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Balkan Sobranie

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  1. spartacus

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    Balkan Sobranie is in at P&C

    Posted 4 months ago #
  2. ben88

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    Since last night. But @ $25.

    Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate
    Posted 4 months ago #
  3. cosmicfolklore

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    This one I can explain... they release this one in very limited amounts because as soon as people realize that it isn't all that great, they'll stop buying it. But, for the sportsman shopper, have fun stalking that one down.

    Michael
    Posted 4 months ago #
  4. gerryp

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    ...it isn't all that great...

    I bought some recently and was pretty underwhelmed. I felt the same way about a recent Margate purchase, but was assured that it would improve with age. Maybe it's a Germain thing.

    Posted 4 months ago #
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    sopsac

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    Great, thanks Spartacus!

    Posted 4 months ago #
  6. cosmicfolklore

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    It used to be good, but something is very different about it, and the change hasn't been all that long ago, because I remember it tasting a lot better than it does now. It's not awful, just not worth the effort, IMO.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  7. sablebrush52

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    $25? Wow, P&C dropped the price on it a lot! They were charging $34 for it for a long while, which was really pissing people off here. If you're looking for a Balkan Sobranie clone that's closer to the original than Germain's ghastly misfire, try WhiteKnight.

    It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt. - Mark Twain

    It is pointless to argue with a fanatic since a dim bulb can't be converted into a searchlight. - Jesse Silver
    Posted 4 months ago #
  8. wolflarsen

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    Milan Tobacconists had it last week for $15

    Posted 4 months ago #
  9. spartacus

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    Tobaccopipes had it for $18 two weeks ago but that sold out within a day.

    Thanks Sable, I just picked up some WhiteKnight but haven't tried it yet. I think I have enough Sobranie to not worry about paying $25 especially if this WhiteKnight turns out to be good.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  10. chasingembers

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    Twenty-five dollars is a bit steep. Five or six years ago, when I last bought it, it was $60/five can roll. White Knight had an artificial sweetness I didn't care for and prefer Presbyterian.

    Damnation seize my soul if I give you quarters, or take any from you.
    -Edward Teach
    Posted 4 months ago #
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    Alex

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    I recently bought some from Iwan Ries... $14.50 I think.
    @gerryp I once heard that Germain is one of the old-school tobacconists that pre-age their tobacco before selling. Never had much Germain blends before, but wouldn't that mean they would benefit rather less from extra aging?

    Posted 4 months ago #
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    Alex

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    @sablebrush I thought Blackhouse was supposed to be the BS match - how are the two different? Excuse me if this was a stupid question...

    Posted 4 months ago #
  13. sablebrush52

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    @sablebrush I thought Blackhouse was supposed to be the BS match - how are the two different? Excuse me if this was a stupid question...

    Not a stupid question at all. Blackhouse is a copy of Sobranie 759, not the Original Smoking Mixture. Personally, I prefer 759.

    Posted 4 months ago #
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    Alex

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    Thanks! Didn't know there were two BS varieties... would you also consider Blackhouse as a faithful match of its heydays?

    Posted 4 months ago #
  15. jiminks

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    I'd say it was a fairly faithful match, and the closest one that anybody has made. It won second place in the Chicago Throw Down a few years back when several blenders competed to match 759. McClelland won the contest, but there's no way Balkan Blue was closer to 759 as Russ' Black House was/is.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  16. chasingembers

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    Blackhouse was first, then Balkan Blue, and third was Balkan Luxury Blend 957.

    http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/2011-balkan-sobranie-throwdown#post-76388

    Posted 4 months ago #
  17. jiminks

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    I stand corrected. Thanks.

    Posted 4 months ago #
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    Alex

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    Thank you JimInks and Embers!

    Posted 4 months ago #
  19. sablebrush52

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    @gerryp I once heard that Germain is one of the old-school tobacconists that pre-age their tobacco before selling. Never had much Germain blends before, but wouldn't that mean they would benefit rather less from extra aging?

