Inter-Tabac 2019 impression

Me waiting for Ed

September 21st it was once again time for one of my annual highlights: The Inter Tabac fair in Dortmund. For those of you who missed the blogposts I made of the visit the last couple of years; the Inter-Tabac (which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year) is the leading and biggest trade fair of the world for tobacco products and smoking accessories. Last year 625 exhibitors from 54 countries presented trends and innovative tobacco products. This included cigars, cigarillos, cigarettes, E-cigarettes, E-pipes, E-shishas, smoking accessories, pipes, pipe tobacco, shishas, shop equipment and spirits. And yes, one is still allowed to smoke inside. Unfortunately the fair is for retailers, not for consumers. Like the previous years I was able to secure a ticket through Fred. The saying goes, the more the merrier, so (with approval of Fred) I invited good friend Ed. A couple of years ago he should have went with me but unfortunately had to cancel at the last moment because of a migraine attack. Now we agreed to meet each other at the McDonald’s in Apeldoorn near the highway. About the same distance from home for each one of us so very convenient.

Entrance to the Inter Tabac

I got there first and after 10 minutes Ed followed. We grabbed an invigorating cup of coffee and stepped into Ed’s car. Or to be precise, the lease car from his wife. A big luxurious Peugeot (don’t ask me which model, I’m a car noob, I own a 1996 Toyota Starlet and am very content with it) with a German environmental sticker which you need in most German cities. The main reason he did not bring along his own vehicle. Thanks to the modern navigation system in the Peugeot the ride to Dortmund went smooth. Part of highway we had to take was closed down which the intelligent navigation knew and effortlessly guided us through an alternative route. Also the weather was heavenly, blue skies, sun, a beautiful late summer’s day. When we arrived at the Westfalenhallen we could park near the entrance. Which had changed somewhat. Last year there was a big renovation going on and now we could see the result, modern and spacious.

Okapi & Kiboko, new Danpipe blends

Like the years before the first stop was Danpipe. Simply because I know a lot of people there and they always serve coffee. We were greeted by former masterblender Andreas Mund and his charming wife. Former masterblender? It turned out that Andreas’ wife has that job now. “Her tasting palate is way better than mine.” Andreas explained with a grin. “But I still do things like buying in raw tobacco.” I asked how Danpipe was doing and while winking if they had something new which I could smoke. Last year they had a new blend which no one could smoke because they had only a prototype with them. You know, like sucking on a joint and don’t inhaling it. Andreas answered: “We are doing fine, I am busy as hell, only Herr Behrens (one of the directors) is not here because he has to undergo surgery for his hip. He is getting old… But we have two new blends (which were put on the table by his wife), Okapi and Kiboko. Okapi was created by my wife and Kiboko by Michael Apitz.” I took a sniff of both, Okapi is Virginia based, a bit of a rubbed out flake with some rose leaves but still pretty natural. Kiboko is a full frontal aromatic and to be honest I forgot what was in there.. It was nice to see the new division of roles at creating new mixtures at Danpipe. Andreas’ wife for the more natural tobaccos, Micheal Apitz for the aromatics. I asked if I could fill up a pipe with Okapi which was graciously allowed. A fine blend, smooth despite being very young, could be an all day smoke.

Danpipe’s cigar lady at the stand

Andreas and his wife had to attend to some clients (a Davidoff representative who, hopefully for Danpipe, wants to have another year-blend made there) so another, tall, woman came standing with us. Damned.. I recognised her but could not lay my finger upon it. “You don’t recognise me??” she said almost offended. “Last year when you visited our shop in Lauenburg I sold you some cigars!” “Oooooh, of course!” I said with a fast reddening face. “Did you know we don’t bring out our (famous) catalogue anymore?” she said. Well, normally the catalogue would be on all the tables and now it wasn’t I noticed. “We decided to skip it and put the money in a larger and better website to crank up our sales, it is going to be fantastic.” In the mean time Fred had joined us, always very nice to see and speak to him. He is busy growing his own Virginia leaf in The Netherlands near where he lives. I sometimes see pictures on his Facebook page and it is looking well. Last year I smoked some of his first batch and it was amazingly good! He grinned because he had a good adventure with the Dutch tax authorities. He said to them he grew so and so much of his own tobacco. They had nooo idea what to do with that. Tobacco is taxed when it is sealed in pouches or tins, but raw tobacco?? Just go on, they said to the amusement of Fred.


When I took a look at the Danpipe assortment I was approached by a man. “Excuse me, but are you the Dutch Pipe Smoker? My name is Torbjörn, I am from Sweden and I read your blog and sometimes comment on it.” Wow, I got recognised! A very friendly man, he was looking for a good Danpipe Virginia so I gave him some advice, being a bit  familiar with the assortment. We chatted for a bit and had our picture taken for the Swedish Pipe Club of which he is a member. I just love this kind of meetings with pipe smokers from another country. Back at the table with Ed and Fred I suddenly felt some hands on my shoulders, it was Michael Apitz. Always a delight to speak to him, you put in a dime so to say and he keeps on talking, wonderful chap. He makes a blend for his own which includes tonka bean essence and explained how to make the latter. “Very easy, you take a lot of tonka beans, put them in a towel and bash them to pieces with a hammer. Those you do in a large mason jar and fill it up with pure alcohol. Then let it rest for about 4 months. After that when you have a blend you put in 5% of it, put it away for a while and ready!”

At one point Fred said, let’s go to Elbert (Gubbels, of Big Ben amongst others). Elbert has a bit of a lounging area at his stand so we sat there. Despite being very busy he took the time to speak to us. Of course we know each other longer because of the whole forum tobacco Flatlander Flake project. Elbert is been having a rough year. The pipe-making part of his company he had to let go bankrupt. He had way too much stock and everyday new pipes were added to it. So with lots of pain in his heart he had to fire several employees and shut down production. Now he is selling his stock and looking for companies in Italy to produce pipes for him. That is to be said, only the less expensive lines. The high end ones are still going to be made at the Dutch factory. I wish him all the best of luck with that!

Drew Estate

Fred wanted to go somewhere else so Ed and I strolled through the alleyways. I have been many times at the Inter Tabac but it could be that this was my last one. As far as pipes and pipe tobacco goes I have the feeling it is going downhill. It always amazes me how Danpipe and Gubbels can cough up the costs for their stands each year. Samuel Gawith no longer attends the fair since Bob Gregory left. I read on PipesMagazine the following: “Chris (Gawith) has recently taken over the company with the passing of his father and is now in the process of applying his expertise in engineering (he’s an engineer by trade) to the company with process improvement and oversight.” Well, I know Bob left for a reason, mainly because he was fuming that the company wants to do things wholly different than the last 200 years and he could not stand behind it. So I hope Chris understands that the quality of the Gawith product still has to be spot on because otherwise I think he is going to lose a lot of customers and murders a centuries old company.. Also MacBaren was not present, they held court at a nearby hotel. But I had made an appointment with Per Jensen later that afternoon. Planta was also not present, the reason of it I heard later that day. Walking through the halls I noticed an increase in cigar companies, the cigar is booming as far as I can tell (almost every damn brand has some Cuban cigar-roller at the entrance of their stand). To the delight of Ed because he likes them a lot. It was like wonderland for him sometimes. “Oh! I know that guy! I follow him on the internet!” He exclaimed several times. Drew Estate had a large stand with some good looking girls. I don’t smoke cigars that much but I like a lot of their offerings, especially the Kentucky Fire Cured range. “Look! There is Jonathan Drew, the co-founder and president!” Ed said awestruck. Jonathan, while grinning because he saw the pipe in my mouth, patted my shoulder and said “hello mate!” “I don’t think I would wash that shoulder for some time.” Ed said with a wink.

