Cornell & Diehl - Haunted Bookshop
Love At First Puff
A unique blend, delicious, robust and very satisfying. The burley is quite nutty, the Virginia is gently sweet, the perique is deceptively smooth. If you're a burley lover you're going to like the retrohale on this one. Smokes amazingly dry, no bowl moisture left at all. Handle with care, it's on the strong side and does not reward frenetic puffing. I'll buy more for sure.
Savinelli - Juno 2oz
I found this VA to be rather unremarkable. From the first light to the last slow sip it had an annoying and consistently ashy overtone. It revealed none of the character or qualities that inspired the hyperbolic reviews by fellow pipers. Even the retrohale was flat and monotonal. Aftertaste: classic ashtray. I'll bag the remainder and throw it in a drawer for now. If you're looking for a bright VA with great flavor, aroma & retrohale, I highly recommend C&D Interlude.
Cornell & Diehl - Interlude 2oz
Different & Delicious
Like sucking on a hard lemon tart candy made with a tiny drop of honey, Interlude strikes me as bright, tangy and citrusy acidic in a delicious way. It has a rough edge to it as though it's always threatening to bite but never quite does. The honey is more of a mild nuance that quietly compliments the tangy virginia. I'm really surprised at how much I ended up liking this. There's something strangely appealing about Interlude and I plan to order a few more tins. I imagine this pairing perfectly with iced tea or lemonade on a hot summer day. Not an all day smoke for me, but a welcome respite from my usual blends. Recommended.
G. L. Pease - Union Square 2oz
A Splendid VA Flake
This beguiling flake exceeded my expectations. Tin note is a light nuance of raisins. Rubbed out and sipped slowly, it yields a light and creamy deliciousness that I can't compare to any other straight Virginia. It transcends the usual oats, grass and hay descriptives. Mildly sweet but not cloying, and I've had more than a few bowls burn to the bottom with a single light. I loved this flake at first puff and ordered more. Retrohale was delicious, no bite. Union Square is different, exceptional and highly recommended.
Amphora - Virginia Blend 1.75oz
I found this one, no matter how carefully dried and sipped, to be dark, ashy and bitter-tasting. Though it's been over thirty years since I had one, it brought back memories of stale Winston cigarettes. Might be the right cup of tea for cigar and/or cigarette lovers but as far as Virginias go I'll be sticking with Erinmore Flake.
Granger - Granger 12oz
Perfect In Every Way!
I find this a very reliable and satisfying smoke! It's what I would call a confetti cut, it packs easily and burns very well. The predominant character is that of simple untweaked burley, mild but with just enough edge. Packed light and sipped slowly, Granger burns cool to the bottom of the bowl. I'm a burley smoker and would have to say this is the nuttiest tasting of all the nutty burleys, retrohale is great, aroma is comfortably old school. Best of all there are no chemical nuances and nothing remotely close to cigar notes. An easygoing, delicious all day smoke. Like other posters said this is indeed a big surprise. Highly recommended. I bought MacB HH Burley the same time as Granger. The HH Burley ended up in the garbage can, the Granger ended up on my reorder list.
Mac Baren - HH Burley Flake 1.75oz
Doesn't Work For Me
I prefer burley over all other tobaccos, but this is one burley that simply didn't work for me. Pros: award-winning tin packaging with enticing gold wrapping around flakes with above average consistency of texture and cut, and perfect ready-to-smoke moisture. Cons: suspiciously neutral tin note, this flake yields a dark and pungent fecal aroma when lit and a taste to match; retrohale was redolent of stale cigars and ashtrays, other than that there were no flavorful nuances to be had whatsoever. A hardcore cigar smoker, which I have never been, might like this. Otherwise, pilgrim beware. My recommendation for moments of burley ecstasy: MacBaren's Old Dark Fired.
G. L. Pease - Gaslight 2oz
This turned out to be one of the most pleasant and unexpected surprises I've had in the last few years of piping. This seemed like a good but quotidian English at first light, then digressed into another dimension. You have the classic leather, wood and spice with a mysterious undertone reminiscent of rose or jasmine. Never had anything like it before. Very creamy smoke, exceedingly delicious on the palette, with a very beguiling aroma. I'll be stocking up on this. Now I believe the hype: GL Pease is to blending what Frank Gehry is to architecture.