Balkan Sobranie

Coastal Bend

Get off my lawn.
Patron
#21
Like @sablebrush52 I smoked a lot of the Original Smoking Mixture in the 70s. It kind of a regular rotation and also was my "fall back," if I couldn't make it to a tobacco shop since it was sold at the Walgreen's front counter a short walk from my office in Chicago, along with 759, Escudo and some MacBaren blends. Guess there were more OTC blends back then, right? :roflmao:

Comparing the taste of anything to something smoked some 40 years ago is a heavy lift. I tend to agree the times I've had White Knight it felt awfully close to what I remember.
 

sablebrush52

Well-known member
Patron
#22
A few years ago I had the opportunity to compare Germain's version of Balkan Sobranie, White Knight, and some 35 year od Balkan Sobranie that I have been gifted with. Allowing for some diminution of the flavor profile due to age, the White Knight really did resemble the circa 1980 Balkan Sobranie. Germain's, well...not so much, really, not much at all.
 

sablebrush52

Well-known member
Patron
#25
Of you never had the original you don’t have anything to compare it to. Blends chg over time despite the same recipe due to different crops and mfg locations (different water source, etc). Yet everyone swears it’s not the original recipe.
All of which is mostly true. But this isn't a completely automated process. There's a fellow called a blender involved, whose job it is to keep the flavor profile on target as best he can even if it means making alterations to a company recipe because the components are a little different. Also keep in mind that many commercial blends are made from components that have been homogenized by blending harvests from several seasons to mitigate the effects of year to year variations. Any good cook will tell you that a recipe is the start, not the finish.
 

Ernie Q

Well-known member
Sales
#27
All of which is mostly true. But this isn't a completely automated process. There's a fellow called a blender involved, whose job it is to keep the flavor profile on target as best he can even if it means making alterations to a company recipe because the components are a little different. Also keep in mind that many commercial blends are made from components that have been homogenized by blending harvests from several seasons to mitigate the effects of year to year variations. Any good cook will tell you that a recipe is the start, not the finish.
Kind of. Most of the time a blender will simply retire a blend if, say, a certain leaf falls short on quality or a crop fails or maybe if Syrian runs out. Myself, if I had a blend that depended on Syrian Latakia I'd retire it and offer something similar rather than make the blend different....and it would be different with Cyprian...because different is not the same.
Also, casing plays a major role in homogenizing and adding consistency to tobacco.
 

DrumsAndBeer

Well-known member
#29
I’m one of the suckers who actually loves Germain’s current Sobranie. I don’t really care how close it is to the original, but I understand the nostalgic desire of others.

I wonder how people’s opinion of current BS would differ if they had just called it something else.

I really like it.
I smoked a fraction of a tin about 5 years ago and remember liking it, but I didn't smoke nearly enough to establish a firm opinion on it. Typically I enjoy Germain's Latakia blends, even the lighter affair or blends other than Penzance, Margate/Pembroke.

As far as the use of the name Balkan Sobranie is concerned, I guess it's really no different that all the Dunhill blends changing hands multiple times. Good tobacco or not, a bit irritating for those who have fond memories of smoking the real deal.
 

sablebrush52

Well-known member
Patron
#30
Kind of. Most of the time a blender will simply retire a blend if, say, a certain leaf falls short on quality or a crop fails or maybe if Syrian runs out. Myself, if I had a blend that depended on Syrian Latakia I'd retire it and offer something similar rather than make the blend different....and it would be different with Cyprian...because different is not the same.
Also, casing plays a major role in homogenizing and adding consistency to tobacco.
Which is part of the problem with Balkan Sobranie. The kind of leaf that went into the original, such as Syrian Latakia, which is, quite frankly, the only actual Latakia as Latakia is the capital of the Latakia Governate in Syria, is gone, gone, gone. Original Smoking Mixture was one of those blends that burned down to a fine white ash, like baby powder. That ain't happening with the current stuff. Recipe, shmecipe. What Russ did was adjust to get something that tastes similar to what he smoked in the '80's. WhiteKnight doesn't burn down to a fine white ash, but the components have been cleverly used to mimic the older blend.

And frankly, one can say the same thing about a lot of current blends that are continuations of long established brands. They're not made by the same producer, they haven't got the same leaf from the same sources, much less the same production equipment, aging and fermentation steps, water or anything else. Is Germain's version worth the $40 many are shelling out? To me, frankly, no. It's just sitting in a tin with a $40 name on it. Branding is a powerful tool. It can resurrect the dead.
 

Chico

Well-known member
#31
Which is part of the problem with Balkan Sobranie. The kind of leaf that went into the original, such as Syrian Latakia, which is, quite frankly, the only actual Latakia as Latakia is the capital of the Latakia Governate in Syria, is gone, gone, gone. Original Smoking Mixture was one of those blends that burned down to a fine white ash, like baby powder. That ain't happening with the current stuff. Recipe, shmecipe. What Russ did was adjust to get something that tastes similar to what he smoked in the '80's. WhiteKnight doesn't burn down to a fine white ash, but the components have been cleverly used to mimic the older blend.

And frankly, one can say the same thing about a lot of current blends that are continuations of long established brands. They're not made by the same producer, they haven't got the same leaf from the same sources, much less the same production equipment, aging and fermentation steps, water or anything else. Is Germain's version worth the $40 many are shelling out? To me, frankly, no. It's just sitting in a tin with a $40 name on it. Branding is a powerful tool. It can resurrect the dead.
I'd be very curious to know if BS is actually one of the other 20 or so Germain Lat blends repackaged, the way some Smokers Haven/Esoterica blends supposedly are.
 

Teddy Jeavons

Leaf and Leaf
Sales
#32
I'd be very curious to know if BS is actually one of the other 20 or so Germain Lat blends repackaged, the way some Smokers Haven/Esoterica blends supposedly are.
I'd bet a lot of money it's not. It tastes Germain-y for sure, but it's not like any of their other blends.
As far as the SH/Eso relationship, Premal has posted about the details. We know what's what and what isn't what. What?
 

sablebrush52

Well-known member
Patron
#34
I'd be very curious to know if BS is actually one of the other 20 or so Germain Lat blends repackaged, the way some Smokers Haven/Esoterica blends supposedly are.
The Esoterica blends were in Germain's catalog according to Greg Pease, who was a crash test dummy taster when Steve Richman was creating the line. And, Richman asked for some tweaks here and there.