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The winning blend from the Chicagoland Pipe Show 2011. We're proud to introduce Black House. This blend is a tribute to a great tobacco of the past. Made for the 2011 contest it was judged to be the closest overall to the dark balkan-type mixture it was designed to emulate. For you Virginia Heads it's loaded along with Kentucky, Balkans, Turkish, and even a smattering of Black Cavendish.

BrandHearth & Home
Blended ByRuss Ouellette
Manufactured ByPipes & Cigars
Blend TypeEnglish
ContentsBlack Cavendish, Kentucky, Latakia, Oriental/Turkish, Virginia
FlavoringNone
CutRibbon
Packaging1.5oz Tin, 8oz Tin, Bulk
CountryUS
ProductionCurrently available
Where to Buy PipesAndCigars
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Strength
Medium
Flavoring
None Detected
Taste
Medium to Full
Room Note
Pleasant to Tolerable

Favorite Of 13 Users

3.7
46 reviews
Reviews
4 star:
33
3 star:
11
2 star:
2
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0
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King Weed Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
King Weed (46)
★★★★
Very Strong Strong Very Full Very Pleasant

Just for perspective, it might be good for the reader to go back to my review of Black House's competitor, Blue Mountain. There I voiced a couple of complaints about Blue Mountain. None will be voiced here about this blend.

I had a lot of trouble obtaining Black House: it was consistently sold out on pipesandcigars' web site, nonexsistent in local shops and never appeared on the after market on e-bay. Fortunately, Hearth and Home made a noticable appearance at the 2013 NASPC show handing out samples of their blends. There I had the pleasure of meeting Russ Oulette - or, should I say, the guy who claimed he might be Russ Oulette but wasn't sure he wanted to admit it. I told him of my difficulty finding this blend and he gave me a more than ample amount to sample.

Unlike Blue Mountain, Black House didn't initially hit me as a 759 replacement - mainly because it seemed to lack the fragrant aroma of both Blue Mountain and older 759. This is a complex blend, as can be seen from the ingredients description and the blend's physical appearance. It had a wonderful english aroma that made me want to dive in right away. And dive in I did. Smokey, english "nosey" and complexly rich; this blend went straight to my pipe smoker's G spot immediately. It is a little spicey initially, but this disappears at about the one quarter bowl mark and smoothes-out to a wonderful smoke.

Now comes the interesting part. Blue Mountain has the abundant old 759 fragrance but lacks the underlying english qualities that 759 is known for. On the other hand, Black House has the underlying english qualities in spades but comes up a little short on fragrance. Can you guess what comes next? That's right: I mixed them 50-50 and oui-la-la (or should I say oulette-la-la) - the magic combo of delight! Try this for youself; whether you have or have not smoked the older 759, this is what a 30 year old tin of Balkan Sobranie 759 smokes and tastes like. It is just like traveling back in time for the pipe enthusiast smoker. It is that real and that good!

Black House - thanks Russ - four stars.

11 people found this review helpful.

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

Blackhouse was a nice surprise. The ribbon cut was soft and at a really nice moisture level upon opening the tin. Simple to pack, I filled a blast rhodesion group 4 and after a solid light, the volume of smoke was uncommonly rich, as was the flavor.

The Latakia was mellow and the orientals were available from the time the match touched the bowl. The flavor density was consistent throughout the entire bowl and the smoothness of this blend was unlike any other I have ever tried. Blackhouse truly tasted like a blend that had been aging for years.

While smoking, I varied the pace significantly from very slow and deliberate to rapid and intense. Sincerely, I couldn't convince this tobacco to bite at any pace of smoking. As with most rich tobaccos, the flavors are most pronounced at a snails pace, but even smoked intensely, Blackhouse is pleasant.

I hope this will be a mainstay available for many years and not just a novelty that comes and goes. It is a rich, flavorful smoke for any time of day or all day. Never overpowering while robust in taste. Blackhouse could be the "go to" Balkan blend for just about anyone.

Very Very Highly Recommended.

6 people found this review helpful.

Smoking Sam Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Smoking Sam (20)
★★★★
Medium Mild Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

I bought a 2 oz. tin for sampling, because that was all that was available at the time. It arrived today, along with 8 oz. of Larry's Blend. I loaded a newly purchased Jobey Dansk freestyle pipe, which I bought off eBay. The pipe took a ton of cleaning. After using a dozen pipe cleaners with little progress, I decided to bring out the big guns - a salt and alcohol cleaning, followed by three Everclear alcohol retort cleanings. Mission accomplished!

I started out with a bowl of the Larry's Blend, which I found pleasant, and which didn't burn my mouth or tongue in the least. I cleaned the pipe and loosely packed a bowl of Black House. For what its worth, packing the pipe was a piece of cake.

From the first puff, I knew that I was onto something special. The tobacco displayed a mild flavorful smoke, with all the different tobaccos blending perfectly on the palette. After two charring lights, it was off to the races. I smoked the bowl all the way to the bottom of the pipe, stirring the dregs to light the last vestiges of tobacco. I was truly disappointed when there was no more baccy left. This blend provides plentiful smoke, and it doesn't really matter whether it is sipped or puffed - it burns cool, and doesn't bite.

Black House caused me to do something which I haven't done previously, which was to clean the pipe yet again, and pack a third bowl. A fresh pot of coffee later, and I went online and ordered 8 oz. of bulk Black House. Yep, I liked it that much! I have never smoked two successive bowls of anything before, not even Esoterica Penzance.

