Reviews: 81132 Tobaccos: 7083What's NewLoginRegister
Product Image


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
Packaging50g Pouch, 50g Tin, 100g Tin, 200g Tin
ProductionNo longer in production
Product Image
Medium to Strong
None Detected
Medium to Full
Room Note
Pleasant to Tolerable

Favorite Of 14 Users

87 reviews
4 star:
3 star:
2 star:
1 star:
Sort By
Please login to review this blend.
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.

19 people found this review helpful.

Leiconnsel Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Leiconnsel (1)
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Strong

The original Balkan Sobranie is the holy grail of pipe tobacco, and when even its subsequent, inferior versions garner four stars from virtually every reviewer in these pages, it deserves more than a few words from an old codger who's never found an acceptable substitute. Between 1965 and 1970 I smoked pound after pound of the real Balkan Sobranie Smoking Mixture. I say ?real? because that was the last of it. From the company's (the name and the recipe's) sale and in sale after sale after that the blend has been cheapened and diminished, with production moving to Jamaica (?Made in the U.K.?) and elsewhere. By the mid 1970's, as inventories of the real stuff had disappeared, the changes became obvious.

First, a bit of history learned from Joe Zieve, the founder of Smokers' Haven in Columbus, Ohio, where I went to Ohio State and, with a friend from Kent State, studied more with Joe than at school. Balkan Sobranie literally was Our Best Blend at that time. During the Second World War Joe was stationed in England, where he visited Balkan Sobranie and made a deal with them to sell Balkan canned by them in London and labelled as Best, exclusively. This was an open secret at the store by the '60s, and many's the two, four or eight ounce can of Our Best Blend we opened and found inside the Balkan Sobranie rice paper or card stock insert. Joe made a similar agreement with GBD, and became the largest distributor of that pipe in the world. I don't know if he wholesaled GBD to other dealers in the U.S., but certainly he bought his stock directly, and at all times had just about every grade of every shape they made on hand and available in the periodic brochures he sent to those on his huge mailing list. Joe worked closely with GBD on developing new shapes, e.g., #263 extra long Canadian, the ?glass-blasted? Militaire, and his masterpiece, the original, Collector-sized Cognac (#9621), made exclusively of Greek briar (as were Charatans). He considered the Cognac the perfect shape, growing thicker as the smoke proceeded, keeping the pipe cool. It's a great mouth pipe, hand pipe, and sitter. Joe had some sort of preferred agreement with Charatan, I believe, and also sold lots of Dunhills. Those were the three pipes he believed in, BBB, Petersen, Comoy, Sasieni and even Barling having already begun to slide. At that time one never saw a fill in a GBD. . . until their sale in the '70s. Then it was no fills in Virgins, and then it was fills in them, too. (By the way, the letters die-stamped on GBDs indicated which subcontracted carver had done the pipe after initial curing. Joe maintained that the curing after carving was determined by grade, Virgins, and later Pedigrees and Uniques, getting, of course, the longest cure.)

British pipes were it, and though Joe had other makes on hand, I don't remember any Danish or Italian goods. British tobacco was it, too. Better, he used to say, to let the expert blenders blend and then find what you like rather than try and have a store, or you yourself, do the mixing. While he had Baby's Bottom, Three Nuns, various Dunhill blends and many others, along with a logically progressing series of tinned, Lane-blended American tobaccos exclusive to the store, the main event was a complete line of English tobaccos based on Balkan/Best. Ones ?below? Best were proportionately milder, and the only one stronger than Best was Exotique, which was merely Balkan with some prime cigar leaf added. Balkan made them all, including Krumble Kake, which was Balkan pressed and sliced, considered by ?flake? smokers to be superior. I don't remember seeing 759 until Balkan was sold. It was, at that later time, a more piquant, far more acrid blend with other orientals added. I don't think it was ever labelled by Smokers' Haven.

Before the (retroactive) taste test, here's some more history. The Redstones were a Jewish family who left (fled?) Russia and settled for some time in the Balkans. They perfected Sobranie (which simply means ?parliament? in Slavic languages) either there or in London, their eventual home, along with their delightful, white Turkish cigarettes, and their renowned Russian Black and Gold (- tipped) cigarettes. They, too, were masterpieces. The sad history of Balkan Sobranie after its initial sale, years later, is available in other reviews on this site.

The original Balkan purportedly contained latakia (I don't know if it was Syrian, Cyprian or both), Virginia (I don't know the varieties, but none of these ingredients were toasted except, of course, the latakia), high grade English Cavendish, and Yenidje from Macedonia, as advertised on the can. To my knowledge, the only other ingredient, that which imparted some of the creaminess and the hint of vanilla, was deer tongue, the leaf of a weed(!) apparently admissible under the non- adulteration laws at the time, which prohibited all topping but did permit Cavendish. I've tried dried deer tongue leaf broken or crumbled in blends and gotten nothing out of it. Perhaps, despite the common wisdom, Balkan used it fresh. I've heard that its inclusion is why Balkan was labelled a ?smoking mixture? rather than ?tobacco.? I don't know any of the ingredient ratios, but I was told that the ratios changed every year to compensate for seasonal changes in the individual ingredients' strength and taste.

I've tried Balkan Sasieni, the current Balkan Sobranie, the current Best Blend from the current Smokers' Haven, and Balkan Sobranie throughout the '70s, '80s, 90's and '00s, as well as Margate (probably the currrent Best, as Germain now blends for Smokers' Haven, I've heard), Caravan, Penzance, McClelland's Yenidje Highlander and Yenidje Supreme (which lacks latakia), and countless other English/Balkan/Oriental blends from the late-lamented Dunhills to those corner tobacconist bulk-bought or hand blended attempts to clone Balkan. None have answered, though many are excellent. Yenidje Highlander, though rather light and not very sweet or creamy, at least gives one a real taste of the Yenidje-latakia interplay.

The high quality of the tobacco in Balkan might have been just as important as the types of tobacco in it. Samuel Gawaith's Balkan Flake, supposedly 30% latakia and 70% Virginia (despite the Balkan name) is a good, honest, high quality tobacco to which one could maybe add high quality Cavendish, Yenidje and deer tongue and get somewhere close to Balkan (despite Balkan Flake's caked form). Most related blends already contain Virginia and latakia, so the ratios are problematical. Gawaith's Commonwealth is supposed to be 50%-50% Virginia-latakia and is not caked. Who knows? I've had no luck trying to blend existing blends to emulate the original Balkan.

