Blog by Norman Skiba
In a way, this is a tale of 2 pipes. A somewhat synchronous event possibly. At the outset, I must say that this is based on my experiences, observations, and opinions. Others will have theirs. I am a huge Preben Holm fan. Period. I have owned more of his pipes than any other pipe maker. I also have had a number of Celius and P. Holtorp fan pipes – also from the Danish School. To me, there is just something about the old briar that Preben used that offers this warmth and taste that so many other pipe makers cannot come close to. What kind of briar and the age of what he used I have no clue, and maybe his old workers and Poul Winslow may know. But to me, there is just something about that ‘gestalt’ if you may, that just makes it for me. I also love meerschaums and have had a number of nice meers over the decades. It turns out that I now own 2 briars and 3 meers – nowhere near as extensive as in the past, but just a perfect number for my later years’ needs. I now have more meers than briars. I love meerschaums more now than ever before, but I love the briars too, so I am not exclusive. I sincerely believe that they both have a ‘warmth’ in their own unique way – and I do not mean ‘heat’ – I mean a personal, almost friendly or intimate sort of dimension to their smoking Quality. Some pipes have that Quality and others do not. That is a main characteristic, to me, of a great smoking pipe and experience.
Yesterday morning I had 2 bowls in a new estate Preben Holm that is ghosted with possibly a Virginia of some sort. Nothing I would smoke and there is a taste I am not into, so I wanted to smoke a couple more bowls to try to get that taste out of it. I think maybe another 20 bowls of a heavy Latakia blend and that will start to evolve to what I like. I tend to smoke more meers than the Preben, and they too are new pipes, so that is the reason I am still working on that extra taste in the pipe. Well despite a bit of that extra taste from a previous owner and tobacco – I had 2 really nice bowls in that Preben and the smoke was great – it smoked nicely and the taste generally was nice. No re-lights and just a smooth smoke. 2 bowls back-to-back was an extremely pleasurable experience. I then proceeded (after about a 10 minute break to swap out the pipes and make another pot of coffee) to smoke 2 bowls in a new meerschaum Bacchus that I have smoked more than the Preben. So it is going through the ritual christening, if you may. It has been smoking quite nicely and sometimes really nicely. However; today, both bowls were just wondrous! What a smoke! What a taste and aroma. An interesting note was that I did notice that I got more taste and more aroma that was more true to the tobacco when I smoked the meer right after the briar than what the briar had to offer. And as I just stated, the smokes out of the 2 bowls of the briar were also wonderful. Just different in many ways. Getting back to the meer – the experience was so beautiful that it was hard to believe that 2 different pipes – 4 bowls – back-to-back – and they were all wondrous! What are the chances? The 2nd bowl also had another rather unique experience: toward what was normally the end of the bowl – it just kept smoking and smoking and smoking. I thought – man this should have finished a while ago – when will it be done? (Not that I wanted it to end; one just kind of knows the bowl and the length of a pipe and tobacco.) Anyway, this just seemed like the never-ending bowl. I got easily an extra 20′ smoke on that 2nd bowl of the meer. Again, as in the briars, no re-lights were needed. The experience I had yesterday morning was just so magical I was in awe of the experience. Maybe unconsciously I was transported to the magical world of The Shire and puffing on Longbottom Leaf or Old Tobey of the Southfarthing. How Sublime Indeed!