Cornell & Diehl

After lunch (I told Ed to bring lunch with him because food and drinks are very €xpen$ive at the Inter Tabac but he left it in the car and opted for some fries) we went looking for Cornell & Diehl (Laudisi). Last years they had just a small desk and that was it. This time there was a bigger stand with lots of Peterson pipes and beside the always friendly Ted Swearingen owner Sykes Wilford was also there. I really wanted to shake hands and speak with him but he was busy with a client and you know, business first! Luckily Ted was talkative about the new Peterson pipes and tobacco situation in the USA. Last times I was at Peter Heinrichs in Bergheim there was no new Peterson stock. Which surprised Ted because nothing changed distribution-wise. The USA tobacco situation is a bit on hold. They even began with taking of the warning labels from the tins again. They had some loose tobacco in a container without label. I smelled it and immediately recognised it; Autumn Evening, one of my favourite aromatic blends. When I asked if he had the newest GL Pease offering, Penny Farthing, with him he said no. “But I do have an aged tin of Bayou Night with me that you can have.” “Excuse me? Wow, wonderful, thank you very much!” I blurted out. Thank you very much Ted!

Winslow fan!

Then we went to the stands of Kohlhase & Kopp and Vauen. At the former you could really notice the rise of the cigar and the “downfall” of pipes and tobaccos. It is getting a bit less each year. Despite that, I have to say the stand was well visited. Vauen is one of the few pipe makers who try to innovate each year. This time they had the Edgar model, a sporty designer pipe with cooling ribs made of ceramic composite. Ed and I wanted a drink so I opted to go the huge stand of the Scandinavian Tobacco Group. One of the places where you can sit relaxed, have a (free!) drink, smoke and no one bothers you. Of course we went to see the Winslow, White Spot (No, no Dunhill.. White Spot! Idiots…) and Stanwell pipes first. As usual Poul Winslow had a whole range of beautiful pipes, some really big! When we sat down with a drink (brought by a lovely lady with one pair of the brightest blue eyes I had ever seen, no picture unfortunately) I put my pipe-bag on the table, filled with several Winslow pipes, and we had a smoke. I tried the Bayou Night and it was excellent! I am going to enjoy smoking up that tin. Suddenly Poul Winslow himself spotted us, or to say, his pipes on our table. He asked if he could take a picture from us for his Facebook page. Of course, go ahead! And indeed, a short while later my fat head was on his social media: Winslow fan! Between the halls there also was an interesting stand: Cigar Rights of Europe. In short, they advocate the right to smoke a cigar (or a pipe) in Europe which is becoming increasingly difficult because of all kinds of laws and regulations. So I would say, go to their website and become a member!

We took a fast stroll through the water-pipe and e-smoke halls, which amazed Ed. “Like walking in the Middle East or India! Those people and smells!” he exclaimed. Then the time had come to go to the mighty MacBaren, who were located in a private room in the nearby Dorint hotel, only a short walk from the Westfalenhallen. We were greeted by product manager Per Jensen, who was glad to see us. “The sales-representative guys from us have enough work, but I just sit here..” Per recently got married so as a present I gave him a bottle of genuine Dutch jenever saying that as a married man he probably now needed this. We sat down, Per got us some drinks and I asked him why they were in the hotel instead of the Inter Tabac. “Well, as you know the previous years we were in a large stand together with Arnold Andre. This year they decided they did not want to have a stand in the Westfalenhallen and opted for a room in this hotel. We still could have gone but then we would have nothing to say about the location of our stand..” said Per. So this was a better option indeed, can you imagine MacBaren between the water-pipes? He asked me if we visited the Inter Tabac. “Of course” I said “but it is going downhill.. I mean, no MacBaren, no Gawith, no Planta..” Per veered up “Ah! It has a reason Planta is not there.” At which he guided me to a big sign at the entrance (which I did not see) which read: “Planta, we are delighted to bid you welcome to our MacBaren family.” Holy sh*t! MacBaren had bought Planta! For a moment I thought I had a scoop but later I read the news on which I totally missed. Bummerrrr…

Prototype of a new MacBaren flake with Nicotiana rustica

“Besides other things they had trouble implementing all the European regulations. The factory in Berlin will be closed and production will go to Denmark. Which is a good thing! Not to bash Planta but they were pretty old-fashioned. Not a single recipe was written down, all in the heads of the employees!” Per said while shaking his head. “Of course the most well known Planta brands will stay, but some I had to let go. The first being McLintock Syrian Latakia Blend. They did not have Syrian latakia for years!” Which I already thought, not too long ago I smoked a couple a Planta blends which said to have the Syrian dark leaf. To my taste it absolutely wasn’t. And what about Presbyterian? I know Planta had 2 versions, one sweetened 100 gr. for the German market and the original 50 gr. for the rest of the world. “I have to look into that, but Presbyterian always has been about the latakia for me. A great entrance into the world of the dark leaf.” Per said. I’ll keep my fingers crossed. “Talking about latakia, I am working on a project with a whole new kind of latakia, but I can’t say anything about it yet. Next year when you are here” Per said with an evil grin. Damn! Then he fumbled in his backpack and took out a blank tin with something written on it. “This is a another project on which I am working. It is a blend which also contains Nicotiana rustica. I like you to smoke it.” Normally the tobaccos we smoke are from the Nicotiana tabacum variety. Once I had a snuff tobacco which had some rustica. Lets say it kicked like a mule, very potent stuff. So a pipe tobacco with it.. Whoah… It was a flake so I took my smallest Dunhill pipe, filled it halfway and lighted it. The taste was good but after only a few puffs I could notice the potent rustica. I did not finish the bowl. “Excellent!” said Per. “It is then precisely what I wanted. A kick-ass blend for the American market.” I wished him luck while sipping on a sweet beverage to counter the nicotine.

New Amphora blends

Time flew by while talking to Per. Very enjoyable and very informative I can say you! It got to dinner time, our bellies were grumbling so we said we had to go. “I can’t leave you without anything!” Per said. He reached back and produced two pouches of new Amphora mixtures: English blend and Kentucky blend. “They are for the American market and next year they will also be available in Europe.” Ehrr, thanks!! And that was not the only thing he gave us. Tins of snus (for my good friend Rob) were put on the table, the whole (!) HH range and 2 tins of the (excellent) new Three Nuns. “Do you want something from the Planta assortment? Pouches only I am afraid.” “Ehmm.. Danish Black Vanilla please!” I squeaked with a high voice. Unbelievable! Per, thank you so very much!!! Of course I divided the stash between Ed and myself. “Let’s make this a yearly tradition, see you next year!” Per said while guiding us out.

