A new study recently released by the Foundation for Important Pipe Science shows that pipe tobacco and single malt scotch can be excellent “dual-indulgences”, to use the study’s language. The study, funded entirely by a Mr. Jon Tillman, who also happens to be the only member of the foundation, is, in Mr Tillman’s words; “…a groundbreaking moment in the history of Pipe Science, a feat of research that will resound down through the ages, a watershed moment for all puffers and imbibers…”

The study points out that the various whisky producing regions of Scotland impart distinctive taste characteristics to their products, as do various styles, methods, and blends of tobaccos. Working from the assumption that things as fun as drinking or smoking must be better when done together, Mr. Tillman embarked on a multi-year research project to discern what combinations of Pipe Tobaccos and Single Malts yielded, in his words, “the most sublime gustatorial sensations”.

The results of the study show that the earthy, grassy tastes of the Lowland malts tend to pair best with light, slightly sweet Virginia flakes that offset the malty sourness of the best expressions of this area.

The Highlands, the most well-known of the whisky regions, offer a combination of floral and spice notes, which tend to pair well with soft, Oriental flavors of modern English blends, and of crossover Aromatic/English blends such as Celebrated Sovereign or Frog Morton.

Speyside, a distinctive area within the Highlands offers a more elegant floral bouquet of heather and fragrant peat. One must take care not to have the tobacco overpower the delicate nuances of these fine flavors, and so caution is the word. Perhaps a nice burley-based blend would be the thing? The mellow nuttiness would provide a counterpoint to the floral, grassy notes of the Speyside malts.

Campbeltown, a lesser known whisky region produces malts that are big, oily, and briny. Only the strongest, least cluttered blends can stand up to these distinctive and assertive drams. Try one with a bowl of any Lakeland area rope or twist.

Islay is a solitary island famous for its intense peat, smoke, and brine flavors, making it the perfect companion to traditional Navy cut tobaccos, or anything with a hefty Perique content, such as Solani 633.

The remaining islands (not Islay) are both briny and intense, but given their tendency to reflect their softer Highland counterparts, are not overpowering. They can be mellowed nicely with a Cavendish based blend, or, for the more adventurous, a strong Balkan or traditional English can accompany them, in order to create interesting taste collisions. Most definitely do not pair strong Island expressions, such as Talisker with Escudo, the gasoline-like strength of Talisker will completely obliterate any trace of flavor nuance in the tobacco.


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