Amphora - Burley 1.75oz
Amphora Burley Review
I tried the new Amphora Virginia blend a few months ago, and I was pretty impressed with it. As a Virginia lover, I found it to be a very solid blend, though not the best VA out there. With this in mind, when Amphora came out with their burley blend, I had to try it. I also like many burley and burley-forward blends. Amphora Burley comes in a 50 gram pouch as a chunky, broken flake. Moisture content was just about right. Appearance was a medium-dark brown and fairly uniform overall. It was easy to load and was not difficult to light. A few re-lights were required, but not really a problem for me. Produced plenty of smoke. I was told the room note was rather pleasant. I tried this in a couple of briars, a MM Country Gentleman, and a meerschaum. Good in all of them! In my judgement, there is plenty of flavor in this blend. The burley clearly stands out, of course. There was the expected nutty, slightly chocolatey notes, and overall just a good, moderately hearty tobacco flavor. I could detect no obvious topping. The Virginia stays pretty far in the background. A bit of sweetness, but no hay, grass or citrus for me here. This blend is fairly similar to OTC blends like Prince Albert, Carter Hall, etc., but I think the Kentucky plays a subtle but vital role in this blend. It lends some spiciness that the typical OTCs don't have. But I still think it falls into the OTC “yer gramp's smoke” genre. Overall, this blend is not up there with Mac Baren's HH Burley, or Solani or Wessex flakes. But it is on the mild side of medium in strength and taste. Not too much nicotine (at least for me). It is well-balanced, flavorful, and could be an all-day smoke. Reasonable price, too. Recommended.
Presbyterian - Presbyterian 50g
A Teligious Smoking Experience!
I have seen this blend here and there for years, but had never tried it. A few weeks ago SmokingPipes had it on sale for $8.00 a tin. So I snatched up several tins (I have heard this blend can be difficult to get at times). I'll just say right off the bat that this was a great decision. I'll also cut to the chase and declare that I have fallen in love with this blend. Why? Well, it just tastes so good! OK, I'll elaborate some. Presbyterian Mixture comes in a round tin of 50 grams (1.75 ounces). Upon opening the tin, the tobacco is contained in a plastic wrapper. The tobacco itself has an overall golden-brown color. The cut is a mixture of short ribbons, small chunks and flat little flakelets. The tin note is decidedly English. I'm not always that good at picking out all the various nuanced fragrances in a tin note- essence of tartar sauce, aromatic elderberry, wafts of peat moss, and… well, you get the idea. But my nose can always detect one thing very reliably in a tobacco: latakia. Even in the part per million range. And friends there absolutely, positively IS latakia in Presbyterian Mixture! Unquestionably. Besides, the manufacturer's info says there are latakia tips in it. Why would they lie? Anyway, I also could pick up some of the grassy notes of the Virginia and the slightly sour/floral notes of the orientals. It's intriguing. The blend loads and packs easily, and I think the moisture was just about spot on. Of course, maybe a few minutes of drying might suit your tastes, but I don't think it needs more than that. Upon lighting, I could immediately taste that little bit of latakia. It is very subdued, but it is definitely there. The Virginia makes itself known with its grassy, hay-like qualities, and adds just the right amount of sweetness. But the star of this blend is the oriental tobacco, in my opinion. I get bursts of a pleasing sourness which weaves in and out of the sweet Virginia, and then a slight floral taste will occasionally peek through. I'm not referring to a Lakeland essence here. I'm not very fond of Lakeland. This floral note is very light and unimposing. It works. The smoke is pretty consistent throughout and if anything gets better down the bowl. Few re-llights are required. The tobacco burns well to a gray-white ash and leaves very little dottle or moisture. Presbyterian Mixture is a very tasty, well-balanced blend. Others tell me the room note is very pleasant, too. It is a light, oriental-forward English blend that I think is a very suitable summer blend. The nicotine hit is fairly mild. Easily an all-day blend for me. Yes, Presbyterian Mixture is a deliciously religious experience! Definitely going into my top five blends. Highly recommended!
Sutliff - 515 RC-1
Good Replacement for 5100 Red Cake!
