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This traditional mixture of rich Virginia, Latakia and rare Yenidje tobaccos is Sobranie's oldest blend and offers a mild yet rich taste. A cool and long-lasting smoke.

Notes: Presently, the best readily available production/date information is per John C Loring's "DATING ENGLISH TINNED TOBACCO", 1999:

1970s: (and prior) Sobranie Limited, Sobrainie House 1970s: (briefly) Sobranie Limited, 17 Worship Street 1970s: (late) Sobranie Limited, Chichester Road 1980s: (early) Sobranie of London, 65 Kingsway 1980s: Sobranie of London, 34 Burlington Arcade 1990s: Sobranie of London, 13 Old Bond Street

Then Gallaher produced this blend until the mid-2000s.

BrandSobranie of London
Blended ByHouse of Sobranie
Manufactured ByGallaher
Blend TypeBalkan
ContentsLatakia, Oriental/Turkish, Virginia
FlavoringNone
CutRibbon
Packaging50g Pouch, 50g Tin, 100g Tin, 200g Tin
CountryUK
ProductionNo longer in production
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Strength
Medium
Flavoring
None Detected
Taste
Medium to Full
Room Note
Pleasant to Tolerable

Favorite Of 13 Users

3.5
87 reviews
Reviews
4 star:
70
3 star:
9
2 star:
5
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Eulenburg Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Eulenburg (193)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Very Full Very Pleasant

BALKAN refers to the Greek Macedonian yenidze [ jenidze, yenidje, etc.] tobacco that gives this blend its characteristic flavour and aroma. I know of no other in which this essentially condimental tobacco is so much to the fore. It has a peaty, brackish astringency that is quite unique as a taste?it reminds me of some olives, in a way. To this is added a large quantity of fiery, tenebrific, real, SYRIAN latakia, all of it held together by the background?and it is very much a background?of red Virginia.

You can see how it is a hard composition to blend, with ingredients often hard to obtain, and whose consistency over 130 years has been variable to say the least!

That and its uncompromising flavour do not augur success with the masses. It was always ?caviare for the general?, and not, lately, much of a money-maker: English tastes, in this as in everything else, have become coarsened and vulgarised; and so, once it was deprived of its big American public, this blend simply became problematic and unprofitable. It has now disappeared altogether.

I guess I first tried it nearly 35 years ago. I have smoked it many times since, but it never became part of my standard repertory. It was an occasional treat, like the driest gin. The insistent Turkish twang was fun, but not all the time. I always found its sister blends, RATTRAY?s Red Raparee and DUNHILL?s London Mixture more conservatively and more finely integrated; in comparison, Sobranie seemed a little bloated sometimes, a little relentless. Its post-modern re-incarnation, BALKAN SASIENI, is the same mix, yet not the same mix at all: the grade of tobaccos and the proportions may be the same, but modern-day orientals seem to be blander, more generic than formerly, and the Cypriot ?latakia?, a nice tobacco in itself, is like California ?chablis?: the more it tries to be, the more it is not.

I suppose a classic chapter in pipe-smoking is now closed, although I am sure that lovers of this blend in its heyday would envy us our personal acquaintance with people like, say, G.L. Pease. To everything there is a season, if I may coin a phrase.

21 people found this review helpful.

Amsteracqua Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Amsteracqua (22)
★★★★
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

First: I never really imagined smoke the legendary The Balkan Sobranie. A two or three months ago one friend called me on the facebook messenger, and says me: "Hi, i have a some tins from The Balkan Sobranie...". I had thought: O My Lord, J.F.Germain's new blend already arrived here in Brazil... But later he said, these tins are the Original Balkan Sobranie, and was propriety from a collector, who died and your daughter gave me. This tin, my tin, had more or less 30 years, and was perfectly conserved, yesterday a smoked the last bowl... during all the time I used a Savinelli King Cross, This is a small pipe, burns a 20 minutes, but a did a 40 minutes... for enjoy each portion of this tobacco. Many people say of the Balkan Sasieni, McClelland's Blue Montain are examples of tentatives from your blenders to get close of the Balkan Sobranie. Now I know how was the original and now i can compare. Has a rich experience for me and this tobacco was a unique in months because even when stored for so long, still provided good smoked, full of flavor. I will prove the New Balkan Sobranie and I really wish they would have achieved a blend as good as the original, because I think just like that, honestly, never will be.

Pipe Used: Savinelli King Cross

Age When Smoked: 27

10 people found this review helpful.

JimInks Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JimInks (2158)
★★★★
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

I smoked a lot of this from the 1980s until the mid 2000s, and it was my main "go-to" English blend. The Orientals and Turkish gave a tasty wood, spice flavor that created a perfect balance with the smoky, woody sweet Cyprian latakia. The Virginia had a grass and hay taste with just a hint of sweet creaminess and dark fruit to provide a camp fire aroma. There was light unflavored soda note or two along with some dry wood from the yenidje. The 1990s and later versions have drier in taste than it was in the 1980s, due to the decrease in the red Virginia. The nic-hit was mild. Burned at a moderate pace, cool, clean and fairly smooth with a very consistent flavor. Required few relights and left little dampness in the bowl. All versions had a nice after taste, and were all day smokes.

Having smoked the late 1960s and the 1960 versions, I found the red Virginia was a little more prominent, and the Syrian latakia was used, which created a drier, lightly less fragrant smoke. The 1980's and later versions used Cyprian latakia which added a little different sweetness to the mix. The yenidje seems to have been the same in all versions. The amount of red Virginia was decreased by 1982.

9 people found this review helpful.

Pipestud Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipestud (1825)
★★★★
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Very Pleasant

This is my favorite in the old Sobranie line. Not as heavy on the Latakia as 759 and plenty of that marvelous old Yenidje leaf to sate the palate.

For me, this is a very difficult tobacco to review as I don't really have anything to compare it to. Perhaps its uniqueness is one of the reasons why so many pipers love it.

The Original BS smoked mellow, cool, dry and somewhat sweet. The Latakia was toned way down, yet was a presence. I have been fortunate to smoke many of the older tins, but the leaf lacks the punch it contained when fresh. Old tins these days are just too mellow - although still MARVELOUS!

6 people found this review helpful.

Virginia lover Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Virginia lover (191)
★★★★
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

I got my hands on a 25+ years old tin that needed rehydration. After using the paper towel method and transferring the whole thing into a jar, I waited for a few days so that the tobacco flavors settle.

A musty, fermented, sour and Latakia rich smell invades the nostrils as I fill my pipe. The tobacco ranges from black to dark brown, there are some lighter bronze strands but overall it's a dark mixture.

