Mac Baren HH Vintage Syrian

The base of the blend, a little under half of the volume, is a smooth and yet powerful latakia from Syria. This tobacco gives the blend the overall smoky taste, a powerful taste and yet without any tongue bite. To add a spicy note to the blend, Turkish Oriental has been added. A mix of different Virginia tobaccos from 3 continents adds a sweet natural taste. To complete the taste with depth and body, we added a little dark fired Kentucky from the US. The HH Vintage Syrian is a loose cut tobacco, which guarantees a smooth and steady burn. It does not get hot which means you will find extremely little bite on your tongue. When you empty your pipe after smoking, you will find only fine grey ashes, the sign of a slow and dry smoke.
Notes: Introduced in 2006 as HH Vintage Syrian Latakia. Discontinued in 2017 when the stock of Syrian latakia ran out.


Brand Mac Baren
Blended By Per Jensen
Manufactured By Mac Baren
Blend Type Balkan
Contents Kentucky, Latakia, Oriental/Turkish, Virginia
Cut Coarse Cut
Packaging 100 grams tin weight, 100 grams pouch weight
Country Denmark
Production No longer in production


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

Average Rating

3.29 / 4





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Displaying 31 - 40 of 232 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 11, 2016 Mild to Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong
This is another very good offering from Mac Baren. It is not perfect, but it is perhaps the imperfections or differences from type that make it worth keeping around.

First off people need to let go of their attempt to cling to labels like "English" or Balkan." Those are artificial constructs which mean nothing outside of being a modern marketing tool. This is not an "English" blend, and is not meant to be. There are some very good articles about how these terms have been twisted and misused over time, and that applies here in spades. Mac Baren clarifies that this recipe is in fact inspired by early MB mixtures from more than 120 years ago. It is not blended to match a preconceived type or style, so don't let the fact that this does not taste or smoke like other "english" or "balkan" blends bother you. Enjoy it for what it is, which is a danish mixture with latakia and orientals, and next to no casing.

The mixture is dark in the tin, and smells fantastically of leather, earth, smoke, and tobacco. It dries easily and packs with next to no rubbing out needed. It takes a little effort to get it going, but once lit it will burn with few relights needed.

The flavor profile is medium in taste, and the latakia is surprisingly subdued. While it is cohesive, I would say that it is not as well rounded and harmonious as something like Margate or Exotique. For me this starts out smooth and gains a little edge as I work through the bowl, which is the opposite of what is often experienced. It never gets hot or bites, however. A periodic tamp and gentle smoking bring out the best experience, and it is cool and tasty.

When I say it is not perfect in my mind I am thinking of that tiny bit of sharpness, and the lack of big, rich clouds of creamy smoke. It is just a little bit thin in that department. In addition, it is really very mild in strength for this type of blend, and I can smoke a large bowl without noticing the nicotine at all. Gawith has any number of aromatics that have three times the nicotine that this has. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a little surprising when you read what the constituent tobaccos are.

I would not need a pound of this, but I would not want to be without a tin on hand either. It is very enjoyable and offers a different flavor profile from similar blends actually blended in England. It is its own thing, and in that regard deserves the four stars given, and is highly recommended.
Pipe Used: Ferndown Bark Bulldog
Age When Smoked: 4-5 years
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 16, 2016 Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable
My first encounter with Syrian leaf. As stated in my review for 3 oaks, on first puff i was enthralled by this blend. Incense! Cedar! Old mouldy wooden trunk ! Long lost parchments and secrets! It tasted religious. Bliss lasted for a few minutes, and then... well, all that initial goodness seemed to fade...

On most subsequent smokes, i found this blend to be very dry, to lose all flavour if it gets only slightly too hot, and leave me with a dry mouth and an unpleasant aftertaste. At other times, at mid bowl, i was able to appreciate the transition from latakia smokiness to dark fired smokiness, rounded by the sour-ish orientals, but since the opening notes are so pleasant, it never feels very appealing to me. As for the end of the smoke, it can get harsh and bitter.

I will give it some more tries, and try to be careful, because it has its moments when it shines
Pipe Used: Briars
PurchasedFrom: 4noggins
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 21, 2015 Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable
I received a sample of this, and right out of the pouch this tobacco looks and smells great.

From light brown to black, a good mixture of colours, with the quantity of brown slightly outweighing the Latakia. There are a very few truly blonde pieces mixed in, but they are so sparse that they need to be looked for to be spotted. The cut seems to be a mixture of true ribbon, cube & wild cut.

