Latakia, Virginia, Turkish(?)some Burley in complete harmony and balance. What a treat for the senses.
The greatest mixtures share one common trait, its balance. As soon as one element is added with too heavy a hand, the result is similar to some idiots cellphone ringing next to you while watching a movie.
Those that know me, know that my daily smokes are Virginia and Virginia/Perique blends. That being said, i do reach for an English or Balkan fairly regularly these days, when i do so, i have an extremely high standard.
Sturks Balkan is a classic, great mixture. It holds its own amongst the big tobacco houses and mixtures of this genre of times gone by.
Do what you can to get it.
My highest recommendation.
Ps. This review is based on the blend "Sturks Balkan". The fact that i love that store or that the owner and staff are great people have no influence on my review whatsoever.
Without a doubt the best 'Balkan' style blend I have ever tasted - Well balanced, smooth, and very satisfying. I wish it was available everywhere. I hear that it's hand blended in small batches by the proprietor himself, which adds to the appeal of this first class smoke. I love it, and if you like English/Balkan blends you should definitely try it.
Ok, first things first, in the sprit of full disclosure I want to say this - "I own the rights to distribute this tobacco in the US. I went to much trouble to pull the permits, obtain the rights and establish the distributon path, not to mention the $$$$ I spent to make this happen. I love this tobacco. I sent large samples to pipe clubs to get their opinions. All positive and with much desire to obtain more." Now, with that being said - I love this tobacco. Unlike anything I have smoked; lights easy, never gets bitter, an all day smoker. I bought two sealed pouches of Balkan Sobarine from the 80's, sent them and 4 ounces of Sturks to several long time pipe smokers - it rated the same or too close to call.
If my recollection of the Sobranie White tins from the 70's is anything to go by, this is the closest clone of it.
I smoked Sturk's Balkan mixture side by side with the recent Sobranie pouch version made by Gallaher's, and tried at the same period Charing Cross, Balkan Supreme and Balkan Sasieni, trying to figure out which comes closest to the old benchmark and IMHO while they are all great tobaccos in their own right, Sturk somehow reminded me the most of the long gone classic.
I don't know if this blend has any Yenidje in it, but have spoken with the blender, who is naturally unwilling to discuss the ingredients, although he confirmed that they are following an old recipe left by the previous owner of the blending house and that they are using local South African baccys.
It is a smooth, smokey and definitely satisfying smoke.
I am that friend that Mo was referring to below... I sure am glad he sent me a large sample of Balkan Blend from Sturk's Tobacconist in South Africa. I took a full bowl and then set it beside a full bowl of the Original Balkan Sobranie Smoking Mixture that another friend on this site (OSR), gifted me a few weeks ago. My comparisons follow:
Sturks was, of course, much fresher and thus, had a more pronounced taste and was a bit sweeter than the Original Balkan Sobranie. This did not surprise me as the Sturk's version also had a more robust odor in the pouch. My Original Balkan Sobranie Mixture was from a tin that had been popped some time ago and had been kept humidified. Both, by the way, had a very similar smell.
The Original was a little smoother, a little less pronounced, and had a little something extra that I could not identify. Still, I enjoyed the Sturk's version very much although it was a little harsh toward the end of the bowl whereas the Original stayed sedate and smooth all the way to the bottom.
For those of you who were lovers of the old Original Balkan Sobranie Smoking Mixture, you need to get your hands on some of this Sturk's modern day version. It is very comperable and I have found nothing else that even comes close to matching the original blend. Sturk's Balkan is on the same playing field.
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