The medium to fine ribbon cut lights easily, the intoxicating flavor is instantly upon me. The Virginias drive this tobacco for the most part, with the Orientals making an appearance from time to time, all this under the supervision of a most delicious Latakia that has a red wine like flavor.

The Latakia is leathery, smoky with an characteristic peat flavor. The dominating Virginias bring a good amount of tang and subdued sweetness that sometimes, play with the Orientals that are deliciously sour with a sparkling taste, for lack of a better word.

It's a slow burning, cool and dry smoke with an incense like aroma, very smooth. I realize that even though The Balakan Sobranie is gone and that the tobaccos used in it's making are no more to be found, you can still get quality stuff from some dedicated blenders, finding them could be quite a challenge though.

I can see why this tobacco is the one that started the whole "Balkan" designation. Balanced to a fault, yet it's the sum of its ingredients that makes it so distinctive and so hard to imitate.

Smoking this mixture was a unique experience. I feel elated and relieved that I managed to have TBS so that now, I can become a better judge when it comes to distinguish between, the somehow subjective appellations of "Balkan" and "English". I can now fully enjoy Abingdon, Lacer's Slices and any other mixture that I can relate to as my ideal Latakia mixture, my holy grail.

5 people found this review helpful.

SteelCowboy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
SteelCowboy (685)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

When I first reviewed BS, I did it with the old TR website and compared several era’s to the new blend by Germain. Since TR has now carved out the new BS under Germain, (a good thing), here are my thoughts on the “old” Balkan Sobranie. As I said in my first review, it is difficult to make comparisons with this blend because even in the days prior to the current Germain production, there were many changes to BS. IMO, the 70’s version, which is the oldest I have smoked, was outstanding. It was a creamy, well rounded smoke with the perfect balance of Latakia, Virginias and Oriental tobacco. It was the perfect blend IMHO. This was true for me into the 80’s too, but by the time the 90’s came about, the blend had changed and not for the better. Once it was in the 90’s plastic fold up, the Latakia was more dominate and not due to the blend being less aged. I do find the 90’s version to still be good and similar to the current Germain version, but overall it was a shadow of its former self. To be a very good blend in the “downfall” years speaks to how excellent it was in years past. It’s hard not to look at the whole ball of wax and not say that this was one of best blends ever made.

5 people found this review helpful.

Swiss-smoker Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Swiss-smoker (62)
★★★★
Strong None Detected Overwhelming Pleasant to Tolerable

This spectacular blend stands on top of the rostrum of the Hall of Fame, together with famous 759, and only few others. Still nowadays the TBS and the 759 are THE benchmark for all Oriental Mixtures. Countless proficient blenders have tried hard to copy it. Only a few got somewhat near to it. The unequalled art of original TBS and 759 is the most perfect ever marriage of the very best Latakia with the very best Orientals in a bed of robust Virginia, delivering an overwhelming palette of aromas. This is fact for both, The Balkan Sobranie and the 759 Mixture. I am not going into the subtle differences of these two blends of heaven. Those who regularly smoke them in the past, already know. If I was given the difficult choice of one tin, either TBS or 759, I would go for TBS. Matter of personal preference.

In the late 70s and 80s I took this mixture for granted and smoked a lot of it and I highly appreciated it – until it suddenly disappeared. Thousands of pipe smokers have been lamenting since. But let us be honest: the incredible variety of mixtures available today – and there are a lot of excellent ones – offer several perfectly acceptable and enjoyable alternatives for EVERY pipe smoker.

I am grateful for having had the opportunity to smoke plenty of TBS for many years. I also liked other mixtures of “Sobranie of London”, like the rare Birdseye Cut, and the famous 759 for example. But IT’S GONE NOW, like many others, by the way. C’est la vie! I have found many delicious blends that perfectly match my needs, and I enjoy smoking them as much as I did TBS. And I am always happy to try and evaluate new mixtures. Take care of and estimate your favourites, they may disappear as suddenly as TBS did.

4 people found this review helpful.

JimInks Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JimInks (2158)
★★★★
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

For some reason, this seems to be listed twice here, so this review is the same as the Sobranie of London entry. I smoked a lot of this from the 1980s until the mid 2000s, and it was my main "go-to" English blend. The Orientals and Turkish gave a tasty wood, spice flavor that created a perfect balance with the smoky, woody sweet Cyprian latakia. The Virginia had a grass and hay taste with just a hint of sweet creaminess and dark fruit to provide a camp fire aroma. There was light unflavored soda note or two along with some dry wood from the yenidje. The 1990s and later versions have drier in taste than it was in the 1980s, due to the decrease in the red Virginia. The nic-hit was mild. Burned at a moderate pace, cool, clean and fairly smooth with a very consistent flavor. Required few relights and left little dampness in the bowl. All versions had a nice after taste, and were all day smokes.

Having smoked the late 1960s and the 1960 versions, I found the red Virginia was a little more prominent, and the Syrian latakia was used, which created a drier, lightly less fragrant smoke. The 1980's and later versions used Cyprian latakia which added a little different sweetness to the mix. The yenidje seems to have been the same in all versions. The amount of red Virginia was decreased by 1982.

3 people found this review helpful.

BingCrosby Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
BingCrosby (72)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Strong

I would like to start out by saying that i am extremely annoyed by the two main ways this blend seems to be reviewed.. on the one hand, there is the reactionary camp who compare their current experience to the echoes of memories of long lost years.. then there is a progressive camp that seems all too willing to embrace and wax poetic on something they have recently discovered. moreover, to put it bluntly the overall hype of something, mainly because of its rarity does a great disservice to those trying to take it for what it is, and experience something as it exists now. although i have nothing of great worth to say to sway someone one way or the other i can try to describe my own subjective opinion briefly and to the point, but the ultimate judgement or perception is up to you. the blend i am smoking is the current j f germain version. i find it to be very well put together.. at first i thought, wow, this is not radically different from balkan sasieni.. i find that the overall first impression is not all that different from other balkans. but that makes sense considering this is considered the benchmark, therefore a lot of imitations have hit upon it, and some very well. what i like most about it is not necessarily the overall impression.. i like the details and the subtlety. it touches upon every flavor component.. sweet, bitter, salty, sour, savory, spicy etc.. but it remains one package.. it is not a shocking experience.. it is kind of gentle and simple in a way. so my 2 cents are- don't expect to be knocked on the head with epic greatness, don't listen to all the flowery stanzas.. just smoke it and see for yourself.. i like it very much

update: I found a small clump of hairs in my tin.. couldnt tell if they were of human or animal origin.. could this be the secret ingredient to balkan sobranie? was it merely an oversight at the factory, or is this really some kind of mythic witches brew. in any case, all humor aside, it hasnt effected the quality of the smoke

3 people found this review helpful.

