Adam J. Smith
Tin Description: Soft and Aromatic Blend of all AAA Burleys. From the Website: Prior to 1864, Red Burley was the type of Burley grown in Kentucky. The Civil War was raging and because of the scarcity of seed, George Webb purchased what was available. This new variety, White Burley, proved to be superior and forever changed smoking history. This soft and aromatic blend of all AAA Burleys is testimony to that fact.
Kentucky. Noted for bluegrass, whiskey, barbeque, and, above all else, tobacco. Located smack-dab in the middle of the vaunted U.S. tobacco belt, Kentucky has played no small part in shaping the direction of modern tobacco blends; garnering fame for the creamy and nutty Burley leaf that at one time made up the state’s largest export.
Indeed, even in today’s acerbic atmosphere where all things tobacco are concerned, Kentucky continues to break-ground in the tobacco industry, with the University of Kentucky pioneering experimental varietals and production methods1. This follows a long-standing tradition of genetic manipulation of the Nicotina Tabacum plant; cumulating in the dozens of varietals of raw-leaf available on the market today.
Of course, one would be remiss not to consider the variations in processing as well. From the steamy Cavendish, to the rich earthy dark fired; Burleys provide a stable, inexpensive and mostly neutral base allowing a multitude of processing methods to be utilized, bringing a different smoking experience with each. This can be taken a step further, with the application of flavoured casings and toppings, which take to the mild-flavoured Burley varietals quite well, and one realizes that the broad leafed Burley is truly the "Renaissance Leaf" of the tobacco blender. If you haven’t already, I would highly suggest reading the excellent article by Mr. Russ Oulette on this leaf;Burley – The Rodney Dangerfield of Tobacco.
The Sutliff Private Stock Kentucky Planter pays homage to both the state of Kentucky and the Burley leaf for which it is famous. From the stately plantation house featured in the tin art, to the soft aroma of the burning leaf, this blend captures the essence of Burley tobacco – a no nonsense, mild and mellow all day smoke.
Upon cracking the tin I notice deep, nut and cocoa aromas with a coffee note deep in the background. As the blend reacts to exposure to oxygen, this rounds out into a very pleasant aroma that brings to mind the smell of instant hot-chocolate. Nothing overpowering, just a pleasant, light aroma that lingers on the sinus. Slightly damp out of the tin, I find that a half-hour of drying time benefits this blend nicely although it isn’t required. It is a coarse-cut ribbon of coppery and nut browns, speckled with deep mahogany. I had the best results with the "Three-Stage Loading" method, and of course nothing smokes straight Burleys, aromatic or non-, like a Missouri Meerschaum.
A pre-light draw brings a very mild nutty flavour across the palate, almost undetectable.
From charring-light through mid-bowl, the flavour profile remains very stable, providing a honey-sweet and creamy, rich nut-like smoke, underpinned with a mild cocoa note. Fleeting hints of vanilla and an almost fruity sweetness can be detected, but they are very subtle indeed. Like many Burley based blends, there is an almost dusty mouth-feel to the smoke, which isn’t all together unpleasant.
As I pass through the halfway point, I begin to detect a slight coffee-esque bitterness creeping into the mix, while the honeyed notes all but disappear. A woody, earthy note begins to slip into the background; reminding me of the smell of dry sawdust. These augment the overlying cocoa and nut flavours very nicely, providing a well-rounded and simple smoke.
The smoke itself is creamy and voluminous, and if time is given to allow the blend to dry, it can be pushed fairly hard before it bites back. Smoked directly out of the tin, it will burn hot (read: steamy), causing burn…and if not heeded, bite.
I have found that this blend can turn sour, particularly around mid-point, if care is not taken to ensure a loose pack and light tamping. This is especially true if you tend to smoke quickly.
The burning qualities of this blend are excellent. From charring light through tipping the heel, I rarely find myself reaching for a lighter. If one doesn’t take the time, however, to allow some of the humectant to evaporate, a large amount of dottle can be expected. In addition, I have found that many humectant laden blends, including this one, leave a slightly discoloured ash – although this doesn’t affect the smoking quality of the tobacco, it can detract from the experience.
The room-note on this blend is very pleasant, with the "classic" creamy nuttiness of the Burleys interspersed with a sweet chocolate aroma that is sure to please. Full marks from my wife on the aroma of the latent smoke clinging to both my clothes and my moustache, as well. The nicotine level on this blend is a touch on the low side for my liking, however unlike many aromatics, it does provide a fix for this nicotine addled smoker.
I would not recommend the "Delayed Gratification Technique" be applied to this blend, upon relighting it will become a shadow of it’s former self. Fleeting hints of the classic Burley flavours will slip through, however in general this will result in a sour, bitey smoke.
All in all, this is a great no-nonsense classic Burley blend, and while it certainly is a cased aromatic, a light hand is used. It is exceptionally pleasant for both the pipe-smoker, and those around him (or her). This blend is sure to receive compliments and comparisons to the pipe-smokers of auld. This very manageable blend is mild enough for all day smoking; yet still provides satisfaction for both the hobby pipe-smoker and the slave to nicotine. Although this is definitely a topped and cased blend, the aromatic flavourings don’t provide the constant bombardment to the taste-buds, allowing the natural subtleties of the tobaccos to shine through. Akin to the OTC tobaccos, but presented as a boutique blend, Kentucky Planter is at home both in the fields while toiling with the workers, and on sultry evenings entertaining the gentry at Churchill Downs.
I normally tend to forgo the lightly-cased Burley based blends, finding the addition of condiment tobaccos and/or the application of a heavy casing more pleasant to my palate. That said, this blend will likely not secure a forward spot in my rotation; however I wouldn’t turn it down and if I had to smoke nothing else, I wouldn’t be too disappointed with my lot.
I can also say that I shared a couple of bowls of this blend with a friend of mine who has recently taken up the pipe after a couple of decades of cigarettes. She reports that this is the most pleasant tobacco she has yet smoked, and has quickly become her go-to blend.
I recommend it!
1. To learn more about the efforts of the folk at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, check out http://www.uky.edu/Ag/Tobacco/.