Is Vintage Syrian Mellow Due to Aging?

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daimyo

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May 15, 2014
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Knowing what I know now, I am assuming that the Latakia I smoked in blends twenty years ago was Syrian Latakia. I remember it being pungent and strong which at the time, sadly, was a turn off. Now these days, I'm quite sure it would only add to my enjoyment. Regardless though, when I first tried Vintage Syrian thanks to an awesome form member I was surprised how mellow and smooth it came across. Now I really enjoyed the blend but it did surprise me none the less. Is this due to the fact that the Latakia has been in Mac Baren's possession for some time now and has naturally mellowed in flavor? Do you think the blend would have more oomph if fresh Syrian Latakia was available to make it with? Obviously this will be mostly speculative but I am curious as to your thoughts.

 

nachman

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Jun 27, 2013
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Syrian Latakia was a little more mellow than Cyprian, but most of the mellowness and smoothness comes from aging. I have some Cyprian Latakia blends that have seven or more years of age, and the Latakia is much less sharp and "in your face" than when it was fresh.

 

dmcmtk

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Aug 23, 2013
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It's an interesting question. I don't have the experience to say, but I've noticed Vintage Syrian became very smooth just having a tin opened for a couple of weeks. I really like it, bought about a half dozen tins after trying the first one! :)

 

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mikestanley

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May 10, 2009
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Akron area of Ohio
Twenty years ago was about the first of the

return of Syrian leaf IIRC. Wouldn't shock

Me if it were rushed to market a bit.

I am one enjoys the subtle more washed out

For some taste of well aged Latakia. Time

Is good to it for my taste.

Mike S.

 

lestrout

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Jan 28, 2010
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Chester County, PA
dmc - I think the main reason that your HHVS smoked better after a few days is that airing out benefits freshly opened tins, at least the relatively natural VAs and Lats that I have.
hp

les

 

eightywon

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Apr 4, 2014
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Could be that the sample you received has also been aged and maybe be more mellow than a fresh tin?

 

daimyo

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May 15, 2014
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Absolutely eightywon but as a follow up I have smoked some fresh and it was also surprisingly smooth, just not as smooth as the well aged sample. :wink:
Syrian Latakia was a little more mellow than Cyprian
This is quite possible and it was just my novice palette at the time found it strong. Sadly at this point it seems unlikely that I will ever get to taste fresh Syrian against fresh Cyprian. Thanks for all the input folks.

 

clickklick

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May 5, 2014
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You want to know what fresh Syrian tastes like the pick up some solani luxury English. Syrian mellows significantly when aged. After 10 years some even goes bland.

 

daimyo

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Wouldn't Solani have been in possession of it for some time now by default? I assumed anyone with a stock of Syrian must have procured it before things went south and at this point it had been stored for years but you know what they say about assumptions.

 

cgrd

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Feb 7, 2012
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Winnipeg, MB
I noticed the tin description of the newly re-released Vintage Syrian has changed from:

The base of the blend, a little under half of the volume, is a smooth and yet powerful Latakia from Syria. This pipe tobacco gives the blend the overall smoky taste, a powerful taste and yet without any tongue bite. To add a spicy note to the blend, Turkish Oriental has been added. To complete the taste with depth and body, we added a little Dark Fired Kentucky from the USA. This is a loose cut pipe tobacco, which guarantees a smooth and steady burn. It does not get hot which means you will find extremely little bite on your tongue.
To

An exceptional blend of Syrian Latakia with spicy Turkish Oriental, sweet Virginias, and a little Dark Fired Kentucky for depth.
Anyone know if that means the recipe has changed? Is this blend still mostly Syrian latakia?

 

bigpond

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Oct 14, 2014
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Syrian latakia is astringent where cyprian is sweet and is the more assertive of the two. From what I've been able to find, it's possible all syrian latakia is 20 years old, at a minimum. Since the stockpiles aren't replenishing, it seems possible that the amount of syrain used in such blends is minimal and old.
Re: Solani-I just read K&K ran out of syrian in 2013.
I like wilderness for syrian. It stands out above the cyprian for the beginning of the bowl.

 

jitterbugdude

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Mar 25, 2014
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It's hard to say. From what I understand no Cyprian Latakia has been grown/produced for approximately 20 years either. So if the Syrian is mellow because of age, so should the Cyprian. The Cyprian's had such an overstock that they have been selling their existing supply. They typically sell 20 to 30 tons per year but this past December they set a record and sold about 30 tons (in 1 month). This has prompted the growers to start growing again. I would expect that in about 5 years or so we all might notice a drastic change in taste of anything with Cyprian Latakia in it.
The sheer bulk of sales for December worries me somewhat. Have the Chinese discovered Latakia? Are there going to be 20 billion of them smoking it in the future? If so, good luck buying any reasonable amount of Latakia.
I also predict that HH Vintage Syrian and Three Oaks Syrian will become the new Bulkan Sobranie. Once the stuff runs out ( about 2020 according to Mac Barrens) there will be no more and it will have achieved Sainthood status (because it is no longer available).

 

pipestud

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Dec 6, 2012
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I think there may be some good information as well as mis-information on this thread about Latakia in general. I am no expert on Latakia but I do know that Gregory Pease sure is. I think what he wrote back in 1999 in the now out of print Pipe Friendly Magazine contains some pretty pretty good stuff - http://www.glpease.com/Articles/Latakia.html
Pipestud

 

jitterbugdude

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Mar 25, 2014
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Other than the repeated "rumor" that Syrian Latakia is shekk el bint, I haven't seen any misinformation. The cultivar for Syrian Latakia is unknown. The Shik el bint notion has been thrown around so long that it's become as accepted fact. Fact is, when you smoke the hell out of something as long as Latakia leaf is, you can probably use any Turkish variety and no one would be the wiser.

 

daimyo

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May 15, 2014
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Thank for all the input folks. Thanks Pipestud, one of these days I learn to Google my questions about tobacco with Mr. Pease name attached. I had not read that before.

 

jitterbugdude

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Mar 25, 2014
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I would like to add/request if someone knows the origin of assigning the shek el bint (or any similar spelling) name to Syrian Latakia I would love to know the source. The best I can tell is that this label was first put on by Milton Sherman in the '50's. All other references going back to the 1850's never mention the cultivar.

 

mcitinner1

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Apr 5, 2014
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Missouri
@ Jitterbug, In the GLP article he describes two entirely different plants, one being long leaf (Syrian) and the other short leaf (Cyprian). Also isn't "Turkish" a catch all name for "Oriental" or the other way around? I'm totally just asking, like the student asking the teacher.

 
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