SteelCowboy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
SteelCowboy (685)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

Over the past year I have been slowly smoking 50gm's from the early 1990's and this review is based on that now finished tobacco. I wanted to make sure my review didn't reflect a myth.

The very first thing that stands out for me is how "buttery" the Orientals are in this blend verses others. I do not know if this is a result of aging or as it was at that time as I was an avid cigar smoker in those days and never smoked a new tin. Secondly it is very balanced with each tobacco playing very well together. The flavor is very deep and rich and burns to a clean white ash. A very, very smooth English. If my wallet actually agreed with me, I would be seeking out much more of this wonderful English blend. It is my understanding that the version that I was smoking was not the quality of tins sold in the 1970's. If this is the case and the viewpoint hasn't been romanticized too much, I can see why this was a Hall of Fame blend as even the era that I smoked was excellent. Some reviewers have claimed this to be sharp or harsh and I did not have that result, but it could be due to the age of the tobacco. At least for this one time, the cost of the tin was well worth it.

It remains to be seen if the new production, coming from a quality blender that currently has trouble meeting demand for its best blends will be able to supply enough product and of high quality. I am rooting for them as this is very highly recommended!

=UPDATE=12/31/11*

I was gifted a fair number of bowls of the new Germain production BS and smoked it side by side with my remaining 1990's era BS. This is SOMEWHAT of a comparision, understanding that I am comparing a new tin verses an aged tin and the 90's era Original Mixture was, by most accounts, not the best era of the blend. So with that in mind, I find the new Original Mixture to have the same creamy/savory quality of the 90's mixture. I find it to be better balanced and the flavor is outstanding. The cut is comprised very thin ribbons that are a little too moist, but given the cut, it dries quickly. The quality of the tobacco is very high. It burns very cleanly and leaves a white/grey ash. Germain has really done a fine job with this blend, so much so that for my personal taste, the new era BS wins hands down! I hope that the folks at Germain have considered the demand and are prepared to meet it rather than leaving pipe smokers frustrated with a lack of supply. Four Big Stars for the new Original Mixture!

3 people found this review helpful.

Ocelot79 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Ocelot79 (13)
★★★☆
Mild None Detected Mild Pleasant to Tolerable

Here's a current review for March 2018. Like everyone else who's been smoking as long as I have, I can confirm that this is nothing like the old tins we used to smoke decades ago. BUT it is a very nice baccy all the same; mild, well-behaved and very smooth indeed. It's not even Balkan Sobranie 'Lite', but just has to be seen as a new thing - comparison to the old stuff is useless and misleading. A calm and smooth creamy smoke with hints of that 'Turkish' taste here and there - but they are very very mild indeed; so mild that you will often forget that they are even there. It's a little like a bowl of Squadron Leader but even smoother and milder, and without the spicy and sometimes peppery 'orientals'. I think it was a mistake to name this Balkan Sobranie; it would have done much better as a new blend under its own name and in its own right, because, for what it is, it's actually very good.

Pipe Used: new Meerscaum

Age When Smoked: new

Purchased From: Iwan Ries

2 people found this review helpful.

L'Italiano Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
L'Italiano (170)
★★★★
Medium to Strong None Detected Very Full Very Strong

A LEGEND. There are no words to describe this wonderful, fantastic, exciting english mixture. I have smoked for three years this unforgettable tobacco. Virginia, Latakia, Yenidje (oriental) of the best quality. Top of the top. A very full taste, so well balanced that is impossible to immagine something better. Unequalled tobacco, this mixture remains a mystery. No one was able to come near this excellence. In my personal rating (from 1 to 10) here is the perfection and my score is 10 with eulogy and obviously 4 stars. THE LEGEND.

2 people found this review helpful.

Tripjoker Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Tripjoker (65)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

Original Review 12-25-11 This review is for the newly released J.F. Germain version.

A very good friend of mine that smoked pipe since his youth in the 1930's passed away a couple of years ago. He was instrumental in my starting to smoke a pipe in the early 80's as he hated my cigarette habit. When he passed, I was notified by his widow that I had been left his cellar and pipe collection. There were many very nice old Dunhill and GBD pipes along with about 50 odd assorted tins of aged tobacco. Included were 6 tins of the old 759 and 3 tins of the #10. Unfortunately, there was no Original Mixture. I will always thank him for his gift of friendship to a man 50 years his junior. His life experience was invaluable to me in many ways.

You see, this story is what I think of when I hear the name Sobranie. When Germain reintroduced the Sobranie Original Mixture, I was eager to try it. I had no experience with the blend previously but, had tried the others years ago. (I still haven't cracked the tins I recieved from him.) It was unavailable on any of the internet sites, so I called one of my local B&M suppliers and found he had 3 tins instock.

The tobacco in the tin is finely cut, almost a shag. The smell is definately english/balkan in nature. Cyprian latakia is present along with turkish in the nose. The virginia presents itself in the form of a winelike aroma.

The tobacco was a little wet in the tin so some airtime was mandatory. Afterwards, it loaded nicely and lit without trouble. The flavor on first light is latakia dominate. The flavor becomes more balanced as you get into the first quarter of the bowl. Buttery is a nice description. The winelike aroma of the virginias translates to the flavor and is sublime in the mix. The virginias appear to be aged nicely. No bite whatsoever. No bitterness.

The tobacco presents a fine white ash when burnt. And when dried properly, leaves no dottle in the bowl. No pipecleaner needed during the smoke.

The flavor is very nice but, could use a bit more weight to it. The nicotine content is not heavy at all, but a solid medium. This should be approachable to all but the most puny of smokers. Not a terribly expensive blend, so value is not really a concern. I do hope they reintroduce the 759 as I would be more intersested in it, but they have done a fine job with this.

Cheers!

Update 02-25-12

This is a fine tobacco. Air time and letting it open a bit was all it took to take this to a new level. Germaine is producing some of the finest tobacco available and this is no exception. If you try this, the best thing to do is open the tin, put it in a jar and introduce air every so often(read once per day) for a couple of weeks. This will provide you with the best smoking experience.

Remember that not all of the tobaccos available back then are available now. This is the closest I have ever tasted to the original product. Age will make all the difference. 5 years from now, a tin of this stuff will be as sought after as the old stuff.

Cheers!

2 people found this review helpful.

DoctorThoss Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
DoctorThoss (146)
★☆☆☆
Medium None Detected Medium Strong

This is perhaps the most interesting review thread on here, dedicated as it is to a legend rather than to anything that still exists. There were many incarnations of the Balkan Sobranie, and every reviewer here seems to be referring to a different one. Personally, I've only tried two of them. I smoked a pretty good amount of the BS that was sold in the 1990s, and just recently opened a pouch of the last version (sold outside the U.S. until around 2005, if I understand correctly). Hence, I will split this review into two parts....

