Tasting Notes: Eight State Burley 2024

Welcome to another episode of "Tasting Notes." Today, I have the great pleasure of discussing the most recent iteration of one of Cornell & Diehl's most popular Small Batch products, Eight State Burley.

Note: The following transcription has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Cornell & Diehl's latest Small Batch blend, Eight State Burley, will be available Wednesday, July 10th, 2024, at 6 p.m. ET

A Tribute to American Burleys and Codger Blends

There are a handful of reasons why this was so well received the first time around. Eight State Burley pays tribute to the classic American Burley blends of yesteryear and the Burley-growing region of the US. It's a very dynamic Burley harkening back to codger blends as well. The blend is augmented by some really interesting vintages of Bright and Red Virginia, and some very mature Oriental leaf.

It's about as complex and dynamic as a Burley blend gets, in my opinion, or at least that I've experienced so far. In terms of replay value, this is something you can smoke and will want to smoke pretty much all day long, until you run out, or until you show some restraint and let those tins sit in the cellar for a little while.

Burleys with Rare Varietals, Affording Tangy and Malty Sweetness

Tasting Notes: Small Batch: Eight State Burley | Daily Reader

Right when I cracked this first tin, I was shocked at how naturally sweet the aroma is of the unburnt tobacco. There is a lot of sweetness here. I think the perception of sweetness comes through in the blend. But I say natural specifically because there's nothing cloying here. It has all of the faint cocoa notes and a little bit of nuttiness that you would expect from a Burley.

You do get a little bit of a perfumey-type character with some naturally occurring aromatic qualities. I'm going to go ahead and attribute that to the vintage Orientals from 2005, affording tangy and malty sweetness due to both the air-cured leaf and the flue-cured leaf. The vintage Orientals are the star of the show here. That's evident in the tin note and in the smoke.

An Array of Rare Varietals

Tasting Notes: Small Batch: Eight State Burley | Daily Reader

Eight State Burley is packed with an impressive roster of mostly vintage leaves. It's comprised of White Burleys from 2014, Dark Burleys from 2015, 2018 Red Virginia from North Carolina, Bright leaf from Canada from 2019, and three notable heirloom Orientals from 2005: Katerini, Black Sea Sokhoum, and Samsun. These Orientals are essentially air-cured variants themselves. They do a lot to add to the natural aromatic quality of this blend and to increase the interplay between the more rustic and classic Burley flavors and the nuance that air-cured leaf can provide.

Right away from the initial light, I would say fans of classic Burley blends are going to be super pleased. Most notably, you get the 2014 and 2015 White and Dark Burleys front and center. There's a little bit of depth and earthiness. I'm definitely getting some molasses sweetness, more akin to brown sugar than it is something a little bit brighter. There's notes of dried cocoa powder, a licorice vibe, and nuttiness for sure. It really is all of the classic American-Burley air-cured flavor profiles. In addition to that, there's just a little bit more nuance.

Balanced and Complex Smoke

As the bowl progresses, you may feel even more than taste the influence of the 2005 heirloom Orientals. They add to the natural aromatic quality of the blend, and they facilitate a really nice interplay between some of the more robust flavors of the air-cured leaf, and some of the nuance that that leaf provides. I'm getting a lot more chocolate, a lot more nuttiness, and a little bit more of that molasses vibe. And the Orientals really start to provide a lot more intrigue, particularly on the retrohale. You have these really lovely, light vegetal notes that remind me a little bit of green tea, and also you have some really aromatic, perfumey-type notes, especially on the retrohale. I wouldn't go as far as to call them floral; they're more herbal. It's more like aromatic herbs and spices than floral, but it's definitely there. It plays really nicely with some of the drier notes from the air-cured leaf.

