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Orient 996 uses a very high sugar content bright Virginia (yellow) with aged Red Virginia, a bit of stoved mahogany Red Virginia, add in a good amount of No.1 grade Yenidje, two other village specific rare leaf oriental tobaccos are used in smaller amounts, plus a nice touch, but not over powering amount, of Syrian Latakia.

This is a rare and expensive blend because of the No.1 grade Orientals (Yenidje, Katerini, Samsun) the Syrian Latakia and because of the high grade bright very high sugar content Virginias.

Notes: Orient 996 has been aged before its release in December 2007. A very special mixture in very limited numbers as only 318 tins were produced for 2007. Reintroduced in 2009 from a PCCA Blend.

Blended ByMcClelland
Manufactured ByMcClelland
Blend TypeBalkan
ContentsLatakia, Oriental/Turkish, Virginia
Packaging50g Tin
ProductionNo longer in production
Where to Buy
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Mild to Medium
None Detected
Room Note
Pleasant to Tolerable

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UncleGar Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
UncleGar (110)
Mild None Detected Medium Pleasant

When I read "No longer in production" in the almost-identical listing, I briefly panicked and went into hoard mode. Fortunately, I found it is still quite available and has been since its reintroduction in 2009. The label still says 2007, but my tin bottom indicates a 2012 tinning. I opened it in late 2013 and found it again 8 months later, 1/4 full.

I immediately liked it then and especially now. Ever have a blend that smacks you upside the head and asks why the hell you even bother with any other? This blend has displaced burley as my warm weather smoke.

It is sweet, per the tin description, due to aged Virginas. I didn't even mind getting "juiced" by my pipe (actually my technique: puffing while driving). It is sweeter than Rattrays Marlin Flake, even, and I thought that was confectionary. The leaf used here obviously has age on it; there is a characteristic absence of "greenness" (fishy, ammoniacal, bitter) that is sometimes found in fresh tins (of certain other domestic brands) that mellows out with time. High sugar Virginia tobaccos, like the best women, improve with age.

But 996 is not about the Virginias, it's about the Orientals. Although the Greek and Turkish tobaccos possess some inherent sweetness, their taste is brought out and amplified in this blend by the aged Virginias as sugar can do with some teas. My favorite oriental tobaccos are Basma and Xanthi and both seem present in this mixture. McClelland's now-familiar Syrian latakia is as well. This particular blend has been singled out by some for lacking Perique, and I don't doubt it would fit well in here. (There is a similar blend, Tudor Castle, which does include it.) I cannot tolerate Perique due to an allergy, and I am thankful to have a choice.

Nicotine level seems low, the puffed fragrance is wonderful to me and 8 months in an open tin provided perfect moisture to pack and light. I don't recall it being an issue originally. The closest comparisons I can make to other blends (both McClelland due to the Syrian) are FMATP and Yenice Agonya, also favorites of mine.

I adore this stuff.

Pipe Used: Jirsa, medium bowl

Age When Smoked: 1-2

Purchased From: Pipes and Cigars

13 people found this review helpful.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30167)
Mild None Detected Mild Pleasant

Black as can be in the tin, with a tin nose of Virginia and oriental. The Syrian is a minor player, both in the aroma and the taste. Nice ribbon cut, easy to load. Comes a bit moist and required some drying time but not too bad. I didn't dry it to the levels I dry flakes. An hour in the fresh air was fine.

Flavor-wise, this is a subtle one. The virginia was in the lead, which is fine due to the high quality virginias used by McClellands, and it was sweet but not citrusy. More of a very, very light sugar, but not a cavendish sweet. The Yenidje seemed a bit more prominent in this one than in the Grand Oriental blends containing it. But this did not taste like Yenidje Highlander. The latakia was Syrian and while it is smoky like it's Cyprian cousin, it has a different flavor. Darker tasting - less sweet. It worked well with the sweetness of the virginia and was evident in every puff but it was clearly subservient and used just as a spice. The flavors melded nicely and I found it to be a fairly complex blend. My only complaint was that the flavors were too mild. McClellands is expert at creating blends that are mild on the tongue but full of robust flavor. This was not one of those. It was just mild... a bit too much so to make my rotation. But if you enjoy a mild smoke with mellow flavors that won't intrude on your thoughts, and you enjoy some oriental tobaccos with your sweet virginias, give this one a spin.

11 people found this review helpful.

