Thank you very much Gavin, I do appreciate your comment and questions.
First off, let me make it very clear that I cannot overemphasize the virtues of Todd's products such as the AMNPS. They have helped make smoke cooking easier for a great number, including myself.
Many truly believe and have convinced others that thin blue smoke (TBS) is the perfect smoke to use when smoke cooking and I have no problem if that is what they believe. It's my belief though that the perfect smoke depends on two things, the equipment being used and the product being smoked.
Those who only use TBS although I'm sure put out some wonderful product are limiting themselves to a short list of products they can easily smoke. "If it can be consumed, it can be smoked" with minimal equipment and expense.
There are cookers such as stick burners that normally produce TBS because that's their nature. There are those such as coal cookers that produce little or no color at all. Then we have the gas and electrics, depending on their design, produce a number of different colors. Some use an abundance of fuel and others like a couple of my Cookshak's may only require a two ounce chunk of wood to cook a whole chicken for over three hours. Whatever type or model of smoker you have, take the time and learn its characteristic's. New to smoking or have a new smoker? -- "How to optimize your smoke" By learning your smoker, time and aggravation will be saved in the long run.
Glad to know that your are interested in smoking cheese. You may find the following interesting. Mr T's "Smoked Cheese From Go To Show" w/ Q- View If your smoke does not smell good to you, try using a different species. It's been my opinion that Todd's Pitmaster pellets produce a very desirable flavor to cheese.
Many use a AMNPS inside there smokers and this is fine if they are pleased with the results. My doing this has resulted in hot spots, and a undesirable amount of creosote. By placing the smoke generator regardless of make a distance away from the container (smoker) containing the product, the cleaner and smoother the smoke will be, producing a much more desirable end product.
Knowing that not all smokers produce TBS has caused somewhat of a dilemma on the forum. There are those who would like to discus using smoke that is not TBS and when they do, they or told no that's bad get a AMNPS. Well I say BS. If that were true I suppose someone, not myself, should notify Cookshack and tell them they have been building expensive smokers wrong for over 50 years. So let's discus using different colors of smoke, it's OK.
It seems that many feel as long as you are cooking, smoke should be applied, not true by a long shot. Depending on what you are smoking the time smoke is applied may differ from just a few seconds to days. What one has to realize is the more dense and more white the smoke, the less smoke time is required, most important the less forgiving it is. So start out slow and add time that you apply smoke until you eventually find the smoke taste you are looking for.
I realize this has been a long answer to your questions. Hope I answered them satisfactorily.