Different Pipe Finishes… Rustic, Sandblast or Smooth?

Last time I wrote about where to start with pipes and why but not about their finishes! So, does finish matter when it comes to the smoking experience?

The only thing that the finish will be affecting is the briar’s heat dispersion. The bigger the surface is, the more heat dispersion you will have. A pipe with a rustic/sandblast finish will be technically better at handling the heat than one with a smooth finish.
In reality though, the difference is minimal, and it’s more likely that you will not even notice it.

Personally, it boils down to what you like to look at and the tactile sensation. Up until the beginning of the 20th century, all pipes had a smooth finish supposedly. It was all about the briar’s grain. Its Bird’s eyes and flames defined the quality and the worth of a pipe. This finish is achieved by sanding the briar with extremely fine sandpaper until the surface is as smooth as fine silk could be. Then, the pipe could be waxed, stained, or lacquered. Double staining could also be used, which means that two different stains will be precisely applied to a specific part of the briar’s grain to increase the contrast. Easier said than done!

From the early years of the 20th century, the rustic/sandblast finish became popular because of Dunhill himself and his Shell briar finish technique. A sandblast finish will allow the crafter to bring a new depth to the briar’s grain by literally blasting it with abrasive dust such as sand or glass. This technique removes the softwood but preserves the grain and will define the briar’s growth rings. Wax and stains (single and double) are also used to finish the briar.

On the other hand, a rustic finish is not about the grain but the texture. This technique gave the crafters a chance to use any briar that didn’t have any exciting grain pattern. New ridges and edges are created onto the briar’s surface with many different tools. As you can imagine, wax and lacquer are not used that often for this type of finish. Stains are the go-to.

Are shell briar and sandblasted interchangeable? No, not entirely. A shell briar is sandblasted, but not the other way around.
Let me explain!

Dunhill, back in the nineteen-teens, patented the shell briar technique. Some people say, by mistake, some others say intentionally, but his new method changed how our pipes look.

To put it simply, a soft briar (Algerian Briar before the 60s, then a Greek Briar) gets submerged into oil for several weeks. After that, the briar gets exposed to high temperatures for many days. As a result, parts of the grain will harden and stand out, and an oil waterproof coating will be formed. The briar will then go through sandblasting, which will remove the oil coating and reduce the cutting effect. The Algerian briar will get a deep, defined contrast in the grain. In comparison, the Greek briar will have a much softer result because the material is much harder.

This technique allows the crafter to have complete control over the process, preserving all the details of the Bird’s eyes and the flames that you don’t have when you sandblast the briar.

I personally like pipes with a mixed finish. I love to have a smooth section and a textured one close to each other.

What about you? Which one do you like?

Till next time!


Cocktail of the day

We have all been waiting for the warmer weather and sunshine. Not that you need a certain time of year to drink a certain cocktail, but we all have those cocktails that just work with springtime. So, I thought I would put together some of my favourite cocktails that will be in heavy rotation coming into better weather!

Citrus Breeze


  • 50ml (2oz) – The Botanist Gin
  • 25ml (1oz) – Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 15ml (0.5oz) – Elderflower cordial
  • 85ml (3oz) – Tonic water
  • Sprig of thyme to garnish
  • Grapefruit wheel to garnish


  • Mix the gin, grapefruit and elderflower cordial in a mixing glass.
  • Pour into an ice-filled highball and top up with tonic water.
  • Garnish with a sprig of thyme and a grapefruit wheel.



Pipes… where to start?

So, you are new to pipe smoking and want to know where to start? Well, let’s start with the first question I often get asked when a new pipe smoker comes into my shop…

“Which pipe should I buy?”

Pipes come in many different shapes, sizes, colours, and finishes. When you search on our website for pipes, the results can be overwhelming for a new pipe smoker. We’ve all been there! The first time I bought a pipe, I was overwhelmed with the pipe selection that my local shop had (and their selection was really small!)

So, let’s break it down.


The pipe’s shape will mainly affect three things: the draw, the smoke and the build-up condensation.

A bent pipe will have condensation forming between the bowl and the shank, and because of the curve, the draught might be a bit harder. On the other hand, it will be easier to hold it in your mouth because the pipe is more balanced and will be easier to smoke on the go while you are out or doing something.

Have a look at these Savinelli, I love their bent pipes.

