Black House, Magnum Opus, Legends, Wilderness

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chispa

Can't Leave
Sep 18, 2011
300
4
Black House, Magnum Opus, Legends, Wilderness
Anyone have any experience with all these Latakia mixtures?
Compare and contrast?

 

lestrout

Lifer
Jan 28, 2010
1,731
213
Chester County, PA
chis - all great, all residing comfortably in my Top200 Cellar. The H&H's are heavier than Fred's two, one of which uses Syrian Latakia, both being more Oriental forward. Magnum Opus is more complex to me, as well as more balance than Black House. MO is RussO's personal favorite, and the BH was the knockdown winner for capturing the Sobranie 759 experience (as the aged stuff now produces).
hp

les

 

johnparker

Starting to Get Obsessed
Aug 22, 2013
112
0
To me Blackhouse was a strong and overpowering; Magnus Opus was smooth and very flavorful.

 

petes03

Lifer
Jun 23, 2013
6,110
9,395
The Hills of Tennessee
I've had Black House and Mag O, and I prefer Black House out of the two. That being said, they are both excellent blends! I think I have a couple pounds of Black House in the cellar at the moment!

 

pipestud

Lifer
Dec 6, 2012
1,980
1,440
Robinson, TX.
To my taste buds, I'm not sure I'd call Wilderness and Legends Latakia blends, per se. They are more Oriental in nature. While the Latakia in both is noticeable, the blender took his foot off the Latakia pedal when producing them and its the Orientals that lead the way.
Black House is the strongest of the four mentioned blends by the OP, for sure. And Magnum Opus is a wonderful blend according to my taste buds. I believe it will age nicely, too.
Best,
Pipestud

 
Jan 8, 2013
7,493
719
I would strongly suggest adding Blue Mountain to that list. Black House is of course awesome, but Blue Mountain is very different and equally as awesome.

 

petes03

Lifer
Jun 23, 2013
6,110
9,395
The Hills of Tennessee
Blue Mountain and Black House competed in the same competition, and were both made to emulate BS759. That being said, they are both very different, and very good! I talked with Russ O about that, and he said the big difference is that Black House contains Kentucky Dark Fired, whereas Blue Mountain does not.

 

rmbittner

Lifer
Dec 12, 2012
2,098
5
chispa:
I've only had two blends on your list. I'm not a Black House fan (but I've beat that horse enough here already), but here are my notes on a 2010 tin of Wilderness that I opened this spring:
"This is a light English that contains Syrian latakia. But either this Syrian is over-the-hill or it wasn't very good to start out with, because it almost never delivers distinctive flavor or aroma over the course of a tin. I'm in the last 3/4 of the tin now" [when I wrote these notes in my tasting journal] "and I've had exactly one revelatory smoke so far-- that bowl where the Syrian actually came through and the blend seemed to suddenly be more than 'a light English with Syrian overtones.' The Syrian aside, though, this is a blend where the orientals are mostly background elements and the focus is on the VA/latakia in the foreground. It is not unpleasant at all; it's a perfectly acceptable light English. But generally speaking it is unremarkable. I find myself smoking the final bowls in the jar more out of a desire to finish it and move on to something better rather than out of a strong desire to actually enjoy this one."
This sounds a bit harsh, I know. But I love Syrian latakia, and this one just doesn't live up to the promise of that leaf at its best. A much better blend in the same style -- although one definitely in the "middle-weight" range rather than "light" -- is Brebbia's Preludio Mixture No. 60.
Just my .02!
Bob

 

petes03

Lifer
Jun 23, 2013
6,110
9,395
The Hills of Tennessee
Thanks for the review bittner. Wilderness has been on my "To Try" list for quite some time. My curiosity gets the best of me a lot of times, so I may end up getting a tin anyway! Lol!

