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Throwdown? Which Out of Production Blend Would You Most Like to See Return?

(29 posts)
  • Started 1 year ago by craiginthecorn
  • Latest reply from spartan99
  1. craiginthecorn

    craiginthecorn

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    I just finished listening to the most recent Oom Paul Podcast which featured Russ Oullette. There was a discussion about the 2011 Chicago Pipe Show's Balkan Sobranie 759 Throwdown, which was won by Russ' White Knight blend. I wasn't smoking at that time, so I missed that event, but it sounds like fun. It's probably too late for this year's show to do another of these in 2018, but it's never too early to start dreaming of 2019. If we come up with a good candidate, I can take the idea of a new throwdown and run it up the flagpole at the CPCC meeting.

    Which old, out of production blend would you like to see as the target of a blending throwdown?

    I'd be interested to hear from blenders that participate in this forum if this should be restricted to solely ribbon or shag cuts. Is it unreasonably time-consuming to target a plug, flake, or rope style? I would imagine so.

    Edited by jvnshr: Title capitalization (please check Rule #9)

    Posted 1 year ago #
  2. hawky454

    hawky454

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    Well if Plugs are off the table than I’ve got nothing.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  3. mso489

    mso489

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    I almost said Walnut, but Russ has that one covered with Midtown Chestnut, which I enjoy in my rotation.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  4. anthonyrosenthal74

    anthonyrosenthal74

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    2011 Chicago Pipe Show's Balkan Sobranie 759 Throwdown, which was won by Russ' White Knight blend.
    Actually it was won by Russ's Black House, which is a fantastic blend as well. The other entries were Sutliff's Balkan Luxury Blend 957, and McClelland Blue Mountain (Now renamed Balkan Blue). All three of these blends are fantastic in their own right. However, unfortunately, Sutliff's Balkan Luxury Blend 957 is now discontinued. White Knight was modeled after Balkan Sobaranie Original. I can't comment on White Knight as I've still yet to try it.

    Copy and Paste from Tobaccoreviews.com on White Knight.

    Notes: When we won the 2011 Balkan Sobranie 759 Throwdown at the Chicagoland Pipe and Tobacciana Show, with our entry, BlackHouse, it caused quite a stir, and the blend has become one of our best sellers. We followed that up with Fusilier's Ration, which was modeled after Bengal Slices, and it too has become incredibly popular. There was one other blend that I loved, that I thought about making a tribute to, because I enjoyed it so much. But I resisted, due to the iconic stature of the tobacco. After a couple of years of work, though, I finally put together a blend that I feel so confident in, that we're ready to bring you BlackHouse's cousin - WhiteKnight.

    Balkan Sobranie Original Smoking Mixture is legendary among those of us who were privileged enough to have smoked it. It had gone through some changes, but my memories are from the blend as it was in the late seventies. Using Cyprian Latakia, remarkable yellow Virginias, and amazing Macedonian Orientals, including the Queen of Tobaccos - Yenidje, WhiteKnight has received rave reviews from people who sampled it prior to release.

    Arrrrr, shiver me timbers! International Talk Like a Pirate Day is September the 19th!!!
    Brothers Of The Black Frigate
    Posted 1 year ago #
  5. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    Motzek Strang - Yeah, I know, the shop's still there, the new owner was trained in how to make it, blah, blah, blah. But there's been none made since the change in ownership and the new owner is busily introducing his own formulations. Maybe he lacks the balls to try making it or he figures that even if he nailed it, customers would insist it was different and worse. It's tough going up against a legend. So, Motzek Strang.

    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 1 year ago #
  6. mso489

    mso489

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    Yes, Sutliff's Balkan 957 was excellent. It's disappearance mystified me. I guess not enough people discovered it.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  7. menuhin

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    Motzek Strang briefly reappeared near to the end of the year in 2016. I don't know if that was some old stock or some new patch. It is understandable that the new blender does not want to live under the shadow of Herbert Motzek.

    The story goes like this: the blender is actually Herbert Motzek's wife. While Herbert Motzek is a pipe maker, his wife went through extensive trainings and seminars about tobacco and produced the house blends in a factory nearby the shop. Motzek was also the quality control in the final stage. The discontinuation of Motzek Strang was due to a similar reason of the discontinuation of 5100 when the source of a specific tobacco ran out and the resulting strang with alternative leaves could not live up (or match) the original Strang adequately, they had to give up.

