Arno’s.. Ehrr.. Olaf’s Favourite English

IMG_9993When I first contacted master-blender Hans Wiedemann from HU Tobacco at the beginning of 2012 I asked him if it was possible to receive some samples of his blends. From fellow Dutch pipe-smokers forum members Smoking Rob and Huub I had heard and read some positive things about Hans’ mixtures, so I was very curious. I mainly ordered samples from latakia blends. All blends were good but there were 2 “touchdowns”. One of them was Balkan Passion and the other one Olaf’s Favourite English. It was made by Hans for pipe artist Olaf Langner, who prefers solid English mixtures for his smoking den. That sounds just like my cup of (lapsang souchong) tea!

IMG_9997Package: Olaf’s is only available in typical German 100 gram “paint” tins. This because of the lid which resembles that of a paint tin. Ideal if you ask me, because it keeps the tobacco fresh for a long time. I opened my tin half a year ago (I have more tins open and I only smoke 2 pipes a day) and the little tobacco left inside is still as moist as the moment I first popped the lid. On the front is a nice drawing of Olaf and the name of the blend, on the backside a description of the contents. Inside on top of the tobacco is a paper insert with an illustration of a compass on it. The sign the mixture inside was blended and tinned by DTM.

IMG_9998Contents/composition: A sweet base of Virginias, 40% Syrian latakia, 10% Cyprian latakia, perique, quite a bit of Smyrna oriental, darkfired leaf and English black cavendish. Whooo Arno.. In your blog-post Syrian latakia you said that there is almost nothing left of that dark leaf! That is true and despite the contents description there is no Syrian latakia in Olaf’s. I smoked the mixture a couple of times and could not detect the Syrian leaf I know from blends like 3 Oaks Syrian and Wilderness. So I mailed Hans about this and asked if he could verify the use of Syrian latakia. A couple of e-mails further I read that DTM reluctantly acknowledged  there was no Syrian dark leaf inside Olaf’s. So from now on 50% Cyprian latakia is used in the blend. Oh, don’t be afraid the taste has changed because of this. I smoked some of a new batch and it was the same as the old one.. The tobacco itself looks dark with some blond strands and is mainly a ribbon cut with some small chunky pieces which make for easy packing.

noseSmell from the tin: A classic latakia mixture smell arises from the opened tin. Sweet, bitter, sour, salty and smoky notes. However, between these I detect something I can’t really define, a bit mushroom like odour. The only blend in which I smelled this before was GL Pease Lagonda.

011Taste: With a lot of latakia mixtures there is a bitter taste at the charring light. Not with Olaf’s. The latakia makes itself known but does not overpower, it provides a kind of full roundness of taste together with the darkfired leaf in which the Virginias can develop. It is not a latakia-bomb. Halfway the bowl the sourness of the Smyrna takes the upper hand a bit which combines nicely with the underlying Virginias and latakia. I know there is perique in the mixture but I think I get more of the spicy pepper side of it than the fruity side. Although… At three quarters of the bowl the smoky and salty latakia is a bit tuned down by the black cavendish. What I then taste I can best describe as a bit salty liquorice with a honey-sweet edge. Maybe that is caused by the combination of the perique and the black cavendish. In the last bit of the bowl the flavours slowly starting to fade out similar to that of the fading sound a great musical piece and in the end a fine grey ash is left.

pipeCombustibility: Once lit the mixture keeps burning pretty easy with few relights. No comments here.

thumbsRoom-note: I don’t see my girlfriend Ellen hurrying out of the chamber or coughing violently while I smoke Olaf’s so I guess the room-note is acceptable for a latakia blend. She has smelled worse.