When taking the little built-in triangular ?knife? in the lid of the old Balkan Sobranie, retracting it from the lip and reclosing the can, thus piercing the inner tin lid, the escaping hiss was divine. As one spun the lid, cutting out the inner lid, one caught the full old-leather, old-whisky, old-wood aroma that promised the same consistent taste as always. Yes, the contents were a bit moist and could do with a couple of days' drying, and were springy thanks to the ribbon cut. But who could resist, especially after retrieval of an eight ounce can from a ten can rotation, grabbing an immediate smoke?

As the tobacco rose on the initial light and one tamped it with the index finger and relit, all the wonderful, contradictory adjectives began to pertain. The smoke was so creamy and rich, yet light and subtle, so sweet yet so interesting, it was magical. We used words like ?ephemeral? and ?protean? to try and capture it, but one couldn't. The smoke, always changing yet always characteristic and steady, could never be ignored, no matter what you were doing: each draw was a conscious pleasure, the whole, like true art, more than the sum of its parts.

Now, it wasn't perfect. Balkan could smoke wet if you didn't dry it out just right, and hot and bitey if too dry. The ribbon cut was tricky to load, and if clumped up could cause voids. There was lots of relighting. While the ash was white, the pipe's heel usually got wet, which certainly demanded a pipe's traditional day's rest for every time smoked. The room note was pretty awful (until you were hooked), almost as gross as that of a yesterday's cigar. Balkan was definitely true to the old bromide that the worse the room smelled, the better the tobacco (don't the girls just love the smell of Cherry Blend).

But such pleasure, such balance, such lack of bite, such a variety of delicious flavors melded into a rich, creamy whole that was somehow also light and fleeting. . . . To this day I don't see why some blender with a microscope and a Japanese degree of patience couldn't reverse engineer a can of pre-sale Balkan strip by strip, testing the pieces against known samples and smoking from each separate pile to verify its identity as accurately as possible. Sure, a truly faithful representation would cost a lot, but what a ready market in the curious, and in anyone else who wanted to smoke heaven to the extent his budget permitted. Anybody out there game?

I welcome other reminiscences, additions, corrections; but, N.B.: the above description is not an unattainable, sentimental concoction born of distorted, rosy memory: it is as accurate as I could make it. Balkan's near universal appeal in those days to lovers of English/Balkan/Oriental blends as a steady or special smoke attests to that fact.

13 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

9 people found this review helpful.

JimInks Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JimInks (2151)
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.

8 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 (2151)
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 (67)
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!


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 (9)
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 (167)
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.

VellumWhite Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
VellumWhite (3)
Very Strong None Detected Full Pleasant

It is IPSD 2013 and I finally broke into my one and only tin of Balkan Sobranie! I never thought the day would come and I would open it, but finally given to temptation here I am...So,the tobacco has indeed had quite a bit of age on it, but it was still quite moist and the surrounding paper stained. The tin note is unmistakably dominated by the Latakia, but the Orientals and Virginias in the right proportion also add a lively distinction of their own.

There has been so much praise written already about this blend and on this day I can say that it is all true! I am smoking this in my wide chambered Savinelli Baronet Bruyere 315 EX Prince...The smoke is exotic, well rounded and brightly mouth filling, running the entire length of the palate.There is so much going on, but still the flavours seamlessly intertwine tip to tail and even marry.

Bright spices highlight carefully layered creamy notes of full creosote and there is an unidentifiable charming "classic" room note surrounding it all.The gravity and power are there too, so it must be respected.Let it brood and let it come in its own time. Most importantly,unlike many other "Balkan" blends this one has "real" depth. Here this rare feature stretches and completes the finish.For everything else polished and majestic that Balkan Sobranie displays; this is the one virtue that crystallises the experience and it and sets it apart.

There is truth in this 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.


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.


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 (834)
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.

Selah Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Selah (8)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable to Strong

Every new tobacco reviewer has to start with Balkan Sobranie - it might as well be the law. This was one of the first pipe-tobaccos that I really enjoyed on all levels, and, naturally, it was the pipe-tobacco everyone else hated. Deep, rich, tarry, resinous. And long gone. I smoked it constantly from 1975 through the early eighties, sporadically since then till it's disappearance. I still have a dozen unopened tins from 1981 and 1982.

What is like it?

For those who appreciated the soggy aged Virginia note, try Germain's King Charles Mixture, Royal Jersey Latakia Mixture, or Esoterica's And So To Bed. Note that the Royal Jersey Mixture has some Maryland, and will therefore have tin-aged differently than the others. Based on certain similarities of taste I suspect that Balkan Sobranie may have also contained some Maryland, but likely no more than ten percent.

For those who liked the resinous Oriental perfume, Dunhill's Durbar is quite nice. Probably nearly forty percent Turkish leaf maximum. Not particularly heavy on Latakia.

For those who like how the Latakia played with the Turkish, and both were supported by Virginias, smoke either GLPease's Westminster, or Cornell & Diehl's 968R (Red Odessa). Westminster is a complex finely tuned mixture that will appeal to those who appreciated the splendid English blends that once were easily found, Red Odessa is a straightforward, profoundly old-fashioned English Blend that will bring back wonderful half-memories. Both generate wonderful clouds of leather and oak, and upset the women. In the full-English range, so over forty percent Latakia, and around twenty five percent Oriental.

For a dark deep Latakia blast that will remind you of your first impression of Balkan Sobranie white, Gawith Hogarth's Balkan Blend is a good choice, and so is Butera's Pelican. Both reek marvelously, are roughly at the half-way mark as far as Latakia, and seem to have less Oriental than either the Pease mixture mentioned above, or the Cornell & Diehl mixture. But I may be deceived.

I have been told that Smoker's Haven 'Our Best Blend' is a near-match to the Balkan Sobranie white, and that their Exotique is very similar to the Balkan Sobranie black. I have several cans of each stashed away, based on the raving advice of a friend and colleague. I have not tried either yet.

Dunhill 965, Standard Medium, and London were in the same range, but smoked quite differently. Rattray's did not come close at all.

I suspect that one of the blending tobaccos was an unflavoured Cavendish. And there may have been some pressed bright Virginia as well.

2 people found this review helpful.

Jorge Soler Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Jorge Soler (127)
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.

CaptnDan Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
CaptnDan (242)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

For starters, I guess it goes without saying that I don?t really smoke this regularly. I wish I could, but that just ain?t happenin?. I was lucky enough to get a sample of this legendary blend, and I just had to do a review. I am basing this review on only two bowls, as I intend to keep the rest of what I have and make it last as long as I can. And when it is gone, I will miss it.

