I Tried Latakia For The First Time Today

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Bowie

Preferred Member
Oct 24, 2019
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4,341
Minnesota
TL;DR: I tried Lane HGL and loved it. I plan to experiment with other blends containing more Latakia.

I’m a new pipe smoker (about 6 weeks in) and thought it was time to see what Latakia is like. I want to be prudent and ease into it, so I purchased some Lane HGL, which I understand has a light addition of Latakia. I smoked my first bowl this afternoon. I do not need to review HGL; that ground is well tread. But I thought some of the veteran smokers here might enjoy reading a new smoker’s virginal Latakia experience.

Conclusion: Wow! One ticket for the Latakia train, please.

I really enjoyed smoking this bowl. I understand the quality of the experience is not due solely to the Latakia, as it must owe something to the Virginia and Burley. But I believe the Latakia must be an important factor to me considering that it is my first taste of it.

My biggest fear was that the Latakia would knock me over or react poorly with my mouth or stomach, but that did not happen at all. It was smooth sailing from beginning to end.

I’m not great at identifying flavors in general (expensive wine is wasted on me), but I want to learn, at least concerning pipe tobacco. So, I tried to identify the sweetness in the smoke, and I think I settled on caramel. (It also reminded me of Christmas, which is random and odd.)

Then in the last 1/3 of the bowl I think I identified something more spicy. This is the first time I’ve noticed a tobacco’s flavor change as I smoke a bowl down (except for “turning ashy at the end”). I'm not skilled enough to identify the spice, only that it showed up. I liked the spiciness. I wonder if it was due to the tobacco or due to me somehow changing my smoking cadence during the bowl, which I was trying not to do.

Two other observations:

(1) The smoke is thicker and silkier than the aromatics I have smoked.

(2) The ash differs from aromatics. It’s finer and much whiter (vs. a dull grey), although it does seem to have a bit a salt-and-pepper look to it.

I plan to up my Latakia game soon. I have an English house blend that I bought awhile back from Lewis Tobacco in Minneapolis. I asked him for something on the mild-medium side. He sold me his English Supreme, a blend of “Virginia, Latakia and Turkish tobaccos” per the website.

I think I'll have another bowl of HGL tonight. Skol!
 

spartacus

Preferred Member
Nov 7, 2018
930
601
Mesa, Arizona
Glad you enjoyed it. I have a bunch a HGL in my cellar. It's a solid blend that is on the light side of everything, It's a blend I can smoke all day while working around the house or on the ranch and forget that I have it in. There is nothing complex about it. Just a solid classic smoke.
 

danimalia

Preferred Member
Sep 2, 2015
4,134
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San Francisco Bay Area, USA
The nice thing for a lot of people is that while Latakia is incredibly flavorful and pungent, it is quite mild in nicotine. So for the most part, you can feel free to explore blends that contain it without worrying about them knocking you out with nicotine strength. I suggest checking out some of the GL Pease blends with Latakia as he's a master at blending with it. A lot of Latakia blends can be spicy, and I find that particularly true for blends that combine Latakia with other "Oriental" tobaccos.

I've never actually had HGL, but figure I should try it because a.) it's a classic, and b.) I could use some more blends with pleasing room notes.
 

Bowie

Preferred Member
Oct 24, 2019
980
4,341
Minnesota
The nice thing for a lot of people is that while Latakia is incredibly flavorful and pungent, it is quite mild in nicotine. So for the most part, you can feel free to explore blends that contain it without worrying about them knocking you out with nicotine strength. I suggest checking out some of the GL Pease blends with Latakia as he's a master at blending with it. A lot of Latakia blends can be spicy, and I find that particularly true for blends that combine Latakia with other "Oriental" tobaccos.

I've never actually had HGL, but figure I should try it because a.) it's a classic, and b.) I could use some more blends with pleasing room notes.
Thank you for the GL Pease recommendation. I was looking at his Westminster today at smokingpipes and will now have to get a tin.
 
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frozenchurchwarden

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Mar 1, 2014
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Do explore the Pease blends.
In my opinion the Oriental leaves are just as important as Latakia in a good Latakia blend.
If you buy blending Latakia and smoke it straight, it's almost flavourless (or maybe I just got cheap blending Lat), this is one of those cases where the condiment is almost entirely about the smell and you really need other things to round it out on your palette.
 
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unkleyoda

Preferred Member
Aug 22, 2016
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Your mom\\\'s house
Do explore the Pease blends.
In my opinion the Oriental leaves are just as important as Latakia in a good Latakia blend.
If you buy blending Latakia and smoke it straight, it's almost flavourless (or maybe I just got cheap blending Lat), this is one of those cases where the condiment is almost entirely about the smell and you really need other things to round it out on your palette.

I couldn't disagree more. Pure Latakia has a lot of flavor. Latakia is 'Orientals' that are smoked with aromatic woods, herbs, and spices. To me Latakia tastes like smokey orientals. Smokey, spicy, and tangy. So much that most people assume Peterson Balkan Delight, now Balkan Blend, has orientals in it, it does not. Now, Latakia is not nearly as tangy and spicy, but it's there.

My 2 cents
 
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hauntedmyst

Preferred Member
Feb 1, 2010
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Do explore the Pease blends.
In my opinion the Oriental leaves are just as important as Latakia in a good Latakia blend.
If you buy blending Latakia and smoke it straight, it's almost flavourless (or maybe I just got cheap blending Lat), this is one of those cases where the condiment is almost entirely about the smell and you really need other things to round it out on your palette.

Frozen makes a great point. To me, Turkish is the salt to Latakia's pepper.
 

kylef

Member
Oct 17, 2018
232
497
Cape Ann, MA USA
I tried latakia early on when I first started a few years ago. I always found it interesting and not off-putting, but it wasn't at the top of my list. A few years later, I now occasionally like a latakia-forward English blend, but I'm finding that I really love blends where latakia is there, but is a minor player.
 

danimalia

Preferred Member
Sep 2, 2015
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San Francisco Bay Area, USA
I'm another who prefers Latakia in light -medium amounts. For me, the Latakia stands out the most in such mixtures. Ironically, the Latakia in the super-full "Lat-bombs" tends to taste less pronounced, and even a bit bland for me. Obviously, others have different opinions, and the only way for OP to find out where he falls is to jump in and figure it out for himself! :)
 

frozenchurchwarden

Preferred Member
Mar 1, 2014
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I couldn't disagree more. Pure Latakia has a lot of flavor. Latakia is 'Orientals' that are smoked with aromatic woods, herbs, and spices. To me Latakia tastes like smokey orientals. Smokey, spicy, and tangy. So much that most people assume Peterson Balkan Delight, now Balkan Blend, has orientals in it, it does not. Now, Latakia is not nearly as tangy and spicy, but it's there.

My 2 cents

Clearly there's a lot of variety in Latakia sources. I probably just need to try more samples to find some better blending Latakia.
That said I think it would be hard to argue that there aren't some bland Latakia sources out there and undoubtedly some of those will end up in retail blends.

Regardless, we know Pease is very good at leveraging Orientals so regardless of the quality of the base Latakia you're going to be getting a well rounded experience there.

Part of my journey with Latakia was discovering I enjoy the supporting varieties in a good Lat blend just as much or maybe even more than the Latakia itself.
 

bnichols23

Preferred Member
Mar 13, 2018
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Good straight lat has a ton to recommend it, & the mixing comments above are all valid too. If you get a good batch of the stuff you'll love it, although nobody around you will (unless they're o of us, of course, & sometimes not even then). My wife, OTOH, loves the smell. Go figure.
 
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