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 119 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 08, 2013 Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
This is a smooth, lightly wine and creamy, fairly smoky, woody, earthy, leathery Syrian Latakia dominant blend; well balanced by the other ingredients. The Kentucky is noticeable here and there, and adds a pleasing woody, earthy, herbal, vegetative, light nutty burley and floral note, with a hint of spice that takes a back seat in the latter department to the dry, sweet and sour, woody, earthy, floral, herbal, incense-like Oriental and Turkish components. Quality light and dark Virginias give a solid base to the blend, adding the tart and tangy citrus and a tangy stewed dark fruitiness one would expect from them, as well as some earth, wood, bread and a touch of grass. I am surprised that a Balkan with this much Latakia is not a lat-bomb. Smokey and woodsy, it is like a better, bolder version of Gawith's Squadron Leader without the hay taste, but with a more pleasing naturally sweet Virginia base, and light spice. The strength is almost medium, while the taste is medium. The nic-hit is a slot behind the strength level. Won't bite or get harsh even if pushed, though it does have a few small rough edges. The components are well balanced, resulting in a very consistent tasting mixture that burns even, clean and cool. Requires few relights. Leaves very little dampness in the bowl. Has a pleasantly lingering after taste and lightly stronger room note. It's almost an all day experience for smokers who want a semi-complex mild to medium English blend. Your friends will smell it, and think you've started a campfire in your den.

70 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 31, 2007 Medium Extremely Mild Medium to Full Tolerable
After having smoked Vintage Syrian I will now take back everything bad that I ever said about Mac Baren. This is a glorious blend, a blend for a new century, and a true testament to the tragedy of the scarcity of Syrian Latakia that has befallen the English speaking world.

The initial pouch aroma was very much like many other mixtures I have had from Mac Baren, making me initially distrust it, but as I had been promised Syrian Latakia, I persevered. The one thing that I found unpleasant about this blend presented itself at first light, this being that, no matter what the pack, it springs out of the bowl at the touch of a match and scatters burning bits all about. This minor inconvenience is soon compensated for by a flavor that delights and invigorates. It is like one of Liszt?s Hungarian Dances: rollicking and playful, but with all of the complexity of a masterwork.

It is sweet and light by right of some very fine Virginias but it is broadened with a flavor like unto fresh bread by the addition of Burley. All throughout, though, the greatest treat is the Syrian Latakia. This once prized and now rare leaf lends an essence of Rosemary and Mesquite and a bit a citrus that works wonderfully with the Virginia and generally makes one rise up anew with a love for life. This is why, if there be any justice in the world of tobacco, HH Vintage Syrian will become a classic.
61 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jun 30, 2007 Mild None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant
This is another of the new blends from the always innovative Mac Baren's line of pipe tobacco offerings. The Syrian Latakia is top shelf and smokey. The Turkish Orientals, the Virginias and even the Burley all come through as you work you way down the bowl.

I think this is as fine a Latakia blend as is on the market today because of the flavor and hint of spice that keeps the tongue interested.

It is easy to pack, light and keep lit.

Another Mac Baren's bellringer!
52 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jun 14, 2014 Medium Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
Ah, my beloved HH Vintage Syrian, and probably my definitive desert island blend. I vividly remember my first encounter with this tobacco. I had purchased the one pound bag which comes in the Mac Baren HHVS ceramic jar. I knew I was in for something special because the jar absolutely reeked of a strong but very pleasant woodsy/campfire/BBQ aroma. This despite the fact that the jar and bag were still completely sealed. Upon opening the jar, the aroma intensified. Even merely handling the sealed bag exuded that marvelous smell on my hands which lingered for several minutes. In other words, I loved it!!

Visually, the blend is an attractive if not typical looking English/Balkan mixture. Though Mac Baren purports that just under half the volume is Syrian Latakia, I am not convinced. Based on taste and appearance, I would estimate it's is the 30-35% range. There's definitely a lot of dark tobacco (Latakia) in it, but it doesn't overwhelm.

