Bruto Sordini and his Don Carlos Pipes
It is often the case that a pipe smoker is quite aware of the history of
his/her favorite pipe(s) and can go on talking about it endlessly with
amazing confidence and accuracy.However, it is regrettably common
to find that knowledge of the maker who made that favorite pipe is often
hazy, if available at all; sometimes, even the name of that pipe maker
is not known, unless one is talking about one of the big names in the pipe
making world, or one is simply a dedicated pipe collector.
This article is intended not only to provide information about the Don
Carlos pipes, but also to pay tribute to their talented maker, Bruto Sordini.
Don Carlos is a relatively new name that is receiving more and more international
recognition and appreciation and the Don Carlos pipes are increasingly
sought after in several European countries as well as in the USA.
Bruto Sordini is in his mid-forties, married and has three sons.
His interest in making art objects out of wood led him to abandon the study
of law and eventually discover the gratification and self-fulfillment that
the art of pipe making can bring.
Bruto started making pipes when he was twenty years of age.He
started as an apprentice to an old village pipe maker who taught him the
secrets of a good hand made pipe.After the old man died (at the
age of 96, having made his last pipe only two years earlier), Bruto started
working with other pipe makers, one after the other.Before he started
making pipes on his own, he had already worked for years with some of the
most famous and prestigious pipe establishments in the Pesaro region, well
known for its pipe making tradition.Prior to the founding of the
Don Carlos company, Bruto had joined in a pipe making partnership with
a friend, but later set out on his own.This friend of Bruto's is
now one of the most famous and respected Italian pipe makers in the world
(Bruto prefers not to mention names; he wants his pipes, and not his acquaintance
with others, to speak for him).Seven years ago, Don Carlos was founded.
Bruto is a great lover of classical music, especially operas, and which
is why he chose the name of a famous opera character for his company.
Bruto creates his pipes alone.Nobody is allowed to touch a Don Carlos
pipe except his wife, Rosaria,who occasionally helps with the finishing
touches and always packs the pipes for shipment; also, there is a "rusticatore",
who only rusticates pipes that Bruto has already shaped.In addition,
the true inspiration for Bruto while working remains classical music; his
workshop is equipped with a CD and a cassette player striving to keep up
with Bruto's prodigious musical appetite.
A Don Carlos Pipe
It takes Bruto an average of two hours to make a pipe from beginning
to end, provided that everything goes well and that the ebouchon does not
present any unpleasant surprises, otherwise the pipe is altogether discarded.
Consequently, Bruto makes about an average of 5-6 pipes a day.Although
he sometimes gets overwhelmed by huge orders, he refuses to hire anyone
to make pipes with or for him.He prefers to sell fewer pipes that
exhibit better quality and workmanship than to sacrifice quality for quantity.
Bruto uses Calabrian briar.He carefully, and patiently, seasons
the ebouchons in the open air for approximately three years.
The true proof of Bruto's thorough treatment of the briar is the smoking
quality and the light weight of the finished pipe.
Shapes & Grades
Bruto produces a wide range of shapes and sizes, from classic shapes
to elegant freehands, from miniature pipes to giant bowls that hold up
to ten grams of tobacco.His pipes come in three finishes: smooth
natural, rusticated (including semi-rusticated), and straight grain ("Fiammata".Smooth pipes are
of either light natural or mid-brown/red color.The rusticated ones
are either natural or stained reddish black.Rustication can be either
fine or coarse.
Bruto uses musical notes to grade his pipes; that is, he stamps one,
two or three musical notes on his pipes to denote the finish and/or the
grain, with a three-note pipe being the highest within each group.
Pipes are given notes as follows: dark rusticated (1 note), natural light
rusticated (2 notes), semi-rusticated (3 notes), smooth (1, 2, or 3 notes,
depending on the grain), and straight grain (1, 2, or 3 notes, depending
on how straight the grain is and the presence/absence of sandpits).
Three-note straight grains are quite rare, with only a few being made each
year; besides demonstrating aperfect straight grain, these pipes
should have absolutely no flaws, fissures, or only almost invisible little
sandpits that you should not exceed a certain number.
The above means that Don Carlos pipes are graded into NINE different
categories.It's not enough, therefore, to say: "I've bought a one-note
Don Carlos.", as is often said.One should always specify the class
whether this particular one-note pipe is rusticated, smooth, or straight
All in all, it is quite reassuring for today's pipe smoker to know that
there are still individual pipe makers who know what a high quality hand
made pipe is all about, who have the knowledge and the skill to produce
such a pipe, who would endeavor to accommodate pipe making tradition and
innovation with constant awareness of the pipe smoker's needs and preferences,
and finally, would rather not produce a pipe at all than produce one of
In short, Bruto Sordini, the maker of the Don Carlos pipes, is a living
example of such admirable pipe makers.The reputation of Don Carlos
in the entire world, and particularly in the USA market, is the tangible
proof of their quality.