Black House is a nuanced, flavorful blend, mild, with zero mouth irration. I find myself wanting to inhale this blend! I found no noticeable nicotene hit, no stomach gurgles, no nasal burn, and no need to run to the bathroom. LOL. I even found the aftertaste agreeable. There was a necessity for several relights, since I smoked this fresh right out of the tin, and the tobacco was slightly moist.

I think Larry's Blend will be a great all day smoke, as will Black House. This is one of the best blends that I have tried so far. I am very impressed with the flavor and friendliness of this blend. Russ Ouellette has blended a masterpiece - well done!

Negatives? After smoking several bowls now, the only negative that I can report is that this tobacco burns very quickly. In fact, it is the fast burning baccy that I have smoked to date. I have tried to counter this by packing my bowls tighter, but the enjoyment is over far too soon.

4 people found this review helpful.

Pipestud Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipestud (1005)
★★★★
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild Very Pleasant

Russ Ouellette has already proven himself to be one of the world's master blenders, so I was not surprised at the overall quality and perfect melding of the different tobaccos Black House presents. It is Rattray's Black Mallory with a little backbone according to my tastes.

BH is sweet rather than leathery, and the Kentucky raised the strength meter to a higher level. The cut was perfect for loading and the blend burned well without many re-lights. I allowed my first bowl's contents to dry for several hours before smoking. The second bowl was consumed straight from the tin while still moist and I didn't really detect any change in flavor presentation.

It has been so long since I've smoked a bowl of the original BS 759 that there is no way I can offer a comparison. Basing my review of BH for being what it is rather than what it is supposed to emulate, this is one very fine tobacco in its own right and I am glad I purchased multiple tins of the original release. It should age quite nicely.

Congratulations Russ. Job well done!

4 people found this review helpful.

SmokeDawg Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
SmokeDawg (60)
★★★★
Mild None Detected Mild Pleasant

Wow. A tasty Balken-English style blend, reminds me a lot like Becks Ole Limey Bastard. I like the color variation of the Bright yellow VA next to the black cavendish. First I thing I noticed you could puff on it all you want to like that girl in high school that didn't know what she was doing… and you won't get any bite from it. Second thing I quickly noticed it was very light yet favorable and had that great English aroma. It didn't leave a film or taste in my mouth what-so-ever… thats a first and rather great surprise. Burns great, packs great. A triumph in blending.

Pipe Used: Old Basket Pipe from Greece.

Purchased From: PipesandCIgars.com

Similar Blends: Becks Ol Limey Bastard. B&B tobacconist..

3 people found this review helpful.

WillBrown Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
WillBrown (48)
★★★★
Medium to Strong Mild to Medium Full Tolerable

Back in the old days, the late 80's, early 90's, Balkan Sobranie was a "go to" for me. Now, I admittedly preferred the white label to 759, but when the white label was sold out (as it frequently was) 759 was then the choice. Black House really does taste like 759, perhaps a wee bit fuller and slightly sharper in taste as I remember it, but very close. Would I prefer the original to BH? Yes, but, hey, they stopped making the original, so why not make a clone? I'm all for this. I think Black House is a great blend on its own merit, and I will be purchasing more in the future.

Pipe Used: Butz Choquin Canadian

Age When Smoked: ?

Purchased From: Pipes & Cigars

3 people found this review helpful.

JimInks Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JimInks (718)
★★★★
Medium Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant

Despite similarity and intent, I can tell the difference between this and Balkan Sobranie 759. This has a little more sweetness than in the blend it tries to emulate and it's less soda-y, too. Who cares? Buy this because it's a very good smoke in it's own right. It satisfies without being overly strong, and gives a good Cyprian latakia taste without completely dominating the other components. The light sweetness, which comes from the black cavendish, is slight enough to nearly make this all day smoke for Balkan lovers, and is not cloying to the tongue. The Virginia is lightly sweet with a touch of grass. The Orientals have wood and mild spice, the latter also a little evident in the dark fired Kentucky. Burns cool, even, and at a good rate. It's got a decent nic hit, and if you like this kind of mixture, you'll enjoy the after taste, too. For those who want the English taste in medium force, this blend is about as good as it gets.

One caveat: if you smoke strong blends in your pipe, clean the bowl well first. Otherwise, you won't get the entire range of taste of this blend.

3 people found this review helpful.

Lit a Kia Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Lit a Kia (37)
★★★☆
Strong None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

Nice English smell in the pouch; burnt cedar of the latakia is up front, but the sunny Virginias and earthy Kentuckys are right there shoulder to shoulder. Comparing the nose to McClelland Blue Mountain, this one smells more like an aged blend to me, which may be part of why it won the legendary 759 contest.

Packed and lit easily, burnt smoothly and cleanly, no relights needed. Quality weed.

Started out with plenty of leather and chocolate, then opened up into chocolate and allspice/clove and a rich, velvety blue smoke. Last third of the bowl was burnt cedar, pine and (not in a bad way) an interesting soapiness (for lack of a better term) and a couple of fleeting notes of creosote (again, not unpleasant).

The nicotine kick surprised me, as most of the English blends I enjoy are pretty mellow. I'm assuming Russ' inclusion of Kentucky is the culprit. If you like English blends but want more Lady N than is typical, this (and/or HH Vintage Syrian, although I like this one better) could be your blend.

King Weed's suggestion below to blend this with Blue Mountain definitely sounds worth a try.

Pipe Used: Boswell freehand

Age When Smoked: < 6 months

Purchased From: pipesandcigars.com

2 people found this review helpful.

