525 Byzantium - This is a blend with some symmetrical symbolism. Three legendary cities: Byzantium, Constantinople and Istanbul, three unique tobaccos: Latakia, Oriental and Red Virginia form this blend. (from Sutliff's website)
The Virginia is dark fruit sweet and slightly tangy with some earth, while the Orientals add nice spicy, woody notes in the background. The Cyprian latakia is smokey, woodsy, and slightly sweet, but it doesn't overpower the other elements. The blend is well balanced so you’ll notice all the elements in every puff. Has a mild nic-hit, and won't bite. Burns cool, clean and dry with no dullness and a consistent flavor at a reasonable pace. leaves little moisture in the bowl, and needs an average number of relights. Has a decent after taste. Because the latakia isn’t dominant, some may find it lacking in strength, but it’s designed for a lighter palate, though it’s not quite an all day smoke.
The pouch smell is more or less a traditional spicy English with definite Latakia presence. Tobacco itself is very dry, crumbly dry, but since some of my favorite English blends exhibit the same, I did not discount the blend for this. Taste falls short from the get-go. Virginia is nearly imperceptible, orientals are flat, and the Latakia just seems to drone on in the background, coming forth every now and then. No matter how gently I smoked this 3 oz. sample, tongue bite showed up in nearly every smoke. Even worse, the smoke seems to coat the mouth and tongue with an unpleasant film that is velvety, tingly, and sometimes reminiscent of anise flavoring. I have not experienced that unpleasantry with other Balkan or English blends, nor do I have desire to find what component may cause this. Most likely some sort of topping. At any rate, I will not purchase again, and I cannot recommend this to other smokers in good conscience. There are hundreds of much better oriental blends out there, and I have found no redeeming qualities here.
Here's a nice English. My gold standards are Dubhill 965, Perfection, and Frog Morton Across the Pond. Byzantium is right in there. My only complaint is that you have to buy it in bulk. I prefer tins. Oh well, a nice English style tobacco, anyway.
Pipe Used: Caminetto Billiard
Age When Smoked: 2 months
Purchased From: Pipes and Cigars
Similar Blends: Dunhill 965, Perfection, Frog Morton Across the Pond.
I tried this as one of a group of English blends in a sampler (most if not all from Sutliff). This was the strongest Latakia smelling of the blends. I decided to devote a new pipe to it - a smallish Tim West. Maybe I wasn't doing it justice by trying this in a new pipe, so I waited until the pipe was well broken-in before posting a review.
I definitely taste a Balkan here. The tobacco is ribbon cut, and the pouch aroma leans toward the Latakia - as I allude to above. This blend came rather dry in the pouch - much dryer than even most Sutliff/Altadis English blends. The Latakia dominates the flavor of this blend. The blend smokes fairly clean, and I hardly had to run a cleaner - maybe a couple of times. I don't understand those who don't; even when a blend is bone dry, I usually have to run one mid bowl.
I have smoked about a third of a 2 oz package, and I am thinking this really isn't my cup of tea. The tobacco is good, and the blend smokes well (I don't get the bad reviews or some of the comparisons in other reviews). It's just not really my cup of tea. I prefer something that works as an all-day smoke or something that goes well with other flavors. This has a lot of heavy flavor to it. The blend doesn't overpower with Vitamin N, but it does manage to have a very heavy flavor - not a warm weather blend for me.
I think this would work best as an evening or after-dinner smoke. Like an oaky cabernet, you wouldn't want to go back to a lighter tasting blend after this. You're not going to be able to taste much afterward.
If you like heavier English blends that lean toward the Latakia component, this may be for you. It at least deserves a try.
A very powerful and full Balkan mixture. This is in the same vein as Peretti's #40. This is an after dinner blend. I found, however, that when mixing this with about %20 IRC 3 STAR EBONY(also an Altadis product) IT smoothes out the blend and adds a little desired sweetness. A solid smoke. 3 stars!
A bulk Balkan mixture, from a company better known to me for aromatics - I was skeptical at first, but couldn't pass this up when it came my way in a trade. The tobacco arrived in a plastic bag,and in spite of being well sealed the distinctive smell of Latakia came through strongly. A good sign, as far as I was concerned. The tobacco is a mostly dark brown mix of broken flake and short ribbon, fairly moist. Packed lightly,it takes a couple of lights to get going, but then burns as well as any Balkan.
The flavor strongly reminds me of Stokkebye's Balkan Supreme and Balkan Sasieni, but is a little sharper, with a suggestion of heat - not really bite, but a little spice on the tongue. The orientals must be the same or very similar variey, but the smoke does not seem as alkaline as the Stokkebye. There may be a topping of some sort, at times there is a little nutty flavor that I don't expect in a blend of this type.
The finish is clean, no goop, and only a little ashy. Overall, and especially for the price, this is a solid addition to the Balkan range.
I got this, and a few other Altadis blends, for free from a local shop that i frequent. To be honest, i thought it was awful, and it brought back memories of Mixture No. 79. Admittedly, i smoked half a bowl about 2 months ago, but I haven't been able to bring myself to try it again.
While I'm still in the middle of a 3 oz. sample I still have yet to make up my mind about this one. I'm a sucker for blends that use inventive names to draw attention to themselves (what could possibly be any more alluring than a blend called "Byzantium"?) and a big fan of Balkan and English styles and this blend fits all those bills. I would liken it to any basic blend that uses the same known tobacco types in this blend (Cyprian Latakia, Oriental, and Red Virginia) and I think it would make a nice medium-strong introduction for anyone curious about moving from lighter English blends into more "dangerous" territory. There is a slight bite mid-bowl and it can be tough to keep lit from time to time, but the overall experience is just right for an everyday smoke. But let there be no mistake: this is far from aromatic and it is likely to frighten away others in the room. I know it won't be daring enough to interest the most seasoned of English and Balkan afficionados, but this blend will be an interesting challenge for anyone who is just getting to know the style. Recommended.
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