Tasting Notes: Small Batch Palmetto Balkan

Note: The following transcription has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Hey everybody, I'm Shane Ireland. Welcome to another episode of "Tasting Notes." Today I am talking about the latest Small Batch from Cornell and Diehl, Small Batch: Palmetto Balkan. Palmetto Balkan was originally released in 2022. This is a really labor-intensive product. It now returns for 2024 with the same components as the original but with a new Latakia varietal.

Palmetto Balkan Components

The base of Palmetto Balkan are some lovely Red Virginias from the Carolinas. We have a 2017 Red Virginia DH-17 that is 9.5% sugar, a 2019 Red Virginia TBFO-19 that is 10% sugar, and a 2013 Red Virginia TH-13. So you'll notice that none of those are terribly high as far as sugar goes. They're well-aged and from really good crop years. A little bit of dark Burley and a little bit of Black Cavendish is added to the blend. And this is where the Balkan comes in: a 2018 Izmir Turkish, 2019 Basma from Greece, and a proprietary Turkish Latakia that is made from Turkish leaf and processed to evoke the long-lost qualities of Syrian Latakia.

Typically, when we talk about Syrian Latakia, we talk about it being a little bit softer, more floral, a bit wine-like, fruity, maybe more complex and softer on the smoke. This is something that Jeremy and his contacts in Turkey were able to recreate using Turkish-grown tobacco and a proprietary process. The effect that process has on the smoke is really interesting and makes Palmetto Balkan particularly compelling.

Intriguing Tin Note

 Tasting Notes: Small Batch: Palmetto Balkan | Daily Reader

Let's talk about the tin note next, because I found that it is more interesting than your average English blend. I was surprised opening this up to see how much of a percentage was either lighter or medium-colored leaf. It's pretty heavy on the Orientals here; the appearance of the blend and also the characteristic of the smoke suggests to me that we have quite a bit of that 2018 Izmir and 2019 Basma in the blend. For me, Palmetto Balkan in the tin is mostly floral and surprisingly sweet. There are hints of baked goods and warming spices, and definitely a wine-like characteristic. I'm also getting dark red fruits; I don't get a terribly bright scent, maybe a little more tangy and piquant. You do get a lot of the mustiness, the earthiness, and the herbal and the floral qualities from the Orientals as well. And I would say just a hint of the Virginia character, with a grassy and malty scent. The tin note is quite complex, and I think that comes through in the smoke as well.

Cut & Burning Properties

 Tasting Notes: Small Batch: Palmetto Balkan | Daily Reader

Palmetto Balkan is really great at first light. The moisture content is absolutely perfect out of the tin. I would not suggest any drying time for this one. The more you dry it, I think the more earthiness and the more mustiness is going to come through from the Orientals. But you will lose a little bit of the sweetness, a little bit of the fruitiness, and that wine-like character from the proprietary Turkish Latakia. The cut is a beautiful ribbon, mostly medium to chestnut in appearance. There's some darker pieces in there among some lighter flakes, which I assume are the Orientals.

It packs and burns extremely well in a variety of chamber sizes. I would say one of the most comforting things about Palmetto Balkan, to me, is how it behaves in the pipe. It really does burn with that spontaneity that you're looking for, especially the English smokers out there. You can back off on the puffing cadence and experience a lot more complexity of flavor without really having to worry about too many relights.

You also get a ton of smoke. The volume of the smoke is very high and it is dense on the palate. It has that creamy body and that sort of woodiness that we expect from Cyprian Latakia. I do find that the Turkish Latakia is a little bit more perfume-y, and particularly, this proprietary-processed Turkish Latakia has a lot of fruitiness and wine-like notes akin to a dry red or a dry Cabernet; nothing super jammy or super sweet, but still providing flavors of dark fruit, spices, as well as a lot of body.

Medium-Plus Smoke & Properties For Superb Aging

 Tasting Notes: Small Batch: Palmetto Balkan | Daily Reader

For me, Palmetto Balkan is just a hair over medium in strength, and I would say it's medium-plus in both body and flavor. As the bowl progresses, the interplay between the proprietary-process Turkish Latakia and the other vintage Oriental grades, the Basma from 2019, and the Izmir from 2018, is the main star of the show here. The Red Virginia base, a pinch of Cavendish, and a pinch of dark Burley provide the body and the platform that these Orientals need to shine. Throughout the smoke, mostly what I am getting is the alluring, dark warming spices, dark fruits, and these very floral, perfume-y, and earthy Oriental notes.

I do think Palmetto Balkan is going to age extremely well. The sugar content from those Red Virginias in the base and the body within the dark Burley and the Black Cavendish provide a great jumping-off point for this blend to age well into the future. I think that the 2018 Izmir and the 2019 Basma are so fragrant and aromatic that they have a lot to offer into the future as well.

The proprietary-process Turkish Latakia that's made to Jeremy's spec is, in my opinion, the epitome of refinement when it comes to Latakia. It is way more fruity, has a little bit of spice, and is more woodsy, creamy, and reminiscent of the aromatic woods found in your fireplace rather than a campfire outside. I get notes of dark chocolate, notes of marzipan, and some really interesting baked goods in general throughout the blend, along with those wine-like notes.

Palmetto Balkan: Complex Blend

Small Batch: Palmetto Balkan from Cornell & Diehl is really interesting and complex. Today I'm smoking Palmetto Balkan in a J. Alan sandblasted Apple with bamboo, which is one of my favorite English pipes. And for those who are curious — I got some questions last time — I'm using a Buttons For Your Britches Larry Blackett tamper. It is one of the desk models, and I leave it on my desk all the time. Thanks, everybody. See you next time.

 Tasting Notes: Small Batch: Palmetto Balkan | Daily Reader
Category:   Tobacco Talk
Tagged in:   Cornell and Diehl Small Batch Tobacco Video


    • 张书杰 on April 3, 2024
    • 没试过的,还是希望有一天能试到,来自中国的斗友

    • ZhangShuJie on April 3, 2024
    • 没试过,希望有一天能在中国尝到

    • Zhangshujie on April 3, 2024
    • 比较喜欢切片,彼得森的切片我是爱了

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