Yesterday I wrote about tobacco blends that taste great but are so powerful in terms of flavor and nicotine, that I might have to lie down for a spell after smoking even a small bowl. I promised to report on a possible solution.
Lately, I’ve tried cutting these blends with a straight bland burley, and so far I like the results. Diluting with the burley has the effect of dialing back the flavor and the nicotine, and this has reduced the undesirable side effects. Of course the ratios of the two components are significant, so I am still playing with them.
The important thing is that the burley I’m using adds no flavor to the main blend. It has only a modulating effect — exactly what I am looking for.
What burley am I using? That’s the sad part of the story. I’m using McClelland X30 Pressed Burley. The problem of course is that McClelland and therefore this product don’t exist anymore. Fortunately I bought several ounces a few years ago, and I still have a good amount on hand.
But what about when I run out? I’m thinking that I could use Granger instead of Pressed Burley. When I first bought Pressed Burley, I also bought some Granger in bulk, and I recall that I thought they tasted much alike. If my memory is accurate, Granger — which I’m confident will be around a long time — should be a good tobacco for diluting the blends I have trouble with.
I’ll let you know.
Caution: some burleys, especially those from C&D, are quite powerful. They would definitely not work to dilute another powerful blend.
Tell me of your experiences.
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.
If you are curious about types of tobacco and what they mean for the pipe smoker, Cornell & Diehl, a company I grow fonder of with every passing day, has an excellent two-part primer on its YouTube channel. Jeremy Reeves, C&D’s head blender, gives a good, clear presentation from which I learned much.
Here is part 1.
And here is part 2.
PS: The YouTube Pipe Community (YTPC) is a great source of pipe-smoking tips and and reviews. In the future I will post about my favorite channels.
I almost called this post “Damn Burleys!” That’s not an insult but rather an expression of respect, just as the old Washington Senators fans used to cry, “Damn Yankees!” (There’s an old Broadway musical by that name.)
What I’m getting at is that my exploration of full-bodied burleys has to a large extent eclipsed my taste for straight Virginias. I still like them, but now that I’ve smoked robust burley blends, Virginias seem kind of tame. Add perique or latakia — or both — and some Virginia-based blends hold their own. I love Dunhill (*wah*) Nightcap, My Mixture 965, and Elizabethan Mixture. I like Navy Rolls. I also love McClelland (*wah*) Dark Star and Dark Navy Flake. But to my palate, Cornell & Diehl’s Haunted Bookshop, Pegasus, and Pirate Kake really shine by comparison. I have to watch out for the nicotine hit, but these are some mouth-watering tobaccos, so flavorful.
If you think burley means only Prince Albert, Carter Hall, Granger, and the matches for Edgeworth Ready-Rubbed — all good though mild blends — there’s a world of robust burley blends waiting for you.
Give one or two a try. But handle with care.