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Whole Leaf Tobacco

Syrian Latakia Availability Now

squeezyjohn

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#21
I have a small jar of pure unblended Syrian Latakia tobacco. I also have some of the Cyprian Latakia whole leaf that Don was selling a while back. While the Cyprian stuff is great - I wouldn't even class them as the same type of tobacco for blending purposes. Cyprian Latakia has a leathery smokiness which is unmistakeable as that found in the Dunhill English blends. Syrian Latakia on the other hand is a much more rich and subtle aroma, smelling of dried fruits, wood, incense and soot ... the closest thing I can equate the smell of the Syrian stuff to is the smell of an ancient church (I mean many hundreds of years old - we have a lot of them over here!).

It's sad that this is unlikely to be made again. But it's sadder still what is happening to the poor people in Syria at the moment.
 

deluxestogie

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#22
I hadn't remembered quite that extensive a write-up on the home-made Latakia. I still have some of that Blue Ridge Latakia that I've stored. The more aggressive terpene off-aromas have dissipated over the intervening years. My first impression of the jar aroma of this Blue Ridge Latakia today is "Latakia", so it's in the ballpark. I believe the process of making it at home is encapsulated in that experiment.

To address squeezyjohn's Latakia comparisons, it's all in the selection of woods and herbs to send up in the fire-cure process. I am more and more confident that in both Syria and Cyprus, the wood part of that blend has always been an opportunistic one, and varied from one year to the next. They burned whatever local wood varieties they could obtain during any particular season. Cedar and Live Oak seem to dominate, and were probably added as both burnable wood and live greenery. The curing batches were relatively large, and all of the production from a single year was baled together and warehoused together.

If we had a time machine, and could sample Syrian Latakia from several different seasons, my guess is that each one would have its own distinctive character. My recollection of the pure Syrian Latakia that I obtained years ago is not as poetic as squeezyjohn's. It was quite nice. A bit softer and less "smoky" than the current WLT batch of Cyprian Latakia. And the Syrian did seem to have a higher nicotine content. (Perhaps istanbulin is correct in identifying "Shek-el-Bent" as Yayladag.) But the several pounds of the Syrian that I purchased back then had probably been stored by the tobacconist from whom I purchased it for at least a decade. All tobacco becomes a little less edgy with the passage of time.

I believe it is the "herbs" used in the process that provide the "incense from a very old church" character. This likely varied by the boy who was sent out to gather some greenery to produce smoke. The various Pistacia spp. (e.g. mastic, pistachio) and common myrtle--both evergreen shrubs that grow up in untended, cleared land throughout the Mediterranean basin --seem to be the determinative elements here. It is unlikely that much if any of the wood was burned, but rather that Pistacia and myrtle leaves and sprigs were added to the smoking process. Other herbs (as in a spaghetti sauce) contribute subtle uniqueness to each batch.

So, like a memorable vintage of wine from a particular vinyard (Ah! Remember the 2005 Pauillac?), we may regret the passing of Syrian Latakia, but that is the nature of things agricultural.

Bob
 

FmGrowit

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#23
When I shred my WLT Cyprian Latakia, I just take a handful out of the bag, mound it, and start thin "slicing". When it's done, it really looks just like the photo of "fine scrap" that Don has posted. The WLT website shows only 11 pounds of Cyprian Latakia remaing. Will the "fine scrap" Latakia be offered at WLT?

Bob
Unlikely. Even though you understand, the vast majority will think I'm robbing them....even if I offered the "scrap" at a significant discount.
 

squeezyjohn

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#24
So, like a memorable vintage of wine from a particular vinyard (Ah! Remember the 2005 Pauillac?), we may regret the passing of Syrian Latakia, but that is the nature of things agricultural.
I don't have the experience or knowledge to comment on the other bits ... but this quote is so very true for so many things. Seasons are unique ... and when everything comes together ... you just can't beat it. That goes for tobacco, tomatoes, wine, whisky and music. I'm glad we still live in a world where some things cannot be quality controlled and automated ... it keeps things interesting!

The Syrian I have is clearly quite old, which I think has a lot to do with how amazing it is. The one thing I have learnt with tobacco is that it definitely gets better with age. Patience is a virtue.
 
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#25
We could make Syrian Latakia domestically, you would just need to use the right kind of leaf and burn the same kind of wood, I know they use Smyrna for the cyprian variety... Not exactly sure what kind of leaf Syrian is, but I'm sure one could find out
 

deluxestogie

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#26
We've explored the possibilities, and discussed it quite a bit:

http://fairtradetobacco.com/threads/1773-Latakia-Production-a-Quest-for-Details
http://fairtradetobacco.com/threads/5016-Making-Latakia-at-Home

The specific leaf variety is relatively unimportant. The woods used to create the smoke for the fire-curing is the catch. They are common in the eastern Mediterranean basin, but just aren't available in the US.

This would be better to discuss in one of those threads.

Bob

EDIT: You may find the Index of Key Forum threads worth bookmarking: http://fairtradetobacco.com/threads/3868-Key-threads-in-the-FTT-forum
 
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