McClelland Blue Mountain/Balkan Blue

Rich with the finest Mountain Latakia, a classic full Balkan pipe tobacco mixture, smooth and deeply fragrant. The inspiration for this elegant mixture was a 21-year-old tin of the legendary #759.
Notes: This blend was one of three in the Balkan Sobranie Throwdown at the 2011 Chicago pipe show and walked away with the People's Choice Award! McClelland has changed the name of this blend to Balkan Blue.


Brand McClelland
Blended By McClelland Tobacco Company
Manufactured By McClelland Tobacco Company
Blend Type Balkan
Contents Latakia, Oriental/Turkish, Virginia
Cut Ribbon
Packaging 50 grams 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

3.45 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 11 of 102 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 05, 2015 Very Mild None Detected Extremely Mild (Flat) Pleasant
I wanted to like this... No... I wanted to love it.

I love Orientals and will shake a baby just to get more Penzance and Balkan Sobranie.

Having said that- I just didn't get it.

I've been eyeing it on line for a while and at a Denver B&M they had a tin ready to sample. I loaded it up in my Orientals pipe and gave it a go.

Then I waited, and waited, and waited, and nothing.

There was some sweet graham cracker mysterious-Turkish notes in the background but I found it bland and, FOR ME, rather boring and tasteless.

I'm going to assume I'm wrong since so many praises have been sung about this's but I was underwhelmed.
Pipe Used: Rocca Straight Billiard
3 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 14, 2014 Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Medium Tolerable
It may not be a substitute for Balkan Sobraine 759, but it is a good English blend on its own merits. The rich Cyprian Latakia is woody, earthy, musty and smoky sweet as the lead component. The Orientals provide some dryness sourness, wood, earth, floralness, leather, light buttery sweetness and mild spice notes in a support role. The Virginias have the typical McClelland "vinegar" notes along with some tart and and tangy citrus, wood, earth, bread, and tangy dark fruit as a secondary player. The strength is a couple of steps past the center of mild to medium. The taste level is medium. The nic-hit is a slot below the strength level. It's not very complex, but it's not monochromatic either. It has a smooth, rich, consistent sweet and savory taste from start to finish, though the Latakia doesn't stand out quite as much as it could because of the sweetness. That is not a criticism, merely an observation. Burns a little slow so it does require some relights, but leaves only a little moisture in the bowl, and no dottle. Won't bite or get harsh no matter how quickly you puff. If you're looking for more than smoke and wood, this will do you quite nicely. Has a pleasantly lingering after taste and room note. Can be an all day smoke for the experienced puffer.

45 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 24, 2012 Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
The other winner in the 759 showdown. Again, I am seldom encouraged by the hype associated by these types of blends and had little intention of smoking any, but since I lucked into some 759 and the hype surrounding this blend demands that, if possible, it be compared to the blend it's based on, I decided to try it. I'm very glad I did.

In the tin, this looked a lot more like 759 than Black House did. Smelled more like it as well. In the pipe, it had that same smoothness but seemed more smoky than sweet, unlike the other two blends. And somehow, that is what elevated this one above those two for me. This one was richer and more flavorful while also being less strong. McClellands has a way of making mild tobaccos with rich flavor profiles (think the Royal Cajun series) and they nailed it with this one. Top to bottom smooth but with a nice flavor edging towards the sharpness I like but well rounded. I think it missed the mark if the intent was to make this a match of 759 but this blend is the better for it. Perhaps the attempt alone was enough, as I'm not usually a big fan of McClellands latakia blends. I consider FMOTT more of an oriental blend, so this will be the first McClellands "english/balkan" style blend to make my rotation. And it hits that rotation hard! Excellent flavor and depth without being obnoxious about either. Highly recommended, if not the possible replacement for 759 that Black House seems to be.
34 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 28, 2013 Medium to Strong Extremely Mild Medium to Full Tolerable
It is always interesting to see how different blenders interpret a legendary classic like Balkan Sabronie 759 and I think it is good for their craft and our pleasure to have these throwdown contests. However, the end results ultimately beg to be compared with one another more so than the blend that inspired them, (though I have smoked many a tin of 759 back in the day.)

Having said that, I am now comparing BLUE Mountain with Hearth & Home's BLACK House.