The note on the nose is sweet, with mind background hints of honey combining with the Kentucky and Latakia. It is obvious from this aroma alone, that the Latakia is Syrian.

Lighting the tobacco, it takes the flame well & burns fairly steadily throughout the bowl, requires possibly 3 or 4 relights to smoke to the heel.

The taste is mostly just the Syrian Latakia, the Kentucky is in there & the other Orientals add a mellowing note. It should work quite well, but I have realised that I just don't really appreciate Syrian Latakia, but prefer the Cypriot version, which is stronger in taste, has a darker, more leathery tone to it & is generally a superior tobacco. For those who prefer the Syrian Latakia, this could be just your thing. The taste doesn't really develop, but there is an underlying smoky sweetness, probably from the Kentucky, which continues throughout, and is very much like refined sugar or honey on the palette. Despite the claims of 'no tongue bite', I did get hints of a bite from the get go (although it never fully flayed my tongue).

The room note is typical of Lat, but as it's the Syrian version & has some sweeter undertones, is probably not as pungent as other English blends.

The nicotine is mild/medium, but much closer to medium than mild.

I will finish this sample, I am glad I tried it, but I won't be buying any. As I said, Syrian Latakia is not my thing (from the examples of it that I've tried anyway). If you like it, you may like this, and because of the positive points, I'll give it a somewhat recommended, but that's being generous. Only for real MacB. lovers & Syrian Lat. officianados, I think.
Pipe Used: Peterson Dongeal Rocky 68, Stanwell Squat Bulldog
PurchasedFrom: Sample from a friend
Age When Smoked: Unknown (received as a sample, fairly new I think)
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 01, 2014 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant
Popped my first tin of this (3.5 oz) a couple months ago. Great tin notes, but seemed a little damp. The first impressions were not that exceptional--it seemed a bit overbearing in flavor and lackluster in general. I have learned though that the first blush is often misleading! It took about three bowls to truly begin appreciating the character of this blend.

I came across it as a suggested offering for those who liked Balkan Sobranie. Having not tasted that, I cannot offer a clue. But as a very nice changeup from heavier, Cyprian based Balkan blends this one certainly passes muster. I took a sample out and seperated the Lat from the bulk--and it appears to me to be about 40-45% Latakia. I would give it a 4, but there are only a couple tobaccos I reserve that accolade for. The 3 in this case is given for a fine, well presented and thought out blend that is flavorful, pleasurable, and reasonable in cost.

The tobacco held and continues to hold a great opening tin note. Deep and woodsy, with a smokey, sweet fragrance. It has a much better character once it dries out a bit, with a fuller flavor that separates into tobacco components--as well as a nice burn rate.

For me, the 'real light' delivers a rush of flavors--the smokey sweetness of the Lat, the pleasant sour of the orientals--which never run over the top of the sweet Virginias--nor do any of the other constituents become muddied by the Burley. A nice full smoke presentation, even when not terribly dense. Halfway through the orientals diminish somewhat, but do not disappear. This is good!

Rarely do I smoke an entire bowl in one sitting. The relight is always easy, and does not have a bite that some tobaccos have when rested and put to fire again. Going toward the bottom of the bowl, the flavor becomes richer, but still keeps the different characters of the tobacco present. One thing though, even when drier if one draws heavily on a regular basis it will attract and produce moisture.

This has now become a daily smoking tobacco along with several others. As some have stated, given the social and political climate in Syria the Lat may be an endangered product. I am now ordering a pound of this a month and cellaring three-quarters of it--as I want to age a sufficient quantity to the two year marker. And to also make sure that I have a supply that with careful stewardship will last into the future!