The evening ended on a cozy note...Miscellaneous: Olaf’s benefits from a longer shelving time so the flavours have more opportunity to meld together. Pretty necessary for a complex blend like this one. When I opened my tin it was tinned one year before and I found it good for consumption. However, I am very curious how the mixture will taste after a couple of years of peace in my tobacco closet. The nicotine level is medium, it really is a late night smoke in that regard. Maybe it fits together well with a glass of fine whisky or red wine. Also because of the complex character of the blend I would not advise to smoke it in the morning. One thing that sometimes bothers me a bit about Olaf’s is that now and then it has the tendency to bite in the first part of the bowl. From the other side it could have something to do with my body chemistry on some days.

moneyPrice: My tin was a bit cheaper but thanks to German tobacco-taxes one 100 gram tin of this wonderful mixture will now cost you €18,35 ($24.21) in Hans’ online shop.

IMG_0001Conclusion: From the first puffs I took from this excellent blend I fell in love with it. For me Olaf’s Favourite English delivers everything I expect from a wonderful English mixture; it is complex but without bragging about it. All the flavours from sweet to smoky to leathery to sour to salty weave throughout the smoke in perfect balance. Personally I think this is one of the best latakia blends on the mainland of Europe and it can easily compete with the finest offerings from blenders like GL Pease.

Interview with master-blender Hans Wiedemann from HU Tobacco – Part 3.

phhw02bw-480The final part. Continued from part 1 and part 2.

Did you ever imagine that your blends would be as successful as they have become?
Of course, I hoped that the tobaccos were well received. But that they would become so successful, even outside the borders of Europe, I could never imagine. That makes me very happy and is also the basis to go further and to make new mixtures. The nice thing about this success for me is that I rarely have a one-time-order customer. This shows me that it is not a hype, but that people like my style as a blender.
But the customer service is not to be underestimated. It is very important for me that the customer feels that he is in good hands and gets advise from me if he requests that. I also never had a customer take the damage or loss for a package and that creates confidence.

Joschi's Oriental Sunrise

Joschi’s Oriental Sunrise

Which of your blends would you recommend for beginning pipe smokers?
Basically I recommend a beginner to first start with a pure, natural tobacco. I do not believe in the idea that everyone should first smoke an aromatic. Especially with aromatics one must pay attention to quality in order not to get terrible tongue burning tongue or sticky pipes. I would recommend everyone here Joschi’s Oriental Sunrise. It is an easy-to-smoke, medium-bodied tobacco with a nice sweetness without being intrusive. It is a simple blend but also a mixture that wants to be discovered. A client of mine calls Joschi’s a “listening tobacco” and that point of view I find very appropriate. It means that Joschi’s shall not impose itself on you but if you smoke it more often it has a lot to tell. Well, that would be my pick for the absolute beginner.

German guy pipe-smoking

German guy pipe-smoking

How are your blends received outside of Germany, do you sell a lot abroad?
My main business is of course in Germany, but my export share is estimated at about 40% and that is quite amazing. There are hardly any countries within Western-Europe to which I have not yet delivered. Eastern Europe is because of their customs and border regulations a white spot on my map, and this can not be changed. More and more tobacco goes to the USA. I am pleased when people buy from me again and again even though tobacco is much cheaper to get in their home countries. Because of that I know that there are real fans.

GBD cutty

GBD Cutty

What are some of the changes that you have seen in the pipe and pipe tobacco industry over the years?
In the pipe industry, probably the biggest changes took place in recent years. When I look back on my past pipe-smoking life some traditional companies disappeared  from the market or only the name was left without building on their own traditions. This is a natural market-process and it hurts me sometimes, but it also has to be.
On the other hand, the supply of hand-made pipes has grown immensely, not in the least due to the possibilities of internet. Basically I see this as nice, but I am not very enthusiastic. In principle the term “handmade” is not a synonym for quality. As a convinced  unfiltered pipe-smoker it is of course very painful to see the extreme development of the industry towards the 9mm pipe filter. To come back to two of my favourite shapes, the Cutty or the Prince, this fact above is of course aesthetically not justifiable. These two shapes rely on their thin shanks, which give them their traditional elegance and lightness. This is a shame, but again I must add, the market regulates the demand and in this case the market has been manipulated.
Tobacco-technical changes are no less clearly visible. Some small tobacco manufacturers had to give way to the big suppliers. The supply of tobacco has increased significantly, but the diversity has been lost. The highly aromatic tobacco trend has kept pace with the arrival of 9mm pipe filters. Interesting is also the excessive use of sweet Black Cavendish and it seems that vanilla has become the standard flavour. I will not judge, but in my philosophy this does not match.
3623266751_9fe943c1bc_oSome traditional tobacco disappeared from the market or have been changed beyond recognition and adapted for the mainstream. I will not give examples, but with sadness I think back at such great tobaccos as McConnell Original Red Virginia or Orlik Sailor’s Navy Flake.