Oldguy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Oldguy (8)
★★★★
Medium to Strong None Detected Full Pleasant

Took a while to get my hands on this stuff, but it was worth the wait. I met Russ at the Richmond, VA pipe show two days after I had received my first order, so I was able to congratulate him on a job well done. Upon opening the tin the aroma seemed almost disappointing; pleasant though quite mild, giving no hint as to what was in store once the pipe was lit. The orientals are right out front most of the way through, sometimes almost a bit too sharp, but invigorating. It has a very springy, loose cut. Normal packing gave almost no resistance to the draw, so the temptation is to pack it a bit tighter than you normally might. Moisture seemed about right straight from the tin, but that was deceptive. The first 3 bowls I smoked (in 3 different pipes of different sizes) all got a bit wet near the bottom of the bowl so I tried two things. First, I dried it out for a couple of hours before smoking it. Second, I packed it more loosely. Bingo. It burns fast, as others have noted, but when dried out it burned right to the bottom clean and dry on one light. So don't succumb to the temptation to overpack it. just enjoy a bowl at its own pace, then have another. Although I was smoking pipes back when BS759 was available, I missed out on trying it. In the past 15 years or so I have come to love Balkan-style blends and have tried many over the years. This is a very tasty tobacco. I normally prefer a tad more latakia than this, but variety is the spice of life. Different blends for different moods, and this one definitely fills a niche. I'll always try to have some on hand from now on.

2 people found this review helpful.

Wellpipe Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Wellpipe (48)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

I have never smoked the target blend and have not brought myself to pay the insane premium on eBay to try Balkan Sobranie 759 (maybe someday). I did get a tin of Black House and a tin of Blue Mountain to compare. I have since bought a couple more tins of Blue Mountain.

Black House is a quality tobacco and Russ knows his craft for sure. Smokey, broad flavor profile, balanced but definitely on the spicy end of the spectrum for my taste. Even when smoked carefully the spice level sometimes 'plasters the heck out of my palate', not an endearing quality - hence the 3 stars.

Burns down to a dry, gray mottled ash. I prefer Blue Mountain to this because of the slightly lower 'spice' level. Both are great blends and worth getting your hands on.

2 people found this review helpful.

Peppino Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Peppino (74)
★★★★
Medium Medium to Strong Full Pleasant

I ordered this based on reviews I've read, and I like it. Being lucky enough to smoke 759 in in the 70's and the 80's. Now the 80's had a change of blenders as the family sold the rights and Balkan Sasieni (Gallaher)made the blend that was a shadow of 759. Now Arango with J.F. Germain make the new Balkan Sobranie (White Label) which in it's own right is very good. They have workers from the original House of Sobranie, and maybe they will bring back the Holy Grail 759. In 759 it had Mountain Blue Latakia, Turkish, Virginia's, Macedonian's, Black Cavendish and Yenidje which has become very difficult to obtain. So that brings me to Black House, I've smoked 6 straight bowls today. From Castello's to Caminetto's to Savinelli's and all different shapes.. Each time it got more familiar to me, visually in the tin and the huff test it was spot on. When I lit up the bowl the initial smoke had that flavor I remember and it produced a nice bellow of smoke that was a gray blue just like 759 the re-lights after sitting for a 1/2 hr or so were excellent. However as I continued it was missing something, now don't get me wrong it's a very fine tobacco. I think it's missing the Yenidje as well as more Macedonian, and a touch more Latakia of course this is just my opinion. It did smoke very well and easily smoked to the heel with no problem. It was dry with no moisture at all in the pipe, I have to say this is the closest tobacco I've smoked since 759. I would say that Black House stands well on it's own merits is a fantastic blend that you shouldn't hesitate to pick up.....Now I'm going to go for a seventh bowl :)

2 people found this review helpful.

puro66 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
puro66 (73)
★★★★
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

I have a positive attitude toward blenders creating new blends inspired by old blends, the important word being inspired. Whether or not this is like that "old" tobacco doesn't really matter for it stands on it's own merit and should be approached accordingly.

I purchased this tin as an also throw that in the cart along with a regular order. For some reason I did not immediately open it (unheard of for me with a new, to me, tobacco) instead I put it on the tin shelf in the closet and did not open it for about a year.

The tin aroma is full, dark and smokey, quite alluring. There's alot of tobaccos playing together here and while it is to the dark side appearing there is ample browns as well.

The moisture is perfect for me right out of the tin and it was easy to keep lit, for me. I find the balance here to be quite good with the latakia and orientals really setting the foundation of the smoke throughout the bowl with a certain floral creaminess that I've come to expect from those blends calling themselves Balkans. It burned cleanly to the bottom of the bowl leaving me with that feeling of I wish I could get at least one more puff.

I am not a fan of big nicotine bomb tobaccos and thankfully this seems no more than a medium on my scale, because I really enjoyed it and intend to buy more. I do recommend it as a try for all who enjoy this style of smoke.

12-8-13: I am giving this blend another star. It keeps getting better with each bowl.

2 people found this review helpful.

ELROD Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
ELROD (4)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium Unnoticeable

Disclosure: I only smoke bent pipes outdoors (yes, the wife objects to indoor smoking) and cannot speak to "room note" as such but the aroma from the burning tobacco hitting my nostrils is what I enjoy the most about pipe smoking.

I have found this blend to be slightly sweet, smooth, subtle, sophisticated, and satisfying without smashing you with latakia or nicotine. It does not have sensational aroma but enough to please me. I think it is a splendid blend and I give it an S+.

Pipe Used: Various bent with 9mm filter

Age When Smoked: Not cellared

Purchased From: P&C

1 person found this review helpful.

Geronimo Von Klaus Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Geronimo Von Klaus (64)
★★★★
Medium to Strong Extremely Mild Full Pleasant

Magical, mysterious, glowing............utterly spectacular.

