McClelland Rose of Latakia

Only the most precious, most flavorful Syrian leaves are called Rose of Latakia. This fine blend is complex, fragrant, incredible.
Notes: Rose of Latakia refers to the leaves harvested higher on the plant which are then fire cured. If you're looking for a blend in which Syrian latakia is in the forefront, this isn't for you, but if you want to see what the Syrian leaf can do as a condiment, Rose of Latakia is terrific. If you approach it the way you might if you're smoking a Virginia blend, you'll get the best results. There's sweetness from the Virginias, a mellow spice from the Orientals, and the delicate, winey, smoky flavor supporting the rest of the blend.


Brand McClelland
Series Syrian Latakia
Blended By McClelland Tobacco Company
Manufactured By McClelland Tobacco Company
Blend Type English
Contents Latakia, Oriental/Turkish, Virginia
Cut Ribbon
Packaging 50 grams tin
Country United States
Production No longer in production


Extremely Mild -> Overwhelming
None Detected
None Detected -> Extra Strong
Room Note
Unnoticeable -> Overwhelming
Extremely Mild (Flat) -> Overwhelming

Average Rating

2.67 / 4





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Displaying 11 - 20 of 39 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 19, 2011 Mild None Detected Mild Unnoticeable
I managed to get my hands on a 7 year old tin of this, so this review may not apply to a younger sample. The tobacco inside was a fairly consistent mix of blacks, browns, and burnt orange colors in loose ribbons that were dry to the touch. The campfire smell of the Latakia was present as was a slight sweet undertone that I attributed to the Virginias in the blend. An unlit sip gave me a taste of that sweetness, which was very enjoyable.

This was not a heavy Latakia blend to me, with the sweetness dominating throughout the bowl. Every so often some of the smokiness of the Latakia would come through giving me a pleasant surprise. These flavors held true down to the gray ash at the bottom of the bowl. The finish was short, but sweet and the room note was really too faint for me to detect.

After a week smoking this, I still thoroughly enjoy this blend. I am definitely planning on buying more to cellar, and I want to try it while it is still freshly tinned. If you like a Virginia based blend with just a hint of smoky Latakia goodness, then I highly recommend Rose of Latakia.
3 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 31, 2006 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant
The Name of this Blend can be very misleading. This is by NO means a Latakia dump. This is a soft medium and mysteriously complex blend of VA?s, and incredibly rich and smooth Orientals which includes a delicate and incense-like nice helping of Syrian Latakia.

While I do love a rich bowl full of smoky creamy Latakia ? this is not what I reach for when that itch needs attention. Instead, this is one of those contemplative smokes. I am forever sniffing the side-stream in order to enjoy the many facets of its complexity. It is NOT a powerhouse but it is rich and rewarding.

It smokes cool and completely to a mottled gray ash. The tobaccos are well aged even in a new tin and require no special drying or handling as many other McClelland blends require. I?ve smoked it in small, medium and large bowls. It has never been anything but spectacular. Now I have either been very lucky with consistent supply, or this is everything I think it is. But after a few tins of this, with different degrees of age, I feel somewhat confident that this is a very consistent blend.

One thing though, I wouldn?t recommend this to those that are looking for the big bitey blend or a mouthful of creamy latakia - it is not here. Rather it?s soft and sophisticated with a refined strength. Load this when you can sit and enjoy ? even reading is a distraction to me. It is so subtle yet so complex, one would miss it all if you were looking for something else and got impatient. I really wish they had named it something else and sub-titled it ?with Rose of Latakia.?

It is among my top favorite tobacco blends, and in my opinion one of the greatest blends on the planet. 4 Rock Solid Stars.