Get this and enjoy it while you can!
Pipe Used: Various
PurchasedFrom: SmokingPipes
Age When Smoked: New Tin
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 23, 2009 Mild to Medium Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
I have just ordered and received a tin of this incredible blend. Being a Dunhill 965 lover for many years and also being able to enjoy some of other Mac Baren blends overtime I was hoping this blend would come in handy to fill the gap left by Dunhills withdrawal from the Global market. I was not disappointed. This is for me the best Mac Baren blend made so far. Upon opening the tin the delicious melange of campfire smoke provided by the high quality syrian latakia blends nicely with the sweet Virginia contents rounded by the Kentucky added for spiciness. I have not perceived any casing here, if there is flavouring it was vey mildly added and does not contribute to the overall taste. The blend is easy to pack and lights very easily, not being difficult to keep it lit until it reaches the end of the bowl. All the smoky flavours are there, paired with a subtle sweet VA taste, an awesome experience. It grows better throughout the smoke until it ends in fine gray ashes. Half to bottom of the bowl the spiciness add even more depth to the bouquet of this pleasant surprise. Thumbs up to Mac Baren for producing this spectacular English blend. I will keep it in my rotation for sure. I am also a Penzance lover so you get the picture here, although this is not as powerful as Penzance it fuly complies with my English blends cravings. Highly Recommended.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 16, 2020 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
My Latakia game has really changed since posting these reviews, I like a few Latakia blends but I always like trying something new. I never thought I would get to try the elusive Syrian Latakia with supply running out, but because of someone very generous I was recently mailed some Syrian to try. I have got to say its a marvelous blend.

The tobacco came in a ribbon cut like the Acadian Perique and the Balkan. I find MacBarens ribbon to be a little closer to a shag cut than I would like, but it does pack well. The tin note to this is well blended. I smell the smokey and woody Latakia, there is a tang from some dark fired Kentucky, floral and sour orientals and a slight citrus from the Virginias. My sample has been at a good moisture content for lighting. It takes an average amount of relights.

When lit the Latakia comes forward. It is more earthy than it's Cyprian cousin, and there is a slight dark fruity/plumy note coming from the Latakia. The Dark Fired in this gives a slight spice to the smoke, and fills in a little nuttiness. Next come the Orientals, they are floral, herbal, and just a hair sour. The Virginias add sweetness, bread, and dark fruit.

The taste here is a medium, it fills my mouth similar to the HH Balkan. Both are spectacular in that regard. The nicotine in this is a medium, I don't think this is a lightweight but it its a happy middle. This is an intensely flavorful blend, and it burns at a perfect rate all the times I've smoked this I have gotten it down to a fine white ash. I can see why Syrian Latakaia was so popular and I can only hope to see it in production again in my lifetime.
Pipe Used: Peterson Standard System XL315
Age When Smoked: Unknown
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 17, 2017 Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant
From the aroma in the tin I expected a strong Latakia meal. This stuff is SMOOTH! great taste from the Latakia the Virginia's definitely round out the smoke. First two bowls were straight out of the tin and into the pipe, was a bit wet, bowls 3 through bottom of tin I let it dry out for about 20 minutes. burned with only one relight on uninterrupted smokes. Edit 10/17 After smoking another 3.5 oz tin, I felt my previous review was not deep enough. This is such a joy to smoke! One of the creamiest latakia blends I have come across. The tin aroma on this tobacco could be an all day affair. It smells of rich smoky latakia and a sweet woody smell that can only be from the orientals and the kentucky combined. The smoke starts out very latakia forward, that rich sweet smoky flavor from the Syrian Latakia. As the bowl develops past the first third the creaminess balances the latakia in a way that I haven't experienced with other blends. I would almost say malty, like a malted milk ball. The flavor is something that I experience with other Balkan blends but it is usually fleeting and is a welcome guest during the smoke. With Vintage Syrian the malty flavor appears early in the smoke and stays with me throughout the bowl. I have found it to be deeper and more complex in a briar (preferred in the bulldog shape). but is also there in a cob or a meerschaum. The tobacco is ready to smoke right out of the tin or bag but I prefer my tobacco on the drier side and this is no exception, 15 minutes or so of drying time and this will burn to ash with one light (after the charring light) unless you decide to let it go out. I have let some half bowls sit on my desk over night and on a morning relight this is one of the best smokes with a cup of coffee I have ever had. Fantastic smoke.
Pipe Used: several briars, cobs and meerchaum
PurchasedFrom: Uhle's Tobacco
Age When Smoked: 1 year
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 26, 2017 Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable
I recently started smoking my pipes again. And for the past couple months, I've enjoyed my VA and Va/Per flakes. Mostly all I smoked until about a weekend ago I started really loving all of the English blends I had cellered for a few years. And I'm now smoking mainly English /Balkan Blends. I found this and opened it up to day and found the tin note to be intriguing... This tin is dated Dec 2015. I packed it up and it actually was amazing! The Syrian latakia is another breeding. Very complex blend without being too much. I am a lat fan atm but not lat bombs. I'm still rather new to English blends on my pallet again. And I found this blend to be very satisfying. I can see my taste buds craving this tobacco. Will try to find another tin to jar and hopefully our beloved Syrian Latakia will be around for a long time. Otherwise at least I'll have a few jars.
Pipe Used: Bubula Wood. Viking classic Apple
PurchasedFrom: Milan Tobacconist
Age When Smoked: 2.5
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 06, 2016 Medium to Strong None Detected Full Tolerable
Tin note:- Cream of tomato soup,faint strawberry wine,light earthy mushrooms with spice.

