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Burley Tobacco - Pipe 101 - Cigars International

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Before we get into this discussion, we need to a little background. Each of these varietal families (Virginia, Burley, Oriental) is a direct descendant of Nicotiana tabacum. Through genetics these distinct types have been developed along with numerous hybrids of each variety. Also, just like cigar tobacco, the microclimate where the tobacco is grown, the trace elements in the soil, and the specific way the tobacco is processed have a great affect on how the tobacco tastes when smoked. Virginia tobaccos are the most widely grown varietal family in the world, growing in Maryland through the Carolinas and other states, in Canada, from Central America to Brazil, several African countries, in Europe and Asia; and is a base tobacco in many pipe tobacco blends. While most of the Virginia grown in the world is used for cigarettes, higher grade varietals and heavier leaves are used for producing pipe tobaccos. Burley tobacco is a light air-cured tobacco used primarily for cigarette production. Air-curing is a process that lasts between four to eight weeks. When the middle leaves are ripe, the whole plant is harvested (stalk-harvesting) and then air-dried. Burley tobacco is picked and hung in large open sheds to cure or to allow the moisture in the leaf to evaporate; no heat or smoke is added. The result is a light reddish to dark brown leaf with a mildly rich (nutty or cocoa) flavor approaching similarity to cigar tobaccos (dark, air-cured). It's a low sugar, high nicotine, slow-burning tobacco with a very subtle flavor. Burley is the second most popular pipe tobacco in the world because it burns evenly, stays cool, doesn't bite, and readily absorbs flavorings. In pipe tobacco, burley is often used as a base for aromatics or to modify the burning characteristics of a blend. In the United States it is produced in an eight state belt centered around Kentucky and Tennessee. Burley tobacco is produced in many other countries with major production in Brazil, Malawi and Argentina. Burley is the second most popular pipe tobacco in the world because it burns evenly, stays cool, doesn't bite, and readily absorbs flavorings and casing. Burley, though not very aromatic, is very useful in blending. It contains almost no sugar, which gives a much drier and fuller aroma than Virginia. Burley tobacco burns slowly and is a cool smoke, which makes it a nice addition to blends that tend to burn fast and strong. The Burley tobacco has sugars added to it to give it a sweet taste. The sugars are what gives Burley tobacco it's unique flavor and don't be surprised to find that you can taste caramel in the tobacco ... that's coming from those burnt sugars. The taste changes if the tobacco is roasted at very high temperatures. In this way the tobacco's fine aroma comes out fully, and the taste and strength become round and full, almost nutlike. Burley is quite the chameleon! It can hide in a blend, taking on the characteristics of the dominant tobaccos around it, while providing increased body, a heavier mouth feel to the smoke.