Cheers, VC
3 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 17, 2004 Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Tolerable
Go figure... I always complain about the McClelland Latakia blends as being too flat and lacking in taste, not being as full as, for example, the GLPease offerings. I always disagree with those who rave about British Woods, Bombay Court and the like saying that they are full blends, because I find them very mild. Now McC comes out with this new blend which many say is a bit too weak, too delicate, too little spiced with Latakia... and I disagree once more because I find it quite tasty! Probably my tastebuds are wired in the wrong way... Anyway, I do agree that this blend has a light Latakia content, and that the Syrian leaf is used just like a seasoning for the Virginia/Oriental base: what makes this differ from the other bland McClelland latakia blends, is that the Syrian makes its presence felt much more than the Cyprian cousin even at small percentages. Not to mention that this Syrian Latakia is absolutely delicious: I suspect it comes from the same HUGE shipment that Greg Pease had to share with other blenders, as it tastes VERY similar to the leaf in Bohemian Scandal. While Bohemian Scandal is a masterpiece, tasty, complex, spicy and extremely rich, this Rose of Latakia threads a more conservative and less "artistic" path. It's a good old light-medium EM, with no surprises but a taste which is at the same time quite delicate and yet satisfying. In a big bowl, you have a very nice relaxing and balanced taste: a bit tart and spicy, but stimulating. Not a great complexity, and the flavor stays consistent from beginning to end with no variations or hidden nuances, but hey, it's good! Not knock-your-socks-off good, and certainly not the full punch of Bohemian Scandal, but some of the same qualities are here. Personally I like the presence of Syrian in both: Bohemian when I want a stouter, richer tobacco, and Rose when I want some of the same taste but in a much more subdued way. For a McClelland product, it comes quite dry in the tin and absolutely free of their usual ketchup smell (which I usually like, anyway). It burns quite well, and only minimally bites the tongue due to the high Virginia content. Certainly tastier and superior to the previous McClelland made Ashton Celebrated Sovereign, in which the Syrian presence was actually too little for my taste. Good effort, McClelland!
3 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 04, 2010 Mild None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant
This is my first review and I should say up-front that it will be more impressionistic that analytical. I know my Turkish from my Virginia and my Perique from my Latakia - but that's a bit like a wine drinker saying they can recognise Chardonnay!

However, I am as picky as the next pipe-smoker and, since the demise of Dunhills, have been eagerly searching for blends that take me to that indefinable place we all know about. All I can do is use the ones that have and the ones that haven't done so as comparisons and yardsticks.

So, Rose of Latakia. My first impressions were not overwhelming, but as the tin I have has aged a bit I am falling more and more in love with it.

This is a "string quartet" of a blend rather than a full "symphony orchestra", but I find it exquisite as a morning smoke. It's quite hard to place, for me, as it is unlike any other blend I have tried in the last 35 years. However I find it sophisticated and deeply engaging.

It delivers a delicate interplay of oriental fragrances and flavours underpinned by the presence (in no way overwhelming) of the latakia and balanced by a subtle sweetness from the Virginia. It does not have the harshness I sometimes find in oriental blends (especially Orcilla or Punchbowle). It has a natural taste - not what I would describe as "perfumey" in any way. It has a degree of body such as I always used to find lacking in a blend like White Balkan Sobranie.

It repays careful smoking (but what good tobacco does NOT?) and burns slowly and evenly. I have never managed to reduce it to a 100% powdery ash but what is left in the bowl is a fairly fine, dry, grey-white.

My only reservation - hence three rather than four stars - is the beastly "ketchup" smell which so spoils the (for me hugely important) tin aroma and which it is hard to believe does not adversely affect the smoke.

I understand that this is common to all of the McLelland blends and that it derives from the preservative they use. I may be being naive but it was news to me that tobacco required preservatives. No other blenders I know of produce tobaccos with a trademark smell. Are they using preservatives which are in some way inferior? If so, in what way are they inferior?

Given how often this "ketchup" smell is cited as a minus for McLelland blends I wonder why they do not do themselves AND US a favour and stop applying whatever this foul guck might be. It seems to me to be an affront to the quality leaf they are clearly using.

Do you suppose if enough of us emailed them...?
2 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 11, 2009 Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
Is a rose by any other name really just as sweet? In the case of this enigmatic blend from McClelland, the Bard may have well found reason to pause. Described on the tin with the alluring statement: ?Only the most precious, most flavorful Syrian leaves are called Rose of Latakia. This fine blend is complex, fragrant, incredible?, Rose of Latakia is actually an undistinguished Virginia-Oriental blend containing at most a pinch of the much beloved leaf.

Comprised of a mix of mostly dark chocolate and light black short ribbon with flecks of tan and chestnut, the tin nose is classic McClelland: tangy and a bit pungent with a deep and somewhat tickling acetic acid spice. Undertones of fresh turned earth and an ever-so-slight campfire smokiness are present as well.

In the bowl, Rose of Latakia presents a mix of sweet, stoved and matured Virginias perched atop a measured dose of tangy orientals of a rather familiar sort. The Syrian Latakia hides somewhere therein, masked to the point of virtual invisibility save for the fleeting moment or two when it emerges as a minor, and in the end altogether unremarkable, player in a cast costumed more by its promised script than by its actual performance. On the light side of medium bodied, the blend tends towards the sweet and tangy, with occasional notes of toasted sourdough bread, orange zest, and Oolong tea. Smoked blind, it would not be an overstatement to say that only the most cultivated of palates could identify the presence of Syrian Latakia which, if it is indeed an example of the leaf at its ?most precious, most flavorful?, must be either too subtle or too expensive to add any measurable effect to a Virginia-Oriental blend such as this. The short finish is sweet and slightly salty.

