Cornell & Diehl - Eight State Burley 2oz
King of Burley Blends
I won’t spoil it for you. This stuff is superb. Su-Perb. The 5 stars must be taken in context. This is a five star review of a burley blend. It is a five-star burley blend. If you like traditional burley blends, you will find it Su-Perb.
Comoy's - Cask No.12 3.5oz
Bland, sour, flavorless.
This stuff is nasty. Imagine a cheapo gas station cigar that got wet and sat at the bottom of a sweaty gym bag for about a week. Sour and muddled and dirty. And I would definitely not call it an “aromatic”. There’s no tin note at all and no real aroma in the bowl, except for the fermenting ammonia smell, and it certainly offers no flavors of caramel or vanilla. Even though the tin was sealed, all the ribbons are stale and “salty”. I was terribly excited for my first Comoy’s experience given their good name, but now that I’ve had this experience I will stop working so hard to get my hands on their navy flakes. What a disappointment. I’ve got half a pound (two tins) of yuck and I don’t know what to do with it because nobody I know enjoys sour, vinegary, ammoniac, bland, stale tobacco.
G. L. Pease - The Virginia Cream 8oz
The top eighth of the tin showed pretty significant infiltration by a fuzzy grey-green mold. There was a beautiful tin note, though, under the musty moldy smell. If you encounter any mold in your tins, take a picture before you angrily throw it away (my mistake). Don’t suffer my fate. The good people at SmokingPipes are happy to replace your mold-damaged tins but they need the pictures. If I buy another tin I will re-review.
Sillem's - Red 100g
Very, Very Good
This is a very, very good aromatic. Don’t let the tin note put you off. It is very typically “American”. It does ghost your pipe, however, so be aware. Don’t use it in a pipe you want to use later for more subtle and complex blends. Use your dedicated aro-pipe for this one.
Peter Stokkebye - PS400 Luxury Navy Flake
AMAZING Tin Note, But…
I am not as impressed with this flake as I would like to have been. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just not a 5/5. At first light there is almost a “powdery”, perfumey note to it. But midway into the bowl and beyond it is pure joy. It has that soft, silky, mellow creaminess which only Stokkebye seems to be able to pull off. Towards the end of the bowl I notice subtle notes of honey, figs, and stone fruits. I have been trying to get my hands on this stuff for a LONG time, and I am definitely pleased (bought 24 ounces, so it would’ve sucked if I’d hated it), but it’s not living up to the hype I created for it in my own head. The tin note is heaven, but I feel underwhelmed by the delivery. A promise not kept.
Savinelli - 145th Anniversary 2oz
Food of the Gods
I don’t smoke many blends from Savinelli, but, if every one of their blends were as good as this one I would smoke a lot more. The tin note is pure perfection. I cannot even describe what I smelled when I first popped that seal. If you have not experienced it, you just won’t understand it. You couldn’t even conceptualize it. Burley, Virginia, brandy, cocoa, hay, Mana, Soma, Ambrosia… And what’s great is that it actually tastes like what it smells like. This is simply one of the best things I’ve ever had in my pipe.
Solani - Virginia Flake - 633 100g
New Favorite VaPer
This is truly the Champagne of VaPers. I simply cannot think of a better one. It is right up there with the very best I’ve tried, and I’ve tried a lot. The tin/jar note is awe-inspiring. It smells of hay, citrus, bread dough, and a bit of fig. And there is this wonderful, bubbly, almost “carbonated” note to it, just like a good champagne (hence the honorific moniker, “champagne of Virginias”, perhaps?). The Virginias in this mixture are choice, top shelf quality, and perfectly blended. The perique is exquisitely apportioned for the perfect ratio of spiciness to that round Virginia sweetness. At first light there is a little bit of a bite, but once you get that bowl cherried the bite disappears and is not even a memory -- it’s all smooth sailing from there. I would say that this blend is “perique-forward” but that is not exactly correct. Saying that would mean the perique is more noticeable than the Virginia, which is not the case at all. From start to finish there was never a moment when I could taste more of the perique than the Virginia or vice versa. Both are very present, all the time, and neither one drowns out the other. They meld together in perfect balance to create a flawless VaPer experience, both notes complementing and enhancing the other to form a harmonious chord. Always smooth, never harsh; full bodied and yet still subtle, it burns down to a fine white ash, leaving no moisture in the bowl. It does gurgle a bit, but show me a tobacco that doesn’t and I’ll kiss your @$$. Put quite simply, there are VaPers which I would rate as just as good as this one, but none that I would rate as better. If you want different flavors in your VaPer (red Virginia vs golden, mature vs stoved, etc) there are a number of very good blends out there for that sort of thing, but Solani Virginia Flake is the very best of Pure Virginia style VaPers. Five stars, fully recommended.