This is probably the most famous Balkan blend ever. The sample I got was aged, obviously. It smoked cool, it burned well, and the balance and flavor was fantabulous. A very smooth smoke that developed slowly and continuously. Not strong or overpowering at all. Being a Balkan, the Oriental is the star of the show, followed by the Latakia. The Va makes itself known in a very subtle way, lending a hint of sweetness to the mix. The finish was not abrupt, not harsh, it just sort of faded away.

What else can I say about this blend that hasn?t already been said? If you have a chance to try some, by all means, do it. It won?t be easy to find, but it is floating around out there.

4 Stars well earned.

1 person found this review helpful.

howie Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
howie (46)
Mild None Detected Medium to Full Strong

I have always liked this blend, and am in the process of smoking the last of my supply. This review is for the old, original Balkan Sobranie, prior to the removal from the US market. My tin was stored sealed from 1995 until 2002.

This is a nice ribbon cut ranging from medium brown to dark brown to black in color, with a very dark tone overall. Packing characteristics are good, which I find true of all ribbons.

The outstanding characteristic of this blend, to me, is the complexity and changing nature through the course of the bowl. Starting off astringent and downright sour, the middle section is dominated by exotic spiciness, particularly of cedar. The smoke intensifies through the bottom part of the bowl, with the low notes coming as a nice contrast to the bright sourness of the first light. I find this blend to be spectacular if allowed to sit, packed, for several hours to dry. Great result are also obtained smoking for 5-10 minutes and then letting sit for about 12 hours. Either of these methods do wonders in bringing forward the depth early in the bowl, which is otherwise experienced more toward the bottom.

This remains, for me, the quintessential balkan blend, characterized by the strong oriental elements, but with enough Virginia to provide complexity and sweetness. Outstanding.

November 2002

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..

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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"

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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).

Nobody has rated this review yet.

viscfab Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
viscfab (81)
Mild None Detected Mild Pleasant

Guys I hate to say that this has not lived up to my expectations... I was expecting a bold flavorful balkan blend but what I got was a mild english with a cut that did not seem to load well into my pipe. A dry taste with uniform tste from bottom to end, sometimes gave me an impression to be smoking hot air, with hints of latakia... I smked 2 bowls in 2 different pipes before doing this review... Given the price, I have to say, not worth at all... I love Abingdon by GL pease, adirondack campfire by cupojoes, mclelland british woods as much more pleasant, complex and satsifying balkan styled blends.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Arno665 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Arno665 (2)
Medium to Strong Extremely Mild Very Full Extra Strong

This is a review about the 2011 made by Germain Balkan Sobranie Original Smoking Mixture:

Sometimes a product that is no longer available becomes legendary. This was the case with the Balkan Sobranie Original Smoking Mixture. Yes, WAS. In the first years of the new millennium only a pouch version was available. A weak version of the original from the 70's, 60's and before that. Personally I've never smoked that real old version and I think there was not so much wrong with the pouch version. On the contrary! But despite the large demand the tobacco became less and less available and the production finally stopped. In the years that followed Balkan Sobranie Original Smoking Mixture became a legend. Together with Balkan Sobranie Mixture 759 and Balkan Sobranie Virginia no. 10 it became kind of the Holy Grail of the pipe tobaccos. On ebay, astronomical amounts were (and still are) asked and paid for these tobaccos. It only was a matter of time when someone would want to bring out again the legend. The pipe smoking market appears to be becoming larger thus the time was right for a new version, a new "vintage" of Balkan Sobranie Original Smoking Mixture. Because it is with this tobacco as with wine. The year tells you how good it is. 1971, oh tremendous!!! 1981, transition year to the Gallaher production, good but really just not it. 1999, pretty nice but nothing compared by the old original. 2011........ Arango Cigar Co. became the one that acquired the rights of Balkan Sobranie Original Smoking Mixture. But having the rights is 1 thing, bringing out the tobacco on the market is something veeeery different. So they have found J.F. Germain & Son willing to make the tobacco. In my honest opinion the best choice that they could have made! This because J.F. Germain & Son is the maker of some other legendary tobacco, Penzance. But also of the Smoker's Heaven tobaccos that for years counted as THE replacement for the original Balkan Sobranie tobaccos. Nice detail, previously the House Sobranie made the Smoker's Heaven tobaccos.. So J.F. Germain & Son have experience in "imitating" the House Sobranie products. Also they have men in service that formerly worked for the House Sobranie. Interesting..

Package: A 50 gram tin with a somewhat cheap version of the old stately artwork. Once open the tobacco rests in a paper as is often customary with on top of that a thin round insert with nothing on it. I myself reproduced the old artwork (tin and insert-card) and e-mailed that to Arango and Germain. I hope that I hear something of it..

Composition: The composition is that of the pouch version and the '80's Gallaher version. A fine cut mix of dark and light Virginia's, Macedonian tobacco and Cyprian latakia. Originally there was Syrian latakia in it but for yeeaaars that was no longer the case.. Anyway, there is more latakia then in the pouch version. The tobaccos is a ribbon-cut but something coarser than the pouch version. Resembling the tobacco in my 1981 tin.

Smell from the tin: Yummie! What's in there, you smell! Together with Penzance some of the best tin-smells ever.

Taste: Regarding taste the tobacco is a good mix of the pouch version and my 1981 tin version. What I was missing in the 1981 version were the oriental tobaccos that halfway the bowl began to sing the dominant part. Something that was better in the pouch version. Just lit you almost taste the pure latakia. Something like an espresso without sugar. And the same beginning as with Mixture 759. Here you can really notice that there is more of the dark smoked leaf in the 2011 version. After a few puffs the sweetness comes forth, the Virginia's. And yesss, halfway the bowl the oriental tobaccos (I think Kavalla) are coming to the front. The last part of the bowl is the best as all the different tobaccos harmoniously sing together. And not unimportant, the topping is also spot on! I already once said before that I can instantly recognize latakia holding Dunhill tobaccos when I smoke them. They all have a little bit of the same taste, something typical Dunhill. This is also the case with Balkan Sobranie Original Smoking Mixture. The same topping as the 1981 and pouch version. Absolutely wonderfully done by J. F. Germain & Son who prove their well earned reputation!

Roomnote: The old Balkan Sobranie Original Smoking Mixture was (in)famous for it's for most people baaaad roomnote. If you smoke yourself you will not notice that but people around you will utter their displeasure. As with my girlfriend hehehe.. I had never smoked a version of the tobacco in her presence but when I was puffing away a "Jeeeezzz.. What are YOU smoking?? This is really your most fowl smelling tobacco! Gross!" escaped her lips. Despite that I was allowed to finish the bowl, the darling :) So here also: points for authenticity!

