Need recommation for a new potential pipe smoker.


Well-known member
Hello, gents. I have a dear friend, Jason, who texted me yesterday of his desire to take up the pipe. He has tried before, either before I met him or before I smoked a pipe. His first first was a tongue burning nightmare and he pitched the tobacco and pipe. He does not remember what tobacco he had tried, as this was probably thirty years ago.
Jason asked me for a recommendation of pipes and tobacco.
I mostly smoke latakia and virginia blends. He asked for a good smell for non smokers, an old time pipe smell like he remembers from growing up. Latakia doesn't smell great and virginia is dangerous to the tongue when learning cadence and packing.
So I'm wondering what tobacco to start him with. I'm thinking a burley blend, maybe cube cut for easy loading. I've not branched out into burly blends too much. Please suggest a tobacco that is going to smell good in his house, not burn his tongue, and have a friendly burn. Maybe something aromatic but not goopy tongue burning aromatic. I'll start him off with a cob and a sampler soon, but I will place an order first if you all suggest something I don't have.
@StompyMcFat the risk of being labeled Captain Obvious, I'll also add that Jason might be counseled that the art of pipe smoking is just that--an art that requires time, practice and no small amount of resilience. Each of us has had to find his/her way through the learning curve. I wonder how many of us came this close to doing just what Jason did 30 years ago?

The answer for Jason may be less in the tobacco selected (though this is factor) and more in developing the skill/routine that becomes almost second nature. Clearly, the end result is justified...or we all wouldn't be here in the first place.


Mostly Harmless
Staff member
Lots of great responses above.

I have had the pleasure of introducing several folks to pipes and a few even stuck with it long enough to become pipers. Here's my two cents:

MOST people do not want to start with a cob regardless of all the reasons why doing so is a good idea. Most folks want a briar because that's what a pipe "is" in their mind.
So give them both.

And most folks will be happy with a medium sized billiard. Cobs are more similar than different so just pick a midsized shape and make him take it.
Huge pipes and small pipes are more fussy; there are reasons why so many people prefer "average sized" chambers.

Regarding tobacco-
I have opened up my entire cellar to a couple of folks and that just completely overwhelmed them. They don't want that many choices.
I recommend WC Deluxe Crumb Cut, Peretti's Burley Plug Cut, or Uhle's Perfection Plug Burley.
I also recommend you give them a VaBur (CH, Pegasus, etc.) and a ribbon cut Virginia (WC Rhythm and Blues).

As GreenDrake said the most valuable part of your mentorship will be showing them proper tobacco prep, packing, lighting, tamping, and cadence.

Also set your goals realistically:
No one has a great first bowl. It's just not possible.
And about 1 in 5 will actually stick with it so don't give away a favorite pipe.
Even to your new girlfriend.
Not that you need more ideas, but I second (or third or fourth) the notion for Boswells blends. It’s hard to go wrong and they have great sampler packages. I smoke mostly aromatics. I think Boswells pipers pleasure and PA Dutch treat are among my favorites. Good luck!