Cornell & Diehl Billy Budd Blonde

A blend of bright Virginia flake, white burley, chopped cigar leaf, and a touch of perique, Billy Budd Blonde is a sweet sequel to the blend originally created for C&D's late friend Sailorman Jack.


Brand Cornell & Diehl
Series Melville At Sea
Blended By  
Manufactured By Cornell & Diehl
Blend Type Cigar Leaf Based
Contents Burley, Cigar Leaf, Perique, Virginia
Cut Broken Flake
Packaging 2 ounce tin, 8 ounce tin, bulk
Country United States
Production Currently available


Extremely Mild -> Overwhelming
None Detected
None Detected -> Extra Strong
Room Note
Unnoticeable -> Overwhelming
Extremely Mild (Flat) -> Overwhelming

Average Rating

3.39 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 11 of 18 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 29, 2024 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable
I think it fair to state that, across the wider spectrum of media, you tend to encounter an assortment of distinctive commentaries relating to the subject of pipe tobacco. Largely, these editorials commonly reflect the individual experiences or informed opinions of fellow enthusiasts. Frankly, my present company is no exception. Accepting that there are general and objective constants relating to a given leaf varietal or say a specific genre that can easily be expanded upon, there is nevertheless, a factor regarding the delicacies of interpretation that can play into the overall matter. Therefore, the earnestness of a tobacco might be somewhat of a personalized sentiment as a point of fact.

For instance, we sometimes find that our ventures upon a particular mixture’s taste may be vastly different than say five other pipers. And with that, truthfully, there is no right nor wrong, but simply a collective “is”. To frame the matter as a dichotomy I fear is all but misgiven if not practically unnecessary. Actually, if you stop to think about that circumstance, clearly the development of interpretive diversity lends a shared value to all in the end.

Formally, at least in my own mind, perceived taste per se is an absolute function of biological endowments, the active condition or sensitivity of the palate, and ultimately the expression of relative experience. And on that thought, each one of us is uniquely different by nature, lest the world would be of limited character. Putting it in different terms, although we might be the captains of our own vessel, respectfully, each one of us may read the prevailing headwinds differently.

Expanding further on this quaint naval motif, as it does seem to nicely align with the featured blend of discussion, it appears that the attraction found within our shared passion is quite similar to the adventures common sailors meet upon the rolling seas. Namely, the personalized thrills and drifts charted throughout the journey are boundless, apprising, and often quite inspirational. Relating foremost to this matter then, I suspect Hemingway expressed it best in clarifying that we are merely apprentices in a craft where none ever becomes a master.

Although our experiences do instill a basis of practical knowledge which can lend credibility and worth, like most things in life, expertise upon the subject is a rather True North concept. Principally, one never quite reaches that ultimate destination, but can foreseeably advance towards that direction. Regardless, with qualified certainty, it is along that very trek where the satisfaction of embarking upon new courses within the expedition can be wonderfully enriching.

For myself it has been a long awakening voyage, but you know, at times when I undertake a new blend excursion a rediscovery of things maybe circumstantially forgotten can unfold. On certain occasions, I continue to learn something fresh in the process about the subtleties of a particular leaf combination or even about the depth of my own palate’s moodiness. It just goes to show that much could be said regarding the joys found within new experiences let alone the enlightenment obtained by retaining a critical mindset of discovery.

Like the glee felt by many a sailor upon seeing a new sun rising across a different skyline, we pipers can find illuminating fortune from the rays emitted by the simple pleasure of an alternative pipe tobacco. When all the pipes have been smoked and related thoughts have been gathered, do share those with others. For, in my judgement, it is an opportunity to give and take with the best of intentions. Philosophical or brotherly musings rolling through my head on this day? Why yes of course. Granted that your individual perspective may be to some extent different, but again, that is how the beauty of cooperative thinking benefits all my friends.

Calling to port is the third from Cornell & Diehl’s Melville At Sea series, the fair-haired brother of Billy Budd himself. Unlike the rolling waves that crash upon its brethren’s deck, Billy Budd Blonde pilots the piper amid a cruise of placid currents, ones that ebb much lighter and crest with a sweeter, docile disposition. Taking of the themed lineage, the recipe enfolds the best of the genealogical Virginia, Burley, and cigar leaf strains, nonetheless. Yet in lieu of the heady staunchness of Billy Budd, Cornell & Diehl has bartered with the commanding latakia in replacing it with the enhancements of sweetening Black Cavendish and a spot of relaxed Perique seasoning. Although the flag flying upon the mast on Tobacco Reviews logs Billy Budd Blonde to be a cigar-based offering, Cornell & Diehl officially sorts this mixture as a properly inspired Virginian.