Missouri Meerschaum - Country Gentleman Straight
Inexpensive = Cheap
My shank cracked in two places after only a handful of uses. I bought it direct from MM, so no question of inauthenticity or “fake”. I was smoking mostly aromatics in the pipe but, even so, I wasn’t smoking hot. There should be no reason for the shank to crack, but it did, in two places along the shank. Both cracks are proximal to the bowl (closer to the bowl than the bit), and one of them looks catastrophic - it goes all the way through to the bore and is more than half the length of the shank. I will be trying a resin woodfiller for repair, but am not entirely hopeful of being able to save the pipe. Okay, yes, these are inexpensive items that we are not supposed to have to worry too much about, but when they break down right away and we have to buy more then they become expensive and the only selling point is lost. When cobs turn expensive and become cost sinks, they become pointless. What’s more is that *nobody* wants a new cob every time. Breaking in a new cob is pain. It tastes bad. It takes up a lot of time. It wastes what would otherwise have been very flavorful tobacco. You keep smoking a bad-tasting pipe because you know that eventually it will taste good once it’s broken in, but when it breaks before it’s really even broken in and you have to start over, it’s wasted time and taste and tobacco and money. I’m just not sure Missouri Meerschaum is for me. Yes, they are the go-to corncob brand, but if their pipes are just going to break every time then it’s not worth it, even if they are inexpensive. Save your pennies and buy a real pipe.
Cornell & Diehl - Dark Burley
Very, Very Good
Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys burleys. Pairs very, very well with Red and Bright Virginias, as well as lighter burleys.
Sutliff - 707 Sweet Virginia
I use these for blending. When I’m blending an aromatic these are my go-to VA. When I’m blending an American style I use Virginia Slices. Both are very good.
Sutliff - 707 Sweet Virginia
I use these for blending and they are very good
Cornell & Diehl - Nutty Irishman
Once again, fantastic aroma but zero flavor.
Chacom - #2 50g
Great aroma, no flavor at all
Sutliff - Maple Street 1.5oz
Another overhyped aromatic, surprise surprise. I need either aromatic flavor or tobacco flavor. I don’t even need both, just one! And this blend provides neither.
Peter Stokkebye - PS41 Cube Cut
There is a bit more Virginia than I expected but, nonetheless, still a very good burley. A very good *American style* burley. Pure tobacco flavor.
Mac Baren - Navy Flake 16oz
This is my third favorite navy flake. Almost as good as Newminster.
Mac Baren - HH Burley Flake 16oz
This is an interesting little number from HH. Not a pigeonholed one-note burley show. Unexpectedly complex and reasonably rich for its medium body. A pleasant surprise, although I should not be surprised that Mac Baren is putting out such quality goods.
Cult - Militia 50g
Another Aromatic Letdown
Fantastic aroma, zero flavor. I just don’t get it. Sure, you want your baccy to smell good. That’s great. I love it. But don’t you also need flavor? It doesn’t have to be one or the other. We can have both! Who wants to smoke something with no taste? Who wants a mouthful of flavorless steam? Where’s the benefit? This stuff is just expensive air freshener. Costly potpourri.
Cornell & Diehl - King Cake 2oz
Once again, an aromatic with zero flavor. Smells AMAZING! Tastes like nothing. Not much aromatic flavor and almost no tobacco flavor either. I need one or the other; pick one and give it to me.
Cornell & Diehl - Autumn Evening
Not very good. Doesn’t taste anything like the aroma. Very disappointing. The aroma is very, VERY nice, but there is no flavor at all. No aromatic flavor and no tobacco flavor either. It’s great as an air freshener but it does nothing for my pipe.