    Germain's considers their blends ready to smoke when shipped as was expressed in an email to a former forum member. The email went on to exhort people to quit "fapping about" (though some here remember the term as "faffing about", or it might as well have been "fannying about") with the unnecessary aging.

    Here's how I've come to regard aging. Aging doesn't automatically improve tobacco blends. The flavor characteristics of a blend may change over time. Whether that change is an improvement is up to the individual smoker to decide.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  20. chasingembers

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    I stand corrected. Thanks.

    Very welcome. Mike did win the people's choice award, but Russ got the overall win from the judges. A proud day for all three.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  21. jiminks

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    I agree. I must have confused the people's choice award (who must have had a lot of McClelland fans voting) with the judges. I still say Black House was the best match in the contest.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  22. chasingembers

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    Never got a chance to try the original, but I've heard many echo your opinion.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  23. jiminks

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    Thanks to one of the sponsors of the event, I got to try the original samples by the top three winners' blends.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  24. chasingembers

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    Lucky!

    Posted 4 months ago #
  25. spartacus

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    Well...I'll smoke some BlackHouse for breakfast then.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  26. rdavid

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    No wonder I like Blackhouse so much. Been smoking it daily for awhile now.

    "May my last breath be drawn through a pipe, and exhaled in a jest." Charles Lamb
    Posted 4 months ago #
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    Alex

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    @sable Thanks for the info! Again, it's obviously personal, but in your opinion which blend types (i.e. Straight Virginia, English) are likely to "improve" from aging?

    Posted 4 months ago #
  28. sablebrush52

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    @sable Thanks for the info! Again, it's obviously personal, but in your opinion which blend types (i.e. Straight Virginia, English) are likely to "improve" from aging?

    Virginia and English blends both change over the years. Whether that change is an improvement is up to the individual smoker to decide. Virginias tend to gain in sweetness while the flavor characteristics of the leaf used become more pronounced. With Va/Pers the Perique may mellow over time, losing some of it's heat while developing a rich fruitiness. The individual components marry to present an overall flavor profile, rather than one that is affected from sip to sip by what is burning.
    Latakias fade over time, just how quickly varies. If you're a lover of pungent Latakia, love those Lat bombs, then aging may not make you happy. On the other hand, a lot of smokers prefer the less pungent flavor of aged Latakia and the deepened flavors of the matured Orientals in their English blends. One of the best smokes I've had in recent years was some 45 year old State Express London Mixture. For me it was perfection in the bowl, rich, round, deeply flavorful, superbly balanced Orientals, very subtly smoky, and probably not like it was when fresh.

    To the extent that you like how your chosen blends change with cellaring, they will have improved, whether they be Virginias or English.

    My own personal take is that certain blenders products need some shelf time before smoking. They're releasing their tobaccos too young, while other blenders age their blends longer before distributing them. So there are a few blends I like that I know are going to need a few years of cellaring before they develop enough flavor for me to enjoy them, and there are others that are ready to be enjoyed straight from the tobacconist.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  29. gerryp

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    but wouldn't that mean they would benefit rather less from extra aging?

    Alex: I would think so, diminishing returns and all that, but it might still make a difference. In the past I never had tobacco long enough to get any benefits from aging. However, I have some Dark Flake Scented that I bought last June, and it has improved noticeably during those 8 months. (That's my opinion, but I'm almost always right so you can trust it. ) I mention that because I think G&H ages their products for a good while before selling them. I also noticed a difference between some older (I suspect) bulk MM965 I bought last year and a recently purchased, brand-new tin. The bulk stuff was smoother and sweeter.

    I have a hunch that, like beer, stronger tobacco blends tend to benefit more from aging than milder ones which might actually suffer from it. Thoughts on that, anyone?

