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Domestic Latakia?

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  • Started 5 years ago by woodsroad
  • Latest reply from woodsroad
  1. woodsroad

    woodsroad

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    I'm curious (or at least that's what folks say about me):

    Latakia seems to be in everything these days. You can't blink an eye without a new Latakia blend showing up. So where is all this smoked tobacco coming from? Not Latakia, Syria, we know that, they are too busy killing each other. Greece? Cyprus? Turkey? Perhaps Virginia?

    Judging from prices, I'm finding it entirely plausible that at least some Latakia is made here in the US. It costs about the same as other domestics, and seems to be in more than ready supply. Recent purchases also smell a lot like pine...very newly smoked pine.

    I'm not saying domestic Latakia would be wrong, but it wouldn't be Latakia. That can only come from Latakia, Syria. But I'm more than certain that we could produce some very good and unique smoked tobaccos here. Seems like a market niche waiting to be explored.

    Any informed opinions out there?

    Posted 5 years ago #
  2. cortezattic

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    AFAIK, the only Latakia being produced now comes from Cyprus. They use Smyrna leaf, and that variety won't grow outside of Greece or Turkey (where it is called Izmir). I don't know what wood is used to smoke it.

    American dark fired tobaccos, primarily Kentucky (a cultivar of Burley), and Virginia, do create a smoky taste that approaches that of Latakia, but the differences are obvious.

    McClelland produces Cajun Black made from a Virginia leaf that is grown in Kentucky soil and is fire cured and further processed using a method similar to that used for Perique (fermentation). It has a smoky flavor too. McClelland apparently also has a supply of Syrian Latakia in their inventory (which is made from an Oriental variety called Shek-el-Bint).

    I find myself sitting idly on the line dividing past and future,
    as if I could kill time without injuring eternity. -- Thoreau
    Posted 5 years ago #
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    Larry (Cortez) pretty much nailed it.

    I remember reading how attempts were made to produce latakia tobacco from Syrian seed here in the USA-- it was an utter failure, attributed to the differences in the soil and atmospheric conditions.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  4. piperl12

    piperl12

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    Great info Cortez i learn something every day here.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  5. woodsroad

    woodsroad

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    Thank you, Cortez, much appreciated.

    If I ever get around to trying to grow my own leaf, I am most certainly going to try doing a Perique and Latakia kind of process.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  6. judcole

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    Yup, latakia originated in Syria, and then at some point they started doing it in Cyprus, too. Don't know when. Hasn't been Syrian lat available for 8 or 10 years. MacBaren has a lot of it - that's all they use. Even before production stopped in Syria, most lat blends used the Cyprian variety.

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    Posted 5 years ago #
  7. tarak

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    Yeah not sure there could be such a thing as "Domestic Lat"....as it a smoked cured oriental leaf- and not sure that could grow here correctly.

    We do have dark fired Kentucky.....which certainly isn't Latakia.....just its distant cousin perhaps.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  8. cortezattic

    Cortez

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    Can someone here tell me what tobacco variety "Mahogany" leaf is, (e.g. like a Burley type)?

    Posted 5 years ago #
  9. woodsroad

    woodsroad

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    No, it wouldn't be Latakia, but it could be something else worthwhile...

    Posted 5 years ago #
  10. mso489

    mso489

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    As relates to Latakia, pipe smokers right now seem to agree with the old Mae West line:
    "Too much of a good things is ... wonderful!"

    Posted 5 years ago #
  11. undecagon

    undecagon

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    Whenever this comes up, it's pointed out that the oriental leaf doesn't grow correctly here....

    BUT - What I want to know is; Can we take a non-oriental leaf (Virgina or Burley...something grown here in the states) and treat it like Latakia is treated (cured over burning oak)? I know it won't taste like Cyprian Latakia. But Cyprian and Syrian don't take totally alike either! So - where is the USA Latakia?

    Also, if someone can force Greg or Russ to comment, that'd be excellent!

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    Posted 5 years ago #
  12. tarak

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    Undcsgon - unless I'm wrong, we have what you're referring to. It's called Dark Fired Kentucky.

    Delicious? Yes. Latakia? No.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  13. brian64

    brian64

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    Can someone here tell me what tobacco variety "Mahogany" leaf is, (e.g. like a Burley type)?

    I have wondered about that as well. If I’m not mistaken, the original University Flake used to list Mahogany on the tin...but the more recent incarnation does not.

    “Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out.” – George Carlin
    Posted 5 years ago #
  14. undecagon

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    Undcsgon - unless I'm wrong, we have what you're referring to. It's called Dark Fired Kentucky.

    Delicious? Yes. Latakia? No.

    Is that how dark fired is prepared? If so....then cool! Mystery solved

    Posted 5 years ago #
  15. tarak

    tarak

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    Undecagon-

    I believe its a burley leaf that is cured over smoke.

    Someone smarter than me please step and confirm or vehemently deny this information

    Posted 5 years ago #
  16. cortezattic

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    Russ Ouellette said

    Latakia’s signature campfire-like flavor and aroma comes from the fact that the tobacco is hung in barns with an open fire
    made of aromatic woods and herbs which produces smoke that saturates the leaf until it’s black. [emphasis mine]
    Maybe access to the Orientals, and the recipe for the "aromatic woods & herbs" used in fumigating them, is a barrier to American production.
    I IRC, Syria placed a moratorium on harvesting the wood used in producing Latakia, not the tobacco itself.

    Posted 5 years ago #
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    Though the "recipe" might be a challenge, it shouldn't be that hard to replicate. As I said above, my take is that it has to do with the soil and weather conditions for the most part.

    One of (more than a few) All American blends that has a latakia taste, but is actually 100% virginia, is McClelland 221B Series: Black Shag.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  18. woodsroad

    woodsroad

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    We need to get some BBQers into pipes!

    There are commercial smokers available that control for, and are programmable for, smoke volume, humidity and temperature. Granted, it would poduce a small volume of tobacco, but it would be perfect for pilot plant work.

    Latakia is made with Smyrna, correct? That's also known as Izmir. Izmir grows here in the US just fine, although the end product would certainly be different than the same seed grown in Turkey, given the change in climate and soil. The goal here, I think, would not be to duplicate Latakia, but to make something new and different.

    BTW, here is some good reading on "oriental" tobaccos

    http://dutchpipesmoker.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/oriental-opulence-part-1/

    "Tobaccoland"

    Tobaccoland is available in paperback for $1.65

    Posted 5 years ago #
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    You're on the right track, Woodsroad.

    "The primary difference between Smyrna and Izmir is that they're grown in different areas, but are essentially the same plant, but as is seen often with tobacco, the same seed planted even 100 feet away will yield a somewhat different plant. Years ago, when one of the cigarette companies tried to plant Oriental seed in US soil, the resulting tobacco was closest to Burley in characteristics.

    As far as aging Smyrna goes, it seems to age well, but doesn't improve as much as Virginia."

    -- Russ Ouelette, P&C Master Blender

    Posted 5 years ago #
  20. woodsroad

    woodsroad

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    Thanks, Rothnh.

    Here's the link to your quote

    This is well worth exploring further.

    Posted 5 years ago #

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