 

thedudeabides

Starting to Get Obsessed
Sep 6, 2013
108
1
I believe that Russ has publicly stated that Magnum Opus is his more Oriental-forward ode to Balkan Sobranie Original Smoking Mixture (Balkan Sobranie "White"). I think this is a very good thing, and I find this to be a very complex and delicious blend.
Black House, as has been stated by others, is his homage to an aged sample of Balkan Sobranie 759, and is a stronger blend with, to my taste, a bit less complexity than Magnum Opus. It is full-flavored and much admired.
Wilderness has much more in common with Magnum Opus than with Black House, but to me the Syrian latakia is quite pronounced in this blend. It has a tangy, wine-like aroma and taste that adds a different element to the mix and which is enjoyable, but potentially fatiguing as an everyday smoke when compared to Magnum Opus.
Comparing tobaccos is always tricky, but I think that Wilderness is also somewhat "inspired" by Balkan Sobranie "White" (check out the ingredients and tin description) and thus perhaps these two (Magnum Opus and Wilderness) do have a bit in common?

 

mzpuff

Lurker
Feb 13, 2013
34
0
Toronto
I enjoy all four blends, but Magnum Opus is incredible. It is the tobacco with which I have had the most of those "sublime" sessions. Fred's blends have a creamier sweetness to them. Blackhouse is great, but I find it to be less complex and higher in the nic content.

 

blendtobac

Lifer
Oct 16, 2009
1,237
207
Actually, Magnum Opus is my attempt to recreate my regular smoke from the late seventies. I used to take a tin of Sobranie Original Smoking Mixture and add more Yenidje and some Perique to it. The result was more Orientals-forward, but with a little more depth. MO was the closest I felt I could get. I've been toying around with my memories of Sobranie OSM for some time now. Who knows?
Russ

 

kashmir

Lifer
May 17, 2011
2,709
36
Northern New Jersey
I would add to that list Star of the East and Abingdon. Both really fine Lat forward blends. I live on these two and prefer them over the ones listed by the OP. Both age remarkably well too.

 

doctorthoss

Part of the Furniture Now
Oct 6, 2011
618
6
For starters, all four of these blends are stellar products. In fact, those four blends represent, to me at least, 2/3 of the renaissance in classical style latakia blends that we've been blessed with over the past few years.

Black House is probably the most popular (though not my favorite). It's a very robust balkan-type mixture with lots of latakia and a subtle sweetness. This stuff has developed a cult following (do a search and you'll see what I mean).

Magnum Opus is my favorite of the lot. It's a very, very complex mixture that is definitely in the classic "Balkan" camp, which means that the focus is on the orientals. This is a very complex blend that responds well to large bowls. Russ Outlette apparently managed to score some truly remarkable oriental leaf for this one.

Both Wilderness and Legends were made by Fred Hanna, who is something of a legendary figure in the pipe smoking community. Legends is a fairly traditional latakia blend. Due to the dark stoved VA, it has a rich sweetness that you won't find in many other mixtures. While the orientals are prominent, I feel they are balanced out by the latakia. Wilderness, on the other hand, is more of an oriental or Balkan mixture. The focus here, like in Magnum Opus, is definitely on the oriental leaf. McClelland has an impressive stash of orientals plus Syrian latakia, and both are used to good effect here.

The one complaint I have about Hanna's mixtures is that, like all McClellands, they are very mild blends. Exceptionally mild. Ridiculously mild, even LOL. I like a lot of body and nicotine in my smokes, and they are simply too light for me. But if you don't like powerhouse blends and do like latakia, I would recommend these two above everything else on the market.

Another couple of new blends that you might want to look into that are on par, quality-wise, with the above mentioned four are:

Fusilier's Ration: This is Oulette's version of the venerated Bengal Slices. I've not tried the original product, but this stuff is almost supernaturally tasty. It's basically a rich Balkan mixture that has been pressed and infused with a light topping. It's utterly unique and, to my taste buds at least, an instant classic.

Also, GL Pease's Gaslight is one you should try. It's another five-star latakia mixture, this time pressed into a sort of cake or plug.
In any case, I don't think you could go wrong with any of the blends mentioned.

 

thedudeabides

Starting to Get Obsessed
Sep 6, 2013
108
1
Great post Doctorthoss!
Russ, thank you for clarifying and correcting my comments about YOUR blend. Great to hear it from the man himself :D.
I'm in agreement that Fusilier's Ration is another great smoke by Russ and well worth adding to the list. Some say that Bengal Slices was a pressed form of Balkan Sobranie OSM with a different (or added) topping, but maybe I am just obsessed with BS OSM references?
I'll have to give Legends a try as well. It sounds tasty. Gaslight I need some more time with, as I've only smoked one bowl and my opinion on it is far from educated.

 
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