Mac Baren - Golden Extra
Easy, Dependable Everyday Burley
My favourite burley blend is Solani ABF but it never seems to be in stock so I thought I'd try my luck with Golden Extra. I'm glad I did! Though not as sophisticated as ABF, Golden Extra hits all the right Burley notes for me - smooth enough to be a daily smoke, sufficiently full-flavoured without harsh spots, and leaves a nice room note that just says PIPE. I could detect no topping; this is a straight Burley, not an Aromatic. I'm told MacBaren Symphony is similar to GE but sweeter, so if you're looking for a bit more sugar, perhaps look there. Cut is a broken flake, so you've got options for packing (rubbed out, stuffed in, or somewhere in between). Mine was the perfect moisture level right from the tin, burns slowly and doesn't bite. I'll be stocking the cellar with more of this classic blend from Mac Baren. Highly recommended for Burley lovers everywhere. I'm rating at 4 stars as GE falls short of ABF for me, but at half the price of the Solani, it's a great smoke!
Kramer's - Blend for Danny Kaye
Treads Lightly and Never Fails, Just like Danny
For me, Blend for Danny Kaye is the lightest of the Kramer "Blends For" tobaccos. A mild English with a touch of Irish Mist topping; the sweetness drifts pleasantly in and out throughout the bowl. The tobaccos play well together in this blend - smoky, spicy and sweet, with none taking precedence over the others for any length of time. I've added DK to several orders to date, and I suspect I will order more. I especially like this one during warmer weather when it doesn't overpower. With winter closing in here in Canada, I may instead reach for the fuller flavours of Kramer's Cary Grant or Father Dempsey blends.
Kramer's - Father Dempsey
God Solid Smoke, if a bit One-Dimensional
I'm not quite sure why other reviews describe Father Dempsey as a heavy blend - true, it's "bigger" than, say, Squadron Leader (which I rate as a light English), but I wouldn't classify FD as more than a medium tobacco in either strength or flavour. YMMV, but for my palate the Oriental and Latakia here vie for dominance throughout the bowl. I get the smokiness from the Lat, and the woody spice of the Oriental in equal measure, with little to none of the usual VA flavours noticeable. I bought FD in bulk, and jarred it for a few months before sampling. There are a few twigs and stems in my jar, but overall the presentation is quite good. FD packs well, lights well and requires minimal attention. No bite, though I get a touch of peppery zing on the tongue from the Orientals. Aftertaste is clean and a bit woody. Doesn't hang around very long. Overall, I give Father Dempsey 3.5 Stars. I deducted half a star simply because it's a bit of a one-dimensional tobacco. The flavour at the start is the flavour at the end. Not a bad thing for many pipers; indeed, FD could easily be an all-day smoke for those English fans who are not prone to naval-gazing analysis of their pipes.
Kramer's - Blend for Cary Grant 50g
A 4 Star Smoke for a Star Performer
This is a nice light-to-medium American English blend that could well be an all day smoke for many. Virginia-forward, the Latakia and Orientals play supporting roles but make their presence known at all times. The Cavendish gets lost in the mix for me, but probably bolsters the sweetness imparted by the touch of Irish Mist aromatic. CG blend is a touch heavier on the aromatic than Karamer's Blend for Danny Kaye, always present in the flavour but never overbearing. A good choice for Aro lovers looking to branch out or English/Balkan fans looking for something lighter and sweeter for a change of pace.
Cornell & Diehl - Star of the East
I wasn't sure wuite what to expect with a blend claiming 50% Latakia. I mean, I like Latakia, but would I like it THAT much? The short answer is yes! THe Lat here is very well-behaved but definitely the star of the show. Turkish (Izmir?) backs up the campfire smokiness with a cooling, floral note, while the VA comes into play infrequently for me (though I suspect I'd notice if it wasn't there to sweeten things up slightly). Packed, lit and burned perfectly. First light is all Latakia, with the Turkish coming into play part way through the bowl. Aftertaste is surprisingly clean and short-lived, and the room note is lighter and cleaner than one might expect as well. My wife is not hot on the smell of Latakia blends, but my daughter loved this one in my beard afterwards.
Kramer's - Blend for Cary Grant
A Well Mannered Crossover Blend
Like their Blend for Danny Kaye, Kramer's Blend for Cary Grant is an American style Aromatic English blend, and I like them both. The CG blend is Oriental forward for me, leaving a tangy spiciness on the tongue that persists throughout the smoke. Latakia brings in a supporting smokiness and the small amount of Kramer's Irish Mist aromatic sweetens the whole melange gently from start to finish. Delicious without being artificial. Lors of natural tobacco flavour to savour. CG is a medium bodied blend with no bite. Packs, lights and burns well. Aftertaste is slightly reminiscent of .a smoky European ginger cookie - those spicy Orientals again! Will be ordering more of this one to cellar.
