Try Everthing Twice
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Don't knock it till you've tried it.

I heard this admonition regularly as a kid, particularly when it came to food. Sat at the dinner table, a foreign dish would stare up at me.

"I don't like this," I'd say.

"Have you had it before?" mom would respond.

"No."

"Well, then don't knock it till you've tried it."

I was allowed not to like something, but such an opinion necessitated I try it first and was validated only thereafter. Of course, I was rarely proven correct in my previous assumption and was often welcomed with scrumptious flavors, pleasantly surprised by delicious foods I had originally presumed inedible based on visual judgement.

Such rearing has, naturally, bled into how I approach other aspects of life, outside of food. I'll try anything once... within reason.

Said wisdom translates well to pipesmoking and trying different tobaccos, even applying to individual blends. Not all English mixtures feature the same flavor profile, varying in the proportions of their various components; different Virginia tobaccos are distinct and change profile depending on the addition of other components.

I personally found this true with Burley blends. After having tried a few different mixtures, I thought I didn't enjoy Burley tobacco, often turning down a bowl when offered a Burley blend. I changed my tune, though, once I sampled Peterson's Irish Flake. Comprised of Burley, Dark-Fired Kentucky, and Virginia leaves, the flake surprised me and disproved my blanketed disparagement of Burley-based tobaccos.

Sometimes it's not enough to try something only once though.

Open-mindedness when trying a new tobacco blend is virtuous; however, a single sample often isn't enough to form a substantial opinion. Sometimes you have to try tobacco twice before truly knowing whether or not you like it.

Numerous factors affect how one's palate experiences a blend: mood, previous tobaccos smoked that day, prior meals, etc. Because of this, I've learned it's best not to try everything once but, rather, to try everything twice.

My experience with cigar leaf blends helped inform this mindset. For example, when I first tried Warped's recently released The Haunting, I was admittedly underwhelmed. I wasn't sure what to expect prior to smoking it, and when I did light up a bowl, the flavor surprised me. It was markedly different from anything I had smoked before, and I realized its flavor profile wasn't what I wanted to smoke in that moment.

Open-mindedness when trying a new tobacco blend is virtuous; however, a single sample often isn't enough to form a substantial opinion. Sometimes you have to try tobacco twice before truly knowing whether or not you like it.

Thankfully, I didn't judge the blend as a whole based on that first bowl. Instead of dismissing it entirely and giving the tin away, I set it aside, filing away my impressions of the flavor for when I was in the mood for such a profile.

The next day, I returned to the tin, and now knowing what to expect, I loved the bold, unique flavor and rich mélange of quality Virginias and Dominican cigar leaf. I had tried it once, but it wasn't until the second attempt that I truly appreciated it. I'm glad I gave it a second chance.

Our palates and tastes are fickle, sensitive things, and they must be catered to delicately. Sometimes we try something new and immediately enjoy it the first time. Many times, though, our palates must be given the patience and time to acclimate to new flavors.

Those who enjoy drinking coffee, beer, gin, bourbon, did you fall in love with it on the first sip? Maybe you did, but I'm sure there are many of us who didn't, instead developing a taste for it over time.

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At a bourbon distillery tour in Louisville, Kentucky, this "try everything twice" mentality held true once again. During the tour, we were given samples of the pre-barreled version of the twice-distilled liquor, often called "high wine" or "white dog." The tour guide warned us on the first sip, cautioning us not to judge the elixir immediately.

"It will shock your palate, and it's not going to be particularly pleasant. But just wait, it's preparing you for the second taste."

Our tastes deepen and grow as we continue the pipesmoking hobby. Our palates become more discerning and wise, picking up on subtle flavor nuances that we didn't know were there years prior.

As forewarned, the first sip burned and was marked solely by a strong alcoholic flavor. The second, though, brought forth a deep, corn-based sweetness not at all unpleasant.

It's as though our palates have memory, and the more they're reminded of flavors, the more able and flexible they are to adjust and adapt, the flavors becoming easier to appreciate and more enjoyable. This is true of food, drink, and, of course, pipe tobacco.

Our tastes deepen and grow as we continue the pipesmoking hobby. Our palates become more discerning and wise, picking up on subtle flavor nuances that we didn't know were there years prior. Try everything once, for sure, but even if it's not particularly pleasant the first time, give a blend a second chance and try it twice.

Category:   Pipe Line
Tagged in:   Tobacco

Comments

    • Jeremy F on December 19, 2019
    • I can absolutely endorse this concept. As a young pipe smoker I leaned toward specific mild aromatics. I HATED latakia. It was a number of years later that I tried a more full selection of what was available and I shifted to burley blends and later to full English blends. Over the years my tastes move around to things I haven't tried or return to old first loves. These days I smoke nearly everything swinging between pure virginia blends and English blends to exotic aromatics I haven't tried before. I love the variety available to us. ~J

    • Robert Earl on December 21, 2019
    • I agree 100%!! I purchase many one ounce samples, and try them days, weeks, and months later if at first I don’t like them. I tried Prince Albert after five years of pipe smoking and although I won’t be cellaring any or even keeping it on hand, I’d smoke a bowl if offered it. My first impression years ago was “never again”!!

    • WMH on December 22, 2019
    • It is my practice to finish each tobacco that I try. Making notes as I go. So, I whole heartedly agree with your your point of try and try again. I do not write a review until the tobacco has been finished which means it has been tried in multiple pipes, different times of the day, and with different daily adventures.

    • Dave Sommer on December 22, 2019
    • I could not believe what I had read. The only way I ever learned to enjoy a blend was to either try it more than once or go on a review from my Uncle George that had been a veteran of trying something more than twice. He would explain to me what to and what not to look for in a blend. That's why I have my 2 most favorite tobacco blends. Thanks Unc and Truett.

    • Dave Sommer on December 22, 2019
    • I could not believe what I had read. The only way I ever learned to enjoy a blend was to either try it more than once or go on a review from my Uncle George that had been a veteran of trying something more than twice. He would explain to me what to and what not to look for in a blend. That's why I have my 2 most favorite tobacco blends. Thanks Unc and Truett.

    • Smokebacca on December 22, 2019
    • What a genuinely intelligent recommendation this is. Not only do I live by the 'try it more than once' motto, I doubt I would enjoy pipe smoking nearly as much if I relied on first impressions alone. When I write a review, I try to have had at least an ounce of the tobacco, minimum. If I write based on less, I feel the need to say so, knowing my taste could change with more experience. Sometimes I wait until I've had many tins over months or even years before I feel my impression of it has solidified enough to share what I think, and those are usually easier to write because of their familiarity. I would add that, once opened, a blend or flake will change for a number of reasons. Most importantly, just exposing the tobacco to air starts aerobic changes that continue to evolve. Opening a single tin... have a fresh bowl immediately, then have another after a week, another after a year, and that same tobacco will produce three distinct experiences. So, not only do our palates learn, but so too does the various components in any given blend evolve. And, usually the conditions under which you find you like something will be different for others, just as they differ from our own previous exposures. My personal tastes have cycled through many favorites over the years, starting with English blends, then developing a taste for aromatics, to experimenting with Burleys, to a growing love for Virginias and Virginia/Periques, to finally exploring old mass produced favorites and finding I enjoyed them, to re-examining Burleys to discover somewhere along the way I developed a liking for them and found it more difficult to enjoy aromatics I had held fondly before. We owe it to ourselves to give everything a second chance, even our own judgements.

    • Mark Eric Freburg on March 19, 2020
    • Something not mentioned but seemingly obvious is that a different pipe will often impart its own reflection on a given tobacco. If you own multiple pipes as most of us do you know how they smoke. You also know briar can ghost flavors and that a clean briar is the best when trying a new blend, especially if it is radically different from what was smoked in it before (say say, switching from Latakia to a Va/Per blend). The pipe itself should always be considered as a participant in the smoking experience. Otherwise I believe everyone has made some fine comments to a fine editorial.

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