Americana by Cornell and Diehl

Americana by Cornell and Diehl - Pipe Tobacco ReviewAmericana (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.

 

Pipe Tobacco Review – Low Country Cooper

Low Country Cooper Pipe Tobacco Review

Low Country Cooper

The tin description:

The confluence of the Cooper and Ashley Rivers create Charleston Harbor, the most important port in the antebellum South. Following trade winds, goods flowed to points north and, especially, across the Atlantic to the great British ports of call. Commemorating the Cooper River’s contribution to world trade, we have selected choice Orientals and Cyprian Latakia to accent a base of fine Bright Leaf and Red Virginias to create this exceptional medium English Flake.

Inside a Tin of Low Country Cooper

Low Country Cooper is an English Flake consisting of the standard Virginia, Latakia, and Oriental leaf pressed and sliced. Cornell and Diehl provide the component tobaccos and manufacturing. The recipe itself is the creation of the folks behind Smokingpipes.com and its sister store Low Country Pipe & Cigar in South Carolina.

This English blend is brilliant for its balance as much as anything. When it comes to English blends there is really nothing new under the sun as we talk about ingredients. The blender’s expertise shines when he can balance those ingredients to create complexity and showcase the strengths of the component tobaccos and the interplay between them. That’s exactly what happened with Low Country Cooper and makes this a remarkable blend.

The “Choice Orientals” in combination with a harmonious balance of Latakia and Virginia launched Low Country Cooper to the top echelon of my list of favorite English blends.  The Orientals here are amazingly delicious. There’s a certain saltiness that makes my mouth water along with leather and herbal notes. The Cyprian Latakia is obvious but not overdone and the Virginias linger between tart and sweet.

Smoking Characteristics

The blend has body and substance without being heavy. I can and do smoke this all day or any time of day. There’s enough complexity for devoted attention to a meditative smoke while also being well behaved enough to share my focus with a book, movie, or work on the computer. This blend works well for me in a variety of roles.

The nicotine strength is, again, moderate and satisfying. I experience no tongue bite and the burning characteristics are superb straight from the tin. I have experimented with various filling methods such as folding the flake, air pocket, etc but find rubbing the flakes out works best to my personal tastes. This is the case for me with any flake tobacco so I suspect pipe smokers who prefer folding and stuffing other flakes will prefer Cooper prepared that way.

I imagine a few years age will be good for Low Country Cooper but I must stress that I have not had any older than a few months and can say a fresh tin is not to be missed. Buy some for now and buy some to cellar.

Be sure to pick up several tins – a couple to age and you’ll want to pop one right now. Cooper is available at Smokingpipes.com. Reviews on the rest of the Low Country tobaccos are coming soon. Maybe you’ll want to add those to your order as well. Spoiler: I found them all superb!

Have you smoked this blend? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments.

Burley Flake #4 by Cornell & Diehl Review

Burley Flake #4 gets most of its character from Dark Burley which brings a very straightforward, arguably strong, and robust flavor. Following in the distance are the lighter burleys, a taste of Latakia, and a touch of Red Virginia.

This is by no means a sweet blend…oh no. Those of you used to Burley flakes such as Solani Aged Burley or even Peterson’s University Flake will find something altogether different in Burley Flake #4.

Matching the stronger flavor is the stronger nicotine content. This flake will put hair on your chest and your wife or girlfriend out of the room. Go ahead and enjoy a beverage with this one, it will stand up to anything.

I am very pleased overall with this and eager to try the rest of the series, especially those featuring the Dark Burley. Those preferring to fold and stuff should find the flakes in good enough shape for some careful folding. I like these rubbed out and filled.

Old Dublin by Peterson – Pipe Tobacco Review

Old Dublin by Peterson Pipe Tobacco Review

Old Dublin by Peterson - Pipe Tobacco

This traditional mixture of the finest Latakia, Turkish oriental, and Virginia Leaf is slowburning, cool and still blended by hand.

