the past

When I was a child one of my grandfather-figures1 smoked a pipe and I thought it was the best thing ever. Smelled great, all that tinkering and esoteric knowledge. My sister and I used to beg him fire up the pipe.

A bunch of us in the Army played with cob pipes from the PX but it didn’t stick. After the army I went to college and picked up a Sasieni2 from a local tobacconist and tried on and off. I think I was mainly smoking Captain Black.


In the early 90s a gentleman turned me on to cigars, and I smoked Hondurans until the Great Cigar Boom put them out of reach for me.


I really liked DIY vaping (rolling one’s own juice and winding coils), but my travels across different altitudes caused constant leakage.

It’s a shame Big Tobacco was able to throw enough money around that vaping ended up being “deemed” to be tobacco-related by the FDA. Seriously, fsck that noise.

the present

When I went fulltime in the campervan in 2018 I decided to try again. I didn’t/don’t have a lot of extra funds so my rotation is based on functional-but-not-pretty estate pipes. Pipes can be much less spendy than cigars.

I tend to smoke 2-3 bowls a week, and typically before bedtime. Makes a nice accompaniment to reading or watching movies. I don’t go to bars much, but when I do I try to find a local beer bar or brewpub with an outdoor smoking area.


I like simple functionality and clean lines. I generally prefer straight pipes as they are easier for me to clean. I prefer short, lightweight pipes as they are easier to clench.3 I prefer relatively short smokes instead of monster bowls.

I dislike huge pipes, metal bands, and have no interest in meershaum, morta, or clay. I don’t like long-shanked Canadians for some reason.

I don’t like the looks of military-style pipes but I do like the functionality.

I am not great at identifying shapes, but will try.

  • estate pipes4 - most of these were $20 or less.
    • Chacom semi-bent billiard
    • Dr. Grabow Duke - light and slender with a very small bowl
    • Dr. Grabow Lark - light and slender bulldog - cracked stem :-(
    • Ehrlich bent (pot?)
    • Falcon w/three bowls
    • Kaywoodie Signet apple,
    • Peterson’s sports nosewarmer bulldog
    • Medico Crest canadian
    • Old England, a Sasieni second. Odd proportions; shank seems overly delicate to me.
    • Savinelli (second - shield but no name embossed) large billiard. Rather heavy.
    • Savinelli (second - shield but no name embossed) large bent billiard, like above. Rather heavy.
    • Sherwood “Supreme” bulldog
    • Weskit nosewarmer billiard (?). Absolutely tiny.
    • Williard - tiny billiard(?) of Vietnam PX fame
  • some new budget-friendly pipes
    • Missouri Meerschaum cobs and hardwoods
    • eastern European fruitwood, like the Mr. Brog no. 52 Scoot and no. 21 Old Army.
    • a Morgan “Bones” short poker


I didn’t know what I liked so I bought about 50 different blends in 1oz from bulk, mainly from Pipes and Cigars. I store them in half-pint mason jars. The stuff I really liked (Engine #99, Star of the East) I repurchased in larger quantities. Some things I hated and gave away to other pipe people I met (far too rare an occurrence).

These are ratings according to me. For example, I can tell that Plum Pudding is exceptionally well-made, but it is not to my taste.

I like latakia smokiness, cedary/rosiny/ambery/incensey oriental notes, leather/saddle and dark fruit like prune. I like an honest grand-dad codgery blend sometimes.

I dislike cloying, wet aromatics. I don’t like floral, perfumey, or boozy notes. I don’t like gloopy blends.


Blends with latakia, and especially with incensey orientals.

Rating Blend Aroma notes Flavor notes  
A++ Cornell and Diehl Star of the East rich and smokey lots of incensey orientals  
A++ H&H Marquee Magnum Opus   leather, charred meat, some tanka? lat, piquant meat like tangy BBQ
A+ Stokkebye Balkan Supreme Big lat and amber/rosin yes, please  
A+ Stokkebye 306 English Oriental Supreme lat smoke, amber, and maybe a bit of leather. Delightful.  
A+ H&H Anniversary Kake lat bomb!    
A+ Sutliffe English Oriental Supreme warm, resiny, amber heavy rich smoke, more rosin than lat  
A+ Cornell and Diehl Engine #99 lat lat, warm rosin, wood smoke, sandalwood  
A+ Lane BS-005 like Balkan Supreme only woodier and more resiny    
A H&H White Knight      
A Sutliffe Balkan II more resiny than lat    
A Match Revelation soft lat, light amber, raisin raood smoke, toasted mallow and nuts, slight rosin/amber  
A Lane BS-005      
A - Cornell and Diehl Odessa mild lat and amber fleeting  
A- Match BS 759      
A- Sutliffe Balkan II      
A- Sutliffe Majestic English medium lat piney? balsam?  
A- Pipes and Cigars Scotty’s University Graduate      
A- Sutliffe Majesic English      
B+ Seattle Pipe Club Plum Pudding lat with something I can’t ID high quality, lat, musty/mushroomy, black topsoil  
B+ P&C Scottys’s University Graduate mild English decent, but not first rate. Some wood and incense.  
B+ Sutliffe Burma road lat “warm” flavor  
B Sutliffe English mild, flat, some spice/sour? Rich, cedar notes, pot?  
B Sutliffe Heavy English medium lat nice aroma, maybe some floral when burning?  
B H&H Larry’s Blend medium lat, med amber savory, veers into soapy or would be rated higher  
B Stokkebye Proper English medium lat good, needs more Lat  
B Match Walnut inoffensive, light english,woody. woody, not great. Codger version of English?  
B- Stokkebye English Luxury light lat, light perique too mild. Prefer their Proper ENglish  
C Sutliffe Fox & Hound perique?    
C Sutliffe Lord Nelson? perique? pungent pungent but good. Not for public smoking.  
F Sutliffe Stoved Black Virginia dirt, slightly sweet wiry and flavorless  