Yes, life was good

“Wow, what an experience, this whole day! Everything! The companies, the people, the water-pipe hall, Per Jensen..” Ed said on the way to the El Greco Greek restaurant in Herne. The traditional dinner stop. I totally agreed with him. Despite the downhill feeling at the Inter Tabac itself the few pipe (tobacco) companies that remained still were going strong. And of course the MacBaren experience in the hotel was mind-boggling. The weather was still warm so we sat outside at El Greco with a tasty German beer and a big plate of grilled meat. At that moment life could not have been any better.

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A tobacconist and a wedding in Breda

Breda harbour

On a surprisingly warm October day Ellen and I headed towards to one of the major cities in the province of North-Brabant: Breda. The reason being that my long time colleague Loes was getting married! She and I go back quite some years, she started in the German department of our company and later moved to my department; marketing and communication. Privately I semi-jokingly called her the “iron maiden” because at 31 years old she had not even kissed a guy.. “Try internet-dating!” I said “Perhaps you meet someone, who knows?” Nonono, not her style, blahblahblah.. Until I heard she had a couple of dates with a man and things seemed to go well. “How did you meet him?” I asked. Loes replied with a red face: “Ehmm, through internet..” After that the fresh couple made haste, in just 2 years time both of their houses were sold, a new one was bought, they started living together and got engaged. So the announcement of a marriage in Breda did not surprise me. Good, I thought, an excellent reason to take a day off, stroll through the city and pay a visit to one of the better tobacco shops of The Netherlands: De Compagnie.

We arrived in Breda at the end of the morning and easily found a parking garage near the old city centre. It was still quiet in the streets until we encountered the weekly market. We did not feel like walking past all the stands so we decided to look for a place to get some coffee. In the heart of the market was a terrace in the shades where we sat down. While Ellen ordered cappuccino for her and a coffee for me I filled up my Dunhill cherrywood with some new Bulldog Roper’s Roundels. Aaahh.. I just love to sit on a terrace on a sunny day with pleasant company, a good drink and a good pipe.


After we finished our drinks we went for a stroll through the city. Ellen had to shop for some clothes (women…) but that was the price I had to pay for our later visit to De Compagnie. Luckily she soon found a nice pink ensemble in which she looked dashing. When we came out of the store our bellies were grumbling, time to have some lunch. We walked towards the Grote Kerk (Big Church), the most important monument and landmark of Breda. Alongside the big building we found a café with big wooden benches in front of it where we sat down. I looked at the menu and yummie, they had some bock-beers! So I ordered a Texels bock, for Ellen a glass of rosé and for the both of us something to eat. By the way, my pipe with the Bulldog Roper’s Roundels was still going strong! It still amazes me how long this kind of tobacco lasts.

De Compagnie

Also beside the church tobacco shop De Compagnie, run by John Bodar and his wife, is located in a stately building. Well, tobacco shop.. They have more than that. De Compagnie sells the (for me) classic trinity: tobacco, (home roasted) coffee and tea. Which was the reason that Ellen came along with me. Normally she prefers to go somewhere else when I visit a tobacconist because it is just not her thing. When you enter the large store the coffee and tea products are on the left. To the right you see all kinds of cigars, cigarettes, pipe tobacco, pipes and water-pipes. In the back of the shop is a cigar climate-room with a bit alongside it a small but classy smokers lounge.

IMG_2165As far as pipes go De Compagnie has a vast assortment, one of the larger I have seen so far in The Netherlands. From cheap to expensive, lots of brands and what I really liked were the many meerschaum and clay pipes. Normally one does not see many of those pipes in tobacco stores here in The Netherlands. But De Compagnie even still has some clay pipes from no longer made brands like Zenith. I knew that before because at the beginning of this year I bought a stunning Zenith Sultan clay-pipe at their online shop. Owner John Bodar even send a lighter and a nice postcard of Breda with it!

John Bodar

John Bodar

Talking about owner John Bodar, when I was looking at the pipes assortment he came to me. An elderly, calm and thoughtful man. We shook hands and started talking about his business, tobaccos and pipes and he showed me some of his wares. To my relief it soon became clear that he knew what he was talking about, a man who knows the products he is selling. This because I’ve encountered several tobacconists in The Netherlands who barely knew what they were talking about.. After we chatted for a while I looked over my shoulder and saw Ellen patiently sitting on a chair. She had bought some (surprisingly) tasty Twinings green tea and Ethiopian coffee and was waiting for me to stop talking with Mr Bodar. So I rounded off the conversation and bought a tin of Planta Danish Black Vanilla (ignore the bad reviews, it is good stuff) and a bottle of liquid for my Lampe Berger. I asked Mr Bodar if I could send him some more questions per mail. Of course that was possible and below are those questions and his answers.

2groot1. Can you tell me something about the history of the store?
In 1935 my grandparents started a shop in comestibles with coffee, tea and tobacco in the Nieuwe Haagdijk in Breda. The shop ran well and was moved to the Karrestraat. Obviously my mother assisted them in the store. In 1900 my great-grandparents had a cigar-factory in Den Bosch. There their son (my grandfather) began a cigar-store on the market. Unfortunately in the 1930’s the factory was closed because it could not compete with the grand-scale manufacturing of larger companies. After WWII my father started a pipe-wholesale with amongst others the brands Hilson and Speedway. The parents of my mother were regular customers and this way he met my mother. After that my father settled in our current building, Torenstraat 15 in Breda. My grandparents decided to sell their store at the Karrestraat in 1955. Their stock and customers were taken over by my parents who converted the Torenstraat building to a shop. In 1989 my wife and I took over the store, expanded the assortment with coffee and tea and changed the name from “Het Pijpenhuis” to “De Compagnie”. The following years the store was expanded and we started with roasting our own coffee in 2003.

IMG_21782. What are your most sold pipe-tobaccos?
The most sold pipe-tobaccos here are the Havezaethe series.

IMG_21683. What are your most sold pipes?
Brands that are mostly sold here are Chacom, Peterson and Big Ben.

IMG_21754. Do a lot of tourists/casual visitors visit your store or do you have a lot of regular customers?
About one third are regular customers who pay a visit about once a month. One third are also regular customers but they come here a few times a year. The last third are tourists, mostly from The Netherlands, who pay a day-visit to Breda and come to take a look what we have got here in the store.

IMG_21675. Do you notice anything of the anti-smoking feelings/laws? Does it harm your sales?
The laws have a big impact on smoking in general. Especially the prohibition of smoking in ones workplace makes it for many pipe smokers no longer possible to enjoy their pipe during their work. However, it is a trend that people are more aware of what they smoke, less but better.