Mac Baren - HH Latakia Flake 16oz
King of Latakia Flakes
If you like latakia flakes, this is THE blend for you. There is simply no other. Far, far superior to Pirate Kake, which latter is a joke. PK taste like a pine forest fire in your mouth and up your nose. HH LF is heaven. Perfect ratio of latakia to other nice things that round out the piney latakia. Can’t beat it.
Cornell & Diehl - Long Cut Perique
I get whole leaf perique straight from St. James Parish, and C&D’s longcut perique is every bit as good. The fermenty, mushroomy, earthy aroma is unlike anything else. The spice is strong but it’s also a bit sweet. Keep this around to add kick to any of your favorite blends. Buy two pounds.
Sutliff - Crumble Kake Virginia Perique 1.5oz
As Good as Peterson
This stuff gives Peterson’s Deluxe Navy Rolls a run for its money. Every bit as good, perhaps even a bit more complex. This one uses a redder, more mature Virginia and a better perique, and you know what that means.
Peterson - De Luxe Navy Rolls 50g
This is the quintessential VaPer blend. It burns a bit hot but what a flavor! Look up VaPer in the piper’s dictionary and you will find a picture of this stuff.
Sutliff - Red Virginia Ribbon
King of Virginia Ribbons
This stuff is simply excellent. You will not find a better red Virginia ribbon in bulk. This is the definition of Red Virginia tobacco. Sweet, complex, grassy, bready, figgy, even a bit of a brandy note. It’s not full bodied, only a 2/5, but it is incredible stuff. You simply CANNOT go wrong by adding a pound of this stuff to your cellar. It’s great on its own, better in a blend, and it ages with grace. I cannot wait to see what it’s like in 5-10 years.
Peter Stokkebye - PS701 Virginia
It’s Good Enough
As a blending component it does just fine. A nice hay-and-grass Virginia without much of a tin note at all, but by itself it falls flat and leaves much to be desired. I use it in my blends but only as one of several components.
Peter Stokkebye - PS402 Luxury Twist Flake
Like Newminster 400, but…
This seems to be a knockoff of Newminster 400 Superior Navy Flake. And ya know what? Newminster is indeed superior. Don’t get me wrong, LTF is good too, just not as good as Newminster. You will find the tin notes very similar, and the quality of the Virginia blend is even similar, but Newminster is fuller bodied and just better overall.
Cornell & Diehl - White Burley
Very Good Burley
This is a tamer burley, but still deep and complex. Not nearly as good as Sutliff J4 Burley, but a close third runner-up. If your blends call for a bright and distinguished burley but not a show stealer, this is the one you want. More bread and brandy than chocolate and cocoa. If you want chocolate burley go with Lane LW/AB (light without a bite) or Hearth & Home Classic Burley Kake.
Sutliff - J4 - Burley
Best Burley Ribbon!
This stuff smells like brandy, cocoa, raisins, figs, and baking bread. Oh. My. God. The tin note is INTOXICATING! I cannot get enough of it. And here’s the kicker: it tastes a lot like what it smells like. If you like very complex bright burleys, you MUST add a few ounces or a pound or two to your cellar. Your life is incomplete with this.
Cornell & Diehl - Izmir Turkish
This stuff is a great condiment or blending component. A little flat on its own, but adds a very nice depth and dimension to any blend. Really good stuff for home blending. Mix a pinch in with some red Virginia ribbon and some bright flake, then sprinkle on some burley and DFK with a little perique? Then you’ve got yourself one helluva bowl.
Seattle Pipe Club - Plum Pudding Special Reserve 4oz
This stuff is gross. I was so excited to try it, what with all the lore and hype about this stuff, but, of course, it was a disappointment. I smoked three bowls on three separate occasions in three separate pipes, just in case it was a fluke or had something to do with the pipe I used, but it failed to please every time. Here is the problem: WAAAY too much latakia. Seattle Pipe Club has put together an excellent plum pudding — but then they ruined it by putting in so much piney latakia. It really does taste like a plum pudding! But only at first. As soon as you think, “hey, this is delicious”, then the pine needles jump in and thwart the bready, puddingy, creamy, figgy sweetness. Some things belong together, some things don’t. You wouldn’t put a fish in a nice fruit basket would you? So why would you put a burning pine forest and a barbecued pork butt in your figgy pudding? It is quite literally like eating a plum pudding with pine needles and balsa wood and barbecued charcoal sprinkled on top. It’s disgusting.
