A little background to this blend.
There once was a blend called Balkan Sobranie #759 or simply, #759 as it is known in the pipe world. It is THE Holy Grail of pipe tobacco. Ask any serious pipe smoker about it and both those who have smoked it and those who have not will have the same expression on their face, one of longing.
About a year or so, a 100g tin sold for $432 on eBay. Needless to say, it is highly sought after.
In 2011 at the Chicagoland Pipe & Tobacco Convention there was a “#759 Throw Down”. Three master blenders were invited to recreate the infamous #759. There would be two judging’s. One by official judges who had a 21 year old tin to compare them to (blenders had samples of the same tin to help them when blending their own). And a second judging by the general populace of attendees who of course did not have access to the original tobacco so the “People’s Choice” was decided by a simple majority on which one they liked best.
The master blender from McClelland won the People’s Choice which is the Blue Mountain I am smoking as I write this. The official winner was Blackhouse by Hearth & Home. I have yet to try it nor have I had the opportunity to try #759. So I can’t say yes or no to either (Blue Mountain-Blackhouse) when it comes to comparing it to the original #759.
So on to review Blue Mountain.
The two dominate tobaccos are Virginia and latakia with a nod to the latakia being the majority. So if you dislike that smoky, campfire type of scent or taste, this is certainly NOT for you. It also has a bit of a nicotine hit so take caution when puffing and take your time. I would suggest this tobacco after a good meal. There are nuances of other flavors in there, namely basma and venidje orientals but those are definitely secondary. It is a touch tiresome when lighting it due to it’s moisture and once lit, care is needed to keep it lit for at least the first half of the bowl. There is not a lot of smoke produced with this tobacco. I personally, as many of you, like a tobacco that produces quite a bit of smoke as it lends to the ‘aura’ and the atmosphere and well, the overall experience of puffing on a pipe. But don’t let the moisture and the lack of smoke put you off for this tobacco. There is a reason it won the “People’s Choice”.
I know it doesn’t read like I like this tobacco but on the contrary, I love it. If I had to use one word to describe it, I would use, ‘comforting’. I can’t help but immediately feel relaxed and at ease when I puff. Its hearty, savory and flavorful without being overwhelming. Its a touch sweet without being shocking. What smoke there is, encircles my head as I puff and the aroma is sublime. It is calming. It makes me want to stop, rest, think and reflect on my day. The star of this tobacco is Cyprian latakia followed closely by the Virginia and as mention above, basma and the yenidje orientals rounding out the flavors with possible black Cavendish?? Not sure though on that one. All this is masterfully blended to make a comforting, mature tasting tobacco that really comes into it’s own for the last half of the bowl.
I can tell that I am sure to enjoy for years to come. It is a great tobacco to enjoy in the evening with a Red Breast single pot whiskey, my personal favorite or any mellow whiskey of your choosing.
As stated above, I do not know if it tastes like #759 but at this point I really don’t care if it does. I like it and many tins will find their way into my cupboard.