Upon lighting the blend, the Syrian takes center stage, which I've found is the dominant player for about the first 1/4 to 1/3 of the bowl. From that point on, the Syrian almost unequivocally tones down a bit. At this point, almost anything can happen, and this is where the blend turns into something of a wild horse (though normally in a good way). Oftentimes, the Kentucky burley will become dominant with the Latakia present but definitely in the background. When this happens, the blend taken on a whole other dimension, and to me becomes almost mildly cigarish. Though I favor the taste of the Syrian, the burley gives the blend depth and actually keeps it from being too monochromatic. When the Syrian does emerge more strongly later on, it's a welcome reappearance and helps me to appreciate it's presence more. The orientals in this blend are certainly discernible, but to my palate they never dominate (as they do in something like Bill Bailey's Balkan Blend, which is another Syrian Latakia tobacco in the same class as HHVS, though much spicier).

I would definitely recommend this blend for those of you who are unacquainted with Syrian Latakia, or if you've been turned off to traditional (Cyprian) Latakia blends in the past. Though Syrian isn't everyone's cup of tea, I find it much more refined, sweeter, and less harsh than it's Cyprian cousin. It's a very mellow and smooth tobacco which I think produces an amazing incense-like room note. I also found this tobacco smokes best when it's quite dry, so don't be afraid to let it air out.

As a postscript, I believe the Syrian used in this blend is absolutely top shelf. If you search the web, you can find an interview by Greg Pease where he discusses the so-called "Syrian" Latakia that often gets passed for the genuine article. He said the Syrian used by Mac Baren is completely legit, and I'd venture to guess it's probably of the same vintage that Greg used in now extinct blends such as Renaissance, Mephisto, and Bohemian Scandal. What I found interesting is Greg actually said he (unsuccessfully) tried acquiring several bales of Syrian from the major blenders that still have it, Mac Baren being one of them. If it's good enough for him to be interested in blending with, I'd say it doesn't get much better.

Try this blend while you can. Syrian Latakia will probably not be around too much longer and when it's gone, it's gone. Given the state that Syria is in, I'd be very surprised if anything like this gets produced again in the foreseeable future.
Age When Smoked: October 2010
41 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 21, 2016 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant
After searching 55 years (now in my 75th year overall) I finally discovered the blend that burned only in my most ambitious tobacco imagination.

HH Vintage Syrian produces the most delectable nose and mouth tapestry yielding smokey campfire, pungent blossoms, and earthy sweetness.

The long wait was worth it. After almost six decades of experience and experiment I now can fully appreciate this unique captivating blend and its Syrian Latakia foundation. So glad I was able to stick around.
Pipe Used: Various Dunhill; Everyman billiard
Age When Smoked: New to 2 months- now cellaring several pounds
24 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 04, 2015 Medium None Detected Full Strong
After Balkan Sobranie, this is probably the best Balkan mixture I've ever tried in my life. As I opened the tin, I was absolutely delighted to find the gold and black leaf that comprises this mixture, which is reminiscent of the aforementioned. The ribbon cut is quite consistent throughout and the tin will benefit from some drying time. This is a full bodied medium strength tobacco with many nuances and undertones. The tin note is not very pronounced, but the smoking experience is that of a proper Balkan mixture. I particularly like the rough taste it leaves on the tongue, which is very similar to that of some Rioja wines or walnuts. I am not sure whether this is coming from the latakia itself or the orientals, but it is very pleasing anyway. The Syrian (not Cypriot) latakia leaf in this tobacco seems to come from a 1975 bumper crop. This could be argued, but I have no reason to disbelieve it based on my smoking experience. Because of its strength, I guess you could start the day with this tobacco, but I'd rather have it as a late evening blend. I am not sure whether I'd recommend this tobacco to any aromatics lovers, but it is very forgiving anyway. I can't detect any tongue bite at all and you don't need to pay full attention to it in order to get the most out of it.

