John Cotton's - Double Pressed Kentucky 1.75oz
What a smoke!
Wow! What a smoke. Opening the tin, I was taken by surprise with the intense dry fig/fruit cake aroma. Gorgeous presentation, the "Double Pressed" is easily broken in amicable little pieces. It doesn't take much to get it going, but I little effort will be necessary. The fruit cake aroma is also what you taste in this quite monocromatic smoke. It is focused, ever pressing forward onto the same direction, but with a ever slight increase in strength and overall taste profile. It is an elegant smoke, because although we have all tasted similar tobaccos blends, this one, is simply done better. Enjoy!
Rattray's - Marlin Flake 50g
I was anxious to try this well-known and praised flake. It was a bit of a challenge to find it, but I finally did. The moisture level is very adequate, past the medium point. As such, it may be better to let it dry for a bit. It was easy to light up, and it did not require relighting much thorughout the bowl. Well behaved in many aspects. I thought it was weaker than I had expected, as some have suggested this being an older brother to Old Gowrie, which I enjoy once in a while. Yet, it is not, at least for me. The real problem I have with this flake is the ever so pervasive topping that some many tobaccos have. I cannot stand them, at all. True, that leaves me with fewer choices than most pipe smokers, but that is just the way my taste and body chemistry works. I do not tolerate these obvious flavourings, perhaps, only is there are really at the "extremelyh mild" level (such as in the case of Old Gowrie). The moral of the story is that I did not enjoy Marlin Flake at all. All I tasted was this "mediciny" falvouring/topping burning my tonge with noticeable good tobacco underneath, which for me, it is not enough of a profile to be part of my rotation.
Cornell & Diehl - Virginia Flake 2oz
This broken flake comes as other well-known selections from C&D, with perfect moisture and easy and cool burning. As you progressed through the bowl, it soon picks up strength, easily reaching the "medium" level. It burns with nice white ash, and consistently so throughout the bowl. As such, the overall behavior of this Virginia (broken) Flake is quite good. However, it lacks taste and sweetness. You know you are smoking something there with some good strength and quality (like a glass os sparkling water), but it does not rise to the palate with noticeable features, save of a regular bready, hay, slightly citrus, and even "farmy" kind of tobacco with a tiny hint of sweetness. It does get a little bit better towards the end, but in general. It does not satisfy the overall taste experience for me. Likely, it is a good tobacco for blending, especially with burleys. It leaves a fairly good taste in the mouth after the smoke. This is not for me though, but maybe I will try blending something with it.
Rattray's - Old Gowrie 50g
Very nice but...
This is my first Rattray's blend. First, I was pleasantly surprised by the beautiful presentation of the tobacco, and the delicate aroma in the tin. As I smoked it, the first thing I noticed is the almost total absence of toppings, which is a must for me. Next, it took a while for the taste of this blend to shine, yet I was patient. As the bowl progressed, the taste profile was properly presented. It has a wonderfully rather sweet taste of roasted nuts, baked bread, and other delightful things alike. The taste remained throughout the bowl, with no added complexity, yet quite pleasing. The nicotine level was rather mild, which is not something I prefer. More so, there was a general lack of "oomph" to the blend. This would have been a fantastic top blend had it been "amplified" in terms of strength as the bowl progressed. I wanted that. I waited for that. I intently smoked hoping for that, but it never came. It remained mild, only hinting at what could have been. As such, although it has a truly delightful taste, it is just too weak for an experienced smoker like myself, who prefer much stronger Burley based blends.
Mac Baren - HH Rustica Flake 3.5oz
Plain and simple delight
Rustica is a wonderful smoke. It showcases a remarkably similar profile to G&H’s Dark Plug, however without any trace of the cloying Lakeland essence I never liked. At first, floral notes are prominent, but that initial phase does not last long. The focus is mostly very earthy, leathery-sweet, and nutty, but in a narrower spectrum than the Dark Plug. This means that it is first, a more well-behaved tobacco, with less extraneous bitter notes, although one perceives the fermented quality, and second, the tobaccos are melded to a higher degree, in my humble opinion. This means that it tends towards a more monochromatic profile, albeit rich in every way a pure tobacco should be. Still, it does not detour much from its central theme of earthy-leathery-nutty taste with a medium dosage of very pleasant subtle sweetness. Dark Plug is more “rebellious”, but it has a wider spectrum of flavors that may appeal to some, while I prefer the intense and uniform straight tobacco flavors from Rustica. The nicotine is not as great as advertised, but this could just be due to the fact that I am an experienced smoker. Around the middle of the bowl, the melding comes to a “singularity” of tastes. Extremely tight in terms of the profile, where you basically only taste the Burley pushing forward with the added dimensions of the other components. In the last third of the bowl, another change occurs: a delightful increase of sweetness, which now comes to foreground. Really spectacular at this point. This is a masterfully blended old style “serious” tobacco, that needs to be calmly enjoyed on a full stomach. It is most definitely a keeper for me.