The BS that was available to me in the 1990s could be purchased at just about any tobacconist as well as many chain grocery stores and drug stores. It came in a pouch and in a large tin. As much as I loved (and continue to love) latakia, I can't say I ever really loved this particulat mixture. I smoked a good amount of it, but largely because there were so few latakia blends that were easily available. I often mixed it with other tobaccos to get something closer to what I wanted, sometimes adding some perique or cavendish. The BS at that time was basically a latakia dump with just enough VA and oriental leaf to add a hint of sweetness. There were also undertones of olives and spice.... Not terrible, but nowhere as good as the many Dunhill mixtures I occassionally got to try. Of the many Balkan blends available today, I would say that G&H's Balkan Mixture is the closest match to this, only the G&H product is considerably better. I would have rated this version of the BS as a two star blend, or maybe 2.5 if I were feeling generous.

The more recent version, however, was absolutely disgusting. Almost no sweetness, the olive notes tasted rancid, and the latakia was so muted as to be undetectable. The mixture was overwhelmingly harsh and acrid... really vile stuff. I almost feel that one star is too good for it! I was quite disappointed, as I'd paid a decent amount for several of the pouches from a vintage seller and now must figure out how to dispose of them...

This review is not meant to disparage older versions of the BS, as I've never tried any of them. I can easily believe they were every bit as great as their reputation claims. If nothing else, they served as the inspiration for the whole genre of Balkan mixtures available today, and some of my favorite blends fall into that category (Odyssey, Abingdon, Magnum Opus, Wilderness, etc.). Unfortunately, the versions I've tried ranged from "decent but unspectacular" to "horrible." I would call it a shame, but there are too many truly great mixtures around now to mourn this stuff at all.

2 people found this review helpful.

DK Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
DK (839)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium Very Pleasant

I smoked a few tins of this several years ago (before it became a classic) and found it good but unmemorable. In the present day, this has gone out of production and is considered the standard to which all balkans are measured. So I began a quest to find some, and I found several pouches. I've finished two of them.

Quite frankly, this tobacco is much better than I remembered. The tobacco came super-dry in the pouch and required almost a month of rehydration. If it's true that this means a tobacco never is as good as when fresh, this tobacco must be magical, as it is as good or better than any balkan I've ever smoked. This starts out with a nice, sharp flavor of latakia and orientals and is perfectly balanced. The aroma is heavenly, and I repeatedly left the room and re-entered so I could enjoy the room bouquet. It's one of those tobaccos that you can't help smoking an immediate second bowl of, and I caught myself doing just that numerous times.

This is something everyone should try and find. Comparisons to Balkan Sasieni are obvious due to the tin art but Sobranie is miles ahead in flavor and depth. For virginia smokers (such as myself) that think balkan mixtures cannot contain the depth of a good VA flake, this one makes a strong argument for the defense. I don't mind the premium prices this blend commands; it's worth it.

2 people found this review helpful.

Jorge Soler Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Jorge Soler (129)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Full Pleasant to Tolerable

I used to smoke this tobacco mixture back in the early 90s. It's been quite a long time since last time I had a bowl, but I was very familiar with this tobacco, so I can rely on many pleasant recollections to write this review. The cut was rather coarse and zigzagy, not quite a proper ribbon cut, and the tin note was tangy, sort of fermented, because of the orientals. Every time I cracked a tin open I'd marvel at the mosaic of colours, ranging from black, grey and bright leaf. As for the nicotine it was rather medium, but that was offset with the full-bodied smoking experience. This is a tobacco that evolved quite nicely as you progressed with you smoke, never got dull or sour. The smoky latakia was always there, but kind of pushed into the background by the orientals. Also, I'd not get any sweet or earthy notes from the virginia leaf. In true honesty, I used to rotate this tobacco with Murray's Early Morning Pipe and Standard's Mixture, just for a change of pace, but I have never smoked something quite like it. This is probably the best English/Balkan type tobacco I ever had and I can only wonder if I will ever smoke it again.

Pipe Used: briar

Age When Smoked: Probably 1

Purchased From: Some tobacconist in Spain

Similar Blends: Any latakia blend, but not quite. This tobacco is unique..

1 person found this review helpful.

Henry Mars Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Henry Mars (21)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong

Ok ..lets all get over the Balkan Sobraine tag because this stuff isn't anything like the stuff I smoked in the '60's and 70's, in fact, it reminds me of Bill Baily's Balkan a bit. All of that said this is a 4 star smoke. It needs to be dried out quite a bit before smoking. I also like the shag cut because it burns easily without many relights and leaves a gray ash in the bottom of the bowl without excessive moisture contamination.

It is well blended. The various component tobaccos weave a tapestry of flavors that seem to change constantly and there is enough Latikia to keep my attention. So it is a keeper.

My only gripe is that 70% of the blends that I smoke are made by Germain and most of them are almost impossible to come by. I could see this becoming my "go to" blend except that it to is mostly unavailable. So if you are going to feed me, feed me but don't dangle a carrot in front of me and then take it away because it makes me angry. So I will back off of this stuff until there is an adequate supply and then I will buy a truck load of it because I really like it.

1 person found this review helpful.

Tantric Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Tantric (302)
★★★☆
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Strong

Like many of the more traditional English blends, Balkan Sobranie's original mixture has changed hands a number of times, leading to different versions. I remember smoking the tinned one a number of times and then the one in the metallic paper pouch. They were definitely not alike. The tinned version (c. 20 years ago) had for me an almost mystical, incense-like quality, very powerful, that somehow induced a trance like state. I would light up and after the first few puffs, everything around me would cease to be important. The deep bitter sweet undertones of the mixture, combined with a certain degree of mineral saltiness had me transfixed, as if submerged within Alban Berg's music; a beatific state interrupted only when the wife, alarmed at the strong odor, would barge into the room--broom in hand--to chase me out of the house. Cool and slow burning, it was a tobacco that imposed itself on the smoker, providing a great variety of flavors within the Balkan range. Strong but never overwhelming, after a bowl of BSOM I felt satisfied enough not to smoke again for a number of hours.

The newer version seems to me drier, saltier and sour. It has a certain raw edge to it that I don't really care for, and I find it lighter in flavor. It is not really bad, but something got lost in the transition. Though it is still a very good tobacco, the industrialized process of its manufacture has forced it to join the ranks of those blends (Gold Block, Rich Dark Honeydew, Highland Sliced or Three Nuns plastic pouch) that can only be a pale reflection of their old selves.

1 person found this review helpful.

