Balkan Sobranie Original Smoking Mixture is one of the most legendary Latakia-based blends in history. Dating back to around the 1920s, this is a combination of wonderful Virginias, excellent Orientals and enough Latakia for a robust and flavorful mixture. The balance of tobaccos gives the smoker a sweet and smoky experience, with a finish unlike anything else. The aroma is so bright that it has an incense-like scent that will thrill the senses. Since the Original has gone through a number of iterations over the years, it’s impossible to say if it will remind you of the one you smoked years ago, but it’s a terrific smoke in its own right.

Notes: IMPORTANT NOTE: This is the re-release version of Balkan Sobranie. If you are reviewing the older version, please see the entry under "Sobranie of London", here: http://www.tobaccoreviews.com/blend/1525/sobranie-of-london-the-balkan-sobranie

BrandJ. F. Germain & Son
Blended ByJ.F. Germain & Son
Manufactured ByJ.F. Germain & Son
Blend TypeBalkan
ContentsLatakia, Oriental/Turkish, Virginia
Packaging50 grams tin
Where to Buy Cup O' Joes
Product Image
None Detected
Room Note
Pleasant to Tolerable

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JimInks Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JimInks (3047)
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Tolerable

Here's what I wrote about the House of Sobranie version of this blend: The smoky, woody, earthy, musty sweet Cyprian Latakia is the lead component. The Orientals (Macedonia being one of them) provide a lot of earth, wood, floralness, a light dry sourness and buttery sweetness, along with a little spice and leather as a supporting player. The Virginias offer some grass and hay, a little dark fruit, and a hint of citrus. The light unflavored soda note or two along with some dry wood, earth, floralness from the yenidje is always noticeable. The 1990s and later versions have drier in taste than it was in the 1980s, due to the decrease in the red Virginia, which disappeared by the mid-1990s. The strength is a couple of steps short of medium. The taste is medium. The nic-hit is just past the center of mild to medium. Won't bite or get harsh. Burns at a reasonable pace, cool, clean and moderately smooth with a very consistent, mildly sweet and floral, savory, campfire flavor. Requires few relights, and leaves little dampness in the bowl. Had a pleasant, lightly lingering after taste and room note. An all day well balanced smoke. Four stars despite the number of changes that occurred.

Having smoked the late 1960s and the 1960 versions, I found the red Virginia was a little more prominent, and the wine-like, earthy, woody, floral Syrian Latakia was used, which created a drier, lightly less fragrant smoke. The 1980's and later versions used Cyprian Latakia which added a little different sweetness to the mix. The yenidje seems to have been the same in all versions. The amount of red Virginia was decreased by 1982. The production ceased in 2005.

Comparing this 2014 Germain's manufacture to the pouch and tin versions I was smoking in the late 1990's and 2000s, I can tell several important differences. This tin version is moister than the earlier productions. In that one, the smoky, woody, earthy Cyprian Latakia is the lead component, but lacks the depth and mustiness of earlier productions, and little less is here than before. The Orientals are less potent, offering earth, wood, floralness, a light dry sourness and a touch of buttery sweetness, along with a little spice as a supporting player. The very grassy, citrusy, barely dark fruity and earthy Virginias have little of the complexity it once had, and there’s more of here than before. The unflavored soda note from the yenidje is virtually missing. The strength is in the center of mild to medium. The taste is a step past that center. The nic-hit is just short of the center of mild to medium. Won't bite or get harsh. Burns cool, clean and a tad fast as it’s thinner cut now. It’s moderately smooth with a very consistent, mildly sweet and savory, lightly floral, very grassy flavor. Requires an average number of relights, and leaves little dampness in the bowl. Had a lightly lingering after taste and room note. An all day smoke that lacks the depth and complexity of past manufactures. This one gets two stars.


44 people found this review helpful.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30171)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

Typical brown and black ribbon blend with the tin nose that says "Balkan!" in a purposeful and unmistakable fashion. Enough has been made about comparisons of this to the old, but two comments come to mind. First, the old Balkan Sobranie is dead and gone. If I thought it was coming back, smoking this version convinced me that I was wrong. Second, even though such comparisons are usually pointless, I'm about to compare this version not to my current stock of old Sobranie, but to my memory of what it was like fresh in the 1990's (tinned rather than pouch versions).

In my experience, there have been three latakia blends that have this particular trait of (and since I can't describe it any better) a massive flavor burst from first lightup that lasts for about 1/4 bowl before it settles down. It's almost like taste overload, but it's addictive. This tendency is common for me with fresh tins of GLP's Charing Cross, the Murray version of Dunhill 965 and 1990's Sobranie. This blend does not possess that trait. Even though that may be the only way I could discern the two, it's enough that I'm convinced I could pick out the two in a blind taste test... not that it's possible for me to prove such a claim! But I'm still heavily inclined to disagree with those that think "nothing ever really was, anyway" with respect to Sobranie White.

At any rate, this tastes an awful lot like my stash of Sobranie. Even this flavor burst I've spoken about has subdued in the old stuff to the point that it's just a memory, albeit a memory I can relive with a new tin of Charing Cross, even though they otherwise don't taste alike. This is an excellent Balkan. It's not like my memory of the old stuff when it was fresh but it's excellent in its own right. Time to stop chasing the past and enjoy this venerable blend in the here and now. Because even the aged stuff isn't like it was when fresh for me and I think Germain was the perfect company to take this recipe and push it forward for new generations of smokers. Enjoy!

Pipe Used: meerschaum and morta

Age When Smoked: New

32 people found this review helpful.

Relapse Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Relapse (18)
Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

I've been a lover of "Balkan" (English/Latakia) blends since my first contact with THE ORIGINAL during the autumn of 1967, through a tin that a dear auntie of mine —my father's eldest sister– brought me as a present on her return from a trip to London.

Albeit 45 years have passed since that first taste, I still remember with clarity the tangy aroma as I opened the tin and the complex nuances of the blend on the first light. They are burned in my neurones as well as the taste of the first kiss from my first girlfriend. =)

I kept smoking it whenever I could get my hands on some tins —importing tobacco to Mexico was extremely difficult then– until 1989 when I quit tobacco altogether; relapsed some years ago only to find that Balkan Sobranie had all but disappeared from the face of the earth.

Since my return to pipe smoking I've been on the quest for the successor. Tried Samuel Gawith Squadron Leader, Balkan Sasieni, all the classic English blends of Gregory Pease, Lagonda, Sextant, and finally Hearth & Home Black House which I deemed the closest to what my taste and smell remembered as THE Balkan.

Right now I'm comparing two almost identical meerschaums from Sinan Altinok that I've devoted exclusively to Balkans, one filled with H&H Black House and the other with the present incarnation of Balkan Sobranie; both from freshly opened tins. I must say that tho the new BS is a superb blend in its own right, the Black House is truer to the 1967 blend.

Here are my senile asessments on the BS:

The smell on opening the tin is a bit bland and lacks the pungent tang of the old. Here Squadron Leader takes the palms.

The packaging is cheaper too. Gone are the nice card stopper and the finely pleated paper. The new treatment is, simply, cheap. Kudos to Greg Pease in this step.

The color of the mixture is different, somewhat redder, and the cut thinner. Practically gone the lemon Va's. It's also quite wet and requires a good amount of drying to get a cool smoke. The old blend was a joy to load on the pipe, this one is a bit tasking and demands a light hand.

Gone is the sweet first taste that the very elegant Virginias provided; also gone is the sour-sweet taste of the orientals. The Latakia is rather prominent without being overwhelming, which is as I remember it. The room note is decent. Here, on the taste comparo, as I said before Black House gets the prize.

OK, those were the gripes. Now let me tell you that this is an extremely good Latakia blend and that it's worth every expensive penny you will pay for it. It's not the old king but it's a true crown heir. A year of aging in the tin and it will mature to a real ruler. Nevertheless, it will have several pretenders to the throne and the list is long.

You and I, as Balkan smokers can only benefit from the struggle. The variety has made for a great rotation list.

Happy puffs!

29 people found this review helpful.

SteelCowboy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
SteelCowboy (685)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

Here is the issue with those that compare this to days gone by: When BS was in production, there were many changes made to the blend at different points in time. The 90's era of BS was not the exact same recipe as the 70's era (and not as good IMO) and so on. So to say that this doesn't compare, then the question is, "to what?" I have smoked 3 tins of the 90's era BS along side with the new Germain era tins. I find them to be very close from a quality standpoint. Now, the 90's stuff had the benefit (or lack thereof as more often than not the Latakia softens) age on the tin. The fact is that there are so many different BS versions that to compare them is pointless. The bottom line is that the new stuff is very good. With that said, is it worth the extra coins that are being charged on some sites or on ebay? In my opinion the answer is NO. Hopefully Germain will bring more to market and the demand will naturally die down. But since they can't meet demand for many of their Esoterica blends, I'm not holding my breath. The new BS is a very good quality medium Balkan blend with some nice Orientals. It is cut very thin and needs to be packed with care. It also needs a little "dry" time. The smoke is somewhat creamy and very balanced. If you enjoy medium Balkan's than this is worth a try.

23 people found this review helpful.

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

I guess I had my first pouch of BS back around 1964. I smoked it off & on until it went away, & I certainly agree that it changed over the years, maybe a little less Oriental, maybe different Lats. Anyway, I'm sure that the "Golden Age" of tobacco blending is RIGHT NOW. The new BS is very reminiscent of several iterations of the old, just as smooth, complex, cool burn, slightly sweet on occasion, with a wonderful perfume (for the smoker). On a par with Compton's Macedonian, York Full, etc.

Pipe Used: clay, meer, Dunhill patent billiard gr 3

Age When Smoked: I'm 70. The BS was new.

Purchased From: Online

Similar Blends: Full balkan mixtures.

14 people found this review helpful.

natibo Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
natibo (169)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

Some day everyone who tried the "original" version of this blend will either be dead or too old to write about it. Then future generations won't have to put up with all that crap.

This is a great Balkan blend that has a real creamy smoke to it. The flavors of all of the tobaccos are balanced almost as well as Nightcap. In fact, if it had Nightcap's nicotine level I would have given 4 starts. It's more like 3.5 for me.

10 people found this review helpful.

fr_tom Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
fr_tom (393)
Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

Back when you could get it in the stores, I would pick up a tin of the original from time to time. That was a long time ago, and while my taste buds have probably changed, I have to say this is the experience I remembered.

In the flavor profile, I get orientals, Virginias and latakia in that order. The result is spicy, sweet and smoky all at once. There is a smoky quality to the orientals (as there is in Presbyterian Mixture), and the combo is very tasty. It works very well, and manages all this without overwhelming or clobbering you with one flavor over another. I guess that is they call balance. Even if this type of blend is not your cup of coffee, you owe it to yourself to try a bowl or two of this.

Pipe Used: various briars

Age When Smoked: fresh from tin

Purchased From: gift from friend

10 people found this review helpful.

zulujerk Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
zulujerk (146)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

I don't think it's fair to the original Balkan Sobranie that the newer reviews of Germain's interpretation should be lopped together. It's a confusing mess sorting it all out, so I'm glad this listing exists. They are, after all, two very different products, despite what we've been told.

The new Sobranie is a fine, if derivative Balkan, as Germain's reputation. But...I feel it might have been entirely inconsequential if marketed as a new blend. Nostalgia and curiosity have fueled the sell outs, which have reached the status of a select few, FVF and Stonehaven, among the highly sought.

Its characteristics--the blend is quite mild, with a very high percentage of Latakia, far more, in comparison, to a blend like Nightcap. Peering into the tin contents will tell you that--this is a dark mixture. There is a considerable spice, offered by the Oriental leaf, the varietal unstated but likely the common variant Smyrna or some generic microblend. If there is a whisper of Yenidje or some other exotic varietal, I would be surprised, and we would certainly be told.

Like many of Germain's mixes, Balkan Sobranie comes in a fine ribbon, making it easy to overpack the pipe, and prone to a quick, hot burn. Yet it's elegant, and beautiful in the tin. And how was the original cut up, by comparison? In the end, it's not a bother. You really do have to put the comparisons aside and accept this new Sobranie for what it is, on its own merits, of which it admirably succeeds.

Yes, this is a fine, high quality blend. But it does not deserve the attention it receives, and I wonder what might happen when the curiosity has been satiated. You may blame the recipe holder for their decision to reissue Balkan Sobranie, but how many other companies out there might have done the same? And in a mark of irony, the bulk consumers of the blend will be those who have never tried any variation of the original, myself included.

It's a bit pointless to drone on about the multitude of factors that combine to produce something so seemingly simple as a tin of pipe tobacco. And just observing the obvious...on the factory floor, what of replicating the original leaf, the warehouse stockpiles, the production process and its machines...elements that undoubtedly contribute significantly to the overall character and flavor of a blend? It would be impossible to control those variables. More, of the many versions and revisions to come of the original mixture, which model was chosen? Why? I suppose we could have done worse. Imagine if Orlik had delivered the production orders to Borkum Riff. Or even a respected blender like MacBaren, with their bitey, bland and weak blends? Relax, I know, I'm sorry for insulting Diddy McB.

If all of this sounds familiar, I'm pretty sure it's entirely lifted from Mr. Pease's article on the matter. A damn fine read, by the way. I apologize, it's a while since I read the thing.

