I recently purchased a pound of this stuff, and I could not be happier. To use a cooking metaphor, Latakia is the salt in a blend recipe. Without salt there is no flavor, yet everyone has their own ideal level of saltiness. To deal with this we cooks salt lightly and place a salt shaker on the table.
And so it is in my household now. I enjoy Latakia, but it's drawback is in it's strength. Though rich in flavor, Latakia is a mild tobacco. Thus a strong tobacco mixture with Latakia tends to be an oxymoron. I wanted strength and richness. It seemed I needed to be able to add Latakia to match my own specific taste.
What to do? After 25 years of smoking, I ventured into blending. I got my strongest friends together (the Brown and Black ropes, Dark Birdseye, Dark Flake, etc) and introduced them to Full Virginia Flake to add a wonderfully smooth body, and then seasoned them with Latakia. The result: Rich, full, and strong. Delicious even. Currently I am messing around with about 10% Latakia. My guess would be the upper range of my pallet would be 20%, though I may already have found the sweet spot at 10%.
As far as McClelland's Latakia, I have not tried it. But I have tried tobaccos from the House of McClelland, and I've tried tobaccos from Lakeland (Gawith Hoggarth & Samual Gawith) and to me there is no comparison. No other house can hold a candle to the Lakeland houses. Try them, and you'll be an instant convert to the wonderful tobaccos and methods of yore.
FYI: Finding this stuff isn't easy, but I found mine at marscigars.com
P.S. So far I've had good luck storing bulk tobacco by placing the tobacco in canning jars and placing one of those humidifying gel disks (sold on ebay) under the lid.
Recently I decided to try and sample the main style of tobaccos raw as to acquaint myself with pure the flavours some more. Have you ever considered smoking Latakia neat? If so the answer is this... DON'T!
The smell from the bag is smoky beyond belief, a bit like bonfire night! This is jet black in colour, it actually resembles Black Cavendish. There is no problem with the moisture of this one and the ribbons are evenly sized. When/if it's smoked on its own the smokey taste is too much and it develops strange 'fishy' flavour which is most unpleasant! The burn is a good one leaving a white ash. No tongue bite at all. For what it is this is very good which earns four stars but it REALLY ISN'T something to smoke on its own!
Note: after smoking this I really couldn't face smoking a blend containing Latakia for two weeks.
While not a fan of latakias to begin with i have been toying with making my own blends and plqying around with latakia
Opening the pouch it smells like you are being transported to a rural village in mid winter with the wood burning fires raging away The aromas have an almost homely feel Very dark smokey leathery and very rich
I havent smoked this neat as i am too much of a wimp but used in ratios of between ten and twenty percent it adds real character to a blend with that unmistakeable taste and aroma
If you are making a blend of your own then this is a highly reccomended addition
I've previously stated in a few reviews that I will try to smoke a full 2oz of a blend before I write a review. A single bowl does nothing in regards to an honest review. I want to smoke it in the morning. In the evening after a hearty meal. In the car. Indoors in my favorite chair. Outside. In different pipes. I want to see how it behaves under different circumstances.
That said, I'm not about to smoke 2oz of straight Latakia. I purchased this to kick up a few blends I thought I could improve, and add a little Lakeland essence.
Rough chopped dark leaf is all there is. the pouch aroma is one of, you guessed it, smoke. But there is also a minty floral aroma that makes this smell like smoked toothpaste. That is the only way I can explain it.
Thin wisps of blue smoke emit from the pipe bowl, while a rich thick smoke is exhaled. Rich, woodsy, piney smoke, with light floral undertones. No sharp, rough or harsh elements. Creamy. No hint at biting. Leaves a cool, crisp and refreshing feeling on the palate. That minty aroma definitely transfers to the smoke and palate. This will make a superb addition to any blend that is lacking that amazing Latakia component.
Bulk: Compared to McClelland's Blending Latakia, not as deep black, being tinged with a little brown where slight bits didn't get fire smoked. Thin cut, varing from short to long and stringy ribbon. A less pronounced smoky aroma than McClelland's. Although not sticky, the tobacco can be pressed into a ball.
Burn Qualities: Lights and burns well with one match
Taste & Aroma: Rich, smooth, leathery, woodsy, smoky, more leathery than smoky, somewhat musty. Gives a zest to the tongue. Not at all overpowering when smoked by itself.
Nicotine: mild to medium
Overall: This has a less smoky smell and aroma, more leathery, compared to McClelland's. G.H. Latakia merits three stars, there's nothing wrong it, but I like McClelland's better and I gave that 3 stars. 2.6 Stars, recommended.
Since G&H have pulled 'commonwealth mixture' from their line up I knew its absence would be a hard itch to scratch after enjoying the richness and strength in it if I am not able to source more. But G&H currently sell all the separate ingredients where you can blend your own versions based on your own sense of taste memory anyway. Always wanted to taste this mystic Latakia neat as well to know its individual properties. Its a buttery thick smooth creamy smoke,beefy smokey,earthy dusty,woody salty. I can see why this is considered a blending condiment tobacco though. While able to be smoked as it is,its other tobaccos that really bring it to life I recon. It burns too cool on its own to release its own powers. It tastes stronger mixed with something else that burns hotter that's fact. But the experience of tasting this in the absence of other ingredients was none the less eye opening and appreciable. A very mystic voodoo smoke on its own..4 stars**
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