Combustibility: As with every version I know, excellent. You do not need to tamp it a lot and it burns down nicely to a grey ash. Although, you may want to let the tobacco dry a bit before smoking. It comes pretty wet out of the tin.

Varia: Regarding lady nicotine you can notice that you are dealing with an "elder" tobacco. Ok, I'm a bit of a nicotine wuss so I do not smoke it on an empty stomach.

Price: At 4noggins a tin of this new version costs $10.19. And it is worth every dollar cent! IF you can obtain it. Because this is the weak spot of J.F. Germain & Son. All tobacco is made the old fashioned way. Really great because you can taste the love and craftsmanship. But producing vast quantities, no, they cannot do that. If you want to obtain a tin you have to keep an eye out on international fora and tobacco sites and just be VERY lucky because when it is available, poefff it's already gone..

Conclusion: Applause! In my honest opinion J.F. Germain & Son has succeeded in producing a worthy version of the legendary Balkan Sobranie Original Smoking Mixture! Is it as good as the 70's, 60's and before version? Noooo idea, I've never smoked that one like I said before. Also there was yenidje in that one but that has become very scarce.. Is the tobacco as good as the beginning of the 80's version? Better! Is the tobacco as good as the '90's and beginning of 2000 version? Better! In short, Balkan Sobranie Original Smoking Mixture is back! And for now it seems it's here to stay. Now I really hope that Arango and Germain also will bring out Mixture 759 and Virginia no. 10 again One can only hope and pray..

Nobody has rated this review yet.

GrahamJohnMiles Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
GrahamJohnMiles (1)
Mild to Medium Medium to Strong Medium Very Pleasant

The first cigarette I ever smoked was a Sobranie Black Russian, one of the great looking black ones with a gold tip. That was at the age of 15 behind the cycle sheds at Grammar school. A year later in 1966, I graduated to a curved Briar pipe and the Sobranie Original Mixture. Perhaps it was the tin that attracted me, the white one with the two women on the front. But when I first tasted and smelled that wonderful exotic smoke I was hooked. Not everyone appreciated the room aroma. it was distinctive enough to evoke comment and to me had a more than discernible hint of leaves being burned on a damp Autumn day in England. I loved it. I rarely smoke now. Perhaps a Sobranie cocktail cigarette once every few months. It has been almost 50 years since I last smoked the Sobranie Original Mixture in a pipe and yet I can remember it's taste and aroma as clearly as if it were yesterday. A few years ago I became curious about it and was of course shocked to find that original unopened tins were commanding over $100 on ebay. I'm glad that I was able to enjoy this rarity at a time when it was perhaps at it's best, and wish I had stashed a few tins away to be happily re- discovered.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

R.M. Schultz Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
R.M. Schultz (7)
Very Strong None Detected Very Full Strong

Packs a punch! Very nice once-a-day smoke. Strong blend that, while very pleasing, rubs you raw after too many bowls. Luscious but actually capable of giving you a hangover if you smoke it all day.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

azguy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
azguy (18)
Medium to Strong Medium Full Tolerable

I first tried this in college. I was young and callous and therefore felt that this blend was very harsh. As time went on and I matured, this blend slowly grew on me . The subtle interplay between the Orientals and the Latakia along with the suspected aged virginias became well as whatever word denotes that which is greater than sublime. In short..the blend against which all others must be compaired (save Red Raparee).

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

azguy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
azguy (18)
Medium to Strong Mild to Medium Medium Tolerable

I first tried this in college. I was young and callous and therefore felt that this blend was very harsh. As time went on and I matured, this blend slowly grew on me . The subtle interplay between the Orientals and the Latakia along with the suspected aged virginias became well as whatever word denotes that which is greater than sublime. In short..the blend against which all others must be compaired (save Red Raparee).

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Puff Daddy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Puff Daddy (43)
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong

I need to first say that below, Leiconnsel's review must be the gold standard for all reviews on this amazing blend. I cannot add anything significant to your eloquence. Leiconnsel, yours is the finest review I've ever read here. Kudos, friend. -----------------------------------------------------------------

The best of the very best. Here's the deal, folks...for as long as it's available, I will own this. I just received 50 more grams of it in today's mail. Is it inexpensive? Nope. What I paid was ten times the original price tag still on it. But, I don't care. I'd rather own 50 grams of this than 500 grams of any other Balkan blend out there today. It's simply that good. I will always share a bowl of this with my best pipe friends, as everyone should have that luxury once in their life. Why no other blender has ever been able to recapture the amazing balance, complexity, creaminess, coolness, and wonder of Balkan Sobranie, I don't know. Most of what you can buy in auctions today is dry to varying degrees, but I'll instantly transfer it to a Mason jar, wet a paper towel with distilled water, lay it over the top, seal the jar, and let it slowly rehydrate. When the towel is dry, I'll gently mix the contents and repeat until the moisture level is right. And then, pure bliss. For my tastes, the #1 of all of these Hall of Fame blends. Simply amazing stuff, and I mourn that it's almost gone.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Rikowrites Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Rikowrites (11)
Medium None Detected Overwhelming Pleasant to Tolerable

Those were the days, my friend, I thought they'd never end. In my typically college age bulletproof life of 35+ years ago, I remember buying the weird knife top tin of this spectacular baccy in Peterson's on 42nd St in NYC. Cost about $4. I went into the smoking car of the NY Central RR, opened the tin and smoked. I wasn't just commuting to my suburban home. No, Sherlock and his Shag were a couple rows back chugging to the next case, too. The magic of the sensory delight linked to the focus of imagination. Layer after layer of astonishing tobacco flavor all perfectly put together. It was to me simply unique. Still is.

Now I am back to the pipe after a time out for raising two great sons. I have tried a bunch of English-- mid to full-- blends and a few Balkans over the years. None came close to the White Tin with the neat wagon on the front of the tin. I hear you can get this across the pond. I wonder if Balksn Sobranie Smoking Mixture will ever re-emerge in the US of A as Dunhill has recently.

Who knows? Maybe these are the good old days!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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

Nobody has rated this review yet.

SMOKETSES Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Mild to Medium Very Mild Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

I opened this tin given to me as a gift by dm14 and I thank him for it. On one hand I was glad I did, on the other I was sad because it was one of the few sachets circulating all over the world. It was a little dry so I had to add a little humidor to revive it. Not so heavy, incredibly smooth tobacco, giving a gentle sweetness and a dry, salty smoking that reminds me of Syrian Latakia. It was smoked easily until the end of the bowl. Very neutral aroma that does not disturbs the room. Under no circumstances did it live up to everything I have heard and read all this time, unless it is not the same blend any more. I believe that now there are better blends of this kind. It contains Virginia, Syrian Latakia and eastern Tobaccos. Four stars, because of its good quality and its history.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

tcvarlh Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
tcvarlh (15)
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.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Scots Jim Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Scots Jim (8)
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong

Another old favourite of mine back in the day. Sigh...

