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How Quickly Does Burley Age?

(25 posts)
  1. trubka2

    trubka2

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    I've always had pipes a couple tins around, but I recently retired from chain-smoking Reds to take up pipe-smoking full time, and I'm new to "serious" pipe-smoking. Two months later, all is good, got the basics down and enough pipes to make it work. Now I'm quickly accumulating a very haphazard cellar as I search for a rotation interesting enough to carry me through 7-15 bowls/day (without burning my tongue off). Pardon my preamble - just a caveat and an excuse for a noob question.

    Uhle's 00 got me through the first stretch (still love it, but it gets a little boring), and then I tried C&D Billy Budd (tin), OJK and Haunted Bookshop and loved all three, especially the nutty-sweet note, so I figured that maybe C&D burley is my jam and ordered a bunch more bulk: re-upped on the HB and added Big n Burley, Morley's Best, Mountain Camp. I got in this second batch (same online retailer), and it all tastes like hell. It's just bitter and metallic as could be (I don't mind "cigarette-y" - give it to me!). I can't smoke any of it; well, I can, but it's no fun. I noticed that this second batch of bulk HB has a lot more big chunks of flake, less fine shake, and is more springy and moist overall. It seems to be from the top of a new tub/bin/bag/whatever. That got me to thinking: Maybe the fairly short period of time it takes for the store to go through a bin of bulk stuff is enough for the burley to age a bit and lose that bitter edge. So, I jarred it all up and socked it away. To finally get to my question: Would it be stupid to think that this stuff might get smokeable in a few months or so? I know there's only one way to find out, and that's to try it again in a while, but it would help to know in advance if I was totally barking up the wrong burley tree with this C&D stuff and should broaden the search further (I've already ordered some Gawith, Hoggarth burley blends). Thanks in advance for your collective wisdom, from which I've already benefited greatly while lurking on this forum the last couple months!

    Posted 4 months ago #
  2. diamondback

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    I know Virginias age very nicely. As far as burleys, I’ve only anecdotal experience: I don’t care for ‘new’ C&D’s OJK. I had a few bowls (always using a cob for burleys) of it ROTT, and disliked it immensely. I set my small 4oz sample back in the cellar for probably 3-4 months, got it back out and I liked it a lot more. Of course several factors could be at play, and again, it’s anecdotal.

    Incidentally, member Panhandler has got me on an experiment: half HB & half OJK. I’m ‘aging’ the mix for a couple months before trying it. He likes it so I’m giving it a whirl.

    Anyway, welcome to the forum! Oh, also, since you mentioned tongue burn (and I get the impression you’re somewhat new to pipe smoking) be sure and dry your baccy good and sip it slow! Your tongue will thank you. If I’m mistaken in what I gleened from your post and you’re well aware of these pointers, please accept my apologies

    “Well, I can’t cure death. This is bad, Morty. You’re trapped in a dead man. Listen, if the situation keeps darkening, do yourself a favor and pop by Pirates of the Pancreas. Obviously I’m biased, but I think it’s great, Morty. It’s a bunch of *belches* pirates running around a *belches* pancreas. We don’t whitewash it, either, Morty. I mean, the pirates are really rapey.” - Rick & Morty
    Posted 4 months ago #
  3. chasingembers

    Embers

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    How quickly does burley age?

    That's the beauty of burley. Virginias will change somewhat over time, but burley really doesn't much. It may mellow some, but for the most part it remains the same for years.

    Damnation seize my soul if I give you quarters, or take any from you.
    -Edward Teach
    Posted 4 months ago #
  4. haparnold

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    First of all, if you haven't tried Three Friars, you're missing out.

    I agree with Embers that burley isn't thought to be a leaf that changes a lot over time, largely because it has a lower sugar content than, say, Virginia. But I think there's an element of 'coming together' that happens to a blend that isn't related to some chemical process, as much as that when you store a bunch of ribbons of various leaves together, they kind of integrate and 'infect' one another with their own flavor. So you might be right when you say a brand-new blend needs a little aging, but it may be less about fermentation and more about the oils in the leaves, etc. blending together.

    Note: this is purely a guess. I hope someone in the know chimes in.

    De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum
    Posted 4 months ago #
  5. cosmicfolklore

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    Trubka2, I've skipped the responses, because I didn't want to get side tracked in addressing your OP. I don't think any of those blends would show any significant changes in just a few months. Really, I wouldn't expect any tobaccos to do that. Those you mention do have a Virginia component to them, so if you were patient in a few years, they would definitely be some differences, but how much, or how much you like the results may vary.

