Latakia tobacco is a specially prepared tobacco originally produced in Syria and named after the port city of Latakia. Now the tobacco is mainly produced in Cyprus. It is initially sun-cured like other Turkish tobaccos and then further cured over a pine or oak wood fire, which gives it an intense smokey-peppery taste and smell. Too strong for most people’s tastes to smoke straight, it is used as a “condiment” or “blender” (a basic tobacco mixed with other tobaccos to create a blend), especially in English, Balkan, and some American Classic blends.
Latakia is the result of a process whereby the leaves are cured over controlled fires of aromatic woods and fragrant herbs. Latakia is mainly grown in Cyprus and northern Syria. After the leaves are harvested and dried, they are hung in tightly closed barns and smoke-cured. Small smoldering fires of oak and pine fill the barn with smoke, and covering the leaves with smoke particles.
Latakia was “discovered” when a bumper crop resulted in surplus, and the excess tobacco was stored in the rafters. The peasant farmers traditionally used wood for cooking and heating in the winter. The smoke-cured tobacco’s unique flavoring and taste was discovered the following spring. Latakia produces a very rich, heavy taste, with an aroma that has a “smoky” characteristic. Latakia is an ingredient of traditional English mixtures. The content can vary from a few percent to about 40-50%, or even more. A few smokers like it at 100%.
A modern perfume called Fumerie Turque (Turkish Smoke) was created by French company Serge Lutens, reproducing a fragrance in emulation of Latakia tobacco.