Highly recommended.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

meanmrmustard Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
meanmrmustard (34)
Medium to Strong Mild to Medium Full Tolerable

In my early days of pipe smoking, I was on the quest for the best tobacco. It's 1977 and my local Tobacconist at the Alpine Haus in Casper, Wyoming sold me a tin saying, this was the best. I remember it being leathery and spicy, not my cup of tea at the time. As my palliate progressed, I would dip into my tin every so often, to the point of really liking it. Ran out in the late 80's. Seeing this in the hall of fame put me on a quest to find it again, with no luck. However, the guys at Ed's Original Tinderbox in Santa Monica hooked me up with their Balkan blend. Very close to what I remember, perhaps Ed Klopin Sr. wanted to duplicate the mix. To say the least, Ed's Balkan is superb, try it and see if it matches the Sobranie blend.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Dr. Tony Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Dr. Tony (1)
Medium None Detected Full Tolerable to Strong

I was lucky to score several pouches a few years ago. What can I say – for me this is the gold standard for Balkans. Everything about this blend is perfectly balanced.

Packing and lighting are straightforward. The taste is silky, rich, complex. The quality of the tobacco is excellent. The sweetness is there, the smoothness is there, the complexity is impressive, the Latakia is not overwhelming.

In my book this blend scores 5 points out of 5, which equates to 4 well deserved stars. Very HIGHLY recommended.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

The Gentle Smoker Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
The Gentle Smoker (11)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Very Pleasant

About a month ago, my best friend who owns a cigar shop did inventories and found some old stuff under the counter he really couldn't sell anymore. I said, no problem I'll buy it from you.

To my suprise I received some 5g sample pouoches, some old stuff of no significant meaning, 2 tins of Dunhill 965 murray's and a 50g pouch of Balkan Sobranie. AAHhhhhhhh. My lucky day.

I've been at it for about 3 weeks to revive the Balkan as it was dryer then the Gobi desert, but I had good faith as the smell of the tobacco was really good and strong.

My efforts were rewarded today with my first bowl ever of Balkan Sobranie.

A very smooth first part with lots of latakia flavor and well balanced taste. The middle part was a bit heavier but still a good medium taste with a full room note and ample white smoke.

The third part was on the strong side. Wonderfull nutty flavors with a boost in nicotine levels. I LOVE IT! I already asked to seek further into the depths of his store, but with no result. This was the only pack left. But still a good 20 bowls worth of premium history.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Big bad Jon Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Big bad Jon (232)
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

Being too young to have ever bought this over the counter, I felt I had to try the blend that everyone in the pipe club lamented they could not buy anymore. I have tried may blends that claimed to be close to the blend,having never tried the original I could only base them on their own merits. Now I feel I am a changed person! I have drank from the Holy Grail and the wine was awesome! The tin note was sweet and smoky it had an Oriental smell to it, but the Latakia was wonderful. The blend was fairly dark and seemed to pack very well. The tobacco for what it is worth did seem a bit dry (just the way I like it). Upon lighting I noticed a very nice sweetness playing with Latakia it was unparalleled. I had no trouble keeping the pipe lit, and was pleased I chose a group six pipe to smoke it in. The tobacco is a very different experience than I expected. I can usually say "I wish this blend had something more" but not here. Everything was perfectly balanced and smooth. The flavor from top to bottom was full and rich. Having now tried this blend, I can now rationalize the crazy prices I see on the web. I loved this classic, and will always remember what a special experience it was to have some.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Perique Freak Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Perique Freak (3)
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong

As another old codger, I am grateful for Leiconnsel's review below on this truly classic tobacco. I stumbled onto it in the late 1950's, having started as a punk kid with drugstore blends like Mixture 79 (I am embarrassed to admit). What a revelation it was! I can't improve on Leiconnsel's descriptions of opening the lid with the built-in knife, and of the multiple layers of aroma and flavor. No other tobacco I've ever smoked had so many simultaneous flavors going on, where you could taste and smell each one, yet still experience the balanced whole.

A couple of random memories. At a benefit concert at Town Hall in NYC in the 1960's, I watched Thelonius Monk shambling onto stage with a pipe in his mouth and a can of Sobranie in his hand, which can he proceeded to place on the piano before starting to play.

Once I opened a can and discovered that one of the stems (it had its share of stems) was in fact a rusty nail.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Samurai Barry Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Samurai Barry (6)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Unnoticeable

Ahhhhhh...Balkan Sobranie. A tin was once given to me as a Christmas gift by my sister-in-law. It was actually in a can, not the tin shown above, and with black and white illustrations and lettering. Though I was not accustomed to latakias at the time, I instantly loved it, from the first smell from the can to the last puff. It was a full aroma latakia with a delightfully light body. Does this sound contradictory? Well, it was one of the most pleasant, smooth and complex mixtures I've ever smoked. The latakia did not hide, nor was it subtle. And yet, the aromas and flavors of the other ingredients were not overwhelmed. I've never smoked anything like it before or since. A wonderful combination of light body, full flavor and tobacco "goodness". I could smoke it all day (and did). I left out room note as I lived alone at that time.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

SMOKETSES Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Strong None Detected Mild to Medium Tolerable to Strong

I opened this tin given to me as a gift by dm14 and I thank him for it. On one hand I was glad I did, on the other I was sad because it was one of the few sachets circulating all over the world. It was a little dry so I had to add a little humidor to revive it. Not so heavy, incredibly smooth tobacco, giving a gentle sweetness and a dry, salty smoking that reminds me of Syrian Latakia.It was smoked easily until the end of the bowl. Very neutral aroma that does not disturbs the room. Under no circumstances did it live up to everything I have heard and read all this time, unless it is not the same blend any more. I believe that now there are better blends of this kind. It contains Virginia, Syrian Latakia and eastern Tobaccos. Two stars, because of its good quality and its history.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Idontwantapickle Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Idontwantapickle (6)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

Please for the life of Pete, tell me where once again I may get this fine tobacco that I have been without now since the 1990's.

This tobacco is DEVINE!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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.


Nobody has rated this review yet.

Michigan Smoke Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Michigan Smoke (2)
Medium None Detected Full Pleasant to Tolerable

I was fortunate enough to come across some on ebay at a resoanble price (of course it was only for the packaging). I have read so much about this blend I had to try it. Well, I was not dissapointed. The taste throughout was awesome. I would currently rank this as my second favorite right now. I found it somewhat similar to penzance which I prefer over anything else.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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- Thanks.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Pipeline Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipeline (206)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

Opinions are to Balkan Sobranie what armpits are to Vishnu.