As to be expected, a visual inspection of Billy Budd Blonde reveals a gruff and surly looking combination of vitalized tobaccos. This jagged specimen is principally comprised of a coarse stew of meaty broken pressed slivers and loose long ribboned Virginia. Mustering high and wide given the freely chiseled construction, in close quarters are varying flecks of beefy, oily cigar leaf, gnarled lashings of thinned White Burley, sparse bits of Acadian Perique and clippings of quiescent Black Cavendish. Decidedly lighter in its weathered countenance, the decking of Billy Budd Blonde’s ship is painted with tints of chocolate, grayed umber, sable, lighter shades of sliding ecrus, coffee, and of course bleak ebony. Harboring a surface mass that is exceptionally rough and drier in moisture, to the touch, the grains of the blend feels dense, unkempt, and genuinely trial-hardened in spirit.

Despite the tenacity of its looming appearance, Billy Budd Blonde’s standard jarred essence evokes primary notes of quieting sweetness that selectively overrides an inviting aroma of tangy Virginian grass. Further colorization of this base persona finds way in the airs of an herbal spice that resounds with a potent greenness, peppery earthiness, and a musty wisp of soured tart.
With the presentation, Billy Budd Blonde offers an authentic blessing of stodgy determination, yet the feel is graced with an offsetting softer sweetness. In general, the mixture poses as a standard Virginia-Burley that has been enlivened by the presence of a little complementing cigar leaf and a dash of darkening Perique. Ideally the latter condiments heartedly lend the tobacco with the dimension of depth and an edge of differentiated character. Still, the apparent modified Virginian remarking is definitely the forward feature within the overall registration. Furthermore, a moderate degree of movement is found especially within the streaming of the condiments but naturally the profile holds a fairly uniform fuller bodied taste for the balance of the bowl.

Forming the mainstream of flavor the brighter Virginian emits a big wave of sweeter toasty citrine grass that is tenderized with the succulence of tangy orange cream-like accenting. Additionally, there is a wholesome standing of nuanced salty bread and a stimulating run of sprucy floral that are supported by warming highlights of diluted caramel sugar. Further accentuating the colorfulness of this leaf one can find a collective spiciness that springs forth a nice oaty-hay quality along with innuendos of passive tart.

Playing in tandem with lessor vibrato, the background middle band hosts a well checked partnering of sour nutty Burley. Common to the core, this varietal is however fancily ornamented by a medium roasted coffee ambience. I surmised that it is the influence of the cigar leaf and Acadian combining with this White strain that brings out a tinge of darker fruity woodiness that circulates among the peripheral spills. Otherwise, I would suspect that quite possibly there is a spotting of Dark Burley hiding within, but that is merely a supposition on my part.

The most complementing presence is provided by the inclusive cigar leaf. However, this leaf renders a calling that is less pronounced as compared to the importance it is assigned within that of big brother Billy. With the original, the choice of select cigar leaf is a common Maduro strain and if I am not mistaken, Cornell & Diehl has opted for the same within this blonde version. Primarily the Havana persona follows the very same zestful chocolaty pepper stream as its main projection. Furthermore, notes of maple cedar, and herbal pined earthiness collude in unison to define the cigar leaf’s principal character. The resulting commenting floats about with varying importance but does consistently leave its mark on the combined melding. Functionally, the cigar leaf’s effects seem to tame the “want to be” overly dominant Virginia-Burley tendency.

Being generally reposed, the resident Perique emerges within the expanse of flavor with an intermittent showing and undemanding nature. For the purposes of proper recognition, its influence comes in fits and starts within the front upper tier with a moderate degree of significance. However, the strain largely prefers to bind or calmly immerse itself within the more forwardness of the cigar leaf. As a result, the taste profile is a bit more enlivened by additive colorfulness on the top trimming. In practice the strain revels in the affluence of peppery pruned sweetness balanced with a deepening musty mushroom flair. For all practical purposes there is just enough Perique in attendance to be appreciated and felt within the nasal cavity, but its contribution is more tertiary than not.

And last, the subject Black Cavendish contributes a bit of herbal wooded zest as well as some clean notes of a corn syrup sugared accenting. Clearly the strain plays a vital role in sweetening the total affair as well as facilitating the cultured blending of the distinctly flavored individual components held by the recipe. What is more there is substantial evidence of its materiality within the plumes of sincere medium browned gray smoke that are effused throughout the extended session.

