I love pipes. I picked out my first (a Savinelli second) from a basket on the counter of With Pipe and Book, the wonderful, greatly missed pipe shop on Main Street in Lake Placid, NY. I was sixteen, finishing up my last year of school, reading Buchan and wanting to look dashing. I don't think I ever hit dashing, but I certainly fell in love with that pipe. That was 1986, we could smoke on campus - even had a room (I kid you not) called the "Gentlemans Smoking Room". Leather chairs, claw foot tables...the last tiny bit of clubbiness I saw before the world became "correct". Anyhoo, I digress.... Since that first pipe there have been many, many others. Mostly machine made Petes, Stannies, and Savs, with a few Dunnys, Tsuges and other handmades thrown in the mix. Meers, cobs and clays have come and gone, even a couple Brylons (briefly) crossed my lips. (Yes Gerry, you're right, I never mentioned Falcons, never had one!) In June 2009 I bought a pipe from Bannard. A perfectly drilled little pot. The first smoke was a revelation. What I knew about what I thought were good pipes went out the window. This thing smoked better than anything I'd had in the past, regardless of price. I got quite an education from that pipe, and it started me on a little feeding frenzy - Caminettos, Ascortis, Radices, Mastro de Pajas, Ser Jacs, Beckers, Don Carlos, Castellos and Tinskys all showed up in the mail box in short order. I got an education from all them as well, mostly I learned that I was still enjoying my Squatch pipes (more of them were showing up as well) as much or more than than their Italian cousins. I've tapered off from the frenzy now, I still find myself buying the occasional Radice, but mostly it's just Bannards. Which brings me to the wonderwood. I don't know how many of Todd's pipes I have now, 13 or 14 I'd guess. The oil cured pot I got this summer (spring?) was the best I'd had until last month. A little dublin thing showed up in the mail. I'd showed him a picture of an Ilsted that I liked and asked for something similiar. What I got was another level of education in what a pipe can be. This thing is drop dead gorgeous (maybe Todd can post a pic), and what can I say about the taste? Anyone who wants to tell you briar is briar is briar needs to talk to me. This stuff has a sharp, lively taste right off the first light, adding a dimension to my P&W that I've tasted in no other pipe. I've got probably thirty bowls smoked through this thing and it is getting exponentially better, while maintaining that initial sharpness that just blows my mind. The wonderwood is expensive, but don't let the price put you off. I know how subjective our pastime is, and I appreciate the different tastes we all have. Do yourselves a favor, save your money, don't buy those next two petes, get in touch with Bannard and have him make you a pipe. Wonderwood or not, you'll be getting a jewel, and maybe the best pipe you've ever smoked. I hope I don't need to add that this is an unpaid endorsement, but Todd, if you want to thank me with a gift of that Radice Clear we've been talking about I won't tell a soul!