I sampled a 50 gram foil pack from Italy vintage 2007. It was really good, superior to Caravan, Balkan Supreme, Balkan Sasieni and just as yummy to me as P&W's #10 with a little more weight and a cooler temperment. Mo's flavor profile seems right to me. I need to find a source, because I'd smoke this all winter.

If you like Balkans, what's not to like here? Oh yeah, I forgot, "It's not the way it used to be, when it had yenidje, and I walked up hill both ways to school during blizzards, and used pliers to pull out my own tooth..."

Nobody has rated this review yet.

sounds7 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
sounds7 (16)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Strong

Balkan Sobranie is an all time favorite that, once it had departed,set me off on a frantic quest to find a replacement. Sasieni, Macedonia Mixture, Odesa, and on and on. I tried the over priced ebay offerings of Vintage Sobranie mixtures and was delighted but it was aged so much that it dried out (So it wasnt as good as my first experiences with this great tobbaco mixture.

Here is what my journey eventually brought me to. I bended my own Balkan Sobrane Original Mixture with these 6 top of the line tobaccos:

Wellauers- Latakia .Which is true Syrian Latakia (The real thing)I had five tins sent from Tabac Rhein in Switzerland. Costly but nothing like buying Tins of Sobranie off ebay.

McCranies Red Ribbon (Red Virginia)

Samuel Gawith full Virginia Flake (Rubbed out well)

McCleland Oriental blending tobacco

Yenidge bulk- Purchased from Carole at Pipeworks and Wilke. She doesnt always have it in stock though.

Unflavored black Cavendish also bulk from "PW&W"

I haven't gotten the percentages down to a science but I started with equal portions of the virginia's, Orientals, and Yenidge. I added only a small portion of the cavendish (about 1/3 of what the other tobaccos were. I then flavored it in with the Syrian Latakia until it reached the smokiness I desired (I had some Sobranie on hand for comparison purposes). Note: It is easy to go overboard with the Syrian (The stuff is so delicious!)which would make this more of an english blend than a Balkan. It was very simalar to the Original Mixture only much fresher and fuller in taste than those acient Tins you will find on ebay. Aging will do wonders to this I'm sure.

follow discussion on this recipe here and if you have anything to add please chime in. Happy Smoking! balkan-sorbanie-original-mixture.html

Nobody has rated this review yet.

LostInDaJungle Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
LostInDaJungle (13)
Strong None Detected Full Strong

Well, not a real review, just sharing my story.

I first got in to this when I was 19. RYO cigs had become the rage, and we were always hitting the tobacconist for Drum, Three Castles, etc...

Well, I always went for the Sobranie White Pack. It was cheaper, and it had the stronger flavor I liked without being Galoises(sp?). Eventually I got myself a Churchwarden and took up the pipe. My Girlfriend hated it, told me I looked like a Hippie Farmer. My friends all wondered how I could smoke such strong tobacco.

I was telling that story to my wife a year ago, and started getting back int to the pipe since then. After a decade, being reminded of the Sobranie flavor made me want to buy a pipe and some tobacco ASAP.

What I'm amazed to see is how much wrong info circulates about this tobacco now. I've seen countless references to the Balkan Sobranie cigs being black and gold (wrong, Nat Sherman's), etc... It's kind of funny.

What I remember about Sobranie is the "dirt" taste, similar to a Guiness Stout. The other flavors always floated above it, with sweet and spicy notes. Somehow, with all of that, it managed a very pleasant room note. The cut of the tobacco out of the pouch was very rough, and had a good number of twigs, etc. in it.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Dario Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Dario (2)
Strong None Detected Full Tolerable to Strong

After reading the whole story about Balkan Sobranie I decided to buy a pack og 50g Gallaher packed tobacco, just to see will it live up to the reputation. On opening the pack I was greeted by the well known Latakia scent, followed by sweetish notes of Virginia and the last came to my attention the Turkish tobacco, very much similar to cigarette tobacco. I cannot say I was impressed with the last but at least it was not dominant. Texture of the cut is fine, mostly uniform ribbons which felt just a bit too wet. I was impatient while filling my first bowl straight out of the pack which I later regretted, but I will come to that. Gallaher's Balcan Sobranie lit up fast and quite uniform and first puffs hit me with the smoky Latakia, not quite as strong as I expected but still strong enough to be enjoyable! Trough the bowl the mixture burned well, did not have to relight my pipe at all except after some tamping which was necessary after some half bowl was gone to ashes. Now to describe the taste! Predominant Latakia did a good job of giving the mixture that full body which I like so much. Taste of Virginia was somewhat subtle but in good manners, any stronger taste would, in my opinion, interfere with the Latakia and spoil that special feeling. I must confess I did not notice the Turkish in the beginning but later during the smoking it came to my attention and the experience was not all that superb. I simply do not like cigarettes and the foul smell and taste of such tobacco! Lucky for me the Turkish did not impose itself too much so I just ignored it. After the bowl was done I just turned it upside down and fluffy gray ash came out leaving the bowl clean but to my surprise also leaving some evident drops of water which condensed during smoking but not to the point that intervention would be required.

All in all, it was a very pleasant experience and I am looking forward to repeating it. For my next smoke I will prepare a bit better though, I will leave the tobacco to dry for 15 minutes or so and also I will accompany my pipe with a bottle of strong red Argentinian Syrah or Californian Zinfandel, maybe even Croatian Dingac if my wallet allows it.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

rocker311 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
rocker311 (9)
Strong None Detected Full Strong

I know it seems heresy to give this blend three stars. Part of that is that I've missed the glory days of Sobranie.

My first pipe experience whatsoever came when I told my mentor that I just didn't have the palate for fine cigars (the $3 ones tasted the same as the $30 ones to me) and that I was far more interested in trying pipe tobaccos. The next thing I know, I have 4 pipes and about twelve blends of tobaccos in hand, along with a quick education from a master. Being a master, he didn't start me on the kiddie-poo dessert blends like Black&Gold, no, no. He gives me a pouch of early-90s Sobranie White.

I remember this stuff from back when it was cool to smoke a pipe. I remember the room note. I remember this was what it was to smoke a pipe. I packed and lit it up. It was like smoking butter. That's about all I can say. I thought to myself "Yes, this is exactly what my palate envisioned pipe smoking would be, and it is Good."

