Something about dark-fired Kentucky does me in nearly every time. This form of burley is beloved by many, but it doesn’t love me. Mac Baren Bold Kentucky overwhelms me with nicotine and sheer flavor. In technical terms, it applies its loafer to my derriere with great force. So does Peterson Irish Flake, which is a blend that only includes Kentucky. Even Amphora Kentucky Blend, which I expected to be milder, isn’t much milder. (On the other hand, Mac Baren Old Dark Fired is too bland.)
So what to do? When in doubt, blend!
I blended the Amphora 50-50 with Sutliff 515 RC, a wonderful red Virginia. (Lovers of the late great McClelland 5100 Redcake, check it out.) The Kentucky was more manageable but still too strong. So I increased the 515, maybe to 2-1. Now it is lovely!
Let that be a lesson. Before you trade or chuck, blend! What’s to lose?
In my last post, “Never Give Up!” I wondered if adding Cavendish to a stout burley blend like C&D Big ‘n’ Burley would tame it. It worked! In fact, I’ve since added Cavendish to other stout burley blends, and I am most pleased with the results. These include C&D Haunted Bookshop and Morley’s Best. (C&D specializes in stout burley blends.)
Which Cavendish did I use to cut the burley? I used McClelland’s X-90 Cavendish. It’s a bulk Virginia/burley Cavendish blend with nice cocoa notes. (Cavendish is a process and a cut, not a particular kind of tobacco.) I’ve read that it is unflavored, and I believe it. I picked up X-90 at my local tobacconist, The Pipe & Tobacco Shop in Little Rock. True, The McClelland company is gone, so the P&T will eventually run out and I’ll have to find a substitute when my stock runs out. But I’m confident I will find one. Suggestions are welcome.
By the way, X-90 is delicious when smoked straight. Read more about Cavendish here.
It’s been said before, but it’s worth repeating: if your first impression of a tobacco blend is negative, put it away and try it again after a few weeks or months — maybe even a year or more. For any number of reasons, you may like it at that point. I’ve experienced this more than once. And even if you don’t love the tobacco after giving it time, you might mix it with something else and come up with a blend you really like. Experimentation can be fun.
I’m having such an experience now. Six months ago I bought a few ounces of Cornell & Diehl Big ‘N’ Burley. Wow! The name is perfect because this product packs quite a wallop, both in flavor and nicotine. I didn’t think this was a tobacco I could smoke.
So I jarred it and put it away for six months. When I tried it again recently, it was just as potent. But I like burley, so I didn’t want to give up. What could I do? I tried mixing it with some Prince Albert, hoping it would take some of the edge off. And you know what? It did so to an extent. I enjoyed this morning’s smoke. But it was still potent, and therefore I want to add more Prince Albert just to see what happens. I am also thinking about adding unsweetened Cavendish to the Big ‘N’ Burley alone. If I understand cavendish correctly, it should round out the burley. I’ll pick some up from my local tobacconist.
Not every pipe smoker wants to fool around like this, and I appreciate that. This is one of the things that separates the hobbyist from the smoker. Our time is limited; not everyone wants to devote time to blending tobacco because that would take him away from something else. Perfectly understandable. But I enjoy dabbling in blending, so I’m willing to spend a wee bit more time to see if I can fully enjoy Big ‘N’ Burley.
I’ll report on my progress.