Rattray's - 40 Virginia 100g
An Enduring Classic
Rattray’s 40th Anniversary Virginia is a classic Va/Bur which I hope will never go out of production. It is everything you want from a Virginia tobacco: sweetgrass and hay, figs, raisins, baking bread, satisfying body. The burley adds depth and notes of cocoa. It runs a bit hot if you’re careful so sip very slowly. Burns down to a very clean, fine ash. Put a few tins in your cellar and your future will be brighter.
Peterson - 3 P's - Peterson's Perfect Plug 50g
Good but not great
This is a really good plug. It’s not Great but it’s really good. The aroma is one of a kind. Very difficult to light. Do not rub it out too fine or you will find a puddle in your pipe and most definitely burn your tongue. I live the aroma but the plug is difficult to work with.
Mac Baren - HH Latakia Flake 3.5oz
If you like latakia but don’t want a pine forest burning in your mouth, this is the flake for you. Full of smokey latakia goodness, but with other nice things rounding it out. Much, much better than Pirate Kake. If you had a bad experience with PK but still want to enjoy some excellent latakia, give this one a try. It will not disappoint.
Cornell & Diehl - Pirate Kake 16oz
I like latakia as a condiment, even sometimes as a chief component — take HH Latakia Flake for example — but this stuff is just disgusting. It’s almost nothing except latakia. It’s like setting a pine forest on fire inside your mouth. There is just no reason for it. Put a pinch a very large bowl of mature Virginia and you’ll have something nice, but by itself it’s just nasty. And this stuff will haunt your pipes for eternity. I smoked one bowl out of one of my nicer pipes and now it’s a latakia pipe for good because the nastiness of pirate kake will never leave. The pirates have commandeered my pipe.
Cornell & Diehl - Crooner 2oz
If you like Haunter Bookshop you will probably enjoy Crooner. This blend includes the most deertongue I have seen in any popular blend so far. If you are not a fan of deertongue you will not like this blend one bit.
Mac Baren - HH Old Dark Fired 16oz
This blend is everything it’s cracked up to be. Absolutely beautiful tin note, smoke and barbecue and sugar, deep and dark and rich and complex. ODF is flavorful from the very first light to the last spec of fine ash. If you have any affinity for dark fired Kentucky, you must try this. On par with any other premium dark fired. Five Stars
Capstan - Ready Rubbed Blue 1.75oz
So hyped up is this particular offering that I was expecting wizardry in bowl, but what I found was nothing of the sort. Yes, it is a very straightforward Virginia… and that’s all. A one-note affair. So if you’re looking for a purist’s Virginia, this might hit the spot. Very, very heavy on the hay-and-grass, but the baking bread one comes to expect from Virginias is patently absent. It is a bit harsh at the top of the bowl, so sip slowly or she’ll bite. By about mid-bowl, however, it does mellow out quite a bit, becoming remarkably smooth. The finish is slightly bitter, but it does burn down to a very fine ash with almost no dottle. It’s probably a straight-Virginia lover’s dream, but, even so, I have had some better Virginias. It’s good but it does not warrant almost $17 for a tiny tin of the stuff. Try it at least once so you can see what Tolkien was raving about, but it will most likely not become your daily puff.
Gawith Hoggarth & Co. - Rum Flake 50g
There is no way to fault this blend. Enthralling tin note. Perfect moisture right out of the tin (if you don’t mind a little gurgle, and I don’t). Immensely satisfying while still incredibly cool-burning. No bite or burn whatsoever. It is indeed an aro, but one that smokes like a non-aro. Neither the Virginia nor the burley takes center stage, but, true to the advertising on the packaging, they blend harmoniously like a seductive and well-choreographed dance. It doesn’t get much closer to perfect than this. I just bought ten more tins. Can’t wait till they get bulk back in stock.
