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Thread: "Balanced" Blends...Which Blends Are... and.... Which Blends Are Not?

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    "Balanced" Blends...Which Blends Are... and.... Which Blends Are Not?

    I can only guess what makes a "perfectly balanced" tobacco blend. I hear and read this term all the time in tobacco reviews/videos/threads, etc. More specifically, what blends do you consider "unbalanced" and why? What does all this mean?

    My guess: ...It's just personal opinion, all subjective, and nothing more. I'll also bet that blends that are "unbalanced" might be easier to identify. Further guessing, if two guys blended the exact same tobaccos and in the exact same proportions, one being an amateur and the other, a well known pro-blender, the resulting mixture when smoked in a blind test.... would be judged differently, by the same smoker.

    For example: I personally like mild-medium blends with little or no Latakia. So I smoke those kinds of blends (like "HGL") and think that these blends are "well balanced". Now If I go and smoke a Lat-bomb mix, and hate it....then that particular blend for me...is a lousy, "unbalanced" smoke. Others may love it. So, who's right? For me, a Lat-forward blend is unbalanced, too strong, to smelly, and not pleasant. See the problem?

    Years ago, I joined a very famous, local pipe club. Loved going to all the meetings, enjoyed the company of other pipe-smokers. One member always smoked a blend that was just loaded with burnt-leathery Latakia and cigar leaf. The stench was overpowering. I eventually had to stop going to the meetings because I would literally choke when the smell from this pipe tobacco hit my nose. No harm, no foul...to each his own. Bet he thought his blend was "balanced".


    So, I'm confused. Educate me, please, about balanced blends.


    Frank
    NYC

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    PSU Owner dmcmtk's Avatar
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    I would agree...it's subjective. Having said that, one has to think of the component tobaccos in a blend. Virginias (brights, reds, stoved) Dark Fired Kentucky, Orientals, Latakia, Perique, Burley, Cavendish (flavored or not), etc, and the degree they work in harmony to make a particular blend greater than the sum of its parts when smoked.

    Add in also, any casings or top dressings...

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    Moderator jimbo44's Avatar
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    I think there is room for some objectivity in defining balance.

    So many things seem to follow the idea that "if something is good, then more must be better"; applies to any one component in tobacco blends (particularly Latakia and Perique which for me are condiments), size of cigars (60/70 even 80 ring gauge?), strength or amount of hops in beer, spices in food, wines that are like alcoholic Vimto, etc.

    We may not all share the same tastes but there is such a thing as good taste and excess is always wrong IMO.

    So, to your question "which are balanced blends?"; those by a blender who understands the matter of excess e.g. G L Pease, Dunhill, Rattray and the like.
    Last edited by jimbo44; 01-09-2018 at 14:49.
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    PSU Member coalsmoke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmcmtk View Post
    I would agree...it's subjective. Having said that, one has to think of the component tobaccos in a blend. Virginias (brights, reds, stoved) Dark Fired Kentucky, Orientals, Latakia, Perique, Burley, Cavendish (flavored or not), etc, and the degree they work in harmony to make a particular blend greater than the sum of its parts when smoked.
    That's a good assessment and let's take a hypothetical example. Say that you buy a tobacco that's described as an English type and is a blend of Latakia, Oriental (Turkish Ismir), black Cavendish, and red Virginia. After smoking a few bowls, you notice a spiciness that comes too forward for your taste that seems to dominate the blend. Even though you thought that, as an "English" blend, you would taste more of the Latikia, the spiciness from the Oriental is throwing the whole blend off. Another smoker may find the blend very good with just enough spiciness to notice as a background flavor. For you, though, it would be an unbalanced blend. It is all a matter of personal taste, as Dave pointed out, and there's no real consensus that would create an overall category of unbalanced or balanced blends. Within each genre of blends, such as English, Virginia, Burley, aromatic, etc. you'll simply end up finding what you like and don't like. The main thing is to experiment in order to find what you do like. It's all part of the journey of pipe smoking.
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    I expected to read these types of answers and opinions that were posted here in response to my rather ambiguous questions. Bottom line....try it until you find it.

    Many thanks for the help and the interest.

    Frank

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    PSU Member Scottishgaucho's Avatar
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    No expert on the subject but I must admit I'm in 'the simpler the better' camp whether that be food or tobacco. I suspect apart from the price, that's why I'm attracted to the Sayri twist...you couldn't get much simpler than that stuff.
    Having said that I've got an unfinished tin of Presbyterian Mixture which I go back to whenever I remember I've got it. Not too sure what's in it but the mixture of colours when you open the tin makes it appealing. Although I'm not a Latakia fan there is some of that in it.....I'd prefer even less but it's not too overpowering.

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    PSU Member Simon G's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scottishgaucho View Post
    No expert on the subject but I must admit I'm in 'the simpler the better' camp whether that be food or tobacco. I suspect apart from the price, that's why I'm attracted to the Sayri twist...you couldn't get much simpler than that stuff.
    Having said that I've got an unfinished tin of Presbyterian Mixture which I go back to whenever I remember I've got it. Not too sure what's in it but the mixture of colours when you open the tin makes it appealing. Although I'm not a Latakia fan there is some of that in it.....I'd prefer even less but it's not too overpowering.
    Presbytarian. I'm glad you noticed Latakia in it as I do to. There's thousands who swear blind there isn't any. All I know is it's one of the most subtle & exquisite smokes there is. I don't know if you already know Crawford, but I'll tell you anyway. Presbytarian was a personal blend done by a Glaswegian tobacconist called 'Gales'. They did it for a presbytarian minister who was a friend of Stanley Baldwin, the prime minister. It became his favourite smoke & helped make it famous.
    St. Bruno simply satisfies!

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    PSU Member Scottishgaucho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simon G View Post
    Presbytarian. I'm glad you noticed Latakia in it as I do to. There's thousands who swear blind there isn't any. All I know is it's one of the most subtle & exquisite smokes there is. I don't know if you already know Crawford, but I'll tell you anyway. Presbytarian was a personal blend done by a Glaswegian tobacconist called 'Gales'. They did it for a presbytarian minister who was a friend of Stanley Baldwin, the prime minister. It became his favourite smoke & helped make it famous.
    Yes I'd read that before Simon....in fact I think it tells you the story on the insert inside the tin. I'm surprised some think there's no latakia in it as I can smell and taste it quite easily. Even with the latakia it's still a nice smoke, although not one I choose very often as I always think latakia is for a cold climate.
    I can imagine it being a good winter smoke.....puffing away on a bowl of it while sitting beside a log fire swallowing a large glass of Speyside malt would be ideal.

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    Moderator Brooklin Bill's Avatar
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    I've been thinking about this topic and I thought I'd try a little chart of blends on a traditional basis, maybe even evolution as well. I did not include ropes, cakes, bars because I don't have enough experience with them.

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