I would like to note the branding of the product, including the tin art, which feels amateurish, especially when compared to Sasieni, of the same style as the original, but better polished. I suspect a high schooler in a graphic design class could put together a more impressive presentation. The redrawn image, reasonable, yet lacking clarity and definition, the font entirely different, and, strangely plastered onto the background wagons, looking very out of place. It seems as if the resultant design possesses less class.

Criticisms aside, I've smoked two tins and have another two in waiting. For that, I suppose I'm a bit of a hypocrite here. Again, I apologize. For comparison, as noted, I smoked Balkan Sobranie in tandem with a tin of Nightcap. I found that moving from Nightcap to Sobranie felt like sucking steam. I had to kill the Nightcap tin before moving back, and then the adjustment was fine. You shift from relishing in the power that the Dunhill blend carries, to appreciating other qualities--the spice and smokiness.

Now imagine again, had Germain given the blend another name, there would be a fair portion of us looking the other way. It would still be popular...most all Germain products fly off the shelf. In the end, they're doing something right, unlike Gallaher, which managed to go broke while pedaling one of the world's favorite smokes, to critics and simpletons alike. Good going, guys.

8 people found this review helpful.

krg1000 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
krg1000 (183)
Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

This is the stuff legends are made of. The tin note is just fantastic. The room note for me is absolutely amazing. All the tobacco elements combine for an extremely fine smoking experience. Last time I had a chance, I got 2 tins (the limit at that time in one order from my online source) and I miss it much since last smoking some of this great weed. Definitely something to put on your wish list if it unavailable at the present time. If not, then by all means get some whilst supplies last. You won't be disappointed. Very highly recommended.

7 people found this review helpful.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30171)
Medium Very Strong Extremely Mild (Flat) Unnoticeable

I smoked Balkan Sobranie, (usually from the white tin), pipe tobacco almost exclusively from 1966 to around 1980, until I stopped smoking entirely for about 10 years. I had been a cigarette and pipe smoker for many years prior to that. I never went back to cigarettes but took up the pipe again in the 90s and did obtain some of the 90s version of Sobranie in plastic pouches that I had sent to me from England until it was discontinued. The 1960s-80 version had a very long ribbon cut yellow-orange tobacco which jumped up out of the vacuum packed tin to greet you when you popped the top. There were also darker fragments of coarse cut brown to black fragments in the mixture. That tobacco had a taste and aroma, which was unique and to me has never been duplicated by anything I smoked since. The 1990s version was coarse cut and had a similar taste and smell but the burning characteristics were quite different and not particularly appealing to my taste. I still have a single pouch of it left but dried out. The fact that it is still there says a lot about my disappointment with it when compared to the 1960s version which I smoked through medical residency training in NYC. Now this new stuff is said to be "Made under licence in the British Isles from a recipe which reflects the excellent qualities of this famous pipe tobacco from years gone by" and Imported by: Arango Cigar Co. I received a 50 G tin of it from Cup o Joes on 3-1-2012. I opened it this morning with great anticipation after giving it 5 months to settle down, hoping to have a great treat... Forgettaboutit!! It is a quite moist mixture of light ribbon cut yellow tan stuff, coarser cut brown leaf and the black stuff which looks like and tastes like latakia when chewed. There is no bright orange- yellow tobacco as in the 1960s version and the ribbons are much, much shorter than the 1960s. I took out enough to fill a Danish Navigator pipe, a delicate very light briar in which I smoke only Balkans . The first pipe load was allowed to dry for 1/2 hour in an air conditioned room. The pipe was packed and I retired to the outside covered deck to enjoy a morning smoke on a nice padded rocker. I lit up and in a short time my taste buds were assaulted with an overwhelming spicy topping of ?cloves, cinnamon?, eugenol? It had all of the characteristics of Pease's Samarra and Caravan which I keep around but smoke only twice a year to remind me of how much I hate them. But this spice assault was much more intense than the Pease mixtures. I don't know if they made a mixing mistake at the factory and I just got a bad batch, but if they actually paid for a license to make this stuff, they didn't get the right info or didn't mix it correctly. In the evening I dried out some more for 1 1/2 hours to see if some of that flavoring would disappear. It was still moister than I would expect, suggesting that PEG had been added as a moisturizer. I stuffed a Barling post-transition bent, which is my best smoking pipe for Balkans, and lit up. Arrrgggh!! Even worse than before. I am not sure that I can even smoke this twice a year. I will have to dilute it with some unflavored burley to render it bearable to smoke. They tell me that orientals can be "spicy". I smoked Sobranie for years and never thought that it was "spicy". No way this intense spice flavor can be natural tobacco flavor. More likely this is an attempt to boost the flavor of a tobacco that has weak natural flavor and that effort is overdone. So what to smoke if I would like to have a vision of the old Balkan Sobranie while I am puffing? I have settled on Balkan Sasieni, aged for as long as I can stand it and touched up with some McClelland Yenije Highlander. The Sasieni has been good when aged 3-4 years. Or straight Sam Gawith's Squadron Leader as an exemplary Balkan for my taste buds. I have some Bill Bailey's Balkan around which I smoke here and there and have smoked McClelland Syrian Full Balkan without regret. Synjeco's Sodalit from Schurch Tobaccos was recommended somewhere in a Sobranie discussion so I had some sent from Switzerland. It is an interesting old tobacco with a generous nicotine jolt, but does not remind me of Sobranie at all. The Balkans that are heavy in latakia and weak in orientals soon have me smoking English mixtures e.g. Penzance, Margate and Solani White as a better choice. I still wistfully get the Sobranie urge which will never again be properly satisfied, I guess :-) I am smoking more and more Virginias these days on a regular basis, as they had been readily available but now even they are getting hard to locate.

7 people found this review helpful.

Bluesmoke Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Bluesmoke (75)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Very Pleasant

This new iteration of BS is truly a winner. This blend smells sublime in the tin, smoky, musty, sweetish, savory, leathery and the good news is all of these aromas transfer to thick clouds of dense, flavorful smoke. This packs very easily, lights well, burns all the way to the bottom, if you do your part well, and what else can I say? Fantastic. I won't go into my extended thoughts on the availability of this or the prices it is demanding, but to say if the market will bear the price, so be it...I, however, will not bear the price. I'm simply happy I smoked my tin's worth and have other blends I favor just as well for much less.

6 people found this review helpful.

guitar2mw Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
guitar2mw (92)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

As much as this blend is talked about, I just couldn't get it. I suppose I'm not a fan of Balkan blends like I originally thought. The tin note smells amazing: smokey latakia with a sweet - almost caramel - aroma. It was very wet, so I gave it about an hour of dry time before packing. It packed decently, but I had to take care not to pack it too densely since it was still rather moist and thin. It took 2 false lights before it caught and I got a nice blast of smokey flavor. I suppose the thing that I really don't like about this tobacco is the rather "musty" taste that accompanies the latakia. There is some sweetness to it though, but that damn musty taste just ruins it for me. It might be the orientals, but I love Virginia/oriental/latakia blends and smoke them often. I just can't really get into this blend. I'm going to let it age for a while before making a final decision, but as of right now I can't see this being something that I'll smoke often. I would recommend it to someone who really likes Balkan blends. I'll stick to my English Oriental or Squadron Leader for now.

Pipe Used: Brebbia

Age When Smoked: Fresh

Purchased From: JR Cigars, Statesville, NC

6 people found this review helpful.

TallPuffO'Burley Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
TallPuffO'Burley (633)
Medium None Detected Full Strong

I have never tried the original Balkan Sobranie so I had no preconceived notions as to what this should taste like. I was fortunate enough to have a good sample sent to me from a forum buddy. Fortunate, because I will Not have to spend anymore on this as I was not too impressed.

I am not one for the heavy lat hitters and this one definitely falls into that category, but still, there are some I enjoy and perhaps it is a matter of balance. I feel this one lacks that proper balance that would make it more amenable to my palate. I would opt for several full English blends before this. GL Pease Odyssey for one and then several germain produced blends such as Penzance and the Smoker's Haven imported blends.

So somewhat recommended.

6 people found this review helpful.

King Weed Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
King Weed (228)
Mild to Medium Very Mild Medium to Full Very Pleasant

I was gifted a two ounce bulk sample by reviewer 430pat when I purchased a large number of other tins from him recently on ebay. Thank you pat, it is a wonderful smoking experience. This current iteration of an old blend is from the J.F. Germain Co., a blender/tinner I have known and admired for decades. They have done a good job. Of course, being a longtime english smoker, I have had the pleasure of smoking this blend off and on for about fifty years - from the old razor-cuts down to the Gallagher roll-up pouches. The current iteration is the second best version I can remember; the sixties Sobranie Ltd. being the best.

The bulk appearance is browner than I remember the original, which had lighter components flecked with blackish bits, but this is no problem. The aroma is heavenly and not at all perfumey as I have read in some reviews. The cut is a rather fine ribbon - my favorite cut for a pipe blend. There was only a very minor amount of woody components and it required only a short dry-out time to a ready-to-smoke consistency. From the first puff I knew I was into something nice and very reminiscent of the original blend. It smoked soft and friendly in the top half of the bowl and, from the mid-bowl point on down, only got better. Like Hearth and Home's Ambassador's Blend, it had one of the finest finishes I have ever smoked. I was also gifted a two ounce bag of Orlik/Dunhill 965 in the same week (it was Christmas time, after all) by another longtime pipe smoking friend and I will review it and compare the two mixtures in an upcoming 965 review.

I very much enjoyed my experience with Germain's Balkan Sobranie Mixture and I'm still enjoying it as we speak. I highly recommend this blend to all pipe smokers for what it is and for what it strongly hints was the original blend. A solid four stars.

Pipe Used: ashton quaint dublin and ardor canadian

Age When Smoked: 3 yrs old in bulk

Purchased From: gifted by another smoker

Similar Blends: 965.

6 people found this review helpful.

HabaneroHardy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
HabaneroHardy (403)
Medium None Detected Medium Unnoticeable

For the record I never have tried the ‘original’ but it is revered and probably sought after as much as the Holy Grail. A good fellow in the club brought some in and I was able to try it. Where we meet, a lot of members, myself included will bring in pipe tobacco for others to try. If it were not for that my reviews would probably still be in the double digits as there is just way too many offerings out there to try (buy) and I would go broke buying them all. The tin note (jar) had a sourish, fermented earthy smell to it and upon first light I kind of got a tart, dry taste if using wine analogy, not too impressed actually. About a third way down the flavor improved a little more for my taste buds. This is definitely a predominant Oriental/Turkish smoke in my opinion with the Latakia in the background. The second bowl tasted much better probably because my taste buds knew what to expect. I was not really wowed with this one but on the other hand it is a good blend. Probably not a fair review with my limited samples but if I could get a hold of a tin I would but not something I would go out of the way to get. As with any sample given to me my review is not to insult the giver but we all cannot and do not like the same things which makes attending the club fun as we all get to try different blends that sometimes our pocketbook could not afford. Thanks again club.

5 people found this review helpful.

WillBrown Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
WillBrown (137)
Medium Very Mild Medium Pleasant

=====2015 update=====

A little over a year ago, I opened a new tin of BS and was somewhat disappointed with it. Back in the eighties and nineties, BS was my favorite tobacco, and this new incarnation, though close overall in taste to the original, didn't quite measure up to my expectations—really, it bummed me out. Today, literally (I just smoked a bowl minutes ago) I can safely say the blend I once loved is back!

What happened? I decanted the remainder of the tin last spring and let it sit in a sealed mason jar for a year. What a difference this made! I can safely say this is the blend I once loved! A year of sitting in a jar took off the edge and mellowed it out to perfection. So, my advice to those who experienced a similar situation is, enjoy a few bowls fresh, then decant it, seal it in a jar and let it sit for a year (at least) and then try it again. BS is back! The only problem I have now is trying to get some more without breaking the bank.

This, for my money, is the best Balkan/English blend ever made.

===old review below===

If you've ever read my first review, Storm Front, you'll know that Balkan Sobranie was once my go to smoke. Considering the availability and often times high price of this most recent incarnation, I thought I'd never set sight on this blend ever again. Fortunately, at the beginning of 2013, I asked Scotty, from Pipes&Cigars, if he had any tins sitting around the shop, and, lo and behold, he replied yes! Not only that, he sold it to me for the then low current retail price of $12.95! This was when no one else had a tin in stock and you could only find them on Ebay (with typically inflated Ebay prices). P&C came through for me! Way to go P&C! This year, 2014, I finally opened that tin, and here are the results...

As is often stated in other reviews, this is not the same baccy I used to enjoy back in the day. This new version is sharper, and cut differently than the older version (the older BS had a thinner cut). Another reviewer mentioned the older pouched version as being "soda-y" and, if what he means by that is being more OTC friendly, for the masses as it were, than I fully agree.

There was something better about the old version, something that this newer one doesn't have, what that is specifically I can't say. Perhaps it's just the passing of time and development of one's taste buds. In any case, I enjoyed this most recent incarnation, but, you know, some current day knockoffs like Black House, Blue Mountain and White Knight may actually better represent the smoke I once loved (rather remarkably). Still, it was a pleasant ride down memory lane.

Pipe Used: Alexander Zavvos Zulu

Age When Smoked: Decanted one year after popping new tin

Purchased From: Pipes&Cigars

5 people found this review helpful.