IMG_21706. What are your favourite pipes and tobacco when you smoke yourself?
I regularly smoke from 5 pipes. My favourites are a straight Davidoff and a bend Chacom. I like to try out different tobaccos and rotate them. In the earlier days I was a lover of English blends with latakia, my current favourite is the John Aylesbury Premium Blend.

IMG_21667. Any last words to readers?
Smoke consciously and enjoy it, do not smoke out of habit. Rather buy one good pipe than 2 lesser and regularly take care of it.

IMG_2186The time had come to go to the wedding of Loes when we walked away from De Compagnie. It was held in the old city-hall at the market place which was cleared at that time. Well, only the smell of fish remained.. Loes and her soon to be husband Martijn arrived in a beautiful white old-timer which stopped just before the old city-hall. As they stepped out of the car I could see that she looked amazing and was positively beaming. Once inside the wedding-ceremony started and I would not have missed it for the world. Nice and warm speeches from the civil servant and friends, of course lots of (happy) tears and the most important: they both said “yes”. As a wedding present for the new couple I was thinking of giving them a pipe. Not a normal one, but a wedding-pipe.

bruidegomspijp1For a long time the tobacco pipe had a special meaning about making love, betrothal and marriage. For example, it was a good sign if the lover with his first visit to a girl got offered a pipe and a coal. If he the next time got offered the same pipe it meant he was accepted as a lover. In the 19th century up until WWII in The Netherlands, and especially the provinces of Groningen, Drenthe, Friesland and Overijssel, it was a tradition that the groom was offered a Gouda pipe, the wedding-pipe. Per region the name was different: Bruidegomspijp, bruigomspijp, bruidspijp, bruiloftspijp, breugmanspiep and bruurmanspiepe. This is old-fashioned, but the symbolism of the smoking of the wedding-pipe stands for the subservience of the woman to the man. She has to keep the coals in the fire burning so that man can lit the pipe at any given moment. Besides that the pipe is also a symbol of conjugal fidelity. If the pipe breaks then there surely will be a break-up in marriage..

Wooden cabinet with wedding-pipe inside

Wooden cabinet with wedding-pipe inside

The wedding pipe had a head decorated with an altar of fire, hearts or the image of a married couple. The rest of the pipe was decorated with paper ribbons, garlands and flowers. This creative work was done by the bride and/or her relatives or friends. At the end of the tradition this job often was outsourced to the wife of the local carpenter. Her husband made a beautiful decorated wooden cabinet with a glass window in which the pipe could rest after the wedding.


Picture of an old wedding

The customs around the wedding pipe were not a fixed thing, there were variations from region to region. At the evening of the wedding the pipe was presented by a sister of the bride (or the wife of the local carpenter) to the bride. Nervously this rhyme was uttered by her: “Gelijk naar ’s lands gebruik, reik ik u deze pijp. Versierd met lint en rozen, tabak door u gekozen.” (According to the country’s traditions, I offer you this pipe. Decorated with ribbon and roses, tobacco chosen by you). The bride filled the pipe with tobacco, lighted it up and blew some smoke in the face of her husband. Then she gave the pipe to him and he kept smoking out of it for the rest of the evening. During the next weeks he only smoked the pipe six more times after which it was put in the wooden cabinet in the living room. It also occurred that the offering of the pipe did not happen on the wedding day, but on the Sunday preceding it during the period of betrothal. After the announcement in church the family of the bride ate at the family of the groom. On the next Sunday the meal was enjoyed at the family of the bride which consisted of rice with raisins and prunes. That day the wedding-pipe was also offered to the groom.

Klaas, Ellen and myself eating

Sadly Loes and her husband are fanatical non-smokers so I soon abandoned the idea of giving a wedding pipe. After the ceremony Ellen and I walked to the car. Dinner would not be served in Breda but in Sliedrecht, where pipe-smoking friend Klaas and his lovely wife Yvonne live. Klaas wanted to meet Ellen for quite some time so this was the perfect opportunity. We already agreed that dinner would exist of Chinese take-out which is almost a tradition now because of my earlier visits to Klaas. Needless to say we all had a great evening, the Chinese dishes tasted great and the after-dinner pipe even better. Klaas (and of course Yvonne), thank you once again very much for the food and the special gift!

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Attractive Aromas

Me sniffing at raw tobacco leaf at the DTM factory

Me sniffing at raw tobacco leaf at the DTM factory

Tobacco leaf is the main source of flavour and aroma in any tobacco product (Duh!) But aside from latakia and perique (which are stinky enough from themselves) and orientals, raw leaf itself has little smell or taste. And by raw leaf I mean Virginias and burleys, they are almost always cased. For example, I’ve smelled pure and dry Virginias in the tobacco warehouse from the German DTM factory. It made me think of fish-food in stead of the hay-like aroma I am used to. Also tobacco crops vary from year to year, they are not consistent. So flavouring supplements are necessary to create both taste and aroma and help maintain a consistency in them. In the early days tobaccos had a subtle flavouring, but at the end of the 1960’s the high aromatics came into fashion. You know, the kind of blends that dissolve the glazing on your teeth and your girlfriend/wife love.  Anyway, additives to tobacco products can be classified in two categories: casings and top dressings (toppings).

No tongue bite please!

No tongue bite please!

Casings: Sometimes you read on labels of tins that a blend for example contains unflavoured Virginia and/or burley. Well, the truth is that very few tobaccos have no flavouring at all. Although a casing can be as simple as sugared water or honey. I know that DTM uses honey for the casing of many of their raw tobacco leaves, the factory floor is pretty sticky because of it. Casings are used at the early stages of tobacco processing to ease the negative qualities of a certain kind of leaf. Ehmm.. Some burleys can be somewhat sour and produce a more alkaline smoke, which can lead to the dreaded tongue bite. The use of a sweetener, a casing containing some sugar, can solve both problems. Some Virginias can be harsh, but also here, with the right casing that can be fixed. In general (of course their are exceptions) casings are not used to flavour the tobacco as much as to make it ready for other processing. Like you make a mild marinade for a piece of chicken to slightly give it a flavour, make it more tender and prepare it for cooking.


Casing machine at DTM

The flavour of a casing should be compatible to the base tobacco that is used. For example, white burley has a certain kind of nuttiness and would match well with chocolate. Which is a commonly used casing for burley. The tobacco which has to cased is put into a machine that somewhat resembles a large clothes dryer with little sprayers on the inside. The casing is then heated and injected into the chamber. Through the use of tumbling, steaming and vacuum pressure the casing works its way into the leaf. Casings are often steamed into the leaf. The steam helps to open the pores and insert the added flavour into the tobacco. Because of this process, casings are usually water-based. After the casing of the tobacco it is dried. Often by putting the leaf on a conveyor which passes through a heated chamber. This reduces the overall moisture content of the tobacco to a level that is more manageable. This level generally is between 12% (pretty dry) and 22% (very moist). The ideal moisture for smoking depends on you, the smoker. But usually it is between 13% and 16%.

