Cornell & Diehl - Briar Fox 2oz
A classic standby for a reason:
C&D's Briar Fox is a burley and virginia forward blend that has a very storied history, being the favorite (and sometimes, not-so-favorite) of many pipe smokers then and now. I may be a bit out of bounds to suggest this, but for me at least, Briar Fox can act as a sort of test to see exactly what an individual smoker prefers in their smoke, largely because BF is so decidedly old-fashioned in its approach. The tin note immediately lets you know the burley is the star of the show, with earthy and slightly nutty notes hitting the nose immediately. The crumble cake is firm but easily pliable, and as such is enjoyable to prepare any way the user sees fit. C&D states that BF starts with a strong tobacco taste, with more complex notes being apparent mid-bowl and spicier notes on the back end. This largely holds true. There are no toppings here to muddle the tobacco flavor, and the virginias largely complement the burleys by adding a brightness to the mix, but never upstaging the burleys. More nutty flavors do emerge mid-bowl, but the promised spiciness at the end is touch-and-go, but it is there (mostly). I suggested earlier that this blend can really reveal what an individual smoker prefers. What I mean by that is that for those who prefer complex blends with a multitude of flavors playing harmoniously with another will likely find BF to be boring. But for those who prefer simplicity in their blends, where individual components are not upstaged or interdependent on a multitude of leaves and methods, and instead each component has its time to shine and gracefully bows out at the right time, then this blend is likely to satisfy. And for those who prefer their tobacco old-fashioned, which is to say, they want their tobacco to taste like tobacco, then BF will likely be seeing an old friend again. For me, BF scratched an itch, and it stays in rotation because of that. Are there better or more complex burley-forward blends out there? Certainly. But few are as consistent, easy to enjoy, and readily available as this old fox.