Among the broad variety of pipe brands, Kaywoodie holds a very special place. Back in the fifties, it was so well respected, that in many stores, Kaywoodie sold for a higher price than Dunhill. As time went on, their most popular models were the lower priced ones, and so Kaywoodie became more of a mainstream pipe, delivering good quality at a very competitive price.
Most pipe smokers are familiar with their well-known models, such as the Drinkless, Flame Grain, Super Grain, Relief Grain and Red Root. What’s less well-known is that Kaywoodie also has an upper-tier line called Sterling. Instead of the smaller sizes featured in most of their series, the Sterlings are more substantial in size, and don’t use the ‘stinger’ or condenser that has become a Kaywoodie hallmark. I was recently given one, and was asked to write a review.
The Sterlings come in traditional and more contemporary shapes in three finishes – a golden smooth, with Danish-style stems that flare at the shank, a rich ruby red smooth and a tan blast that feature trim rings and flush-fit mouthpieces. I like more modern styling, so I selected a tall Rhodesian with a saddle bit in the golden finish. The staining and polishing are well executed, and the pipe had nice tight grain. It was also fairly light for its size, and although I don’t have much of an opinion either way, I was kind of happy to see no bowl coating. The stem was attractive and very comfortable and the pipe felt very comfortable in the hand. The drilling was spot-on. The drafthole hit the chamber at bottom dead center, and the interior was nice and smooth. The stem fit firmly, but wasn’t too tight. It has smoked beautifully right from the first time. I get no gurgle, and it stays nicely cool. There’s no ‘off-taste’, and the pipe broke in fairly quickly.
These pipes weren’t originally in their regular lineup. These pipes were made to Kaywoodie specifications by one of Italy’s best-known factories, and were made for them to sell at pipe shows. At those shows, they routinely sold for well over $100 apiece. Since they had a relatively small quantity left, they offered them to us at a very nice price if we took them all, which we did, so instead of prices above the century mark, we’re selling them for $79.95. Even at the higher price, they’re a nice value, and I’ve certainly spent more for a pipe that wasn’t as nice, but at the sale price, they’re a real bargain. The quantities are limited, but if you’re in the market for a good-looking, solid-smoking pipe, you could do a whole lot worse.