Peterson - My Mixture 965 50g
A sweeter incarnation
When comparing the Peterson 965 to the (previous) Dunhill 965, I found the latest version to be just as balanced, flavorful, with very good burning qualities, but sweeter. I like the profile it became with the added Cavendish, as the naturally sweet flavor is a bit more pronounced. There was a little too much mouth residue after smoking this blend, which I would have preferred to be without. Hence, an easy 4 stars for sure.
Gawith Hoggarth & Co. - Dark Plug
An alternative to my n.1
As a long time Burley-blend only smoker, I have basically smoked all burley pipe products around. After a few years of intense seeking of the perfect blend for me, I was able to narrow the search and find my utmost favorites to be... well... one blend. As such, 95+% of the time I smoke C&D Burley Flake #1. That's it. Most other blends eventually disappoint me in some way or another. See, at first, a blend can seem wonderful, but as it dries a bit, its true character can reveal certain (character) flaws, like people (at first). Knowing that I've stayed with C&D BF#1 and have remained mostly if not completely pleased. I won't spend time on the mechanics of Dark Plug and other considerations the honorable friends here have already explained with details and charm. However, I will state that I have finally found an alternative to my favorite smoke.
Mac Baren - HH Bold Kentucky 1.75oz
A Burley winner!
This is a great Burley: one that belongs in the repertoire of any Burley lover, like yours truly. I think it has a similar profile to my favorite C&D Burley Flake #1. It burns steady, right from start. No tongue bite. The various flavors that compose this tobacco - chocolate, cream, nuts, coffee - appear in unison at first. As you smoke through the bowl, each nuance of this savory Burley acquires a more distinct expression. In other words, it becomes "bolder" as you smoke. Not so much in terms of strength, but in the "richness" of taste. There is also an undertone of sweetness that is quite pleasant. Producing a good amount of smoke, yet with a pretty acceptable room note, this is a real winner for the Burley lover.
Amphora - Burley 1.75oz
I only smoke Burley (blends), and without any flavorings, toppings, etc. In fact, I almost exclusively smoke C&D Burley Flake #1 and sometimes, Triple Play. I think I've tried them all, for years in fact. But my very specific taste always leads me back to BF#1. Yet, disheartened as I've become in my Burley adventures expeditions, I do get excited every time I find (or someone recommends) a possibly new pure Burley blend I've not tried. To my total amazement, I am loving this Amphora Burley Blend! The broken flakes are very similar to the C&D Burley Flake #1, the moisture is ideal, the burning perfect and the taste, simply great. It does have a bit of a rather noticeable and quite lingering taste in the mouth, probably from the casing, but that's ok. Burley fans, go try this smoke. Update (07/07/2019): I've been smoking this beautiful tobacco in different pipes, to further appraise it. First, let me say, that the said lingering taste has subsided quite a bit. I think it was just in the first bowl, where it was pronounced. This is truly a bready-chocolaty delicious burley blend. The flakes are just great, as I said, very similar to the C&D Burley Flake #1. I love it. The burning is consistent, even in every respect, including the consistency of the taste profile throughout the bowl. It burns to white ashes all the way, and with very few relights. The natural and sweet chocolaty taste in this burley is nothing short of remarkable, and it comes from the Virginia. I must say that such "focused" sweetness can be a bit too much after the halfway point of the bowl. I would have preferred a tad less of this sweetness. The Kentucky is noticeable too, perfect. The room note is pleasant, truly tolerable. This is a fantastic blend, and it is now part of my very exclusive list of pipe tobaccos. Smaller bowls will let the Virginias more pronounced, bigger bowls will feature the Burleys to a greater extend. No toppings, just pure delight. The last pipe I tried with this blend was a BBB billiard.