Blue Mt. is without a doubt a "McClelland blend," having most of the same overriding characteristics that define their English Balkins. (ie, the darkness of their components due to moisture preservatives, etc.) I have smoked many of their offerings in this genre including all the Foggy Froggy blends and most of their oriental/balkin blends; their best by far being Bulk 5110 Full English Dark & 3-Oaks Syrian.

IMHO, Blue Mt. will appeal more to those who tend toward Virginia as the starting point and who prefer more strength in the Latakia department. In this regard, the VA/Lat components of BM overshadow the orientals, resulting in a less dimensional offering. There is also more Nic-kick with BM. As mentioned by many other reviewers, BM is hard to keep lit and I think less satisfying in the flavor/smoke arena as well.

With regard to aroma, Black House (see my review) imparts a luxurious cloud, leaving the room seeping with a nolstagic afterglow. For these reasons, I must give a heady nod to Russ-O as the overwhelming winner of the throwdown. In this contest, the Black Knight easily triumphs over the Blue Squire.
21 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 28, 2013 Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Full Pleasant to Tolerable
Theodore Moore's review below nails this one. Blue Mountain is a smooth, rich, tasty balkan that is a bit lat-heavy, is not at all harsh or bitter, and is expertly crafted. It contains the trademark tangy, tasty McClelland McVinegar virginias and oily orientals that easily distinguish it as such. It is not overly complex or nuanced, which for me, costs it one star. It is not so similar to Sobraine, either, for these and other reasons, yet stands on its own merit as a great smoke, nonetheless. It IS exceedingly smooth, and the orientals do not dry the throat. Though it arrives too wet in the tin, once dried out properly it is easy to smoke to a fine white ash.

Not meaning to take away from this excellent blend, but for my personal tastes I'd rather smoke McClelland's more unique creations such as Three Oaks Syrian, Wilderness and Legends, which are all distinct and fantastic in their own right, using those tangy, vinegary McVirginias to generate savory new flavors and complexities, rather than trying to mask them to match aged unobtainium weed from one's cellar.

If you like your balkan smoother, slightly less oriental-forward, and with more latakia than Fred Hanna's blends, without any bitterness, sourness or harshness, and you don't seem to get along with the chemistry of Pease's blends, then this and the even tastier Black House may very well be your go-to balkans. Recommended!! Three stars.
15 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 03, 2016 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant
I can see why this blend won the Chicago Show BS throw down's People's Choice award. It has that wonderful Latakia/Oriental combination that is hard to match up properly. An expert hand created this one, for sure. The smoky Latakia combined with the spicy Orientals and fully matured Virginia makes Balkan Blue an absolute delight to smoke. And folks, that matured Virginia stands up and demands notice. I also appreciated its lending strength to the overall presentation.

12 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 23, 2013 Mild Very Mild Mild Strong
I smoked a few bowls of this at a pipe club meeting soon after it came out and liked it well enough to order a few tins. But I'm not sure I still like it quite so much, especially when compared with the legion of fine Latakia blends that have arrived on the market over the past few years.

The Sobranie 759 connection probably doesn't do Blue Mountain any favors. I haven't smoked a lot of vintage 759 (just a few bowls) but like most, I don't think Blue Mountain tastes very much like it. But Blue Mountain does taste like a whole lot of other McClelland Latakia blends. That connection to the McClelland house style is both the weakness and the strength of this tobacco.

McClelland's tendency—exemplified by the various Frogs—is to present a sweet (and perhaps sweetened) style of Latakia blend. There are exceptions to this, of course, such as Legends and Wilderness (both superior blends to Blue Mountain, I think) but generally speaking the McClelland style is on the sweet side. There is nothing wrong with that but, speaking personally, I don't favor the style. I find it tiring to smoke. I also think that all this sweetness tends to mask some of the issues with Blue Mountain that other people have described—particularly the monochromatic and monotonous quality of the blend.

All of this sounds negative, but I don't mean it to be. Blue Mountain is good stuff. It's ribbon cut and mostly black in the tin with a little brown and golden ribbon in the mix. The tin aroma is smoky with a hint of the “plum pudding” scents that the British often ascribe to such mixtures. It doesn't light very easily, and I agree with all those who complain that Blue Mountain is surprisingly difficult to keep lit. It smokes quite nicely—lots of bluish smoke, and a pretty straightforward sweetened Latakia and Virginia quality. I would love to find more depth and complexity in Blue Mountain, but I don't. I would also love to find more strength. Blue Mountain is very light in the nicotine department.

