First blended in 1996, this is one of the finest medium Balkans we've ever produced. Rich and spicy with top grade Basma, the finest latakia and stoved sweet Virginias, it is truly a marvel to smoke. Blending skill and nature combine for a memorable experience.
Notes: Originally introduced in May, 1996 for the Chicagoland Pipe Collectors' Club, is now part of the Club Blends Series.
I am quite surprised that there are not more reviews of this blend. In the tin, New Century appears to be a typical medium Balkan blend. The tin note has less of the typical English/Balkan scent than other McClelland blends. It seems to dry faster too. The first word that comes to mind with NC is balance. The component tobaccos meld really well into this blend. NC is what it appears to be, a medium Balkan. But taking that a step further, it is a very good medium Balkan. No particular tobacco stands out, but in a good way. It is very lightly sweet and mild with no possibility of a bite. I tend to really enjoy blends with Basma and New Century is no exception. The tin notes state that it has a bit of spice and it’s there, but not until about mid bowl. New Century is a blend that deserves much more attention than it receives.
The Cyprian latakia is a lead player: smoky, woody, earthy and fairly sweet. The Basma is woody, buttery sweet with a rare sour, floral hit and some spice, the latter seemingly more noticeable after the half way point. The stoved Virginias are tangy, earthy sweet with some sugar and stewed dark fruit as a important supporting player. It's not quite as sweet as my description would lead you to believe. Well balanced with some complexity, it burns slow, clean and cool, rich in its consistent flavor with a light creaminess that translates to the pleasant, lightly lingering after taste. It has a moderate nic-hit, and no bite. The strength and taste levels are medium. Leaves a slight bit of moisture at the finish. Needs a few relights. Not an all day smoke.
I've had this in my cellar for quite awhile and only now have finished my first tin of this mahogany brown-to-black mixture. Just a whiff of McClellands wonderful Virginia scent overlaid with a bit of latakia. A few more stems than I like in my blends, which is not at all indicative of what I've come to expect from this blender.
In the bowl, this was a nicely balanced affair. I always seem to look for the lead voice in every tobacco ensemble, but this one had no leader. All of the tobaccos blended together harmoniously and while no tobacco lead, none followed either. This reminded me a bit of Frog On The Town and I smoked a bowl of that to get my bearings. This was a little drier and less sweet, but the Basma was delectable here as well. Still a sweet blend overall, this was a bit more Virginia tang than FOTT, which focused more on the Middle Eastern Leaf and was less balanced. Snorking brought out this really incredible burnt nutbread flavor. That's the best I can describe it and even though as I read this, burnt nutbread doesn't sound at all enticing, this flavor was. Burnt nutbread with a hint of charred marshmallow. I'm going to pick up several more tins of this. It goes best in an oriental-dedicated pipe and it worked well with the pipes I use to smoke Red Rapparee, although the tobaccos are not similar. Pipes that are used to heavier lat blends dumbed down the subtleties of this blend. This is preferable to FOTT and just bumped that one from my rotation. Obviously this one hasn't curried a lot of favor based on the few reviews here, but it's deserving of a sampling... if there's any left after I stock up! :)
I knew I might have trouble with this one as I am not a Basma fan. And I sure could taste that little Oriental jewel throughout the smoke. If you are a fan of Balkan style blends and appreciate Basma, I can see where this one would cause your bells to jingle.
Sour tin note with Latakia smokiness and some sweetness from the Virginia's greet you with no McC ketchup smell that I can detect ( note: my tin is 8 years old). This blend really let me know what Basma tastes like. I have had it in many blends and always have guessed what it may or may not be contributing to the character of the blend. The Basma isn't really the main flavor but it does have a very distinct flavor that I can spot and say influences the overall direction of this smoke. This really is a harmonious blend as others have noted. The Latakia is smokey and sweet and plays with the sour, buttery slightly nutty and woody Basma. This 8 year old tin I acquired obviously has some age on it. That age may have not only dissipated the hallmark odor associated with the first class VA's but it may have also mellowed them out. This is very interesting for me, what I usually love most in McClelland blends is not here...and I like it. It works. The VA's sublimate with the more prominent Basma and Latakia and support and balance them in a way that seemingly brings all of the flavors together. I read in another review that this tastes like burnt nut bread (or something like that) and I can see what he means. This blend has a wholeness of flavor that makes it difficult to tease out different leaves as you often can in pipe tobacco blends. This is more like a marriage of flavors that result in a flavor that comes from a prepared dish, it has its on flavor not the flavor of its constituent parts. Great Oriental forward English (this is my final add, I know it fits the description of a Balkan but for me it tastes nothing like a Balkan). Call it what you will, I will call it very good!
In the tin there is a mild, sweet, smoky smell and I find the Orientals to be the most prominent. It smells a little like my current favorite blend, Frog Morton on the Town because both blends use Basma. New Century smokes mild, slightly sweet. I think the sweetness comes more from the Basma than the Virginia tobacco. The Latakia is subtle. New Century doesn’t bite even if I puff hard. It starts out as a mild smoke and becomes more medium in the middle of the bowl. It could be from relights because I have a little harder time keeping this blend lit versus other tobaccos I have smoked. This is true even though I dry it before smoking it. McClelland English blends seem to be my “go to” English blends right now. New Century is another that I would enjoy from time to time, but of the CPCC blends, I prefer Samover more than New Century.
The tin description nails it. This is a smooth, rich, creamy medium balkan that is well-anchored by its tangy sweet viginias, perfecly complimented by a balanced helping of tasty latakia, and aptly enhanced by flavorful orientals. A relaxing, flavorful and enjoyable smoke. Similar in some ways to Old Dog. Three and a half stars.
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