Pipestud Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipestud (1829)
Mild None Detected Mild Very Pleasant

996 is very much an Oriental/Virginia blend with Latakia way off in the background. Although the cut and flavor vary from Esoterica's Penzance, I do compare the two favorably, except that Orient 996 uses a stronger hand with the Orientals. It burns cool and dry and is one of my staples for Oriental blends.


9 people found this review helpful.

Mr. Big Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Mr. Big (321)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

Orient 996 is an excellent blend with just the right balance of Syrian, Virginias and a with a touch of Yendje. This blend is slightly sweeter than "Three oaks Syrian" and smoother than Three Oaks Syrian , and more flavorful than either Syrian Star or Three Oaks Syrian. But the real star is the Yendje, a wonderful aroma and flavor and it blends so well with the Syrian.

Syrian Star and Orient 996 are closer matches due to their sweetness and smoothness than to Three oaks Syrian. My personal preference, if you're looking for "Syrian", would be Orient 996, then Syrian Star, then Three Oaks Syrian in that order. I also find that all three are best smoked from a corn cob rather than a brier , as the smoke is sweeter and more flavorful.

Pipe Used: cob

Age When Smoked: 1 month

Similar Blends: Syrian Star.

9 people found this review helpful.

initials SG Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
initials SG (29)
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant

Often, I'll pop the tin and fire up a tobacco as soon as I walk out of the door of my local shop. Of course a tin of this that had been sitting on the shelf for years collecting dust was irresistible. As soon as flame met leaf I knew this one was subtle and special.

It's difficult to say what 'makes' this blend, but let's start with the Virginias. Some of the best from McClelland that I have tried. Clean, pure, fragrant, sweet but not too sweet, perfect. Not the same as what I have tasted from them before. Not a trace of the familiar ketchup taste, not even right after opening.

This really makes a difference with the presentation of the Yenidje, in that nothing gets in the way. Everything is complimentary. Not the same as Yenidje Supreme - to my tastebuds, much better. Maybe this has to do with the addition of the other orientals, but I can't help but think that there is nothing getting in the way or muddling the flavor here.

So in a nutshell, it's pretty much bright/red Virginia + Oriental heaven if one is into those tastes, which I am.

Only a kiss of Syrian, and by that I mean a brush on the cheek in most of my pipes, although there is one briar where it is stronger and obvious throughout the smoke. The subtle amount works perfectly for this blend, and surprisingly for me, I wouldn't necessarily want more in it. This is probably the only time I will ever say this, because I love Syrian latakia.

More of a 'dry' smoke than a rich and oily one, if that makes sense. Says on the tin that is is designed to age beautifully, and indeed it has. Not getting the confectionery sweetness that some are reporting, so perhaps aging has mellowed the sweetness factor somewhat, although the brights do add a nice sweet taste to be sure. Highly recommend to grab some and cellar it, after this tin I know I will.

Age When Smoked: 5 years.

5 people found this review helpful.

Calamiti Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Calamiti (86)
Very Mild Very Mild Mild to Medium Very Pleasant

Try this tobacco even if you (like me) are not really into Orientals. The Levantine leaves in this blend are truly the Grand Orientals. Some of the rarest tobacco strains of Eastern Mediterranean are married in this product, making it of a significant educational value.

If you're thinking of buying this blend just because of Syrian Latakia in it (as I did), my recommendation is you don't. Cause you won't notice almost any discernible Latakia. That doesn't mean it's absent. It's present far at the background, adding some notes to the complex flavour of this Oriental bouquet. But nothing more than that: no smoky flavours and no campfires. Eastern magic. Oriental trick. It's there but you won't catch it.

Well, it was interesting to experience that complex intermingling of Oriental flavours but I will not buy any more. It's like a travel to the Middle East: an exotic destination worth to visit once in a lifetime. But you'll never want to come back there.

Pipe Used: Peterson Churchwarden, Savinelli Bent Bulldog

3 people found this review helpful.

Sybariten Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Sybariten (61)
Mild None Detected Mild to Medium Tolerable

Mechanically a good blend, it burns well and makes no attempt to bite.

Flavour wise, it is a bit thin in my opinion. Elegant and delicate but a bit much so, as it never really grabs hold of the smoker during the first half of the bowl. It transitions in to a somewhat bolder character come the half way mark, and shows off something really interesting - the typical McClelland virginia goes side by side with the perfumeish orientals. That last half is really quite tasty but not to the point where it compensates for the boring start.

I would smoke it again for sure, but I would not buy it.