    Does Burley age? Of course it does. But, whether or not you like the results may vary. How long does it take? that really is a variable that someone who ages those specific blends could better answer, but whether you agree with "their" tastes might vary as well. Also, Virginias are known to age well, but really it takes many years before I notice "much" of a change in those also. The edge is sometimes gone within a couple of years, but the flavors are still the same, IMO.

    My advice is to set those blends aside and come back to them at a later date. Don't rely on the aging, because most of the time, when we don't like something in the beginning, we eventually like them later as our tastes evolve. Or, maybe not. But, it is better than just throwing it away.

    Some of those you mention are big favorite with a lot of our members, and a few I really like also. So, I think that they are smokable now, fresh, as I have never aged Billy Budd, Mountain Camp, OJK, nor Haunted Bookshop. Maybe, you just have to set them back and the next time you try them, you will be more acclimated to what to expect. YMMV

    Michael
    Posted 4 months ago #
  6. cosmicfolklore

    Cosmic

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    This has become a forum cliche, but try drying them out to slightly crunchy. The moisture in the leaf can sometimes be the culprit of bite and tongue fatigue. I really like my tobacco dry and packed tight. It seems to make the flavors more easily discernible to me. But, once again... YMMV

    Posted 4 months ago #
  7. seanv

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    Try to smoke slower as well. Some blends will get cigarette like if puffed too fast.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  8. blendtobac

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    A few months might help take the edge off a blend, but that usually applies to a Virginia-based blend that tastes sharp when new. Because Burley has little sugar for fermentation, it will take longer aging to notice a difference. Also, the casing used on the tobacco will have some effect on aging, but it's quite minor. I also second what Cosmic said. Sometimes all you need to do is step away for a while and try a blend again. It may change your perspective.

    Russ

    Posted 4 months ago #
  9. cosmicfolklore

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    Russ, would you say that the blends that get the edge taken off after a couple of years are really experiencing a development in fermentation, or is this a gassing off of... maybe ammonia?

    Posted 4 months ago #
  10. bassbug

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    I've tried Golden Extra, which is primarily burley, fresh from the tin, after about 6 months and after 2 years and honestly could not taste a significant difference. Having said that, I was recently lucky enough to get some London Burley, which is the same blend just under a different name in the past. The tin was from the mid 80's. The first thing I noticed was how much darker it got. The tin note was almost exactly the same as the fresh stuff but the taste was definitely mellower and sweeter. I'm guessing its the virginia component that did it.

    I don't care who you are, you're not walking on the water while I'm fishing
    Posted 4 months ago #
  11. mso489

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    My clliche is, Virginia ages but burley keeps.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  12. sittingbear

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    If I were you, and smoking that many pipes a day, I might invest in a few Peterson P-lip pipes. It's one of those "love 'em or hate 'em" things, but I love mine as it really saves the surface of my tongue! Also, keep some hard candy nearby as sugar seems to help alleviate tongue bite. As to your question, however, I have not noticed the taste of Burley to change significantly with age. My advice is to find a handful that you love and stock up. I have noticed more consistency with the "macro" blends (Mac Baren, Lane, Sutliff, etc.) and flake cuts as opposed to boutique ribbon cut blends. I could be imagining that, though. In any case, while the tobacco might not change significantly, your tastes and moods definitely will!

    Posted 4 months ago #
  13. bazungu

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    If burley does not change with age, why would Solani take the effort to age its 'aged burley flake'? Food for thought!

    Posted 4 months ago #
  14. bassbug

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    All depends...what exactly does "aged" mean? 6 months, 6 years? 6 weeks?

    Is it possible that "aged burley flake" is just a marketing motto?

    Posted 4 months ago #
  15. trubka2

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    Thank you very much, kind people, for sharing your knowledge and experience! No hope for "quick aging," then. It sounds like the solution, more than anything, is to put _me_ in a jar, so to speak, and let me age for a bit. My palate is certainly undergoing rapid and interesting changes, that's for sure! Many thanks also for the reminders to dry my blends and smoke em slow. One learns the smoking basics rather quickly when bringing a big need for nicotine to pipe-smoking, alas, but I still need the reminders - if I'm not paying attention and consciously slowing myself down, I start chugging away in search of nicotine. Luckily, drying is not a problem at our house, where the ambient relative humidity hovers around 20% in the winter.