But exactly this fact has moved me to my actions. With my products I want to serve the small niche of enthusiasts of high quality and with love blended tobaccos. Although my offerings contradict all market analyses, HU Tobacco is very successful at the lowest level of sales. Now when I say that at me the percentage of British varieties with a significant amount of Latakia is about 60%, every tobacco retailer will shake his head.
The longer you think about the initial question the more you could add. But I think now that would be too much.

10I have heard and have seen for myself that a lot of younger people are starting to get into pipes. Have you seen a resurgence in pipes and pipe smoking?
Honestly, I can not comment on that. It would be nice if it were so, because pipe smoking is not only a question of taste but also a clear yes to living culture. But Arno, the impressions through the internet or a variety of forums can also be deceiving. One must never forget that forums / Facebook are a microcosm that has little to do with anything of the pipe smokers world. In these media really only the “freaks” roam. And their share is less than one percent, measured to the pipe smokers market.

0001-6_20130317_123030What are some of your favourite things about pipe shows you go to?
Pipe shows are of course always a good opportunity to introduce yourself to a wider audience and to showcase your products. This will benefit both sides. The customer has the opportunity to try tobacco without immediately having to order at me. Besides, such shows always offer the opportunity at times of personal contact to discuss tobacco. I always listen well to my customers to both the positive as well as the negative and to do something with feedback if possible. Although one can not always please everyone.
While smiling I think back to the last pipe-show in Lohmar. One criticism there was always that you could only buy my tobaccos in 100gr tins. This I have reacted to with the flakes what made a critical customer a bit angry. He shied away from the sale because 50gr tins were too small for him… Well, then you are just speechless…
Apart from the shows I always am pleased with the contacts with other exhibitors. As always we have a lot of fun, and only that makes a show worthwhile for me.
By the way, Lohmar is not too far away from Holland. Perhaps it even could be a destination for Dutch pipe clubs or forums 😉

22What are your thoughts on the whole anti-tobacco movement?
Honestly, I look very critical to this anti-tobacco movement since it is very hypocritical in my eyes. Of course we smokers were not very considerate in the past. But when it really was about health protection, it would have been possible to find a satisfactory solution for both sides with the ban on smoking in restaurants. But this has not at any time been the intention.
It’s not about health but it is a struggle against the solidarity of the society. No society needs the supposed good guy who points the finger at others in order to brand them as outlaws and set people up against each other. Once the smoking problem is solved other groups in society join the series. Alcohol, sugar, fat…… Everything is controlled by politicians to finally get an obedient, self-sustaining workforce; voting cattle. Mankind must be protected from themselves and everything than can be hazardous must be prohibited. Such a society I don’t want and I can only hope that the spirit of the age soon turns again so we can treat each other reasonable and sensible.

logo_HU-TobaccoAny last words to readers?
Arno, now we’ve already talked quite a lot and I hope we have not bored the readers. So I want to make it short. Stylish pipe-smoking is a cultural asset that I really want to defend. With all the health risks it is also important to bear in mind that a relaxing smoke is balm for the soul so we can forget some of our troubles.
I therefore wish for all people who enjoy smoking pipe that they continue to enjoy our hobby and perhaps someone or someone else wants a mixture of me. Happy puffing!

You can buy Hans’ excellent tobaccos here.

Interview with master-blender Hans Wiedemann from HU Tobacco – Part 2.

phhw01bw-480Continued from part 1.

