I doubt that I am alone in associating the J. Alan brand with superlative shaping, precise engineering, and some of the most comfortable stems that you are likely to find. While Jeff's mastery of each and every shape he has attempted is sure, there are a few shapes which he knocks out of the park time, and time again. Personally, I would include the Fugu, the Tomato, the Egg, and the many Billiard variations in my list of impeccable J. Alan standards.
This bent Billiard definitely holds true to my observations. The bowl itself, perfectly tapering and delightfully full in form around the cheeks and transition, and the painfully graceful curving shank and stem are at once a nod to the classic Danish and English schools, with just enough of the American aesthetic (which Jeff has helped define), to result in a clearly modern briar with old-school roots. The stem is, of course, luxuriously comfortable and the engineering superb. I always appreciate the sleekness and contrast that a smooth-polished, domed rim adds to a composition. Now, as if you haven't already noticed, the ring grain is decadently gnarly, wavy and overlaps each successive ring like the shingles on a rooftop. Like all J. Alan pipes, the only aspect more glorious than the appearance, will be the engineering's smoking qualities.
- Shane Ireland