Rope tobacco

Rope tobacco

The following step will be determined by what the blend is supposed to be. If the intention of the final product is to be an unflavoured blend, for example a Virginia/perique or latakia blend, then the base tobacco is ready to use right after coming out of the heating chamber. The tobacco will be put in a container or something like that in which the finished blend, combined with the other components, is mixed and then is packaged. If the the final product is to be a plug, flake or rope the process starts with raw leaf that will be cased like I told above. After coming out of the casing machine the leaf immediately goes into the press. This because higher moisture is needed to get a good pressing. Or it goes through the drying procedure and is re-hydrated to the right level.

Thanks to top dressings the (in)famous Captain Black White is what it is..

Thanks to top dressings the (in)famous Captain Black White is what it is..

Top dressings (toppings): These are flavourings that most of the time are applied at the end of manufacturing process. That signature flavour, that particular tin aroma, that heavenly room note; all the responsibility of the top dressing. They are usually alcohol-based. When the water based casing is applied, the drying process will bring the tobacco back down to the correct humidity. But at the end of the process the blender wants to avoid having to use heat to re-dry the leaf a second time. So he uses an alcohol-based flavouring and allows the tobacco to rest for a couple of days. The alcohol will evaporate which leaves the concentrated flavour behind with little additional moisture.

Propylene glycol

Propylene glycol

Most casings and top dressings contain a “fixing agent” to assure that the flavourings will stick to the leaf and remain stable until used. In addition to fixing agents hygroscopic agents are used. Hygroscopic agents are chemicals used to control the moisture content of tobacco. They prevent the tobacco from becoming too dry in a dry climate or from picking up moisture in a humid area. The most widely used agents are sorbitol, propylene glycol and glycerine.

Andreas Mund and me before shelves full of concentrated flavours

Andreas Mund and me before shelves full of concentrated flavours

Concentrated flavourings are preferred by most tobacco blenders. This because the extract/concentrate can be manufactured much more uniformly and is less subject to changes while being stored than natural flavourings. When I visited the DTM factory I saw shelves and shelves full with all kinds of concentrated flavourings. According to master-blender Andreas Mund the city of Hamburg (pretty nearby the factory) is the centre of the world for concentrated flavourings. Lucky DTM! It was a strange experience when I opened up some of the flasks and bottles and sniffed the contents. You read something on the label like “chocolate” and when you smell it you absolutely don’t recognize it because it is THAT concentrated. So it won’t be a surprise that some blends use as little as 8 tablespoons of fluid per 100 pounds of tobacco.



Here are some of the most common flavourings:
Chocolate is manufactured as a natural product from the coco bean. It may be fortified with some cocoa which is synthetically produced.
Fruit flavours are obtainable in both natural and synthetic form. Natural fruit flavours are extracted from processed fruit.
Licorice comes from the licorice root and can be fortified with synthetic chemicals.
Menthol can also be made synthetically or it can be used in its natural state which is distilled from peppermint oil.
Rum used in tobacco is most of the time the Jamaican type. Jaaah man! It can also be synthesized.
Vanilla can be used in its natural form but for the most it is manufactured synthetically.
Wine flavours are as varied as the types of wine available: burgundy, sherry, madeira, etc.

Gawith & Hoggarth: Kendal's Banana Gold. One of the few blends anywhere with banana-aroma

Gawith & Hoggarth: Kendal’s Banana Gold. One of the few blends anywhere with banana-aroma

It is very difficult to create a good aromatic blend. You have to take in consideration the natural aroma of the leaf plus whatever the casing adds. Virginias often have a hay-like aroma and if that is not taken into account you could end up with something entirely different than you were hoping for. Also certain flavourings take advantage of other ones. A bit of vanilla boosts the taste of chocolate. Or flavourings have a tendency to overpower others, like coconut. And then there are flavourings that just don’t match with tobacco in general. For example, Paul has always looked for a blend with a nice banana-flavour and has not found one yet. Banana and tobacco.. Should work one would think. Well, I spoke with aromatic master-blender Michael Apitz from DTM and asked him why they did not have any blends with banana-flavour. He took me to the warehouse and showed some old tins with… Banana flavoured blends. “You know, there is a reason we don’t sell them any more and why they are collecting dust in the warehouse” he said. “They just don’t taste good and because of that people won’t buy them.” So it may take a whole lot of trying out before the aroma of a blend is acceptable.

And if you want to know why most aromatics don’t taste like they smell, have a look here: Who’s afraid of chemistry? (by Paul)

keep calmThese days every blender anywhere on the globe can make a high aromatic. But back in the days in the United Kingdom they had the “Tobacco Purity Law”. This law prohibited blenders from the use of large amounts of artificial flavourings and hygroscopic agents in the manufacture of tobacco products. In the early years of the Dunhill store Alfred Dunhill himself used to experiment at home with the creation of new blends. Regularly he got visits from police-officers who thought they smelled illegal things going on.. There was a list of additives that were approved and which had to be dissolved in alcohol or water. BUT they could only be applied at small percentages. For example, it was estimated that less than 0,5% of the weight of any given brand, manufactured in the United Kingdom, consisted of flavourings. This stood in contrast with some brands manufactured in the United States. There sauces constituted as much as 25% of the gross weight of the tobacco product. And in the case of Dutch tobaccos, this number was as high as 35%. So the blenders in the United Kingdom had to use the best quality tobaccos available, primarily the Virginia-type ones, orientals and condiment leaves like latakia and perique. And of course they had to have to skills to create outstanding mixtures. This with the help of all kinds of processing techniques such as stoving, toasting, panning, steaming and pressing. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that the Tobacco Purity Law was abolished by the Thatcher government so that American tobaccos could be sold in the United Kingdom.

Recommended aromatic blends are:
– Cornell & Diehl: Autumn Evening
– DTM: BiBo, Blue Note, Mediterraneo, Memories of Tuscany, Sweet Vanilla Honeydew
– HU Tobacco: Geniet Moment
– Lane Ltd.: 1-Q, Captain Black White
– Mac Baren: 7 Seas Regular Blend*
– Peterson: Sunset Breeze*
– Planta: Danish Black Vanilla*
– Stanwell: Melange*
– Sillem’s: Black
– Winslow: No. 1*, Harlekin*
– WO Larsen: Fine & Elegant*

* Available in The Netherlands

Crazy From The Heat

Thermometer*Pffff* Hotdamn, last few weeks the weather here has been HOT and last week we even had a heatwave. During daytime 27°C – 34°C and in the nights around 15°C with a relative atmospheric humidity between 75% and 85%. Normally after work I go downstairs (I work from home 3 days a week), relax a bit, cook, eat and then I crawl behind my laptop with a nice pipe to do research and work on the blog. Nowadays I sit sweating behind my iMac in my underpants with the fan whirling at full-blast trying to do my job. Afterwards I cook as easy as possible (one-pan dishes, bread, cold meat/fish-salades), watch a little bit of TV (the living room is the coldest inside area of the house) and sit outside with a pipe. Exhausted.. Some people have all the energy with this heat but because of my ehmm.. pretty full posture I am just glad I can do the things I have to do. Nothing more..