Pipe Used: Bog Oak
PurchasedFrom: John Howlingsworth
Age When Smoked: 1 year, perhaps
20 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 28, 2014 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
This one may be a 4 and not a 3 by the time I finish smoking up the tin. It is well balanced and you can taste/enjoy the Virginias and the orientals. The Kentucky dark fired is there for depth and body, and it provides some strength. The latakia is always there, but it is a component and not the defining flavor.

There is a spicy quality to this which I like a lot. It is hard for me to decide if it is a quality of the Syrian or the combination of the Kentucky and orientals. I do know it all works and this blend is easy to recommend.

Edit: I am bumping this up to a 4. It really is that good. I got more, and I find that I am smoking a bowl of this a day and really enjoying it. I am changing the roomnote from "tolerable" to "pleasant to tolerable" as well since a daughter comments on an "incenselike" quality that she likes.

PurchasedFrom: original tin was a gift from a friend
19 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 19, 2017 Mild None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
This site along with your reviews have really made this pipe smoking adventure so much more enjoyable. I have been a pipe smoker off and on for 10 years but it wasn’t until this last year that I really learned to smoke a pipe and with this site and your reviews, have made this a wonderful and pleasurable journey. Discovering all these tobaccos has been a revelation.

This Mac Baren - HH Vintage Syrian was purchased after a rather pleasing introduction to Syrian Latakia via Ashton Artesian. I needed to confirm my suspicions about my personal preference for Syrian Latakia over Cyprian Latakia. I find that the Syrian Latakia is similar to Cyprian but it is smoother and more rounded. It has the Cyprian Latakia flavor profile, but its not as in your face, even in a Latakia forward blend like this.

For me, this is a medium to strong Latakia forward English experience. But, with Syrian having a smoother, creamier character, I don't feel like I have been "Lat Bombed". Quite the contrary this is one of the more balanced English blends I keep on hand. The Turkish Orientals do give it a little spice but in comparison to say a Squadron Leader (which I love but find fairly peppery/spicy) is very mild in comparison. The Virginia/Kentucky do give it that sweet bottom end I also enjoy. It has hints of a sweet English at times, something like GL Pease - Maltese Falcon on "6 out of 10". Over all its very well balanced with a wonderful interplay of cool creamy smokey Syrian Latakia, with just enough Turkish Orientals to have a bit of spice and finished off with a medium to mild sweet note. I am not sure what is providing this earthy finish to the blend but its noticeable and unique to this blend in my experience. Over all, Its complex, smooth and really just wonderful.

I would expect that if you are a lover of strong Latakia blends like C&D Pirate Kake or even Dunhill Nightcap, this blend may seem a little bland or understated. There is a subtle complexity here that really favors the slow contemplative sipping approach. I have seen zero bite issues even if you push it a bit. This is easily an all day smoke for me and it settles nicely into the background if I am focused on other things or it can easily consume my focus with all its subtle nuances.

A note about that note. I have a supportive wife who also happens to be able to smell mouse flatulence at 200 yards. She is 100% a fan of my hobby but has some very definite opinions about the room note of various tobaccos and honestly, is not a fan of most of the tobacco smells. For us, this is definitely one of the more subtle room notes. Its interesting, while I did confess that there was Latakia in the blend she noticed immediately that it was different without knowing it was Syrian. To sum up, she says this smells more like burning leaves in the fall (Syrian Latakia) instead of a pine fire (Cyprian Latakia). She also picked this blend to be "the one" if she was going to be in a car while its being smoked.