Peterson - Irish Dew 40g
I don’t get much of the whiskey or fruits supposed to be forward in this blend — neither in the tin nor in the pipe — but it is definitely a nice, *very smooth* burley/Virginia blend. Most blends of this sort are very burley-forward with barely any Virginia present, but Peterson has done an excellent job of balancing the two. A bit mild for a medium blend, but still quite satisfying. The baking bread and hay of the virginias, along with the toasty cocoa of the burley conspire to form something delightfully relaxing. Smoked in a Peterson system bent apple spigot, this is a combo not easily overlooked. Four stars.
Peterson - University Flake 50g
University Flake will always be one of my favorite tins. It does burn my palette, almost every time, but I still have to say it’s usually worth it. I wish I could buy it in bulk. Smoking Pipes gets one thing wrong in their description, however: Peterson says UF is a 4/5 strength (back of the tin), but SmokingPipes says it’s a 3/5. And I think I have to agree with Peterson.
Newminster - No.400 Superior Navy Flake
Go-To Navy Flake
This is my daily navy flake. I bought a few ounces and then a pound and then three more. So sweet and creamy, but not like an aromatic. Everything you want in a Virginia tobacco, but with visions of honeyed phyllo dough dancing through your head. Fantastic room note, no bite, smokes cool and dry. I cannot recommend this enough.
Sutliff - Creme Brulee
Best Aro Ever
Not as “sweet” as other reviewers have it — doesn’t actually taste sweet, just smells sweet — but excellent nonetheless. Virginias are barely present, with the Cavs and Burleys taking center stage. Hardly any nicotine, if that’s a concern for you (it’s not for me), a very light and pleasant room note. It smells like a bakery, not like smoke. If you like sweet smelling aromatics, this is definitely one to try. Edit: No, wait, it actually does taste sweet. At first I didn’t taste anything, as per usual with aromatics. Halfway through the bowl, however, I was hit with a wallop of crème brûlée flavor. Although very mild in strength and low on Virginia content, the flavor is indeed quite strong. I see another bowl in my immediate future. Second Edit: this has become my go-to aromatic. I bought six pounds to never be without it. Man, is this stuff good. This is everything an aromatic should be.
Cornell & Diehl - Haunted Bookshop
I was hesitant to review this tobacco, as I was not sure what I thought about it at first, but I have decided that I like it. It is most flavorful about halfway through a bowl, when notes of chestnut, treenuts, butter, and leather all mingle to form something subtly remarkable. “Subtle” is an interesting descriptor here as I did not expect anything subtle to come out of this blend. It smells pleasant and interesting enough from the jar or tin or bag, but the first few puffs are nothing to write home about and forecast a disappointing session. But, lo and behold, a pleasing butteriness spreads across the tongue, rounding out the nuttiness of the burley, while sprinkling of the peppery perique livens things up. If you like burleys and perique, this blend is a likely winner. I am cellaring about half a pound for a few years to see what develops.
Daughters & Ryan - Three Sails
Smooth VA Flavor
I actually like this blend quite a bit. It is smooth, easy to keep lit, and has all the mellow breadyness we love about Virginias. Not very figgy, but very bready. One downside is that due to the cut it is quite dry, which means a faster burn and a hotter burn. But, then again, that makes it a perfect option for a quick smoke. It is also quite ideal for balancing out some of the wetter blends. A necessary staple for any well-stocked tobacco cellar. 3.5 stars. I recommend it.
Mac Baren - Dark Twist 3.5oz
This tin had apparently become unsealed somehow, or at least had leaked, because the rolls are all very dry, resulting in a hot burn and flavorless smoke. This is incredibly disappointing, given the great reviews I see here and the quality I have come to know from Mac Baren. I might try again, but, once bitten… Real shame.
Old German Clay - Markus Fohr Flowing Fountain Black
Get What You Pay For
Yes, this pipe is very inexpensive and we should expect to get what we pay for, but I guess I expected more. The bowl is not round and it is of an inconsistent thickness; the stem is not straight but bent, and almost kinked in several places; it is not of solid texture but extremely spongey and porous.