Sheep-in-the-Mist-6757-585x390We Dutch often refer to the Netherlands as our “chilly frog-land” (koud kikkerlandje). This Dutch expression reflects the way we see our own country most of the time: cold and damp. Ok, Holland is certainly not tropical but neither is it frozen. Meteorologically speaking, the country is located in a temperate weather region with moderate temperatures. Our capital, Amsterdam, is on roughly the same line of longitude as let’s say Calgary in Canada, Warsaw in Poland and the city of Irkutsk in Eastern Siberia. But unlike them, we enjoy the warm benefits of the Gulf Stream (the global air current which draws tropical air from the Caribbean area up to the north-west of Europe). This means Amsterdam has warmer average temperatures than its sister-cities I just named. Whohoo!! Unfortunately this airflow is occasionally (but often rudely..) interrupted by colder continental air from eastern central Europe.

europa_niederlande_im_unterricht_karikaturWith the North Sea on our western and northern coasts, marine conditions play a major role. So weather at the coast is often quite different than the weather in inland areas. Coastal areas are generally more temperate: wetter and cooler in the summer and wet but warmer in the winter. The inland areas, especially to the south, often experience the highest national temperatures in the summer and the coldest in winter. Despite the higher average inland temperatures, there are more hours of sun per year at the coast. German tourists have known this for years and traditionally head for our beaches during summers to dig pits in the sand..

3868311238_aa09956b00There are few extreme weather conditions in Holland. Ok, once every 3 year we have a heatwave, like now.. But within these limits the overall weather can only be described as changeable. “Niets zo veranderlijk als het weer” (Nothing is as changeable as the weather) is a much used expression. This means that it occasionally gets rather cool in summer and rather warm in winter. The winters can vary from mild to very cold indeed but temperatures below -10°C  are rare. Of course the harsh winds can make it feel a lot icier.. The sheer flatness of mountain-less Holland (our highest “mountain”, the Vaalserberg is 322,7 metres..) means that weather and temperatures can change quickly without warning as weather rushes unhindered across the country. Our successful use of the famous windmills exploited this phenomenon. Cold fronts from inland eastern Europe can abruptly drive sun-lovers (and Germans) from the beach in the middle of summer while sudden cold waves can occur in the middle of an otherwise mild winter. But we don’t mind that last thing because it often means we can enjoy our national sport once again: ice-skating.

Thunderstorm above Olst where I live

Thunderstorm above my home-town

Like now in the summer, Holland has more than its fair share of hot, clammy days. Cycles that begin with a day or two of sun, gradually overwhelmed by increasing humidity as atmospheric pressure increases. The cycle ends in a predictable, often spectacular thunderstorm (just had one), which clears the air until the next cycle comes along a day or two later. So at the beginning of such a cycle you best keep the house dark and doors and windows closed to keep the heat outside. Just when the inevitable thunderstorm has passed you can throw everything open to let the cooler air cool off the heated house.

GL Pease Robusto ©GL Pease

GL Pease Robusto ©GL Pease

It seems that with the change of the seasons my taste for certain tobaccos also changes. In wintertime I smoke all kinds of full latakia mixtures and in autumn and spring sometimes a Virginia or a VaPer gets added in the rotation. But with these hot days I hardly smoke blends with the dark leaf. It is just too.. Demanding, too heavy, too dark for my palate.. Two exceptions, after a thunderstorm you can smell the wet earth in the air and when I then sit outside I like a good spicy balkan blend. Also mr. Pease made a blend called Robusto which was inspired by the famous Balkan Sobranie Virginia no. 10: Virginias, orientals, a bit of latakia and a bit of cigar-leaf. Especially that last ingredient goes well with the heat. Cigar-leaf was made in and for hot weather.

50 gr. of pure Semois tobacco

Pure Semois tobacco

But in general summertime for me is the time for all kinds of Virginia tobaccos, VaPers, aromatics and Semois. The Virginia tobaccos I smoke must preferably be light, so I regularly go for Orlik Golden Sliced, the similar Jurewicz Neumarkt Special 2002 and Capstan. The king of VaPers, Escudo, is too heavy for me in summer. But it’s cousin Peter Stokkebye Luxury Bullseye Flake with the cavendish core just fits the bill for me. The few aromatics I now smoke are DTM Sweet Vanilla Honeydew and Planta Black Vanilla. The Belgium Semois leaf seems almost made to smoke in warm weather. Maybe because of the light cigar-like taste. When I put some in one of my corncobs it is pure bliss. Not too demanding for the palate but interesting enough to keep the attention.

Anyway, I am going to enjoy a glass of cold Belgium beer and a pipe filled with Robusto. Latakia fumes have the handy characteristic that they keeps those damn mosquitoes away. It is not often that Ellen sits close to me when I smoke a mixture with the dark leaf. But she hates the blood sucking insects more than the smell coming from my pipe hehehe..

Awesome Austria

View from our Austrian house

View from our Austrian holiday-house on the Dachstein-plateau

Grüß Gott! After a relaxing two weeks I am back from holiday. Because my girlfriend Ellen and I have not been on vacation last year because of financial reasons we really wanted to go this year. But to where? At first I was thinking about the cottage in the south of France where I have been before. But actually I wanted to go to Austria, the country where I was conceived (my parents went their yeeaars ago and my mother came back pregnant).

Our holiday-house

Our holiday-house

So the search began but it was a lot harder than I thought. A wide range of holiday houses, yes, but all (far) above or below our budget with no shower, electricity etc. Eventually I gave up. After fruitless having browsed through a lot of websites France was once again a good option. A little after New Year the movie “The Sound of Music” just had been on TV and parts were filmed in the Salzkammergut region. I did one last search for a holiday house in that part of Austria and finally found a picturesque cottage outside the town of Bad Goisern! And it fit all the “requirements”: budget, remote location, quiet, traditional appearance, toilet, shower and hot water. Only thing: no internet .. Oh well, I like to read so with some books I was sure I could bide my time.

The pipes that made the trip

The pipes that made the trip

The evening before departure it was time to pack. Clothes and toiletries were sorted out quick enough, but pipes and tobacco… On my holiday to Belgium two years ago I took almost every pipe and tobacco with me that I owned back then. This year I gave it some thought. From what I could see the weather would be nice so the tobaccos I would be smoking the most would be Virginia’s, VaPers and aromatics. And perhaps some latakia in the late evening. In summertime my use of the dark leaf is very low. So some of the tobaccos I took with me were Capstan, Luxury Bullseye Flake, Germain Medium Flake, HU Tobacco Olaf’s Favourite English, My Own Blend Arno Mixture 665, Sweet Vanilla Honeydew and Planta’s Black Vanilla Mixture. A couple of months ago I bought some new corncobs at Aristocob with my vacation in the back of my mind. They smoke well, can take a beating, if one is broken or lost it isn’t a big deal. So, ideal. Further I brought along three of my favourite latakia pipes, two Dunhills and one old Peterson. Those pipes gave me a big scare by the way. When we left it was approximately 18°C in The Netherlands. When we arrived in Austria a heatwave just had begun. So the first days it was about 35°C! When I wanted to smoke one of the Dunhills late on the second day I saw to my horror that the pipe had begun to sweat. There was moisture on it and the black of the ebonite stem was fading. Both the Peterson and the other Dunhill had the same. Luckily I remembered that wood is subject to temperature changes. Travelling orchestras with wooden instruments often have difficulties to keep those in shape. The next evening the moisture was gone, the stems were black once again and they smoked great. I had no problems whatsoever with my corncobs.

