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Aged in cakes, then cut and spun, mixed and aged some more as a ribbon, the process behind McClelland's Balkan Beauty helps ensure a good marriage between the components of this rich smoking mixture.

BrandMcClelland
Blended ByMcClelland Tobacco Company
Manufactured ByMcClelland Tobacco Company
Blend TypeBalkan
ContentsLatakia, Oriental/Turkish, Virginia
FlavoringNone
CutRibbon
Packaging50g Tin
CountryUS
ProductionCurrently available
Where to Buy SmokingPipes.com
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Strength
Mild, Mild to Medium, Medium
Flavoring
None Detected
Taste
Medium
Room Note
Pleasant
3.7
7 reviews
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kckijana Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
kckijana (3)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

I belive I tried a sample of this a year ago and loved it then. Just a fantastic, spicy Oriential-forward blend with enough sweet VIrginia to provide a good balance. Lighter on Latakia than most "Balkan" blends, this is much more of an all-day smoke than those. If you like Frog Morton (especially OTT), Legends and some those kinds of McClelland blends, you'll love this. I even find it comparable to Mississippi River with just a little more Oriental flavor. I will be stocking up to cellar this one.

Pipe Used: Nording, Missouri Meerschaum

Age When Smoked: just released

5 people found this review helpful.

buroak Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
buroak (16)
★★★★
Very Mild None Detected Medium Pleasant

I have often thought that if I were an objective tobacco-assessing computer, then I would declare Smoker's Haven Exotique the best Balkan blend. Alas, I am not a computer. While Exotique strikes me as having all the qualities that the best Balkan blend would possess, including a fantastically perfect cut, it is not my favorite. To my tastes Exotique is too smooth, lacking the mild rough edge I like in a Balkan blend. It is as if some part of the Orientals' taste profiles were lopped off. Oh, but Exotique is so close to perfect in my eyes. Its minor shortcoming has left me searching for the Balkan blend that would really have it all.

I think my search for that blend is over. In Balkan Beauty the Virginias and Cyprian Latakia provide a steady sweetness. The Latakia, of course, also provides smokiness, though I do not find this to be a heavy Latakia blend. The Orientals are first among equals here providing spice, their own kind of sweetness, and a wonderful retrohale.

As one might expect when discussing a "beauty," I am at a bit of a loss in pinning down exactly what makes this tobacco beautiful. I think McClelland's unique process for aging this blend is the main part of the story. Aging the tobacco in cakes has helped homogenize the flavors of the tobaccos, providing the leaf with harmony. The aging has also made the blend smooth, but the rough edge I need remains in just the right proportion.

Balkan Beauty packs and burns well, and I did not feel the need to dry the tobacco before loading a bowl. The strength in terms of nicotine content is very mild. In terms of taste this blend shades just above medium for a Balkan Blend. Unusually for me, I was present while a friend was smoking this tobacco, so I can say that the room note is more pleasant than is often the case for a Balkan blend.

According to McClelland's site, this tobacco has been labeled a "Holy Grail" blend. I humbly concur.

4 people found this review helpful.

incendio Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
incendio (27)
★★★☆
Mild Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant

Structurally speaking, I would recommend smoking this blend as slowly as possibly. Because the components are derived from spun-out cakes, the residual density of the leaf suggests that the blend ought to be smoked at a pace more consistent with that for a rubbed-out cake or flake than for a conventional English, which can be smoked more aggressively. I consider this imperative because the more subtle characteristics of this blend are quickly lost if it is smoked at an unforgiving pace.

The blend is dry, and occasionally salty on the tongue. This dryness does not abate further down the bowl.

Just as McClelland are known for their unique Virginias, their other tobaccos have unique and distinguishing characteristics of their own. The Orientals featured, for example, are typical McClelland--rather than being light, papery and floral like most Orientals on the market, McClelland Orientals are richer and oilier, with flavors of bitter-olive. The Latakia, too, has an underlying rich sweetness, which is a McClelland trademark.

Upon opening the tin note was strongly of vinegar and smoke, quite suggestive of barbecue sauce. After several days of "breathing" the tin note becomes more subtle, the vinegar ceding to the soft smokiness and floral aromas of the leaf.

This blend is an interesting, and perhaps "more authentic" Balkan, in the sense that it does not exaggerate by the addition of Latakia. Rather, the Virginias, Orientals and Latakia are very well proportioned, with the Latakia furnishing a smokey undertone that begins to build significantly only around the three-quarters-bowl. The Virginias and Orientals are rich and flavorful, but not necessarily delicate, and so the blend gives the impression, again, of being a somewhat "more authentic" grass-roots blend. These tend toward harshness if the blend is smoked over-impetuously. There is also a pleasant astringency and bitterness that builds toward the end, perhaps from the Orientals.

This is an interesting blend and I wish I could compare it with a blend composed of the same, un-caked components.

I wouldn't call this an all-day blend, in the sense that it ought to be smoked gently and savored. Other Balkan blends, in ribbon format, render up their qualities more freely and less fastidiously, and thus are a more flexible all-day smoke.