When I heard recently that Sutliff 515 RC-1 red Virginia blend was similar to McClelland's 5100 Red Cake (RIP), I had to try some.There were many McClelland blends I liked, but 5100, along with the Frog Mortons, were my favorites. I ordered 2 ounces of the 515. This is usually enough for me to get to know a blend. By the way, the name here seems an obvious nod to 5100 Red Cake. I mean, 515 - 1 as a reference to 51 hundred, and RC as a reference to Red Cake? Anyway, even after a few bowls of 515, I could see the similarity to 5100 Red Cake. The tobacco was at the right moisture level. The “bag note” was… well, a little grassy, maybe, but there really wasn't all that much of a scent to my nose. 515 is a mature red Virginia with a nice, gentle sweet taste. Some reviewers have noted a lemony, sour taste they didn't like. Well, I've not been getting any of that, although there is a slight tartness to it. I can also taste a little earthiness and breadiness in it. I also like the mouth feel and body of this blend. It produces a fair amount of thick smoke for a Virginia. This blend is very well-behaved. It burns well with minimal relights, and provides a pretty long smoke when packed firmly. In comparison to 5100, 515 RC-1 is perhaps a bit milder in strength and taste, but not by much. Maybe 5100 was a bit more tart. Although not an exact match (and should we really expect that anyway?), Sutliff 515 RC-1 is remarkably similar to 5100, and for me is a very acceptable substitute. Sutliff has hit a home run with this blend, I think. Recommended.
Sutliff - Blend No.5 1.5oz
A Decent English
I was looking for a nice, not too stout English blend for my “winter stash”. My taste in pipe tobacco is fairly ecclectic, but these days I am definitely a Va/Per and straight Virginia guy. Still, I also regularly smoke the milder burley-based blends, particularly the so-called “old codger” or otc blends. But for this winter, I really wanted to try some new blends, particularly those from companies I'm not familiar with or have limited experoience with. Plus, I wanted to get some “heavier” blends like English/Balkan blends and some more or less straight burley blends. So, I came across Sutliff's Private Stock series, and Blend No. 5 sounded like a promising cold weather blend. The 1.5 ounces came in a rather large tin. Upon opening, the tin note was largely latakia with maybe a hint of the nutty burley. My tin/pouch/baggie note sniffing abilities are not all that keen. Others may discern more. Tobacco Reviews indicates burley, latakia and Virginia as the component tobacco. The cut is your basic ribbon mixture. It looks like tobacco. The moisture content was fine. I didn't need to dry it at all. It loaded and lit up easily enough with plenty of smoke from the latakia. The first taste I got was certainly the latakia. The latakia has the driver's seat in this blend, in my opinion, but it is not a reckless driver. I don't care for “lat bombs”. I mean, Pirate Kake is just too much for my tastes. I'd say the most latakia-forward blend that I really enjoy is GLP Quiet Nights. Love the stuff! It's so well balanced. Blend No. 5 probably has less latakia than Quiet Nights, and as the bowl progresses I was able to taste the nutty burley and a bit of sweetness and maybe some hay from the Virginia. All three components show up and the blend is pretty well balanced. But the latakia is the primary player here, I think. All in all, this is a good blend that is mild enough to be an all day smoke for some, and perhaps a good introductory blend to those looking to try out English style blends. I think Blend No. 5 is good and is worth giving a try. I recommend it and may very well buy more.
Mac Baren - HH Burley Flake 3.5oz
I wanted to get to this blend to try it for a long time. I finally got a nice 100 g. tin as part of my winter stash. Upon opening the tin, you'll see the gold paper flaps, and within layers of beautiful dark flakes. Very nice presentation. The tin note is earthy and a little nutty, as would be expected of a burley blend. There is Virginia in this as well as some Dark Fired Kentucky. I cannot really detect either of these in the tin note, but my nose for tin/pouch/baggie notes has never been that good. You may be able to separate these better than I can. The flakes have just about the right moisture content for me, but others might find a few minutes drying time is in order. I always use the fold and stuff method and the flakes load and pack easily. A char-light, tamp, re-light, and it's off to the races. I could immediately taste burley and the Dark Fired. Lots of nuttiness and something rather dark in flavor, which I find hard to describe. Maybe a bit like bbq sauce and beef. Must be the DFK. Nice, mellow, full-bodied smoke. Wonderful mouth feel. Very creamy. The Virginia becomes more evident as the bowl progresses. It provides that little bit of sweetness which gives this blend very good balance, but the Virginia is very much in the back seat. This blend is never harsh. In fact, it is surprisingly mild. The nicotine seems moderate to me, and I have a medium nicotine tolerance. I could really smoke this all day long, if I wanted to. This blend requires few relights and is very well-behaved. I use the sipping method to smoke this one. Go easy with it, and it will provide lots of burley flavor. I experienced no bite whatsoever. I've smoked this in a MM Country Gentleman corn cob, a Nording, and my small, thin-walled meerschaum. Very good in all, but it really shines in the cob for me. Excellent blend and I recommend it highly to everyone. Even if you aren't crazy about burleys, give this one a try. Well done Mac Baren!