    In any case, thanks again! The quest continues! (Smoking my first Lakeland as I write, brown flake scented - puzzling, but delightful, and it's got some N juice to it for sure.) It's just mind-boggling how much pipe tobacco adventure there is to be had out there. I feel like I'm standing on the shore of a newly discovered continent, a really big one. I should've made the switch from ciggies years ago - this is so much more interesting!

    Posted 4 months ago #
  16. jiminks

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    Bassbug: Burley London Blend and Golden Extra are not the same product. They use different burleys, and I believe GE has more Va. than BLB did.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  17. pipestud

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    Ditto the great JimInks. London Burley was introduced about 10-12 years after Golden Extra according to the Mac Baren Website. London Burley contained a specially processed white Burley that Ma Baren had trouble obtaining the last few years before dropping the blend in 2014, also according to their website information. The two blends are indeed similar though, and I really like both of them.

    Pipestud
    Posted 4 months ago #
  18. trubka2

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    Wow, quite a forum you all have here! I've read hundreds of the last two posters' reviews on TR (thank you for that!) and really enjoy some blends I just realized were probably created by an earlier poster. No doubt other posters are equally deserving of admiration - and will forgive me for being too much of a noob to know their work yet. Man, I'm totally pipe-star-struck!

    Posted 4 months ago #
  19. snagstangl

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    The Bulk C and D i buy is much better after 6 months in a jar. I have read the same opinion on this and other forums concerning C and D's stuff. This is also why I think burley does age, but most noticeable change happens in the first 6 months to a year and after that I agree with others it is pretty stable.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  20. bassbug

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    I defer to the two much more experienced and knowledgeable members above

    Thank you for the correction and teaching me something new today.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  21. davek

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    this second batch of bulk HB has a lot more big chunks of flake, less fine shake, and is more springy and moist overall. It seems to be from the top of a new tub/bin/bag/whatever.

    +1 on drying it. Sit enough out for 5-6 bowls and try it over time as it drys till it's very dry. Might surprise you.

    Posted 4 months ago #
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    headhunter

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    I have always thought C&D burleys are packaged young. They have great burleys but benefit greatly for 6 months or a year of aging.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  23. hoosierpipeguy

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    If burley does not change with age, why would Solani take the effort to age its 'aged burley flake'? Food for thought!

    Because potential customers see that, associate aging with better and reach in their wallet.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  24. blendtobac

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    Russ, would you say that the blends that get the edge taken off after a couple of years are really experiencing a development in fermentation, or is this a gassing off of... maybe ammonia?

    In my opinion, the answer is...yes. In some cases, especially with blends containing a decent amount of Virginia, fermentation is definitely a factor. In other cases, such as blends that have Burley that isn't fully cured, the gassing off of ammonia is a great benefit. Aging is almost never a bad thing, except for long-aged Latakia blends which may become too "soft".

    Russ

    Posted 4 months ago #
  25. trubka2

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    [quote]In other cases, such as blends that have Burley that isn't fully cured, the gassing off of ammonia is a great benefit.

    Many thanks! The apparent contradiction (Burley doesn't age/ferment much, but C&D Burley tastes markedly better after some time in the jar) is now starting to make sense. My jars with the offending tobacco do give off a distinct odor of cat piss/Windex. In two cases, past bulk orders of the same blends that weren't as fresh didn't have this smell at all and were, to me, delicious. In the curing of other botanicals, a strong ammonia odor 2-12 weeks after cutting is explained as a by-product of the continuing breakdown via fermentation of residual chlorophyll and other compounds into carbohydrates/sugars; if that smell is still there, curing isn't done and/or the material was dried too quickly after harvest, thus inhibiting full breakdown. I have no idea if that's actually true, and I ain't no botanist, but it's a very widespread, longstanding folk etiology that's apparently borne out in practice. In any case, this would explain not only the ammonia smell but also the bitterness I'm experiencing, which reminds me of particularly bitter radicchio: curing isn't finished, so the sugars aren't there yet. It also explains the metallic taste I'm getting (like sucking on a lead sinker): ammonia smells metallic when heated (ever get some window cleaner on a hot car hood?). And, finally and most fortunately, it explains why, like snagstangl, headhunter and diamondback, I can expect to enjoy these blends after some more time in the jar (with occasional burping) rather than investing more in my preliminary Burley-based blend selection just yet. And I could care less about the wait because UPS just dropped off a nice selection of British flakes, plugs, ropes and shags I've never tried before!

    Posted 4 months ago #

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