Aromatic or Non-Aromatic?
Pipe tobacco comes in two broad categories: Aromatic and Non-Aromatic. Aromatics are just what the word indicates, i.e. they have a pleasing aroma. Vanilla, cherry, honey and other flavorings are added to the tobacco during processing to give it that lovely smell. Non-aromatics are pure tobacco; there is no sweetener or flavoring added to it.
Most beginners start out with an aromatic and many stay with an aromatic throughout their lives. Others start with an aromatic but later discover the nuanced flavor of non-aromatic tobacco.
This is the path that I took, and once I became accustomed to the non-aromatic, sometimes called "English" tobaccos, I never went back to aromatics. An unfortunate side effect is that while I felt that flavor of an English tobacco was superior to that of an aromatic, the people around me definitely preferred the aroma of a flavored tobacco. Many complained that the English tobacco had too pungent, or sharp, of an aroma. You will, at some point, have to take this into consideration.
But it is certainly not an either/or proposition - many pipe smokers I know enjoy both aromatics and English tobaccos equally.
There are other factors to consider when selecting tobaccos, such as the cut of the leaf, how moist or dry it is, how the tobacco is packaged, is it predominantly a Virginia tobacco, or burley, latakia, perique, Oriental, etc. That discussion might be better covered in Pipe Smoking 102 (to come).
Next we‘ll discuss how to properly load and light your new pipe.
Prossimo articolo: Loading, Lighting and Smoking Your Pipe - part I