Two thoughts struck me as I lit up my first bowl Old Dublin. The first was “wow, this is so middle of the road, but in a good way.” The second thought was “where you been all my life!” Further bowls have revealed a most pleasant English that is perfectly tolerable in every way. I think this is what I noticed when I was seeing Old Dublin in the middle. There wasn’t anything extraordinary that I had to interpret, it just tastes good – it tastes like an English blend rather than an English blend but only little more this, or like and English blend, but with a lot of that. Like the tin description says – traditional English. Old Dublin was not an attempt to reinvent the wheel.

If anything stands out it is the Orientals. They are absolutely heavenly to my taste, much like a dry white wine. I love Old Dublin after a meal whether it is breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It has this dry fragrant character. Of course, when I say dry I don’t mean the moisture content, but the taste. So, the Turkish is right up there with everything else. Latakia fanatics may be underwhelmed, but those of us who would rather the Latakia leave room for others will find the proportions a wise choice on the blender’s part. There is more tang than sweetness from the Virginias. You have to pay attention or you may miss it.

The cut is ribbon, fine to medium. Moisture was perfect from a fresh tin. The burn is perfect and a good fill is near effortless. I had no problem with tongue bite and the strength is suitable and satisfying any time of the day. If you like English and Balkans, especially in the medium range, you’ll want to try this if you haven’t already. If you have tried it, or even if you haven’t, please comment below.

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Oriental 14 by McClelland – Pipe Tobacco Review

Oriental 14 by McClelland Tobacco Company

Tin description:

“Dark with Latakia and black Virginias, deeply seasoned with Orientals, this is the classic Full Scottish Mixture.”

Latakia-rich blends can be monochromatic when there aren’t enough Orientals. McClelland’s doesn’t make that mistake with Oriental 14. McClelland Virginias have a special tang and that’s not lost under all the Latakia and Oriental leaf in this blend. Latakia comes in at the medium to full range and I believe its the Orientals lending not only spice but a little sweetness alongside the deep, bassy sweetness of the Virginias.

The cut makes for easy filling, and the burning characteristics are adequate to enjoy a bowl without extra fuss. Those susceptible to tongue bite from McClelland products should get away with a bowl or two a day of 14 but may not find it suited for all day smoking.

Overall this is a rich and delicious blend that will likely be enjoyed by most English and Balkan blend lovers.

Wilke No. 72 by Pipeworks and Wilke

Blender’s description:

Composed of Burleys, two cuts of Virginia, Latakia and Perique. For those who enjoy true natural tobacco flavor, one of my most popular lighter English blends.

Here is an example of a blend that truly uses Latakia as a condiment. This rounds out and touches up the earthy burleys and leaves the pepper from the Perique to deal with the tang and sweetness from the Virginia.

No. 72 has lots of high notes and a clean dry finish. The proportion of Perique here is pushing the envelope but doesn’t quite step out of bounds. Those who like Virginia/Perique blends and burley should not be off put by the amount of Latakia here and enjoy this approach to what I’d call a classic American blend.

This will work great in warm weather or as a spicy all day smoke. Try this one in a variety of pipes as the bowl size and pipe engineering makes all the difference.

Wilke No. 193 by Pipeworks and Wilke

Blender’s description:

It is a light English blend of Virginias, Burleys, Latakia and Perique and is topped off with a bit of Wilke’s unique fermented black cavendish. Truly a social English.

This is a very agreeable blend in all ways. While 193 does lean to the lighter side, I find the flavor and body entirely satisfying and I can enjoy this any time of the day. The foundation of Burley, Virginia, and Latakia is not obscured by the smidgen of Perique or the fermented black cavendish.

This amount of Perique is perfect for adding a tidy amount of zing to an English type blend of this sort. The fermented black cavendish is either not overly sweet to begin with or applied sparingly enough to twist in an additional layer of flavor without getting in the way of a clean finish.

Like all the Pipeworks and Wilke blends, this arrived plenty moist and required some drying to reach a moisture level that appeals to me. Once there it loads and burns beautifully with no bite. I expect this easy-going blend will appeal to most pipe smokers unless they have no tolerance for Latakia or Perique in any amount.

Bestmake by Pipeworks and Wilke Video Review

This is one of those old timey blends you can smoke all day.

Blender’s description:

One of the oldest Wilke recipes. Virginia and Burleys are mixed with a non-aromatic Black Cavendish tobacco and topped with a generous amount of superior Latakia creating a traditional medium strength English blend. A rich mellow blend in the true British tradition.

