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My take on plugs...

This is a discussion on My take on plugs... within the General Pipe Forum forums, part of the Pipe Smokers Forums category; I don't have a vast experience with plugs, so take this with a grain of salt, please, but I just ...

  1. #1

    Elder Puffer Fish Leader DanR's Avatar


    My take on plugs...

    I don't have a vast experience with plugs, so take this with a grain of salt, please, but I just don't understand the appeal?

    I was playing around on a online retailer's site yesterday and noticed that they have SG Kendal Plug and GH Dark Plug available for purchase. I haven't tried these tobaccos yet, and since they don't commonly become avaiable in the US, I thought about purchasing some. The drawback is that you have to purchase fairly big quantities. The Dark Plug is only available in a 500g package (which I assume is several plugs) and the Kendal was 250g (if I remember correctly). I quickly talked myself out of the purchase, mainly because I'm not sure I want the hassle of dealing with them.

    The first plug I played around with (awhile ago) was Jackknife plug. I remember that tobacco being a very dense brick that was a real bear to cut up. My cuts were either clumpy or I got big flakes that needed extra cuts just to be pliable. Because I'd already messed up the initial cuts, it was very difficult and frustrating... I tried later with a block of Wessex Gold Plug and had similar results, my cuts were clumpy and the layers of tobacco were very difficult to pull apart. Then you have tambolaka, which comes in a very convenient block resembling a lead bar. That one was damned near impossible. I am sure all that poor cutting was just my inexperience with them, but since then I have not had a desire to mess with plugs much.

    Interestingly enough, Russ O (blendtobac) posted a tidbit on Facebook yesterday about plugs retaining a bit more moisture due to the compression of the tobacco. Makes sense to me. He even goes on to state that as a result he has to let them sit longer to dry out (longer than he lets flakes sit out for instance). It seems to me to be another "hassle" you experience when dealing with plugs.

    I certainly recognize the appeal of holding a big chunk of tobacco like a plug, but am I the only piper that says, "to hell with it" when it comes to plugs?? Are there any benefits that I am missing?

  2. #2

    F'n Huge Puffer Fish BigBehr's Avatar


    Re: My take on plugs...

    Because it make me look cool. I enjoy prepping the plug, mouth watering the whole time. possibly taste, I have not had both plug and cut plug of the same blend.

  3. #3

    Wizard of the puff shire Gandalf The Gray's Avatar


    Re: My take on plugs...

    I have enjoyed plug tobacco's in the past. I guess for me anyways, it was about having that freedom to cut the plug in what ever way for what ever mood you were in. Whether it be cube, flake, shag etc. Or just drying out a "plug" loosening it up a bit and loading it in the pipe. The taste for me was not as good or as present as a tinned, or already cut tobacco. But it had more of a N kick to it. Not sure if this is from the plug itself or just the brand of tobacco it was. But that is what I see a plug being for a smoker. Now if you are a Fancy pants Internet Key pusher like that DanR fellow that I see around these forums, I can see how adjusting to a plug tobacco can be a tremendous hassle.

  4. #4

    Snuff-hound steinr1's Avatar


    Re: My take on plugs...

    Compact, robust format. Perhaps closer to the "real bend" than other formats as it doesn't need to be in a state where any further cutting (short of your pipe) is needed. Casing will be "sealed" in the bar rather than able to dissipate. Whatever "magic" happens when tobacco is pressed continues up to the last moment.

    A little bit of a pain to process for the pipe. Harder to do on the move.

    The plug tobaccos I habitually use are Revor and Warrior. Nothing quite like either tobacco, so you live with the plug experience or use a different tobacco. The Warrior isn't that unique; there are fairly similar blends. I'd miss the Revor. I also don't find it too much of a chore to slice shavings off the bar. Once that's done the tobacco needs little rubbing out.

    These plugs wouldn't slice into flake at the moisture level at which they are sold. I really can't imagine wanting to dry either one (but I don't dry any tobacco...) Perhaps that's one of the reasons they are sold in this form.

    This thread made me look to my usual supplier to see if they too still offered most of the plugs as 250g lots. Huzzah! They now split down to 25g (should anyone want such a paltry amount of tobacco). I'm therefore forced to get a selection of those that I've either never tried or only had as a different "format". Thanks... I won't be having any of the SG Cob Plug. 1792 in any form isn't my cup of tea.
    "Never keep up with the Joneses. Drag them down to your level." - Quentin Crisp

  5. #5

    Old Man Nachman's Avatar


    Re: My take on plugs...

    Plugs are an old format for tobacco. The world used to move much slower and a local supply of good tobacco could not be guaranteed at your destination. The best way to ensure a good pipe on the way was either a plug or rope, the plugs staying fresh longer.
    As Robert said, there are some tobaccos available today only in plug and I do like several of them. It is a good thing they last well, because I do share your impatience with them. I buy them, but when it comes time to open a new tobacco I tend to pass them up in favour of something easier. I guess I am just lazy.
    Those that know don't tell, and those that tell don't know.

