After a month of smoking pipes and cigars, which did I prefer? I reckon I’ve had my pipe long enough to get a feel for it now. There are distinct differences between the two; some I had anticipated, some I hadn’t.
In all truth, I was expecting to try the pipe a few times and get bored with it. Either it wouldn’t stay lit, or it would be harsh and burn my tongue, or I’d even just feel too silly smoking it. While there were elements of truth in all these, it has not been enough to prevent me from continuing to enjoy my newly purchased corncob pipe. Still, the difference between the two is remarkably different. I’ll compare the two at the different stages of smoking as this seems most logical to me.
Specifically talking about Cuban cigars here, you usually need to age them before smoking them. It is not particularly easy to obtain them freshly-rolled unless you are in the right place at the right time (or Cuba!), so most people prefer to age them at least one, preferably two years before smoking. In my personal experience, I like to let them settle in my own humidor for at least three to six months once I’ve received them, regardless of their age. Pipe tobacco however, appears to be ready for smoking as soon you buy it. That’s not to say it doesn’t improve with time, but it doesn’t seem to be quite so essential. Pipe +1
Pipe tobacco doesn’t seem anywhere near as fussy as cigars are for their storage conditions. I guess as it is a homogenised mixture rather than a constructed object, internal stresses caused by over humidifying are no longer a problem. Pipe +1
Cigars are definitely easier here in my opinion. Cut the end off and light. As long as the entire end is burning you probably won’t go too far wrong. I agree that there is a better way to light a cigar, but that’s not my point. A pipe however, needs the tobacco to be correctly packed into it. Not too soft or too hard, then it also needs to be lit properly. More to go wrong there. Cigar +1
Assuming both have been stored and prepared correctly, they are pretty level here. Don’t puff too quickly or slowly, or too hard and you’ll be just fine. Each seems to have their own preferred speed but that appears to come with familiarity. Evens!
I’m going to be controversial here, but I think the cigar wins. The very structure of a cigar lends itself to a flavour progression beyond that of ‘getting stronger’. Pipe tobacco is usually a homogenised mix, which while providing great consistency between packs of tobacco is never going to give any kind of real change throughout the smoke. That said, both have the prospect of great complexity of flavour. Cigar +1
Sorry pipe-folks. I’m thirty years old and there is no way I will smoke a pipe in a pub beer garden. It is very much viewed as a past-time for the older generation in the UK. A cigar however, I am quite happy to smoke in public. Admittedly, the attitude towards cigars is very much a love-it-or-hate-it thing but it’s more in keeping with my age. Cigar +1
Whichever country you are in, there’s no disputing that a pipeful of tobacco will cost proportionately less than a single decent Cuban cigar. I’m only considering Cubans as that is where my taste lies. At UK prices a single flake of St. Bruno Flake will cost around 50 pence, whereas a petit corona cigar will cost around £7 to £8, each giving a similar amount of smoking time. The pipe has to have the point here. Pipe +1
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A cigar is something I very much feel I need to concentrate on, and I will generally only go for the cheaper cigars if I’m out with company as I don’t feel I can do it justice if I’m not savouring every puff. A pipe however, is a perfect accompaniment to a book or a conversation in the garden. There’s definitely a place for both in my smoking armoury. Even though I’ve made both sound difficult to enjoy, they aren’t. The more you analyse something, the more there is to analyse!