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In the early 1900's, an ancient family of tobacco blenders created the original "Balkan Smoking Mixtures", balancing the richness of the Oriental tobaccos from Macedonia and the Black Sea with the best latakia and Virginias. We revisit today that ancient recipe characterized by a high Syrian latakia dosage (50%).

BrandPaul Olsen
Blend TypeBalkan
ContentsLatakia, Oriental/Turkish, Virginia
Packaging100 grams tin
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Mild to Medium, Medium, Strong
None Detected
Room Note
6 reviews
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Tantric Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Tantric (302)
Strong None Detected Medium to Full Strong

This is a very rich and tasty concoction, perhaps closer to the Scottish Cavendish tradition than to the more mineral earthy flavors of the Sobranie/Sasieni families. It definitely is a high quality product, full of flavor, slightly sweet and dense and therefore a tad bloated for my tastes.

However this is a highly recommended blend for English and Balkan smokers. It does not come cheap, and it certainly is not advisable for beginners. But if you like Balkan Sobranie and Balkan Sasieni and you can't get either, by all means do try this one.

N.B: This blend may have been intended solely for the Italian market, but I purchased two 100 gms. tins at a tobacconist in the Cathedral Square of Barcelona.

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sasha Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
sasha (228)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

Beer said it all, I can only agree that it's very similar in look and taste to the Balkan Sasieni. I just add that I'm becoming fussier and fussier about the REAL peculiarity of a true Balkan mixture. To me, 50 % latakia doesn't mean you can call this "balkan mixture": maybe full latakia was more suitable for this blend. Said that, this is a great tobacco, it's definitely worth a try.

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Beer Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Beer (304)
Medium Extremely Mild Medium Strong

As a compensation for deciding not to import the great Olsen 7000 mixture in Italy, Rome-based distributor Gutab expressely asked the Danish blender to create a new blend for our market, a blend which could satisfy that large group of smokers who feel that Balkan Sobranie has gone downhill and would like some new alternatives in the world of balkans (we don't have GLPease here!). The 50% Latakia is clearly a marketing strategy to attract the old-school smokers (and the young ones like me who like dark English blends).

There's nothing certain about what I am going to say, but read on... Olsen is owned by Orlick. Orlick makes Balkan Sasieni but can't legally sell it on the Italian market with that name and packaging since Sobranie Original Mixture still is present in Italy. It takes little imagination to think that My Own Blend Balkan is a repackaging and renaming of the Sasieni... Visually, they are quite similar, and many taste characteristics are very close... Do I agree with this theory? Not completely. The Sasieni I had smoked a couple of years ago was different: more pungent, pleasantly bitterish. Anyway, this could be explained with the fact that Sasieni has changed and it's now different from what it used to be: those who have smoked both tobaccos recently, say that the similarities are undeniable.

My take: both Sasieni and Olsen Balkan are based on the same recipe and made by the same blender, but with little tinkering or slightly different ingredients. This would explain it all.

How is this My Own Blend Balkan? It bears some deep similarities to My Own Blend 7000: not as "piney", but it has the same rich and sweet (though not complex) Virginia base. The Latakia is evidently similar, and good, almost licoricey. I wonder how they could stuff 50% of Syrian Latakia in here, though: Bohemian Scandal has less and is MUCH more spicy. I used to think that Syrian Latakia tasted unmistakably different from the Cyprian one, while this doesn't remind me of Greg's Syrian at all. Probably this IS Syrian, but it's not of the same quality/intensity, or it is made in Syria but according to a procedure more akin to the one used in Cyprus... Who knows! It's a very smooth Balkan, not overwhelming in taste like Sobranie can be: deep, dark, round, very pleasant. I wonder if a blend with such a delicate Oriental note can still be considered a Balkan... but I don't complain. Sure, when I want a real stout Balkan I still pick Sobranie, Caravan, or Odyssey and not this one.

It has a tickling effect on the tongue and palate: not real tonguebite, just a little nuisance, similar to an anaesthetic effect. Similar to what happened with 7000.

Taste doesn't evolve during the bowl: after 2 hours in a big Castello, it tasted exactly like at the beginning. This is quite disappointing, as the taste can be a bit unidimensional. But it's good, and certainly this is better than having a tobacco that turns bitter towards the end.

The overall impression is that it's a "bastard" EM/Balkan: a medium bodied-tasty blend with the typical but this time not unpleasant Danish "sweetened" and "soft" trait. By the way, if you take a while to let the contents of the tin dry a bit, you will experience an improvement in intensity and body: the spiciness of the Orientals will rise, and the result will actually get nearer to a traditional Balkan like Sobranie than when it is fresh out of the tin.

If you like Balkans or enjoy My Own Blend 7000 give it a try by all means (of course you have to visit Italy to find it!).

Me, I won't put it on a pedestal like someone is doing here in Italy, but I will be happy to smoke it as a change of pace and when I want a good sweet/smoky/spicy blend without the overwhelming effect on the palate of some other balkans. And yes, I think it's better than the Sasieni I had smoked two years ago.

One final note: this blend is stinky. Even if you like latakia, the smell left in the room after half an hour reminds me of horse dung (no jokes on the way Latakia is made please!) and cheese. Not exactly pleasant, so beware of complaints!

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