Sobranie, Saseini, White Knight, and me

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judcole

Preferred Member
Sep 14, 2011
4,685
53
Detroit
I smoked Balkan Sobranie Original back in the early 1970s, when I was going to Michigan State, and buying tobacco from Campbell's Smoke Shop in East Lansing. (It's still there.) I couldn't tell you how much of it I smoked, but I liked it a lot. When I moved to Detroit, I spent a few years smoking less expensive blends - I was counting the pennies. When I had money again, and started going to Hill and Hill in Grosse Pointe Woods, Jim Simon, the proprietor, got me onto a house blend of his called Golden Ash, which was a similar blend. That was pretty much the end of my experience with Sobranie. I never smoked the pouch version that was around, so I can't compare that to what I smoked, but it's pretty well-known that the blend did not stay the same over the years.

Sometime in the early 2000's I discovered Balkan Sasieni,when it was in a pouch. I smoked a pretty fair amount of that,too, until I discovered Hearth & Home's Larry's Blend, and it moved into my slot for full Balkan mixtures.

Early in 2014, I decided to re-explore Sasieni. I ordered a tin to fill out an order. While smoking it, I decided that there was room for both it and Larry's Blend in my rotation, so I stocked up. Then I heard about White Knight, Russ Oulette's attempt to recreate the Sobranie Original of his early smoking days; I ordered a tin,smoked it, fell in love, and have acquired several more tins. Finally, I was able to secure a couple of tins of the current version of Balkan Sobranie. I wrote this little essay right around the time I finished smoking a tin of the current Sobranie.
White Knight – When I opened my first tin of this, olfactory memories came rushing back on me. I couldn't have told you what the old Sobranie was like, before, but now I can – and this is very close to what I remember.. The thing that stands out is the creaminess in the smoke. A wonderful blend, and one that I will always have in my rotation. Four stars.
Balkan Sasieni – This is another fine blend, not as close,to my revived memory, to the Sobranie I smoked in the early 70's,but still a damned fine blend. Not as creamy as WK, but still worth having around,if not always in the rotation. Three stars.
Balkan Sobranie – Although this blend bears the legendary name, it is nothing like the blend I remember from the early 1970s. It may be close to the pouch version. The leaf is of good quality, but I considered it rather boring, to be honest. I have tried it in a variety of pipes, and haven't noticed much difference. I have no idea what I will do with the second tin. The only reason to buy this that I can fathom is that it bears a famous name. One star.

 

newbroom

Preferred Member
Jul 11, 2014
5,493
8
Me likey Balkan Sasieni, and have it in bulk form.

White Knight is another Russ Oulette home run. I had a tin and gave it to my kid brother after having smoked about half. I gave it to him in the morning to take to work and he never gave it back....lol...

I went from Newminster 52 to Nightcap immediately. Then I began to try other Lat blends.

A pick 5 tin sampler from P&C helped a lot in acquiring a few to try. Now the crawls I've started to follow are also facilitating exploration.

 

mranglophile

Senior Member
May 11, 2015
391
0
United States
I have yet to try any of them as I have mainly been a Va guy but have been moving towards Lat blends and had been looking at all three. I will surely try the White Knight, thanks.

 

papipeguy

Preferred Member
Jul 31, 2010
15,799
6
Bethlehem, Pa.
Good review, Jud. WhiteKnight is what I remember BS to be in the 1970's when I smoked it in college. Russ has a real knack for capturing the characteristics of old classics and, IMHO, improves on them. I tried some of his baby's Bottom match last week at our club meeting and everyone thought it was better than the new Dunhill BB1938.

 

bigjoe

Junior Member
Aug 14, 2014
55
0
I have a tin of White Knight I picked up last fall that I should pop open and try... :puffy:

 

sablebrush52

Preferred Member
Jun 15, 2013
9,743
434
+1
I smoked Balkan Sobranie in the '70's as well. I loved it, as well as other Sobranie products. I've had a few occasions to smoke vintage BS recently and did a comparison between the Germaine product, WhiteKnight, and 35 year old BS. Allowing for some fading in the vintage tobacco, there is no question that WhiteKnight comes way closer than the rather bland Germaine product. WhiteKnight is a hit. Germaine BS is a miss.
I've a stack of Germaine's BS that I'm never going to smoke. Bought it a few years ago before I tried it. Oy, what a mistake. Now that it has become another object for hoarders and scalpers, I'll let it ride for a few years and sell it off.
Balkan Sasieni is purported to be from the Redstone family, makers of the original Balkan Sobranie. It has a higher percentage of Macedonian leaf and is a mighty tasty smoke, one that definitely brings back fond memories.

