Category Archives: Tobacco Reviews

Mystical Magical Latakia: A Journey Back to the Old World


Blog by Norman Skiba

Norman is a new contributor to rebornpipes and I welcome him to the blog. He is a member of the Meerschaum group on Smokers Forum UK and trying to add fresh life to it since the death of Fred Bass. I have enjoyed our emails back and forth over the past week and when he sent this second piece I really appreciated his thoughtful reflection on his favourite blend of tobacco. I invite others of you to write your own and add to the sense of community we have.  Thanks Norman. – Steve

If it were not for Latakia, I never would have stayed with the pipe.  I never liked cigarettes, even the Indonesian Djarum’s and Kretek clove cigarettes.  The Bidi’s of India are just plain nasty!  The Turkish were still not even close.  But there was and still is something about Latakia and the heavy English and even Balkan blends that intrigue me to this very day.  To me, the aroma is just wondrous!

When I first started smoking a pipe it was in my mid-teens.  I tried the (Palladin’s?) Cherry Blend, Borkum Riff, Sail, and two sips of Sir Walter Raleigh – yech!  Then one day I walked into this tiny smokeshop and pipe maker – Smokestacks it was called – which I had been to before and bought a nice natural finish prince he made that was a very nice pipe and my first decent pipe, and I  fell in love with what I smelled.  I asked him what it was that he was smoking, and he said a new Turkish blend he had blended, and it was Latakia that I was smelling.  I knew right there and then THAT was for me.  And to this day it has ever been, although in various manifestations.  Looking back I can say that maybe the first phase of what used to be called drugstore pipe tobaccos lasted a month or two.  I then found Latakia.  So I feel I was fortunate in that case.  I bought an ounce of this stuff to smoke and went through that rather quickly and then bought a 1/4 lb. of it.  I then saw this tin of the White Label Balkan Sobranie and bought that and loved it even more. Within a couple of weeks or so I found the tins of Balkan Sobranie Black Label No. 759 and that was history.

I started to buy really nice pipes that were made by the late Milt Kalnitz using 100 yr. old Grecian briar that he made for me and also some pipes from his personal collection.  I also had gotten a nice meerschaum or two from him.  All this time I was smoking the 759 Mixture and he had the larger round cans of it and not just the thin round tins.  The smoke shop was called Bellezia Tobacco.  They also had Bengal Slices which I also smoked as an adjunct to the 759.  That was all I ever smoked until one day I stopped for reasons I no longer recall.  Then 759 was no longer available.  It still isn’t. This blend was so funky – in a good way – to me – but people around you would wonder if you were smoking your underwear or your socks.

A funny ‘true’ story: In 1972 I used to have to fly a bit for school and also as a professional musician. I had to put up with all that cigarette smoke in the cabins or even next to you – which at that time you could smoke on planes. Well I was smoking Balkan Sobranie Black Label #759 then, I had this huge free-form Danish Preben Holm – I mean a huge bowl. So I lit it up and smoked the whole bowl – people looked at me rather strangely and some thought I was smoking my socks – but no one said a word. But later I thought they must have thought I was nuts and also could not wait for the plane to land!  I still have to laugh!

Anyway, when I got back into my pipes I knew another famous musician from California that I played a concert with and he had some wild Danish free-forms too and I smelled a wonderful sweeter Latakia English blend and he said it was a Dunhill custom blended My Mixture – No. A7859 – soaked in Jamaican rum.  I had Dunhill in New York City auto ship me a pound every month.  It was actually a very nice blend and unlike 759, but Latakia.  Life moves on and I took a hiatus again. When I started again briefly it was impossible to get any of my former favorites so I stopped.  I did try the McClelland’s Oriental Mixture #14, but that was just Ok and had changed from the earlier ones I tried years before. But it never wowed me like 759.  I later found Greg Pease’s Abingdon and found that to be the best at the time and still believe it is a great tobacco, and if I had to – I would smoke it.  However, The Dark Lord came up with Gaslight!  And that was it after all of these years of searching. The Holy Grail! (To me and my likes.) Yes I have tried some others; even a half pound of Penzance was acquired but never finished it because it just didn’t do it.  Gaslight was the Magical Mystical Wondrous blend that is so superb in my Mind that I see no reason to smoke anything else. It IS Special; yet I see no need to have a bowl on a special day and the rest of the time smoke other things.  Every day and every bowl is special so why not smoke it every chance you can in a nice pipe.  I think of it as analogous to a nice bottle of pinot noir which I love – some people say I am going to put this away for a special day.  I have no problem laying stuff down to age and save; however, what I say is that you take a nice bottle of wine and open it and enjoy it and it can take an average day and make it extra special and magical. The day does not make the wine – the wine makes the day Special! That is what Latakia and Gaslight do for me.  Now to sit back and have a bowl in my floral meer.

Addendum – I like Greg and he is a master tobacconist/blender/creator; however, it is not my intention to use this little text piece as a means of offering free or hidden advertisement for his blends. They are mentioned in context to the actual relevant info in this short piece.

 

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Seven “Collectible Tobacco Tins” from the Recent Estate Sale


Blog by Steve Laug

At the recent estate sale that my brother visited, along with the batch of pipes that he purchased he also picked up 7 unopened 100 gram tins of tobacco with some age on them. They are all English/Oriental blends. Six of them are McClellands Tobacco Company blends that I have found are always better with a bit of age on them. On eBay and other venues these unopened tins are marked as collectible tins. The age on these tins lend them to being quite “collectible” to any pipeman.

My brother and I are willing to sell one or all of them to anyone who resides in the US. I apologize that they are not available outside of the US at this point. My brother has them and lives in the US so he will mail them.

