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 1 - 10 of 37 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jun 03, 2014 Medium to Strong Very Mild Medium Tolerable
I'm fond of English and Balkan blends and like latakia. In my country there is not much variety of English and Balkan blends. The market is small and people tend to like the aromatic blends. I've bought this as the tobacconist swore its quality stuff. Out of the box it smells great, heavy, honey, smokey. It's a bit juicy so it requires some drying. The flavour first seems to be OK but then I noticed some chemical taste was always sneaking in the background. Once I became aware of it, it completely ruined my smoking experience. It also has a noticeable tongue bite. At the end I gave the unfinished tin away... I must also add that this is still among the better MacBarrens I've tasted so far and I am happy that MacBarren creates other than aromatic blends.
Pipe Used: meersch.
PurchasedFrom: Pipatórium, Budapest József Krt., Hungary
Age When Smoked: new
8 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 23, 2015 Medium None Detected Full Strong
HHVS is really plenty of Latakia, it starts with that rare and precious Syrian ruling the flavor profile with Orientals well integrated, Virginias and Kentucky are in the background. Taste is savory rather than sweet, this Syrian/Orientals fullness seems remarkably pleasant, although quite monotone.... But, within minutes, the Kentucky comes out stronger and a cloudy smokiness takes the center stage, at this point the blend looses any interest to me, it isn’t bad but really dull with that dense smokiness through and through and anything else to tell of.
Pipe Used: Briars, meer
6 people found this review helpful.
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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)
5 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jun 13, 2018 Medium to Strong None Detected Medium Tolerable
This is going to be difficult. For me, it is sort of like seeing an old love, years later, and thinking, "she used to be beautiful." So, you go to a bar and drown your sorrows. Or, if you are of healthy psyche, you go on home and "love the one you're with."

There was some libelous scratching a while back on a smokers' website that Mac Baren was secretly substituting Cyprian weed for Syrian. Per Jensen of Mac Baren properly defended his honor to deny the canard. From my perspective he is an honorable and honest man. The Latakia in HH Vintage Syrian is absolutely of Syrian origin...when you can taste it. And there's the rub.

If anyone out there is looking for an unqualified Syrian Latakia opium jag, fellas, that boat has sailed. About a year ago, I found a tin of HH Vintage Syrian that dated to 2011, and it was a whole different experience. It was not a "Lat-bomb" (and thank goodness for that!) because the base tobacco for Syrian Latakia, Shek-el-bint, is a bottomless font of nicotine, and to use it in the quantities the Cyprian weed is used would leave too few smokers to make this website viable. But that tin definitely gave one a real idea of the charms of Syrian Latakia. This new tin simply does not. If you don't know what you're looking for, you're not likely to find it. If you can snag a tin of Three Oaks Syrian or Samovar from McClelland, you'll get a much clearer idea.

Now, for the positive. This is a very tasty smoke in it's own right. The tin aroma is a whiff of yesterday! The orientals are intoxicating. The Virginias are bright and sweet. And these come through in the smoke. So does the Kentucky...unfortunately. But without it...who knows what this would be?


This is neither an upvote nor a downvote. Just a comment. I have long been amazed at the number of reviewers complaining bitterly about having to re-light their pipe. Well... I am afraid I must now join them. This stuff is ridiculous! After having smoked a pipe for nigh-on 50 years, if I don't know how to pack one properly...well...pretty pathetic.

This tobacco will not stay lit for me! It is a long shag cut. The ONLY way to keep it burning id to tear it apart and dry it out! I have never had to do that with any other blend.

Also...smoke this indoors, in a briar dedicated to it if you want to taste anything at all.
Pipe Used: GBD, Missouri Meershaum
Age When Smoked: Fresh
3 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 08, 2015 Mild None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
There are only a few English/Balkan blends that use Syrian latakia and this is one of them. However, it is overrated in my opinion. The rather subtle, smooth latakia do not come out notably and as a mixed Balkan/English, it lack complicity and united balanced flavor. It may get hot but no infamous Mac bite noted. As to those who want a taste of Syrian tobac, Three Oaks Syrian may be a much better recommendation.
3 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 09, 2009 Medium to Strong Medium to Strong Medium to Full Strong
First of all I wish to state I am an Aromatic smoker and love them. That said I do like a break now and then and ordered a tin of HHVS. To my surprise I ended up with a pound and a tin by mistake. So I loaded a bowl up and gave er a shot. I had heard about Syrian Latakia and wanted to give it a try. I will start with Room Note. Wife hates it and it leaves a mild cigar aroma in the room too. Now the taste. I like and dislike this. It has a definitive oriental spice taste to it which I enjoy very much. But also has a Cigar taste that I am not a big fan of. I assume that is the Latakia in the blend. It leaves a sweet aftertaste which I also enjoyed. It is a strong flavored tobacco and rather pleasant however. Nice break now and then and I actually believe I will grow to like it as a now and then change. With the amount I ended up with I think it will take me the remainder of my years to consume. Perhaps I can trade a little here and there. But I will keep some around for those Break from the aromatic cravings.
3 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 09, 2009 Mild to Medium Medium Mild Pleasant to Tolerable
No doubt this is quality tobacco. No doubt it doesn't suit my taste.