Blue Mountain is worth smoking. I won't do that very often, but when I'm in the mood for a sweet, smoky Latakia mixture without a whole lot of complexity, I'll reach for it. It certainly works well on this cold night alongside the Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout I'm drinking as I write this.
10 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 21, 2014 Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
This is my first experience with this tobacco, I am very fond of McClelland 's Frog Morton tobaccos and in particular Cellar. I decided to try and find something similar to Cellar and came across Blue Mountain. It has more of the "smokey" Latakia flavor that I enjoy. Upon opening the tin the smell is earthy and kinda reminded me of leather. It had perfect moisture out of the tin and required no additional drying. The initial taste is a smooth smokey flavor, slightly nutty and just a bit of a flowery aftertaste. This had no bite and smoked smoothly throughout requiring only one relight. The room note is pleasant and not overpowering. Overall a nice Latakia blend that will stay in my rotation
Pipe Used: American Pipe Co. Bulldog
PurchasedFrom: Carousel tobacco Cincinnati Ohio
Age When Smoked: 6 mos
9 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 12, 2011 Mild to Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable
I never did get to smoke the original #759, so I have no idea if this blend is close or not.

I ordered this as soon as I had seen Pipes and Cigars stock it. I have resisted opening this tin for only a month. Opening the tin you will find a majority of pitch black leaf, with a bit of medium brown mixed in. Appears to be perfect moisture content, so I loaded up a full bowl in a Kirk Bosi 2008 IPC POY. Initial lighting takes a few matches.

WOW. If this is close to what the original mixture was, I can understand why everyone is upset at the disappearance. Rich, leathery with a hint of something I cannot put my finger on. Could be the Oriental. Burns complete leaving only a powdery dark gray ash. Not as complex as some Balkans, but not even close to being monotone. Leaves a terrific clean feeling on the palate.

Stock up, this may disappear someday too!!!!!!
9 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 24, 2013 Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Full Pleasant to Tolerable
UPDATE: June 30th, 2013. Sunday evening, 7:23 PM.

I filled my Ser Jacopo, red dot, half bend, jet black, Dublin pipe with two layers of Blue Mountain. I retired to my garage, the man cave, with a double 25 year old Scotch, and a large mug of strong, boiling hot, coffee.

The Blue Mountain smells good right out of the tin, and this aroma translates to the taste as well. Delicious, from the very first puff. The tobacco maintains this flavor profile as the bowl progresses. The slightly salty character and Oriental notes compliment the Scotch rocks. The coffee brings out the creaminess of the leaf. Blue Mountain stands up and holds its own with both beverages. I have a hard time fighting the urge to inhale this wonderful smoke.

The burn is effortless. The flavor is extremely pleasant. No bite. No hot bowl. No negatives whatsoever. Just a pleasant, totally relaxing, extremely flavorful, smoking experience. I will definitely be purchasing more of this blend when my tin is empty. Easily on a par with Frog Morton's Cellar and Black House. Increasing my rating from 3 stars to 4 stars. Highly recommended!


I just received a new pipe today. I christened it was Frog Morton Cellar, which was so good that I had to have a second bowl of something. That something was MeClelland's Blue Mountain.

My initial impression upon opening the tin was great aroma, slightly moist, and totally black ribbons. I only packed two layers into my large bent freehand pipe.

It took three char lights to get it going. Impressions? Mild. No VA presence. Background Latakia. Lots of Oriental taste noted. Zero bite. Burns well, but does need relights occasionally. Pipe stayed cool. No noticeable nicotene buzz. No sting nose exhale. Pleasant aftertaste.

Much less Latakia presence that Frog Morton Cellar, but that's OK with me. All in all, an enjoyable, mild, relaxing, any time, effortless smoke. A well-blended pipe tobacco. 3 stars.
8 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 13, 2011 Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable
Yes it's the throwdown blend to 759 and Blue Mountain tastes IMHO nothing like it. A bad thing? No, not at all as it should be viewed on it's own merits. BM shares that common taste of McClelland English blends dare I say it tastes "McClellandy" and I and not speaking of the vinegar taste. It also shares the same wet on arrival and forever to dry quality of McClelland. With that all said, there is a nice smokiness with some sweetness to the blend. It appears quite rich in the tin and in flavor. BM lacks the strength I prefer and for that reason I prefer the other winner in the throwdown. I think fans of McClelland English blends will find this to be a full four star blend and should stock up on some tins. For me, it's recommended.
8 people found this review helpful.
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