Philo Beddoe Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Philo Beddoe (221)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Just got a tin of the new release, which is supposed to be based on the original recipe, it is a good medium strength English blend. I really do not understand why this was so revered, it is indeed good, but not the best blend I have ever tried. I have never smoked the old stuff and maybe it was better, but this is as close as we are ever likely to get and I will cellar some for the future as it may get more impressive with age.

UPDATE: I'm raising my review from three to four stars. I recently opened a tin that I had cellared from the first batch and WOW! The flavors have melded beautifully and the Virginias have already begun to get some bloom on them, this blend is simply fantastic with four years of age on it and I'm looking forward to see what it's like with five and ten years of aging, simply sublime!

5 people found this review helpful.

donk93953 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
donk93953 (29)
Very Mild None Detected Very Mild Pleasant to Tolerable

I'm old enough to remember the original Balkan Sobranie. Granted, our viewpoints change, but this is pretty light in the land of Latakia and strikes me as similar to....well, just a lot of blends. It worth a try, but I wouldn't sell the farm over this, nor go running back to it.

Pipe Used: Dunhill

Age When Smoked: Fresh

Similar Blends: ....lots of light weight Latakia mixtures.

4 people found this review helpful.

Eddie Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Eddie (11)
Medium Extremely Mild Medium Tolerable to Strong

I have stocked up on Margate, thanks to my local B&M. I was lucky enough to get 2 tins of Balkan Sobranie from Mars cigars which arrived yesterday, 8/6/2020. As usual, woke up 4:30am to head to work. Opened the tin half sleepy, in dark car, cab lights not working. Smell was deep, CREAMY English. Reminds me of Margate. Moisture was moderately high. The longer tin ribbons of virginias stick together and the shorter, firmer Orientals fall to the bottom. This is exactly the behavior of Margate. In my Mason jar, 8 OZ of margate has the Virginia on top, with smaller, denser Orientals falling to the bottom. 15 minutes trip to Starbucks drive through was enough time to allow some airing to prepare the tobacco. I parked in the low lit parking lot and filled the deep bowl. Lightly packed, and charred it. Upon charring, the flavor instantly was of creamy, highly marinated virgina/Oriental profile. Definitely Balkan dominant profile. I had to grab the tin just to make sure I didn't accidentally picked up the Margate tin. This wonderful blend is 90% same as Margate. I feel as if it is slightly higher in Orientals, and somewhat creamier. Not better, but slightly different than Margate. Being a fan of Westminster which is really available, I feel it is similar. Big difference is age or its seemless infusion of all flavors in a unified profile that fills the palate as one rich flavor, versus that of westminster which has different profiles competing for attention. Unfortunately, both Margate, and Balkan Sobranie are extremely rare. B&M seems to be the way to go. I got more Margate than I ever thought, but even my B&M shop seems to have difficulty acquiring B.S. very good balkan/English blend. Unique Germain's product. All their products seem to be well marinated, aged.

Pipe Used: Dr. Grabow freehand

Age When Smoked: Just received it

Purchased From: Mars cigars

Similar Blends: Almost identical to Esoterica Margate, , Aged GLP westminster.

4 people found this review helpful.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30171)
Mild None Detected Mild Tolerable

My God, what a disappointment. I have smoked several pouches of Balkan Sobranie in the 90's and have loved it. It was a long cut, dark tobacco. It was sweet and spicy at the same time, very slow burning. The girlfriend I had at the time, surprisingly, just loved the room note. Now, I understand, 20 years later, that cloning a tobacco is not an easy task. However, I don't thing Germain succeeded in reproducing this classic. For starters, the tobacco is much, much lighter in colour. The aroma is completely different as well. Instead of being smoky and a tad sweet, I am under the impression that they took some Tilbury and mixed it with a wee bit of latakia. What I mean is the VAs are dominant, completed by some OR and a little LA. And, I am sorry, but this cannot be called a Balkan. Now, even on its own, independantly of the reference to Balkan Sobranie, I am not impressed by it. There are much better blends out there than this one. My advice: don't chase this one around. It's just not worth it.

Pipe Used: Dunhill; Stanwell

Age When Smoked: New

4 people found this review helpful.

MDP Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
MDP (39)
Medium None Detected Medium Very Pleasant

I have no narrative about my memories of Balkan Sobranie of previous manufacturers and iterations. The only other Balkan Sobranie I have smoked was in the foil pouch gifted to me by a friend returning from Italy. I liked it. This edition manufactured by J.F. Germain is utterly different and is reviewed here on its own merits.

Without historical referent, and without waxing about my appreciation for Germain's blends under their own and other labels, Balkan Sobranie is stupendous. It burns well in small to large chambers, straight-walled and conical drillings morning, noon and night. It is velvety smooth, a touch creamy, a touch spicy, a touch smokey and altogether interesting. It tastes delicious and finishes with intense flavor, devolving to a fine ash associated with unadulterated tobacco leaf.

I find that this blend is about a harmony between tobaccos Oriental and Latakia, these being the main contributors to the flavors of the mixture. The Virginias are in the distant background, noticeable mostly in the first third of a bowl and phantasmic thereafter.

The cut is very thin, probably closest to a shag cut. Aromas from a tin are abundant and inviting. Packing moisture is just right for aging, and the mixture dries down quickly as needed.

There is not a whisper or a suggestion of anything not to like. Quite the opposite. It will be taste that will make me want a tin of this available within arms reach throughout the week.

Pipe Used: All varieties

Age When Smoked: 2 years aged in sealed tin

Purchased From: online

Similar Blends: London Mixture (Murray/Orlik); Renaissance; Wilderness; Three Oaks Syrian; Red Rapperee..

4 people found this review helpful.

Gentleman Zombie Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Gentleman Zombie (729)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Smooth and creamy. That's what stands out about this blend for me. It's not my favorite Balkan, but it is the smoothest and creamiest Balkan I've smoked. The flavors are wonderful, but not quite rich. It's more of a mellow Balkan. There's a nice touch of sweetness, buttery notes, and a very mild smokiness. The Latakia is just a bit too light for my taste. That's as much criticism as I can give this blend. It's a great smoke and every bit a 4 star blend. The quality is top notch and it's a pure pleasure to smoke.

Pipe Used: MM General, MM Country Gentleman, MM Freehand

Age When Smoked: fresh

Purchased From: smokingpipes.com

4 people found this review helpful.

DrDyson Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
DrDyson (148)
Medium None Detected Full Tolerable

English/Balkan mixtures are an acquired taste, and certainly an acquired smell; if you don't like Latakia, they're intolerable. Personally, I prefer Virginias on the whole, but I sometimes get into a Latakia mood. When I do, I usually go for Gawith & Hoggarth's Balkan Mixture or No. 25 Mixture. I have to say, though, that this new incarnation of Balkan Sobranie is good stuff; and, especially, it's much more robust and complex than the other two. I don't have a discriminating enough palate or a sufficiently accurate memory to be able to compare it to the “old” Balkan Sobranie. It's enough for me that the orientals, Latakia and Virginia components are well-balanced and skilfully blended in terms of flavour and consistency. This is an interesting and rewarding smoke all the way down the bowl, with no negatives that I can identify (apart, possibly, from the room note considered from the point of view of the Innocent Bystander). I suspect that there will soon be a scarcity problem - because Germain will not want to flood the market with it, and people will hoard it (i.e. the same problem as there is with Penzance). If you can get it, though, and if you like Latakia mixtures, you really can't do better than this.

4 people found this review helpful.

LiterarySmoker Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
LiterarySmoker (143)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

This is a storied blend. You see it come in stock on Smoking Pipes only to sell out in minutes to seconds, so imagine my surprise when I found out that my local sells it! Now I'm not a hoarder by any means, especially when I've never tried a blend before so I only picked up two tins. I'm glad I've got the chance to try what many regard as the finest Balkan in living memory. I do not know if this is absolutely true the original blend and it's several iterations, but I do know that it's now blended by Germains.

The tin has a very vintage look to it and is just the kind of thing I might pick up on a whim. Opening the tin there is a nice black and brown shag cut tobacco, that has some nice developments of plume on it. The smell is very unique even as far as balkans go: sweet, soft, tangy, smokey, and a note I can't quite place. It comes at the perfect dryness for smoking and it packs very well. It takes and holds a light well too.

Lighting up I taste a lot of balkany goodness. The Latakia is very smooth and creamy, adding leather and earth to the blend. The Orientals are nice and complex adding herbs, Yenidje spice and tang and lots of incense like qualities. The Virginias are beautifully sweet and they balance a lot of the other notes in the blend. Russ Ouellette did a good job on some of his matches because this reminds me of BlackHouse. I stress the word creamy.

The taste is a medium-full. The aftertaste is really pleasant and it lingers for a while. The strength is a medium and in that aspect it's run of the mill. The room note is that of a typical Blakan so take that how you will. I really enjoy this blend and I wouldn't mind picking up a few more tins of it. That being said I won't be one of the people waiting to the exact minute of a drop on Smoking Pipes to get a tin. It doesn't unseat my favorite Balkan WhiteKnight, but it is immensely enjoyable and relaxing.

Pipe Used: Savinelli St Nicholas

Age When Smoked: New

Purchased From: B&M

3 people found this review helpful.

boc777 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
boc777 (39)
Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Pleasant

Ok, like many others on here, I am not long in the tooth enough to have enjoyed the original. So this is just an unbiased stand alone review of an outstanding blend. I was lucky enough to pick up a tin at my local B&M (They never disappoint me! The last time I was there I scored a nice hat trick of Penzance, Margate and So to Bed) Anyway, I hesitate to even say it, but this is an awful lot like Margate. And I mean that in the best possible way. The tin note is fantastic. A wall of figgy, plummy goodness. So good. It needs some drying time, like a lot of Germain/Esoterica blends. The stringy ribbons that stick together are very reminiscent of any number of Estoterica blends. It packs great, lights easy and then, the smoke. Creamy tasty euphoria. This is the stuff. Please dont go out and hoard 87 pounds of this. You will want to. But please don't. Just enjoy it responsibly. I sound like a Budweiser commercial now. I digress. The smoke is mild, tasty, complex, everything you would expect from this company. It wont bite, but dont push it. Just sip it. The room note is very pleasant and meets the wifey's approval. (RARE) If I could afford it, (and find it) this would be in my everyday rotation. But instead, its like that aged Whiskey that you break out on holidays and special occasions. It deserves reverence. Who cares what it was in the 60s or 70s or whenever. Its amazing RIGHT NOW! For those of you that say you don't like Orientals, you might want to try this. It is not a Lat or Burley bomb for those of you that have burned your tastebuds out on rubber tires weed and Scotch. This is a delicacy, caviar if you will, that should be sipped in quiet contemplation, not sucked down on a street corner on a lunch break. Bury me with a bowl full of this in my favorite Charatans. I hope we can smoke pipes in the afterlife. And I hope the B&M in heaven has an endless stock of this. Nuff said. Its that good. And please, do not go buy all of it, save some for the rest of us. 5 stars if I could.

Pipe Used: All

Age When Smoked: new

Purchased From: Local B&M

Similar Blends: Most great Esoterica blends.

3 people found this review helpful.

PipeTobaccoReviewer Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
PipeTobaccoReviewer (12)
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Unnoticeable

Fresh tin, less than two months on it. Slightly moist in the tin, the ultra thin, almost shag ribbon cut is easy to load, but needs care to not overpack. Easily lit. Oriental forward with the effervescence arising right off the top. Dry overall presentation. Mildly sweet, in an incense in a cathedral type way. Faint notes of citrus. The lat is less of a player than one might expect. Rougher notes of leather, campfire, cedar, sandalwood, and a bit of resinous pine. Slightly acrid if pushed even slightly, sometimes even when not pushed at all. Backing down the cadence brings the citrus forward along with the incense. A tiny dose, almost imperceptible, of the Germain fermented apricot VA. Sour orange rind flavor pushing forward at mid bowl which appears to stay for the remainder of the smoke. Lightly buttery at times, it’s too inconsistent to be considered a serious player in the profile. Consistently get an acidic note at the top of the throat about 3/4s of the way through the bowl; perhaps something inherent in the leaf that just takes time to build on itself. Gets ashy at the heel, but you’re left with an ultra fine grey ash.

The tin presentation is fine; your normal round coin pop seal. The quality of leaf is obviously top shelf, as one would expect from Germain. Burn is good; the bowls smoked cool to the heel on a single light. I found the profile to be consistent from bowl to bowl, which is a good and bad thing. The repeatability on this blend is lacking in its current state. I had to force myself to smoke subsequent bowls. There was no joy or anticipation in smoking this again.

This is a Not Recommended blend as it currently stands. However, I can see the potential in this blend. If it can bring the buttery nature forward, along with some sweetness and a deeper incense while melding the profile, I think this could be a really nice blend. The pieces are there, they just aren’t developed enough.

Pipe Used: Sav 106

Age When Smoked: Fresh

Similar Blends: Peretti - Royal Blend (English Blends), HU Tobacco - Balkan Passion (Original Warehouseblend).

3 people found this review helpful.

p120d16y Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
p120d16y (22)
Extremely Mild None Detected Extremely Mild (Flat) Unnoticeable

I'm finally writing a review on this and completely judging it on its own merits, I will not make mention or comparison to an older version.