    Reintroduction can be better and more than a match though, that was the story of people rating Erinmore's Balkan Mixture better than the STG Dunhill EMP.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  8. georged

    georged

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    There is gone gone, and then is only-sort-of gone.

    Here's the sort of thing I'm talking about:

    http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/glpease-westmenster

    Dogs live such short lives... and spend most it waiting for us to come home
    Posted 1 year ago #
  9. lazar

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    3 Oaks Syrian. I know it hasn't been long, but I neglected to stock up and will miss that blend when my supply runs out.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  10. owen

    owen

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    Punchbowl

    Posted 1 year ago #
  11. philobeddoe

    Philo Beddoe

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    Smokers Havens’ Our Best Blend, simply a masterpiece of the blenders art. Margate is very, very close, but it has tad more Latakia, which changes the overall flavor of the blend.

    "So it goes." - K.V.
    Posted 1 year ago #
  12. carlomarx

    carlomarx

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    Brindley's Mixture

    Posted 1 year ago #
  13. ravkesef

    ravkesef

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    There’s no quarrel about the quality of the many blends that are on the market today, but I still miss the old Balkan Sobranie White label, a blend I smoked for over twenty years. Back in the day, Smoker’s Haven produced Our Best Blend, and many’s the time I opened the tin and found the Balkan Sobranie parchment on top. I still have an 8 ounce tin sitting unopened on my shelf (1975 vintage,) and when the right time comes, I’ll open it and share it. About three years ago I-opened a 2-ounce tin of Our Best Blend and split it with Premal. The interior of the tin was shiny bright, and the tobacco was heavenly!

    Eric
    Posted 1 year ago #
  14. georged

    georged

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    Smokers Havens’ Our Best Blend, simply a masterpiece of the blenders art.

    Premal says it actually is Balkan-Sobranie White. Just re-labeled.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  15. ravkesef

    ravkesef

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    Georged, Premal is absolutely right! Read my post just above yours. As I said, finding the Balkan Sobranie parchment in the tin confirmed it, time after time.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  16. blendtobac

    blendtobac

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    While a great thought, this probably can't happen today unless the participants used existing blends. If it were to be justified by saying that the samples are free, then that violates the rule that prohibits free samples, and if they were to charge a small fee, the new tobaccos would violate the rule about not producing new blends for retail sale. This really sucks because I'd love to see the throwdowns come back, but in either case it would run afoul of the deeming regulations.

    Russ

    Posted 1 year ago #
  17. ravkesef

    ravkesef

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    Damn their hides anyway!

    Posted 1 year ago #
  18. winton

    winton

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    I also would like to see the Throwdown return. That contest happened during my first pipe show. I believe that the contest blends are still available.

    I have not read the rules. If I buy a tin, or if someone gives me a tin, can I then share the contents with others? This assumes I am not giving tobacco to someone underage, or otherwise forbidden to use tobacco.

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    molach95

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    I'd like to try the original Three Nuns when it was a kind of VaPer, like a lighter Cabbie's Mixture.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  20. mikestanley

    mikestanley

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    So many! I guess if I had to pick just one it would be Craven Mixture, made the way it was made by Sinclair. It had a flavor that was simply unique. I had the pleasure of sharing some with a dear departed pips smoker named Charles Franks several years at the old OPC/ NASPC swaps. We generally worked the table during the same time. He had a bunch of it. He was quite a pipe maker in his own right. Anyway, that is the one. Craven.

    MIke S.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  21. menuhin

    menuhin

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    I still have an unopened tin of Craven Mixture, waiting to see if it will out-live my life.
    Same for the original Three Nuns tins, because I would rather seek out some Savinelli Doblone d'Oro.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  22. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    Premal says it actually is Balkan-Sobranie White. Just re-labeled.

    Interesting. I have an 8oz tin of Our Best Blend, dated to June 1, 2004. Gallaher stopped making Balkan Sobranie in 2002. What would have been in that tin?

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    jguss

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    Hi Jesse,

    Your 2004 tin of Our Best Blend is a Germain product.