After a couple of years, I was also gifted with a small portion of a pouch of real early 80's Sobranie White. This too tasted wonderful, but... But. The latakias has utterly melded and permeated the rest of the blend. It was like a big glorious hit of midnote with some bottom. It was velvety and luxurious, but I could tell that this would have floored me if it was ten years newer and the orientals could come out and play more. And the latakia, for all that time, seems to have lost its oomph. The whole pouch seemed like a big pouch of black cav.

After losing one of my 80s pouches to mold, I've now jarred all of them up in Mason jars in the basement and sealed them up tight. I occasionally pack up some Sobranie just to enjoy it, and I fully believe the tales of yore about how good this blend was. But the new blends out there (Paul Olsen's, Ten Russians, Larry's Strike Force, Penzance, Knightsbridge) are all certainly worthy heirs to the throne, and I don't feel cheated that I like at a time where I can have such a wide range available to me.

In comparison with all those others, Sobranie certainly stands up well, even at this late date. It's got a nice beat, and I can dance to it - even if it's a slow dance over in a dark corner. I give it a 75.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Skando Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Skando (182)
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".

Nobody has rated this review yet.

loosewatches Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
loosewatches (108)
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Very Pleasant

Well, this has finally become unavailable to me. I just smoked one of my last bowls. I'm going to miss this. People say 965 is the standard to judge English mixtures by. O.k., whatever you say. That's an English, this is a balkan. Again, whatever. Balkan Sobraine is the mix to judge any Latakia blend by.

I've been smoking this as long as it's been an option to me- the last four years. It has cost 8 Euros for 50 grams and I have no problem with that, I'd pay twice the price.

So, how does it taste? It's the smokiest smoke I've ever had. Rather sweet base, campfire room note. (the 'very pleasant' under room note is my opinion, not someone else's) This is definately a mood altering substance. In America these days, if I remember correctly, there's a bunch of funny self help ladies running around talking about 'Aroma-therapy'. Well if they put this in their new age purses, maybe I'll listen.

Smoke it if you've got it.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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 ...

Nobody has rated this review yet.

GeoLogger Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
GeoLogger (16)
Strong Very Mild Full Tolerable to Strong

I was lucky. I had heard the stories. Legends. I had heard, and I thought they were exagerated. Then I happened on a shop in the Rockies while I was on assignment there. White tin - real McCoy. They had two and I only bought one to try it. The job ended before I did. I withhold most further details of the shop on the unlikely chance I can return someday and the remaining tin will be up there on the top shelf, having once been stuffed back to make room for more recent things. Funny how all the tobacco is in the old closet of a humidor that had been the cigar area, and the cigars are now in a nice large humidor up front where the tobacco had been. Shows what they know. I cannot emphasize enough how much I loved this. I ended up scouting for more and managing a few more ounces at outrageous prices. I'd do it again. So the turkish varieties did it, fine. Whatever it was, I spent several years following this up by trying to find another "balkan". There aren't any really. I guess I hate the others - they only remind me of the real gal. I smoke Virginia. And sometimes I cut in some Turkish. I still wonder if the dumbest thing I ever did with regards to this hobby was to not buy that second tin.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Aris Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Aris (8)
Medium to Strong None Detected Full Tolerable

My friends i have just opened a 200gr tin of Sobranie Original and i am smoking it in a Dunhill group5 shell aplle. Outsanding!!!Thats my opinion.Exellent in all respects. I notice that the Latakia is not at all heavy in this blend. The virginias are of the higest grade. One of the best pipe tobaccos i have ever smoke.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

DrDNA Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
DrDNA (58)
Medium Extremely Mild Full Strong

Notes: A blend now long gone. I am still smoking it occasionally, out of tins remaining from the 70's through the 90's. It does have an interesting history. For the better part of the 20th Century, this blend was made by Sobranie House under the aegis of the Redstone family. This was a complex blend of virginias, latakia, and many exotic leaves from the Turkey/Macedonia area with names like Syrna, Izmir, Xanthi, Yenidje, etc. On July 1, 1968, Gallaher Tobacco acquired the blend and the trademarked name. The blend was found to be too costly to manufacture and so it was simplified, being produced by Gallaher through the 1970's, 80's and then finally ceasing in 1995, with the last tins reaching eager pipesters in 1996. Pouches continued to be manufactured but this is another story.

Isadore Redstone sensed this void in 1995 and negotiated with the Lane Company to manufacture the old blend under a new name "Balkan Saseini." Unfortunately, by now the cigarette industry had turned its unblinking eye upon turkish tobacco, consuming all there was. Oriental tobacco was standardized and sold uniformly, no more to be readily had as the local varietals with exotic names. Hence the new blends simply could never be the same. Finally, even the Saseini was taken over by Orlik a few years ago, closing the chapter on the book of Sobranie with finality.

Ah well, this is a blend so beloved, that many have tried to replicate it but none have succeeded for this very reason. However, for many, the newer blends are just as enjoyable, if different. And sadly the latakia does not age gracefully, losing much of its potency after 40 years in the tin.

Appearance: Over 80% black leaf, with a few nut brown to dark brown strands, ready rubbed in a medium cut ribbon.

Aroma: Smoke, sweet vinegar, wood chips, cherry pit, concentrated fig, pomegranate jam.

Taste: Smoky-sweet, nutty, round, mellow. Almond butter, butter cream frosting, meringue, brown bread, plum pudding, candied fruit, pinot noir, armagnac. The heavy dense smoke floats lightly over the palate. Supremely rich and dense in flavor, yet as light as a souffle. Rewarding to smoke.

Comparisons: Similar to the GL Pease blends in the same way a red crayon drawing resembles Rothko's "Red on Maroon"; the flavors are there; but this is infinitely more complex and more subtle. Likewise akin to Smokers' Haven's Krumble Kake and Esoterica's Penzance in flavor and strength, but like comparing a profesional ice skater to a hockey player.