This is a 2014 tin that is plumed and flavors are better now that the blend is dry. Has a sour and winey tin note that won't remind you of a full and smokey smelling Balkan. Upon light you get a full on tangy sour Oriental flavor with very light Latakia flavor. The profile even from a 3 year old tin is sour and unbalanced, and light. It does show more flavor towards the bottom of a larger bowl but that sour flavor leads the whole way. It feels very unbalanced in oriental leaf used, not enough VA and not enough Latakia. Has very light flavor, strength and body. Wine like sour bitterness with just the slightest taste of Latakia in there is the best I can describe. Although I taste mainly those leaves the whole time, I'm not getting what I would expect from good orientals and I'm not getting any flavor reminding me of a Balkan blend. I really tire of the flavor towards the end of the bowl, and its overall pretty one dimensional and just no balance as an English or a Balkan. Don't know what else to say, it's got a name that doesn't fit whatever the blend.

Pipe Used: A bunch of briars

Age When Smoked: Fresh, all the way up to 3 years age

Purchased From: B&M

Similar Blends: Nothing, especially nothing like a Balkan blend..

3 people found this review helpful.

Darth 69 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Darth 69 (117)
Mild to Medium Very Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

As someone who smoked the Gallaher version in the early 90's I'm left with disappointment. It really is nothing like what it was at that time. From what I have gleaned over the internet the Gallaher version was processed with some additive(s)/casing(s) and cooking/stoving/cavendish to make the dark virginias. It had a dark,sweet BBQ-like smokiness with a salty taste unlike anything else. This newer version isn't bad, in fact it has merit especially in how smooth it is but there is no lineage in character. If it wasn't for the label nobody smoking this would think classic Balkan Sobranie, at least the 80's 90's production. The newer smoke started out very well balanced. The various leaf elements seem to blend into the others for a harmonious whole with a slight edge towards a very mild turkish character. At times the latakia was elevated and others a toasted nuance. I never got a distinct virginia note. This newer blend is lighter and more blond in color with perhaps 30% or so latakia and a small addition of some ready-rubbed cake of darkbrown stoved leaf. At first, I thought there was no casings but it seems to hold moisture over time and just isn't as flat and brittle as truly pure tobacco. If you long for the old version and can't seem to obtain this new one, I wouldn't worry about it. It seems to me to be just an above average, lighter medium generic english blend. A weak 2 stars for trying to capitalize on the former's legacy.

Pipe Used: Savanelli "Bing's Favorite"

Age When Smoked: New

Purchased From: Tinder Box Crystal Court- Costa Mesa, Ca

3 people found this review helpful.

SeoulSister Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
SeoulSister (37)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

I have never smoked the prior versions of Balkan Sobranie. But this is a great tobacco on its own. I first smoked this in 2012 and enjoy it now as much as I did then. I find it to be a medium bodied smoke that is full flavored. There is a spicy sweetness and smokiness all rolled into one. BS is smooth and rich in flavor and never burns hot even with the thin ribbon cut. I don’t feel the blend builds much in strength throughout the bowl. It’s too bad it is so difficult to get as it would be in my regular rotation. If you can find some buy it. It will be worth it.

3 people found this review helpful.

Hottgunn Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Hottgunn (19)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Smells like raisins and very good Baklava out of the tin. Laid back Latakia and a dominant incense aroma. I think this is what most would call a Balkan mixture as opposed to an English mixture. A nice, somewhat complex taste and aroma. I think the Oriental tobaccos are what I am tasting and are what give this tobacco it's signature character. Very nice and refreshing after heavy English blends. Recommended.

I am raising my rating to 4 stars after smoking a tin. Toss up for me between this and Pease Meridian. Upon further review, Sobranie wins. Mystical aroma. In a patent Dunhill, just spectacular.

3 people found this review helpful.

Lochinvar Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Lochinvar (78)
Strong None Detected Full Tolerable to Strong

It has been so long I can not truly tell if this replicates Sobranie to the letter or not, but it is a top notch smoke. It reminds me of when I started smoking in the early '90s, the English tobaccos, though they all had their individual differences, all had a rich scent and were all well matured, not rushed into the blend too early. These days when I open a tin I'm never sure if I'm going to get "peat reek", raw smelling tobacco, musty/mildewy smelling tobacco or if it will just smell "botanical" instead of "tobaccinal". This is Dunhill by Dunhill, Rattray by Rattray, Three Nun's, John Cotton...in other words, this is tobacco the way it was supposed to be smoked. Enough hyperbole and memory lane.

On opening the tin, you get the oriental/Balkan nose. The cut is fairly uniform and the moisture is on the wetter side of perfect. Loads easily, lights easily, stays lit, and burns to an snow white ash. On the first few puffs, I knew they had gottn it right when I got the old Balkan pinch in the upper part of my nose. The smoke is well meshed, with neither Latakia nor Oriental being overly dominant, you just get the Balkan taste all the way down. Toward the last quarter of the bowl, the taste gets a little spicier, but is still enjoyable.

3 people found this review helpful.

Bluenoser Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Bluenoser (34)
Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Extremely Mild (Flat) Pleasant to Tolerable

Fellow pipe smokers, it is with some trepidation I write this review, knowing all-the-while hundreds if not thousands flock to this site to see if another pipe smoking colleague has posted his/her comments on the new Sobranie.

Without further ado here's mine for it is worth, knowing very well tastes vary, and in many cases significantly from each other . Germain's Sobranie is a mixture of bright, tan, dark and black leaves in a somewhat shag over ribbon cut. When I leveraged open the cover I stuck my nose very near the lid in an attempt to get a woof of the fragrance however, surprisingly, I didn't get much of anything in the way of an aroma. The tobacco once exposed completely was damp to the touch and when pinched together did not unfold so drying time was needed. I plucked out a couple of grams and placed it in a tin bowl for fifteen minutes. I did the pinch test again and it seemed good to go. I always use my Lorenzetti bent billard to test drive a new tobacco as it has a track record for getting the very best out of a blend. False light, not much of any taste. Tamp and second light gets the pipe going. I'm getting the unmistakable Germain Virginia taste, a little Latakia, some oriental and a faint but distinguished casing of some sort. First half of the bowl, very flat and unexciting. Second half same with a slightly stronger oriental presence. The finish was rather hot and soggy.

Okay, without writing a short story here, I'll sum up the four days that followed my maiden voyage with Sobranie by telling you I sampled it in several different pipes, dgt'ed it for 30 minutes, one hour, two hours and finally four hours. I aired it for 30 minute intervals up to three hours as well. I also sipped different beverages with the smoke including water, dark beer, bourbon and coffee. The results were the same no matter what I did to this mixture to make it work for me.

Conclusion: Germain's Sobranie, for me, is a very flat, uneventful, mild to medium nicotine strength tobacco. If this is the original Sobranie of yesteryear and the best of the best during that time I think we should count ourselves extremely fortunate to have great master blenders as; Pease, Tarler, Oulette, Peritti etc in the 21st century.

I have to tell you though, I believe there is a blend today that is the smitten image of the Sobranie of two, three decades ago. I am referring to Gawith & Hoggarth's Balkan Mixture. I validate this opinion from reading the reviews of BM here on this site and in other locations as well. G&H, upon the disappearance of Sobranie responded with BM and many a British pipester as well as American pipemen swear BM is an exceedingly close approximation to the famous Sobranie long since gone. I have been smoking Balkan Mixture for about two months now and it is an absolutely amazing old world heavy weight Balkan tobacco.

3 people found this review helpful.

Tomcat Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Tomcat (225)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

J F Germains Balkan Sobranie- Plenty of smoky cedar woody Latakia. The Oriental- Turkish tobaccos are spicy and buttery and herbal and sour and quite savory. And well represented in this blend. There is some sweetness and citrus from Virginia. A true Balkan blend for sure . I really like an Oriental forward blend and this is one . A little similar to SOTE but w/ more Oriental leaf . This is spicy and buttery like jC Smyrna. I like this and will probably buy a few tins for the cellar if I come across it again . 4

Age When Smoked: 1 yr

2 people found this review helpful.

BCarter Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
BCarter (6)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

Listen, i grew up around pipe smokers and probably heard the name Balkan Sobranie thousands of times. While I didn’t grow up in the day the original was sold doesn’t mean this loses its mystique. It’s still a fairly hard blend to find and for me it’s worth the search. I literally buy it every time I find it therefore always having it in my stock. It’s a brilliant blend and quite tasty! Beautiful blend and a nice firm smoke and peat aroma up front. Some real earthy nuttiness pairs great with the smoky character of the Latakia. The orientals provide some sour notes that have a soft fruitiness in the backdrop. Earthy notes continue with some very nice yet bold spices. This is mouthwatering.. I mean when I want a bowl of the Balkan Sobranie blended by the fine folks at Germain, I can almost taste it before I ever even break it out of my stock. It’s arguably my absolute favorite pipe tobacco being made. I would recommend this to anyone and especially those fond of Balkan blends. Maybe not quite as sweet as some balkans, but has some sticky sweetness in the backbone for certain. Very well balanced blend that has a superb room note in my book. Nothings changed. This is my favorite. Period.

Pipe Used: Dunhill

2 people found this review helpful.

Pi'd Piper Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pi'd Piper (11)
Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Tolerable to Strong

I found this blend a bit disappointing, given the history and hype.

Mechanically, the blend is very sound: packs easily (although the ribbons are on the long side, which can get a little sloppy), lights and stays lit well. Minimal moisture at the end of the bowl, and no chance of tongue bite.

The latakia is dominant, but the orientals are detectable (I really can't detect the virginias, but I'm still a relative novice). The tin was not especially well blended, so I did a fair bit of "stirring" before smoking, but I still noticed different components taking a minor lead role throughout. However, overall, I found the flavor to be a little flat. Occasionally, I would get a spicy twinge, which seemed more like a burley spice (not a perique spiciness). Also, the finish was incredibly dry, which was probably the most intriguing aspect of the blend. As I said, I couldn't really detect the virginia sweetness at all.

Overall, I'm glad I've tried this, but I will stick to more compelling modern blends. But this is sufficiently "different" from other Balkans that I've tried (White Knight, Magnum Opus, Maltese Falcon) that it is well worth giving a try if you ever see it on a shelf at your local B&M. But I wouldn't put it on my bucket list.

Pipe Used: Falcon with a Briar Hyperbole

Age When Smoked: 6 months

Purchased From: B&M

2 people found this review helpful.

fengbo Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
fengbo (10)
Mild Extremely Mild Full Tolerable

In China, the price of 1 tin is $60. This is the Rolls Royce in the tobacco. The price is so.

Fortunately, no disappointment. It is easy to burn, full of smoke, cool taste, wonderful smell.

Not looking at the price is perfect.

I can smoke all day, but not enough money.

Pipe Used: BOOO W03

Age When Smoked: 4 years old in tin

2 people found this review helpful.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30171)
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild Tolerable

A comparison of the Gallaher version of twenty years ago... I deemed the older BSOM excellent... the very best Balkan blend ever & I'm not a big Latakia fan but combined with Yenidje & the other varietals it facilitated the blend's sweet, creamy, smoky flavor. Sampled from a fairly fresh 50g pouch of the Gallaher version that was eight years old when purchased back in 2010. It gets a four star rating.

The BSOM made you reach for that sweet, elusive flavor with each draw. After a few puffs, the tobacco flavors begin to meld & it just keeps getting better & better until the very end. The perfect pipe tobacco in every respect... the Holy Grail, as it were. It had a sweet & sometimes salty flavor when that certain taste receptor was hit & had an enticing aroma. Todays version... I can take it or leave it. It is just simply lacking most of the flavoring of the original & I didn't like it very much. Not nearly as much sweetness. Close but no cigar.

Hard to believe some pipers pay as much as $50.00 for a $10.00 tin of tobacco but that's just my personal opinion... I'm doubtful I'd even pay a saw-buck as I've discovered something much closer to the BSOM at a fraction of the cost. Even my own, non aged blend with Syrian &/or Cyprian Latakia is much better than this.

Pipe Used: Peterson Deluxe 9S & 11S

Age When Smoked: fresh Tin

Purchased From: Smoking Pipes

Similar Blends: A few other "fairly" good Balkan clones...

2 people found this review helpful.

JuanOrez Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JuanOrez (22)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

I've been lucky enough to have the original mixture and this re-release is darn close, if not spot on. It smells delightful in the tin and you will immediately recognize it's Balkan aroma when you pop the top. The first light gives me that same delicious wave of flavor that I remember from the original. As you continue to puff the quality of the leaf shines through all the way to the bottom. Absolutely delicious.

2 people found this review helpful.

doc pipes Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
doc pipes (110)
Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable to Strong

This one just didn't hit the mark for me. This review is based on the original re-release from several years back. These are the notes that I took. It is been several years since I've smoked this, and so it may or may not be reflective of the current product. I remember being fairly disappointed by this tobacco. With all of the storied history, this reminded me of a slightly muddier dustier version of Balkan Sasieni. Sasieni has a slightly mellower Latakia component. The Sobranie, however, takes on a darker, muddier, almost dusty tone at times. The VA is nothing special and the orientals get somewhat trampled in the mix. All in all this is reasonable as a middle of the road Balkan style blend.

Pipe Used: Genod meerschaum lined

Age When Smoked: 1 year

Purchased From: Iwan ries

Similar Blends: Balkan sasieni.

2 people found this review helpful.

moniker Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
moniker (220)
Mild Extremely Mild Medium Tolerable

I was pleased to find a current production tin of JF Germain's The Balkan Sobranie at my local B&M. For me, the “signature” of the old The Balkan Sobranie was a certain, almost effervescent, sour, somewhat bitter, alkaline astringency that rather reminded me of sparkling quinine or “tonic” water. Without this, at a minimum, the New TBS would be a disappointment. I braced myself when I opened the tin, and the first thing I smelled was a generic Liquid Smoke additive over the tobacco. Oh, I get it: it’s “Latakia”! Why Germain chose to do this is a mystery to me, but the good news is, the tobacco can be removed from the tin and “blanket tossed”, and this will get rid of most of the additive smell before smoking it. There seem to be two widths of ribbons in the tin, with fine dark and wider golden brown ribbons, rather than the consistent, almost RYO shag/ribbons of the older TBS. Tin note is “smoke” over a loamy, peaty, Lat/Macedonian mélange, well over mildly pungent, mildly earthy, sweet VAs. Balkan spices are damped by the smoke scent. The ribbons are moist in the tin, and they dry quickly. I treat TBS like I treat other Balkans, packing it loosely into a large Balkan pipe. It lights with patience and burns down quickly if it’s kept lit. When it’s lit, I am pleased to note the quinine I’ve always enjoyed. Soft, sour, woody Latakia is more forward than the original, well melded with the sour, astringent, woody, loamy, rather dry orientals, and savory baking spices are diffused, subdued the Lat and the quinine, which seem to meld the spices. The VAs are slightly earthy and hay-ish, also slightly piquant, and they do add some sweetness. They also temper the spices from the Orientals and round out a blend that might otherwise be too sharp, sour, and/or bitter. In a nutshell, the new version is softer, smoother, and less pungent, generally a little lighter in Orientals than the older version. The lot is not really simple so much as it is well-melded and closely knit, and it is pretty consistent, top to bottom. Strength is mild. Tastes are close to medium. Room note is barely tolerable, according to bystanders. Aftertaste is a refreshing cool-down lap of the best of the smoke, and it lasts quite a while; very nice.

I would not be surprised if others take the Liquid Smoke scent to be “real”. In any case, if you can get past the fake smoke, JF Germain’s The Balkan Sobranie is well worth seeking out, IMO. I’d say offhand that it’s in the vein of and on par with Gawith’s Skiff Mixture or Germain’s Eighteen Twenty, which is to say, top quality, 4 stars.

Pipe Used: large briars preferred

Age When Smoked: from new tin and jar to 2 months

Purchased From: Liberty Tobacco

Similar Blends: Stands out from other Balkans; compare/contrast to Skiff or Eighteen Twenty..

2 people found this review helpful.

Eric Cioe Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Eric Cioe (37)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

I got one tin of this when I placed an order for some Stonehaven and Penzance, figuring I'd like it. I figured wrong.

There isn't really anything wrong with this blend. The Virginias are on the grassy side, leaving the bottom end of the blend open for the latakia to developed unhindered. There is a significant perfume-type note, presumably from the orientals, that I found overwrought and distracting. In short, the blend tasted disjointed. On the plus side, it burned well and the cut was convenient. It didn't dry out in the tin at all, which makes me wonder if there were some humectant in here.

I'd give this two and a half stars if I could, but then I think that I've been more or less forcing myself to smoke this from time to time. The components are of good quality, but at one year, it just seems disconnected from itself. I won't be buying more.

Pipe Used: Lots of them, but especially a GBD 1970

Age When Smoked: One year

2 people found this review helpful.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30171)
Medium None Detected Full Pleasant

This tobacco is wonderful. The tin art could have been more elaborate, but such a minor point. The tin aroma is musty and smoke like...very alluring. This needed a little drying time and after fluffing up the top layer in the tin and then recapping it loosely, it was ready to go in a few days. This packed easily enough, lit quite well and what can I say?...Delicious!! The smoke was creamy, nutty in an exotic manner, pungent, just perfect. The bowl burned cool, no bite and though this is an expensive treat, It was worth the 17 bucks I put out for it at my local B&M (I captured 3 tins in total). When people talk lovingly of the previous BS they will, in time, certainly talk about its progeny in the same manner.

2 people found this review helpful.

Big Blue Jazzman Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Big Blue Jazzman (73)
Medium Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant

First of all, forget the old stuff. You can't compare the tobaccos we had way back when with what is grown today any more than you can compare the 1961 Yankees with this years team. So get over it. Found my 50g tin to be wet and immediately put it in a tight sealing jar packed loosely. Opened the jar once a day to let in some air give the tobaccos some time to work together. Was not impressed with my first bowl. Gave it some more time and tried again. Much better. Gave it a week. Freakin' Awesome! This is quality tobacco and as good as I've had in a long time. Found it to be one of the best I've smoked in recent years, much better than anything from the new Dunhills or inconsistent C@D blends. Was lucky enough to find 3 more tins and clean out my local B@M as you can't find this anywhere right now. Four stars in my book anyday. Hope it's readily available in the future.

2 people found this review helpful.

under the arbor Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
under the arbor (13)
Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

Not since the first time I heard Marlena Dietrich speak (think Elmer Fudd)have I ever been so disappointed ! The quality of the presentation was the first clue, no classy cap beneath the pleated paper, just another crumpled piece of paper stained and off center. This I'd read before, I just chose not to believe. My dream of something wonderful from the Isle of Jersey, turned into New Jersey ( think Elizabeth in the mid 1960's). The only redeeming value is you'll never have to worry about your pipes developing stinky - soggy - bottoms, this stuff burns like jet fuel, hot (very hot) and clean. The tin moisture belies this and one can only imagine what a little drying would do? Keep some water on hand is all I can say. The aroma is something between candle wax and pork chops frying. Mind, I've no aversion to a good "bone-in chop" now and then, I just don't want it in my pipe. The always subtle but fine writing Mr. GLP is on the mark with his thoughts on this. Oh well, as with so many things it's the hunt and not the kill. First (and most likely last) update. Now that the stuff's been here a few weeks and had a chance to dry in the tin (and it has, and quickly too) It's moved from the "wax and porkchop" stage to a new flavor component.......dad's good old shoe polish! I'll concede a hint of Heinz in my "British Woods" if someone can explain this one to me.......

2 people found this review helpful.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30171)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

I'm old enough to remember the original Balkan Sobranie and smoked it often back in the day. I'm also lucky enough to have cellared several pouches prior to the disappearance of this blend. I've smoked both blends side-by-side and while the new release is good, it's not the same as the old.

Remember, we're talking about a blend that disappeared over 20+ years ago. I applaud the attempts to copy long forgotten blends, but when you're talking about blends of this age, it's very hard to make an exact copy when the blending tobaccos have changed so much. The Latakia we smoke today, it nothing like the Latakia used when this blend was so popular.

Both blends exhibit similar flavor and aroma profiles, but the original mixture offers flavors that are deeper and richer in my opinion. The new blend's moisture level is good and it can be smoked right from the tin, without any drying. The tin aroma is musty and earthy, as it should be. It packs and lights very well. The overall flavor while smoking is pleasant and I don't get any kind of bite.

I have a friend who also was lucky enough to purchase one of the early tins and he opened it right away and smoked several bowls. While he enjoyed it, he felt is was a bit "sharp" and would benefit with some cellaring. When I bought my tin (in October 2011), I stored it away for a couple of months. I choose to open the tin on Christmas Day 2011 and break in a new Tinsky pipe with it. Excellent choice!!

It appears that supplies are very limited at this point. The online tobacco merchant I generally purchase my pipe tobacco from has been out of stock almost from the beginning. They sold out of their limited supply in under 15 seconds.

IMHO, you won't be disappointed with this mixture. It's clearly been well blended, using quality tobaccos. However, if you're seeking a copy to be exactly the same as the original, this is not it.

Happy Puffing!!

2 people found this review helpful.

Boatdock Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Boatdock (38)
Medium None Detected Full Tolerable to Strong

A fine cut ribbon tobacco that burns exceptionally slow for the cut. A very smooth English that's easy to smoke with no bite. Many consider this the holy grail of tobaccos.

Pipe Used: Stanwell

Age When Smoked: 6 months

Purchased From: Just For Him

Similar Blends: McClelland Blue Mountain.

1 person found this review helpful.

Benjamin Meyer Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Benjamin Meyer (25)
Mild to Medium None Detected Full Tolerable to Strong

Straight up, the Latakia is pretty strong but I can taste some nice Orientals. At that point, no sweet Virginia to be noticed. Quite dark in taste, with flavors of musty wood, decaying underforest, some freshly burnt wood. A slight zing gives some balance to it all. Is that from the Orientals?

Approaching mid bowl, a certain flowery note comes in. Unfortunately, this is nothing like the couple of Syrian Latakia blends I've had, but it does make a food job of keeping the overall blend interesting. The Orientals become more prominent with the wood described before. The charred wood from the lat recedes and the Virginias slowly creep in.

As I approche the end of the bowl, the Latakia is far behind, leaving a pleasant VA OR duo doing their thing. This is reminding me of Robert Mc C's Original Oriental or even HU's Soraya. Much more sweetness, loads of dusty wood. Quite dry but reasonable smoothness. Some spurts of zesty acidity come in with some Lat still there. Lots going on!

I am not a usual Latakia smoker but this is appealing to me. I could see myself getting some more of it but never much as I personally prefer lighter Latakia, such as in Skiff Mixture, even though I would hardly put them in the same category.

Pipe Used: Large Dunhill billiard dedicated to lat blends

Age When Smoked: 2 year sample

Purchased From: Sample from a friend

1 person found this review helpful.

Arvel Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Arvel (4)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

I smoked a 50 gram can of this "new" Balkan Sobranie and recently I also smoked the originals of various vintages and productions. I believe that this blend of Germain's has references to the BS however it is different from the original version, firstly I think there is a lack of Syrian latakia and compared to the original it is sweeter and with less aromatic complexity and depth of taste. I smoked it in a short time and towards the end of the last charges it had also tired me a little. I recommend to anyone who wants to understand what the balkan Sobranie could have been like to buy the Balkan Mixture by GH which I personally believe is a copy that most resembles the BS to date. I have not yet tried all the so called "clones" of the BS but today the Balkan mixture of GH is the one that brought me closer to the BS.

Pipe Used: Vari

1 person found this review helpful.

Burn-A-Briar Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Burn-A-Briar (7)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

This is a very enjoyable tobacco blend, which is just as well given the legendary status of its name. I have not smoked this tobacco fresh from the blenders; the tins of this that I do own are at least a couple of years old.

The first third of the bowl produces a sweetness that I attribute to the Virginias. This is not a fresh, grassy Virginia sweetness but a rather more fermented sensation - the sweetness that one gets from aged tobacco leaves (there were visibly noticeable sugar crystals forming on the tobacco) which reminded me somewhat of stewed fruit.

As one smokes through the bowl, the sweetness declines and the smoke develops a much more savoury tone (almost salty/meaty). Personally, I prefer a sweeter smoke and very much crave the sweetness that tobaccos develop having been cellared, but the savoury flavours of this blend are really very moreish and encourage further exploration as one smokes through the bowl.

Before long, the savoury smoke is accompanied by spiciness which takes centre stage. From what I have read of this blend, I gather that it is this spicy quality that every iteration of the Balkan Sobranie is known for. The spicy and savoury notes continue to compete until one nears the end of the bowl where they are re-joined by the aforementioned fermented sweetness. At this point, all the present flavours meld into one, creating an enjoyably complex "sweet-and-sour" effect on the taste-buds. One finishes a bowl of the Balkan Sobranie feeling as though they have returned from an adventure!

This blend will smoke down to a dark-grey ash with a little dottle. The nicotine is only mildly present until the last quarter of a bowl when it'll make itself more known. I'd recommend smoking this tobacco slowly and gently if one intends to embark on the adventure that I have just described.

Age When Smoked: Over Two Years Old

Similar Blends: Samuel Gawith - Skiff Mixture.

1 person found this review helpful.

Tim D Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Tim D (12)
Mild Mild Mild to Medium Very Pleasant

What a wonderful flavor of tangy notes with slight sweetness! Shag cut so I smoked very slowly! Had a nice moistness to it and let it air dry roughly 20 minutes and was good to go! Used one of my new Boswells pipes and my overall tobacco experience was wonderful! I can see how this is hard to come by, wish however it was more available as price would be hopefully competitively less..

Pipe Used: JM Boswell

Age When Smoked: New

Purchased From: Jm Boswells

1 person found this review helpful.

SiriusAmory Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
SiriusAmory (25)
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

Balkan Sobranie has a pleasant aroma from the tin of a typical Balkan blend with the added scent of red wine and a little woodiness. The shag cut tobacco felt a little on the moist side, but didn't cause any burn or lighting issues.

I have noticed that the Sobranie has more complexity than some of the other English and Balkan blends I've tried so far. The red wine note comes through in the early stages of the bowl and persists throughout in the retrohale. There are also notes of a bbq and peat smokiness, earth, and an herbal quality as well.

Overall, the tobacco burns fairly well and required a moderate number of relights. If you are able to pick up a tin at retail price, it is well worth it. However, I do not see any reason to purchase a tin from the secondary market at vastly inflated prices.

1 person found this review helpful.

nkulk8r Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
nkulk8r (90)
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

I didn't pick up the pipe until 2013 -- and therefore never experienced the original Sobranie that everyone is so poignantly emotional about from yesteryear -- so I'm just reviewing this fine ribbon cut of Latakia, Oriental/Turkish, Virginia Balkan blend from J.F. Germain, called Balkan Sobranie.

This is really good stuff. I bought a bunch of this at about the same time I bought a bunch of the Balkan Sasieni -- and I wasn't impressed by either (and in fact, I thought they were both one and the same -- I couldn't detect any difference between the two), because I was new to pipe tobacco, at a time when I didn't know what I was doing and/or smoking, and was only in search of bazooka blends of high-explosive nicotine that would blow my head off . . .

But I soon matured and mellowed.

Upon opening the jar (after 4 years), I found smoky-sweet notes of wood, some spice, a little leather and just a hint of BBQ. Wonderful, calm, pleasing smoke, perfectly melded -- no Diva's on this team -- Latakia showing off a bit, but everyone playing nicely, graciously complimenting one another. This iteration of Balkan Sobranie is, in fact, very similar to Balkan Sasieni, but it's not the same. Lovely stuff -- glad I bought as much as I did, when I did -- and will be securing some more (to pass on, after I'm gone, you see). 4-stars.

Pipe Used: Peterson Dublin "999" Rhodesian

Age When Smoked: 4 years

Similar Blends: Balkan Sasieni.

1 person found this review helpful.

toddsmith7378 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
toddsmith7378 (41)
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

Ok, so I finally got my hands on it.

I've never smoked the old stuff, but I'm quite familiar with most of the top tier Balkan's. I prefer Magnum Opus, Blackhouse, Whiteknight, and Maltese Falcon to say London Mixture or Balkan Saseini. Plum Pudding is also up there, though I'm not fond of the cut.

So where does this Balkan Sobranie original compare to all the one's built off of its recipe? Let's have a smoke?

I think I can honestly say it is the best, but not by a lot, here's why.

First, this Germain tobacco in the tin is something to behold. Really, all of their offerings exemplify this characteristic in one form or another. The stuff just appears to have been handled really carefully. It's a beautiful cut at a perfect consistency to smoke. It packs like a dream.

Magnum Opus comes a bit dry and the other Hearth and Home Offerings while tasting on par just don't have this high degree of care of the look and feel of the tobacco. Maltese Falcon is the closest to this in taste and quality, but misses the quality by a smidgen.

As for the taste, all are great. I'm not overly fond of the Kentucky in Blackhouse although it doesn't stand out over the ideal taste of the entire blend, but I know its there because its a slight bit fuller and dirty. Magnum Opus has more unique oriental flavors that none of the others quite share and White Knight is a bit lighter by comparison. So, really the closest match I think is Maltese Falcon. Again, these differences would be slight to one not familiar with Balkans.

Now, none of these are far apart in how much I appreciate them, but when comparing them to each other I really think Balkan Sobranie by Germain only really rises above because of the way the tobacco has been cut and taken care of by Germain. It makes for a perfect smoke, and the taste is sweet/sour/ from the oriental forwardness - the way I think of as ideal.

All of the other blends are really close though, especially Maltese Falcon due to the cut and presentation of the tobacco from that tin.

I'm glad I have this stocked up a bit, but I wouldn't think I didn't know exactly what it tastes like, if I had smoked these other great blends though. There's not a lot of significant taste difference between them.

Balkan Sobranie is exactly what I expected, except a little better. It's a medium/full (more medium) English with oriental forwardness that is distinctly different than a regular English with less Oriental up front. Margate is the version of that they offer which also rates really high for me due to the quality of the cut and care of the leaf.

Germain really doesn't play around with their quality.

Pipe Used: Meer, Briar

Age When Smoked: Out of tin

1 person found this review helpful.

Jaylotw Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Jaylotw (16)
Mild Mild Medium Tolerable

On a recent trip to Ashville NC I stopped at B&B Tobacconists (wonderful shop) and found a tin of this much spoken of blend. The 9 hour drive back to Ohio was wrought with anticipation—-my girlfriend asked what was wrong with me, and I had to explain how excited I was to try this stuff. She said, “Oh.” Maybe that anticipation and excitement led to my utter dissapointment with this blend.

I’ve had several Germain products and they are something above and beyond the other blending houses. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but every blend I’ve had that they’ve produced would literally transport me into another world where anything outside of the clouds of smoke around me didn’t matter. They deserve the hype, at least in my mind.

And so with Balkan Sobranie I was expecting something on par with those experiences...not exactly a fair standpoint to have when trying a new blend, but with Germain being the producer, not exactly an unwarranted expectation.

After twisting off the lid and burrying my nose into the tobacco I was, honestly, blown away by the tin note. It is wonderful, all the leathery spice and woody goodness that a quality Balkan should have. The cut is what suprised me...It’s nearly a shag, very thin and long ribbons. Pretty moist, too. I couldn’t help myself and loaded a bowl right away, careful to pack the tightly compressed ribbons loosely enough so the smoke wouldn’t become a soggy mess.

I could hear Also Sprach Zarathrustra playing as I lit the match, the timpanis were pounding I swear, just like a small town fireworks show on the 4th. I lit up and the first draw tasted like hot air. Nearly no flavor at all, maybe a little musty Oriental happening. As I smoked, things improved a little but I found myself searching for something else besides a fairly subdued Oriental presence. The Latakia might have poked its head out for a quick look around but then ducked back behind the minarets like a nervous cat. The Virginias, which are usually the high point of any Germain blend for me, seemed buried beneath the oriental flavors. My first bowl was just disappointing.

Subsequently, I tried drying the moist leaf, packing loosely or more tightly, tried several pipes and smoking cadences. Nothing really made a difference except drying, which really just helped me get through this whole snooze fest a little quicker.

The oriental flavor is not bad, but not anywhere near the mouthwatering level that others seem to find. It’s just that, for me, there isn’t much of it. This is a light bodied smoke for a blend of its type. I rated it medium because for someone who is new to English type blends it IS probably more than they would be used to...but for me, this blend lacks body and presence in a way that I found unexpected and disappointing.

Squadron Leader is a blend that I find to be very Oriental-forward, but with enough backbone to make it interesting, to give all those perfumey, musty sweet Oriental tastes some walls to bounce off of...Balkan Sobranie just seemed like a very unfocused pile of Orientals with some Virginia in there to help the burn and enough Latakia to show up in the tin. Just not much character.

Give it a try, maybe I’m just unable to detect the subtleties in this one. We’ll see as time goes on if things change for me but I feel like the hype on this one is just that—hype.

Pipe Used: Sav, comoy’s prince, MM cob, various basket cases

Age When Smoked: 6 mos

Purchased From: B&B, Ashville NC

Similar Blends: Squadron Leader for its Oriental-forward flavors.

1 person found this review helpful.

RonR Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
RonR (85)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong


I have not smoked the previous versions so I have no hangups on this blend. Beautiful mixture with a unique after taste that I cannot quite pin down. Orientals are really nice. I really have to dry it out or it can be a raging bitch at times to keep lit.

Not super hard to obtain if you are patient and really stands tall for it's genre.

Pipe Used: All

Age When Smoked: 3 years

1 person found this review helpful.

Cochon74 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Cochon74 (29)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

I’ve never had any other iteration of this storied tobacco, so there will be no comparisons, pining, or conjecture.

Having said that, I will say that this is a fine, fine, fine expression of Balkan-style blending. The Latakia played its part well. The Va’s made for a solid, flavorful and straightforward foundation. But the Orientals!!! They sing, they dance, they seduce, they elevate. The beautiful, exotic notes are what make this a striking tobacco for me. Definitely a gestalt experience... everything here works in lockstep perfection throughout the smoke in a way that I’ve not experienced often even in my favorite blends. The Orientals take a slightly prominent role - offering up incense-like delight with every puff.

This is a medium blend which I think seems richer than it is, because I could smoke several bowls of this a day without tiring of it, or growing fatigued. It is flavorful with all the components contributing in good measure.

It burns evenly, stays cool, and produces a creamy smoke that makes me happiest when it lingers on a windless day.

Like I said, it may or may not be the Sobranie of old, but is a great smoke in its own right, and I will happily buy more if/when I can find it!

Pipe Used: Castello 55, Iacono Canadian

Age When Smoked: 9 months

Purchased From: Diebel’s KCMO

1 person found this review helpful.

jonb Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
jonb (2)
Extremely Mild None Detected Extremely Mild (Flat) Unnoticeable

In a re-release BS jousting contest against HH WhiteKnight: First prize=no bowl of BS; Second prize=1 bowl BS; third prize=2 bowls BS. Yesterday bought a fresh tin of re-release BS, white. Took four puffs, then knocked out the complete fill of the bowl. No flavor. No Taste. No Smell. No nothin'. I smoked clouds and clouds of the original BS, white in the 70s/80s. WhiteKnight is near identical twin to that one--just a trifle more beautiful/handsome.

Pipe Used: Peterson

Age When Smoked: right out of tin

Purchased From: famous Boston tobacconist

Similar Blends: similar to no blend--thank Heaven.

1 person found this review helpful.

PadrePipe Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
PadrePipe (2)
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Strong

I was fortunate to win this tobacco from the Country Squire in a drawing. My question while smoking it was "does this merit the hype?" I've never tried the earlier version(s), so this is a straight-up how is this version?-review.

Upon opening you see a nice, black-streaked mixture of lat and virginias. The tin note I found to be a subdued latakia smell, which for me reminds me of smoke and leather. It looked less like ribbon than shredded ribbons, making it actually quite easy to pack. The tobacco was moist but not as moist as aromatics.

The first puffs I found underwhelming. No significant taste-burst, just a mellow, creamy smoke. But, as time went on I found it developed a nice complexity and a nice spicy taste that wasn't too overwhelming. This subtle complexity is, to me, what makes this an exciting blend. Still, I didn't find it to be the powerhouse that others find it.

The room note, though, is extremely nice. Not as strong an incense smell as say MacBaren Latakia Flake, but stronger than Hearth and Home's Black House. Overall, I found it to be a really nice smell of rich tobacco.

I think this merits some of the hype. When I run out I'll probably try to find some more. But I wouldn't spend more than $25 on a tin of this. It's very very good, but not ridiculously so.

Pipe Used: Briar Works Dublin sand blast

Age When Smoked: ?

Purchased From: Gifted by the Country Squire

Similar Blends: Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG) - Balkan Sasieni, Hearth & Home - Black House (Marquee Series), Mac Baren - HH Latakia Flake.

1 person found this review helpful.

RoundTwo Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
RoundTwo (38)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Very Pleasant

I opened this up to a moist container. No problem I fluffed it a little to let it breathe and it quickly came to a standard humidity. The tin smells sweet and smokey. And the flavor is sweet and smokey as well. A fine blend that can be enjoyed bowl after bowl with no tongue bite. The taste is strong but good. Like other Balkans smoke it slow and it is sweet and smoke it fast and it is smokey. Reserve this one for your finest English bowls.

Note: I love the way it seasons my pipes and makes the room smell.

Pipe Used: Billiards

Age When Smoked: Unknown

Purchased From: Iwan Ries

Similar Blends: J. F. Germain & Son - Royal Jersey Original Latakia Mixture.

1 person found this review helpful.

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

While I have never had the previous incarnations, I find this to be another J.F. Germain home run. This is a fine blend where the Latakia's and Orientals blend together an an interesting way. The flavors come together to provide a malted milk ball kind of flavor, sweet, smoky the orientals give me a "fizz" when exhaled through the nose. Hard to explain. This smokes consistently from first light to bottom of the bowl without much flavor change. The interplay of the tobacco's create a complex smoke. I have a hard time finding the Virginia's in flavor other than to say it provides the sweetness to the smoke. The orientals provide the woody spicy flavor and the Latakia its own smoky sweetness. A legend in its own time. Now it they would just make an 8 oz tin...

Pipe Used: Briar, meerschaum and cobs

Age When Smoked: 1 year

Purchased From: B&M

Similar Blends: White Knight, BlackHouse, Balkan Blue.

1 person found this review helpful.

The Sunday Evening Pipe Smoker Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
The Sunday Evening Pipe Smoker (54)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Another legend blend I've finally been able to try. The last Balkan blend I had tasted a bit too bitter so I was curious to see how this one would go.

It still has the bitterness, though less so than my last experience. I've heard it compared to the bitterness you get if you happen to get a little piece of walnut shell in your mouth. I'd say that description is on the mark

Flavour otherwise is what you'd expect of a blend of this type with some of that exotic, incense-like oriental quality, though not as pronounced as in Scottish blends like Aperitif or 965.

Overall, not bad, though again, I think the legendary status of this blend is mainly dictated by its relative rarity. There's plenty of alternatives out there if this is what you're after.

1 person found this review helpful.

