Review by cortezattic
Orient 996: let this one age a bit longer.
I purchased my supply of Orient 996 in May, 2010. After smoking a few bowls and not being terribly impressed, I stored the remainder of the tobacco in a Mason jar. It is a mix of loose, ribbon-cut leaves -- both dark brown and black -- with a sour, leathery, and slightly sweet aroma. McClelland's notorious sour smell dissipated somewhat during its nine month storage. The aging that has taken place has improved this blend noticeably, but not enough to rescue it from mediocrity.
Although the blend has good clarity, and develops a luxurious, thick smoke, there is nothing about it that I would call delectable. A better word would be "interesting" -- not because it regales the palate, but because it will challenge your ability to classify it. The spice-like and somewhat astringent Yenidje is prominent (think Oriental); but the velvety Latakia, while weak, is ubiquitous (think Balkan).
There is good balance and harmony among the components in this blend; but that doesn't say much when everything in the blend is just middling. I don't get any exotic impressions. To me it tastes like an astringent Oriental backed by 5100 Va red cake, playing in a smog of Latakia that creates more confusion than complexity.
This blend packs well, lights and burns nicely, and produces a medium bodied smoke with a mild-to-medium nicotine kick. It smokes coolly, dryly, and slowly to the bottom of the bowl -- and the whole time you'll be waiting for the fireworks to begin, but it never happens. My advice: let this one age a little longer.