Friday, July 01, 2011


Links to Balkan Sobranie posts: these are the articles on this blog that discuss what Balkan Sobranie Mixture was, of what it probably consisted, and which modern blends are similar.

[This is not about the famous 'Balkan Sobranie Turkish Cigarettes' in the flat white tin with the same illustration on the front as the round tins of pipe tobacco. Those, along with Sobranie's other fine cigarettes (imperial Russians, Cocktails, Chaliapins, Balkan Sobranie Turkish Oval Cigarettes, etcetera, are deserving of their own post. Particularly the Imperial Russians that Donald W. Daniels at Drucquer's was so fond of. They were an excellent product the disappearance of which is much lamented.
If you're looking for Turkish cigarettes, I suggest finding out if 'Khedive' is still around. Lovely sweet ovals, from Austria or Germany. They were delicious!
There are also probably still products made by Greek companies in Alexandria, using a variety of Oriental tobaccos. But it is almost certain that you won't find them in California - rules here are stricter (i.e. 'goofier') than many other places.]

Discusses the terminology and the name. Goes into the component tobaccos of the legendary pipe tobacco in some detail, though if you really want to know more about various blending tobaccos, nothing beats hands-on experience.
Describes the taste of Balkan Sobranie Original Mixture.
August 07, 2008

As the title says, primarily about Greg Pease's 'Key Largo'. But because comparisons are inevitable, mention is made of BALKAN SOBRANIE VIRGINIAN NO. 10 ("with choicest cigar leaf").
Various types of tobacco more commonly used as filler or wrapper for cigars have also been incorporated in pipe tobacco blends - everything from Cuban and Centro-American through Brasil and Indonesian. Most such blends are composed of an aged Virginia base upon which cigar tobacco and other condimentals are layered.
If you treat cigar leaf as if it were equidistant between Turkish and Burley, you can construct something quite rewarding. Too much, though, and the cheroot funk will overwhelm. Tolerances differ.
July 24, 2008

Mention of first encountering the Balkan Sobranie Mixture in the famous white tin, as well as comparison with some Germain's blends, Dunhill mixtures, G. L. Pease, Cornell & Diehl, and 'Bill Bailey's Balkan Blend'.
October 31, 2007

Account of compounding a personal blend that to me resembles Balkan Sobranie exceedingly. But I shall not give the recipe, for two reasons: primarily because nose-memories vary considerably, with each person remembering a discontinued product differently; secondarily because there are other imitations and substitutes out there which are both admirable and a sufficient basis for your own blending experiments.
November 12, 2007


If you were to try creating a replacement, I would suggest 40% Latakia or more, 20% - 25% Turkish, 30% to 35% Virginia, and a small quantity of an unflavoured black Cavendish OR 'Toasted Cavendish'.
Proportions are recommended approximates, vary them according to what you remember most about the product.

Note several things:
Latakia nowadays is usually from Cyprus, and is not the same as Syrian (it has a stronger flavour, and it doesn't weigh quite the same). Turkish varietals are no longer available in the spectrum that once was common - Cornell & Diehl sells 'Smyrna', which I particularly like. The Virginia component should contain mostly a medium flake rubbed out, and just a little Yellow Virginia for taste, colour, and smoking effect (even a little will look like a lot, as it is very light in weight), and lastly, both the unflavoured Cavendish as well as the Toasted Cavendish will be air cured tobaccos treated to darken them, and consequently will have a profound impact in small amounts, but will dominate if you are careless.

Blend somewhat wetter than you would smoke. Use mild heat to promote melding of flavours. Do this in a closed container to prevent loss of fragrance. When cool, pack it away for a week before testing it.


The term "Yenidje", as used on the label may have been a false clue, an almost deliberate misdirection. Possibly as a marketing strategem, though equally likely it was meant to misdirect and obscure sources.
There are SEVERAL places in Northern Turkey, Greece, and Macedonia called Yenidje - it means 'NEW TOWN' - the Turkish spelling is "Yenice". There is even a Yenidje that produces Xanthi leaf.
I believe that mr. Redstone simply appreciated the sound of the name, just as he liked the terms 'Balkan' and 'Sobranie'. Balkan sounds exotic and adventurous, Sobranie means assembly (or 'congress') and makes reference to the turbulent politics of the area, with which the Redstone family had connection.
I myself suspect that most of the 'Turkish' tobacco in the Balkan Sobranie Original Mixture was actually Macedonian, perhaps comparable to high-quality Prilep tobacco. Tzarich iyun ("needs further investigation").

There are a number of resources mentioned in the blog-roll on the right in the section titled 'TOBACCO'.
There are also clickable 'labels' underneath this post.


This post was actually written on Wednesday June 6, 2011. But because many of my regular visitors are rather sick of my obsession with Balkan Sobranie, it was placed on the blog between the previous Friday morning post and the Friday evening post, so that readers don't cruise in, conclude "darn it, he's off again", and cruise right on out.


NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

1 comment:

The back of the hill said...

Please note: since this post was written, there have been two interesting developments.
The first being availability of the blends produced at the Chicago pipe show Balkan Sobranie 759 throwdown, in particular McClelland's Blue Mountian, described here:

The second, more fascinating development: Balkan Sobranie is being produced again.
See here:

I'll be doing a casual review of the Arango - Germain product soon.

Then probably several more pieces about it. What with at times being an obsessive bore and all.

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