This blend has a medium amount of Latakia. I wouldn’t want any more in this blend because I might miss the tangy sweetness from the Virginia or that faint toastiness from the unflavored black cavendish. The burley is applied just enough to round it out with some body.

This blend is well behaved and well balanced.

Samarra by G. L. Pease – Video Review

Tin Description:

Samarra – opulent and elegant! Several varieties of Virginia tobaccos form the structure of this blend. Smoky Cyprian Latakia, fine Turkish leaf, and just a bit of Perique are added for richness. The smoke is silky and round. A subtle, yet complex sweetness from the Virginias and just a little zest is present throughout the smoke, while layers of complexity tantalize the senses from first blush to the last puff.

Blender’s comments:

Samarra, along with Cairo, Mephisto and Renaissance, was one of the first blends to be offered under the G. L. Pease brand. In a sense, it is a refinement of Sublime Porte, a blend I produced years ago for Drucquer & Sons while working there, so it reflects a much longer history than the other blends in the line.

Despite a significant percentage of Cyprus Latakia, Samarra is not a Latakia powerhouse. It is rich and complex, relying as much upon the delicate sweetness and structure of matured red Virginias, and the exotic, fragrant nature of fine oriental leaf as it does on the smoky opulence of the Cyprian “King of Flavor.” The blend is finished with a hint of zesty lemon Virginia, adding a hint of brightness to the smoke, and a touch of perique, providing its own unique spice.

I simply love this blend. When I first tried it, I was somewhat bored by it. It seemed a little ho hum at the time. No recall on what other blends I had been experimenting with at the time, but a few bowls into the first tin I was hooked. Samarra was in my pipe throughout the day. Now I have to fight the urge to hoard the stuff.

Everything is there that makes a great English blend. There’s the quality of the leaf which I rely on from Greg Pease blends. With this blend there is a deft balance between teh components. Latakia is leading the way but not making a big deal about being in charge. Virginias embrace the entire experience with a touch of natural sweetness and tang while the Turkish and Perique keep things interesting. None of these flavors are lost amongst the others.

The really cool thing about this blend is it works as one of those contemplative quiet smokes that you want to dedicate full attention to not to miss a nuance, a slight turn in flavor, or an unexpected note. At the same time, the balance, medium fullness, and perfect behavior qualify this for all-day smoking.

This is the English blend. I will be recommending this to all who ask me to suggest an English blend.

Deacon’s Downfall by Two Friends – Cornell and Diehl

Let me preface this by saying I have been very much in the mood for English blends with Perique lately. A touch of Perique does something special nested next to a portion of Latakia.

Tin Description

Dark and mysterious! Rich with Latakia, Black Cavendish, dark stoved Virginias and Perique. A bit of oriental leaf adds an exotic spice. This is a tobacco for those seeking a big, powerful flavor that isn’t harsh or overwhelming. One bowl, and you’ll know just what caused the Deacon’s Downfall!

I agree with the label – this one is not harsh, and there is a lot of flavor. For my particular tastes, too much of that flavor is the Perique.  This is not to say the partners Greg and Craig overdid the amount of Perique – I’m confident they knew exactly what they were doing and arrived at the goal they were shooting for.

This is just too much Perique for my taste. If I want something this big, I’d rather the size come from other types of tobacco.

Hopefully my comments won’t cause anyone to shy away from this blend, especially not those who love the big, bold, in-your-face English blends. My tastes lean more towards the types of blends people are always calling an “all day smoke.”

The Perique adds not only some pepper, but along with this concoction you’ll taste many of Perique’s other pungeant qualities. Less the stewed fruit and more like dried mushrooms. That along with the smokey Latakia, salty unsweetened black cavendish, and a lick of Orientals and Virginia make for a strong, assertive, masculine smoke that will stand up to the blackest coffee, a bellyfull of the hottest chili, or a few fingers of something stiff.

Give this one a try. Perique lovers most definately shouldn’t miss this one. Once the bowl settles down, a few minutes into the bowl, the Perique winds down just enough to allow your attention to drift to the rest of the blend.