Twenty years ago I was a very big fan of Mac Baren's tobaccos. I liked the sweetness, I enjoyed the quality, I loved the smell they produce, and I did not suffer from tongue biting. As a matter of fact I have never experienced this cause I just smoke two or three pipes a day.

But one day, ten years ago, I began to be fed up with this House honey-topping. Always the same in every tobacco they produce. And, my dear friends, HH Vintage Syrian is not exception: you can notice as soon as you open the tin. You know, some persons hate aromatics after smoking them many years (and this is my case)

The tobaccos mixed are good... really good. Problem is that it is to bland for me: in terms of Syrian Latakia subtleties I incline to heavier mixtures; Artisan's Blend, for instance. Also in terms of Orientals -I am a big fan of them- this is quite bland (I cannot feel the head-going effect I love in subtle orientals)

IMHO (i.e.: according only to my taste): A good tobacco you can enjoy from beginning to end... but pretty lightweight and not so complex. I can recommend as a transition from aromatics to balkans or english mixtures.

RdX Score: 83.13 (my scores are the result of adding 10 scores, from 0 to 10, after smoking with 10 different pipes)
3 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jun 16, 2016 Mild None Detected Very Mild Pleasant
The name of this blend suggests that I may expect a heavy, old style English blend with a high dose of lush Syrian Latakia in the lead. Unfortunately it does not meet my expectations. It does not get near a traditional, old style English blend. Maybe the word “vintage” rather refers to the type of Latakia (old style Syrian Latakia), not to the mixture as such. Anyway. Moisture in tin is perfect. Tin nose is promising. Stuffing and lighting is easy. It burns hot. Leaves back an almost white ash. No aftertaste.

The tasty Orientals donate some body, but it does not dig deep at all. This blend is too mild in taste. Although all ingredient tobaccos can be singled out, the lack of power does not leave enough for all flavours to develop entirely. Sweetness is about ok, I would not like more. A soft carpet of scrumptious Latakia and scrumptious Kentucky provides a decent woody smokiness and accompanies you throughout the bowl. Kentucky is more prominent than Latakia. For my personal satisfaction I would appreciate to have all Kentucky replaced by additional Syrian Latakia. Never mind, regarding many laudatory reviews it remains a light English-style mixture with its own merits. I am disappointed, mainly because it’s too faint, not because I don’t like the taste of it.
Age When Smoked: New, out of the tin.
2 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 03, 2008 Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Tolerable to Strong
Not being a fan of aromatics, I have never found a truly satisfying MacBaren blend...

But look here, what a nice surprise! An almost-traditional English mixture from the Danish brand!

Smell in the tin is very promising, sort of a "light" version of GLPease Bohemian Scandal.

Sadly, the smoking experience is a bit less satisfactory. Mind you, it has no big flaws or nasty traits. It is consistent in flavour, burns great, it is not marred by weird flavourings, and it is classic enough not to turn away lovers of true English tobaccos. My only complaint is that it can be a bit underwhelming at times: the Syrian Latakia is fragrant and with a clearly different note than the one found in most other blends, but the balance leans on the lighter side. In spite of the heavy percentage of Syrian leaf, this one is clearly less spicy and rich than Bohemian Scandal (which had a lesser dose of the precious ingredient). Probably the trick is in the Orientals: no one finds good ones like Mr. Pease does, or blends them as skillfully with the Latakia. The result, in this MacBaren blend, is a bit monochromatic, and tends to get boring on the long run. Still very pleasant and smokeable, and certainly better than most other modern English mixtures (especially the now crappy Dunhills).

So, would I recommend this tobacco? Definitely give it a try, as it is a quality product, honestly priced and with many interesting traits, but I probably won't buy it again. It doesn't offer the level of complexity, richness and flavour I want from a Latakia mixture. If I hadn't tried GLPease's Bohemian Scandal (of which I still have a few tins), I would probably give it and extra star, though, for the pleasant and fragrant use of the Syrian leaf.
2 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 05, 2018 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable
-Latakia in this Blend seems to be real Syrian Latakia made in Latakia city (لاذقیه) in Syria because when i cracked the tin i noticed yellow marks that Tobacco left on the paper and when i touched the tobacco there is some tobacco that seems to be really old and it has to be Latakia (regarding to current situation in Syria probably production of this kind of tobacco has been stopped since a long time ago).

-If you like smoky and kind of Harsh smoke then this blend could be suitable for you because the Latakia is too dominant.

-Additionaly it is too flat for me like some basic Balkan , for example Samuel Gawith Skiff Mixture tasted similar to this (At least for me) .

-I personally like tobaccosin English/Balkan category more similar to Dunhill early morning which are mild , so this blend is too smoky for me and it cant put it in my daily rotation and only sometimes i like to smoke it .
Pipe Used: DB , B&B , Stanwell
Age When Smoked: Probably one year after being packed
1 person found this review helpful.
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