|Although I disagree with another reviewer's thoughts regarding Cyprian and Syrian Latakia (in more ways than I have the inclination to type) I will say I agree with the assessment that this particular PCCA offering is not quite as sweet as its Cyprian brother. Other than that, I taste relatively little difference in the two blends.
Neither, by the way, are top-shelf (IMO, of course.)
According to Bob Hamlin, this blend is exactly the same as Full Balkan Reserve, except that the Cyprian Latakia has been replaced by Syrian, hence the name. As such, it is an excellent study in the differences between two forms of Latakia, and much of this review will be cast in comparison to FBR.
Although the curing processes are similar, Syrian Latakia is made from a different variety of tobacco, and is cured over different spices. The result is a lighter-tasting, drier, more cleanly smoky tobacco than Cyprian (which always sort of reminded me of a smoky Cavendish). Among other differences, it is not as sweet as Cyprian, and lacks Cyprian's sweetness and some of its nuttiness, as well as Cyprian's mustiness. Syrian is, however, more overtly spicy in its own right than Cyprian.
Because the Syrian is a lighter tobacco, it doesn't balance the Virginia sweetness as well as the musty, caramelly Cyprian, so even though the overall sugar levels are lower in FBR-S, it tastes paradoxically sweeter. It is also spicier, although the Syrian spiciness combined with the healthy percentage of orientals gives FBR-S a wave of spiciness that risks overwhelming the taste buds, with the result that it seems less complex than the original FBR. The separate choruses of virginia sugar and oriental spice leaves the smoky component tasting slightly out-of-place -- it's not intense enough to really compete with the sweetness or spiciness, so it comes across mostly in the nose.
If the preceeding paragraph sounds too critical, remember that this is in comparison to the perfect 10 of Full Balkan Reserve -- the Syrian version is still a wonderful blend with an outstanding spiciness and natural sweetness.