At a loss as to what to write for my next turn at covering the newsletter intro, this morning I simply left myself a note in the open, rather accusingly blank text file: "Dry your tobacco, fool." In retrospect, I suppose it's a subject I might as well run with.
While the initial moisture of different blends can vary tremendously, most tobaccos, and particularly aromatics, could do with at least a good ten minutes underneath a desk lamp, spread evenly upon a clean piece of paper. Rubbed-out flake, rich Latakias, simple burleys - all will tend to smoke cooler and drier if they are given a chance to air out a bit, albeit not quite to the point that they start becoming properly crispy. The simple fact is that a moist tobacco will mean more moisture that can condense in your briar's stem, more work both lighting and keeping your bowl lit, and yet also a hotter burn - which in and of itself feeds back into creating more condensation as the temperature of your draw drops in the course of traveling through the shank and stem. The extra heat certainly doesn't do your palate any favors, either, and aside from being profoundly annoying when it starts to gurgle, on top of it, all that H2O lollygagging about in the airway is itself liable to absorb and/or alter a good bit of a smoke's flavor.
For the novice it may be easy to simply assume condensation is the result of salivation. In answer to this misconception I can only recommend that they remember this maxim: Your pipe is not a trombone. Unless you're trying to play it like one, the problem isn't you - it's either your tobacco, or, as in some unfortunate cases, the pipe's design itself. Drilling and engineering can go quite a ways towards reducing interruptive condensation build-up, my Beo bent Billiard regularly tolerates my own ill-advised impatience (the very reason for the previously mentioned note I addressed to myself), but even a good pipe can only do so much. And a poorly engineered one can do a lot as well; a lot of mischief, that is. Undoubtedly, one should ask “for what length of time might I leave a pinch of tobacco out to dry?” Unfortunately really there’s no hard-and-fast rule in place here. You’ll just have to experiment to determine what works best for you. I realize this is old hat to many of you now reading these words, but for the less experienced smoker something as simple as being advised to dry your next few bowls' worth beforehand can make the difference between the pipe becoming an enjoyable part of their everyday life, and sputtering out as a short-lived lark ending in distaste and frustration. And no one wants that - not them for certain, and especially us.
And on that note, it's on with the show: Today we have a varied lot for you all, including artisanal beauties by Matzhold, Kent, Florov, Markle, Ardor, Ser Jacopo, Arthur, and Il Duca, plus fresh briars from Peterson, Savinelli, Neerup, and Brebbia - and as always plenty of estate pipes to boot.
Eric Squires: Copywriter