As I mentioned the vapors that Billy Budd Blonde produces are more than impressive for a Virginia based alternative. Generally the smoke quality and texture tapers out smoothly and fully dressed during the consumption. The resulting room aroma is established with a defined residual push of the spicy earthiness of the cigar as it interplays beautifully with the sweet mocking of roasted Virginian grass. Moreover, edging this base fragrance are some annotating airs of light sourness and sweetened darker must. Its presence is somewhat formidable while being fast settled in endurance making it most likely a tolerable acquaintance at best.

As many times as I have partaken this Melville inspired concoction, I have found that it tenders best within the confines of an aptly proportioned briar. Chiefly, seek one that is relatively sizable in inner diameter and a bit shallower in its cavity such as the pictured Peterson. With that, you shall optimally experience the distinct nuances that the tobacco has to offer as well as the greater complexity that lies within its wider profile. Equally, the generated heat of the Virginian content will be less of a factor which lends more enjoyment to the complete experience.

Appropriately, Billy Budd Blonde stands as a medium strength blend in that the nicotine effects are generally felt with moderate intensity. Mechanically the tobacco does burn well with an even and cool pace given the recommendations of pipe and a calmer cadence. I am confident that you will find this blend to be mellow and satiating in its standard sweeter spicy presentation on the whole. And on one final note, I will say that objectively, Billy Budd Blonde fairs well with respect to performance and the demonstration of the standard tenets of its explicit sorting.

Getting back to the original point of discussion, wiser men have stated that the truth of a matter is rarely pure and definitely never simple, a premise that even applies to pipe tobacco. Upon concern to that notion, consider my shared comments for their face value, but as always, take the opportunity to form your own certainty. So in conclusion my good pipers, it seems that the earnestness of the tobacco burning within the sailor’s cob, whether that mariner be you or me, is therefore an expression of mixed assessment. Logically, the subjective merit that each of us assigns to a particular tobacco is quite sensible to our own individual bearing, which is not only natural, but most truthful if you follow.

Objective Scoring: (basis: flavor, standard genre/leaf attributes & mechanicals): 154/181 ? 2.8 WAVG.

Subjective Rating: (factored for likeability & cost): 3.3 Pipes.

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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 21, 2019 Medium to Strong None Detected Medium Tolerable
Cornell & Diehl - Billy Budd Blonde.

Often as not, a blend titled Cigar Leaf Based deters me. I love a nice cigar, but like pipe tobacco in my pipe over the day, and enjoy a cigar at night. However, I decided to give Billy Budd Blonde a go!

Because this was supplied in a bulk pouch from I can't comment on a tin's moisture, but this was perfect. In the medium brown mix, although there's as lot of ribbons, I can identify a fair few larger broken flakes. The aroma's quite coarse and rugged.

The smoke: the cigar leaf isn't running the show, this gives a touch of 'dryness' to the smoke, and cigar flavour, but in no way makes the blend reminiscent to smoking a Romeo Y Julieta through a pipe! I get a roughness from the Burley, some vibrancy from the Virginia, and a definite fruitiness from the Perique. These leaves all seem quite well-rounded with one another, and share the profile nicely. The burn from it, as I expected from the moisture, is faultless, the smoke has a medium temperature, and I get no tongue bite.

Nicotine: quite strong. Room-note: not the best.

Billy Budd Blonde? Although it wouldn't make it into my rotation I feel it's a well made blend which warrants three stars:

Pipe Used: Dagner Christmas 2015
Age When Smoked: New
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 18, 2018 Medium to Strong None Detected Very Full Tolerable
Summary: a good strong half-n-half with fullness from cigar leaf and a bit of zing from Perique.

When I created "Massacra" a few years ago, I wanted to make a tobacco that preserved the classic American half-n-half flavor of melded Burley and Virginias but added in the high-intensity impact of Perique, while borrowing the classic English plug-style blend that used dark fired leaf, and giving it some body and glossy sweetness from cigar leaf. C&D have undertaken the same mission with "Billy Budd Blonde," which uses their "Virginia flake" -- a mixture of bright and orange Virginias that is thoroughly amazing -- as its base, along with some strong Burleys, Perique, and cigar leaf that appears to be in a lightly-pressed partially rubbed out flake just like the "Virginia flake." The Perique is a background player, adding a bit of bittersweet zing to the mix, and the cigar leaf fades into the background after the first quarter of the bowl, leaving only the half-n-half flavor, which is best expressed as being like a walnut bread or almond cake. This creates a smoke which offers sweetness with a constantly-changing depth, bringing out the best of English and American mixtures in one. Despite the heavy ingredients, it is not super heavy on the nicotine, so you could smoke this all day, and I would, too, if I'd followed my gut instinct and ordered a few pounds.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jun 05, 2018 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
I was not a fan of the old BB, finding it too harsh and confusing. However I do (did) love Habana Daydream and still stick to Bayou Night, Tuggle Hall and Atlas Balkan.

