Just posted the following review on TR. Reproduced here for your edification.
McClelland’s Rose of Latakia
Is a rose by any other name really just as sweet? In the case of this enigmatic blend from McClelland, the Bard may have well found reason to pause. Described on the tin with the alluring statement: “Only the most precious, most flavorful Syrian leaves are called Rose of Latakia. This fine blend is complex, fragrant, incredible”, Rose of Latakia is actually an undistinguished Virginia-Oriental blend containing at most a pinch of the much beloved leaf.
Comprised of a mix of mostly dark chocolate and light black short ribbon with flecks of tan and chestnut, the tin nose is classic McClelland: tangy and a bit pungent with a deep and somewhat tickling acetic acid spice. Undertones of fresh turned earth and an ever-so-slight campfire smokiness are present as well.
In the bowl, Rose of Latakia presents a mix of sweet, stoved and matured Virginias perched atop a measured dose of tangy orientals of a rather familiar sort. The Syrian Latakia hides somewhere therein, masked to the point of virtual invisibility save for the fleeting moment or two when it emerges as a minor, and in the end altogether unremarkable, player in a cast costumed more by its promised script than by its actual performance. On the light side of medium bodied, the blend tends towards the sweet and tangy, with occasional notes of toasted sourdough bread, orange zest, and Oolong tea. Smoked blind, it would not be an overstatement to say that only the most cultivated of palates could identify the presence of Syrian Latakia which, if it is indeed an example of the leaf at its “most precious, most flavorful”, must be either too subtle or too expensive to add any measurable effect to a Virginia-Oriental blend such as this. The short finish is sweet and slightly salty.
As far as Virginia-Oriental mixtures go, Rose of Latakia is not half bad and this reviewer was more than happy to finish off the tin (dated 2005) on which this review is based. At the same time however, it is scarcely deserving of having the word ‘Latakia’ in its name, for as Juliet famously opined: “retain that dear perfection which he owes without that title ... doff thy name, and for that name which is no part of thee”. For shame, for shame – we are certainly more reasonable than that!