The first of these is a 100 gram unopened tin of Frog Morton on the Town, blended by McClellands Tobacco Co. It is marketed as an elegant Oriental blend, fragrant with Basma and smooth and rich with Latakia. The stamping on the bottom of the tin dates to 2008. I am asking $20 for this tin. The second unopened tin is from Iwan Ries. It is their 140th Anniversary Gourmet English Blend. I am not sure who tinned it. This blend commemorates the anniversary of the Iwan Ries Tobaaconist shop in Chicago. The shop opened in 1857 and 140 years later would have been 1997. This is a well-balanced blend of naturally aromatic Turkish tobaccos, smoked Latakia and mellow aged Virginia rich in flavor, rich and cool-burning. The date stamp on the tin appears to be from 2000. I am asking $20 for this tin. The third unopened tin is McClelland’s Personal Reserve Blend, British Woods. It is billed as a Medium-Full Mixture. It is a distinguished Oriental mixture, slow burning and cool smoking. Heavy with fragrant Latakia, spiced with Macedonian leaf, lightly softened with Matured Virginia. The stamping on the bottom of the tin dates it to 2014. I am asking $20 for this tin. The fourth unopened tin is another McClelland’s Personal Reserve Blend, British Woods. It is billed as a Medium-Full Mixture. It is a distinguished Oriental mixture, slow burning and cool smoking. Heavy with fragrant Latakia, spiced with Macedonian leaf, lightly softened with Matured Virginia. The stamping on the bottom of the tin dates it to 2014. I am asking $20 for this tin. The fifth is another unopened tin of McClelland’s Personal Reserve Blend, British Woods. It is billed as a Medium-Full Mixture. It is a distinguished Oriental mixture, slow burning and cool smoking. Heavy with fragrant Latakia, spiced with Macedonian leaf, lightly softened with Matured Virginia. The stamping on the bottom of the tin dates it to 2014. I am asking $20 for this tin. The sixth unopened tin is a fourth tin of McClelland’s Personal Reserve Blend, British Woods. It is billed as a Medium-Full Mixture. It is a distinguished Oriental mixture, slow burning and cool smoking. Heavy with fragrant Latakia, spiced with Macedonian leaf, lightly softened with Matured Virginia. The stamping on the bottom of the tin dates it to 2011. I am asking $20 for this tin. The seventh unopened tin is McClelland’s Personal Reserve Blend, Bombay Extra. It is a full mixture – a rich, full Oriental Mixture, perfect after dinner. We begin with Bombay Court and enrich it with mellow, Red Virginias, a touch of Perique and Latakia. A satisfying, naturally fragrant evening smoke. The stamping on the bottom of the tin dates it from 2009. I am asking $20 for this tin.

Contact me through my email slaug@uniserve.com or through a private message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

 

GQ Blends Classic Balkan (Izmir): an oriental delight


If you enjoy Balkan blends (and can get it) this should be on your “list”!

Smoking Jacket Magazine

This is the second blend from GQ Blends that our editor kindly sent to me for review. The last few weeks of fighting a sinus infection have been near torture with this pouch laying in wait for me to be able to try out. I am a big fan of Balkan blends, but not-so-much of Latakia bombs, so I expected I would really enjoy this blend.

I decided to totally “wing it” on this one, opting to not look up the description on Glynn’s website. I figured the name told me all I needed to know to start out. Only after smoking it, making my notes, and then preparing to write this article did I read the description of the blend. What I found explained a lot of what I tasted. I’ll go ahead and share what I found on Glynn’s websight now and I think you’ll see how it…

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Samuel Gawith’s Squadron Leader: tobacco review 


Samuel Gawith’s Squadron Leader Flies HighAfter reading more than one post singing the praises of Samuel Gawith’s Squadron Leader and learning it was more of a Balkan blend, not a Latakia-bomb, and knowing my general fondness for Samuel Gawith’s blends, I began to watch for a chance to pick some up. The description says: “Bright and Dark Virginias blended together with […]

Squadron Leader, Pipe Tobacco, Samuel Gawith, Balkan, pipe

http://smokingjacketmagazine.com/2015/12/23/samuel-gawiths-squadron-leader-flies-high/

Cerberus: a tobacco review 


Cerberus: The Three-Headed Dog without a BiteI was quite excited when I opened the package from Erin; first I had received a blend that I’d been curious    to try for some time and secondly it was dated 10/18/14, already aged over two years! The tin had traveled quite a distance and was rather cold when I opened the package so […]

Review, tobacco, Cerberus, pipe

http://smokingjacketmagazine.com/2015/12/16/cerberus-the-three-headed-dog-without-a-bite/

Peterson University Flake: a lesson in subjectivity


Just after the first of the year a new tobacconist opened in my area. Though they are primarily a cigar store, the last few months they’ve started really delving into pipes and pipe tobacco, giving me a new choice to shop locally; they are about 20 minutes away so it’s not very often I get […]

http://smokingjacketmagazine.com/2015/11/11/peterson-university-flake-a-lesson-in-subjectivity/

Reiner Blend No. 71 Long Golden Flake


A lovely blend any Virginia lover should consider.

Smoking Jacket Magazine

12000106_1027662030598270_1103618288_nBy Greg Wolford

I picked up a tin of this at a B&M in South Carolina on vacation last month. It was dented but still sealed well and marked half off; I figured I couldn’t go wrong with 3.5 ounces of mostly-Virginia flakes for under $15 so I picked it up.

The paint can style tin had been opened a week or so ago by my son but both the metal and plastic lids had been replaced he told me a few days ago. I know these types of tins are supposed to hold moisture well after opening but, still, I wanted to get it jarred up properly.

When I opened the tin I saw these huge, beautiful flakes that smelled of pure hay; a very nice Virginia tin note. Though it had been opened the tin did its job; I found the tobacco to be at the perfect moisture…

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