I would say that, from the Virginia grades here, you can feel the malty character of the Red Virginias and a little bit of the sweetness of the Bright leaf along with the air-cured leaf, which is subtly sweet, ranging from amaretto to a Boston cream pie. There are moments where I feel like the sweetness is super evident. It's a little bit fleeting, or I should say it dances in and out, which is kind of nice. Overall, I would say this has a little bit of a drier finish. But it's just really well-balanced and continues to shift back and forth between the more robust Burley flavors and the sweetness.

Crossover Pipe Tobacco for Cigar Smokers

This blend is a great crossover blend for smokers who might smoke more cigars than pipes. I mean, obviously, cigars and Burley blends have a lot in common, being both primarily made up of air-cured varietals, and you have the richer, earthier flavors. Somebody who enjoys cigars, particularly in the warmer months, would find Eight State Burley to be a nice option in a pipe. It's very comforting.

There's a history of these American-made Burley blends being the working man's smoke. There's this widely agreed-upon opinion that cigars in the warmer months are nice, and pipes in the colder months are nice as well. And I think there is something to be said about primarily air-cured blends being enjoyed in warmer weather. It just works. They stand up to being smoked outdoors really well because they have the flavor and aroma to last. If you're normally a cigar smoker in the warmer months, give something like Eight State Burley a try. You'll be pretty surprised.

Today, I'm smoking Cornell & Diehl's Small Batch Eight State Burley in a little Nosewarmer by IMP, one of my go-to tasting pipes. I have a handful of these, and I think that this blend and Burley blends in general perform incredibly well in meerschaum. I've also tasted this in briar and clay pipes. If you're a meerschaum smoker and a fan of Burley, do yourself a favor and make that pairing, because it works extremely well.

A Burley Blend with Legs for Aging

Tasting Notes: Small Batch: Eight State Burley | Daily Reader

There's been a myth for a long time, or as long as aging tobacco has been in fashion, I should say, that Burleys don't age that well. I will say that they do age differently than Virginias, just like English blends age differently than Virginias. For me, Burley blends do not change a ton in the short term, but I do think long-term cellaring and aging do have a positive effect on them. You get a lot more richness, a lot more depth, and even more sweetness the longer you let a Burley sit. In the first three, four, or five years of a Bright Virginia or Red Virginia being in the cellar, you're going to notice pretty significant differences. I tend not to notice differences in Burley until a few years out, even further than that.

Eight State Burley will have long legs because of the components, like the Bright and Red Virginias, which have decent sugar content, and the vintage 2005 heirloom Orientals. You will have to be a little bit more patient than usual, I would say. So make sure you grab plenty to smoke now and plenty to try later on. I think the natural aromatic qualities of this tobacco and its sweetness will increase over the years. It's going to end up being a really nice, rich, nearly dessert-like blend after some serious time in the cellar.

Complex Sweetness with Delectable Retrohale Flavors

Small Batch Eight State Burley is shockingly complex as the bowl progresses. I still get plenty of chocolate, amaretto, and nougat notes, and some more robust woody and earthy notes. It's really interesting, and the retrohale is amazing. For Burley fans who grew up smoking Edgeworth and those who are still fans of Solani's Aged Burley Flake or Wessex Burley slices, along with any of the C&D Burley flakes, Eight State Burley is a must-try.

I would also say that if historically you have veered toward other styles of tobacco, Eight State Burley is really interesting in that it is simultaneously a tribute to the historic growing regions here in the U.S. that produce air-cured leaf as well as a good showcase of how nuanced and sophisticated air-cured leaf can be. The addition of the Bright and Red Virginias and the Oriental grades from 2005 make this something that I think is much more approachable than even Edgeworth was back in the day. But there's a reason that's been a staple for so many smokers over the years: It's comforting, easy to enjoy, and it has enough strength and flavor to keep a seasoned smoker satisfied. If you slow down and pay attention, you really appreciate the nuance of this beautiful air-cured leaf and just how good it can be with some age on it before or after production.

Tasting Notes: Small Batch: Eight State Burley | Daily Reader


    • Juan Antonio Cervantes Cota on July 8, 2024
    • 16 pounds bag

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