Jon's Pipe Shop Garvey's Balkan

An American-style English blend containing 50% white burley.


Brand Jon's Pipe Shop
Blended By  
Manufactured By  
Blend Type American
Contents Burley, Latakia, Oriental/Turkish, Virginia
Cut Ribbon
Packaging Bulk
Country United States


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

Average Rating

3.83 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 6 of 6 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 25, 2016 Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Medium Very Pleasant
There is something very old-timey and familar about Garvey's Balkan that I can't put my finger on but at the same time I've never smoked anything quite like it. It's not a traditional Balkan and much smoother than most American-English blends I've smoked. Garvey's is VERY lightly aromatic (cocoa/vanilla?) in both aroma and flavor and I suspect it is from the burley. That said it doesn't funk up the pipe like most aromatic and there is little to no tongue bite. When I first tried this I was on a anti burley tirade and thinking it had no place in a English/Balkan so I put it in a mason jar and didn't revisit for almost 4 years. I don't detect much latakia or orientals and the burley takes the lead. The burley is incredibly smooth and not at all like a more powerful, edgy C&D American-English blends. This is easily an all day smoke I can smoke bowls of this back to back with ease (FWIW I'm sometime very sensitive to nicotine). I'm not sure how to classify this though I'd lean towards American-English because of the burley. Smokes incredibly cool, creamy, lightly sweet and nutty. Highly recommended.
Pipe Used: Cobs, Stanwell, Laughing Moon, Guildhall
PurchasedFrom: Jon's Pipe Shop
Age When Smoked: 4
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 14, 2017 Medium Extremely Mild Medium to Full Pleasant
Real smooth...not over the top on the Latakia, which is an instant winner for me. Another review said he thought it was Smoking Mixture with a bit more white burly. I found Smoking Mixture to be a bit too acidic and raw for my taste, yet Garvey's Balkan is as smooth as a baby's bottom. If white burly is the reason for this big a change, then it is truly a revelation, because I could smoke this blend all day without fail. The aroma is exactly what I would want to smell when I walk into a tobacco and pipe shop, and the taste is electrifying. Highly recommended!
Pipe Used: Briars and meerschaums primarily
PurchasedFrom: Jon's Pipe Shop, Champaign, Illinois. If you haven't tried this place, it is your loss!!!
Age When Smoked: Fresh. Also aged awhile
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 12, 2013 Medium Mild to Medium Medium to Full Tolerable
Balkan notes, mellowed and sweetened by the burley. Smoky but with a sweetness and almost a nut-caramel flavor that I find very appealing. Nice creamy smoke. Very docile in the bowl. Always delivers what you're looking for when you strike the match.

Addendum: I personally spoke to the blender at the Chicagoland Pipe Show in 2011, and he was adamant that there is absolutely no casing or top note in this blend.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 28, 2010 Medium Mild Medium Pleasant
Although Garvey's Balkan is an American English blend containing both latakia and burley, I have a hard time comparing it to other examples of the genre like Spilman Mixture or Dr. Bradley (both from Iwan Ries). It follows the basic structure of this type of mixture, but is also its own unique creation. This is one of the mixtures that Jon's blends in store, and you can really tell that the leaf is high quality.

Garvey's Balkan is very smooth and creamy in the bowl, and has an aroma that smells a lot like an old-time pipe shop (actually it smells a lot like Jon's itself). It's really an effortless smoke and I could see it as being an everyday mixture. It's not as complex as many standard English mixtures, but it's also not boring. I feel that it's beauty lies in its simplicity.

