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G&H Balkan Mixture (bulk)

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GarethW

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Having just lost my supply of Dunhill 965 here in the UK, I've been casting around for a worthy English blend with which to replace it.

G&H Balkan Mixture is, I was assured, supposed to be a pretty good approximation to the old Balkan Sobranie on which I cut my teeth as a pipesmoker 20-odd years ago, so I reckoned it was worth a try.

Now I'll say right from the off that I was a bit sceptical. When the tobacconist gave me a whiff of the Balkan Mixture in the jar I was sure I could detect some of that Lakeland scent there in the background. Also, as a lover of both the old BS, and more recently 965, I reckoned that any replacement had a lot to live up to. But I bought a 25g pack not expecting much, brought it home, and the following is my (very pleasant) impression:

Appearance: This stuff is predominantly cut pretty fine - perhaps a little finer than I'd personally like; but hey, it's horses for courses. The exception is the odd bit of stem, or lump of latakia. There's that slightly dusty feel between the fingers which you get with some English blends too, and which I recall BS had. I can see what look like decent virginias with latakias and some brown orientals. Moisture-wise it seems pretty good; neither too much nor too little.

Packing: This stuff, because of the cut and pliability, packs easily. In fact, it packs so easily that it pays to be gentle. Too much of a prod, and you could find yourself with a dense plug of the stuff bunging up the airhole.

Lighting: Lights first time. In fact there's no need for the usual charring light / main light combination. And once lit, it stays that way without any need of constant attention. This is really well-behaved stuff!

Smoking: My first impression is a good one. Plenty of orientals here, nicely balanced with the latakia, and a flavour subtly - only subtly, mind - like no other English blend I've tried. And I was right: there is a hint - just a hint - of that Lakeland aroma here, or certainly something very like it. But whatever it is, it isn't getting in the way. In fact, it adds an additional dimension. As I work my way down the bowl, any scented quality fades to leave just good, earthy flavours (and I would say "earthy" rather than "leathery") It's robust; not in the mule-kick-to-the-head way that Nightcap is robust, but just enough to satisfy in a civilised sort of way. But beware: this stuff can - unusually for an English blend, I think - be a little sharp if you take it too quickly. It's my fist pipe of the day, and I begin by puffing greedily until I realise that BM it going to bite back unless I take it a bit more slowly.

Overall: Okay, so if you're expecting a dead-ringer for Balkan Sobranie you might feel let down. But put aside any thoughts if it being a BS-clone, smoke this stuff in its own right, and enjoy. It's worthy of far, far more than mere comparison. Maybe I need a few more bowls before any down-sides to Balkan Mixture become apparent, but at the moment I'm convinced I've found a new favourite.
 

pipetongue1

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Afternoon Gareth, I have found the same in BM, Thanx for the review, Ken.
Pacem en Puffing! :tongue: :pirat:
 

ftrplt

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I'm always on the lookout for another excuse to buy another Balkan blend!!! Great review! FTRPLT
 

Wet Dottle

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My understanding is that Balkan Mixture is supposed to replace the recently extinct Balkan Sobranie. I mean the one that was available in the plastic pouches in Europe called Balkan Sobranie Original, but not here in the US. I like the G&H product much better. It is a shag cut with a very nice musty tin bouquet, plus it has the sweet flavor that I like to find in English blends. I looked at them side by side and found the Balkan Mixture to be much sweeter than the one in the pouch. Besides the taste, the look and bouquet of the two were very different. I would say that this blend provides a much improved replacement to the Balkan Sobranie Original (the one IN THE POUCH).

Here's the Balkan sobranie I'm talking about (a picture pilfered from e-Bay):



P.S.- I only smoked the tinned version, not the bulk one...
 

Tom Clemons

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Thanks for the review Gareth! Another one for me to try someday. Cheers,

TC
 
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