Cherry picker 1779 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Cherry picker 1779 (52)
Medium None Detected Full Tolerable to Strong

This blend is a great Balkan. It Is very satisfying. A couple months in a jar makes this blend Much smoother, flavorful and mellows any harshness you may get fresh out of a new tin. Absolutely one of my top 5 all time tobaccos. Once you get aquatinted with this tobacco it will be one that is hard not to have in your stock. Tin note is woodsy , musty , and dark wet notes of grass, earth containing smokiness. While smoking this one it has a flavor burst of smoky woody Latakia flavor. it's indeed a nice strong Latakia taste throughout the pipe. Very grassy, Latakia laden, full flavored experience. Although BS is much lighter on vitamin N , I can compare it to the full flavoredness and and satisfaction level of nightcap however the flavors are not even close to the same. That being said it's another great after dinner/ late evening smoke that can take the place of that heady ol nightcap with a totally different flavor, but yes, still heady robust just a different flavor. You will know your smoking Latakia and you get a good punch to the palate of flavor as you do with the nightcap.Also, The shag cut keeps it burning with billows of thick smoke. I left mine in the tin for a couple weeks , then after it was dry enough to my liking I stored in a jar. It smokes much cooler this way. It's a good puff - highly recommend this to full flavored Latakia blend guys. If you don't like Latakia then don't even rate this tobacco. -

Pipe Used: Good smoking briars

Age When Smoked: Couple year old tin

1 person found this review helpful.

LannarkGent Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
LannarkGent (145)
Mild to Medium None Detected Very Full Extra Strong

This is the Balkan that everyone knows. While there might be some debate as to how this compares to the original, it is a quality Balkan in its own right.

1 person found this review helpful.

Bryan Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Bryan (4)
Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

After 9 months in a jar this tobacco has mellowed. The smoke is now creamy and Smokey with a slight sour aftertaste. The room note is that of a camp fire on the following morning. Nicotine is mild to medium. There is no tongue bite or harshness. Would be my every day smoke if available. 4 stars.

Balkan Sobranie 50g tin. I am a fairly new pipe smoker and this is my first review. The tobacco is a mixture of brown's and black ribbon cut. The tin aroma is sweet and floral. Like a honey dipped rose. The first light was full of the floral taste...very unique and pleasing to me. Not a Lakeland taste. The floral note toned down as the bowl progressed. The sweetness of the tobacco Could be tasted in my mouth and on my lips which became slightly sticky. Also very nice. The nicotine strength was medium+. REALLY enjoyed this tobacco straight from the tin. After 2 weeks in mason jar.... Most of the floral notes are gone as is the sweetness. The strength is still med+ but now there is a slight metallic aftertaste. This tobacco gets full marks when fresh but only half when jarred.

Pipe Used: small meerschaum, Wally Frank tomato

Age When Smoked: new and 2 weeks and 9 months

Purchased From: Pipes and Cigars

Similar Blends: None I have tried ...yet., A more refined Night Cap, no harshness..

1 person found this review helpful.

Wellpipe Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Wellpipe (66)
Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

I felt pretty lucky to score a couple of tins of this tobacco at the retail price - glad I happened to be watching my email when the notification came through from Iwan Ries.

I never smoked the original, so can't compare. I have to say I agree with Steel Cowboy's observation about this being a good quality m_e_d_i_u_m Balkan. A little stronger nicotine might have added a nice dimension. The cut is very fine, almost a shag, which is not my favorite but does make for a neat inverted pack. It definitely needs a little drying time or you will have a gurgling opportunity. It is balanced in flavor - not a big burst but nuanced and consistent through the bowl - nutty, smoky latakia, gentle. It is not the symphony of flavors that I get from Samovar, Three Oaks, or Artisan's.

Well-behaved and burns to a fine gray ash. Worth a try if you come across some but don't spend a fortune for it on eBay - it is nice and high quality but I would not call it legendary.

Pipe Used: Wellington full bent

Age When Smoked: 1 yr

1 person found this review helpful.

NobbyR Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
NobbyR (79)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

Like the Esoterica blends, which are also manufactured by Germain on the isle of Jersey, this re-release of a famed pipe tobacco is scarce and hard to come by. However, this is rather a new version of the also famous Balkan Sobranie Smoking Mixture than the revered No. 759 Mixture, which a lot of people still talk of in awed tone. Still, what the historic Balkan Sobranie Mixture made special was the high quality Yednije Oriantal and Syrian Latakia leaf it contained.

Because of its rarity, this seems to be (alongside with Esoterica Penzance) one of the Holy Grails of pipe smoking. Anyway, I was pretty excited, when I finally was able to procure a tin.

Balkan Sobranie Original Smoking Mixture comes in a fine ribbon cut a lot like Esoterica Margate, for example. There's a fair share of Zyprian Latakia in it, but no Yednije, which is very rare nowadays. The tin note says Latakia all over: it's rich and oily with earthy scents of leather and peat fire, but also an underlying floral sweetness.

Filling and lighting your pipe is easy. In doing so I prefer the Frank or air pocket method.

Balkan Sobrani has a full bodied, smoky, spicy flavor with some sweetish, exotic, floral aftertaste. At first, the Latakia dominates the taste, but as the bowl progresses it makes room for the Orientals and the Virginias. That way it burns down slowly and coolly leaving behind some dark grey ash, all the time being mild on your tongue. In spite of the full taste, nicotine content is medium high. It's a great, balanced, satisfying all day smoke.

The room note is fumy and incense-like.

Is is worth the hype and the price? Yes and no. The new Balkan Sobranie is a wonderful tobacco that will highly please any lover of Oriental blends, and some say it comes close to the original mixture. But some replicas as Balkan Sasieni are almost or even just as good, but cheaper. What they mostly lack is the mystique of the name.

It would be really great though, if J.F. Germain came out with their version of No. 759 Mixture.

Pipe Used: Rattray's 110th Anniversary

Age When Smoked: Fresh

Purchased From: www.cupojoes.com

Similar Blends: Balkan Sasieni.

1 person found this review helpful.

GabrielCRT Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
GabrielCRT (115)
Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

It is difficult to review this tobacco objectively. Luckily I don't have to compare it to the original as I have never had it. It is hard to remain objective, however, when smoking such a limited production, secondary market premium, and hyped up tobacco. Price and availability aside: the bright Virginias are grassy and smoke a little bit hot, the Turkish/Orientals add a nice exotic spice, and the Latakia is subtle and adds a sweet dry smoky flavor without dominating the blend. I definitely sense a topping that I would say is dark fruit and some clove. The room note is enjoyable and exotic. Objectively, I would rate this fresh at a 3 out of 4 stars with room to grow with age. Non-objectively, I would never pay a secondary market price for this blend. There are many other great Balkan Sobranie tributes out there that are always available.

Pipe Used: Briars and Meerschaums

Age When Smoked: Fresh

Similar Blends: Balkan Sasieni - Balkan Sasieni.

1 person found this review helpful.

Alhaji Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Alhaji (33)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

1 am sorry to sully everyone else's yearning for, or experience with, this product. I never smoked the old and varied blends of this 'Brand' that existed before extinction (like the legendary No 759 Mixture) so I have nothing to compare this with by way of its old 'siblings'. But really, what's all the fuss about?

I recently obtained two tins from Iwanries and have been working hard to 'get to know the contents better'. Don't get me wrong, it is a nice Balkan but I found myself hard pressed to see any difference between this tobacco and its other 'cousin', Balkan Sasieni. Is there any really? I should be forgiven if I commit additional 'heresy' here, but I did not find it that dissimilar to Dan Tobacco's Holly's Discovery (which I recently obtained also and happen to have been smoking simultaneously) either.

That said, it is highly recommended to every pipe smoker given the fact of its 'hype' and relative unavailability in the market place. After all, it's scarcity must be dictated by high demand for the product. If for this reason only, Balkan adherents should give it a try to determine if it is overrated (or not).

Three stars for me because its quality does not in anyway exceed all the hype it generates. Highly recommended to all Balkan lovers.

Pipe Used: Various

Purchased From: Iwanries

Similar Blends: Balkan Sasieni.

1 person found this review helpful.

Duvall Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Duvall (1)
Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Very Pleasant

Ode to Balkan Sobranie

Banished to my "man-porch" in the cold of December, To smoke my new Nording, I come to remember,

My favorite smoke from a time long ago, My first Petersen stoked with my favorite tobacco.

'Twas not so much the pipe as what it contained, A mixture so delightful, her repute is now famed.

I recall places and times we two strolled together, Dawn, dusk and noon, no matter the weather.

By water or land, beneath stars and trees, With her in my hand came remarkable ease.

Attentive companion in times of deep thought, "Slow down, think long, and fear not" by her I was taught.

Always there when I sought her, an arm's-length away, She consoled as a friend ought to, after a difficult day.

Her strength and her softness calmed as none could, Yenidje and Latakia vanquished most somber moods.

Sharpness nor harshness from her none need fear, For 'twas said if she'd a tongue, at most it was deer.

She inspired my muse in candle-lit rooms, Transported me places far from my home.

In Europe I shared with her high mountain views, By campfires sniffed her exotic perfume.

In gath'rings of men her scent drew attention, Standing out in the cloud, enviously mentioned.

Captain Black, Prince Albert and Sir Walter bowed in her presence, As the rest of the courtiers wondered what was her fragrance.

The dullest of times sang with her note in the air; At parties and smokers she was the most fair.

A friend one could count on both morning and night, She always delivered, from the very first light.

For whom could I have left her so long ago? For Dunhill for Borkum ... or cigars that I've known?

Could but burley or cavendish, or some aromatic Have usurped her first place, once so emphatic?

Now middle-aged, as I would partake her, I come to recall ... That I did not forsake her ... She had departed with no note at all!

She left those who loved her to fend for ourselves, To search E-bay, yard-sales, antique vendors' shelves.

We looked here and there, but she'd up and gone, The cupboards were bare; our time was undone.

So now as youth's best moments long since have passed, As knees barely bend and buds barely taste,

As absence makes old hearts grow fonder, We seek for the Grail, a dream from years yonder.

For 'twas the mere passage of time that whisked her away, Our McGuffin of youth, of a much better day.

And now we all spend on claimed worthy successors, On tins and bulk blends--of which all are her lessers!

Was she truly so noble, so strong and so good That no other pipe-full now tastes as it should?

Or as with old flames, one remembers when much older, That leave in one's heart embers that smolder,

Perhaps what we'd rekindle's a mere flick'ring fantasy ... Forever extinguished, of dear old Balkan Sobranie.

1 person found this review helpful.

Heliumbro Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Heliumbro (13)
Mild None Detected Medium to Full Strong

(I am a newer and irregular pipe smoker. My reviews are subject to my preferences and tastes and pipe smoking habits)

I received a tin of this tobacco from Ernie at Watch City Cigar. He could have hid it for his local, regular clientele and charged an arm and leg as everyone else seems to be doing with this renewed classic. Instead he convinced me to pick up a second tin of SG FVF and Balkan Sobranie, and to give them a full chance. I was charged regular market price for both tins and went home not knowing then, what the white and black labeled tin was that I now possessed. It came in a compact brown and black fine ribbon cut mass in the tin. As I have noticed with all English blends, I get this overall smoked meat/dry aged salami smell from every one of them. Reminds me of a local Mennonite sausage that comes in a cloth casing. Strangely stinky and ... wonderful. I am not fully versed or very experienced in a multitude of English/Balkan Blends, but I do find myself enjoying them when I smoke them, even though I can't put my finger on why. This smokes smooth and cool for me. A nice medium sweetness throughout the smoke, that has an 'incense' like flavour and aroma while smoking. There is a mild campfire/bbq smoke taste in the background. All together it leaves this somewhat moist smokey and... musty?... taste in your mouth. Not really pleasing but not gross either. Just different. When I want to think about my smoke or get 'contemplative' I usually grab this blend, but very rarely. This now has about 1 years age on it and is just as tasty and interesting as the first few times I smoked it.

Pipe Used: Estate Pickwick Arms Briar Billiard

Age When Smoked: New and aged 1 year

Purchased From: Watch City Cigar

1 person found this review helpful.

bob323 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
bob323 (46)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Perhaps expectations were too high...I remember when I was a kid (abt 100yrs ago)...A Schwin 3-speed was the best bicycle you could hope to own and I just knew that this Christmas was the Christmas...Well, Christmas came and there it was...The most beautiful blue 3-speed bike you ever saw...except it wasn't a Schwin...It was a Huffy or a Sears...Don't get me wrong, it was a great bike...It just wasn't a Schwin...The same with this tobacco...After waiting and chasing it down, Balkan Sobranie by Germain is a great tobacco...Four stars in my book...But, it's no Schwin...Oh, well, it will still get you around the block with a little flash...Don't get me started on cars...or women.

Pipe Used: various for testing

Age When Smoked: Fresh from the dealer

Purchased From: Smokingpipes.com

Similar Blends: Peterson's Old Dublin...Germain's Latakia Mixture...and Hearth & Home's Black House (which is less expensive and more readily available).

1 person found this review helpful.

Palermo09 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Palermo09 (23)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong

I Bought a tin from LJ Peretti after having heard so much about this "controversial" blend. A classic style Balkan blend. The Virginia tobacco had some noticeable plume on it so it must of had some age. I have been smoking it out of a meershcaum that I had also bought from Peretti. This tobacco smokes cool and dry with the orienatals up front followed by a mild latakia flavor. It is a good Balkan blend not the best but good for sure. I would buy it again, but I can not see it becoming a must have. Worth a try without a doubt.