This one tastes like sweet grass clippings. I realize it was intended to be a lighter version of a heavy tobacco, but I find the VAs to be too grassy and prominent. There is a sweetness in here that seems out of place. The Perique is fairly far in the background as is the cigar leaf and neither are likely to offend anyone. The white burley tempers the Vas but do not seem to add much taste.

Smoking qualities are excellent, very natural, utterly no bite. However, it is the lack of flavor and body, for me, which tips the scales.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 07, 2018 Medium to Strong Medium to Strong Medium to Full Tolerable
Another of my forays into the realm of burley-based tobacco, smoked several pipefuls and I find this an interesting blend with an array of flavor.

A much younger sister or maybe cousin to the original and latakia laced Billy Budd, I was attracted to this blend due to my fondness for cigars, in fact, I’ve smoked this several times in replacement to my usual Friday/Saturday evening cigar.

The flavors are more like ripples, they seem to come and go, not sustained…like a good cigar, alternating in an interesting and not unpleasant way. At times, you’ll get the grassiness of the virginias, the fruitiness of the perique, nuttiness of the burley, and yes, threads of cigar notes…ah yes, the reason we’re here.

More like a friendly competition in flavors working in harmony, it’s hard to say there’s anything that stands out or overwhelms in a negative sense. Really, this is like a parfait of taste, again, not at all unpleasant.

From flame to ash, there was nothing I found detracting and this was truly pleasant to the bottom. Billy Budd Blonde won’t replace my routine cigar, but it does bring a nice bit of variety, and like a good cigar, offers a welcome prism of flavor.

Smoke this if: You like cigar-leaf blends, perique, big blooms of smoke, and a headiness of flavor.
Pipe Used: Varied
PurchasedFrom: Smoking Pipes
Age When Smoked: Months.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 14, 2020 Medium to Strong Extremely Mild Medium to Full Tolerable
Cigar leaf based? That’s what I thought, Billy Budd minus the Latakia; but it wasn’t until I found “the right pipe” for Billy Budd Blonde that I could certainly detect the cigar leaf. For my first several smokes BBB was a spicy VA/Per with plenty of fragrant, bitter white Burley, and I might not have thought about cigar leaf had I not been alerted to it ahead of smoking it. This review is based on smoking BBB in “the right pipe”. In case anyone cares, my preferred pipe for BBB is a very old Danish with rock hard, bone dry briar and a tall, conical bowl.

My sample is from bulk. Since I “discovered” the cigar leaf I can also smell it in the bag now, too, yielding up a lot of the spices. It melds with grassy, spicy, flue cured VA, savory, spicy Perique, and floral, sharp, wood resin-y, bitter white Burley. Short ribbons and small chunks are easy to handle, load, light and it smokes down with ease. There is plenty of smoke, with a terrific fragrance, like the world’s best smelling wood burning at a safe distance. This is a very spicy blend that many will want to keep throttled back in terms of cadence. All the varietals are spicy, and mostly from mid-band, up, with a subtle, lower “foundation” from the cigar leaf, which comes across rather like DFK, except more peppery/cigar spices. The lot is sweet, sour, bitter, very spicy, and savory. Strength is medium to strong, with the nicotine keeping pace. Tastes get toward full the way I smoke it. Room note is OK. Aftertaste is a slow trailing off of the best of the smoke, only sweeter.

It took a while, but in the end Billy Budd Blonde turned out even better than I’d hoped. I’d wound up down rating original Billy Budd because bad tasting additives to the Latakia rose up over time. Although BBB is not just the original minus the Latakia, in any case it wound up getting better instead of worse for me. IMO, this blend is best suited to veteran pipers. 4 stars.

