LOVED your description of your Lat experience. Like many others here, I'd say don't give up on Lat yet, but don't force it either. Every person has a natural bias towards either Sweet or Savory which can change over time, so don't sweat it. I find 3 Oaks to be a medium Lat blend, but then, I found early on that english/balkans were my faves. I remember the tobacconist telling me to smoke 4 or more bowls before passing judgement, and he was right. Also, are you using just one pipe to try these, and what were you smoking previously? That could also be a factor. BTW, my favorite single malt is Lagavulen, also an Isley malt, which mirrors that rich charred-wood campfire taste found in Lat blends. One man's Creosote can be another man's Nirvhana.
You are not alone. Many smokers can´t even smell latakia-based tobaccos without getting sick.
My first session with latakia wasn´t good either. I haven´t eaten much mud before, not even when I have been drunk, but now I certainly had that in my pipe. All I could say to my fellow neighbour was: "Interesting". Afterwards my wife said that I´m have to sleep in a couch. Once my son refused to jump to my car after I had smoked.
Then I tasted Paul Olsen´s Haddock (60% latakia + Virginia, Cavendish, Perique and Oriental) and nowadays I sincerely think it is best tobacco I know. The smell is hardly tolerable but somehow I´m addicted to that. I haven´t tasted pure latakia. Probably it is too spicy for me.
At daytime I smoke Sweet Irish, Navy Flake, Killarney and that kind of honest Virginias. Latakia is always an evening pipe but that is a good one.
I'm a big latakia fan. You started with some pretty heavy ones. Ease into it. Start with Frog Morton. Just the regular Frog Morton, Not any of the other Frog Morton blends. If you like that, then slowly build up. I really enjoy Three Oaks, but not right off the bat.
I'm an admitted latakiaphile, but it didn't happen overnight...for me, my love affair with the stink weed began early in my pipe-smoking career. I had just started to look into using US e-tailers to beat the ridiculous 300% mark-up found at my local B&M's, but still needed something to tide myself over until the first packages began to arrive. So, off to the B&M for a pouch of Amphora I went - but, much to my surprise, I noted a lone tin of Brigham Rise and Shine (Dunhill EMP - the only replacement that holds a candle, IMHO) for only $3 more - so I snapped it up.
After fighting with the seal, and finally figuring out how to get into my new prize, I was turned right off by the tin aroma. The first couple of bowls could only be described as smoking dirty hay, mucked out of a horse-stall. But, namely because I didn't have anything else left, I kept at it - and wouldn't you know it, within a few days, I was lamenting my orders of aromatics arriving, and wishing I had invested in more lat blends.
Someone mentioned campfires...I keep going back to latakia in the tin to sniff as it reminds me of an autumn day with my (recently deceased) father on the vinyard of my youth, when he pulled out the giant sides of pork and brisket out of the homemade 8ft tall smoker that had been tended with hickory for days; Lat reminds me of that smokey black rind that develops in a good smoked side of beef.
I just had my first really good Lat experiemce with tin of Quiet Nights that was graciously given to me by a local pipe smoker that has befriended me, because he thought it too sweet...I had a slow cool smoke, with many relights the other day, and it was very very good. Residual smell is nasty, smoking experience was excellent.
EMP and RRR were my first encounters with lat, and I gotta admit, I took to it like a duck to water from the first bowl... I can definately understand why an overly-strong blend would produce a negative experience, but don't let that put you off lat in general; there's dozens of blends avvailable where lat is merely one of the component parts, and the whole blend produces a sublime smoke... Rattary's Accountants Mixture is a real mellow smoke when you want to chill out and unwind... enough taste to keep you interested throughout the duration of the bowl, mild enough to be an all day smoke with no adverse effects.
Latakia is a flavor bomb to me . Even in smaller amounts in a blend it makes itself known . If youre like me you wont like Latakia when the temp is warm or hot . In the winter when it's cold as hell itself I seem to enjoy it more but never more than Burley or Va . You dont have to like it ... thats for sure .. but give it another shot or so over time and maybe it will grow on you . If not .. no big deal .. there's plenty of other stuff to smoke .
I'm definitely Latakiaphile like Schmitz Bitz here.... In fact, tried many Virginias nad Aromatics in the beginning and could not get to like any of them. English/ Balkan/ Latakia are the only tobaccos I do love to smoke, tried many and although there isnt much access to good tobaccos here in Israel, I manage to always have my SG's Squadron Leader and Skiff Mixture. Recently got also few Dunhill's Nightcap while on business in Europe and I am ageing GLP's Caravan (they're harder for me to get here).
They could get heavy or "stinky" or two hot if puffed fast, but there's nothing like them! (IMHO)