If you're anything like us here at Smokingpipes, you've probably purchased multiple pipes throughout the year. You've probably (and hopefully) enjoyed most, if not all of them for their various smoking attributes and aesthetic qualities, even dedicating them to specific blends or different cuts of tobacco, or perhaps setting them aside to be smoked during a certain day of the week as part of your rotation. But there's usually one pipe that stands out among the rest, some intangible quality that sets it apart from all the others. Whether it be the pipe's stellar smoking properties, dimensions, internal engineering, finish, or the way it effortlessly fits in with your lifestyle, there tends to be a clear and decided favorite each year.
Working at Smokingpipes is an absolute delight, getting to see all the new and estate pipes that come our way each day from a diverse range of artisans and brands; however, as an avid pipesmoker and a relatively newer one at that, it's a place of endless temptation and I constantly find myself scouring the website looking for my next acquisition. Then there are the truly special pipes that elicit such a strong response from us that they beckon us to go around the office and show our colleagues, their priceless reactions just as memorable as the pipe itself. Such is the case with every batch of artisan pipes we receive and typically involves us calling dibs on a certain piece, a game of rock-paper-scissors, or occasionally coming to a gentlemen's agreement in regards to who may claim the pipe. Luckily we're civilized for the most part here and realize that at some point something else will surely come through our doors that will entice us yet again.
I was fortunate enough to find my favorite pipe of 2019 over the summer. I instantly fell in love with it. When we received a new batch of pipes from Chris Asteriou in early May, right after the Chicago pipe show, I was immediately blown away by his expert craftsmanship and ability to reinterpret classic designs using his creative vision. One piece in particular stuck out to me and I made it my goal to acquire that pipe.
This Asteriou Lovat is everything I ever wanted in a pipe. The sandblast is craggy and rugged — just the way I like them — and looked like an English pipe that could have been crafted in the 1950s or earlier.
A sandblasted Lovat with a sterling silver accent band. I have a soft spot for shape chart standards and especially sandblasted finishes so I was already sold, but the bright silver band was the perfect addition to an already magnificent composition. I'm by no means a flashy dresser, my personal fashion sense reliant upon comfort, but the aesthetic appeal of a dress pipe is something I find irresistible. And this Asteriou Lovat is everything I ever wanted in a pipe. The sandblast is craggy and rugged — just the way I like them — and looked like an English pipe that could have been crafted in the 1950s or earlier. Chris even took the time to chamfer the inner rim and finish it in a rich ruby stain, a subtle touch that definitely didn't go unnoticed.
My decision wasn't solely based on its aesthetics or finish; part of it was the description of the pipe and talking to my fellow copywriter Truett Smith. Truett wrote the description and since we sit near each other, we naturally talk about pipes and artisan pipemakers. He was able to attend the Chicago show with the rest of our Smokingpipes team to assist customers and evaluate estate batches, but was also lucky enough to meet several carvers and chat with them. One of them was Greek artisan Chris Asteriou. Truett and I are both fans of his work but to hear how down-to-earth and humble Chris is in person makes owning one of his pipes even better. In fact, Truett even purchased a pipe directly from him at the show.
It's part of what makes the hobby so exciting and constantly fresh, each update and new batch of pipes presents an opportunity to own a pipe that can provide a lifetime of enjoyment and companionship.
Ever since I acquired that Lovat, those strong initial feelings have not subsided. Each time I smoke it, I find myself going back to the first time I saw it and the immense joy that washed over me. It's much like when someone is able to spot their soulmate across a crowded room, immediately locking eyes and being drawn to one another. Perhaps I'm exaggerating a bit, but that comparison is certainly fitting to this scenario and something I'm sure my fellow pipesmokers can agree with to some varying degree. It's part of what makes the hobby so exciting and constantly fresh, each update and new batch of pipes presents an opportunity to own a pipe that can provide a lifetime of enjoyment and companionship.
Did you already find your favorite pipe of the year or are you still waiting to pull the trigger on it? Tell us about it below!