Bottom Line: The ultimate expression of the oriental leaves. For those who seek a refined latakia-oriental blend rich in flavor, but retrained in raw power and bluster.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

SFC Psaki Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
SFC Psaki (7)
Medium to Strong None Detected Very Full Tolerable to Strong

April 2003

Pipe: GBD Bull Moose, group 3 bowl Cut: rubbed out, moisture on the perfect side of dry. Pouch Aroma: Rich, woodsy, smokey, leathery, hints of nuts Packs: very easily Lights: Very easily

I won't waste time on deep rambling discourse. After having smoked Rattray's Black Mallory, Pease Caravan, Renaissance and Samarra, and Esoterica's Penzance, I now understand the difference between a Balkan and an English. This is the grail, the standard by which all other Balkans are measured, and with good reason. The flavor is rich, dark, smokey, spicy, somewhat like a cigar, but ever so much more complex. There is a constant swirl of flavors all in a perfect balance. There is an acidic nuttiness like roasted walnuts, and a perfect sweetness as well. The latakia and yenidje play an excellent accompaniment, and all the flavors balance beautifully. A masterpiece, perfect to smoke in the evening. If you can lay your hands on a pouch, do so. A wonderful smoke.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

The Cellarmaster Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
The Cellarmaster (13)
Medium to Strong None Detected Full Pleasant

I would smoke this one regularly if it were available. What can I say about this blend. Rich and full of flavor this blend is a satisfying smoke to be savored slowly. The burn is cool, smooth and easy to maintain. as it blooms midway down the bowl. The finish is cool and dry. A pipe smokers nirvana. I think I'll pack another bowl!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

4 Dot Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
4 Dot (4)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Winter '04

I have just recently secured a few 50gram packets of "Balkan Sobranie" Original Smoking Mixture. These packets, though lacking any dating, were "Made in the United Kingdom" and were imported by (the now defunct) James B. Russell, Inc. of Upper Saddle River, NJ. (Whom, similarly, imported Sasieni) Upon opening the packet I was anxious to sample its aroma?it was still delightful, quite as you would expect from a fine, fresh English. It was, however, obvious that the tobacco had become thoroughly dried over the years. I removed the cake of tobacco and set out to re-hydrate it thus: Placed in a kitchen type strainer (sieve) over a pot of boiling water for a few moments the tobacco softened. I gently separated the cake and allowed it to absorb some of the water vapor from the water below. The room glowed with the fullness of the Blend. In just a few minutes I judged that the tobacco was moist enough, placed it on a dish and then a few minutes later, into a "ZipLock"?.After allowing the moisture to migrate throughout, overnight: Sobranie vs. Sasieni The pouch aroma is very inviting (noticeably more so than Sasieni). Its appearance, though quite similar, shows more light leaf, however slight. The lighting, and smoking qualities are indistinguishable from the Sasieni. The Sobranie has the properties of the newer Sasieni in full measure; but, if there is a difference: I would describe it as softer, or less sharp! In fact, the difference might be compared to that between the Glenfiddich Scotch (sharp) and the Glenlivet Scotch (soft), albeit not so distinct?. Not so much a difference of taste, as one of attitude!

The blend smokes reliable from top to bottom with the flavor shift of full and soft to spicy then sweet/sour. The balance of Virginias, Orientals & Latakia: favors the Orientals. More so, for instance, than the "Frog Morton" which leans toward the Latakia; or Bill Bailey's, which is "over the edge" with Latakia. Sobranie, all in all, is a wonderfully rewarding smoke. Its ash is light and gray, without noticeable cake. In fact, if there is any downside to this tobacco, it is that it smokes too cleanly to yield a proper cake (In any reasonable time). My humble recommendation: Try the Sobranie or Sasieni in larger pipes that have been broken in with other "Englishes"?.These blends are a treat, and relights are uniquely satisfying. Their room note bespeaks a gentleman's presence. Rating?I can't smoke it "all the time", due to supply?however, this is a "Four Star Blend". If I had to choose but one tobacco this would be it. (Or by virtue of present supply, Sasieni)

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

preppypipe Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
preppypipe (57)
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

A dear friend of mine had a family member send this to him from his home land of Spain.Being the gentleman that he is,he gave me a pouch of my own.My only regret is that I'm going through it quickly and that it's no longer being sold in the U.S.This is one blend that lives up to it's reputation as one of the trulyly legendary smokes.Made up of oriental tobaccos,it's smooth and rich and tasty.It's simply wonderful and I'd encourage others to send overseas for a pouch or two of THEIR own. ==Highly Recommended!== prep

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Flatcap Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Flatcap (7)
Medium None Detected Full Tolerable

Having heard so much about this blend I was prepared to be under whelmed, but it really does live up to the hype. It lights easily, requires little maintenance and gives the most rewarding smoke I?ve had to date (I've not been smoking very long though to be honest!). Flavour becomes nuttier as the bowl is smoked and gives off a subtle aroma with an aesthetically-pleasing white smoke too. Thoroughly enjoyable and deserves a quiet hour or so to smoke it and really enjoy it. The perfect aid to peace and contemplation.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

mailman 5000 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
mailman 5000 (60)
Medium to Strong None Detected Full Tolerable

The tobacco ? . This has more legends than any other and according to my tobacconist has been going downhill for years. When I first discovered it it had a unique quality, tasting like no other and though caused by the latakia which is present in large quantities, allegedly sprayed on by my doubting tobacconist. I thought I had found my tobacco. But 18 months ago the blend changed and was but a shadow of its former self, a truly dark day had dawned. But with the addition of straight cyprus Latakia about 33% seems to do the trick a very palatable smoke can be produced this is my tobacco.

Curisoty and the words of that tobacconist, got the better of me when I saw an unopened tin from the sixties on Ebay. Really this is different tale, but the 40 year old stuff is the real deal as far as im concerned . Trouble is finding it!.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

KEF Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
KEF (13)
Medium Extremely Mild Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong

Why on earth did they stop selling this stuff in America? The first time I tried this tobacco was recently; it was a 6 year old 50g packet that had been well kept. On opening the pack it has a strong balkan sweet and sour scent (big surprise). It is almost all black and had compressed, so I broke it and rubbed it out. Once rubbed out I could pretty much gravity feed it into a pipe that is currently dedicated to it - a small to medium sized bent Dunhill shell dublin collector. Lights easily. Initial smoke is full and sweet, and the mix of latakia and turkish is beautiful. As I smoke this down the flavors mix nicely, and I'm done too soon. Usually one tamp and relight. Burns to a fine grey ash. I'm nursing my limited supply. I try to pick a time when I can set aside an hour to sit quietly and enjoy this fine tobacco. 9 of 10. - Kelly

Nobody has rated this review yet.

mparker Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
mparker (51)
Medium to Strong None Detected Very Full Pleasant to Tolerable

Man oh man oh man! I first discovered this stuff in the early 90's, and was immediately hooked. It's a classic balkan blend with very little virginia and lots of latakia and turkish yenidje. It is incredibly smooth and creamy, with a mild sweetness and a dry, salty smokiness that reminds me more of Syrian Latakia than Cyprian (I don't know for sure which one is present). It lights well, and burns fairly slowly as is typical for latakia/oriental blends. It remains extremely consistent throughout the bowl and I frequently smoke it to the bottom without realizing it at all. It leaves a fine grey ash, and cakes poorly, so I tend to break my pipes in with something else.

Nobody has rated this review yet.