I have never tried 759, so I cannot compare. I have been pipped at the post in the dying seconds of a bid on eBay more than once for a sealed and obscenely overpriced tin, and each time I tell my old pipe mentor he scolds me for even bothering while Black House is available which he says is every bit as good a smoke.

So many superlatives you can talk about with this, but for the positives, I lit this up the first time and knew that this was the one I had been searching for. Warm incense with strong tobaccos throughout, the woody aroma of the KY playing off the smoky lat and the orientals just add a magical spice to it that bring it into a place I have never experienced. The Black Cav just tinges it with a subtle sweetness.

With so much going on, you'd swear it would be confusing, but it works like a Mozart Symphony, everything has its place, and everything contributes just the right amount.

The only downside, it can lose some of that magic near the end of the bowl, and get a bit dirty tasting. The aftertaste was a bit of a letdown for had what had been almost a religious experience to that point, it gets a bit out of sorts right down at the end, somewhat bitter and ash laden, and its just very lat heavy down there. To combat, I halt proceedings right before the final 6th now.

Epic.

Pipe Used: Peterson Killarney

Age When Smoked: 1 year

Purchased From: Pipes and Cigars

1 person found this review helpful.

tabaco Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
tabaco (70)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Full Strong

I bought this tinned and bulk, both exactly the same. Although the bulk smoked a bit better out of the gate which is usually the case.

Somewhat vaguely similar to 759 and superior to Blue Mountain in my view. I'm puzzled by the Virginia heads reference I get very little of that, moderate nicotine as well, unless the comment refers to natural flavours which Black House has in spades.

In a blind tasting I feel one could easily indicate a Sam Gawith or a JF Germain concoction. Russ has a done an excellent job and his offerings are better suited to my palate. I wish I could say the same about Greg Pease; sobeit one of the reasons for so much variety in the pipe tobacco world.

Black House is not one of the tobaccos you "must try" before you drop off the twig; however, it's worth a punt and a nice one to have in the rotation for a change-up even for those on a prescribed regimen of Latakia and Orientals.

1 person found this review helpful.

Mudguts Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Mudguts (14)
★★★☆
Mild Medium to Strong Full Pleasant to Tolerable

Latakia and oriental are in the forefront of this blend. It is topped with a sweetish liqueur-like flavor to have it apparently resemble an older bygone blend. Judged on its own merits, it is very well balanced and smooth as silk, lacking any sharpness or edge. It burns and smokes effortlessly to ash with few relights. The flavoring is sublime, and intriguing with the first pipeful, but the bold flavor statement can get somewhat tiresome with a second bowl.

Pipe Used: medium bulldog

Age When Smoked: 7 months

1 person found this review helpful.

Theodore Moore Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Theodore Moore (12)
★★★★
Medium Extremely Mild Very Full Pleasant to Tolerable

I am a great lover of natural, English and balkan style tobaccos, having smoked most all of the late, legendary tobaccos of this genre including Balkan Sobranie 759 & White, the original Celebrated Bengal Slices and my personal favorite, Macedonian, put out by Neimeyer of Denmark back in the 70's & 80's, which for me will always be the lost, lamented Holy Grail of pipe tobaccos.

Having said this, it is a great joy to report that Russ Ouellette deserves a medal of honor for Black House. I must admit that I couldn't quite understand or appreciate the name, 'Black House' until I read Kylepoet's review in which he used the phrase "A ghost on the edge of a dream." This perfectly describes this blend. Black House is haunted. It is haunted by the spirit of "Balkan Past." I have not tasted anything until now that satisfies the tasty memory of these long lost tobacco blends. Indeed, the phrase "A ghost on the edge of a dream" should be the bi-line on the tin.

Black House is tasty in ever changing ways, and to me, taste trumps all other considerations. I appreciate the muted play of the Virginias while not losing their required sweetness. I also appreciate the baked "nuttiness" provided by the addition of the Kentucky (as opposed to Burley,) and thus keeping the nicotine affect at a moderate level. The 'smattering' of Black Cavendish is just that, and doesn't offend the true Balkan integrity like so many do with this addition. Above all, the Latakia is top-notch and in perfect proportion.

Black House is a sipping tobacco, which never bites, and is ideal for those who like to use the gifted olfactory senses as they sip their smoke through the nose. The aroma is awesome, and its lingering room note delightfully haunts the house as well!

And the smoke? Ah yes, the smoke is like nothing I've ever experienced. Really! It creates a foggy-blue cloud that hangs in the air like something oozing out of the regimental tents from Kipling's Gunga Din!

The one and only drawback is, that being a natural tobacco, it burns faster and hence, shortens the pleasure far, far too soon. Because of this, it should be packed tighter and in a pipe with long and narrow bowl.

In short, I never would have dreamed that anyone could have pulled off a Sobranie smackdown with these ingredients, but Russ proves again that being a Master Blender is an art form. With all due respect to Roland Mesnier, in BLACK HOUSE, Russ Ouellette has proven that he is the premiere WHITE HOUSE Pastry Chef of tantalizing tobaccos! BRAVO!

ADDITIONAL NOTE: At the risk of committing the unpardonable, allow me to make one suggestion. Most of us like to play at amateur blender and "tweak" some of our smokes. If you would like to slow down the fast burning rate of Black House and smooth out the slightly rough edges that Orientals inevitably bring, you can add about 30% of McClelland Bulk 5110 to produce a smoother smoke and slower burn rate w/o altering the beautiful room note. It also increases the sweetness and complexity in the taste department... a fifth dimension! This is my favorite go to blend which I've christened, "Mr. President." Sorry Russ!

