Newminster - No. 702 Light Burley
IT’S A SECRET TO EVERYBODY
Tastes like Prince Albert but without the chemical lacquer applied to your tongue. If I couldn’t smoke any other tobacco but this one for the rest of my days, I could still die a happy man. If you don’t like it, you don’t like Burley - but let’s keep this a secret, alright?
Cornell & Diehl - Dark Burley
A Method for Setting One’s Face on Fire
Description reads, “a mellow smoke and fine flavor”, but smoked on its own, I get pepper maced and have to labor to find the flavor. I love the smoky ketchup and cigar taste of a good Kentucky Burley, and you will find it hiding its full glory in this leaf, but there is far more pepper here than anything else. It is fine blended - given a month to sit in a tin with some Virginia, the flavor becomes far more evident (and it’s truly delicious,) but the strength of the pepper persists. I ended up giving the majorly of the two ounces I purchased away, though in hindsight I could have found uses for it. Maybe it was the batch I received - fermented indeed, there was a significant amount of bloom on the leaf, and I think if I’d sat on it much longer it might have turned into actual Perique (that was a joke). But in all fairness, mellow seems to be subjective. This stuff might actually set your face on fire! To put things into perspective, I compared my personal blend of this, C&D’s Red and Bright Virginias, and their Izmir Turkish - 2:2:1 - with Russ Ouellette’s Fire Strom, a Perique-heavy blend with a wallop of Dark Fired that is intended to be hot and spicy. My blend actually has more pepper!
Cornell & Diehl - Red Virginia Ribbon
Sticks & Powder
The leaf itself deserves a full 5 stars. Rich with the flavors of hay and tangy cider, this is pure, quality Red Virginia, and it doesn’t get any tastier than this so fresh. Smokes smooth, cool, and bite-free on its own, and has a fairly modest kick of nicotine. It arrived quite dry but hydrated nicely. When it arrived, I applied roughly 3mL of water to an ounce and a half, mixed it in the bag, and let it sit overnight. The problem is, I ordered 2 ounces - roughly half an ounce of the weight consisted of a fine powder that I had to sift off the intact ribbons and three disappointingly large stems. My advice, since this is such an excellent tobacco, is to try the tin first. C&D tins usually have a perfect moisture level (which means no powder) and fewer stems. Then, buy a pound in bulk if it suits you - the 1lb bags tend to have a better moisture content, far less powder, and any stems found within them will not seem more unavoidable than disappointing.
Low Country - Natural Virginia
Not A Cheap Tobacco
It’s not just a decent blending base or cob-fodder, this by far the best value for an honestly good Virginia blend out there. It’s smooth, creamy, cheaper than any “pipe tobacco” bulk bag from a liquor store, and 10x tastier. A 4:1 blend of this and C&D’s Dark Fired has become my new daily smoke. In hindsight, I wish I would have gotten the Virginia/ Burley blend - didn’t expect it to be this good! EDIT, just bought another pound, and “complexity and sophistication” be damned, price is a factor, and it really does deserve a full 5 stars.
Mac Baren - HH Bold Kentucky 1.75oz
Very Good but Not Quite A Brown Rope
I love this stuff! The extremely rich and smoky flavor of the Burley really pairs nicely with the subtle sweetness of the Virginia here. It’s strong but well-balanced, and that musky flavor will permeate your senses in a way that keeps you coming back for more. I do have to add, though - another reviewer attempts to suggest this is a viable substitute for GH&Co ropes. Bold Kentucky certainly has a similar profile and decent strength, but it misses the flavor mark for me by a wide margin. It is not as oily or pungent - it’s more like a cousin than a brother. Still tastes delicious, worthy of 5 stars without any comparison, so don’t let that diminish your enjoyment of what this actually is - very good indeed.
Cornell & Diehl - Three Friars
Breakfast of Champions
Citrusy bright Virginia ribbon and musky, peppery balls of Perique is aggregated with big chunks of broken flake. The Burley has an almost graham cracker-like twang to it when isolated. No need to fiddle with it, just pack and light (I did find an almost entirely intact flake at the bottom of my bag. Still, the larger chunks lend enjoyable variation to each bowl.) The nicotine level is just right, but it can pack a punch after consecutive bowls. Turns out to be a pretty good daily smoke, though. Goes good with a cup of black coffee first thing in the morning - it’s an eye-opener.