    The only reason I would consider paying $35 for a can of Balkan Sobranie would be if tobacco was completely outlawed and I had to resort to the black market. The can is pretty cool too, I guess.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  30. gerryp

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    Also: I could be wrong on this, but I'm skeptical that aging BS will improve it so much that it's better than, say, London Mixture (a favorite of mine). Same goes for Margate and Nightcap, for me anyway. Ymmv.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  31. sablebrush52

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    Also: I could be wrong on this, but I'm skeptical that aging BS will improve it so much that it's better than, say, London Mixture (a favorite of mine). Same goes for Margate and Nightcap, for me anyway. Ymmv.

    The only thing that will improve Germain's version of Balkan Sobranie will be the sun going supernova and the subsequent incineration of the solar system.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  32. gerryp

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    The only thing that will improve Germain's version of Balkan Sobranie will be the sun going supernova and the subsequent incineration of the solar system.

    ...after which some guy on Chiron Beta Prime starts selling horded tins of BS, purchased on a trip to the alien base in the middle of the hollow earth, for $8000 credits apiece.

    Posted 4 months ago #
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    Alex

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    Thanks for all the input sable and gerryp! I haven't smoked a pipe long enough to have aged tins so these kinds of advice really help.
    btw - is it that bad? I thought $14.50 was a steal and bought 3 tins... now you guys scared the crap out of me

    Posted 4 months ago #
  34. spartacus

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    Everyone's taste differ. The only BS I have smoked was 4 years old and had crystallized. I thought it was a great smoke. I have a couple of old tins in my cellar and 6 new ones. I love Latakia though, whether it's a bomb or hanging in the background.

    Don't be scared by other peoples review. Smoke what you like regardless. I think Carter Hall is horsecrap! There are members here that love it though. Just because I don't like it won't diminish their love for it.

    If you don't like it I will give you $14.50 for the tins.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  35. gerryp

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    I thought $14.50 was a steal and bought 3 tins

    Alex: Sorry if I gave the wrong impression. I think BS is pretty good, like 2.5 or 3 stars out of 4, and $14.50 is a fair price for it. What I meant to say is that I don't think BS is worth the hype and there are better comparable products out there for less money. I love G.L. Pease Westminster and that goes for 10 bucks a can online.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  36. sablebrush52

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    Thanks for all the input sable and gerryp! I haven't smoked a pipe long enough to have aged tins so these kinds of advice really help.
    btw - is it that bad? I thought $14.50 was a steal and bought 3 tins... now you guys scared the crap out of me

    Tastes in tobacco are personal. I smoked Balkan Sobranie in the 1970's when it was made by Sobranie LTD, and it was a favorite smoke. The Germain's version gives me the heaves. Others LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the stuff. To each his own.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  37. spartacus

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    I smoked Balkan Sobranie in the 1970's when it was made by Sobranie LTD

    I'm going to have to be on the lookout for an old tin of that. I bet it is pricey if it's available.

    Posted 4 months ago #
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    celticbrewer

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    Just tried the Germains for the first time... liked it just fine but dont know what the obsession is about. Interested to try black house now though

    Posted 4 months ago #
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    Alex

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    Thanks for the clarification gerryp and sable. I'm yet to try it but not worried at all - I can dump it on spartacus if I'm not happy!

    Posted 4 months ago #
  40. sablebrush52

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    I'm going to have to be on the lookout for an old tin of that. I bet it is pricey if it's available.

    Just be aware that it's not likely to be what it once was. Latakia fades over time. Some of the Balkan Sobranie that was tinned in cutter tops has survived remarkably well and some has turned to zombie sludge. But once exposed to fresh oxygen it turns to crap pretty quickly. So if, by chance, you do find a good tin and you open it, be prepared to smoke it up quickly.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  41. pipestud

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    and some has turned to zombie sludge-sablebrush52

    Zombie sludge? Now that's a visual that made me toss my breakfast.

    Pipestud
    Posted 4 months ago #
  42. writingraav

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    I can't say I remember what 759 tasted like back in the day, but I've fallen in love with Black House. Very nearly my perfect blend.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  43. spartacus

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    So if, by chance, you do find a good tin and you open it, be prepared to smoke it up quickly.