1 person found this review helpful.

DK Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
DK (595)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

For me, there's little in this pipesmoking world less compelling than a brand new tobacco that is hyped as an emulation of some long forgotten classic. I realize there was a contest and all that, but I just usually shy away from these kinds of blends. However, since I was lucky enough to recently acquire a small amount of 759 and this was voted to be the closest to that classic, I thought I may as well see if I agreed. Such hype begs... no, demands... that it be directly compared to the blend it's trying to match, if such a comparison is possible.

First of all, the contents of my tin did not much resemble 759. It came fairly dry, but was also evenly matched between dark and brown tobaccos. The cut was a bit wider as well. In the pipe, this tobacco was indeed very similar to 759. How that is so, when this blend contains Kentucky and Black cavendish which was not in 759, is beyond me and very likely a testament to the blender. But the flavor was remarkably similar - same sweetness barely up front with the smooth and spicy latakia close behind. The orientals tasted like the ones in 759. This one as well refused to be DBT'd.

It was only when I pushed it a bit that this blend showed its ornery and decidedly non-759 side. It became cloudy and a bit dirty tasting, which I could never get 759 to do. Whether this is due to the inclusion of those two condiment/base tobaccos, I do not know. And it's a non-issue anyway, if one smokes suitably slowly and in a relaxed fashion. To my tastebuds, Russ matched 759 most admirably, based on my limited tasting. I'd go so far as to suggest that 759 addicts should look no further. It was so close that it exhibited the same shortcoming I found in 759, in that it was just a bit smoother than i normally prefer. But this one should be tried by every latakia lover, without question. It's a very fine blend.

1 person found this review helpful.

Aussie-man-die-as Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Aussie-man-die-as (13)
★★★★
Medium to Strong None Detected Full Tolerable to Strong

Wow. I last smoked the "real thing" in the late 1970's and I still have a distinct memory of the spicy, strong, almost perfume like hit I got in lighting up. I was extremely interested to try this new interpretation.

I was not disappointed. Not in the least. Too long for a direct comparison, of course, but the pure, strong flavor hit, the bright, clear tastes definitely remind me of the earlier experience. Unlike any Latakia blend I have tried since the original Balkan Sobranie.

More detail: lovely ribbons, easy to pack and smoke to the bottom of the bowl, great, sharp tin note, ecstasy in a bowl. I wish there were more than 4 stars to award.

This too shall pass.

1 person found this review helpful.

SteelCowboy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
SteelCowboy (517)
★★★★
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

I love this tobacco and find it stronger than some of the other reviewers are giving credit to it. I love tobacco's with a good kick of Lady N and Black House has it. Black House was created in the likeness of 759, but comparing it to a ghost is unreasonable. The reviews of this blend IMHO should be based on the quality of the blend rather than whether or not it stands up to 759. This is a smooth, full flavored English blend that is broader than many English blends as the flavor profile includes the addition of dark fired and Yenidje. I prefer Black House a bit drier than it arrives in the tin and while it is outstanding now, a few months in the tin will serve it well. This may be the best English blend to come out of Russ Ouelette's fine line up of tobacco's. Very Highly Recommended!

UPDATE: Having let the tins rest four months, the tobacco has really married and is even more outstanding than when I reviewed my first two tins. If you are a fan of English blends, this is a "must try."

1 person found this review helpful.

TimHart Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
TimHart (2)
★★★★
Medium to Strong None Detected Full Pleasant to Tolerable

ABSOLUTE TOBACCO NIRVANA!!!! Russ MOST CERTAINLY hit the ball out of the park with this blend!! EVERYTHING the English smoker is looking for---and then some... My everyday smoke... Pure Bliss!!

Pipe Used: Dunhill Straight Shell Briar

Purchased From: Pipes and Cigars

Nobody has rated this review yet.

CFAF Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
CFAF (9)
★★☆☆
Very Strong None Detected Full Strong

I want to like this. I really do. Maybe, it's the Kentucky, but this one is on the strong side as far as vitamin N. The cool latakia taste is great. I agree with other posters that this burns a bit quick. This stuff just goes to my head. I think this is going back into my closet for a while.

Pipe Used: Various

Age When Smoked: 6 months to a year

Purchased From: Pipes and Cigars

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Joeray Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Joeray (61)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

1st open smell is not good, to strong orientals. The ribbon cut surely looks great on my eyes, golden virginia, and with the other black leaves in ribbon cut very entertaining. Easy to pack and not hard to light it up. 1st draw is very great, a smooth latakia and a little bit spicy at my nose gives me a pleasure and a little amount of the sweetness from the virginia are excellent, I'm trully enjoy this blend. The taste and the smoking quality is increasing when I relight it, perhaps I'm loosing the latakia's scent, but the sweetness of the virginia and the spiciness of the orientals pleasure me a lot. Sure this blend is something that I will buy it again and I give it 4 stars rating.

Pipe Used: tamarind woodheart

Similar Blends: Blue Mountain McClelland.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Gentleman Zombie Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Gentleman Zombie (203)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

A very good Balkan. Not my favorite, but I could live with this one if my favorite disappeared.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Mr.MeerBill Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Mr.MeerBill (35)
★★★☆
Medium Extremely Mild Medium to Full Tolerable

good tobacco but Larry's blend is better IMHO this is sweeter though so if that's what your looking for go for it

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Lochinvar Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Lochinvar (75)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Full Tolerable

This is a great Balkan. Anymore I don't trust my taste memory enough to tell you if its a dead ringer for the original, but its in the same camp, and stands on its own as a great Balkan.

