Necessity is the mother of invention. So it came to be that when McClelland sadly closed its doors, I began a search for a blend-match to their unusual smoking mixture called Balkan Beauty. Mountain Mystic was born.
First off, for those of you who have never had it, let me explain Balkan Beauty. It is a three-part harmony of Latakia, Oriental/Turkish, and Virginia tobaccos. It is a spicy Oriental-forward blend with Latakia where sweet Virginias play back-up dancer and balance the taste. The sour, lightly floral, spicy Orientals are the first thing you notice on a retrohale. The woody, smoky, slightly musty Latakia comes in next to play off the Orientals in a puff of gray oak ash. All this happens on the base floor of the fermented dark fruits of unmistakable McClelland Virginias, which were the hardest part of the blend to replicate.
It took me months to find a blend that came close. Of course, nothing will be a 100% match to the Beauty. While some may say it isn’t a match, but it is like an interesting cousin and a good tasting blend in its own right, I personally can confidently smoke Mountain Mystic, and it comes close enough for me that I enjoy the smoke. I hope the same can be said for you. Either way, I hope you dig it.
So what is the recipe? Well, there are a few ways you can go about it, actually. The one I finally landed on after much experimentation is:
- 1.5 parts Rattray’s Black Virginia
- 1 part Gawith and Hoggarth Balkan Mixture
- 1 part Brebbia Latakia Flake
- 1/2 part Lane LL-7
Another version I like does away with the Latakia Flake and just increases the Balkan Mix to 2 parts. Finally, a third option substitutes the G&H with Brebbia Balkan. Also, if you find the blend to be too sweet, cut down the Lane LL-7.
All three versions are very similar, and I’d be happy to mix any of them to smoke, mostly depending on what I can get my hands on. Since these component blends are often out of stock, I’d advise you to put your email onto a waiting list for an in-stock notification if they aren’t available.
The key components are an excellent Balkan, Lane LL-7 and the Rattray’s Black VA. So you can substitute which Balkan you use to find what is right for you. Personally, I am still experimenting with different Balkans to see what changes. Also, I would suggest at least a 2-week resting time in a sealed jar before smoking but it CAN be smoked immediately, the blend just tastes better with some rest.
There you have it. As with most things, these match blends are subjective so I would suggest buying a small amount of the ingredients and mixing a tiny batch to try before you buy anything in bulk for mass blending.
Mix. Smoke. Enjoy. Make it your own. If you know someone who digs Balkan Beauty, please link them to this page so they can try it as well. Thanks!
Let me know what you think in the comments. If you have a suggestion on how to make the blend better, I’d love to try it. Let me know below.
Until next time, friends, stay smokey!