Light up:- using gas lighter ;a zingy peppery incense bomb right up my nostrils ,had to resort to cooler matches to back it off a bit. Difficult to stay lit.

Taste :-Pan fried molluscs,earthy oysters with soy sauce , developes into a spicy HP brown sauce,rose wine and faint Turkish delight with peppery fruit pickle and smokey burnt spices and herbs on a yeasty bready bread. Has faint perfumey incense factor like those Djarum cigarettes with clove.

Smoke performance needs to be smoked cool otherwise all the subtleties are lost in mud,but this also makes it have a propensity to extinguish. The extinguish factor and cold drawing is quite tasty in its own right, sort of smoked stewed strawberries with burnt herbs which gives me cooking ideas. Relights were muddy poor crap until it heated up again into the complex sweet and sour zone,then it would over heat. The tobacco seemed dry enough to smoke strait away so I did but it seemed to be an inconsistent performer.

Compared to the Cyprian HH Latakia Flake which has a more sooty, coaly, beefy, meaty, salty latakia ;-this Syrian mixture is obviously different in an exotic kind of way. I think I must say that while a delight to taste I prefer the HH latakia flake due to its cool burning,easy to keep lit and burn forever nature. I think I probably prefer Cyprian latakia as well in fact due to its gothic funereal atmosphere;the Syrian tastes kind of mystic temple in my mind ,nice,naughty and different but I wouldn't over rate it,its more feminine in taste than the Cyprian in my opinion. I have never smoked it before.

Remedies:- this stuff is quite coarse cut and rough ribbons compared to contemporaries like Dunhill; combined with my small bowl this was probably why it wouldn't stay lit or burned too quick. Dried some out a bit and chopped it smaller with scissors so it would fit enough quantity in the bowl sorted it out where it burned consistent. I think the cut more was the issue more than moisture reasons. The taste in subsequent bowls has since stayed consistent in the goldilocks zone as well rather than alternating between mud and perfume due to relights..

Would I buy it again?:- I bought two tins at the same time so I already did; one to experience and one to save in case this actual latakia goes missing in action due to geopolitics. Would I buy it a 3rd time? ;-I dunno, not in a hurry at the moment;i don't think this will be an everyday or frequent smoke with me due to the incense factor actually, which although pleasantly exotic,is a bit intrusive over longer sessions and becomes less appreciated. Its something I will savour for those obscure moments when I am in the mood where its a welcome surprise again.

Deserves 3 stars because its top leaf and so uniquely exotic,only the cut itself held it back in my pipe.
Pipe Used: Vintage falcon bantam
PurchasedFrom: cant remember online
Age When Smoked: month
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 14, 2016 Mild None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable
Initial review, will revisit:

Smoked about 10 bowls of this so far, and it's very enjoyable to Latakia fans. In research of this blend, it seems the recipe is very old, as are the Syrian Latakias used. This Syrian leaf is indeed a bit different than most Cyprian, leaning a bit towards the incense side and less of the leathery side. As many have said, the dominant taste is the Syrian and overall the blend is Latakia smoky, sweet, slightly sour, slightly tangy, and decidedly fragrant of exotic incense. Something I've not heard said is that this blend has a syrupy thickness to it, I can only smoke a bowl per day for its potency of flavor, persistent mouth presence, and clinging aroma. Truly exquisite, I intend to stock up while it's still available. I'll initially rate it a 4, it's a delicious blend and has enough uniqueness to it to make it highly recommended in my opinion.

If I were to critique it in any way, it might be that the Latakia is a bit too much of the blend. I've smoked straight Cyprian before and HHVS has much of the same effect: so much of an incense quality to it as to minimize the role of anything else. I like it a lot, but could not smoke only this. Once every couple days though, a delightful treat!

Now, if they made a Vintage Syrian Mellow with normal condimental ratios of the Syrian leaf, it could well be a regular choice in my rotation.
Pipe Used: Savinelli
PurchasedFrom: Smokingpipes
Age When Smoked: 3 days to 3 weeks after opening
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