Inside the holiday house

Inside our holiday-house

One of the advantages of the holiday-house was that indoor smoking was allowed. Well, actually I did not ask if I could light up a pipe inside but there very clearly was an ashtray on the table. Also the owner paid us a couple of short visits and he could not have missed pipes and tobacco lying around. He said nothing of it. Luckily Austria is a pretty tolerant country towards smoking. Where the rules in Germany recently have been tightened up (Grrr…) their Southern neighbour keep things pretty relaxed. Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed public spaces with certain exceptions for eating and drinking establishments. A law from January 2009 mandates that all restaurants, bars, discos, and pubs larger than 50 m² must either be non-smoking or introduce separate smoking rooms. Below 50 m² the owner has the option to make the establishment a smoking or non-smoking place. I really wished the Dutch government also opted for this, just let the owner decide. The Austrian smoking ban has been a subject of controversy. This because the rules are widely ignored by bar owners and are not actively enforced by the authorities (just as it is in The Netherlands).

Emperor Franz Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth (Sissi)

Emperor Franz Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth (Sissi)

In Bad Ischl Ellen and I went to the Kaiservilla, the summer residence of Emperor Franz Joseph I (of Sissi fame) which he described as “heaven on earth” for himself and his family. The Imperial Villa was also a stage on which the great powers of the 19th century carried out their diplomatic manoeuvrings. It was here, on July 28th 1914, that Franz Joseph signed the declaration of war on Serbia thus starting World War I and changing the world.. I looked at the desk in his office on which he wrote that ill-fated piece of paper and to my surprise I saw on the right something that looked like a small meerschaum pipe. It turned out to be a long cigar-holder because when the Emperor was working he did not like smoke in his eyes. Well, well, Franz Joseph smoked!

The Emperor's cigar holder

The Emperor’s cigar holder

Of all the monarchs of his time, Emperor Franz Joseph I was perhaps one of the most modest as far as his personal needs were concerned. His daily routine was strictly regulated (he got up every day at 3.30 AM!) and his private life was free from any extravagance apart from the occasional visit to the theatre and the pleasures of the hunt (you can see MANY stuffed animals in the Kaiservilla). He drank and ate only in strict moderation. Nevertheless, he did have one vice: smoking. One Ketterl, the emperor’s personal servant, reports this in his memoirs: “When the Emperor sat alone with Count Paar in the train compartment, intercourse between the two was limited to the creation of huge billows of smoke, with the result that emperor and general adjutant were hardly to be distinguished any longer in the thick fog of tobacco smoke”. Tobacco had already played an important role for the Austrian monarchs long before the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph I. The first Habsburg to appreciate the financial advantages offered by tobacco was Leopold I. In 1670 he needed money in order to fund his expensive hunting excursions. Count Khevenhüller, his Grand Master of the Hunt, suggested leasing the monopoly for the cultivation and sale of tobacco to him to cover the imperial hunt expenses. From then on (whatever the personal preference was for tobacco of the individual rulers) the tobacco monopoly was placed under varying degrees of state control. Joseph II eventually decreed an exclusive state monopoly over tobacco production in 1784, thus founding the Austrian Tobacco Monopoly (Austria Tabak). But because of European Union requirements it was partially privatized in 1998. Austria Tabak was acquired by Gallaher, a member of the Japan Tobacco International family, in 2001.

A Tabak Trafik sign

A Tabak Trafik sign

In Austria you can buy tobacco in shops called “Tabak Trafik”. They are a point of sale for (of course) tobacco products, newspapers, magazines, stationery, postcards and other small goods. In Vienna, for example, these can be parking tickets and tickets for public transport. Only Tabak Trafik shops are allowed to sell tobacco products at the regular price. Only when there are not enough shops available in an area, other businesses get a sales permit. Since restaurants and gas stations refer to the Tabak Trafik prices, pubs are at least 10% more expensive. I visited every Tabak Trafik shop I could find in Bad Goisern and other nearby towns. And I found that their pipe tobacco assortment was somewhat.. Disappointing.. Maybe I am used to the well-stocked German tobacco-shops. Ok, it is wonderful that those little Austrian shops have pipe tobacco in the first place. But they only sell pouches from brands like MacBaren, Clan and WO Larsen and some shops carry some of the Dunhill tobacco tins. I could only find one positive exception in Bad Ischl. There was a Tabak Trafik which had some Wellauer Latakia and a couple of Rattray tins. I also saw a pouch of DTM’s Sweet Vanilla Honeydew. I never knew that was sold outside of the Danpipe store in Europe. Tobacco is pretty expensive in Austria, only just below the Dutch prices. As far as pipes goes I also grumbled somewhat. A couple of souvenir pipes and a few shops in Salzburg had some Vauen and Savinelli smoking gear. Also pretty expensive..

Souvenirs from Salzburg

Souvenirs from Salzburg

When Ellen and I were in the beautiful city of Salzburg we walked into a fantasy/souvenir shop. Besides cuckoo clocks, swords and tankards they also had some nice ashtrays. Since I have something with skulls I bought an ashtray with a skeleton inside. Smoking is lethal right? But I still wanted a pipe.. On the Mozartplatz there was a Tabak Trafik which had some souvenir pipes made by Salzburg-based company Kemperling. They all were (yes you guess it right) expensive and not really well made (some plastic pieces) so I picked the cheapest one. A nice looking pipe with an engraved Edelweiss flower and the word “Salzburg”. And I don’t know what got into me, I really must have been tired, but I forgot to haggle and paid the full price of €34 ($44). Waaaay too much for a pipe I could not even smoke. The stem was made of cheap plastic and the smoking channel.. Well.. The drilling was off and it was so narrow I could barely put a pipe cleaner through it.. But back home it looked nice in my pipe-cabinet! Really!

My girlfriend Ellen and I

My girlfriend Ellen and I

All in all the two-week holiday to Austria really had been a total blast. Apart from two days of rain Ellen and I had beautiful weather and we saw and did lots of things throughout the Salzkammergut area and a bit beyond. If you visit the region do not miss Salzburg, Bad Ischl and Hallstatt. If you travel a little further go to the Admont Abbey with its stunning library and take a day-trip to the awesome panoramic Grossglockner High Alpine Road. Auf Wiedersehen!

