As of late, I have been working on an article for Tobacco Pipes based on the inspiration, high quality, and relished smokability of the Mac Baren HH line of tobaccos. I have always enjoyed smoking Mac Baren tobacco. I am always impressed by the high quality and consistency of the tobacco from tin to tin and blend to blend.
However, I must admit that until I began writing that article I had never smoked HH Latakia Flake.
Released at the 2014 Chicago Pipe Show, Latakia Flake quickly set the bar for all latakia and flake blends. Being Mac Baren’s second ever hot pressed flake tobacco (the first being HH Old Dark Fired), Latakia Flake seems to have no exact parallel blend in the tobacco world. No matter if you are a strictly English smoker, or an aromatic connoisseur, Latakia Flake is going to have a mighty delicious and intricate effect on your palate.
Smokers will find that Latakia Flake, while having an intimidating name, is not at all a bully. Softened taste with delicate notes ensure that Latakia Flake is like no other tobacco.
The immediate tin note of this blend is mildly powerful. Due to the quick packaging after the hot press, the tobacco is releasing a fairly powerful and moist aroma. The scent is composed of burning maple, mixed with a small amount of vinegar, with the most minute hint of ripened apples (or some other mellow/tart fruit). You will notice that the tobacco is quite moist when opening the tin, due to the steaming process.
I believe that this moisture present in the tobacco has the smallest effect of fermentation on the blend, and that is responsible for the smell of vinegar. However, after rubbing the tobacco and letting it dry out for half an hour or so, that note disappears.
One of the unofficial trademarks of a Mac Baren product is their perfectly cut strips of flake, that are absolutely beautiful. The are similar in form to a stick of Juicy Fruit gum. While not everyone prefers to rub out their flake, especially for a flake that is so perfectly shaped, I truly believe it is best to rub out the Latakia Flake. There is so much moisture present, that if you tried to light the flake, which is already much harder to light than when rolled out, then it could take endless matches to get a proper light.
Adding to the magnificence of itself, Latakia Flake is composed of ample amounts of Latakia, Virginia tobacco, and a smaller but significant amount of Orientals.
At first when I smoked it, I thought there was a bit of Perique presence. However, I was wrong. The taste I took for Perique was due to the steam and ferment of the blend. It is at this point the smoker realizes how incredible Latakia Flake truly is. Everything up to this point tells the smoker that this is going to be a heavy blend only to be handled by the seasoned vets of pipe smoking.
Upon the first hit, the blend is absolutely mellow and miles sweeter than one would have thought. The taste is incredibly woodsy and smokey, but not in the sense that you are in a smoke filled woods, but rather that you remember how delightful and enticing the scent of of the wilderness and a campfire is. Behind this is the plane flavor of sugar. While not in your face, the sweetness is the perfect complement to the light woodsy taste, making is delicious as opposed to just good. Truth be told, we have the hot steaming process of Mac Baren to thank for this mellow flavor.
Another very pleasant attribute of Latakia Flake is that once you get a good light on your bowl, the smoke really billows out and makes smoking it very fun. This is a very mild smelling English blend.
While it may not be very comforting to some bystanders who are not used to the aroma of smoke, the scent does not linger long like some other English blends. I seemed to smoke a bowl of this multiple times, and when seeing my wife 30 minutes later, she could not tell that I had been smoking.
The dilemma one may come to when smoking Latakia flake is when to smoke it. It may be a little heavy on the nicotine for a morning smoke, but too light on flavor for a night time wind-down.
I enjoyed mine most right after lunch during the spring time. Because of this I really enjoyed smoking it while eating strawberries. I found that the strawberries brought out the sweetness and light flavor of Latakia Flake, but did so without clashing with the flavor of the woodsy Latakia.
While being gentle on flavor, Latakia Flake still retains a decent nicotine content that does not match up with the intensity of the flavor.
HH Latakia Flake is a medium bodied blend.
There is not much to fear in this blend. Just make sure you have some food in your stomach and you will be able to enjoy it any time!
I truly believe that Latakia Flake is a unique and extraordinary blend.
The way that Mac Baren was able to deliver a delicious English flavor while keeping it perfectly tame and controlled is an impressive feat. I see no reason why any smoker should have a serious problem with this blend.
I give HH Latakia Flake an 8 out of 10.
I don’t believe that Mac Baren could have put out a better product. It is delicious, mellow, smokeable, and beautiful. As long as Mac Baren continues to produce tobacco with this quality, the tobacco world will be a better place. To purchase HH Latakia Flake for the best price visit Tobacco Pipes.