What I get throughout the bowl is a full, dark Balkan flavor. The taste is a big, woodsy, cool latakia, with the orientals coming around the sides with hooks and jabs. The flavor is spicy, but is tempered by a very dry sweetness (aided in no small part I'm sure by the cavendish). And it is smooth, more than almost any other modern Balkan.

This blend never got harsh or bitter, staying cool the whole smoke, and being full without wearing out the mouth. I am not a sipper of tobacco either, I loaded this up in a very generously sized Castello bulldog for its inaugural smoke and it never bit or got harsh, even with my freight train smoking style.

As far as new Balkans go, this is one of my favorites, right up there with the new Balkan Sobranie and the Compton's balkans.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

M42 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
M42 (11)
★★★★
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant

I never smoked that Balkan tobacco which this one was supposed to emulate. I just know that this is a complex blend that pleases any time of the day I reach for it. It packs well, burns evenly and leaves the bowl dry and clean and the smoker wanting another bowl.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Knightsmoker Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Knightsmoker (62)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

Best balkan style I have tried to date. It has replaced others that I smoke regularly. Russ O. is a master blender and this should be on everyone's wish list that likes this style of tobacco.There is dark fired KY as the base, some cavendish which is forgivable. The lat. is good and strong in this blend. The oriental and Turkish tobaccos are more forward than most blends even for balkan's and the VA is a sweet creamy element. Beautiful smoke without bite.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Hottgunn Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Hottgunn (19)
★★☆☆
Medium to Strong None Detected Full Tolerable

Bought 8oz in bulk. First impressions were a weak tobacco without much flavor. A month later I found the flavor and aroma did not come on until about a third of the bowl was smoked, but for the rest of the bowl it was very tasty, woody and nutty. Full flavor. Leans more toward the Oriental side rather than the Latakia side. moisture was about right. It was very good but not excellent, however, I would guess after 6 months or so of aging it might be excellent. We'll see. Recommended.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Phonomet Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Phonomet (41)
★★★★
Medium Very Mild Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

A very satisfying Balkan. The latakia and Kentucky linger on the palette the longest, but the other players are discernible throughout. This is a true medium smoke where the flavor and strength are almost perfectly matched. The flavor is also well balanced between dark, mysterious and exotic on the one hand, and on the other hand salty and savory. The tin did not stay on my shelf for very long--looking forward to a long relationship.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Marshall Law Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Marshall Law (50)
★★★★
Medium Extremely Mild Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

A fantastic tobacco and an easy 4-star smoke. Rich and smooth, with absolutely no bite, bitterness or harshness. A fabulous, sultry, nuanced, full balkan which seamlessly integrates and balances the various component tobaccos like few other balkans ever have. Mind-boggling how smooth this smokes for a blend rich in orientals and virginias. The savory virginias assert themselves more in the second half of the bowl. The latakia is ever present but does not muddle or overpower the blend. Does it look, feel, taste or smell like my heavily aged samples of 70's Balkan Sobraine? Not really. But then, it's pretty green in comparision, so the latakia is still quite a bit more dominant in this blend's youth, it has an odd but pleasant sweetness from the cavendish, and the orientals have a different flavor. This blend is sweeter, smoother, and less complex, earthy and salty than the Sobraine I've smoked so far. There IS something reminiscent in the room note, however, oddly. An outstanding effort nonetheless. Is it closer than McClellands' Blue Mountain? I think so. Regardless of any unfair comparisons to other long-aged weeds, it stands on its own merit as one of the smoothest, most creative, most well-balanced and flavorful balkan mixtures currently available.

No disrespect meant, but this strikes me as the balkan blend that GL Pease has been chasing for a long, long time. This blend is quite lat-heavy but has none of the occasional harshess and/or bitterness in other blends which often do not agree with my chemistry the way Black House does. Four stars. Stock up and don't look back. This is a great smoke now, is almost dry enough to smoke right out of the tin, and can only improve with age and proper cellaring. Several of these fantastic new balkan blends on the market are making me reorganize and rethink my cellaring activities.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

puddlepirate Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
puddlepirate (11)
★★★★
Medium Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant

ive bought this now in both bulk and tin. it is excellent in my 20+ year old molina briar, which i use only for this blend. i dont smoke this in regular rotation, but only on sunday, after church.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Deleted Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Deleted Account (577)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

This is the best Balkan blend I have ever smoked. The DFK gives Black House a new and very well received reaction on my part, which distinguishes this mixture from all other Blakans.

Russ Ouellette has produced an outstanding Balkan. I have never tried the original 759, only the pouch version. As this is a bit different, it still has the rich deep earthy, spicy, leathery everlasting taste that I love so much.

As a lot of VA/OR/LA are simply bland to my tastebuds, BH is and will always be my favorite among English/Blakan blends.

I will stock all the way up to High Heavens this marvelous tobacco.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Bill Porter Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Bill Porter (2)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

I am just recently back into pipe smoking for the first time since the 1980s. Over the past few months I have sampled quite a few tobaccos, including several of the OTC blends and some of the blends that have been highly recommended on this Website. I have learned that straight Virginias and Virginia/Perique blends are not my "cup of tea." I can enjoy some of the "old codger" blends like Carter Hall and Prince Albert (maybe because I am an old codger!), but don't find them as deeply satisfying as English blends.