A straight pipe will have an easier draught and no condensation build-up because there are no curves in which the smoke will linger. The main problem of straight pipes for a beginner is their balance and weight. It will feel heavier when you clench it and not so easy to deal with when doing something else while smoking.
For a classic straight pipe, try a Peterson.


The length of the pipe will affect the warmth of the smoke. The longer it is, the cooler the smoke is going to be.

For a beginner, I would suggest going for a medium-length pipe. The smoke is cool enough that it should not bother you, and it will not be too challenging to light.


Pipes come filtered and non-filtered. We always mention on the description if the pipe has a filter and which kind it uses. 😊
Filters helps to achieve a smooth and pleasant smoke. They also help to remove humidity and impurities. There are many different filters, but for now, let us talk about the most common: metal and 9mm.

A metal filter, often called a stinger (because of the shape), will help reduce the impurities as they will get stuck to it which will then change the smoke flow.

In my opinion, the most efficient filter is the 9mm! It will filter humidity and impurities without affecting the smoking experience. If your pipe uses 9mm filters, try Vauen Dr Perl Junior 9mm Pipe Filters.

This sums up the pipe smoking basics, but which one should you buy?

A good tip is to think about the pipe that you envision yourself smoking. Or even better, visit one of our shops to let us help you decide. Physically holding a pipe sometimes gives you a better understanding on which finish and sizing you like.
A pipe needs to fit your style but also be something that you like to look at when you are not using it.
In the current times though, the pandemic may make it difficult for you to come see us in store so be sure to have a look on our website and if you have any questions, get in touch with us.  We are more than happy to help with selecting your first (or third 😉) pipe!

Most importantly though, take your time and be patient. Remember, your pipe smoking journey has just begun.

Let me know about your first pipe experiences or if its your first time, let me know which one you go for!


The Glenturret Maiden Range

I am always excited to see when longstanding distilleries that I have enjoyed for so long embrace the future! Not only embrace the future, but do it with some grace and elegance! The Glenturret has done that with style, merging their long history with a refined contemporary style.

Glenturret has the honour to call themselves the longest running whisky distillery in Scotland and so they are bringing along a lot of whisky making wisdom and traditional craftsmanship. So, in 2019 when the Lalique group bought the distillery, they added an elegance that has meshed well with their history. The new Maiden Releases were crafted by a very highly respected whisky maker, Bob Dalgarno, to create an amazing new core range. Not only do you get some delicious whisky crafted by a legend, but you get some absolutely beautiful bottles made by Lalique.

Right now, we have three of the new core range so you can experience Glenturret for yourself. After you finish the liquid, refill those bottles with something else!

The Glenturret 10-Year-Old Peat Smoke 2020 Maiden Release – 50% 70cl

“We are in the rare position of producing peated and non-peated spirit at different times of the year from the same small stills. This has allowed us to craft this mellow, sweet, smoky 10 years old single malt that shows its character off to the full at a strength of 50%.”

Maker’s Tasting Notes: Smoke from the peat fire envelopes. Fresh citrus fruit, vanilla, and light spice drift from the embers with hints of sea salt and smoldering heather.

The Glenturret 12-Year-Old 2020 Maiden Release – 46% 70cl

“A whisky driven by European Oak casks which have patiently cradled the spirit from its inception 12 years ago after passing through the small batch, manual production processes which defines Glenturret… Never overpowering, but enhancing and developing to give a rich, layered complexity of flavour and a deep russet colour.”

Maker’s Tasting Notes: Rich fruit cake dressed with walnuts. Sweet apple and ginger in balance enjoyed with lemon tea. The European oak politely drives the chosen strength.

The Glenturret Triple Wood 2020 Maiden Release – 43% 70cl

“Triple Wood is a continuation of our history, part of the old range and reborn in the new. A thoughtful combination of European and American Sherry Oak casks alongside Bourbon barrels gives a light and subtle whisky showcasing the sweet, fruity style of our new make spirit – the starting point of the journey for all our single malts.”

Maker’s Tasting Notes: Aged in American and European Sherry casks and bourbon barrels. Sweet fruit and caramel flirt with sticky ginger cake and vanilla, maturing oak and light spices look on with interest from the sidelines.

When things start opening back up for us, make sure to take a trip up to the distillery for a tour and bite to eat at their cafe!