Pipe Used: all shapes and sizes

Age When Smoked: fresh

Purchased From: a gift from a friend

2 people found this review helpful.

eon Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
eon (9)
★★★★
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

In my humble opinion, the house of McClelland is the finest blender working in the US today. Their latest blend, Balkan Beauty, is a wonderful testament to this claim.

Upon opening the tin, one is greeted with the classic nose of McClelland's English blends. Pleasantly pungent, it is at once sweet, woodsy, and slightly smoky. In a word, all that a delicious blend of this type should be.

My tin - a fresh 2017 vintage - had a near perfect moisture content. While I normally let each bowl dry 15-30 minutes before loading, my usual pinching test suggests that this would not be necessary. The cut is fairly large so careful packing, especially to avoid overfilling the bowl, is necessary. I do normally end up rubbing out a couple of pieces just to be sure. However, once the tobacco packs down, it is fairly well behaved.

The burn rate is consistent with what one expects in this type of blend. A couple of relights are always necessary but the bloom develops nicely and leaves fine dry ash. A white billowing smoke is a big benefit in my book and the Balkan Beauty produces it in great quantities.

Of course, the real quality of a mixture resides in taste and this is where this beauty really shines. There is the leathery sweetness of McClellands Latakia, complimented by the pleasant sourness of the Basma leaf. The taste remains complex through the bowl with different flavours coming to the fore, then retreating for a time.

As with almost all blends, the claim of this being unlike anything one has smoked are exaggerated. But for my part, I am only glad to find the flavours that I so love in McClellands English and Balkan blends getting a fresh interpretation.

The Balkan Beauty tastes like another legend in the making, bearing unmistakable affinity to classics like the Frog Mortons, Wilderness and, Three Oaks. With the latter two now sadly out of production, the Balkan Beauty feels like a rightful heir to their well deserved fame.

Gorgeous indeed!

1 person found this review helpful.

DK Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
DK (808)
★★★★
Mild None Detected Mild Very Pleasant

A chunky cut blonde-to-black (heavy on the black) with a tin nose of juicy orientals and a light latakia aroma. I intended to start packing this loosely but it decided that it wanted a more snug pack. A bit of drying time is needed in order to experience the full palette of flavors this offers. I dried it for an hour, give or take. Any less and it was a dull, steamy mess.

Once again, McClellands chose a dubious name for their blend, and they are only half accurate from where I stand - it's not really a Balkan but it is a Beauty! A typical Balkan, like old Sobranie or GLP Charing Cross, is heavier in latakia than this one and the orientals and lat share the lead. Here the orientals and Virginias alternate leads, with the latakia well to the rear. In other words, this is what I would consider a traditional Scottish blend rather than a Balkan. But that's ok, names aside, what I got from this one was McClellands stellar Virginias merging with some of the juiciest, most delectable orientals I've ever smoked. As I mentioned, the latakia was light but a key player, adding smoke to the sweet and sour mix. This is a soft blend in that I didn't get overwhelmed with latakia (I have a very high sensitivity to its presence) but it has a light spicy, buttery sweet flavor that is rich in character while not being heavy. Think McClellands Legends rather than the above two-mentioned Balkans. But I preferred this one and, in fact, this is probably my new favorite McClellands lat blend. I enjoy a few of theirs but this is the one I'll stock up on. Give it a try if you like your latakia on the lighter side but crave sweet Virginias and orientals. This is a potential classic!

1 person found this review helpful.

Darth 69 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Darth 69 (99)
★★★☆
Medium Extremely Mild Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong

As the tin description highlights, this definitely has the virtues of a very well aged blend. The blend elements are melded together very harmoniously into a more unified smoking experience, not a blend of varying complexity. The cut is among McClelland's finer cuts for it's blends. A medium to full english style with a refined edge and somewhat less in nicotine than a medium blend so, still satisfying in that regard. In picking apart the blend and burning these individual elements I was surprised that the Latikia has more rounded, sweet character than is typical with this leaf. The Virginias are mid-brown ready rubbed with smooth sweetness almost verging on a brown sugar character that slightly dominates the taste of the blend followed by the fuller Latikia character. The Orientals seem rather subdued and lean towards a more underlying harmony with the Virginias. This is perhaps a little disappointing for me being a fan of orientals and wonder that a stronger variety would have been better choice well, to my liking anyways. But, this blend is not flat in the way I perceive strict blends of Virginia and Latakia only. Along the way smoking this it did eventually remind me of Murray's production of Dunhill's 965 without the more prominent brown sugar flavor of the brown cavendish base. It's very much a blend in that style that echoes that classic tobacco.

Similar Blends: Dunhill 965 (Murray's).

1 person found this review helpful.

Philo Beddoe Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Philo Beddoe (169)
★★★★
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

I regularly smoke Margate, Our Best Blend, Exotique, Balkan Sobranie etc., so I'm no stranger to Balkan blends and I saw the bottom of the tin of Balkan Beauty faster than any other tobacco I have ever tried. A masterpiece!

Pipe Used: Many

Age When Smoked: Fresh

Purchased From: Smokingpipes.com

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