9 Highest Rated Burley-Based Pipe Tobaccos

Burley is often an unsung hero of the pipe tobacco blending arsenal. It is applied to many mixtures to bring balance and strength, but when given the chance to really take center stage, the results are fantastic, it just might take the right blend to bring it all together. The consensus seems to be that these blends are champions of showcasing Burley's greatness. From stout flakes spiced with Kentucky, to traditional American style Burley blending, to mixtures that center the air-cured leaf that aren't so precedented—Burley makes for a far more versatile base than is often noted. We'll take the opportunity to celebrate that here.


Note: It wouldn't make much sense to have feature a blend with a perfect rating from only two reviews here, so this list is created by filtering for blends with 50 or more reviews, are currently in production, and choosing the 9 highest rated among the results. The rankings, review counts, and ratings are accurate to Feb 20, 2024 and will be updated periodically.


1. Mac Baren - HH Burley Flake

Mac Baren HH Burley Flake

Reviews: 80       |      Avg. Rating: 3.63

A burley dominated flake containing tobaccos from 3 continents. Besides burley, this flake also contains ripe Virginia tobaccos and a small portion of dark fired Kentucky.


HH Burley Flake, crafted by renowned Danish blending house Mac Baren, is a distinguished pipe tobacco blend that celebrates the essence of the air-cured Burley. As the defining component, Burley lends its characteristic earthy, nutty, and cocoa flavors to the forefront of the smoking experience. Virginia tobacco complements with a subtle sweetness while Dark Fired Kentucky contributes a hint of spice. The blend is then hot-pressed into flakes, allowing for a slow and even burn, thus ensuring the full enjoyment of its nuanced flavors.


2. Gawith, Hoggarth & Co. - Kendal Kentucky

Gawith, Hoggarth & Co Kendal Kentucky

Reviews: 80       |       Avg. Rating: 3.48       

This entry in the Gawith, Hoggarth & Co. Kendal line is one hundred percent dark fired Kentucky leaf. Exceptionally full and well rounded. Kendal Kentucky is a full-bodied, full strength tobacco of 100% African grown (Malawi, Uganda, and Tanzania) variation of the actual Kentucky seed. These tobaccos are fire cured which gives them their distinctive aroma and flavor. This is a fairly strong, but exceptionally cool tobacco for the lovers of dark fired Virginias.


Gawith, Hoggarth & Co's Kendal Kentucky offers a bold and satisfying smoke that is sure to captivate aficionados of robust tobaccos. The shag-cut offers an effortless burn through which the hearty Dark-Fired Kentucky boasts its full flavor. Hickory and barbeque smokiness dominate the palate. While an excellent smoke for stout tobacco lovers, it’s a great tobacco to have on hand for spicing up a blend that’s missing a little flavor and boldness too. 


3. Solani-656: Aged Burley Flake

Solani 656: Aged Burley Flake
Reviews: 265       |       Avg. Rating: 4.42      

Notes: Blender R.L. Will developed a unique toasting process to enhance the natural sweetness of this blend. No sugar has been added. As of 2022, licorice is the main flavoring "with a hint of chocolate", as per the label. The burleys on the tin are now listed as white burley only.


A testament to the timeless appeal of classic Burley flakes, Solani-656 is a must-try for aficionados of the genre. It is heralded by many as the most suited alternative to the legendary Edgeworth Slices—some say superior even. Subtle hints of cocoa, licorice, nut, and molasses intertwine harmoniously, creating a symphony of taste that is deep and satisfying. While these nuanced flavors add a layer of sophistication, they never overshadow the inherent character of the Burley leaf.


4. Cornell & Diehl - Burley Flake #3

Cornell & Diehl Burley Flake #3
  Reviews: 55        |       Avg. Rating: 3.42

Burley Flake #3 is a blend of cool burning burley and rich, dark fired Kentucky which team up with a bit of fine Virginia for the natural sweetness and welcome fragrance. Lastly, C&D added a dash of perique for additional nuance.


Cornell & Diehl is well represented in these rankings, which comes with little surprise. They have long been proud advocates of the American staple. Though their contributions go well beyond this series, the Burley Flake series is a prime example. With Burley Flake #3, we get a harmonious blend of bold Burley and robust Kentucky, showcasing rich and earthy flavor. Virginia sweetness and Perique spice accent for a complexity that adds layers of intrigue to the profile. A substantial body, but not too overpowering, Burley Flake #3 is a modern classic within the genre. 