In my admittedly limited sampling of tobaccos, I find Black House to be the best tobacco I have smoked. I won't try to describe the nuances of flavor and aroma, not having the expertise to do so in a valuable manner, but I will say that this is the blend I would choose if I could smoke only one blend from now on. I can find no fault in Black House; no bite, great flavor and aroma, adequate strength, and it leaves me fully satisfied at the end of the bowl.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

smokey Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
smokey (120)
★★★★
Medium Extremely Mild Extra Full Pleasant to Tolerable

This is a tobacco I had been wondering about for a long time since hearing it won the contest for matching the old Balkan Sobranie at the 2011 Chicago Pipe Show. I ordered a tin last month and immediately found out it was on back order. After about 3 weeks I called to inquire about it and the nice young man on the phone said he would send me 4 oz. of the bulk for the same price as a 2 oz. tin, even though the bulk was worth considerably more. Pipes and Cigars customer service is the best!! The package arrived 3 days ago and after work I immediately opened it and pulled out the bulk Black House. I loaded a favorite straight billiard and fired it up. The iniatial taste I got was intriguing and a little spicy. Then after about 1/4 bowl it settled down into a beautifully balanced smoke between the Latakia, Turkish, and VAs. I had never smoked a tastier Balkan and subsequent bowls only re-inforced this opinion. I smoked 6 bowls straight between 3 different pipes: the billiard, a Jan Zeman Rhodesian, and a Karl Erik bulldog. I just can't get enough of this blend! This is one that is definitely going to be cellared and I'll get at least a lb. next time.

My wife did not mind the room aroma, either, although to be fair I should say that she lets me smoke other Latakia blends in the house. Burn rate and lighting were good, too, with minimal relights.

Scores for Black House: Taste- 20 of 20; lighting and burn- 8 of 10; value- 9 of 10. That gives Black House a score of 37 points, the highest I've ever given and a HUGE ** rating. If you love Balkans, you must try this tobacco!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Philo Beddoe Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Philo Beddoe (140)
★★★★
Medium to Strong Extremely Mild Full Pleasant to Tolerable

This is the best tobacco I have ever smoked....

I have waited a long time to review this blend, I wanted to acquire a large enough stash to be safe in case the supply temporarily dried up. When I open the tin I am immediately transported to the streets of Baghdad 1000 years ago, the smells of exotic incense and musky animals, the thick leathery smell of a well worn saddle and the aroma of cooked meat on an open fire. Black House is everything I ever wanted in a tobacco, it gives you a wonderful smoke every bowlful, top to bottom, with subtle flavors coming in and out as the bowl progresses. It also provides enough nicotine to be interesting without being overwhelming. I cannot thank Russ O. enough for this masterpiece.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Relapse Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Relapse (16)
★★★★
Mild None Detected Medium Tolerable

An true epiphany!

I still remember my first contact with the original Balkan Sobranie Smoking Mixture while preparing a college exam a cool and rainy afternoon in 1967. The tin was a gift from a dear auntie who had just returned from London and had asked for "the best English tobacco for a pipe smoking nephew". God bless her soul. The leather and figs upon opening the tin! The perfect humidity, the easy to pack wide ribbon, the whirldwind of smells and flavor on the char... Oh Lord!

I kept at it, adapting to its subtle changes until 1999 when I quit tobacco altogether blaming the pipe over a brief relapse into cigarrettes. Then I cleaned, sanitized and packed my collection and gave away my supplies, among them five unopened tins of the then current BSSM, plus one more than half-full. I still want to hit my head on the wall when I remember; but enough! This is about Black House.

I got this after reading it was the winner of the ChPS last year and the complimentary reviews; all true, IMHO.

On opening the tin, the scene of the first paragraph returned to my memory with a vividness that was almost painful. It's said that the olfative memory is the most prominent of all and this must be true.

I don't intend comparing it to the lamented Balkan Sobranie, any of them —too many years have passed for that. Suffice to say that this is by far the best Balkan blend I've smoked since I relapsed into pipe smoking with a vengeance several years ago, and I've tried quite a few, looking for the lost Grial.

No description can make it justice, I suppose most of the educated ones here are correct and you will pick them out easily, but this is one you have to try and decide for yourself.

For me, it has completely filled the void. I have begun stocking on it and this time around I won't be commiting my previous sin. I frequently give away tobacco tins to friends but this one I'll scrooge away. I only expect it to age like a great Bordeaux.

Accolades to Russ Ouelette for this superb blend!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

MrPiper Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
MrPiper (21)
★★★★
Strong Medium Extra Full Pleasant to Tolerable

The depth of richness is difficult to describe. Black House carries a dense and flavorful smoke that is amazingly well balanced. The flavors of every ingredient come through and can be detected individually and yet they all work together to produce a unique balkan taste that is elegant and unique. My greatest delight in this tobacco is that the pace of the smoke doesn't harm the experience. No tongue bite from a rapid pace, and still flavorful. A slow and relaxed pace and the reward is likely to be one of the most consistently delicious smokes you have or ever will have. This is a permanent addition to my rotation and I could easily be happy if this were the only tobacco I could smoke for the rest of my days.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

bteddy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
bteddy (20)
★★★★
Medium Mild Medium Pleasant

Russ Ouelette has created another masterpiece. My taste tends to be English/Balkin preference with an occasion rare aromatic for a change, but this mix harkens back my early balkin experiences. A slight sweetness rounds the flavor considerably. Not sure about the 759 connection, but there are a few memorable blends that compete for my taste in comparison, the original BS, and Britt's Balkin, of these Black House wins out by just an edge. If your a balkin lover this is a must try!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Mr. Big Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Mr. Big (230)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

Updated 10/23/12 _Ok things change, I'm a believer! This starts out with a blast of Latakia, then it smooths out to a flavorful, creamy Oriental . Just don't push it as I did with my original review. Orientals / Turkish and Latakia in nice balance, not real sweet but not bitter either, A late evening smoke . This would be 4 stars but if you push this, even slightly, it gets hot and bites, half way I seem to get some grating on the back of my throat. I don't understand the description saying for, " Virginia Heads", that's the only tobacco I don't find in this blend? I do find that this blend doesn't burn real well , but it is good on relights.