Pipe Used: Cobs and briars

3 people found this review helpful.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30167)
Extremely Mild None Detected Mild Pleasant

I am not sure what to make of this blend so far. I am having a difficult time discovering the Latakia. The Virginia's are very nice and very mild. The Orientals are distinguishable.

It's quite easy to pack and is very tame in the bowl and burns fairly cool. However, it's a bit tricky! If you are expecting a big Latakia taste and puff away too hard, you will get some bite.

There is some delicious sweetness going on here, and although the blend is a bit mild for my taste, it gets points for the quality of Virginia tobac. It has a clean natural taste that teases the tongue and presents the opportunity for reflection.

3 people found this review helpful.

Uban Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Uban (60)
Mild None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

I had gotten two tins of this , one the original 2007 (stamped 2008) and this one marked, 2009 & "Pipe Tobacco" instead of "2007" to the right of the name on the tin - just to be clear. I just opened this one with 4 or 5 years on it & I just don't know what to make of it. Smooth, sure, light for certain, but I can't seem to get much flavor no matter what pipe I put it in. It seems to be more of a light VaPer flavor than oriental, though the latter are noticeable from time to time. Good shag cut, high quality leaf, I will cellar the open tin & see if it changes as noted by others. So far, OK but not great. UPDATE: Dryer & open for four months, this has turned into a far more flavorful mix of sweet grass, haylike brightness, with a solid Va base, recommended.

Pipe Used: Upshall huge dublin, meers, clay

Age When Smoked: 4 years

Purchased From: P&C

2 people found this review helpful.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30167)
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant

Preface: Within the Collector Series, Orient 996 is most similar to TC, including, mainly, Latakia replacing Perique.

Tin: 2008 stamped on bottom of tin.(The label says Vintage 2007. Orient 996 was introduced in DEC 2007.) Sweet and sour smell, the sour aspect diminishing readily after the tin is unsealed for a couple of days. Burnt or stoved mahogany hue, standard ribbon cut, almost dry.

Packed readily, as a ribbon usually does, and burned well.

Taste & Aroma: A nice, soft, mellow smoke, but not enough umph-It lacks the substance that its cousin, TC, has.

Overall: Nice and mellow. A strong 3 stars, but not enough subsance to merit four. 3.4 stars.

2 people found this review helpful.

KahveDelisi Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
KahveDelisi (73)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

I wish I had read vaperfavour's review before finishing the first half of the tin. After half tin full of useless attempts at trying to get some more flavors other than virginia but getting tongue bite instead, exorcized the evil tin of Orient666 to the dark side of the cellar and moved on to other alternatives.

Reading vaperfavour's review, I decided to give piece another chance since 3 months had already passed over my last smoke of Orient666. Interesting though, upon re-opening the tin I was surprised it had not completely dried out. Filled a pipe, lit, and a couple puffs here and a couple puffs there and a couple puffs everywhere...weeeheeee it was now Orient966! next time I tried, I left it for more air drying (about an hour) and that smoke was indeed Orient996. I was so mesmerized by it, my next purchase was its sister blend Jubilee, which btw will be resting in peace with an open lid for another month.

Thanks to vaperfavour and several shamanic chants, evil out flavors in.

2 people found this review helpful.

RMBittner Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
RMBittner (66)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Tin dated simply "2008"; opened 3/2/2009. I bought 2lbs. of this blend without tasting it, solely on the basis of my love for the constituent tobaccos.

After seven bowls, though, I am convinced that this is the most poorly mixed blend I've ever smoked. Given McClelland's reputation for excellence, I can only assume that there were serious manufacturing or quality-control problems with my tin.

The first five bowls were Virginia-dominant smokes that only occasionally allowed waves of the Yenidje to come through. There were literally only three puffs in which the Syrian was detectable. The latakia was present in such minute quantities, it was as if it had been added with tweezers and a microscope.

However, bowl six was significantly different, with a stronger latakia presence. Bowl seven was even more different: 2/3 of the bowl smoked as if it were straight Yenidje, like a large knot of Yenidje was present in entirely unmixed form. In the bottom 1/3, the Yenidje disappeared entirely and the Syrian and Virginia were the sole flavors.

Despite every variation I tried in loading the pipes, every one of the seven bowls required a minimum of five matches.

Because of the extreme variations I experienced in bowl after bowl, I cannot highly recommend this. I can only hope that subsequent tins will be much more consistent; clearly, others here haven't noted similar problems. (I'll update this in the future, if other tins end up faring better.)

2 people found this review helpful.