As far as Virginia-Oriental mixtures go, Rose of Latakia is not half bad and this reviewer was more than happy to finish off the tin (dated 2005) on which this review is based. At the same time however, it is scarcely deserving of having the word ?Latakia? in its name, for as Juliet famously opined: ?retain that dear perfection which he owes without that title ... doff thy name, and for that name which is no part of thee?. For shame, for shame ? we are certainly more reasonable than that!
2 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 31, 2010 Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
True Syrian Latakia delicately woven with mild orientals. Sweet and spicy, but not overpowering. Interesting enough so you don't get bored, but mild enough to smoke all day long.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 01, 2009 Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant
This Blend tastes very similar to Syrian Super Balkan. The aroma is excellent as well as the taste. This could easily be a tobacco I would order and smoke regularly.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 23, 2007 Medium None Detected Mild Tolerable
Before I tell you whether I like this tobacco or not it might be noteworthy to bring up the topic of fillet mignon. Some people think that cut of steak is bland and boring while others call it complex and subtle. This tobacco is this exactly, you might call it bland or subtle that is up to you. I will say that the subtleties come out better in a larger pipe. The tobacco burns wonderfully it requires absolutely no attention (kinda like a fillet only requires a fork to cut). The tobacco does not need dried like some McClelland blends do, and also does not exhibit the vinegar smell that some of their blends have. The tin note is rather a nice mixture of sweet Virginias and fragrant Latakia. I purchased the tin in hopes that it would be a Latakia powerhouse like Pirate Kake, what I got instead was a subtle and complex blend that is best enjoyed in the morning. If you like Dunill's Early Morning Pipe, than this blend is a MUST TRY, if you need something more in the lines of Night Cap, be warned this blend will not satisfy your desires for a powerful smoke. The only area that reminds me of a more stout Latakia blend is the room note. If you want the wife to leave you alone in the mornings light this up as soon as you wake up, she will hate it. The Latakia is not as strong as I would have liked to see, but the end result is a fine blend that is of all things the first real competition to Early Morning Pipe I have tried. Give this delicate rose a try, you will be sure to enjoy it.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 14, 2006 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant
I ordered a can of this blend hoping to see if I could detect a difference between the Syrian & Cyprian varieties of Latakia. The same basic latakia flavor & aroma, though there's something subtle. it tastes less smoky and more spicy and aromatic (not captain black aromatic though). The tobacco looks lovely in the tin. Feels more moist than many latakia blends, but it doesn't smoke any more so. The tin aroma is that of vinegar & ketchup, which kind of scared me, but once i started smoking, I thought to myself, this could be my favorite blend. I will have to smoke some alongside Penzance to see if that holds true. My wife also commented that it smelled much better than most tobaccos I smoke. The room note to me was somewhat spicy, suggesting the sweet, yet spicy scents of Indian or Thai cuisine.

I highly recommend the blend, and I'll update once I smoke it in the same day as a bowl of Penzance to see if it's trumped the ol' crumble cake.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 28, 2006 Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable
Update: No changes except that I find the taste less full than I had before.

12/30/04: This is a Latakia blend for Latakia lovers. Flue cured and Oriental leaves are there for balance and complexity, but Latakia rules. This is not to my tastes a Balkan nor an English.

It is very good and quite different from the two other Syrian blends recently marketed by McClellands. I consider it a last pipe of the day because of the strong flavor.

It is gentle on the palate and easy to smoke while working, reading or contemplating how wonderful pipe smoking is.

I have only been able to find 50g tins of the three new Syrian Latakia blends (the two others being Syrian Full Balkan and Syrian Super Balkan).

Of the three news Syrian blends, RL lacks the company insignia with the familiar whale frolicking in the sea (as has been done with the Frogs [except 100g], Grey Havens, Virginia Woods, Deep Hollow and 221b Series to my recollection).

Tin contents are lightest colored of the three Syrian blends. RL is mostly reddish browns, with some light browns and a fair amount of dark leaf. Neither the contents nor smoking RL reveals much Oriental presence.

Tin aroma has the most Virginia aroma of the three and does not smell heavy with Latakia. Smoking the blend reverses these impressions. It is not a sweet blend (none of the three are), but Full Balkan and Super Balkan are sweeter due to Orientals and in one, Perique. Tin moisture is perfect for immediate enjoyment, but I let it dry a little more for a few minutes because of my preferences.

This is the strongest of the three new blends in terms of flavor and nicotine. It is the least sweet and least complex. It is spicy like a cigar at times, mostly woodsy and somewhat sharp. This tingled my nose the most of the three when exhaling.

If you wish to compare Syrian Latakia to Cyprian, this blend will reveal Syrian's distinct properties. This should be compared to Pease's Latakia blends (in distinction from his English and Balkans), as they are of a similar type.

For its quality, RL deserves a 4 star rating. It is type of blend I enjoy occasionally.
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