 

shanelktown

Preferred Member
Feb 10, 2015
994
0
White knight is some good stuff hey @sablebrush52 if your not going to smoke that der jahmaines Bahlkan sahbranie I do enjoy that stuff.....

 

chasingembers

Preferred Member
Nov 12, 2014
16,082
998
The new Sobranie is a bit one dimensional. I have some that I bought in the early '90s that is sublime. Sasieni is also a wonderful blend. As for White Knight, just didn't care for it. I like Russ's Mid-Town series, but most of his blends really haven't set well with me.

 

markthelad

Preferred Member
Mar 18, 2014
588
1
Thanks Jud, good review! I enjoy BS occasionally and now White Knight is now on my short list of blends to try.

 

seadogontheland

Preferred Member
Oct 4, 2014
600
0
The new Sobranie is soso, but the Sasieni doesn't really work for me. Still have to try the H&H recipe and I suppose I will never get to try the old Sobranie. There are so many fine Latakia blends on the market, so I'm just fine. If you like stout Latakia blends try to get a tin of Brebbia's Balkan...strong yummy stuff, will put the sweats on you if puffed to quickly.

 

fnord

Preferred Member
Dec 28, 2011
2,752
0
Topeka, KS
Jud:
Terrific review. I was a cigarette smoker all those years and kick myself daily for not making the pipe jump until five years ago.
Balkan Sasieni is under rated and one of the best Lat forward blends on the market. That this stuff is so inexpensive amazes me. I buy it by the five tin sleeve and always have some on hand.
Newbroom, who sells BS bulk?
I'm not a fan of White Knight or the new Balkan Sobranie, but I'm a lifetime pass-holder on the Oulette train for Black House, Larry's Blend and 10 to Midnight.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and memories.
Fnord

 

matchstickman

Preferred Member
Jul 15, 2011
2,363
0
It almost embarrasses me to admit that White Knight somehow kind of fell off my radar, me being the latakia whore that I am. Based on this review, I will have to pick up a tin and give it a try.
I smoked Balkan Sasieni many a moon ago, I think it was the first Latakia blend I smoked if I recall. I remember liking it, even if it was still in the phase when I was scorching the living hell out of my tongue. May have to pick up a tin of that for comparison as well. Thanks for bringing these to my attention Jud. Much appreciated.

 

lochinvar

Preferred Member
Oct 22, 2013
1,323
53
Great review Jud.
I really like all of them, though you are right, the New Sobranie isn't anything like the Original, more liked an amped up King Charles, and really Sobranie lovers are better served with cheaper Sasieni. The best of all is White Knight. My only problem with it is the cut, its a little chunky for my smoking style, and tends to falter on me. But for the taste it's well worth every match spent to relight.

 

brass

Preferred Member
Jun 4, 2014
1,840
0
United States
I've stocked on Balkan Sobranie and just ordered a couple of more tins today. I liked White Horse and Sasienie as good as the Sobranie. Perhaps we'll do a smoke-off of Balkan styles for one of our crawls.

 

andrew

Preferred Member
Feb 13, 2013
2,883
2
@Fnord http://www.cupojoes.com/cgi-bin/dept?dpt=F&srch=DF&tier2=143
Cupojoes lists it as having bulk Balkan Sasieni but it's most likely just Peter S. Balkan supreme, Rich from 4noggins has chimed in and stated that they do not make Balkan Sasieni in bulk, plus they don't have balkan supreme listed under their PS tobacco's on cupojoes website, so I'll leave it up to the consumer to decide.

 

judcole

Preferred Member
Sep 14, 2011
4,685
53
Detroit
Thanks for the kind comments, fellas. This review did result in me getting rid of that unwanted tin; I got a trade for a tin of Old Dublin from 2004. I'll be interested to see how that smokes when I finish up my current tin of OD. :puffy: