Breaking in the Peterson Deluxe System 11FB would require some self restraint. I was sorely tempted to just fill this beautiful Irish creation to the rim with luscious tobacco and smoke away, but I decided to go down the half bowl route for the first few smokes.
I had cracked open a tin of Samuel Gawith Squadron Leader a few days before the 11FB arrived from Brucciani’s and decided to use this English (medium) blend for the break in period (anticipated at 7-10 days).
Squadron Leader is a real favourite of mine. Its a classic and has just about everything going for it from tin note to smooth smoke. The good lady wife is not keen on the room note and I agree its not exactly a crowd pleaser in that respect, so I smoke this alone in my study.
As mentioned in Part 1, the 11FB smoking chamber was decidedly smooth and also very deep (40mm or so). It would require some slow, careful smoking, preferably to the bottom to encourage heel cake.
I pinched a finger and thumb of black and tan tobacco ribbons from the tin and filled the chamber to around 20mm. Leathery tones filled the air as the Squadron Leader was lit. I tamped down the initial char and relit with a waiting match. Considering the chamber was lightly stained I didn’t experience any bad taste just pure unadulterated tobacco. Squadron Leader is a blend of Turkish, Latakia and Virginia and while it is classed as a mild strength tobacco I find it to be rich in flavours – predominantly Turkish which I adore. The subtle oriental spice elements not lost in new bowl syndrome.
The Peterson System and P-Lip really added to the experience. The “System” actively removing moisture and the P-Lip producing a steady stream of what can best be described as a pure silky experience, almost like melted chocolate in texture not flavour.
I let the curvy shape of the P-Lip bit rest on my bottom lip and “sip” at the smoke as opposed to the more conventional sucking action. I wasn’t sure I’d like the P-Lip, but I’m converted, this is the best smoke I’ve ever had, no tongue bite, bitterness or gurgling. I thought the Savinelli balsa filter system was smooth, but this is a whole new definition of that word – its exquisite and will only get better with cake aging.
The bowl/chamber wall is quite thick, especially around the mid rift and I endeavoured to keep the fire temperature down and not too hot to the touch. After all, this was the break in period when burnouts are most susceptible. Smooth bowls tend to feel a bit warmer than rustics so this was easy to gauge.
I removed the saddle mouthpiece mid smoke to soak up reservoir moisture and wipe the condensation from the metal extension. Note, while stems shouldn’t ordinarily be removed while warm, army mounts or push fit styles were designed to be more accommodating. I wouldn’t recommend yanking it out or pushing it in firmly when warm as the briar mortise will expand and contract due to temperature and humidity. A gentle twist action in and out is all that is needed for pipe longevity.
After the bowl was finished I carefully knocked out the ashes and broke the pipe down for cleaning. I used a cotton bud for the reservoir and pipe cleaners for the draft hole and mouthpiece. 11FB maintenance is a breeze and the only issue I had was passing a pipe cleaner through the highly bent stem (from the base) right through the P-Lip exit. It simply doesn’t like this method. To make things easier I removed the aluminium condenser and added a little bend to the pipe cleaner so that it followed the stem curves. Slowly pushing the cleaner up the stem the tip came out of the P-Lip. It is more tricky than a straight mouthpiece for sure, but not a huge issue. A quick rub down with a microfiber cloth, I left the pipe to fully cool down and dry.
I chalked this up as a satisfying and successful first bowl.
Examining the smoking chamber post inaugural smoke, it was evident that the lower bowl section would require quite a few bowls to develop heel cake while the upper portions would take less even with the staining.
Two weeks on and onto full bowls, the chamber has a well established cake as can be seen from the photographs. The absolute bottom, a millimetre or two, beneath the acutely drilled draft hole is proving more difficult to cake as the airflow is lessened and tobacco fails to fully ash out. I’m not overly concerned about this as a full bowl can smoke for an hour and twenty minutes and I am willing to dispense with a few charred embers at the bottom of the bowl. Incidentally not once have I experienced any genuine “dottle” or wet unburnt tobacco in the bottom of the chamber. This can be apportioned to the dry system.
I am completely bought on the Peterson System, it is an absolutely amazing innovation all the more impressive a feat, as it was designed nearly 120 years ago. Peterson = genius.
I’ve waited nearly 30 years for a Peterson so was it worth the wait? An emphatic YES! My only regret is that I waited so long!
Pipe smoking perfection.