Candy Cavendish

Black cavendish tobacco

Black cavendish tobacco

If perique is the pepper of the tobacco world, if latakia is the salt, then cavendish is the sugar. Often it is used in aromatics and it is a good tobacco for beginning pipe smokers.

Almost all types of pipe tobacco in general belong to one of two groups: those used as the “base” of a mixture (like burley and Virginia) and those used for adding flavour, taste and aroma to a blend (such as latakia, perique and orientals. But cavendish can be used both as a base and as a flavouring agent.

Cavendish is a description of a type of pipe tobacco and a manner in which tobacco is cut.  It is not a type of tobacco plant. It rather is a process by which tobaccos are prepared. So there is no tobacco grown anywhere in the world that is known as a cavendish tobacco.

Sir Thomas Cavendish

Sir Thomas Cavendish

Now some history. In 1585 a visit to the English colony of Virginia was made by Admiral Sir Richard Grenville and Sir Thomas Cavendish at the request of Queen Elizabeth. The native people of the area presented tobacco to the colonists and Sir Thomas wished to bring it back to England for promotion and selling. On the return voyage he infused his personal supply with dark rum. Thus preventing it from drying out and to sweeten the smoke. He then rolled the leaves (common practice of the sailors back then) and bound them tightly together with sail canvas and twine. After a few weeks the tobacco was cut in little slices and smoked. Remarkably the flavour had improved, the tobacco was sweeter, more mellow and it demonstrated an aromatic fragrance. That all pleased Sir Thomas and others who tried it.

Steaming cavendish tobacco © Right Click Media, LLC

Steaming cavendish tobacco © Right Click Media, LLC

So cavendish tobacco simply is a product of “double” fermentation. This process uses (already one-time fermented) air-cured or flue-cured tobaccos like Virginia, burley, Maryland or any combination of these three types. These can be infused with substances that are high in sugar like: rum, maple, sugar, chocolate, licorice, honey, fruit, vanilla, bourbon and a few more. After the infusion the tobacco is compressed, steamed, heated, fermented and aged for a period of time. This results in a compressed “cake” of tobacco that is sliced and/or rubbed-out. For example, untreated, bright leaf (Virginia) tends to burn very hot and fast with a light, sharp flavour. The cavendish process makes this a more pleasant product. The tobacco is aged longer, burns slower, has a better taste and important, the ladies love the smell.

In the ol’ days the creation of cavendish tobacco varied from country to country and from manufacturer to manufacturer. Nowadays the whole process is more standardized and it doesn’t matter that much from which country cavendish comes. There are even manufacturers who don’t make their own cavendish any more because of the long process and just buy it ready-made. The countries which originally produced the most widely known cavendish tobaccos were: The United States, The United Kingdom, Denmark and last but not least The Netherlands. And they all had different production methods:

Cavendish manufactured in the United States
In order to get the tobacco to accept the required amount of casings it may be dipped (especially the burleys) into a casing sauce or heavily sprayed with flavouring sauces. The tobacco was then allowed to rest for a period of time. This way the tobacco and casings were wedded after which it may be subjected to pressure. It could take weeks or months until the blend had properly accepted the casing materials. The colour of the processed cavendish ranged from a light brown to black, depending on the leaf and casings used.

Cavendish Manufactured in the United Kingdom
The English manufactured their cavendish only with a heavier grade of Virginia. The tobacco was placed in molds and subjected to heavy pressure for three to four days. The pressure on the tobacco caused the natural oils to rise. Because of the heavy natural sugar content of the Virginia leaf the tobacco developed a sweet taste.

Sail: typical Dutch cavendish

Sail Regular: typical Dutch cavendish

Cavendish Manufactured in Denmark and The Netherlands
We Dutch and the Danes employed a slow manufacturing method. First steaming the tobacco to open the pores and then casing it very heavily. It was then placed in molds and subjected to pressure until a cake was formed which could be cut into bars an then into smaller pieces.

Black Cavendish
Then we also have the so called “black cavendish”. The two important steps employed in all manufacturing of black cavendish are:
1. The dipping of the tobacco into various casing, flavouring sauces (usually licorice) and
2. The steaming of the tobacco which turns it black.
For the rest the process is the same as with regular cavendish.

Black cavendish tobaccos can be manufactured from either Burley or Virginia leaf. Usually, the heavier and darker leaf grades are used. Since this tobacco is heavily impregnated with flavourings, the taste is naturally influenced by those.

The British also made black cavendish. The only difference is the restricted use of additives which made the taste more natural. So the usual method of processing this tobacco is to “sweat” and steam it. Which causes it to turn black. The tobacco is then placed in a mold and subjected to pressure for one to several days until a cake is formed. During this phase, additional steam may be applied.

As I said above cavendish also is a manner in which tobacco is cut. The term “cavendish cut” simply means a type of cut that is between a long or ribbon cut and a heavy fine cut.

Blending Pipe tobaccoMany smokers prefer to smoke straight cavendish. But it is often blended with other tobaccos such as burleys and Virginias. If you are making your own blend, start by mixing equal amounts of unflavoured cavendish and burley. This will give you some idea of the use of cavendish as a base. If you wish you can keep adding it until it makes up as much as 90% of the mixture. What you can also do is to take plain white burley. Then add for example about 25%  cavendish flavoured with honey (or another flavour) to the blend. This way you will get a mild smoke with very lit­tle aroma. When you use cavendish together with latakia and orientals (an English or Balkan mixture) about 15% is the max.

There are many, many, many blends that use cavendish. This are the most recommended ones:
– Amphora: Full Aroma*
– Borkum Riff: Cherry Cavendish*
– Cornell & Diehl: Autumn Evening
– DTM: BiBo, Blue Note, Memories of Tuscany
– Just For Him: Shortcut to Mushrooms
– HU Tobacco: Geniet Moment
– Lane Ltd.: Captain Black White, 1-Q
– Mac Baren: 7 Seas Regular Blend*, 7 Seas Royal Blend*
– Planta: Danish Black Vanilla Flake, Pergamon
– Poul Winslow: Harlekin*, No. 1*
– Sail: Regular*
– Samuel Gawith: Black Cherry, Celtic Talisman
– Sillem’s: Black
– Stanwell: Melange*
– Troost: Aromatic Cavendish*, Black Cavendish*, Special Cavendish*
– WO Larsen: Black Diamond, Mellow Mixture*, Sweet Aromatic*

* Available in The Netherlands

EDIT: I see there is some confusion between English pressed Virginia flakes, cavendish and black cavendish.
– English cavendish is made without the steaming under high pressure in 3 to 4 days.
– English black cavendish is made with steaming the tobacco under high pressure in 1 to 2 days.
– An English pressed Virginia flake, like Samuel Gawith’s Full Virginia Flake, gets about 4.5 hours of steam pressure, then slowly cools in the press overnight. In the morning they take it out. It is still warm then but it has slow-cooled for 12 hours. Golden Glow gets about 2.5 hours of steam pressing before cooling overnight.
So the process of pressed English Virgina flakes is in essence the same as with cavendish. Only the time is much, much shorter.