Amphora - Virginia 1.75oz
Very decent straight Virginia!
I had to smoke a few bowls of this to decide whether or not I liked it. Well, I have concluded that this is a pretty decent straight Virginia blend. Keep in mind that my favorite straight Virginia is G.L. Pease "Union Square", so I'm comparing this blend to that. As other reviewers have noted, this blend has a sharpness to it along with the usual hay-like quality. The pouch note led me to think that there might be some kind of light topping, but after smoking several bowls in a briar and a cob, I'm thinking maybe not. I also didn't notice humectant. But that sharpness is rather nice. It's not too sharp. The overall taste is very nice. It is grassy with a noticeable touch or sweetness that intensifies as the smoke progresses. I, too, find that this blend gets a little rough around the edges and a tad bit ashy near the end of the bowl. But the majority of the smoke was very tasty. It looks like a broken flake to me, so I just bent and stuffed it into the pipe and I tamped it in there fairly firmly. I didn't find it too hard to get lit and it generally required only one or two relights. I think the key here is to keep the burning tobacco firmly tamped as I'm smoking. At least this works for me, and it seemed that I could keep that bowl going very nicely through almost all the smoke. I only needed to re-light near the end of the bowl. This blend performed best in my MM Country Gentleman. A full bowl in the Country Gentleman provided about an hour and twenty minute smoke for me (and yes, DO sip this blend for the best flavor). Overall, a very decent smoke. Not nearly as good as GLP Union Square (but that's nectar of the gods to me), but really decent, just the same. Tasty, nice room note, long burning, doesn't seen to bite, smokes cool if you go slowly with it. It comes at a decent price, too. This blend will likely age well, but I'd take it out of the pouch and jar it. I recommend this blend if you like straight Virginias, and it would not be a bad selection for those wanting to try a straight Virginia for the first time. Cheers!
Sutliff - 507C Virginia Slices
Any Way You Slice It, Sutliff Virginia Slices Is Pretty Darn Good!
I am definitely a Virginia and Va/Per lover. I have recently been having an affair with burley, particularly the lighter, OTC blends. I've come to like most burley-based blends very much. I guess my tastes in pipe tobacco are fairly eclectic: I also like light English blends and certain other latakia blends - long as they aren't "lat bombs". But I find myself always coming back to Virginia and Va/Per blends. So, after the fling with burley, I wanted to get several good quality Virginia-Va/Per blends for a nice change. Sutliff's Virginia Slices was one of them. I must say that the presentation is very interesting and attractive. These slices are cut considerably longer than most other flakes I've seen. I read that this is a European style. These slices rub out pretty easily, but my preferred method of flake preparation is a variation of "fold & stuff" I think of as "wad & stuff". So, I pulled a slice into a shorter section, then took a bit and simply wadded the tobacco into a ball and stuffed it into the bowl of my pipe. I repeated until the bowl was full. Bag note: smells like fresh, good ole tobacco. I couldn't detect a topping. This tobacco lights and burns readily to a fine, gray-white ash, and very few re-lights required. As with other Virginia blends, smoke this slowly to get the most flavor. Sip it! The smoke was cool and lasted a long time. Now, I usually have difficulty tasting the citrus notes everyone describes with Va blends. Plenty of grass and hay and all that, but citrus always seems to elude me. But with this blend, I was able to detect it! That sorta citrusy taste was subtle and would shy away whenever I tried to reach for it, but I was definitely getting it with this blend. Some earthiness in there, too, but lots of good, solid tobacco taste. Most Virginias leave a good after-taste for me, and Virginia Slices is no exception. It is also not hard on the tongue provided you don't huff n puff it. My favorite straight Virginia is G.L. Pease "Union Square"; Virginia Slices isn't going to beat it, in my opinion. But, just the same, this blend is tasty. Yes, it is a basic tobacco that is one- maybe two-dimensional. But, sometimes that's what is needed. This blend is good, especially for the price. I recommend it!