Cornell & Diehl - Bayou Night
If I Wanted a Cigar....
This one is not for me. Added to my last order on a whim, based solely on the description online. I should have done a bit more research, I guess, as the description does NOT prepare the smoker for a full-face hit of deeply fermented, cigar-like taste and aroma. If I had stopped to think about how Perique is made, I might have clued in.... To be fair, I am not a cigar guy, so your mileage may vary greatly with this blend. All I tasted from start to mid-bowl when I had to put the pipe down was cigar. None of the other component tobaccos came through at all for me, not even the typical perique spice. I'm rating this a 1 star for me, and will cellar the 2 oz I bought and see what it's light in 6 months or so.
Cornell & Diehl - Snug Harbor
I like English blends, and I like Burley blends, so it follows that this C&D Burley-based English tickles my taste buds the right way. Sung Harbor is a well-mannered, balanced blend with just a hint of Vanilla - and I mean just a hint. It's there in the tin note, and just ever so slightly in the smoke flavour. The main players in this blend for me are Burley and Perique, with the Turkish and Latakia filling supporting roles. First light gave a not-unpleasant Burley sourness on the tongue which quickly settled down to a rounded cocoa/nutty foundation on which the other tobaccos built. The Perique pepper notes began slowly and built through the bowl, but never became harsh or overbearing. Latakia smokiness is present enough throughout to know it's in there but does not dominate. I'm not sure I detected a unique flavour from the Turkish, but I'm sure I'd miss it if it wasn't part of the blend. Overall, Snug Harbor is a satisfying Burley based English smoke. Medium strength, and I did notice the Vitamin N kick in about 3/4 through the bowl. I sipped steadily through the smoke and the pipe stayed cool and my tongue came out unscathed. No bite here unless you really push it. Burned to a nice white ash with a bit of dottle in the heel of my GBD Bent Billiard (common for this pipe). Aftertaste is a pleasant smoky Burley nuttiness. Not quite an all-day smoke for me, but I'll reach for it in the afternoon or evening. At low bulk pricing, I recommend grabbing a sample!
Cornell & Diehl - Sweet English
Nice American English
I bought a few ounces of this blend on spec during the recent C&D Bulk sale. Wasn't sure what to expect from it, and when it arrived, I feared I may have chosen poorly as the caramel tin note was rather forward of the tobacco scents. However, all such concerns vanished with the first light. Sweet English is a nicely balance, though mild, American English blend. There is just enough Latakia in there to add a taste of wood smoke, and the caramel/vanilla topping is a soft whisper instead of the raging bellow popular with most aromatic tobaccos. Think Squadron Leader with a touch of round sweetness and you'll get the idea. Pleasant room note and lights/burns well. No bite either. Could be an all-day Summer or indoor smoke, though I suspect it won't stand up as well cold weather. Rated 4 stars. With a bit more Latakia, this could be a 5-star blend for me.
Solani - Aged Burley Flake - 656 50g
Smooth as Silk Burley Blend
I was a bit skeptical of all the praise heaped on this blend, but after smoking a few bowls of it, I'm going to to the same! Easily the smoothest, most refined burley blend I have tried to date. Flakes were immaculate in the tin, with almost perfect moisture content (I dried mine briefly before smoking), and a tin aroma that made me reach for my pipe. I lit up and settled in for a very enjoyable smoke. Honest burley flavours all the way through the bowl, and nothing but ash at the end. If it was a bit less expensive, it could easily be an all-day smoke. As it is, I'll use ABF as a celebration burley. Took a half star off the rating due to economics. Will buy again.
Sutliff - Ready Rubbed Match
Really Wanted to Like This But...
Bought 2oz of this ERR Match blend to give it a try. I've never smoked the original Edgeworth, so have nothing to compare it to in that regard, but I've smoked enough to know that this failed to impress. My order arrived very wet - after several attempts at air drying, I spread the lot on a cookie sheet and baked in a low oven for 20 minutes to purge the excess moisture. A few days in a jar gave the tobacco time to find its new balance. Nice tin note of honey, oats and graham crackers, but the flavour is very mild and one-dimensional. Carter Hall has more flavour than this blend. I may try adding a bit of CH to the ErR Match just to wake it up a bit. Otherwise, the remainder of my order will sit on the shelf for a long time.... If you're a fan of very mild codger blends, ERR Match may just be your thing; if you prefer blends with fuller, richer flavours, look elsewhere.