Was it a hard road to where you are now business-wise or was it just smooth sailing?
I am not complaining because I can not imagine a more beautiful hobby, but the last 3 years were sometimes very hard. I was absolutely alone and all kinds of ideas sprang from my head. The biggest problem was simply the lack of time. I still have my “normal” job and anyone who has 3 children from 6 to 12 years (at that time) knows what I mean. The family should not come on the second place because of my “hobbies”, so I do my activities at night. In addition to the tobacco creations the shop had to be set up, the labels had to be created and tobacco descriptions had to be done. It was a very unsettling and stressful time, but at the same time it also was incredibly beautiful and exciting. After I’ve had success with the tobaccos, looking back on it all is of course pretty blissful. Had the entire enterprise not been so successful, the whole thing would have made me very sad. I have really put so much passion and work in it that it is not only about a business, but also about a personal project. However, I always thought that after a while it would become easier and less time consuming. But this was a false belief and therefore my main problem is still the lack of time.
Here I will not discuss individual problems with the manufacturers, financial problems etc. 
Briefly worded, I would again like to emphasize that despite the hard moments it all just was total fun!

4How do you begin creating a new blend? (What is your working method?) Is it for example so that you have an idea, or are you maybe inspired by a certain kind of leaf a tobacco manufacturer has?
I do not know if there is a general procedure for the blending of tobaccos. For me, the mixtures are created in my imagination. In the beginning the idea is what type of tobacco I would like to create. And I am often inspired by the mixtures I smoke or have smoked in the past. To begin with this is enough, in the meantime I have to make up my mind whether such a tobacco is useful for my shop.
Then I think about how a tobacco should taste, what is the cut I will use by the production of the end product and of course how or with what tobaccos I can reach the goal I set. This often goes on for weeks and then I have very clear picture of what I want to do and what components I can achieve this. It is important, of course, to have exact knowledge of the available mixing tobaccos. Otherwise this method does not work and one has to carefully reach the end goal with sample mixtures.

Making HU Tobacco flakes at DTM

Making HU Tobacco flakes at DTM

Please describe the whole process from having an idea for a tobacco to the final end-product, tinned and ready.
The practical work begins with the sample mixtures. Most are 2-3 ideas of each 20 gr., the smallest amount, that I mix myself. This is the right amount to first detect whether you are on the right path or are totally wrong. Most of the times the direction in which you are heading is correct, sometimes you score a direct hit, but often it is also completely wrong.
I pack the samples into tobacco tins and let them rest for at least 1 week.
After that we smoke the samples while writing down corresponding records or observations. I also always directly scribble down with which new varieties of tobacco, or changes in the mixing ratio, I think I can improve the result. Of course changes are not immediately made, before that happens I have smoked 2-3 pipes of the respective sample and also express my thoughts on paper.
Then I make new samples of the changed recipes. Normally I then make 50 gr. samples and let other people trial-smoke those. Often some small changes have to be made and in the most ideal case I already have a finished mixture.
Now I go to the manufacturer and let create a 100 gr. sample of my recipe. Again it often comes here to minor differences in the taste. I correct those with another recipe change and if necessary, a 100 gr. sample is once again created by the manufacturer.
If everything fits I have done my share of the work, the price of the mixture can be calculated and can then be produced.
At the same time as the making of the mixture the labels are being created. Now this is of course no longer as expensive as in the beginning, because the different brands are already available and it just has a new name and a corresponding description of the tobaccos used. In the United Passion flakes a new image will be added to the existing lay-out. The finished labels are then printed and sent to the manufacturer so I’m getting tins that are already labelled.
In broad terms this is how the HU Tobacco tobaccos come into existence.

