McClelland Orient 996

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.


Brand McClelland
Series Collector Series
Blended By McClelland
Manufactured By McClelland
Blend Type Balkan
Contents Latakia, Oriental/Turkish, Virginia
Cut Ribbon
Packaging 50g Tin
Country United States
Production No longer in production


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

Average Rating

3.30 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 10 of 20 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 12, 2014 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
PurchasedFrom: Pipes and Cigars
Age When Smoked: 1-2
12 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 22, 2015 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.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 22, 2015 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.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 14, 2014 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
9 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 07, 2016 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.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jun 23, 2017 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.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 30, 2015 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
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 12, 2008 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.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 12, 2014 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
PurchasedFrom: P&C
Age When Smoked: 4 years
2 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 28, 2011 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.
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