    I will do that. Haven't found any yet. I am liking both BlackHouse and WhiteKnight very much.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  44. sablebrush52

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    Haven't found any yet. I am liking both BlackHouse and WhiteKnight very much.

    WhiteKnight has several advantages over Balkan Sobranie. First off, WK tastes more like Balkan Sobranie than the current incarnation of BS tastes like the BS of yore. Secondly, it's not costing you three times retail for the privilege of buying a famous name and badly reproduced tin art. Third, it's generally easily obtainable.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  45. jpmcwjr

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    And you can adopt a slightly smug feeling that you're smarter than the average BS smoker... Or not....

    I know that you believe you understood what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
    Posted 4 months ago #
  46. spartacus

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    And you can adopt a slightly smug feeling that you're smarter than the average BS smoker... Or not....

    I think I will cellar a bunch of WK and let it go at that.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  47. bnichols23

    Bill Nichols

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    From what I've heard of the "new" BS I've not bought any nor do I think I will. I don't want my memory of the BITD version ruined. -sigh-

    Bill

    Head Black Frigate keelhauler, boss powder monkey, & troublemaker 1st class.
    Posted 4 months ago #
  48. jpmcwjr

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    Good plan, Bill.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  49. philobeddoe

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    Just to add...White Knight was rather bland to me and I quite enjoy Sobranie with at least three years of aging. By the way my regular smoke is Margate and I quite enjoy Black House, just my .2 cents.

    "So it goes." - K.V.
    Posted 4 months ago #
  50. lawdawg

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    I really like White Knight when I want a smooth creamy "Balkan" style Latakia blend, without some of the spiciness that comes with "English" style latakia blends. However, I also really like Balkan Sobranie and cannot see why it gets all the hate it gets here. I would rank White Knight and the new BS equally, which means I buy White Knight because its cheap and readily available. I would not pay above the average tin price for Balkan Sobranie.

    EDIT: I also think White Knight is almost as good as Penzance, though Penzance seems to be more forgiving of smoking too hot.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  51. haparnold

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    However, I also really like Balkan Sobranie and cannot see why it gets all the hate it gets here.

    I think there are really two evaluations going on: one is evaluating the blend for what it is, with no context (which is very hard to do). The other is evaluating a blend for what it's cracked up to be, which is a very high bar to clear when you're talking about something like BS.

    Imagine if BS were a bulk blend from P&C. People would probably talk about it being an underrated solid mixture. But BS (much like Esoterica) gets a lot of hate because it's got a huge mythology around it which no blend could live up to. People get frustrated either by chasing unobtanium, or because others want to act like it's the be-all end-all of existence to get your hands on some.

    De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum
    Posted 4 months ago #
  52. sablebrush52

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    I think there are really two evaluations going on: one is evaluating the blend for what it is, with no context (which is very hard to do). The other is evaluating a blend for what it's cracked up to be, which is a very high bar to clear when you're talking about something like BS.

    Spot on. There's a lot of BS surrounding BS. My reason for hating it is simple. It just tastes purely awful to me. I literally can't enjoy a single bowl of it.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  53. cohibajoe

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    Spot on. There's a lot of BS surrounding BS. My reason for hating it is simple. It just tastes purely awful to me. I literally can't enjoy a single bowl of it.

    Agree...I picked up several tins last year...Smoked 2 bowls(awful) and gave them away to a smoke club.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  54. haparnold

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    There's a lot of BS surrounding BS

    Ha! I like to tell people my Bachelor of Science degree was all BS, too.

    Posted 4 months ago #
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    Alex

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    Just had my first bowl of Germain BS. Wouldn't call it BS, but mediocre IMO although you can take my opinion with a grain of salt considering my newbie status. Comoy's Cask No. 1 is much cheaper and easily available, and tastes pretty much the same.

    Posted 4 months ago #

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