J. F. Germain & Son Balkan Sobranie

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


Brand J. F. Germain & Son
Blended By J.F. Germain & Son
Manufactured By J.F. Germain & Son
Blend Type Balkan
Contents Latakia, Oriental/Turkish, Virginia
Cut Ribbon
Packaging 50 grams tin
Country United Kingdom
Production Re-release


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

Average Rating

3.27 / 4





Please login to post a review.
Displaying 61 - 70 of 88 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 06, 2017 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
PurchasedFrom: Iwan Ries
Age When Smoked: Unknown
1 person found this review helpful.
Please login to upvote this review.
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 23, 2017 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.
Please login to upvote this review.
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 06, 2017 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.
Please login to upvote this review.
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 18, 2016 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.
Please login to upvote this review.
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 03, 2016 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
PurchasedFrom: Pipes and Cigars
Age When Smoked: new and 2 weeks and 9 months
1 person found this review helpful.
Please login to upvote this review.
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 13, 2016 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.
Please login to upvote this review.
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 15, 2016 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
PurchasedFrom: www.cupojoes.com
Age When Smoked: Fresh
1 person found this review helpful.
Please login to upvote this review.
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 13, 2016 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
1 person found this review helpful.
Please login to upvote this review.
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 24, 2015 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
PurchasedFrom: Iwanries
1 person found this review helpful.
Please login to upvote this review.
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 17, 2015 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.
Please login to upvote this review.