belt, Eastern Belt, Middle Belt and Border Belt. You will find this tobacco in flakes and in very wide use in English Blends.

What is burley?

Burley is known as a base tobacco leaf because it is capable of absorbing flavors from other tobacco. Most burley is grown in Tennessee and Kentucky, but it is also found in Africa (Malawi leaf) and South America today. It has something of a nutty taste and is used in most old American blends (some known as drugstore blends). It is also popular in aromatic tobacco blends. Burley has very little natural sugar content, smokes cool and has a big taste.

Condimental leaf. What is that?

The Condimental is just about what it says: it is a spicy tobacco type, and is more about the curing process of tobacco than the actual leaf. The king of the condiments is Latakia. The leaf is grown primarily in Cyprus and Syria. It is fire-cured (smoked) over various aromatic woods and herbs to give it a distinct flavor. Cyprian Latakia is dark and very, very tasty. There are Latakia addicts, to be sure. Syrian Latakia has been hard to find until recently and is lighter in color and taste than its cousin. You will find Latakia in all English Blends.

Another condimental is Perique. It is a Red Burley type of tobacco grown only in St. James Parrish near New Orleans, La. It is known as the “pepper” of tobacco. The curing process is long, making perique an expensive tobacco leaf addition. It is used in “pinches,” instead of large quantities. Escudo and Dunhill’s Elizabethan Mixture are examples of Virginias with small amounts of perique.

What is a flake?

It isn’t a strange person, but rather refers to the cut of tobacco leaf. Generally, flake is a slice of tobacco, most commonly found in Virginias that have been pressed under great pressure and simply flattened and squeezed.

What is meant by English Blend?

Almost all English Blends contain Turkish (Orientals) leaf, Virginia and Latakia. Dunhill’s famous My Blend (965) just may be the best-known and best-loved English Blend. It also contains the exotic herb Deer Tongue (Liatris odoratissima). It is a herbaceous perennial plant, synonymous with vanilla, or wild vanilla and is found wild in North America, and cultivated in England.

What is Cavendish, and didn’t he come over on the Mayflower?

This refers to more of a treating process, a type of fermentation of the tobacco leaf, than a specific tobacco leaf. Usually, when Cavendish is added, that means the particular leaf has been “casted” or “cased,” meaning that something has been added. Cavendish can be a treated burley added to a mixture. Virginia can be used as a Cavendish as well. Some Cavendish blends are black, known as Black Cavendish. A good example of a Cavendish is Rattray’s Dark Fragrant and Black Virginia. Remember, most of today’s Cavendish tobaccos come in a variety of flavors, such as cherry, vanilla, rum, chocolate, strawberry, coconut and on and on.

Cigar FAQ’s

What does ring guage mean?

Ring guage refers to the diameter of the cigar. A typical corona sized cigar would be around a 42-44 ring guage and a typical robusto would be around a 50.

What’s the proper method to lighting a cigar?

Hold the cigar at a downward angle, then using the tip of the flame lightly warm the tip of the cigar once that has been done you can place the cigar in your mouth and using your free hand rotate the cigar slowly while drawing the flame to the tip of the cigar.

How long can I store cigars?

If properly maintained (temperature, humidity), cigars will keep for years.

What accessories would I need to start smoking cigars?

Not many really. A cutter, lighter and humidor to store the cigars and that’s about it. Although there are many other items such as cases, travel humidors etc. which will enhance your experience.

I see that you have humidors from $75 to $5000 dollars. What’s the difference?

Some of the lower cost humidors will use cedar veneers rather than solid wood for the construction of the box and they might also either not include a humidification device or a lower quality one than is found in the more expensive models. Generally once you hit about $300 you are getting an exceptional humidor which functionally will (in most cases) store cigars as well as the $5000 models. The main difference after that is appearance, wood specie used and brand name.

I just bought a humidor, what now?

Well, don’t rush and put your cigars in it right away. You first need to start or season it prior to putting cigars in it. You can do this by used a sponge and some distilled water. Lightly wipe the interior of the humidor with the wet sponge and close the top. Let the humidor sit for several hours and then upon opening it the wood if dry should be wiped down again. Do this process until you notice a little moisture on the interior when you open it. Once you have determined that there is moisture present in the humidor add your charged humidification device and hygrometer and re-close the humidor. Leave for 8-10 hours and then check the the humidity, it should be around 70% if the temperature in the room is less than approx. 74 degrees. You can now add your cigars. Be sure to not over load the humidor as air circulation is important.

What’s a puro?

This typically refers to a cigar that’s tobacco comes from the same country.

What’s binder and filler? Aren’t cigars all tobacco?

Yes, all premium cigars are al tobacco. The cigar is made up of several parts. First the filler which accounts of most of the tobacco in the cigar, then a binder leaf which holds the filler togeather and finally the very thin wrapper leaf.

Aren’t small cigar’s milder?

Not always, in smaller cigars there just isn’t enough room for a tobacco blender to combine multiple tobaccos necessary for a smoothing out of the individual components.

I’ve never smoked a cigar before what would you suggest?

Probably a Dominican corona of some sort. You can’t go wrong with either an Ashton Classic corona or one of the Mille Series Davidoff’s.

How do I cut a cigar?

It really depends on your personal preference. Some cigars just seems to work better with certain types of cuts. The torpedo or belicoso, for example, really only work well with a traditional straight cut. Other traditional cigar shapes work well with punches, straight or v-cuts. In either cases your should only cut off about 1/4″ of the cigar.

Do you sell Cuban cigars?

No, right now the Cuban Embago still prohibits us from doing so.
I see you have cigars from $2 to $25 dollars each, what’s the difference.
The lower price range of cigars typically include cigars with either short fill or are manufacturers seconds which keep them from being sold under the manufacturers front marks. The upper end of the range typically include either aged tobaccos, limited production or are a shape that takes a great deal of skill to roll.

My spouse thinks cigars stink, what should I do?

Since getting a new spouse is probably out of the question, try either smoking in a room with good ventilation, outside or use one of the commercial odor maskers on the market.