Rating Blend Aroma notes Flavor notes
B+ Sir Walter Raleigh (SWR) basil, pho, anise, prune medium codger, light pot
B+ Stokkebye 31 Optimum sweet, stonefruit, codger grandfather nice but not great
B+ Sutliffe Mix 79 boozy in a good way, gummy codger
B+ Lane RLP-65 tanka? dark fruit good codger, burns well when dry
B+ Lane 1Q6 vanilla pleasant room note
B Prince Albert (PA). horse feed, in a good way leather, tobacco
B Granger tobacco tobacco. As one reviewer said, “I purchased Granger to get a cube cut Prince Albert but instead I got a chunkier Prince without the Cocoa topping.”
B Pipes and Cigars Russ’ Cavendish in the Woods sharpish horse feed nice codger
B- P&C Scott’s Butternut Burley mild, caramel? pleasant mild aroma, burley
B- Amphora Original raisin, oak, odd floral? good codger
B- Match Amphora perhaps sweeter (more raisin and vanilla?) very pleasant but too intense. Cut with something plain.
B- Amphora Full Aroma bright orange zest  
B- Match Carter Hall I like it better than actual CH  
C+ Sir Walter Raleigh Aromatic Cocoa, candy, bourbon light candy, perfume, soapy?
C Carter Hall (CH) slightly sweet/warm. Light rum and walnut? warm, codgery
C Half and Half (H&H) mild tobacco, cat vomit, honey?, anise cigarettes at first, then leather and light cocoa
C Lane Limited nondescript codger smokeable codger
F Velvet disgusting cheap booze  


A few aromatics, though I find them relatively difficult to smoke    
Rating Blend Aroma notes Flavor notes
A Cornell and Diehl Epiphany dark, “burgundian”, toffee/caramel rich, the best codger?
B+ Casey Jones Heroes Blend vanilla, tonka, cream traditional but not codger
B+ Sutliffe 150 Mark Twain dark fruit, rum? codger. Very wet, let dry.
B Sutliffe ZBC - a guilty pleasure raisin nutty, codgery, gf-friendly
B Pipes and Cigars Scott’s Butternut burley    
B Stokkebye 615 Black Coffee treacle, dark chocolate pleasant, some coffee
B Lane Black Raspberry raspberry stonefruit, raisin, rum?
B- Lane Limited citrusy, boozy, fermented raisins  
C Sutliffe Dark Decadence cocoa, chocolate, coffee very wet
C Lane BCA light horsefeed, in a good way very wet and hard to dry out.
F Stokkebye 24 Nougat nougat, caramel, cloyingly sweet whole lotta nothin’
F Sutliffe Caramello fake caramel meh


I don’t know how to categorize these

Rating Blend Aroma notes Flavor notes  
A- MacBaren HH Old Dark Fired smoke, cinnamon “burgundy”, stays cool  
A- Sutliffe Voodoo Queen mocha, cinnamon, spice some smoke, good  
B Match Early Morning light syrup, pancaces savory, good but not memorable  
B H&H Anniversary Kake   dark fruit  
B Cornell & Diehl Engine 611 tanka? white chocolate or vanilla butter cream  
B- Match Nightcap   warm, “reddish” flavor  
C+ Match Flying Dutchman faint wood, faint caramel squares burns hot but smells good. Smoke in public  
C Match Sugar Barrel nondescript codger    
C Match John Rolfe old hotel upholstery, mild caramel    
C H&H Louisiana Red mild perique sourness    
C- Match Elizabethan Rummy? sharp tobacco  
F Match My Mixture 965 light wood with lighter resin floral, perfumey, detergenty. No.  
F Stokkebye 701 Virgina hay, light sweetness very light. I think I don’t like Virginias.  
F Stokkebye Luxury naval flake deciduous wood, grain, protein bark, “brown”, harsh, twiggy. People smoke this?  
F Daughters & Ryan Cockstrong fluffy. Animal fur. Old Furniture No  
F Daughters & Ryan Three Sails Air, cardboard no  
F H&H AJ’s VaPer cigarette light raisin cigarette, slightly acrid. Nope.  

DIY blends

Rating Blend Aroma notes Flavor notes
B codger blend 1.0 - 50% Match Amphora, 50% Granger    

further reading

  1. maternal step-grandfather 

  2. I remember it as Sasieni, though in retrospect a Savinelli seems more likely. 

  3. hold between the teeth 

  4. pipespeak for used pipes. 

  5. aka Captain Black White minus the proplyene glyclo, per this report 

  6. aka Captain Black Royal minus the PG