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





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Displaying 81 - 88 of 88 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 30, 2012 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.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 28, 2012 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.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 29, 2012 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.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 14, 2023 Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
I have decided it is the proper time to do this. I am still a bid reserved, but if I don't review this now I probably won't have another chance. Which one have I smoked? I don't know, I don't know how old it is, I don't know which iteration, and I don't even know whether the latakia is Cypriot or Syrian. I never actually ever had enough of this blend in order to feel comfortable to make an objective review. I never owned a full tin, I never know the full history of the smoke whenever somebody gifts me a few grams. I don't even know why it only rates 3.25 on this website, and no, I am still not able to offer you an unbiased review. To me .. this the #1 ever latakia based bled. Before I even knew how rare it was, it spoke to me in a unique manner. It is the epitome of ballance. Nicotine wise very balanced, not over the top not under rated, flavor wise .. the perfect amount of latakia vs oriental vs virginia, moisture wise.. well I was lucky on all accounts, fine ribbon cut, fine nose lit or raw, just great. I was always a big fan of english/Orientals smoking them to refuse.. I can never get tired of this. Well, give me unlimited supply and I might. Seriously now, the only 4 star rating without any hold back. An all time classic ! Take the best out of squadron leader, consumate gentleman, artisans blend, Presbyterian, commonwealth, and my mixture, and you get this guy .. it's a personal weakness of mine, and I understand if you don't agree with me.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 02, 2023 Mild None Detected Medium Tolerable
Alright! So, the legendary Balkan Sobranie! Finally smoked and reviewed. Is it that good or is it just a hype or nostalgia of others? Lets see!

First things first, the tin note. Not very strong anymore, it’s a medium strength of the tin note, presenting woody and incense notes, peaty, musty, leather, some herbal notes but not very pronounced. A fine smelling tin note I’d say.

Aspect is great. Very well cut medium ribbons, a balanced color palette, with mostly dark brown, black and just a few dark gold ribbons. The moisture is there, and would require a bit of drying time, depending on your preferences.

Now for the most important part. Taste and flavor.
First match and first notes. Medium-sweet, incense smoky, leathery and ‘bazaar’ spices on the background. Its has some herbal, tea-like flavors a bit as well. It is very balanced, not heavy, not stinky, not stingy, but not soft and silky either. Each tobacco can be tasted here if paying attention. The virginia is hay and grass with tea notes.
Some more smokes after, just a little spice and wood notes comes to complete the other notes mentioned above.
I can tell this is made by J.F. Germain & Son since it resembles a lot of the Esoterica blends like Penzance and especially Margate and Pembroke. Quality tobacco, balanced taste.

This stayed for about a month in a jar, and I can say it has become milder since I first opened the tin and smoked it. At first, i was blown away. It was much bolder. Now it has tamed down to a more balanced medium taste (first it was medium to full). The strength is mild to medium.

Overall, this is quite a good tobacco. A maximum score here from me. It is one of the best balkan blends I’ve tried so far and it gets in my favorites list. Too bad it’s hard to get. I would definitely buy more of this.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 09, 2023 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)
PurchasedFrom: Cup O' Joes
Age When Smoked: 5 years
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 16, 2022 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
PurchasedFrom: Colony Tobacco pipe show
Age When Smoked: 2014
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 30, 2017 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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