King John Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
King John (2)
★★☆☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Very Mild Pleasant

Yesterday I opened my last remaining pouch of the 1994 Sobranie Mixture, to see whether it would bring back memories. It was dry as dust, despite being sealed. Ideally, I should have kept it in the freezer. The tobacco note was odd, phenolic, like TCP (trichlorophenol), a smell you sometimes encounter on the London underground. The smoke note however was more like what I remembered, though for a more accurate Proustian journey I will have to try to obtain an unopened tin from the 1960's if they still exist.

Similar Blends: Ashton's Artisan, Peterson Balkan Delight, Old Ironsides..

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rade19 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
rade19 (7)
★★★★
Medium Medium Full Very Pleasant

This is by far the best English Balkan blend ever made including the suppose Gallagher version. Sweet, soft, creamy, leathery, a perfect balance between its components.

Pipe Used: savinelli

Age When Smoked: 10 years

Purchased From: Wesley southafrica

Similar Blends: No one.

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snupi Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
snupi (3)
★★★☆
Medium Medium Medium to Full Tolerable

Blend with a characteristic, a bit stronger room note and taste. I would not recommend it to very beginners (altrhough bit was one of my own choices in my early beginnings some 45 years ago)

Pipe Used: all brands I posess (about 45)

Purchased From: different tobacco stores all ovet the world

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Kokinhenik Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Kokinhenik (47)
★★☆☆
Medium to Strong Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Without question this was the most anticipated tin I have ever opened. So it was very perplexing when I got tongue bite, tongue bite, tongue bite. Every bowl. I've never had tongue bite from a Balkan before. Not sure what to make of this. Is anyone else having the same problem? As for flavor...its ok. I find Nightcap, Penzance and Black Mallory to be more complex.

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derlict311 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
derlict311 (70)
★★★★
Strong None Detected Full Strong

Anyone who disliked Germain's Balkan Sobraine can send their tins to me. I don't see how one could find fault in this fine blend. The smell alone is divine. I feel like a snobby tobacco smoker when this is in my pipe. Highly, highly recommended.

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under the arbor Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
under the arbor (13)
★☆☆☆
Overwhelming None Detected Extremely Mild (Flat) Unnoticeable

Stop the madness boys you're reviewing something that no longer exists. The "Junk" you're writing about is produced by J.F. Germain, not the "Real McCoy" or even the 2005 Gallaher version for that matter. The lack of clarity is the fact that the site has two listings for BS [sic] THE B S. If Gary Pease ruled the world you'd all have your pipes confiscated and your palates tested for nerve damage. I've never had any version other than Germain's entry and again it's "Junk"! Actually another word comes to mind, but we'll leave it at junk for the younger more impressionable segment of our fellow readers.

PS: Save your coin if you think that Sasieni is going to get you any closer to those bygone days I personally think it's somewhat better than BS but not much. I'm no expert but I think that both today's Sobranie and Sasieni (made by Stokkebye) are using poor quality VA's that produce that (combined) effect and sensation of, as another reviewer has written, "smoking hot air"

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82piper Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
82piper (8)
★☆☆☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Extremely Mild (Flat) Strong

Like probably so many other pipers, I eagerly awaited the opportunity to find this blend in stock and purchase. Finally I was able to secure a tin. I must say I am very disappointed. I never smoked any other version of this, but the original had to be 100% better than this flavorless stuff to acquire it's legendary status. There are much better offerings available today and I will not be purchasing another tin of this "one tin per purchase" rip-off (and I truly expect my review will be "ripped" into, so have at it guys).

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CPT/VSG Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
CPT/VSG (72)
★★★★
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

Given the legendary status of House of Sobranie tobaccos, I'm sure many will be dissapointed but the taste of the re-introduction--heritage and legend aside--makes it a staple for my rotation (at least to the extent that I can find it).

It's hard to add to the excellent reviews of this wonderful tobacco. Mine was from a Gallagher 50g pouch. I can only imagine how good the original issue was; I smoked it in my college days (1970s) and also smoked the Sobraine-made Smokers' Haven blends (which I still smoke in their Germain incarnation) but the taste memory has faded over the years. The Gallager version is, to my taste, rich and satisfying; smokes cool and is perfectly balanced between components. Hopefully, the rumors are true that this is being brought back blended by Germain. If it were, it would be in my regular rotation.

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Trumpetboy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Trumpetboy (18)
★★★★
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

Wow. I managed to get hold of a pouch of this mixture and after carefully rehydrating it, went on a very pleasant trip down memory lane. On lighting, I was struck by the overwhelming depth that is so rare in any blend these days and the distinctive taste of the special Orientals in this classic. This is kind of like hearing a pipe organ with a big 32 foot stop after hearing smaller ones for a while. I used to smoke this back in college days and of course, at the time had no idea what I had in my bowl. Smoked slowly, this is cool, deep and satisfying without being overwhelming. More's that pity that it is now defunct.

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M.Toney Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
M.Toney (59)
★★★★
Medium to Strong None Detected Full Pleasant to Tolerable

Really good stuff & I'm not a big Latakia fan but it facilitates this blend's sweet, creamy, smoky flavor. Sampled from a fairly fresh 50g pouch; This BSOM makes you reach for that elusive flavor with each draw. After a few puffs, the tobacco flavors begin to meld & it just keeps getting better until the very end. The perfect pipe tobacco in every respect... It has a sweet & salty flavor with an enticing aroma.

Very tasty and I feel this blend is one most any pipe smoker would find...pleasurable. While I'm smoking this, my mindset is... This is what a pipe tobacco is supposed to be! I simply loved the flavor. This stuff tasted so good in fact, it makes me ponder; How does a tobacco blend that tastes this good, be made without a topping or flavor additive?

Maybe tobacco grown in the Balkan region has some affect on the flavor. Maybe the preparation or selection of red & brown Virginias topped off with tasty Yenidje? Perhaps all of the above. If all this good smoke is coming from the tobaccos alone, that's incredible...almost magical! Whatever or however the process, this is the Holy Grail of pipe tobacco.

I see why this blend commands a premium. If I had plenty of money, I'd have more Balkan Sobranie Original Mixture. It works for me. A crowning achievement in the tobacco blending craft without question. I never thought a blend containing Latakia could be enjoyed so much until I smoked The BSOM. During the pursuit of perfection, excellence was achieved. Easily qualifies as a four star blend...IMHO, of course!!!

Pipe Used: Peterson Deluxe-9S

Age When Smoked: 8 years

Purchased From: Pipestud's Consignment Shop

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tcvarlh Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
tcvarlh (16)
★★★★
Medium Mild to Medium Full Pleasant to Tolerable

My initiation into pipe smoking was with a tin of this 'nectar' Yes, I was permanently spoiled. Finished! I miss it still. I bewailed the last tin in my Weed Store, sold to an undeserving oik who wanted to try 'Sumfin' new. I smoked the Smoking Mixture for 11 years. It is a lost age. I suppose I should move on and find something that grants me such pleasure again. It's just I don't think there is anything quite so good. Perfection is rare.