I am going to give this my first 4 star review. To my mind its very rare to have a tobacco that fits an all day smoke AND you can slow down and really savor it and be totally satisfied In my experience an all day smoke is generally tame or one dimensional. That is not the case here. Even with that said, I do admit I love having some variety. I enjoy a face slapping Plum Pudding on occasion, I also love a big burley punch from an Old Joe Krantz. Those tobaccos are amazing but I can't do them all day. If I could only have one tobacco - the desert island query - it would be the Mac Baren - HH Vintage Syrian.
Pipe Used: Cobs, Canadians, Wardens - All good
Age When Smoked: new from tin
14 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 25, 2018 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable
Mac Baren hasn't always been a favorite of mine, but there aren't many tobacco options with Syrian Latakia still in them and on the open market. There are others on the after market, but I'm not into shelling out $100+ for a tin of tobacco -- worth it or not. So I reached out for the HH Vintage Syrian blend from Mac Baren and I am so glad I did. It's wonderful.

Now, if you're thinking that this is going to be the more common smokey Latakia found from the Cyprian variant, you're going to fill ripped off and wonder what the heck you're now smoking. Cyprian Latakia is great in it's own right, but it's definitely different than the Syrian style. Cyprian hits you over the head and says, "Hey, I am smokey and sweet!! Enjoy me like the campfire that I am." Good stuff. But Syrian Latakia says, "I'm smokey and sweet too, but I'm going to leave you with a lingering tart aftertaste." And that's what this one does. Delicious.

HH Vintage Syrian is not a heavy, smokey blend. It's a well balanced, smooth blend that is really quite sweet on the palate, but has a nice, tart finish. Not sour like a pungent Oriental, but tart like you might get from Sour Patch Kid (but that's just used as a reference for the tartness. This isn't candy-like). The tartness is also what folks refer to as the "wine-like" taste. They aren't wrong. It also stays throughout the bowl, making you want to reach for another because it's so tasty. There is a smokey quality to it too, but just not in the same way. Then, every once in a while, a straight Smyrna leaf will jump out at you and say, "I'm here too. Check me out!" And it's good! It's that musty, sour taste those that like Oriental varieties tend to like. So it's just enough to break it up and keep it lively.

The nicotine is right in the middle. Enough to make me feel mellow and remind me that it is there, but not so much as to leave me feeling uneasy and not too little to make me wonder what all the fuss was about. A nice experience.

Again, this is one wonderful smoke that for me, has already improved with age in the jar. I bought this blend in both tins and by the pound. I didn't want to look back one day and think, "Man, I wish I bought some of that stuff while it was available." That feeling sucks. So I bought a bunch. I smoked another bowl of it just before writing this review to refresh myself and it was even better than the last time I had it. I just bought another pound in bulk.

One final note: I enjoy this in a cob. You can enjoy it any way you like, but if you can, keep it separate from a pipe that you use for Cyprian Latakia. For now, you will have lots of chances to smoke Cyprian, but that may not be the case for Syrian Latakia. So be sure to get the most from the experience and don't let the two mix together to alter the flavor, if you can.

With that said, Enjoy!
Pipe Used: Cob
PurchasedFrom: and
Age When Smoked: 6 months
11 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 23, 2015 Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant
Mac Baren - HH Vintage Syrian.

When I open mine up the first good point presents itself, perfect moistness! The smell is smoky but nowhere near as heavy when compaired to many other Latakia blends. This is reflected in the taste:

The Latakia is the driving force however it has more of a subtle quality to it rather than resembling barbecue fumes! After the initial quarter bowl of Latakia flavour the other constituents make their presence known. The Latakia doesn't subside completely, it just allows a little room for the other tobaccos to gain applause. I notice towards the end of the bowl how little I have had to keep re-lighting my pipe, it's burned consistently throughout. I feel that HH Vintage Syrian would be a great starting point for someones Latakia journey with it's subtle flavour as opposed to beginning with an out and out 'smack in the face' Balkan!

Nicotine: mild to medium. Room-note: quite pleasant.

Four stars.
Pipe Used: Erik Nording
PurchasedFrom: Smoke King
Age When Smoked: New
10 people found this review helpful.
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