McConnell - Folded Flake 50g
With the beautiful tin and presentation, I expected greatness here. I opened the gold foil and the first surprise was that there was no real discernible aroma, only "something" very faint. The flakes are very nice, thin and with perfect humidity. Folding easily, I loaded my pipe and I was ready to experience this tobacco. It lighted easily, few relights really. At first, it was too mild for me to taste anything. It picked up with time, showing off the Virginia and additional components, particularly Kentucky. When it hit the half bowl, the flavors became substantially more pronounced. That was a good thing indeed. Yet, I was hoping for more. However, it did not have what to give. It stayed at that mid-level, rather one dimensional. Am I being too hard? The problem is that this tobacco's profile is much like G.L. Pease's Triple Play, except the latter is the former elevated to a higher potency in terms of experience, strength and good flavor. The taste in the mouth was not too great either, but acceptable. By the way, no bite. After having been smoking Triple Play, this seems like an inferior contender of this class and profile. It is nice, simple and without much oomph, but smokable on certain moods. I stay with Triple Play, nevertheless.
G. L. Pease - Triple Play 2oz
Being a die-hard Burley lover, and one who basically smokes only C&D blends (Burley Flake #1 in particular), it was joyous for me to find Triple Play. Smoking it I detected a similar profile to C&D Burley Flake #1, which is a blend of dark Burley and red Virginia with just a splash of Perique. Triple Play uses the same configuration, but with dark-fired Kentucky. The real difference is the tanginess of Triple Play, while Burley Flake #1 has not. While I don't particularly care for this tangy taste, by focusing on the other aspects of the blend, it turns out to be a very enjoyable and burley blend for me, with a very similar profile to my favorite C&D blend. When you are a one-blend (or so) smoker, it is very important to try to find alternatives, just in case. Market fluctuations in availability is a constant concern, which in this case is mitigated. Being savory, medium-strong, with a fair amount of vitamin-N, it is surely a great blend, standing on par with other great Burley "pillars" readily found in the market. It leaves a sweet and delicate flavor in the mouth, and it is the type of blend that once you finished a bowl, you soon enough will be thinking when should you smoke another!
Gawith Hoggarth & Co. - Brown Bogie
What a smoke!
I am a Burley lover, and in fact, only smoke (strong) Burley blends. Years back I used to smoke all strictly non-aromatic ropes from Gawith Hoggarth, however, gave up after a while as I found the Burley Flakes (1 and 4) which became my favorites. Still, once in a while I try new blends, and I was decided to try again "the Bogie". What a surprise! Such a wonderful smoke, rich, flavourful, exiting to the end. It needs drying out for about 30 minutes, but it pays off immensely. Highly recommended for the lovers of full Burley tobacco blends or who just are tired of wimpy smokes! Warning: smoke on a full stomach, because the vitamin "N" will leave your head spinning. Enjoy!
Cornell & Diehl - Easy Times 2oz
This is a spectacular blend because it brings the best of C&D burley blends on an easy and pleasant smoke. It is purely harmonious, burns perfectly and has all the nuances one expects from an American-English blend. It is medium+ in strength with no tongue bite at all. It burns very cool and always flavorful. It also comes with perfect moisture level. I think it is a lighter version of C&D Burley Flake #4, another stellar blend, but in a loose tobacco form. It is a winner in every possible aspect. Try it out!
Cornell & Diehl - Burley Flake #4 2oz
Extraordinary and then some!
I think one is very lucky to find a perfect tobacco for one's taste. I have found two! Burley Flake #1 and this jewel called Burley Flake #4. They are equal in my scale of perfect Burley blends. From the strength, nutiness, packing and burning qualities, and sweetness level, this American-English pinnacle is just extraordinary and then some!
Cornell & Diehl - Burley Flake #5 2oz
Truly nice... but
I am a burley lover, and I consider C&D Burley Flake #1 (Burley, Kentucky, Perique, Virginia) my top most favored blend, followed closed by Burley Flake #4 (Burley, Kentucky, Latakia, Virginia). Yet, I do not care much for Burley Flake #2 & #3. As such, I was truly excited about the real possibility of adding a third top blend to my rotation, now a Burley, Kentucky, Virginia. In terms of the "mechanics" of the blend, the soft flakes in this one are much like the others of this real tobacco series: simply great and beautiful, packs, lights and burns well (even if a bit wet, which I enjoy), and I must also add, with a tantalizing tin note. Having said all this, I admit being somewhat disappointed with this newest edition of the Burley Flakes' series. First, it is weaker in overall taste and Vitamin-N than its predecessors. Next, although there is a pervasive sweetness I do enjoy, it lacks "complexity" for the most part (i.e., the different phases of the burning tobacco in the bowl), even though you know absolutely you are smoking a C&D Burley Flake. I think the issue is that being a rather mild blend, it lacks oomph, especially if compared with Burley Flake #1 & #4. Hence, only two stars. Still, a good and pleasant smoke from the best tobacco blenders in the world. Update (15/02/2018): I have given further chances to this blend. As it dried out a bit, I have found it to be more enjoyable, albeit no change in complexity. Its strength has grown as well with the drying out, and as such, it actually deserves a notch up in this review to a "third star".