tabak004In short, how did your tobacco-lines came into existence?
The Blender’s Pride
Foundation by Musico
United Passion
Original Warehouse Blend
United Passion Flakes
United Passion Special Blends
I started with the lines of United Passion, The Blender’s Pride and Original Warehouse Blend. The names of the various product lines emphasize the flavour orientation of the blends. The Warehouse Blend series includes mixtures of a very high level but without flavouring, so rather purist approach. I find the term Warehouse Blend symbolizes the direction quite well. No fancy tins, no flavours, just blends without frills.
Unlike the Blender’s Pride series.. Here it is more or less about subtly flavoured mixtures. A less purist approach, but not completely over the top. The tobaccos are of the same quality as the Warehouse blends, so we are talking about very high quality aromatics. This is what I want to say about the Blender’s Pride. Also, the flourishing tobacco plant on the label stands for honest but flowery tobacco.
With United Passion the idea was to tobacco mixtures for my closest friends. Here the flavour spectrum ranges from pure natural to floral and soapy, but in any case always individual, according to the taste of my friends. I found the term “United Passion” with the addition Homage To My Friends very fitting.
That was the initial situation. In the meantime the United Passion Flake series was added. As with the “Homage To My Friends tobaccos” the flakes are being produced by DTM. Hence the name United Passion Flakes.
About Foundation by Musico I do not need to say much. It is a collaboration with Massimo Musico and, in the interests of both parties bear the name of the pipes produced by Massimo. The series is clearly latakia-orientated and of very high quality. So each series has a distinct direction and I personally find that very beautiful.

UP_My_Special_One_oWhat are your favourite HU Tobacco blends? On which ones are you most proud?
Hmm.. This is a very difficult question. Of course, I like all my tobaccos, the one more, the other less. But all tobaccos wear my handwriting and thus are created by my imagination. A great pleasure at that time was the creation of Old Fredder’s Broken Flake. It is simply a well-balanced mixture, with all the facets that can provide a good Va / per blend. It is actually a rather old-fashioned mixture without any gimmickry or sensationalism. Old Fredder’s is simply what it is, a great tobacco, no more but also no less. And that is what I like about the mixture and what makes it so endearing to me. This tobacco often stands in the shadow of other mixtures, but has conquered a very loyal following in the meantime. It is similar with “My Special One“. A mixture of bygone days. When I open the can, it emanates a scent that you can smell in “old” tobacco shops. I’m not talking about posh, modern shops, but of shops where the cigar boxes are stacked chaotically, there is a lot of smoking inside and where the walls give away the tobacco smell of past years. My Special One is a thoroughly honest, straightforward blend. You know what you get involved with. This tobacco is not a revolution, it is like a homage to bygone days.
But I’m not a dreamer, and I am not very creative when I just wanted to convey the flavour of the old days. The Foundation tobaccos are going exactly the opposite way. Here we have a very modern direction. With the Khoisaan I present a practical tobacco that only consists of condimental tobaccos. Besides the Tuarekh these English blends only have a very small proportion of orientals. Anything but classical. I can not go into every single blend, but I think you realize that I am very proud of all mixtures. Each blend has its peculiar characteristics and came into existence very consciously. Besides, I’m just a very emotional person and I connect tastes with experiences. Arno, I can not completely answer the question, but I think you know what I mean.

© GL Pease

© GL Pease

What are your favourite non-HU Tobacco blends?
Oh, there are some blends that I find absolutely fantastic and I always like to smoke. I really like the Lakeland tobaccos and in particular the (Samuel Gawith) Full Virginia plug and Best Brown Flake. I think of Squadron Leader as a very good “English” but within the genre I would rather go for Cornell & Diehl Byzantium or GL Pease Lagonda. If it is time to be subtle, Erinmore Balkan Mixture can also make me very happy. From Russ Ouellette I like Louisiana Red and Frenchy’s Sunza Bitches very, very much. I could go on much more about the varieties I mentioned that I really like, but of non-HU Tobacco tobaccos this is what I like to smoke.

This interview continues in part 3.

You can buy Hans’ excellent tobaccos here.

Interview with master-blender Hans Wiedemann from HU Tobacco – Part 1.