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PeterD Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
PeterD (91)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

I just opened a 200 gram gold foil bag of the three remaining I purchased in 1967. Very little hydration needed. I shall give you my evaluation in a few days... need I say more about the experience of the first bowl this morning.

I open one of my remaining stock every 10 years and will savor each bowl over the next few months.

...a pipe and Balkan Sobranie is to be savored.

UPDATE: This mixture just has a taste of its own. Aging has mellowed the virginia tobaccos while the orientals and latakia have become more pungent. Truly a delicious smoke to be sure.

My first experience with this mixture dates to 1962 when I was given a tin by a friend who had been in London on vacation. It was so unique, especially since I was smoking drug store brands of pipe tobacco. To be able to enter the world of English/Balkan mixtures this way, spoiled me. Throughout the 60's I smoked this regularly.

My taste changed to a matured virgina, by 1966, especially in plug form and today is still my first choice. However, I have never been able to get too far away from a good Balkan flake/mixture. There are some very good Balkan/heavy english mixtures available,but none can ever replace Balkan Sobranie.

I smoke this in a group 5 straight billiard and it is quite nice with hot tea, coffee, or in the evening with a fine single malt scotch.

as always...a pipe is to be savored.

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Percy Dovetussel Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Percy Dovetussel (7)
★★★★
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong

I remember coming home with a can of Balkan Sobranie. The can was fitted with a new flip top key pull that unsealed the vacumn and aroma as you looked inside. The smell of the tobacco was very moist and incredible, unlike any other brand save for a few English blends that I had experienced. Smoking the mixture leaves you with what I would call a heavily clouded atmosphere of smoke left in your room that is similar to London Fog. The smell is very unusual but pleasant at the same moment. It is considered as The Holy Grail of Pipe Tobacco! A deserved reputation.

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orka Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
orka (64)
★★☆☆
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

This review covers the latest, pouch version. It is a quite good tobacco, which to me ranges somewhere in the medium spectrum of things, occasionally jumping up to full strength but never settling there. First third of the bowl is quite mellow and mild, but the flavour and complexity increases the further down the bowl you go. This is a blend made for thoughtful and careful puffing. If you stop being attentive to the way you smoke, it can bite. And even with the utmost care and dedication it fatigues my palate after I'm done. I won't go into the more esoteric territories trying to describe it (others have done a good job on that already, both for the original and the reincarnation), suffice to say I do enjoy it, but not every day and in modest quantities.

Having never tried the original might have made me impervious to the persuasion of the brand name, but to be perfectly honest, the tobacco that was inside my pouch came across as highly overrated and ultimately a pretty unremarkable affair to me. I am however glad I got a pouch for the sake of having tried it, but I doubt I'll go hunting for another pouch in the future.

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tabaco Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
tabaco (111)
★★★★
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

An elderly and dear gentleman who resides on my street, was gracious enough to give me a couple of tins for Christmas. He also was the proprietor of the finest tobacconist in town; alas defunct due to the health Luddites and their diligent spreading of manure. He figures these tins are from the late 1980's early 1990's. I finally summoned the courage to open the first tin.

Since our culture today is one of over-blown expectations and manufactured exclusivity I was a tad sceptical. Could many honest and erudite pipe smokers be deceived . . . Surely not! There are reasons for so many accolades and sagacity for such a fine tobacco.

This is my first and regretfully one of few remaining experiences with this wonderful tobacco; angels doing the tango on my tongue. I came to the pipe in the latter part of my smoking career, since I was and still am a cigar enthusiast. I am a Latakia devotee and have combusted a number of Balkans and other Latakia infused blends over the years. This tobacco in my humble opinion should be the standard by which all Balkans are judged by, it is that good. It is not a Latakia blast; however, the Latakia is more in the background keeping the groove solid as a drummer often does in jazz. The Yenidje is really nice and to my palate offers an ever so slight bit of creamy aromatic spice. There is also a very faint Virginia sweet note which comes through as well. I would say this tobacco smokes better a bit drier that most others even of the same species.

For a very broad reference I would say it is somewhere between Esotericas Penzance and G.L. Pease Caravan. It is not nearly as heavy with Latakia that Penzance is, nor is it quite as creamy regarding the mouth feel although there's some. It is however, most complex and rich tasting, with a very unique nasal almost heady quality which I really enjoy; different than nicotine. Regardless, it does have a decent nicotine punch, more so then Penzance or Caravan. Moreover, I find the Yenidje and other Orientals to be more pronounced and complex than in Peases Caravan.

This tobacco burns well and packs soundly in all of my pipes. I feel it can be smoked anytime of the day accompanying many pleasurable activities be it reading a novel, fly fishing, walking the dogs, even after cigars and cask strength single malts. Although I prefer this indoors since it's extinct and demands my undivided attention, rightfully so.

All in all, highly recommended for this wall of honour blend, an excellent starting place for Aromatic or Virginia pipers all briar brethren of the good leaf whom intend and desire experience with the genus Balkan or English. Peaceable puffing.

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mo Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
mo (79)
★★★★
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong

I have tried this blend recently, I do agree with fellow reviewers that it is a brilliant blend, it is creamy and smooth, burns really cool with a nice hint of sweetness in the background. I fell in love with it immediately, my stable of english blends are rather limited since I reach for it only when in the mood for Latakia which is about once or twice a week, I have to add that this is a blend, not a latakia orgy which really agreed with me. Great stuff and ill be stocking up. One cannot regret smoking this, it really is a great smoke. This blend did not achieve legendary status for no reason.

Two days ago I got my paws on an old tin of BS. I remembered a friend describing to me that the difference between the "old" and "new" is the Latakia in the "new" is more noticable. I picked up exactly that. In all other respects, the tobacco is identical

I do however know that Latakia loses its edge over time and Virginias mellow down a bit. IMHO it is exactly the same blend, the difference is simply that the one has aged and the other is relatively new.

Mo

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Xeneize Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Xeneize (275)
★★★★
Very Strong None Detected Very Full Very Strong

Is this the best tobacco in pipe history, as many smokers claim? I don't know, but it should be among the top five. It probably was the best Balkan mixture long ago and it's a shame it disappeared.

It is legendary for a reason, and it certainly isn't nostalgia.

