I was excited and apprehensive about smoking the Tortuga. Its such a nice pipe I almost didn’t want to “spoil” it! But a pipe is for smoking so I put thoughts of scorching the rim and burning the bowl to one side and unpacked the tobacco I ordered from Black Swan to break this pipe in.
I would be using a 50/50 blend of Gawith Hoggarths Kendal Black Cavendish and McConnell Oriental Turkish Blend. These are classed as blending tobacco’s, but can be enjoyed on their own, particularly the slow burning Black Cavendish. The Turkish burns hotter and quicker so combining the two should make for a long lasting pleasurable smoke. Both arrived in what I would call perfect smoking condition, in as much as there was no need to air dry either before blending.
A long, long time ago when I was about 17 I smoked a tobacco pipe. I really enjoyed the “hobby”. Some might call it ritualistic. Its definitely something to be savoured and not rushed. There is so much more to pipe smoking than just the pipe. Its an experience from start to finish. Firstly teasing the rich golden strands from the pouch or tin while simultaneously breathing in the unlit aroma. Then packing the bowl – not too tight or loose. Just lighting the contents and keeping the fire going requires concentration and takes time to learn. Only then can you sit back and truly enjoy the fruits of your labour. Dedication is key.
In the early days I didn’t even own a commercially made pipe – I made my own (with the help of my father). These were by no means briar masterpieces, oh no, simple, rustic examples made from the knurled apple tree that dominated our garden. The mouthpiece (or bit) was made from a dried and hollowed out elderberry stem and entered the “bowl” corncob style. Crude? Looking back, yes!