Hans Wiedemann

Hans Wiedemann

Once there was a time that I was petrified that my few “tobacco-lines” with the USA became distorted. How could I live my pipe-smoking life without excellent tobaccos like Abingdon, Lagonda, Westminster, Escudo, Balkan Supreme and many others? In The Netherlands there are few tobaccos of my liking. Then I got introduced by fellow Dutch/Belgian pipesmoker forum member “Smokin'” Rob to the tobaccos of German master-blender Hans Wiedemann from HU Tobacco. Hmzz… Those blends can never be as good as the ones from the States, I silently  thought. But being the curious fellow that I am I decided to ask Hans if he also sold samples of his mixtures. And he did. I smoked them and wowww… I could not believe how good they were! On par or even better than many tobaccos available in the USA. So I immediately ordered a bunch of tins and got into contact with Hans more and more. He is such a warm, friendly and modest guy with a big heart. That showed because after I thought the whole forum-tobacco quest ended he extended his helping hand and saved the entire project. Hans also was willing to answer questions for an interview for my blog. Here it is:

1How long have you been smoking pipe?
I have been smoking pipe since I was 15. Of course not as intensive as in later years. As a teenager you have other things on your mind and you often miss the moment of rest for the enjoyment. But since that time the pipe always accompanied me and it never lost its fascination for me. The nice thing about pipe smoking is simply the connection of a beautiful smoking device with a wide range of tobaccos with all kinds of tastes. A pipe which smokes excellent and also looks great is almost like a friend for life. This is one of the reasons why I stick to the pipe and prefer it over the cigar. All other enjoyments of smoke are too fast paced and a good cigar simply goes up in smoke, and provides no lasting value for the connoisseur.

Hans Wiedemann

What are your favourite pipe shapes and why?
Concerning pipe shapes I am more conservative then with my choice of tobaccos. I feel a connection with classic pipe shapes in which you can recognize the personal style of the maker. Revolutionary shapes, or in other words crazy, spectacular shapes are not my taste. The classic shapes have proven themselves particularly through their smoking properties and are still exciting for me. I take off my hat to every pipe maker who goes to the limits of a shape without blurring the original form. There the art lies in the details.
My favourite shapes since long are the Dublin, Pot, Bulldog, Prince and Cutty. These shapes are really created very differently. The pot and Bulldog are rather strong, burly pipe shapes while the Cutty, Dublin and Prince are sometimes interpreted as very delicate. I love the contrasts and depending on the mood of the day and the preference for a tobacco I choose a delicate or a more robust pipe. Classic does not have to be dusty, classic can still be very exciting.

Olaf's Favourite English

Olaf’s Favourite English

Do you have a favourite genre of tobacco that you like to smoke?
Of course I have certain tobacco genres which accompany me since long and to where I return again and again despite all kinds of sidesteps. My great loves are the Virginia / Perique blends and to-the-point English blends. I think this you can clearly see this in my supply of tobacco. Again and again I turn to the Burley-mixtures, but they can never conquer my heart forever. But these are always mixtures that excite me and therefore are a great change to my “favourites”.
I sometimes like to smoke aromatic tobaccos but my interpretation of the term aromatic is unlike most others. Aromatic tobaccos should assist only the tobacco taste with their casing, maybe put some little accents, but the tobacco base should never be “destroyed”. This is not a widely accepted view, but the interpretations of the aromatic tobaccos blended by me have a very loyal following. Perhaps this is because this niche is only partially covered by other manufacturers and it offers tobacco flavour nuances that heavy aromatized tobaccos  just do not offer these days.
But coming back to my personal passions, the Virginia / Perique and Latakia mixtures, is there anything more honest than the natural blends of these genres? Do you not find the ethereal taste of a good Latakia different every day? Do you not always taste nuances that you have never tasted before, or simply perceived differently? These aspects breathe the life in the enjoyment of pipe tobacco and that falls away when a tobacco is heavily aromatized.