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Stacey Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Stacey (40)
★★★★
Medium to Strong None Detected Full Pleasant

Awesome smoke and definitely the finest Balkan I've tried so far! I now understand why so many bemoan the exodus of this from the US market. Sadly, though, it's not hard to understand why. In an age where everyone grows up eating McDonalds, stove top stuffing, drinking diet soft drinks and smoking mass produced cigarettes most people wouldn't know quality when they taste it, be that food or smoke. Anyway, back to the smoke at hand. I sprang for two pouches of this from someone selling the stuff in Spain. I could tell it was loaded with my beloved Syrian Latakia and something else I might have tasted just the barest hint of in Balkan Sasieni, probably the Yenidje. This is everything I'd hoped for in a Balkan - a much stronger version of Balkan Sasieni, which this is and more. The incense like aroma and fantastic taste is hard to describe and must be experienced at least once. I'm going to try to find a steady source for this, but can't afford to shell out the $25/pouch I gave for these. Failing that I'm going to give Macedonian Mixture a try as well. If you get your hands on some you are in for a treat!

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Tobold Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Tobold (7)
★★★★
Strong None Detected Medium Strong

10/12/07 ? This is a ?blue-collar? review from a long-time pipe smoker who is neither a connoisseur nor a gourmet. I like subtleties up to a point, beyond which I cannot detect them. There are very few aromatics that I like anymore. I love orientals, latakias, and Virginias, but burley gives me some trouble. Most of the time, I like stronger blends over weaker ones and in larger pipes than smaller ones. I have exceptions to all of the above. With that said . . .

I feel very fortunate to be able to have enough of this legendary tobacco to offer this, my first review. However, how does one describe the indescribable?

This blend consists of dark brown and black ribbons in the pouch along with a few flecks of tan. The pouch aroma is very strong -- latakia and orientals. If you ever get to try this blend, don't rush past savoring the pouch aroma!

The orientals jump to the fore at the match, producing thick clouds of creamy, heavy smoke. The room note is unique. It smells like sandlewood incense! This is not present in the taste, but it stays in the room note from match to the end.

Orientals dominate the taste, almost to the exclusion of all else. It almost borders on being monochromatic unless smoked slowly. No Virginia top notes here. This is a pure Turkish smoking experience. Big, full, round, heavy, large, expansive. It just takes over the senses. Yet at the same time, it is cool, smooth, soft, and velvetly. Never bites. Not sweet, but not really bitter like some oriental-heavy blends are. There is very little of the campfire and leather latakia-type taste. It's all about the orientals. Specifically, the yenidje! It finishes, of course, full and strong. Note that a bowl or two will ruin your taste buds for the night for any other subtle, delicate smoke!

I've tried a number of blends that tout themselves as a "replacement" for Balkan Sobranie and I dreamed of what the original must be like. Save yourself some time -- they might be good smokes in their own right, but if they don't list Yenidje as an ingredient, they _cannot_ be even close. I'm anxious to try the new Grand Orientals series from McClelland to see how they compare to BS (specifically, Yenidje Supreme, Yenidje Highlander, and Yenice Agonya) and will update this review at that time. Pipeworks and Wilke has two blends with Yenidje: No. 524 (excellent, but not a "Balkan Sobranie") and No. 400 (closer, but not close enough). Both should be tried. The closest I've come to this heavenly blend is Macedonian Mixture by Compton's of Galashiels. It hints at this blend -- maybe it needs more Yenidje??

This blend is the peak for me: 10+ out of 10! There are so many old blends I'll never get to sample, yet I've managed to fulfill a dream by getting to try this one. It was all I'd hoped it would be and so much more!

Thanks, Jeff, for the experience!

Note to "sounds7": For your taste, how many "parts" of the Wellauers Latakia do you use? Please let me know: pearsond -at- odsgc.net. Thanks.

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Skando Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Skando (187)
★★★★
Strong None Detected Full Strong

BSOM brings me back to the mid 70's. I started loving the pipe when I was a teen. BSOM has been the very first meeting with latakia mixtures (the second was the John Cotton's 1&2). Digging my memories I still remember the great surprise I received from this incredible, incense-like, perfume. Nothing I could expect, as well as the beautiful contrasted colours and the oily texture of the tobacco in the tin. I kept the tin unsmoked for quite long time, just opening it and smelling that wonderful aroma. Before lighting the first bowl I was scared by a possible great strength and power. Well, it was far less strong than I expect, and regarding the taste/body who knew anything about that? Of course now it's a matter of reviewing the pouched version by Gallahers (Imperial?) and I think nobody needs any further comment. As others wrote before, the current production has really few to do with the old. It's the same for Dunhill, Rattray and other traditional brands. Nevertheless to me it's still a high quality tobacco. As far as Italy is concerned BSOM does remain the only mixture you can truly name "balkan".

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Pipepundit Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipepundit (168)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Full Pleasant

So many of the reviews for this mixture are perorations for something beautiful that is gone, and entirely appropriately so. There are many Balkan blends currently available on the market which are great in their own right without needing comparison with Balkan Sobranie, but nothing has quite matched the sensations of BS, at least in my experience, and judging by the affection displayed in many reviews, the experience of many others as well.

What made Balkan Sobranie unique was probably the incense like scent of the Yenidje. It seeped into my jackets and the children when young used to love sniffing at those jackets. The taste always had a somewhat bitter start - somewhat like Nightcap - but the rest of the experience was addictive. At least I find it impossible now to say from the room note alone what Balkan has been smoked, but with Balkan Sobranie there never was any ambiguity.

The last of my tins went up in fragrant smoke recently. A few pouches from the mid-nineties survive and I hope they keep well. Last year a friend picked up some pouches from Japan: the tobacco was good, but a pale shadow of its glorious former self.

In remembrance of things past ...

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RCUSElder Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
RCUSElder (244)
★★★★
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Strong

Disclaimer: This review is based on four bowls as this is a late 80's tin and I am savoring it slowly due to its demise.

Appearance and Tin aroma: medium broad-cut ribbons. Turkish and VA dominate the aroma, but latakia is still there firmly.

Packing and Lighting: easy to pack, but a little fussy to light. I had the same experience with 759. 4-5 lights to start and it would go out ocasionally.

Initial Flavor: Pungently sweet! The Yenidje is noticable.

Mid-bowl: Aah! Incense notes abound, the latakia is over the hill though. Room note is a killer to those who don't smoke. I think I prefer 759 more than this one. Still, a very delicious smoke.

Bottom of Bowl: It is over too quickly. this blend builds up to a medium to full strength. I could not smoke this all day, but could smoke 2-3 bowls in a row if this were still obtainable. What to compare it to? It reminds me of two blends sort of: Pease's Charing Cross and Bohemian Scandal. As good as this blend was, I still prefer both of the Pease blends mentioned.

Overall: A classic Balkan that I hope someone re-introduces again in its original form. Balkan Sasieni, while good, is not close to the original. In its aged form, I still prefer 759. Too bad I was too young to try it when fresh and available. If this were not a gift, I could not justify the outrageous prices I have seen ($100-165. U.S).Yes, this is the standard by which all other Balkans are compared to, but I do think Greg Pease has surpassed it IMO.

