GENERAL NOTES ON BLENDING TOBACCOS
Latakia: up to fifty percent (the so-called "Latakia Dump" range), generally between thirty to forty, and still marvelous at fifteen, or even ten. Often needs judicious paring with things like Turkish ('Izmir') and robust Virginias.
Turkish: thinnish on it's own, very musky / fragrant. More than 25% is somewhat excessive.
Virginia (flue-cured): various types - medium flake rubbed out can be the largest percentage (up to eighty or ninety percent, but well worthwhile at fifteen to thirty five); plain (unflavoured) virginia cavendish smooths out and almost erases strong elements but doesn't add much worthwhile (use between five and twenty five percent of total blend); red ribbon adds smokeability at up to fifteen percent, bright ribbon does the same but is harsher; both red and bright ribbon should be used at the lower end of the scale, probably no more than ten percent. Black virginia ribbon and plain black cavendish are sweet and deep, and help the Latakia work with Virginias. Usually single digits.
Toasted cavendish (actually fire-cured Kentucky): adds a marvelous note to Turkish, and combines well with Latakia. But it will easily take over at proportions greater than fifteen percent.
Perique: a chimera and a joker among the leaves. At two or three percent barely noticeable, but tongue-bite reducing. Seven or eight percent adds quite a whoomp. Anything over ten percent grows hair inside your lungs.
Burley: if even one third of the blend is burley, it's a burley blend. Used to modify the taste of something else it is best below fifteen percent.
Maryland ribbon: this is what the Dutch call 'Baai Tabak', after the Chesapeake from whence it was exported. Air-cured, like Burley, but milder, almost bland. Adds smokeability without strongly influencing the tenor of the blend. Use between five and twenty percent.
Virginias and Burleys are also grown in many other countries, not just the United States.
Canada, Thailand, India, Tanzania, et autres.
Turkish varieties are usually combined, offerings of specific types are somewhat doubtful and unusual. Latakia was grown in Syria (Hatay Prefecture), but nowadays comes from Cyprus.
Perique only comes from Louisiana.
Try not to use more than six different tobaccos, four or five is best. Decide which one you want to dominate the blend and what other characteristics you want noticeable, and adjust the proportions from there.
Test batches should be small quantities, and expect that you may not finish smoking that batch. Smoke one bowl right after blending and make notes.
Smoke more bowls after several days, and if it still tastes interesting, more bowls a few weeks later, when you can reasonably expect the tobaccos to have married. Sometimes what was marvelous at the very beginning becomes pedestrian after a few weeks.
Most blending tobaccos available to tobacco stores and amateurs are fairly standardized. The interesting stuff is usually not available at retail levels.
Always keep notes.
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