Comparing Pure Latakias

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Brunello

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Like any other piper who has been at this long enough, I've tried dozens of Latakia blends and developed a few favorites along the way. Some of those favorites are no longer available, like Ashton's Celebrated Sovereign or the original Balkan Sobranie, but there are also new favorites like C&D Black Frigate and Da Vinci.

To better understand the nature of the beast I finally decided to do a one-day comparison of every pure 100% Latakia I had in my blending cupboard: Ehrlich's Pure Syrian, McConnell's Pure Latakia, Sutliff TS18 Blending Latakia, and two pure, unprocessed Cyprian Latakias from LeafOnly.com and WholeLeafTobacco.com

What I found is that none of these straight 100% Latakias were anywhere near as potent as some well-known Lat-Bombs like Pirates Kake, Gaslight, or Nightcap. Evidently there is a lot of latitude in how lightly or heavily the Turkish leaves are smoked when making Latakia. I think that when a 100% Latakia is milder than a blend with 50% Latakia we need to move the discussion beyond percentage points. Latakia by itself, while one-dimensional, doesn't have to be forbiddingly potent. I think it becomes so when pressed into flakes with other robust tobaccos.

Finally, I have found in my own blending experiments that Syrian and Virginias work well together but that Cyprian seems to work better with Burley. But again, grades, casing, and many other factors come into play.
 

Ozark Wizard

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I've always had a preference to Syrian over Cyprus. And I agree with you on the idea of various grades of Latakia.
 

RSteve

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Brunello":fp7d652x said:
To better understand the nature of the beast I finally decided to do a one-day comparison of every pure 100% Latakia I had in my blending cupboard: Ehrlich's Pure Syrian, McConnell's Pure Latakia, Sutliff TS18 Blending Latakia, and two pure, unprocessed Cyprian Latakias from LeafOnly.com and WholeLeafTobacco.com ...  Evidently there is a lot of latitude in how lightly or heavily the Turkish leaves are smoked when making Latakia. I think that when a 100% Latakia is milder than a blend with 50% Latakia we need to move the discussion beyond percentage points. Latakia by itself, while one-dimensional, doesn't have to be forbiddingly potent.
I've created blends using Peter Stokkebye Blending Latakia, Gawith & Hoggarth Blending Latakia and Cornell & Diehl Latakia. I made the mistake of thinking that they all probably sourced the latakia from the same processor. On a ten point scale, rating both the smokiness and intensity of the tobacco, the Stokkebye rates a 4, Gawith a 6 and the C & D a solid 10. I usually blend with the Stokkebye, both out of habit and because it's pretty inexpensive. When it hasn't been available I've used the others, but made a critical error using the C & D, as it absolutely dominated the blend. I had no idea that it would differ so greatly from the P.S.
 

Brunello

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RSteve":nrwvydku said:
Brunello":nrwvydku said:
To better understand the nature of the beast I finally decided to do a one-day comparison of every pure 100% Latakia I had in my blending cupboard: Ehrlich's Pure Syrian, McConnell's Pure Latakia, Sutliff TS18 Blending Latakia, and two pure, unprocessed Cyprian Latakias from LeafOnly.com and WholeLeafTobacco.com ...  Evidently there is a lot of latitude in how lightly or heavily the Turkish leaves are smoked when making Latakia. I think that when a 100% Latakia is milder than a blend with 50% Latakia we need to move the discussion beyond percentage points. Latakia by itself, while one-dimensional, doesn't have to be forbiddingly potent.
I've created blends using Peter Stokkebye Blending Latakia, Gawith & Hoggarth Blending Latakia and Cornell & Diehl Latakia. I made the mistake of thinking that they all probably sourced the latakia from the same processor. On a ten point scale, rating both the smokiness and intensity of the tobacco, the Stokkebye rates a 4, Gawith a 6 and the C & D a solid 10. I usually blend with the Stokkebye, both out of habit and because it's pretty inexpensive. When it hasn't been available I've used the others, but made a critical error using the C & D, as it absolutely dominated the blend. I had no idea that it would differ so greatly from the P.S.
Excellent info - very helpful! I've never tried the G&H just because I'm always worried about any residual Lakeland tastes. I agree on the C&D, and by extension some of the G.L. Pease blends derived from the same source - they are the most potent on the market and have to be used in extreme moderation. Among bulk offerings Sutliff is well behaved, but for the best quality I like McConnell Pure Latakia which doesn't have the overt casing that MacBaren has.
 

RSteve

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The Balkan Sobranie thread and my own experience lately has once again convinced me that even though Bee Trading in Cyprus does all the preliminary processing of latakia, individual manufacturers process the tobacco in a proprietary manner.
 

Logs

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You could always go with uncut leaf. WLT, Total Leaf Supply, and Leaf Only each sell bags of unprocessed Cyprian for about $25/pound. For home blenders it's not that hard to chop it up and save some money. Ribbon style is a very time consuming but that can be done too.
 

RSteve

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You could always go with uncut leaf. WLT, Total Leaf Supply, and Leaf Only each sell bags of unprocessed Cyprian for about $25/pound. For home blenders it's not that hard to chop it up and save some money. Ribbon style is a very time consuming but that can be done too.
I've purchased whole leaf at $26.00 lb. P.S. is $30 lb. and I like how it's been cut and processed.
 

Mr_Houston

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Finally, I have found in my own blending experiments that Syrian and Virginias work well together but that Cyprian seems to work better with Burley. But again, grades, casing, and many other factors come into play.

That’s a very interesting observation.

I love all things with Syrian Latakia, even from the start of my pipe smoking career. Ashton's Celebrated Sovereign was the 1st English blend that I could tolerate, while my buddies were smoking the Cyprian lat bombs.

I also enjoy VAs blends, esp. red VAs. I don’t enjoy burley-forward blends.

I have a couple of tins of the Syrian version of McConell’s Pure Latakia to blend someday. I’ll keep your conclusion in mind.
 
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