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sasha Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
sasha (228)
★★★★
Mild to Medium None Detected Full Pleasant

We would have to do a separate review for every issue of this legendary tobacco. I've never seen a tobacco change so much even from year to year (maybe just the Dunhill 965 did). Since in Italy it's still fully available, I can submit a review of the latest pouches. Well, it's nothing like the original one, but it still stands above the mass of English mixtures. Now it seems to follow the path outlined by Balkan Sasieni, since it looks like that more and more: same cut, same colour, almost same taste. It's different, actually, in its deepness, due to different oriental leaves and the different proportions of the components. Still a great tobacco, notwithstanding all the evil that the companies that have manufactured it have made to worsen it.

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OSR Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
OSR (78)
★★★★
Medium to Strong None Detected Full Very Pleasant

For years, this was my tobacco.

Alas, the blend changed. The last few years that this tobacco was marketed it was nothing like the blend that I experienced in the early 80's.

At the recent Chicago Pipe Show (2004) I found someone who was selling a 2 ounce "pop top" tin from the late 70's at a reasonable price and bought it. It had been 15 years since I had seen this "Varietal".... and before I spent the $95 I thought twice.. and then, of course, pulled the trigger.

Everyone has different tastes, that's what makes the world go round. Having said that, however, this old Balkan Sobranie White (truly made by Sobranie) is the best tobacco I've ever, ever smoked.

Sobranie of London was able, in the old days, to procure the finest Yenidje tobacco. That is what makes this blend so wonderful. I can't describe it to you - I'm not a wordsmith.

We opened this tin of tobacco at the Chicago Show and laid a portion out on a newspaper to dry a bit. The leaf was long and stringy - like seaweed. The Virginias had darkened quite a bit. I remember the blend being "light and dark" ribbons but this 25 year old tin of tobacco (dated to 1979) was "dark and darker".

Once my pipe was filled I went out in the hall of the resort to light it. Once lit, I walked back through the cloud of smoke that had been produced and of course, a rush of great memories came back to me. Indeed, this is my old friend and it has mellowed with age but still has that "oomph" that only the Balkan Sobranie White has. It was truly like meeting an old friend, after many years of not seeing them, and picking right up where we left off.

The sad part is that this tobacco is no more. And, I will not ever, EVER, pay as much for a tobacco again.

What I wanted to do is to see if this tobacco lived up to my memory of it. You know how things get distorted after so many years... "ahh, those were the GOOD old days...."

Yes, this tobacco is all that I remembered it to be. I have about 1.5 ounces left and it will only be smoked with good friends. Balkan Sobranie White, the finest tobacco I ever encountered. We're all poorer for the loss. But, the memories are grand!

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Beer Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Beer (304)
★★★★
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong

Well, here in Italy the traditional and legendary 759 isn't available anymore, so I haven't had a chance to try it.

I can't make a comparison, but this Original Mixture seems very good to me.

A typical English blend, in the vein of Dunhill London Mixture and 965, but more rounded and less full in its taste. It is less overwhelming and subtler, perhaps more suited to all-day smoke. The Latakia presence is less intrusive, and as a whole it is a very satisfactory smoke.

Despite the pouch, the tobacco comes rather humid, and needs to be broken a bit to be packed correctly.

It may need a couple of relightings, but after each one of them the taste seems to get even better and richer. It leaves the pipe rather clean.

Recommended. UPDATE February 2004: Ok, in the past 2 years I had the chance to smoke several tins of the old version of Original Mixture, and also of 759. Comparing old tins of 759 and Original sees 759 as the winner: sweeter, rounder, tastier. But the Original was almost just as great...

The new pouched version of Original, while good, is vastly inferior to both 759 and Original of old: not as rich, and sometimes a bit too pungent and harsh, a bit out of balance. Recent pouches were also drier. It still is a very tasty, oriental-dominated blend, and one which has no equals. This doesn't mean that there aren't better Balkans or latakia mixtures: it just means that Original still has something that makes it different and immediately recognizable, and which is missing from ALL other imitations.

I can confirm that, while in decline, this blend is still a staple for any serious pipesmoker.

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ilDominante Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
ilDominante (11)
★★★☆
Very Strong Strong Very Full Very Strong

This pipeweed is certainly an icon and one of the best oriental blends out there. Nevertheless, if you palate is not used to the strength of mixtures like the Dunhill my mix 965 and similar, you will not enjoy this blend very much. Especially in its latest version, which I bought in december 2003 in Venice, the tobacco is drier and stronger and thus obligates me to enjoy it only occasionally. The female nose is especially not fond of its room note. Nevertheless, it remains one of the most prized and well blended orientals that you can get your hands on. A must try!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Gae Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Gae (46)
★★★★
Medium Medium Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

If this was still available,I'd smoke it at least three time's a day.It must be around 30 year's since I first tried it & loved it!Recently a friend sent me some from the USA & it was like being reunited with your best & favourite friend that you have lost track of for many year's.'Perfection' I have tried many different brand's over the year's,that claim to be a near perfect copy.'But none' have even come mildly close in anyway-as far as I am concerned. It's deep richness with a most profound & perfect taste is just so wonderful,that I can not begin to imagine it ever being captured again! A TRUE MASTERPIECE. 10+10 out of 10.

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Grundie Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Grundie (26)
★★★★
Strong None Detected Very Full Pleasant to Tolerable

Somewhat regarded as a classic and rightly so, however it has become somewhat degraded in recent years, no doubt a by-product of being taken over by the Gallaher tobacco conglomerate. That being said it hasn't degraded too much and still is a extremely fine tobacco.

If you like Latakia and lots of it, you will love this stuff, a true Balkan blend. The tobacco cut varies from rough to smooth and needs a bit of a rubbing out to help it burn evenly. The tobacco colour is very dark 50% very dark brown and 50% black. The pouch aroma is of very intense, almost overwhelming Latakia.

Lighting is easy enough, but you may need to tamp it a bit. The inital flavour is of that lovely nuttyness that only Latakia can provide. Mid way the orientals take over and some sublime spicyness tkaes over from the Latakia. Nearing the end of the bowl the nuttyness from the Latakia returns to round off a wonderfully smooth smoking experience. It smokes very cool, but I find it burns quite quickly even when quite moist, which is odd for such a cool smoking tobacco. A fine grey ash results and despite the high Latakia content it doesn't flavour the pipe too much.

Unfortunatley production of this tobacco will cease at the end of this year, so I will be stocking up as much of it as I can for the furure. A great tobacco, it will be shame to see it go.

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