    The story is somewhat tangled but it amounts to this: when the original Smokers' Haven blends were ordered by Joe Zieve from Sobranie in the early fifties, OBB was a private label version of the Original Smoking Mixture (aka Sobranie White). It continued to be supplied by Sobranie for the better part of thirty years until the Redstones sold the company to Gallaher in 1980. From that point on Gallaher took over production of all the Sobranie branded blends. The Sobranie private label business was another matter. It was redirected to one of two manufacturers: McConnell and Germain (I have the impression, but am not sure, that most of it went to McConnell). The story is that Zieve preferred Germain, and as a result they took over the recipes for production of the Smokers' Haven blends previously made by Sobranie. And as far as I know all the Smokers' Havens import blends produced since that time (albeit on an intermittent basis) have been made by Germain.

    Jon

    Posted 1 year ago #
  24. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    Thanks Jon. Germain's...I can only hope that it's better than the Balkan Sobranie that they started producing...

    Posted 1 year ago #
  25. craiginthecorn

    craiginthecorn

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    Sorry for the error about the winner in my original post. Thanks for correcting it.

    Regarding the Three Nuns, I’ve understood that the Mac Baren version lacks Perique, but that Savinelli Doblone d’oro has Perique and is very close to the original. I just received a 100g tin in the mail today from P&C. It had been backordered. Interestingly, it’s dated 2015. Haven’t tried it yet, though.

    With respect to the issue of samples, Russ, wasn’t the throwdown winner chosen by a three judge panel? That’s what the original rules stated. If so, then there’s not much of an issue. However, the rules also stipulated that 3 pounds of tobacco would be supplied by each entrant. That suggests sharing, at the very least. Last year, there were three or four tubs of blends in the smoking tent that you could sample for free, then vote for your favorite. I just asked the CPCC president, Paul Bender, about that last week and he said that they determined that the fee for entering the show was sufficient to satisfy the FDA rules for those particular samples. So, even if the winner were chosen by popular vote by the attendees, I would think it could work under those same parameters.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  26. blendtobac

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    In 2011, when the first Throwdown was held, those rules weren't in effect, so samples were fine back then.

    If I buy a tin, or if someone gives me a tin, can I then share the contents with others?

    The rule only applies to retailers and manufacturers.

    Russ

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    jguss

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    With respect to the issue of samples, Russ, wasn’t the throwdown winner chosen by a three judge panel? That’s what the original rules stated. If so, then there’s not much of an issue. However, the rules also stipulated that 3 pounds of tobacco would be supplied by each entrant. That suggests sharing, at the very least. Last year, there were three or four tubs of blends in the smoking tent that you could sample for free, then vote for your favorite. I just asked the CPCC president, Paul Bender, about that last week and he said that they determined that the fee for entering the show was sufficient to satisfy the FDA rules for those particular samples. So, even if the winner were chosen by popular vote by the attendees, I would think it could work under those same parameters.

    craig: yes, the winner of each of the two throwdowns was chosen by a tabulation of the blind ratings supplied by three judges. there was also a people's choice winner, however, based purely on the popularity of each contestant's blend with chicago show attendees who chose to pick up and evaluate free samples available the day before the throwdown took place. that is what the three pounds of tobacco was for: supplying each judge with enough tobacco to do his comparisons to samples of the original blend that was being recreated, and preparing a large number of free packets for show attendees who wanted to try each blend. note that the circumstances surrounding the people's choice award were artificial; show attendees did not have access to the original samples of sobranie 759 (in the case of the first throwdown) or john cotton 1&2 (in the case of the second throwdown). so without a baseline for comparison purposes the three blends were being evaluated on a standalone basis. moreover unlike the judges, who had weeks to perform their evaluation and decent quantities of the various tobaccos to work with, the attendees had one sample and one day. the point of the people's choice award was to give attendees a chance to be part of the process and encourage attendance at the actual event; it should not be confused with the actual winner of the throwdown.

    as for repeating a throwdown, given the current regulatory environment i'd be reluctant to attempt to navigate the various risks involved. even industry experts (and their lawyers) disagree on some aspects of what the regulations mean and how they restrict a company's ability to act. for the layman, and all the organizers of the throwdown were enthusiasts rather than members of the trade, the issues are more perplexing still.

    as for new throwdowns, i'd observe that as a practical matter the second throwdown, while great fun, was a bit less successful than the first. in part it was because the novelty had diminished. and in part perhaps because after sobranie all other vanished tobaccos had a much smaller following by comparison.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  28. davet

    davet

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    Sutliff's Balkan 957 was excellent

    Was one of my favorites

    I do have a few tins put away that I'm trying to stay out of.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  29. spartan99

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    +1 for Craven Mixture.

    Posted 1 year ago #

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