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Sobranie, Saseini, White Knight, and me

(34 posts)
  1. judcole

    Jud

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    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.

    Thought in the early morning, solace in time of woes,
    Peace in the hush of the twilight, balm ere my eyelids close
    Rudyard Kipling
    Posted 4 years ago #
  2. newbroom

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    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.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  3. mranglophile

    Mr. Anglophile

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    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.

    Michael - Poulsb, WA

    Pipes are not like cars. A Chevy cannot drive like a Mercedes, but the lowly Stanwell can smoke like the lofty Chonowitsch, even though the latter far exceeds the Stanwell in beauty, grain, and craftsmanship. It is the briar and not the brand. There is no place for elitism among pipe smokers. - Fred Hanna
    Posted 4 years ago #
  4. papipeguy

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    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.

    Blowin' smoke since 1970.
    Posted 4 years ago #
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    Great reviews, thanks for sharing. There's a couple of those I'd like to try someday but for now I'm riding the VA train and enjoying the ride.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  6. bigjoe

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    I have a tin of White Knight I picked up last fall that I should pop open and try...

    Posted 4 years ago #
  7. yohanan

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    Thanks for the comparisons Jud, Great review!!!


    Smoke What You Like, And Like What You Smoke...Regardless Of What Anyone Else Thinks...
    Posted 4 years ago #
  8. settersbrace

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    White Knight is an excellent smoke, very impressed with its balance and complexity.

    De gustibus et cloribus non disputandum.
    'There is no arguing about tastes and colours.'
    Posted 4 years ago #
  9. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    +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.

    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 years ago #
  10. shanelktown

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    White knight is some good stuff hey @sablebrush52 if your not going to smoke that der jahmaines Bahlkan sahbranie I do enjoy that stuff.....

    Posted 4 years ago #
  11. chasingembers

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    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.

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

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    Thanks Jud, good review! I enjoy BS occasionally and now White Knight is now on my short list of blends to try.

    "I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex, and rich food. He was healthy right up to the day he killed himself."
    Johnny Carson
    Posted 4 years ago #
  13. tobyducote

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    White Knight is one of my top "go to" blends

    Posted 4 years ago #
  14. seadogontheland

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    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.

    Life is good...I have truly been blessed.
    Posted 4 years ago #
  15. fnord

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    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

    It ain't the way I wanted it! I can handle things! I'm smart! Not like everybody says - like dumb - I'm smart and I want respect!
    Fredo Corleone
    Posted 4 years ago #
  16. jpmcwjr

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    I'd love to find some Sasieni bulk, too. Mr. Broom??

    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 years ago #
  17. matchstickman

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    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.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  18. lochinvar

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    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.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  19. brass

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    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.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  20. andrew

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    @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.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  21. judcole

    Jud

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    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.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  22. 4nogginsmike

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    From a longstanding prejudice I don't smoke much latakia. When I started I smoked it regularly, and in periods since, but somehow latakia always gets pushed aside and falls away even though I have latakia blends I like. I keep trying and recently got some Sillem's Commodore Flake, which is delicious. I keep hearing things at White Night and sure I'll bite sometime soon.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  23. deathmetal

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    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.

    I have to agree with this, partially. The topping is too strong on the match; in BB1938, the Latakia overwhelms everything else and makes a harsh (not mild) smoke. I think they ran into confusion differentiating it from Standard Mixture Mild and Early Morning Pipe, and that encouraged them to "make it distinctive." Still flavorful stuff.

    "My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whiskey." -- William Faulkner

    The Metal Mixtures
    Posted 3 years ago #
  24. edgreen

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    White Knight is a gloriously flavorful blend that I keep in regular rotation. I really, really love Magnum Opus. The first time I tasted it I was instantly transported to my first round of pipe smoking, at LSU during the early 70's before a long period of cigars before switching back three years ago. Every bowl has done the same. I wish I knew which blend Russ was trying to bring back because it has to be the same one on which I filled the air in the Greek Theater, on the parade grounds, and in various bars around campus. Oh, what a wonderful time it was. I'm glad for that time because now there is no smoking anywhere on campus, including outdoor areas which may be miles from another human being.

    Tobacco's a musician.And in a pipe delighteth;It descends in a close,Through the organ of the nose, With a relish that inviteth.
    Barten Holiday
    Posted 3 years ago #
  25. iamn8

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    Ed, I'm with you!! I seriously need to try White Knight. I keep forgetting to order it, but Magnum Opus is in my top ten. It's wicked good!!! I picked up a dozen tins having never tried it, based only on what others had said. I was so relieved at the first puff. Can't wait to try it with a few years in the tin. Bet it ages brilliantly!

    Nate @ Moody AL
    Posted 3 years ago #
  26. blendtobac

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    I have to agree with this, partially. The topping is too strong on the match

    Just for the record, there's no top dressing applied to Match BB1938. There's a standard casing, but without a signature flavor.

    I wish I knew which blend Russ was trying to bring back...

    What I recreated was my own personal blend from the seventies. I used to start with Balkan Sobranie Original Smoking Mixture and would add extra Yenidje to it. I'd finish it off with a bit of Perique. I smoked that blend a lot until Sobranie changed during the eighties.

    Russ

    Posted 3 years ago #
  27. newbroom

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    jpmcwjr, sorry it took me so long...I hadn't seen your comment...of course, when I bought mine it was on sale:

    World Balkan Sasieni

    It comes in a bag, not the tub they're showing on the web page. Read the print. Great stuff!

    Posted 3 years ago #
  28. jpmcwjr

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    Thank you! I have my plate and bowl filled with a lot of other things right now, but have made a note.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  29. drezz01

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    I missed this discussion when it came around the first time but I am glad it has resurfaced! I have just recently found myself enjoying a couple of balkan blends I have on hand and now I have a couple more to try!

    Posted 3 years ago #
  30. captpat

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    Whiteknight is great stuff....

    Posted 3 years ago #
  31. trumpetboy

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    There are some very favorable reviews of Russ' BSOSM Match available on Pipes and Cigars--some say it's closer to the Balkan Sobranie of the '70's that we love to remember. I don't know if it's the same as his White Knight---anyone tried both?

    Posted 3 years ago #
  32. blendtobac

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    The BSOSM match has some substitutions to keep the cost of materials down, but similar in most ways.

    Russ

    Posted 3 years ago #
  33. jorgesoler

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    I have an unopened White Knight tin in my cellar, and I might open it now that I've read your review as I have never tried it before.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  34. snowhill

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    WhiteKnight is one of my very favorites. It hits all the right notes for me.

    Posted 3 years ago #

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