Cornell & Diehl - Golden Ash
Magnam Auream Cinis (The Great Golden Ash)
This is a great and classic smoke. In my quest of trying to find new (bulk) "companions" for my favorite C&D Burley Flake #1 & #4, I came across C&D's Golden Ash. It has a similar profile, save the fact that the sweetness of Flake #4 is somewhat attenuated in Golden Ash. Still, it is flavorful, complex, and often surprising. I find it smokes particularly well in the greater sized bowls, which I prefer anyway. Highly recommended!
G. L. Pease - JackKnife Ready Rubbed 8oz
I love American-English blends, most of them found in the great Cornell and Diehl blenders. Still, I decided to buy JackKnife once more (this time ready rubbed), for I had not smoked it in years. I loved the Ready Rubbed JK in most respects. The reviews on this page describe very well its rich and intense character. However, something was missing for me. I went to bed, and at around 3:30 AM I woke up and I had the solution. The next day, I added a pinch of C&D's Latakia to my JK bowl, and this became a heavenly smoke!
Cornell & Diehl - Burley Flake #1 2oz
Top of the top
I have tasted hundreds of tobaccos, and I am a Burley man all the way. For me, a pipe blend without Burley is not a pipe tobacco (ouch! I am sure that hurts on some ears...). Having said that, I admit the top pipe tobacco on my list, tried in all kinds of pipes, is by far Burley Flake #1. As the colleague Grant B. said, year after year, I just cannot put this stuff down. Can I give 6 stars?
Cornell & Diehl - Burley Ribbon Cut
This is an amazing Burley, with a rich and satisfying taste and aroma. It has become a staple for me above many tobaccos that had this position before. At is known, this is combination of Burleys used in many C&D blends. However, it is more direct, plain and focused, since it only pure combined burley. My only complaint is that it burns a little bit fast. So smoke very slowly. If I want a more lasting burley experience (with equal strength), I usually go for the C&D's Burley Flake #1.
Cornell & Diehl - Riverboat Gambler 2oz
I saw the light
When I first tried “Riverboat Gambler”, I immediately noticed it was a great smoke, but for me there was still something missing. Not in terms of taste mind you - for it is nearly perfect - but in strength. “Ah, if it were the same, only stronger!”. Then, it daunt on me I might have just the right thing to boost this tobacco power. It was then when “I saw the light”: A perfect match, with very similar texture, cut, and an integral part of the composition Riverboat Gambler, albeit toned down somewhat. So I blended “Old Joe Krantz” for a totally outstanding new “Old Joe Gambler”, or if you prefer, “Riverboat Krantz”. Great product in whichever way you enjoy it, even my own way...
Gawith Hoggarth & Co. - Brown Irish X
Previously, I made clear of my intense appreciation of Samuel Gawith’s “Brown No. 4” and “Black XX”. However, I must say that these two exceptionally rich smokes are set apart in the ineffable continuum of tobaccos. One (Brown No. 4) being “Habanero” spicy and intensely rich in flavor (and nicotine), while the other (Black XX), sweet and quite strong with much character and charm. Now, Gawith’s “Brown Irish X Unsliced” represents the point of complete and lasting equilibrium between the two earlier mentioned tobaccos. What more can I say? Enjoy.
Samuel Gawith - Brown No. 4 50g
Goodbye old tobaccos
For me, the great problem with this rope tobacco, as well as with the "Black XX Rope" (and a few others), is that once you smoke these "true and essential" tobaccos, the rest of your cellar will be left bereft of your eyes and companionship. It will create "tobacco jealousy" with unknown consequences on your "old loves". What else can I say? Try it, but slow and not on an empty stomach!
Samuel Gawith - Black XX 50g
This is a stellar smoke. Perfectly balanced - strong, yet mild after a while. Tremendous flavor with great class. This is the Havana's "Davidoff Dom Perignon" of the Virginia world.