Untitled-1How did you acquire all of your tobacco knowledge? In the early days internet was not there yet. Books?
Yes, with internet really a new era dawned and the ways that you can gather knowledge can be described as wonderful. But to the surprise of many, I am not a tobacco-guru. My modest knowledge of tobacco is not theoretical, but is a result of many conversations with experienced pipe smokers and the visits I undertook in the 90’s to Dan Tobacco. Of course, I devoured all the standard readings of pipe smoking. But like I said, in the smoking community by comparative tests and discussions you learn how oriental tobaccos taste or how the addition of burley affects a Latakia mixture. Those are practical things that one can only learn so far by pure theory.
And honestly it is more fun to gather your own experiences than googling for hours. Like I said, my focus is less on theoretical knowledge and more on “practical experience”.

Hans at the Lohmar Pipeshow

Hans at the Lohmar Pipeshow

Why did you started blending tobaccos? Were you for example unsatisfied with available mixtures?
Hmm…. That’s a long story. The basic idea was born at the Lohmar Pipeshow 2010. Along with Kelvin, name-giver of my tobacco “Kelvin’s Silent Secret“, the idea was born to try import interesting tobaccos from abroad. It always annoyed the both of us that mixtures from abroad cost a lot and were very hard to obtain. But after a little research I understood that it was not possible to realize this idea. To import tobaccos, apart from a desire to do a lot of paperwork,  you need a lot of money and a high level tolerance of risk. All this was not what I was looking for, after all it was supposed to be just a hobby. Besides my day job I also have a wife and 3 small children. So the idea came to create tobaccos according to my own visions and sell them through an online store. Since Kelvin was in a completely different phase of life than me and focused himself on starting a family, he let me go first, and concentrated on the pipe making. That way the idea was born, not knowing what was coming.

Some of the HU Tobacco mixtures

Some of the HU Tobacco mixtures

When you first started blending pipe tobacco blends, was it more of a hobby or did you already had plans to make it into a business?
As long as I can remember I was always searching for the best tobacco. Sometimes this was not always pleasant, because a certain restlessness is in it, but you also learn about an awful lot of different tobacco blends. I always had the desire to unite all the advantages of different tobacco species in a mixture. Ok, that is impossible, but this thought prompted me to create my own blends over and over again. So I have some experience with home-mixing before HU Tobacco. Many ended up in the garbage because they were not useful or simply not good enough to really have fun with. But over time by adding the right ingredients you get a feel for the direction in which a mixture is going to develop. So before before I decided the venture into the world of tobacco-mixing and present blends to the public, I had the phase of beginner-mistakes behind me.

Dockworker, a beautiful Burley / Oriental / Virginia flake

Dockworker, a beautiful Burley / Oriental / Virginia flake

Do you have a favourite type of tobacco when blending?
I can’t really say that. I have 2 to 3 great Virginias available to me that I really love working with and that I have often used lately. But this should not be the standard, otherwise the mixtures are simply becoming too similar. Yes I want to show the whole range of individual types of tobacco in my mixtures. Otherwise it would make no sense to offer several Virginia or Virginia / Perique blends. In my recent creations, I tried to put tobaccos in the foreground which lead a shadowy existence at the large manufacturers. Especially Kentucky, Burley and Oriental tobaccos. Because of this tobacco combinations came into existence that not or almost not existed in Europe to date. Burley / Orient, Orient / Kentucky, Burley / Perique to name just a few examples.
I would like to re-phrase the initial question: Are there tobacco genres you prefer to blend? The answer to this question would for me be an unmistakable yes. Latakia mixtures are the most exciting for me as a blender because this genre offers the biggest “playground”.

How did HU Tobacco came into existence?
How I came to the idea, I’ve already answered. But of course there still was a long way to go before the founding of HU Tobacco. I first had to find partners who were willing to manufacture my mixtures. Because my sales are ridiculous compared to the major manufacturers, I did not encounter mutual love everywhere.. Sometimes the targets had been set very high which of course brought many sleepless nights. Not knowing how everything was going to develop, I took a few risks and registered my company at the authorities.

This interview continues in part 2 and part3.

You can buy Hans’ excellent tobaccos here.