5. 4noggins - Bald Headed Teacher

4noggins - Bald Headed Teacher
Reviews: 79       |       Avg. Rating: 3.37

The old-fashioned burley taste comes through in full form, nutty and brisk, hitting on tangy notes along the way as the Virginia components catch on. There's just enough Latakia to provide no more than perhaps a seasoning effect.

4noggin’s Bald Headed Teacher takes things a bit more to the Aromatic side. With a delicate vanilla topping, the natural sweetness is elevated just enough for a nice harmony with the smoky, woody Latakia. While the Latakia is light, some find it significant enough to wade in English territory, or the less-applied “American” genre. Regardless of the murky classification, the nutty and molasses Burley is ever-present, making for a unique blend within any category. 


6. Peterson - Irish Flake

Peterson-Irish Flake

Reviews: 437       |       Avg. Rating: 3.35

A full bodied blend made of equal proportions air-cured, flue cured, and dark fired. True to the pure, unspoiled tobacco taste. Recommended for the experienced pipe smoker.

Peterson Irish Flake is a robust and formidable blend, renowned for its intense strength and rich, full-bodied flavor profile. This blend strikes a harmonious balance between boldness and complexity. The substantial Burley base makes for a hearty foundation atop which the Dark Fired Kentucky brings dark smoky and floral richness. Finally, Virginia is added, contributing a touch of sweetness and dark fruit to bring the blend into balance for a multidimensional smoking experience.  


7. Cornell & Diehl - Pegasus

Cornell & Diehl - Pegasus

Reviews: 94       |       Avg. Rating: 3.34

Three burley tobaccos, two Virginias, and a touch of unsweetened black cavendish form a classic American blend, hearkening back to the days when burley was king in American pipe tobacco blends.


Crafted by the late Bob Runowski, a revered figure in the world of tobacco blending, Pegasus embodies a connoisseur's appreciation for the rustic allure of Burley tobacco. Burley is central in Pegasus, offering a refined take on an American tradition. The woody core is smoothed and given a sweet accent with the addition of Black Cavendish and Virginia leaf, just enough to let that modest air-cured tobacco shine. The accents bring dimension to the profile without competing with the central character. 


8. Tabac Manil - La Brumeuse

Tabac Manil - La Brumeuse

Reviews: 80       |       Avg. Rating: 3.33

Semois leaf is a rich, pure leaf burley tobacco that is grown and processed in Belgium in the Ardennes Valley (Val Ardennais) - think Battle of the Bulge. Highly reminiscent of smoking a cigar, but in a pipe, it is a fascinating tobacco that has been highly regarded in Europe for well over 100 years. From start to finish, the flavor becomes more and more pronounced, giving a reliable and enjoyable smoke. This is the thick-cut version (gross coupe).


Tabac Manil La Brumeuse is a testament to the singular artistry of Vincent Manil, who meticulously tends to every facet of its creation, from cultivation to packaging. At its heart lies Semois, a distinctive variety of Burley tobacco grown exclusively in Belgium. Championing this niche, each of Manil’s blends are blended from Semois, and La Brumeuse is especially celebrated. The usual tasting notes of woody and bready often applied to Burley hold true here—floral also comes to mind—but it is a unique creation that any appreciator of Burley ought to experience. 


9. Cornell & Diehl - Big 'n' Burley

Cornell & Diehl - Big 'n' Burley

Reviews: 75       |       Avg. Rating: 3.29

Primarily sweet, long-cut Burley seasoned with small amounts of Latakia, Turkish, and a dash of Perique for added flavor. This big blend from Cornell & Diehl is a light English for Burley lovers.


Cornell & Diehl's Big 'n' Burley is a bold and dynamic blend that lives up to its name, placing the spotlight firmly on the woody, cocoa Burley tobacco. However, the condimental leaf fulfills Big ‘n’ Burley with a symphony of flavors that captivate the senses and leave a lasting impression. This robust foundation provides a solid backbone for the blend, atop which Perique and Latakia artfully spice things up. Perique adds a touch of spice and depth, while Latakia imparts a smoky, woody character that enhances the overall flavor profile. To further elevate the blend, Oriental tobacco is introduced, bringing a distinctive flavor that adds depth and nuance to the base. 




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