“Burley doesn’t age” is a common wisdom that any pipe enthusiast who’s begun building their cellar has certainly come across. The truth is that all tobacco will age, though differently, with the greatest flavor changes dependant mainly on the sugar content of the constituent tobacco. The noble Virginia leaf, being a sugar factory, of course ages wonderfully, and often takes all the surrounding leaf along with it for that wonderful ride. All-burley or burley-forward blends, I feel, unfairly get a bad rap for not taking on the epic qualities we often hear of in Virginia-based blends. As proof of a burley-forward blend that has the ability to age gracefully, emphatically and deliciously, I submit for your approval Mac Baren’s Burley London Blend. It is primarily a white burley that has been aged in wooden casks, along with a sprinkling of Virginia. This is a blend that, for all its inherent simplicity, is certainly memorable as a solid, tasty smoke. The review is based on a comparison of a 1980s vintage tin with a current production tin from December 2012.
New pipe tobacco review site, LuxuryTobaccoReviews.com is still evolving near the end of it’s first month and has added more features based on user feedback.
A new feature at the top of the home page will immediately tell a visitor how many tobaccos are in the database, and how many reviews have been done by how many different people.
After a week straight of smoking Latakia blends, I was up for a nice sweet Virginia pipe tobacco. I also wanted to pop open a tin from my collection that I hadn’t tried before. It’s a cold rainy Saturday morning, the weekend before Christmas. It’s one of those lazy rainy days so I’ve queued up Lord of the Rings in the DVD player and grabbed a tin of Cornell & Diehl’s Manhattan Afternoon. Today’s Agenda: smoke pipes, and watch Lord of the Rings for 9 hours. (You may have guessed that the little woman isn’t home today.)
W.Ø. Larsen has become one of one favorite brands of Danish aromatic tobaccos. Just the words "Danish Aromatic Tobaccos" will make some pipe smokers cringe and wrinkle their noses in disgust, and I know where they’re coming from. I have had the same bad experiences as you guys. You open the tin and it smells like you just entered the kitchen of famed French pastry chef Francois Payard, known for his delectable selections of luxurious cakes, truffles, and dessert cocktails. Or it smells like your mom’s kitchen during the holidays. Whatever it smells like, it smells delicious and makes you think of actually eating it. But then you smoke it. It tastes like cardboard, literally, and it sears the heck out of your tongue. I have some tins of Danish aromatics that have been thrown in the "to never be opened again drawer".
I wasn’t planning on doing a review of Union Square, (since Bob did one already) but then I smoked it and was compelled to do so. I was actually traveling at the time and didn’t have a computer in front of me, so I took out a little piece of paper and wrote down: G.L. Pease Union Square. Tastes Tangy. Smells like Apricots, Prunes, Raisins. Moist out of the tin … later, towards the end of my first bowl, I wrote: Amazing Virginia blend. Great crossover for aromatic smokers. I almost don’t believe this isn’t an aromatic. (I mean that in a good way.)
G.L. Pease Union Square just became one of my new favorite Virginia blends. There are just so many good pipe tobaccos out there, and if you’re like me, you buy way more than you can smoke. When I was talking to our Associate Editor, Bob Tate, yesterday, he told me that he has a computer program that calculated that he has 9-years worth of tobacco if he smokes 3-bowls a day, every day for the next 9-years … and of course doesn’t buy any more tobacco. (Yeah, like that’ll happen.)
Balkan Sasieni is kind of an almost famous tobacco … sort of. It’s name implies (and many have suggested, and others have disagreed) that it may be a substitute for the long gone, legendary Balkan Sobranie. I can’t tell you if it is, as I never had the opportunity to smoke Balkan Sobranie. Who cares!?! Balkan Sasieni is here and it’s great, and Balkan Sobranie no longer exists. Get over it! There’s tons and tons of awesome tobaccos and Balkan Sasieni should be on every Latakia Lover’s list. There’s no guessing what this tobacco will deliver as soon as you open the tin - Bam! There’s a smoky smoky Latakia tin aroma that immediately dispels any doubt, and makes you confident that this will be an enjoyable smoke. But wait … there’s more to it than that.
As soon as I open the tin, put my nose inside and inhale deeply, a smile lights up across my face. The delicious smoky Cyprian Latakia comes out first followed by the sweet Virginias. Then, once I realize there are Oriental tobaccos from reading the tin label, I can detect their special nuance that mingles everything together into a mouth-watering tin aroma. Man, this smells so good, I just keep sticking my nose in the tin and sniffing deeply. Mmmm.
The sensory experience of the lighting and smoking went in a different order than the tin aroma experience. Upon lighting Chelsea Morning, the sweet Virginia tobacco makes its presence known first, followed by the tangy Orientals, and then followed by the Latakia. As a few minutes pass, I realize, as the tin says, that there is "just a pinch of Perique". I can’t really detect the Perique individually, but I am sure it is in there doing it’s job as a "condiment tobacco".
In a word - WOW! I suggest you go out and buy as much as you can of Cornell & Diehl’s Tuskegee Airman right now. This is one of the best English blends I have ever smoked and I am going to try to buy all of it for myself. I just rented a U-Haul truck and I am on my way to Morganton, NC to Cornell & Diehl to fill up the truck with Tuskegee Airman. Ok, not really. I don’t want to be that selfish, but I will be visiting C&D in the near future, and I will be adding more Tuskegee Airman to my baccy stash. You should too.
Do you consider the term "Old Fashioned" to be positive or negative? I can certainly think of many positive connotations for the term Old Fashioned, and W.Ø. Larsen’s Old Fashioned is certainly one of them. This is a good ole fashioned, dead-on Virginia / Burley blend where the high quality tobacco flavor comes through loud and clear. If you like Virginia and Burley blends, (and even if you think you don’t) W.Ø. Larsen’s Old Fashioned is a must have for your smoking rotation.
Latakia, Perique and Virginia tobaccos! Hmmm …. what an interesting combination that sounds like! And there’s Turkish Orientals in there too! I bought a tin of McClelland’s Bombay Extra Personal Reserve on the recommendation of a friend that just loves Latakia. Interestingly, while I find it to be quite an enjoyable smoke, it is not a full on Latakia to me. Even more interesting, in other reviews I’ve read, some people say it has too much Latakia and recommend it for the people that just can’t get enough Latakia. I am thinking just the opposite. I would recommend Bombay Extra for someone that wants to be eased into Latakia blends, and definitely for a refined palate that enjoys picking up little nuances of a complex mixture.