I’m no tobacco specialist and after a discussion with a tobacco farmer, I can safely say that I know very little about the plant and its transformation to the thing we love to smoke in our pipes.
Nevertheless, I have learnt a few things which helped me make better choices of what I smoke, when and where. In theses pages, I will deal with all kinds of tobaccos and blends as I’ve experienced them over the years. Although everyone wants to have a nice good pipe, the tobacco is equally important in enjoying your smoking experience.
For some reason, most newbie smokers start of with a Cherry flavoured tobacco of some sort. I find it too sweet though, but hopefully this will give you some direction of what to try.
- Try to decide what kind of flavours you like and would first like to try; vanilla, whisky, cherry, orange, nutty. Then, either search a tobacco database (like TobaccoReviews) for these flavours and make a note of what you might want to try.
- Another starting point would be to go the a local tobacconist, make a note of what pre-packed tobacco they have and go to TobaccoReviews.com and see what others had to say about that particular tobacco. You might think that Borkum Riff Rum & Maple sounds exciting only to realise that the majority of smokers didn’t find it pleasing; or vice versa of course.
- Another option would be to buy the sample packs many tobacconists have (Wesleys.co.za do offer a beginners 6-pack sample). Smoke them, make notes and see what you like.
- You could also go to a tobacconist and smell his tobacco; try and determine what you are smelling (nutty, smokey, aromatic) and then try the one you liked the most. One tobacconist in Pretoria (South Africa) offer you two small amount of tobaccos, one strong and one mild, which you can add to the one that you bought to add or take away strength. I found that also very helpful.
- Roughly I would say, you can’t go wrong starting with a Cavendish – they are mellow, flavourful tobacco.
Also, at this point I wouldn’t mind about the cut yet. A lot of older smokers will advise to stay away from heavy Latakia blends as a beginner, but I would recommend them, especially if you like heavy smoky and spicy things. Whatever you buy as your first tobacco, make notes of the:
- smell in the bag / tin
- smell in the room (room note)
- taste on your tongue
- whether it burns your tongue or burns the back of your throat. Some say that tongue bite can also be caused by to mellow tobacco while throat burn can be an indication of too strong tobacco. I’m not sure if that is scientifically correct, but try. Tongue bite can also be caused by the tobacco, your taste buds, too hot smoking (fast smoking, pulling your pipe hot) etc.
Trial and error is the thing here. Enjoy! This is the beginning of an adventurous journey; and don’t hasten yourself to “arrive” too quickly.
- Milan Tobacco