Balkan Sobranie

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jiminks

Preferred Member
Aug 31, 2012
37,488
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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.

 

jiminks

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Aug 31, 2012
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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.

 

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alexj52

Member
Sep 26, 2018
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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?

 

sablebrush52

Preferred Member
Jun 15, 2013
10,899
4,939
@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.

 

gerryp

Member
Oct 8, 2018
264
192
52
Arabi, LA
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. :lol: ) 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.

 

gerryp

Member
Oct 8, 2018
264
192
52
Arabi, LA
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.

 

sablebrush52

Preferred Member
Jun 15, 2013
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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.

 

gerryp

Member
Oct 8, 2018
264
192
52
Arabi, LA
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.

 

alexj52

Member
Sep 26, 2018
179
18
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

 

spartacus

Preferred Member
Nov 7, 2018
887
478
Mesa, Arizona
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.

 

gerryp

Member
Oct 8, 2018
264
192
52
Arabi, LA
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.

 

sablebrush52

Preferred Member
Jun 15, 2013
10,899
4,939
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.

 

celticbrewer

Member
Sep 16, 2018
102
13
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

 

alexj52

Member
Sep 26, 2018
179
18
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! 8)

 

sablebrush52

Preferred Member
Jun 15, 2013
10,899
4,939
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.

 

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