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Castello's Unique Briar

Adam Bybee

Well-known member
Sales
#22
I do think I know of the smell/taste that you're referring to because I have a whisper of a memory of it in a few Castellos and other Italian pipes that I've held over the years. Like a gentle incense and aromatic cedar spice. I've smelled similar smells on various types of finishing wax before and had always assumed that their finish was the culprit.
 

Sir Saartan

The Tan Saarlander
#26
I do think I know of the smell/taste that you're referring to because I have a whisper of a memory of it in a few Castellos and other Italian pipes that I've held over the years. Like a gentle incense and aromatic cedar spice. I've smelled similar smells on various types of finishing wax before and had always assumed that their finish was the culprit.
It could be much easier than that. In Italy, much of what grows outside is usually found in a kitchen as well and used as pices. I‘ve come to realize that anything I‘ve left in my parents flat in Sardinia for more than a couple of months starts to smell of those herbs growing outside. Now thinking about wood aging under those conditions for several years, I could see pipes smelling like that for a while.
 

cajunrph

Figuring out life, one puff at a time.
Patron
#27
It could be much easier than that. In Italy, much of what grows outside is usually found in a kitchen as well and used as pices. I‘ve come to realize that anything I‘ve left in my parents flat in Sardinia for more than a couple of months starts to smell of those herbs growing outside. Now thinking about wood aging under those conditions for several years, I could see pipes smelling like that for a while.
I had a Ducati Monster made in Italy before they moved some production to India and it didn't smell like any spices. Although she was spicy. I miss that motorcycle.
 
#28
Personally I can't say I've ever tasted a "cedar" note in any of my Castello's. The new ones do have a faint fragrance, which sometimes does come through in the very last few puffs on a new pipe.

Some interesting thoughts and questions above. Since I will be at Castello in Cantu on April 8, I will see if I might get some answers to the questions.

Regards
Michael J. Glukler
 

Sasquatch

Wizzard
Staff member
#29
Personally I can't say I've ever tasted a "cedar" note in any of my Castello's. The new ones do have a faint fragrance, which sometimes does come through in the very last few puffs on a new pipe.

Some interesting thoughts and questions above. Since I will be at Castello in Cantu on April 8, I will see if I might get some answers to the questions.

Regards
Michael J. Glukler
Nice to know I'm not the only one then.....
 

Sasquatch

Wizzard
Staff member
#31
I think there are freak blocks from every supplier, one that got peed on by every goat on the path or something, I think there's some that are a little sweeter maybe, and occassionally one that's a little rank. But really the boil/cure is supposed to deal with this stuff, and imho it mostly does. When I get wood from quality mills, Romeo, Calabria, Amadeus, the wood is really really uniform in color, smell, etc.

Grading is really just a visual thing - I have been been more or less unable to corroborate any particular smoking characteristic with any particular briar characteristic, and any time I think I'm on to something, I find a pipe that blows it up. I am personally fond of pipes with very high ring-density, ie slower growing wood, I think they allow tobacco to simmer nicely, somehow maybe not transferring much heat.... and yet, oh wait, I have this pipe here (a Castello no less) that has very low ring density, and the pipe weighs absolutely nothing to boot, and ... it's a completely fantastic smoker, a total winner. Light briar, heavy briar, grain, no grain, or grain running sideways vs up and down.. man I just can't look at a piece of briar and say "this one will smoke like so".

So I'll get a box of 50 blocks, mixed grades, some selected for sandblasting (with wider ring spacing, naturally), and I sort them for shape, size, physical qualities, but I am not sorting in terms of how I think they'll smoke.

I think the generic answer is that Castello buys quality briar and sits on it for awhile, then makes pipes with careful attention to the airway (usually), and they smoke good because of both these factors. I'm not looking for anything more complicated than that - it's the equation that as a maker, I settled on as well, having fooled with all kinds of physical parameters, and oil curing and bowl coatings and all kinds of stuff. Good wood, put a couple years behind it, make a pipe carefully, and bingo, great pipe.
 

