Question: What is rich and brown, hauntingly delicious and the best kept secret in the C&D lineup?
Answer: C&D?s 081 Balkan Blend.
The 081 is one of their Heritage Blends. This means the tobacco comes from the pre-C&D recipe books from either the Atlas Blending Co (circa 1880?s) or up to the time the Atlas Blending Company sell off in 1972.
Regardless of the age of the recipe, all I can tell you is that 081 is one surprisingly, wonderful and delightfully complex tobacco. But there are a few little niggling things for you need to consider though before you consider venturing into this glorious blend.
First and foremost, you must keep impeccably clean smoking pipes to get the most out of this tobacco. If your pipe isn?t clean and fresh, you?ll know it straight off. You?ll think you?ve drawn a straw through a spittoon. But, if you smoke 081 through a well kept pipe, you are in for a treat.
Secondly, this isn?t a beginner?s tobacco. This tobacco benefits the more experienced pipester. For the beginner, 081 may be too much tobacco to get a handle on. Though there is a fair amount of Nicotine, it may have too going on and too much BAM for a newbie.
081 has a far greater Turkish component and less Latakia than its sister blend C&D 504 (another Heritage Blend). The Latakia in our subject tobacco is still there to entice you and it dances beautifully with the Turkish tobacco. Rough Burley (medium to dark long cut) provides the dance floor. A hint of non-sweetened Cavendish keeps things from becoming unruly. For the anti-Cav folks out there?don?t worry, I was quite surprised to learn (from C&D) that it?s in there?the Cav does not stand out at all.
At the char, take it nice and easy. Too aggressive and the tobacco will go flat and metallic. But go slow and the Turkish comes up in a glorious, curling plume that melds with the near floral notes of the Latakia. Two or three lights later and you?re off and puffing.
As I mentioned, this is a complex tobacco and it offers numerous personalities. Different pipes bring out many different flavour themes. Short pipes bring out more of the Turkish; longer pipes bring out a wider spectrum and layers of flavour. Overwork the tobacco and it tastes like charred steak; go slow and you will certainly be teased with whispers of the most subtle sweetness and richness.
By the time you?ve reached mid-bowl, 081 really begins to shine and the flavour profile shifts into a tremendous tapestry of tobacco exotica. Sometimes herbal, other times woody and with glimmers of juniper and pine, this is a stout, decidedly masculine blend. The side stream is equally full and impressive. Sip and you?re in bliss. However, you most likely won?t make friends with this blend (unless they are pipe smokers and I?m certain they will be intrigued at the depth of the room note).
I highly recommend 081 to English smokers who want to venture into Balkans. This is a desert island smoke as far as I?m concerned. This bit of knowledge really came to the for-front when I realized that for the last three months, the only tobacco that I have consumed at least once a day is 081. And now, three months into my relationship with this beautiful tobacco, I?m having 081 at morning, noon and night. That?s a solid indicator of how captivated I am with C&D 081.
I've smoked a lot of C&D blends over the past couple of years and am now starting to post my reviews by transcribing them from my notebook and according to my notes, no blend from C&D gets a higher rating than Balkan. Beautifully put together in true Balkan style with lighter hits on the delicious Latakia, several grades of Virginias and wonderfully presented Orientals for a full, yet refined taste that is so smooth that this is one Balkan blend that can be smoked all day long with no palate fatigue.
C & D blend a great many tobaccos. This particular Balkan blend is one of the best I've had the pleasure to smoke in a good while. A trifle damp in my sample but nothing five minutes did'nt cure, I fired it up in a mid-sized Meer and was greeted by an extremely tasty charring light smoke. A second light and the pipe/tobacco/me settled down into almost a transporting period where my mind just wandered and I enjoyed the smoke. This tobacco jumped from the sampler stage to first-line rotation in the space of two weeks and eight bowls. Can you tell I like it? T hesitated giving the tobacco fours stars because of quality control measures, the blend requires exactly the same amounts and types and cuts of tobacco. A formidable job. Also there are better balkans available. However, for the price and the quality,I give it a bulk tobacco 4 1/2 stars.
Balkan is a rich tasting, medium strength English mixture. The Latakia and Turkish tobaccos compliment each other nicely while there is just enough Virginia to create an enjoyable smoking experience. Not a terribly complex mixture, but a classic need not always be.
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