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American Fire-Cured vs Latakia for Blending

BrotherJ

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Question: How different is American fire-cured leaf from Latakia in the smoking experience? I know how they are different in the finishing of the leaf, but can you really taste the difference? If you tried to pass off a blend with fire-cured leaf as an English blend, would most people notice? I wouldn't do that, but the smell is strikingly similar. I just stemmed and shredded some fire-cured Tennessee dark leaf from WLT and it smells to me exactly like some Latakia that I bought from a local cigar shop. The Tennessee needs some time to settle down, so I haven't tasted it yet, and maybe I have a simple palate that's easy to fool, but I don't think I would notice the difference unless the taste is quite different from the smell. If you love English blends, would you be disappointed to be stuck with American fire-cured?
 

deluxestogie

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The common firing woods for Latakia (e.g. Pistacia lentiscus) creates a pouch aroma and smoke aroma that resembles clove, camphor and other incense. Dark fire-cured leaf in the US is fired with smoldering oak sawdust. The sensory impression (to my nose and tongue) are incense vs. barbecue. I doubt any pipe smoker familiar with English and Balkan type Latakia blends would not readily notice the substantial difference. Another difference is that Latakia is made from a Basma type leaf, with the expectedly low nicotine. US dark fire-cured has significantly more nicotine, and with the higher pH of its smoke, causes an entire pipe blend to hit you with a higher nicotine dose.

It's certainly fair game to swap them, and see what you get, but you will need to adjust proportions to get a balanced (though quite different) blend.

Bob
 

ChinaVoodoo

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They are so different that I am forced to be skeptical of the proprietors of the cigar store you mentioned. I just don't see how one could confuse the two, unless if the fire cured you encountered was a really rare boutique one made by a hipster with a big beard and suspenders that nobody else has. All the American fire cured I've tried tastes like bbq sauce.
 

deluxestogie

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Of course, all of us categorize new experiences based on our previous experiences, especially our most recent similar experience. Back 8 years ago, I breathed and slept in the smoke from my smoker, while I made "Blue Ridge Latakia" for 6 weeks. Everything smelled like that. When I was done, my impression was that my home-fired Latakia actually was pretty close to the real deal. After stashing it, and trying it after several years, it was obvious to me that it was a more herbal fire-cured, but would never be mistaken for Latakia.

I tried again in 2019, using the firing materials that I analyzed and posted on the forum. It is much, much closer, but still not quite there.

Bob
 

GreenDragon

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I am also skeptical that what you were sold was Latakia. Latakia to me smells like incense and tastes very complex and slightly of soap. Fire cured smells of wood smoke and tastes like BBQ. I would suggest you purchase a small tin of Latakia from a reputable firm or else a blend that is high in Latakia. Once you taste the real thing you will never be fooled again.
 

ChinaVoodoo

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I am also skeptical that what you were sold was Latakia. Latakia to me smells like incense and tastes very complex and slightly of soap. Fire cured smells of wood smoke and tastes like BBQ. I would suggest you purchase a small tin of Latakia from a reputable firm or else a blend that is high in Latakia. Once you taste the real thing you will never be fooled again.
If it was MacBaren Latakia, I could understand the confusion because MacBaren has a blend that has so little Latakia in it that its nigh indetectable. And that Virginia blend kinda sorta has a implied smokiness to it. I think it's the same bird's eye blend that's in dark twist but with a pinch of indetectable Latakia.
 

BrotherJ

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The Latakia that I got from the cigar shop has a strong smoky smell. There is an incense smell as well, but it's way in the background. It's possible that he gave me a Latakia blend instead of Latakia for blending. I don't have any other point of reference at the moment.
 

BrotherJ

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Thanks for the link, but I'm not sure I want a whole pound of Latakia. Do you have any experience with TLS? They sell by the quarter pound, but I've never ordered anything from them. I'm still new to the world of whole leaf tobacco. I appreciate the help thus far given.
 
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