LSU Tiger Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
LSU Tiger (14)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

I bought this on recommendation of a fellow pipe smoker, and I'm glad I tried it. Sweet, but not over powering, spiced, but not to the point of burning. It smokes well in anything from a small prince to the largest Dublin. If there's a downside, it's that I can't order a pound, only 50 gr tin!

2 people found this review helpful.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30167)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

I bought a tin of this late in 2009 and kept it for aging till a few weeks back. It was worth the wait. I really enjoyed it, it reminded me a bit of McClelland's Smyrna blend, but with some more virginia; but many of the other "oriental" flavors felt the same as the Smyrna. I will be buying some more to keep around, its a very good smoke paired with an Armognac/Cognac. Highly enjoyable!

1 person found this review helpful.

Latakia Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Latakia (70)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

Due to the sugary Va. tobacco in the blend, it will age beautifully and this would enhance the qualit Syrian Latakia that lies somewhat dormant in a newl opened tin. This would be a good transition blend for someone who normally smokes Virginians but wants a more exotic kick of Orientals with a touch of Latakia. I like it. Sweet but not overwhelming. I will buy a tin or two and store for awhile to see the result.

1 person found this review helpful.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30167)
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild Pleasant to Tolerable

first off i would like to say this is a great blend, but it needs preparation, namely opening the tin , leave the metal plate on the tobacco and let it sit for 6 months. after doing this the tobaccos come to life and the true taste and potential of this blend starts to shine through. when first opened it will taste virginia heavy and the syrian will barely be tasted. I have found all the recent McClelland blends (PCCA or not) benefit from what some may say is extreme air time. just found a tin that was opened last october and that i shoved to the back of the cellar thinking this blend was a dud. what a difference time and air makes. even now it is not a powerhouse blend, but there are subtleties worth exploring. The orientals are making themselves known over the virginias and this is becoming very good.try it, air it, stock up for a blend with turkish.

1 person found this review helpful.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30167)
Medium to Strong None Detected Mild Pleasant to Tolerable

Wow I Love it and the nicotine kick is very nice. Well put together best i have ever smoke! Frist class ALL THE WAY

1 person found this review helpful.

Pryhosm Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pryhosm (248)
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

This review is after coming back to this blend after several years. I do not recall thinking much of this blend when I first tried it. I bought 2 tins and at the time I was trying to get a feel for the flavors of particularly leaves, Oriental,Turkish, Latakia, Perique, etc. I was new to the pipe and I think like burley, Orientals forward blends my not be for the neophyte. I really enjoy Oriental blends first thing in the morning with coffee. McC’s Bombay Court and Peretti’s Tashkent are morning staples for me. Like those this is best enjoyed early although this is a bit different and I can enjoy it later in the day as well. I am a bit perplexed by this blend, as I enjoy both Yenidje Highlander and Supreme but I do not find this blend at all similar. That is not to say I don’t like it but with the same Oriental leaf as the star I can’t figure out why they taste nothing alike. One of the things I like most about Orientals is that buttery, woody flavor. It seems the Yenidje doesn’t have as much of that or the Syrian Latakia does something to mute that flavor in this blend. I do get some of the woody buttery qualities, especially in the finish, there is a taste that lasts for quite a while after smoking this and it is really quite good. The primary flavor is Oriental, it is dry and has a seltzer like quality to it, think mineral seltzer water. The Virginia’s are sweet and earthy with some light grassy notes and the Syrian Latakia is barely noticeable other than a hint of smoke and a light sour note. No longer available but if it were I’d recommend it. Very unique and enjoyable smoke.

Pipe Used: Briars and Meer’s

Age When Smoked: 5+ years

Nobody has rated this review yet.

runswithdogs Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
runswithdogs (41)
Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

A fine Oriental blend, not quite as sweet as Syrian Star, but sweeter than Syrian Three Oaks. I’m inclined to think that those who smoke this very slowly will find it sweeter than those who puff faster (which is par for the course for a Virginia forward blend). Despite a strong Virginia base, it is the Orientals that shine in this blend. A pleasing smoke, light nic hit, and a nice change of pace from my typical straight Virginias.

Age When Smoked: 2009

Nobody has rated this review yet.

chgo.piper Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
chgo.piper (37)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

enjoyed with much pleasure. A beautiful blend of fine tobaccos married together to create a very refined smoke. I've had a dozen tins in the cellar now for a couple of years and can't wait to crack another one open in a couple more years.

Nobody has rated this review yet.