I suspect that Garvey's Balkan uses Smoking Mixture as its base, but has the addition of a large amount of white burley. At times I get faint hints of sweetness in the aroma, which makes me wonder if the burley used is something like BLWB. But then, this is just pure speculation on my part and knowledge of the ingredients would not detract from such a fine blend.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 26, 2023 Mild to Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant
My thoughts on flavor-Smoky and woodsy- Lots of wood smoke and campfire flavor. Latakia forward for sure, but without being an overly obtuse Lat-bomb that leaves so many English and Balkan blends tasting like a tire fire. It's also uniquely sweet and creamy, but not cloying, syrupy or caramelly. Subtle, chocolatey sweetness from a significant portion of White Burley, rather than the acutely sharp and citrusy sweetness obtained from brighter and harsher Virginias is what lends Garvey's its characteristically smooth smoke. Smokes dry and cool. No tongue bite or gurgle whatsoever, and there's absolutely nothing thin about the smoke. It's creamy and full. As for its stregth, there's not too much oomph. There's nicotine here, but look elsewhere if that's your desire. This is meant to be enjoyed without sending you into orbit. Sweetness gives way to extremely mild cigar-like savory, resinous notes without being acrid or leathery, and to that end, no byproducts that distill down from added synthetic or extractive flavors. Nothing hidden behind bad casings that ultimately condense and leave harsh, artificially concentrated flavors mid-smoke. In short, Garvey's Balkan tastes like supreme-quality tobacco should. A satisfying blend for every pipe smoker...and if you don't think it's for you, you'll come around.

This all being said, the taste and smokability are only half of its magic. The other reason I hold Garvey's in such high regard is its magical smell...Once lit, it smells like...the enchantment of days gone by. When match meets leaf, something cosmologically nostalgic is conjured within its clouds.

-Story time-

When I first stepped through Jon's door at their old location on the U of I campus many years back, the decades of smoke smells that had so thoroughly permeated its walls was a beautiful smell to behold. The new location is only just now beginning to build that same aroma, but I'll have to give it another 40 or so years before it comes anywhere close to what I remember. I so badly wanted that flavor in a pipe tobacco and asked how to go about acheiving such a feat. Pat, the owner, told me that I'd have to "get one of everything they ever sold from the past 50 years and smoke it all at once" and only then would I have what I was looking for. "But if I had to suggest one thing that'll get you pretty close, it would probably be Garvey's. The regulars smoke that more than almost anything else." I got some, and when I lit it up, I felt like I'd somehow failed as a pipe smoker. How could something that smelled so magical be so...meh? I didn't care for it. "Wasn't sweet enough!" "What flavor is this supposed to be?" "Why isn't it tasting how it smelled burning?" "Did I pack it wrong?"

I was a god damn dolt when I was 20, and I definitely didn't fully grasp the disservice i did myself shying away from this blend as long as I did...all those missed moments of relaxing contemplation in simplistic nirvana...Hell, I might've even finished college.

I have since come to my senses, and now appreciate the more nuanced flavors with tobacco, and now, I finally get it. Garvey's Balkan is a delightfully rich, smoky, sweet-but-not-cloying tobacco. It smells like an old book. Or freshly cut lumber. But also a bit like campfires, and your dad's vinyl record collection, and leaves you smelling how a pipe-smoking man ought to.

I don't know how (considering I'm in my thirties), but it smells like the 70's...and all the old men that were young in the 70's, fortunate enough to still be around today to smoke this, swear it smells like the 30's and 40's. It smells like "the good stuff" Dad/Grandpa/Uncle So-and-so/Ol' Man Such-and-Such used to smoke in the evening on the weekends. When Prince Albert and Half and Half just wasn't cutting it, and they were willing to shell out for something a little nicer.

10/10, I'll probably smoke this 'til I die.
Pipe Used: Various
PurchasedFrom: Jon's Pipe Shop (Champaign, IL)
Age When Smoked: New
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 04, 2013 Mild to Medium Mild Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable
This was the first non aromatic that they recommended to me at Jon's. It has a strong vanilla note to it and I found it to be excellent. Though I have tried other blends, both at Jon's and other places, I keep going back to this one. I agree With the other review that this is probably their smoking mixture with a bit more white burley. It smokes fairly dry.
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