Peter Stokkebye - PS400 Luxury Navy Flake
A Very Pleasing Bulk Va/Per.
I’ve been smoking Peter Stokkebye’s Luxury Bullseye Flake pretty much side-by-side with this Stokkebye’s Luxury Navy Flake. The Navy flake is very similar to the Bullseye flake, as they are both Va/Pers. The main differences are that the Bullseye flakes have black cavendish, and they are cut into coins. The Navy flakes, as with the Bullseye flakes, have excellent burn characteristics, a great deal of flavor and balance between the Virginias and the Perique, and provide long smokes in the right pipe. The Navy flakes smoked well for me in a variety of pipes, but were best in my Rattray’s “Judge” poker and my “tulip” meerschaum carved by H. Ege. These pipes both have deep and relatively narrow chambers, which work very well with flake tobaccos. I use the “fold & stuff” method to load my pipe with this blend, but it smokes and tastes great prepared in other ways, too. Try stuffing, rubbing out the flakes, or even chopping them up, and see which way works best for you. This is a very good blend at a very good price. I guess all that is left for me to do is try Stokkebye’s Luxury Twist next! Highly recommended!
Peter Stokkebye - PS403 Luxury Bullseye Flake
A Very Pleasing Bulk Va/Per.
Wow! I am really pleased and surprised at how good this bulk blend is! It’s really delicious. My favorite blends these days are Va/Pers and straight Virginias (although I like many burley blends, too). These bulleye coins present very well, and they are easy to load into the bowl. As with regular flake tobacco, these bullseye flakes can be prepped several ways for loading: “fold & stuff”, rubbed out, maybe even chopped up. Different methods do affect how the tobacco smokes and even how it tastes. I prefer a type of fold & stuff method where I roll up the coin into a semi-loose ball then stuff the ball into the bowl. Keep in mind that these coins each have a core of black cavendish, which provides a sweet touch to the smoke. If you fully rub out the coins, or chop them up, the cavendish will be more evenly distributed throughout the bowl of tobacco and the sweet flavor it imparts will also be more even. If you use a fold & stuff method, as I do, the sweetness from the cavendish will sort of “pop” in the mix from time to time, unexpectedly, as the bits of cavendish are encountered irregularly. I like these sweet surprises! No matter how I prepared this blend, it lit easily, had a consistent burn with few re-lights, and smoked pretty well no matter what pipe I used. However, it smoked best in my Rattray’s “Judge” poker. It has a deep, narrow bowl, which seems well-suited for flakes. The longest continuous smoke I think I’ve ever had in nearly 40 years of pipe smoking was with this blend in my large “tulip” meerschaum by H. Ege. This is my largest pipe with a very deep, relatively narrow bowl. The bowl is at least 2 inches deep, if not a bit more. I used a little over 4 coins, packed fairly firmly. The smoke lasted 1 hour and 40 minutes! I timed it. And this blend seemed to get better and better as the bowl progressed. The only problem I encountered was a little difficulty getting the tobacco to burn throughly at the very bottom of my meerschaum’s bowl. I don’t usually have such problems with this pipe. And this wasn’t a problem at all in the Judge. It may that this tobacco is a bit more moist than it seems. I filled the meerschaum before I went to bed and smoked the bowlful the next morning and there was no problem. So, this blend may need a little drying time. Even so, and especially given the price point, I don’t see how you can go wrong with this blend. By the way, I’ve cellared about 3 ounces of this to age it as long as I can (IF I can keep my hands off of it!). I’ll let you know how it ages - eventually. Very highly recommended!