Update, 04-29-22: Just smoked some BBB after lunch today. I noticed something I did not mention in my initial review concerning the pipe I use for BBB, and I decided to mention now that this pipe wicks heat like a nuclear cooling tower. This pipe gets hotter than Hades when I smoke BBB, and the tobacco stays cool, as I puff away. This absolutely gives me the option to pull harder for stronger tastes, and I seem to exercise that option. I actually like this blend better now than I did when I reviewed it.
Pipe Used: best was big, conical briar
Age When Smoked: from undated bag
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 30, 2019 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant
There is too much going on here. This tobacco seems to evolve against two different levels or parallel lines that go hand in hand with each other. On the one hand you have the sort of mellow, creamy and nutty dimension coming from its burley side. On the other one, the sweet, spicy and citrusy profile that is added by the bright Virginia flake it contains. And the marrying of these two different fronts is seamless, that is, without fault, immaculate and flawless. The combination of flakes and rough cut means this is a very slow burning tobacco that will smoke quite cool in your bowl. I detect some sort of Oriental leaf in the tin note. The smoking experience is quite complex, evolving into different levels as you progress through every quarter of your bowl. Also, I am finding it very consistent right from the start down to the bottom. Quite remarkable. It has depth, consistency and a level of complexity. 4 Stars.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 01, 2018 Medium Extremely Mild Medium to Full Unnoticeable
If you love VaPers and Virginia/Burley blends you'll find this to be right in your wheelhouse. The pinch of cigar leaf combines beautifully with the base ingredients to give the blend an oriental character, which I find delightful. This should appeal to fans of GLP's Temple Bar. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if GLP created this blend.

The tin description notwithstanding, says that there is black Cavendish in the mix; but I can't detect it -- either visually or in the taste (except that there is a modicum of sweetness.)

No packing, lighting, or burning issues; and it produces dense, luxurious clouds of smoke.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 29, 2022 Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable
This one pulls off something quite interesting.. An extremely delicate smoke especially coming from C & D.. but it also does maintain something of the rustic charm or edge that the blending house is known for.. They have many tobaccos, but not all of them walk this line.. The balance between bright virginia, white burley and perique is just perfect in my opinion.. the cigar leaf just seems to add texture and subtle flavor and maybe some strength.. It's sweet and slightly dry and bitter and spicy.. I agree with the flavor assessments of the other reviewers.. If you are expecting more of a powerhouse you may be disappointed. On the other hand, if you like kind of more subtle light tasting mixtures that still have a little nicotine kick, this one is a must try.. I really like it.. another great cigar blend.. that also smells quite nice during the smoke.. just maybe not to bystanders.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 05, 2018 Medium Extremely Mild Medium Tolerable
Interesting...Both in the pouch aroma and while smoking it...I got this big VA/Turkish vibe. But there’s just the Burley, Cigar Leaf, Perique & Virginia. The Perique & Cigar Leaf combo must be fooling me into thinking ‘Turkish”. Shows you I would never make it as a ‘taster’. Certainly well blended though. Seemed very well mannered. Honestly, it was just what I hoped it would be. Very pleased indeed.

Interesting...about five years ago I tried some of the original Billy Budd. Gag me with a stick! I found it intense, hot, harsh and reeking of Latakia. I couldn’t finish a second a hot dancing Gypsy just wantin’ to steal yer watch. But the Blonde...take out the Latakia and sub in Perique...Bazinga! Like a quiet, tasty, eager to please girl next door. Soooo much better.
Pipe Used: Custom full bent naked acorn (group 4)
PurchasedFrom: A gift.
Age When Smoked: Pretty fresh,
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jun 18, 2021 Medium None Detected Full Very Pleasant
I should warn the reader that I have zero experience with cigar blends. If I wanted a cigar, I smoked a cigar. I am going into this completely inexperienced and open minded.

This blend really epitomizes a pure tobacco experience. The cigar leaf melds harmoniously into the mixture in that it nudges the other components, never speaking singularly. A chorus of tobacco and more tobacco. The lit room aroma, sidestream, and taste to some extent all share one characteristic, the distinctive smell of a tobacconist with at least several patrons or employees smoking. This takes that classic cigar store smell and puts it in a pipe. It is bitter bakers chocolate, spice, earthy dark tobacco, a vaguely smoky, leathery sense all competing for one’s attention .

Unfortunately this blend can be quite bitter, and though I personally love all things bitter, I’m not sure this works to BBB’s advantage. I found that this smoked much more evenly if rubbed out even further. Has a tendency to develop quite an ashy edge in the second half of the bowl. Not at all a bad smoke, and not one I would rule out ever smoking again. It’s good but not great.
PurchasedFrom: SP
Age When Smoked: Fresh bulk
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