Pipe Used: Meerscahum poker

Age When Smoked: ??

Purchased From: LJ Peretti

1 person found this review helpful.

balkan_boy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
balkan_boy (49)
Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

I had heard so much of this legendary blend, so the first opportunity I had, I've bought all the tins I could lay my hands on. About 12 tins of it. I was expecting something that will knock you off, that will literally make you high with it's awesomeness. That kind of impression I've had about this blend without having tried it. At least all the myths around it implied something like that. But in reality, it's not that way. If I didn't know this is Balkan Sobranie, I'd let it go, and remember it as very nice blend, maybe I would buy it again sometime, but nothing so special and remarkable about it to make it indispensable. That's the sad truth my fellow pipe smokers. It's very nice blend, enjoyable all the way, but I just imagined it's taste would be more like Comptons of Galashiels Balkan or Macedonian mixture, or that nice oriental aroma of the Red Odessa or something like that. Well, it's different. Tin note is awesome. You could sniff it all the time, and it will always be awesome. That promised an outstanding smoke, and I remained a little bit disappointed. There were no bells and whistles. I'm smoking it right now as I write this review, so let's get to the main thing. It's shag cut, very easy to smoke and keep lit, as a matter of fact, even if moist right out of the tin, it burns smoothly and cool, no relights, no hot pipe. First part of the bowl, nothing impressive. Poor on Latakia, it wouldn't hurt if they put a little bit more Lat. Once the latakia wasn't such a big of a deal, and they played more with VA and orientals. The second third, VAs come upfront, and then you get something unique. VAs are bright (or lemon maybe?) and make a unique aroma pattern along with the orientals, and you can even feel the Yenidje somewhere there. But it's more about the virginias than the orientals. That unique taste come from the VAs. And down to the bottom, it's very tasty, creamy in other words, it's enjoyable, not in terms of work of art for the conossieurs, it's just a good and superb smoke, and you can smoke it without focusing on discovering the hidden notes or analyzing it. You stuff it in your pipe, light and enjoy. It was a drugstore blend once, that's how it's meant to be smoked. I'd definitely smoke every last tin of it I have, but next time, I would buy it only if it's widely available. I'm glad I had the opportunity to try it, and although a little bit disappointed, I will smoke it and enjoy it. Back then in the second half of the last century, tobacco blending industry was on decline. The market was getting smaller and smaller, and there were no pieces of art back at that time. Internet made the trade from all over the world possible, and IMHO that saved this industry, and even more, made it blossom. The golden age of tobacco blending is NOW. Old folks may recall some good old blends from "back then" when there wasn't too much choice, and pretty much all the blends were somewhat mediocre. Those blends aren't something special, compared with modern blends not many of them stand a chance. This one does however, it's a good smoke. Poor on Latakia, but Ok. Highly recommended from me, at least for it's "legendness"

Cool Smoke everyone, Cheers!

Pipe Used: Meers and briars

Age When Smoked: fresh

Purchased From: Watch City Cigar Company

1 person found this review helpful.

Peppino Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Peppino (74)
Mild None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant

A very good tobacco, it reminds me of DH Early Morning both smoke light with orientals coming through just right. The Latakia is there but in the background. It holds it's flavor and tends to get richer at the 1/2 way point of the bowl. The finish is very nice leaving a nice gray ash that looks great in the pipe rack with that ash....I know ...what the hell does he care how the pipe looks in the rack? I just love to see all those pipes with a nice gray ash, waiting for their next trip.....OK it might be weird????LOL

1 person found this review helpful.

Virginia lover Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Virginia lover (218)
Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

Nice tin artwork, the smell off the tin is very intriguing. Fast burning shag cut tobacco that packs well and burns to a white ash. The Latakia is there in a supporting role with the Virginias on the forefront and the Orientals balancing the act. If puffed too fast, a cigarette like and bitter taste shows up so be warned.

Overall, an addictive smell when unlit and even more so when puffing away. Contrary to popular belief, Balkan Sobranie is in fact a very rich English Mixture and is not really dominated by the Orientals.

Virginia lover

1 person found this review helpful.

Adam S Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Adam S (6)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

Since I liked the review of 430pat a lot I will do the same :)

1. I have only tried few times from a fellow at pipe club 2. I had the pleasure of smoking the original. I even smoked the original the same week. 3. Very nice and enjoyable smoke that changes over 4. Did bells and whistles go off? Yes 5. Would I pay a premium? Yes 6. Would I purchase? yes! If I have a chance 7. Are there other blends closer to the original? yes

I must say I loved this blend. It is hard to compare to the original, because it has years of aging. Let's say that I would rather purchase a tin of Germain version than the original when I think of price/performance ratio...

1 person found this review helpful.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30171)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

1. Couldn't resist paid a premium for a tin 2. Never had the pleasure of smoking the original 3. Very nice and enjoyable smoke 4. Did bells and whistles go off? no 5. Would I pay a premium again? no 6. Would I purchase again? yes only at standard pricing 7. There are many quality tobaccos out there that are the same quality or better.But the Balkan Sobranie really is very good.

On my third bowl I guess I would pay a little extra

1 person found this review helpful.

CPT/VSG Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
CPT/VSG (72)
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

I smoked the original mixture back in the 1970s when it was available and the Gallagher pouch version more recently. Honestly, I don't recall enough of the flavor profile of the House of Sobranie product to comment except to say that, as one who "grew up" as a pipe smoker on Smoker's Haven's Our Best Blend,I was always told that the two were very similar. That remains the case today, partly due to the fact that Germain blends both now (originally OBB came from House of Sobranie) and both have something of that distinctive (and good) Germain character. The modern BS is a fairly full English blend, with a bit more latakia note than OBB to my taste buds. It does come very close to the Gallagher version that I revived from largely dried out pouches. Just a wonderful, rich, mix of fine orientals and virginias with enough latakia for the added smokey spice. I really like the new BS and have been buying tins whenever I see them as they are hard to find. Highly recommended.

1 person found this review helpful.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30171)
Medium None Detected Full Pleasant

Managed to pick this up a few months ago for somewhat of a premium. I guess I'll start by saying that this review is based on only one bowl I've had, though I feel I have experience with enough latakia mixtures to do a fair review. I've no experience with the original, so this is based solely on the blend's own merits. Due to the fact this is so hard to come by, I probably will only smoke this for special occasions, that is unless J.F Germain decides to release a few more batches that don't get sold out instantaneously.

On opening the tin, the fragrance is strong and thick, similar to some of the more robust latakia mixtures available. It comes in a very fine shag cut, slightly moist, but still burns well.

First off, I would say that this mixture has a very unique taste to it. I would describe it as almost like how a nice cinnamon potpourri smells, though I don't detect any sort of casing. I can guess that is achieved through the combination of high quality latakia, orientals, and cavendish. I don't believe I've experienced such a taste in any other tobacco before. There's a very good balance of ingredients, with a hearty dose of oriental. I think there are some virginias in this, but I can smell it more than I can taste it. Overall, the taste is interesting, highly complex, and quite delicious. It also leaves a pretty distinct and pleasant aftertaste. And though one would expect a decent nic kick from a blend like this, I don't believe I felt anything.

It would be nice if this were more widely available, then I could stock up, but sadly I have to hold on to what I've managed to find. If you're looking for a very good latakia mixture and are fortunate enough to come across this at a fair price, grab a tin, you won't be disappointed!

1 person found this review helpful.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30171)
Medium None Detected Full Strong

Opening the tin there is a tang. A good tang. A sour tang. I LOVE sour tobacco. I like bitter drinks as well but I like my orientals sour and that is what I got. The smell isn't quite on par with Presbyterian (with me, I have sang her virtues since I discovered her in 2004), but it is very yummy.

Even my wife liked it. Actually she loves english blends for some reason, doesn't like Va's that much. I don't either although there's a few I enjoy.

Honestly at first glance I was thinking I was going to get a lat bomb but although it is there, it isn't the star here.

Cut is rather strange, reminds me of a moist version of G&H Birdseye somewhere between a shag and ribbon. Packs well. Will plug a pipe though if some touch isn't used. I usually just run a cleaner through and unclog it.

First light is pure ambrosia orientals taking the stage again until about midbowl when for some reason it seems to flatten out and lose some flavor. It just stops, damnest thing. However it seems to come back with a rich fullness towards the end. Leather. Brine. Butter.

Not going to make a comment about ash, ash is ash to me at least.

I have smoked about half of this thing in 2 days. I keep thinking about it when I am away. I wonder if it hasn't become my precious or something. I am looking at it now wanting to stop writing and fill up again. I never had the original nor could I afford to. However it is going into my top three. Perhaps sitting on my guitar amp for a year and being aged gently to death metal helped I dunno but well worth it.

Final Verdict: Awesome. For someone who never had it you are in for a treat, if you are part of the Codger Society of Eluciated Breathren you will likely bemoan the loss of the original but you may be surprised.

Edit: This is from a quick review I did on a message board a few days prior. Haven't finished the tin yet as I am trying to save what is left until I can glom on to some more. Germain believes apparently, that quality takes time and cannot be rushed.

1 person found this review helpful.

scottyspipesebay Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
scottyspipesebay (25)
Mild to Medium Very Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant

The Balkan Sobranie: Kevin's review in Pipe Magazine dot com said something to the affect that Balkan Sasieni is a fairly close second to Balkan Sobranie Pipe Mixture. I disagree. This new stuff from Arango can't hold a candle to Sasieni. To me, it is without a doubt a far superior blend at nearly 1/2 the price.

Update 8/6/12: I'm finding that this seems a bit too immature. I'm convinced it needs some serious aging. I can only get 1/2 way down with a load before it looses flavor; bites like a piranha, and tastes like a 2 bit cigar. Never having had the original, I can only say that it must have been far superior to what we have access to, at present. The more I smoke this, the more I want to toss it into the briar patch. Very disappointing. I have lowered my rating to 1 star, and I no longer recommend it; especially at 10.50 a pop.

1 person found this review helpful.

derlict311 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
derlict311 (71)
Medium to Strong None Detected Full Tolerable to Strong

I just opened my third tin of Balkan Sobraine. What a find! And what great art on the tin! I have zero knowledge on the Original version or its various incarnations, other than a few articles, however, I can tell you Germain's revival of Balkan Sobraine is very impressive. It's flavor is rich and, dare I say, sophisticated. Plus, it's a blast telling your buddies your about to smoke a bowl of "Balkan Sobraine"(So- brain-ee for those that don't know)...which makes a good conversation piece. It has the potential to stand out among tobacco blends on the market today. The only negative is that I can't smoke more than a bowl or two a day without dulling the buds. Other than that, a stellar smoke.

1 person found this review helpful.

JaWiBr Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JaWiBr (563)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Tin note of musty sour vegetation and pungent smoky. Tobacco is a thin ribbon cut of black and brown, with a little tan mixed in. Moisture content is great. Burns moderate with few relights. The strength is mild to medium and nic is mild. No flavoring detected. Taste is medium and consistent, with notes of smoky, very bitter wood, floral, toasted bread, leather, musty herbal vegetation, incense, dry earth, acidic/spicy, citrus peel/zest, a mildly sweet stewed tangy fruit background note, and a very peppery retro. Latakia is leading with Oriental/Turkish and Virginia supporting. Room note is pleasant to tolerable, and aftertaste is great.

Pipe Used: James Upshall Smooth Acorn (4) (P) (FH)

Age When Smoked: 5 years

Purchased From: Cup O' Joes

Nobody has rated this review yet.

WorkingClassChap Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
WorkingClassChap (197)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Smoking now:

Tin note is a sharp and pungent Latakia musty aroma. It’s a nice floral herbal smoky Latakia smell not too astringent. This particular tin is starting to rust so it’s got some age on it.

The flavor is nice and mild, not overwhelming. The Latakia is obviously the star player. It’s floral herbal smokey and it’s nice. There’s a mild spice to it too. Slight sour note in the background. The retrohale is a bit sharp but floral. Gets bready and yeasty as the bowl progresses and the Latakia dies down. Never harsh or overwhelming. Has an after taste that does linger. Smokes to ash. Very well done.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

paulw Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
paulw (76)
Medium Medium Medium Tolerable to Strong

Yes I reviewed this rerelease. It was a proper English as it should be .I found the blend well balanced with all the virginia’s and Orientals making a very memorable experience for this Burley/ cavendish lover.I was glad to finally get to try this after all of the years of being a burley cavendish and aromatic smoker.

Pipe Used: Greenwich House

Age When Smoked: 2014

Purchased From: Colony Tobacco pipe show

Nobody has rated this review yet.

DeathMetal.org Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
DeathMetal.org (231)
Mild to Medium None Detected Full Tolerable

The good news: this is a variety of English mixture that places the Orientals first, allowing that wonderful fermented flavor to take center stage. The Latakia strikes first of course, bringing its tangy flavor to the foreground, but the power of this blend is that the Orientals and Latakia do not fully merge, instead float on top of one another, with the Virginias providing a sweetness like agave or turbinado sugar. In other words, you have an English mixture in layers where the Latakia is powerful, but the force that guides the flavor is the Orientals. Compared to many Englishes, this one is a little bit unbalanced, but it is that ragged nature that I enjoy, and I would smoke this again.

Thank you to PipesMagazine.com forum member sablebrush52 for this sample.

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