The sugary, stewed dark fruity, earthy, woody, stoved Virginia usually takes a small lead, though I actually see more of the tangy dark fruity, earthy, woody red Virginia in the composition of the blend. At times, it does lightly supersede the stoved Va. The herbal, vegetative, floral, spicy, lightly sweet and mildly sour, earthy, mildly smoky, very woody, fragrant Basma is a major player that competes with the Virginias for attention. The strength level is medium and taste is a step past that mark. The nic-hit is almost medium. Won’t bite or get harsh, but the spice content is a tad tongue tingly, so I recommend a slow puffing cadence. Well balanced, you’ll notice all the nuances previously noted in this review. Burns fairly cool, and very clean at a slightly fast pace with a mostly deep, rich, consistent sweet and spicy, savory flavor that translates to the lingering after taste. Leaves little dampness in the bowl, and requires few relights. Not quite an all day smoke because it does pack some punch.
It's always unsettling to awaken on the couch, fully clothed, sitting in an upright position, opening your eyes to spy that brand new bottle of moonshine from the night before sitting in front of you, slightly more than half-empty. (Mellow Corn, Bottled in Bond, American Corn Whiskey, 100 proof -- made the same way it always has been since 1945 at Heaven Hill Distilleries, Kentucky -- $10.34 a bottle at Total Wines & More). Equally unsettling was the string of new "order received" emails sitting in my inbox as I attempted to piece together the sequence of events that culminated with the uninhibited spending spree on so much tobacco when The Cellar (The Hall Closet) is already so near full capacity. All of the aforementioned aside, the bag of Bas Matica I recently received in the mail can only be rationalized away as an upside to the story.
It would be fruitless (pun intended) to try and improve upon or add to Jim's summation of this blend -- except to say that as soon as I opened the bag and got a whiff of what was inside, I knew I had stumbled into something good to savor.
In trying to forensically piece together the events of the spending spree in question, I visited KBVen.com only to find the vast majority of these sparsely (but well-reviewed) blends to be out-of-stock (including the two blends that I had purchased, Bas Matica and Full-Metal Balkanist). Had never heard of Ken Byron Ventures before I found said string of email receipts in my inbox (with perhaps the sole exception of JimInks' review a few hours earlier, that is).
Somewhere in the cellar is something that tastes and smokes an awful lot like this Bas Matica -- I haven't been able to put my finger on it yet, but when I do, I'll update it here.
UPDATE -- January 27, 2020: Penzance is what this reminded me of -- the Oriental/Turkish very much reminded me of Penzance on the retro-hale.
I got my introduction to Va/Oriental mixes with C&D's sun bear. Since then, I have had a few others and really enjoyed them. However, it wasn't until I had Bas Matica that I really fell in love. It's such a fantastically balanced blend. It starts off with a very noticeable sweetness and tang from the "verge engine" base of virginias. Not long after that, the woody spicy basma really starts to shine. It's a delightfully sweet and spicy blend through the remainder of the smoke. Perfect moisture content. I'm usually able to just load a bowl and get going with a couple char lights. I might have 1 or 2 relights further into the bowl, but it usually smokes most of the way down with no issues.
It was hard for me to choose strength and taste. To me, it is definitely more towards medium in flavor, but the nicotine content is tougher to nail down. I do not have what I consider to be a "high tolerance" for nicotine. If I'm smoking something like 1792 flake, or royal yacht, I tend to reach for a small pipe. I don't require that with Bas Matica. In fact, I tend to reach more for a bit of a larger bowl. It has what I consider to be a "Goldilocks" level of nicotine for me. Not too much, but there's enough that I enjoy. Anything that I can smoke as a first pipe of the day can't be too high in nicotine, else I'm useless for a while, lol. It's an all day blend for me. I'm currently awaiting a shipment of verge engine straight, and overdrive, as a comparison.
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