  6. #6

    Elder Puffer Fish Leader MarkC's Avatar


    Re: My take on plugs...

    I've been too lazy to try them. With my Xikar cutter, ropes are a breeze, but those plugs are intimidating. Besides, if I'm going to buy a plug, I think I'd rather find some Bloodhound...

  7. #7

    Brewing Guy BrewShooter's Avatar


    Re: My take on plugs...

    I have one plug, Mick McQuaid. For the reasons listed, I almost never smoke it.
    The cake is a lie!

  8. #8

    Leading Puffer Fish Troutman22's Avatar


    Re: My take on plugs...

    I worked out a deal some time ago for a hunk of FVF plug. FVF being my favorite and all I figured why not. I hated the prep work and wont do another plug - same reasons as you DanR. Hell, I order a ribbon cut if I can LOL.
    Pipe Tobacco Lotto winner for July 2014!

  9. #9

    Evolving Lead Puffer Fish


    Re: My take on plugs...

    i think plugs create more intense flavors. I smoke JKP not with flakes but with wedges in a small pipe. IMHO, plugs tend to smoke cooler than ribbons also.

  10. #10

    Snuff-hound steinr1's Avatar


    Re: My take on plugs...

    I've been inspired to crack open a pouch of Revor Plug. I love the ritual involved with plug tobacco and this is a very fine tobacco. I carry a pen knive (Doesn't everyone? How else can you tend to your quills?) so I'm equipped at all times. It's the work of a few seconds to take the few slivers for my tiny rope and plug pipe from the bar. Crumble, pack and your done.

    Taste-wise, it's as "natural" a tobacco as any pipe tobacco. Very lightly sweet (which fades as the bowl progresses), leathery, smokey and woody. "Drier" than the dark ropes a bit lighter in taste and nicotine. Still a traditional stout smoke. Lights easily and stays lit; smokes slow and cool. I highly recommend it despite the slightly more involved ritual it demands (which I enjoy).
    "Never keep up with the Joneses. Drag them down to your level." - Quentin Crisp

  11. #11

    Alpha Puffer Fish drastic_quench's Avatar


    Re: My take on plugs...

    I think plugs would be idea for travel, especially in the wild. If I was going on a long backpacking trek, or horseback riding, and canoe voyage - I know the plug would hold up in a pouch better than ribbons or flakes.
    Any man who checks his watch while smoking his pipe is doing it wrong.

  12. #12

    Heavy Puffer commonsenseman's Avatar


    Re: My take on plugs...

    I too understand the appeal of plugs. While they are a bit more work, isn't that what smoking a pipe is all about? If we wanted to smoke something easy & convenient, we'd just smoke cigs. I think they're fun.

    Also, there's something inherently manly about having to cut off a chunk of tobacco & stuff it into a pipe. Makes me feel like a true outdoorsman. In fact, the only thing I can think of that's more manly is chewing on a big ol chunk of rope tobacco. I'm pretty sure my beard gets thicker everytime.

    With how much of a manly-man you are Dan, I'm surprised you don't like plugs!
    “While you smoke, rub the bowl occasionally along the side of your nose. Briar has an affinity for your natural oils.” -My cellar.-

  13. #13

    Sot-weed Bohemian freestoke's Avatar


    Re: My take on plugs...

    "While they are a bit more work, isn't that what smoking a pipe is all about?"

    Exactly. Cleaning, polishing, repairing pipes, cutting plugs up, rubbing out flakes...and smoking "properly" requires a bit of concentration and effort. One has to be obsessive compulsive and masochistic to keep coming back to tongue-bite torture until one can tame it. Stern, hard-working, serious people smoke pipes! I'm surprised there aren't more piping golfers. Same sort of punishment. (Anybody who claims that golf is fun simply doesn't understand the game,) Real piping is serious stuff, and one has to smoke the occasional plug the same way a golfer likes the challenge of a hard golf course.
    Vegetarian -- that's an old Indian word meaning "lousy hunter". -- Andy Rooney

  14. #14

    My cat's Chief of Staff El wedo del milagro's Avatar


    Re: My take on plugs...

    I've only tried one plug as of yet. JackKnife Plug.

    While it was OK, I must admit I liked the process of preparing it.

  15. #15

    Wizard of the puff shire Gandalf The Gray's Avatar


    Re: My take on plugs...

    Quote Originally Posted by El wedo del milagro View Post
    I've only tried one plug as of yet. JackKnife Plug.

    While it was OK, I must admit I liked the process of preparing it.
    Jackknife is a nice plug. You might also like to try Peterson's Perfect Plug, It is one of my favorites with a nice...Fig or plum note to it.

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