Peter Stokkebye - PS41 Cube Cut
Very Good Burley Blend
I have found Stokkebye’s Cube Cut Burley to be a very tasty blend of (mostly) burley and Virginia tobaccos which have been pressed together in layers for a time, then sliced, and then diced (cutting across the slices) to form nice little cubes. It’s basically minced tobacco, and it is an uncommon cut to find these days. As noted in other reviews, just gravity-feed the cubes into your bowl and very gently tamp. Leave some space at the top of the bowl as the cubes expand considerably upon lighting. This tobacco seemed at about the right moisture level and it was easy to light and to keep lit. It burned nicely to the bottom of the bowl. There was lots of nutty burley flavor with the Virginia providing a touch of sweetness. This blend is fairly similar to Carter Hall, Prince Albert, Chatham Manor and the like, except it seem a bit more robust to me. Lots of burley flavor, not too much nicotine, and still mild enough to be an all day smoke for me. And all at a very good price. If you like burley-based blends, you’ll like this. I highly recommend it!
Lane Limited - BL/WB
Very Solid "OTC" Style Blend
These notes are my first impressions of BLWB. I’ve only had a few bowls of this, so far. I’m using it to break in my brand new Gardesana Bianca Lovat pipe. I’ve also had a large bowl in a meershaum. I suspect I’ll get to like it more over time. I agree with some of the other reviewers that there is nothing to get too excited about with this blend. But I like it. I find it to be very similar to Carter Hall, Prince Albert, Granger and the like, and I suppose that is Lane’s intention. Seems they succeeded very well. There is plenty of nuttiness here, it smokes smoothly, cooly and really doesn’t bite. The topping isn’t chocolatey. Just a gentle sweetness that is very pleasant. This blend packs easily, burns well and leaves no gunk and little moisture. Minimum re-lights. There may be some humectant applied, but if so, it seems minimal to me. BLWB does what it is supposed to do, and it does it very well. It is mild and unobtrusive, but still tasty. If you like mild, OTC, “old codger” burley blends, you can’t go wrong with BLWB. The price point is pretty good, too. It is really very decent. Cheers!
Lane Limited - RLP-6
This Drives Me Nuts & Bananas!
Ok, one bowl of RLP-6 was enough to make me a fan of this blend! I know I'll need more time with it to get to really know it, but my first impressions are very favorable. Many of the other reviews of this blend mention flavors like vanilla, nougat, chocolate, and various fruit. I guess I could taste some of these things, like the vanilla, but more than anything I was tasting caramel, something rather creamy, some nuttiness, and banana. Especially banana! No kidding. Banana! I didn't see any other reviews here or elsewhere mention a banana flavor. Maybe it's just me. Banana... Hmmmm... Anyway, don't get me wrong: I LOVE banana! And I love this blend. Also, there was plenty of real tobacco flavor in the mix, especially nuttiness from the burley. Great stuff, huh? I guess for me at least, RLP-6 drives me bananas AND nuts! Cheers.
Granger - Granger 12oz
Very Pleasantly Surprised
I am in the midst of trying and evaluating several of the OTC burley-based blends. I've recently tried Half and Half. Smoked the entire 12 ounce tin and I actually liked it. I see a lot of Half and Half bashing in the various review forums, but IMO it's really not bad. But after a week smoking Granger, it's the clear winner over Half and Half. Since we so often compare tobacco blend flavors to various foods, let me suggest this: I find Granger's overall taste to be a bit like Grapenuts cereal. Imagine smoking the "taste" of the Grapenuts in milk, ever so slightly sweetened. At least, that's how Granger's flavor comes off to me. And I like Grapenuts and I really like Granger. I am also smoking a pouch of Prince Albert right now, too. I really like both Granger and PA, but they are a little different. Aside from some flavor differences, the biggest thing I've noted is that Granger is perhaps a bit stronger than PA. It is a little " rougher around the edges" than PA, I think. But in my book, that's a good thing because I can enjoy BOTH blends depending on whether I want something with a little more punch to it, or something milder. Well, I have pouches of Carter Hall and Lane Limited Ready Rubbed waiting in the wings as my comparisons continue. In sum, though, I think Granger is a pretty good burley OTC blend. And its price is hard to beat, too!