Sir Saartan

The Tan Saarlander
#32
I'm not looking for anything more complicated than that - it's the equation that as a maker, I settled on as well, having fooled with all kinds of physical parameters, and oil curing and bowl coatings and all kinds of stuff. Good wood, put a couple years behind it, make a pipe carefully, and bingo, great pipe.
it's as convincing as it is easy. Some things are out of your control, why make a hassle of it? I try to focus on what I can control/ change
and take those other things as a surprise. Naturally not every surprise is a pleasant one, but there are many of those as well. Life's
complicated enough without us trying to make up a rule where there isn't one from an objective stand point, right?
 
#33
I am back from Italy. Spent April 8 at the Castello facility in Cantu. I have posted a few photos on Instagram.

The fist thing you notice when entering the building is the aroma. The same fragrance when sniffing a brand new Castello. It is indeed almost "cedarish" but not really cedar. There is also a sweetish bakery aroma, which is more noticeable when there is briar being cut, drilled, filled, and sanded.

Castello does NOT use any special "aging / curing" techniques to the briar beyond a minimum of 10 years of age, prior to working the burl. I saw a large pallet / tray full of briar that Castello received in 1982. 37 years of age!!! The tobacco chambers are left un treated. No shellac or additives applied. All the stains are based in natural ingredients. It takes 120 steps from block arriving at Castello before it becomes a Castello pipe.

I enjoyed an amazing day with Franco ( Castello ) and Marco ( Novelli ). Was able to watch a number of carvers doing their thing, stems being hand filled, looked at around 1000 un smoked pipes ( which I selected some for the site ), and spent time in the Castello " museum" room. Incredible one of a kinds, special ( not for sale ) pieces, cabinets, furniture, experiments etc.

Regards
Michael J. Glukler
 
#34
I have broken in dozens, probably more than 50 pipes in total, new Castello pipes over time. They are consistently one of the most neutral woods and sweet smoking pipes I've smoked. The only pipes I've found that come close consistently are Radice, high end Artisan and oddly enough, Moretti (not quite as good but very good especially considering the price). To be fair, it's not as if I've broken in and smoked multiples of every single pipe maker out there. But quite a few of them. I've always just assumed they buy the best briar and age it more than anyone else. It's simply enough for me that Castello makes a superior tobacco smoking device.
 
#35
I am back from Italy. Spent April 8 at the Castello facility in Cantu. I have posted a few photos on Instagram.

The fist thing you notice when entering the building is the aroma. The same fragrance when sniffing a brand new Castello. It is indeed almost "cedarish" but not really cedar. There is also a sweetish bakery aroma, which is more noticeable when there is briar being cut, drilled, filled, and sanded.

Castello does NOT use any special "aging / curing" techniques to the briar beyond a minimum of 10 years of age, prior to working the burl. I saw a large pallet / tray full of briar that Castello received in 1982. 37 years of age!!! The tobacco chambers are left un treated. No shellac or additives applied. All the stains are based in natural ingredients. It takes 120 steps from block arriving at Castello before it becomes a Castello pipe.

I enjoyed an amazing day with Franco ( Castello ) and Marco ( Novelli ). Was able to watch a number of carvers doing their thing, stems being hand filled, looked at around 1000 un smoked pipes ( which I selected some for the site ), and spent time in the Castello " museum" room. Incredible one of a kinds, special ( not for sale ) pieces, cabinets, furniture, experiments etc.

Regards
Michael J. Glukler
Mike,
Can’t wait to see what followed you home.
 

HDXR

Still doesn't like Latakia
Sales
#36
I have broken in dozens, probably more than 50 pipes in total, new Castello pipes over time. They are consistently one of the most neutral woods and sweet smoking pipes I've smoked. The only pipes I've found that come close consistently are Radice, high end Artisan and oddly enough, Moretti (not quite as good but very good especially considering the price). To be fair, it's not as if I've broken in and smoked multiples of every single pipe maker out there. But quite a few of them. I've always just assumed they buy the best briar and age it more than anyone else. It's simply enough for me that Castello makes a superior tobacco smoking device.
Moretti = underrated, IMHO. Some good deals on the bay. Besides, Marco is a classy guy.