Americana (Bulk #127) from Cornell and Diehl is listed under the “English Blends” category on their web site. I guess that will have to do being they don’t have something like an “American Blend” category. Categorizing tobacco is difficult business. Pipe smokers arriving at Americana’s doorstep looking for something tasting similar to Dunhill’s Nightcap or G.L. Pease’s Westminster may think they showed up at the wrong place.
Burley, to my tastes, is the main attraction here. Yes, the Latakia is present in significant quantities; you’ll never forget it’s there. The thing is, Latakia alongside Virginia and Oriental may as well be an entirely different condiment than the very same Latakia up against a sturdy proportion of Burley. It behaves differently on the taste buds with both types of blends.
With Americana I notice big, rich, deep, dark earthy tones much more than the leather and woodsy flavors. Is the Latakia shoring up the richness of the Burley or is the Burley beefing up the richness of the Latakia? I’ll let you decide. All I can tell you is that between what I assume is a measure of some dark fired or Kentucky Burley and the Latakia, this is a rich blend.
It seems the Burley has two parts to play. I’m not confident I can identify the other types of Burley at work in Cornell and Diehl Americana, but I can say they add structure and a dry finish. By structure I mean that the Burley is what supports the other flavors. It may not comprise the greatest portion of leaf in the recipe, but it is the base. When I say dry finish, I am describing the lack of any lingering sweetness.
This is not to say you won’t notice the tang and sweetness of the Virginias if you pay attention. They are there, and I am glad they are. They do help the blend along whether I am noticing them or not. This is much like the role Cornell and Diehl’s unsweetened black cavendish plays. It certainly isn’t a core component of the flavor but does seem to act as a bridge of sorts between all the other flavors. Incidentally, Cornell and Diehl’s very special unsweetened black cavendish is so good I can (and have) smoked it by itself. Wonderful stuff!
Everything is balanced very nicely to bring about a very smoke-able yet stout American blend. The blender, Bob Runowski, has managed to keep Americana from being harsh while allowing it to be stern. If you are sensitive to nicotine I recommend a slow pace in a comfortable chair and no operating heavy machinery. I experience no tongue bite and moderate palate fatigue. Not that I am ever ready to follow up a bowl of Americana with something else anytime soon.
While it doesn’t stack up as a English blend by my definition,* I don’t think it should be expected to. These old time American style blends are a class to themselves. For anyone wanting to explore what excellent burley has to offer or who wants to take a time machine back half a century to see what your average everyday tobacco blend may have been like, Americana has my recommendation.
This is a staple in my personal rotation and I have been ordering it by the pound over the last year or two. You will have a difficult time finding it at retailers. You can easily order it directly from Cornell and Diehl.
*Defining the categories such as American blend, English blend, Balkan, aromatic, etc is about 80% subjective opinion much of the time. Don’t put a lot of weight on my, or anyone else’s definitions and categories, best to always let the blend speak for itself.
If you’ve already tried it, please let me know your thoughts about it in the comments. Questions and other observations are welcome too.