original review:I'm sorry, but this tobacco doesn't impress me. I find the taste mottled between the Orientals and latakia, neither one shines. The overall blend is hot and spicy from the Kentucky and without any sweetness from the Virginia. Too many better blends out there to buy again. Very surprised at all the 4 star reviews and from reviewers who I usually agree with. It must just be my chemistry, I find Kentucky(bites)& Cavendish(blah) both a problem.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

browncoat817 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
browncoat817 (3)
★★★★
Medium Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

As a novice pipe smoker, I've been trying a lot of different blends, styles, and brands of tobacco over the past few months trying to really nail down my own personal tastes and preferences. I've been impressed with some, disappointed by some, and surprised by a few. Black House, however, really does stand out in a class of its own. Having never smoked the legendary tobacco it was intended to emulate, I can only say that the original must have really been something. This is to date the absolute best tobacco blend I've tasted. It has earned a spot in my regular rotation, and I envision many years of enjoyment ahead. I've already started hoarding up tins of this stuff to store in the cellar for future smokes.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Katharsis Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Katharsis (39)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

I've only smoked three bowls of this, but so far it seems to be better and better every time. Very rich and earthy. I think the Kentucky and BC add some greatness to what might otherwise be a very stereotypical Balkan. This is good stuff. I feel like I'd have to smoke a lot more before it warrants a four star quite yet.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

JohnnyMcPiperson Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JohnnyMcPiperson (89)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

I enjoyed this blend, I wouldn't say it's anything to write home about, but I did enjoy it. The craft in the blending is there, it's actually a nice balkan, but my tastes these days are leaning towards more Va influenced english blends such as Chelsea Morning. This blend actually does remind me of the Balkan Sobrani that I tried or rather what I'd imagine it would have tasted like in it's younger state. There is something to it, I think the orientals maybe, that pops at times, but it has failed to capture me the way I like my english blends to. I'd say it was worth smoking a tin, and I enjoyed it, but I won't be stocking up.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

derlict311 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
derlict311 (67)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

A nice recreation of an old, classic (so I hear) blend. Good job Russ.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

kylepoet Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
kylepoet (18)
★★★★
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Tolerable

Drawing rooms and old leather, single malt, neat, maybe a brandy, deep and portentous discussions concerning the state of the Raj and what to do about the "sick man of Europe"... how else can I describe Black House? It is elegant, refined, and so very, very rich that lighting a bowl almost requires setting fire to a $100 bill.

My experience with Sobranie goes back to my college days in the late '70's. My uncle worked a B&M back then. Being from Scotland, he steered me hard away from anything that wasn't a "real tobacco." That meant a heavy dose of English, Balkan and Virginia mixtures. I wish i had appreciated my "tobacco upbringing' more at the time. i drifted from pipes to cigarettes (although, in my defense, they were Camels, Sobranies, and the occasional pack of Players or straight Virginia's). I do remember that late 1970's incarnation of 759, though. Like a ghost on the edge of a dream, it has toyed with my memory for 30 years, and I've never found any blender who managed to capture that ghost.

Until Russ Ouelette, that is. Black House isn't the 759, but it is darned close. Greg Pease wrote an outstanding article describing that perfect smoke. Mr. Ouelette delivers that with this blend. I sat through an enchanted hour with this paragon of a Balkan blend.

On opening, the tobacco weaves it way through your senses. It is ready to smoke right out of the tin, no drying need. Its aroma is a fine incense, a tribute to the blender's art. It is black, and brown, and golden. It feels like it wants to be smoked "right now." really, it smells so good, the temptation is there to snack on it.

I chose an egg meerschaum for this, but I'm thinking of dedicating and expensive briar (donations accepted to assist in this research goal). It took the first light immediately. i could have probably stayed with that, but I settled down and gave it a second light after the char. No further lighting was necessary. black House burns evenly, with a light gray ash, all the way to the bottom of the bowl.

The smoke is heavy, fragrant, and luxurious. yes, there is Latakia, but the Turkish varietals provide that heady incense. As for flavor... if you eat steak, you'll know what a perfect rib eye or prime rib will do for you. I felt the same with black House. It's full, smoky, and sweet. The Virginia and Orientals weave in and around the Latakia, while the Kentucky provides a solid foundation for the whole. The sweetness is evident from the first of the bowl until the end. And, like any great meal, try not to gulp it down. it's hard not to, but patience really does reward this smoke.

Oh, hey, absolutely no bite, whatsoever, in case that's a worry.

My wife says I've spent more time writing this review than i do on the garden, so I'd better stop. Still, even she enjoys the tin note, and is looking forward to sitting with me during a bowl. plusses there, too.

Anyway... 5 out of 4 stars for a more than faithful recreation of the 759. I've started cellaring Black House. It's going to be that sought after in years to come.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

bayro Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
bayro (18)
★★★★
Medium Mild to Medium Medium to Full Very Pleasant

Another tobacco in this year's Chicago Pipe Show was the winner of the jury, as a "quest for the Holy Grail", the legendary Balkan Sobranie. This tobacco is actually the closest to this ideal, particularly because I had a chance with him smoking one of the last cans of Balkan Sobranie in the world! So, what is true for the Balkan Sobranie, this is true for this tobacco. The only thing it lacks that little amount jenidye tobacco in Macedonia that would be perfect!

Nobody has rated this review yet.