Our Score (3.5 / 5)
- Blend Type – Burley
- Blend Contents – Dark Kentucky, Light Brazilian, & White Malawi Burley
- Cut – Flake
- MSRP – $21, 50g tin
- Tin Date – Acquired Oct. 2016
- Pipe Material – Briar
- Bowl Dimensions – .704” W x 1.13” D
Initial Reactions and Appearance
Upon opening my tin, I am greeted by chocolatey-brown ribbons of tobacco with lovely dark caramel striations and lighter speckling scattered generously through. I breathe deep and get a rich, pleasantly full scent that, while a touch floral, reminds me strongly of Turkish figs. There is also a lingering hint of spice that some palates might liken to the scent of white peppercorns. The flakes are quite thin and they break apart readily. I roll them out and let the tobacco dry a little before I load my pipe, a French ROPP “Vintage Superior” briar with a horn stem.
Pipe lit, I immediately find myself treated to a rich flavor that has a sort of brightness to it. As I chase the flavor through retrohale – or “Snork”, as the pipefolk call it – I find that the flavor is woodsy, particularly reminiscent of oak. A generic spice is present from the start, though not in great quantities. Through the first third of the pipe, the oak deepens and the spice becomes milder.
About third of the way into the pipe, the flavor has become savory. The brightness has matured a bit, darkened perhaps, but remains. There is, now and again, a touch of hayloft in the smoke. It is pleasant, a combination of the oakiness and a sort of golden-hay that has cropped up. Once or twice I detect a more green, vegetal grassiness in the retrohale. Things continue to evolve; by the end of the second third, the spice has evaporated almost entirely and the oak flavor has become something less wooden, now a bit nutty.
Running into the last third of my bowl, there are spots of earthiness in some draws, as well as a touch of fig which might make some believe in the presence of Perique in this blend. The earthiness only lasts a few minutes, then recedes, allowing the nutty wood-and-hay flavors to do something lovely: Sometimes I am presented with a taste I can only describe as an old-fashioned pie crust. Through much of the last third, a hint of dark fig-like sweetness can be detected behind the other flavors if I look hard enough. Predominantly, though, I experience a strong, savory note that straddles the line between nutty and woody.
Sadly, the very end of the bowl is not so enjoyable as what preceded it. There’s an almost-sour harshness to the savory flavors that makes it difficult to dig up the earlier nuances I found in the smoke. I keep going until my tobacco has completely burned through, but the harshness remains and I’m left disappointed in the finish.
Would I Smoke Aged Burley Flake Again?
While Solani’s Aged Burley Flake doesn’t end on the highest note, it is definitely something I’d be happy to put in my pipe again. Though both strong and full-flavored, this blend isn’t abusive to the palate and it avoids any measure of harshness until the very end. There was no tongue bite, the smoke remained nice and cool, and the flavors were enjoyable. If I want a smoke with nuance and interest, I can sit down and pay attention to the evolution of this tobacco. Conversely, if I wish to enjoy a pipeful while occupied and I don’t want to fuss over flavor, or worry about accidentally smoking too hot, Aged Burley Flake has power to keep me invested in a smoke without overtaking my other efforts.
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