Player’s Navy Cut Flake, “The best there is.”

dutch pipe smoker roald dahl

Roald Dahl

The genius of Roald Dahl
As a child, I had several pipe-smoking influences, such as my grandfather, an uncle and the father of a friend. Only recently, I discovered there was another source of inspiration; the great and late writer Roald Dahl. While the generation after me grew up with J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter saga, me and my young contemporaries were enchanted by timeless stories such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Witches and Matilda. And, if you think my English is pretty readable, you can thank Roald Dahl. At primary school, we learned the language with excerpts of his tales. Later I discovered his adult novels, amongst them one of my all-time favourite books: My Uncle Oswald.

Goat’s tobacco
Being a youngster I devoured every Roald Dahl book I could lay my hands on in the local library. Like his autobiographical Boy: Tales of Childhood. Recently, being in a nostalgic mood, I re-read it. One of the stories there is called “Goat’s tobacco” and describes how a young Dahl on holiday in Norway with his family secretly puts some dried goat’s droppings in the pipe of his half-sister’s lover who then smokes it and almost chokes (if he would have used a Lakeland tobacco it surely would have had the same effect). But before the lover smokes the droppings he boasts about his tobacco. I quote from the book, of course all copyright things go to the Dahl family:

dutch_pipe_smoker_players navy cut flake quentin blake

© Quentin Blake

We could hardly bear the suspense. The sister who was seven couldn’t bear it at all. ‘What sort of tobacco do you put in that thing? (the pipe)’ she asked with superb innocence. ‘Navy Cut,’ the male lover answered. ‘Player’s Navy Cut. It’s the best there is. These Norwegians use all sorts of disgusting scented tobaccos, but I wouldn’t touch them.’ ‘I didn’t know they had different tastes,’ the small sister went on. ‘Of course they do,’ the manly lover said. ‘All tobaccos are different to the discriminating pipe-smoker. Navy Cut is clean and unadulterated. It’s a man’s smoke.’ The man seemed to go out of his way to use long words like discriminating and unadulterated. We hadn’t the foggiest what they meant.

dutch_pipe_smoker_players_navy_cut_flakeScoring a pouch of Player’s Navy Cut Flake
My head jolted up after I read this while thinking: “Damn, I have a pouch of Player’s Navy Cut Flake in my tobacco closet!” In 2015 a good friend of mine, a true gentleman, went on holiday to England. But before that he asked if he could buy some tobacco there for me. The range of available pipe tobaccos is different in England. They have blends we (European mainland) don’t have. So I browsed through the website of a British tobacconist until suddenly my eye fell on Player’s Navy Cut Flake. Perhaps it had rung a bell in the back of my head (it was before I re-read Boy) but that was the blend I wanted and got. Sadly, when I began my research for this blogpost I discovered Player’s Navy Cut Flake had been discontinued since the end of 2015. So yes, I am very sorry, but this is another write-up about a blend that does not exist any more..

john player original factory broadmarsh

Broadmarsh factory

Early beginnings of John Player & Sons
First some history about the manufacturer, John Player & Sons. The man himself, John Player was born in Saffron Walden in Essex in 1839. In 1862 he came to Nottingham and some years later began a shop on Beastmarket Hill where he sold agricultural manures and seeds. As an extra income he also sold pre-wrapped tobacco. That went so well that it soon became his main business. So in 1877 he bought the tobacco factory from William Wright in the Broad Marsh, began manufacturing tobaccos and cigarettes and opened 2 more shops. Business quickly expanded and in 1881 he bought land in the Radford area of Nottingham where in 1884 the Castle Tobacco factory arose. Sadly Player died in the same year of liver cancer. In the 1890’s his 2 sons, William Goodacre Player and John Dane Player, took over the business.

john player shipping department

Shipping department

The Americans attack
In 1901 a powerful attack by American tobacco manufacturers on the British market led to the formation of the Imperial Tobacco Group in which 13 British tobacco manufacturers joined forces. Although they continued business under their own names and competed with each other. Since John Player & Sons was one of the founding companies they served on Imperial’s first board of directors. The first few decades of the 20th century were good for the company as sales began increasing rapidly. Mainly because of the success of the company’s mass produced, machine-made cigarettes.

Players_navy_cut_logoThe Player’s Navy Cut brand
Already in 1883 the Player’s Navy Cut brand (cigarettes and pipe tobacco) was launched and proved enduringly popular. It was one of the most smoked brands in WW1 and besides Capstan the favourite pipe tobacco of J.R.R. Tolkien and a favourite of C.S. Lewis. Over the years the brand’s sailor and lifebuoy trademark became synonymous with John Player & Sons. But more about that below. Now I could ramble on about the rest of the history but then this blogpost would really become long and focus on cigarettes, and this is a pipe smoking blog. In short Player’s peak was in the late 1950’s. They were employing 11,000 workers (who all got an allowance of 50 cigarettes a week) and produced 15 brands of pipe tobacco and 11 brands of cigarettes. After that it slowly went downhill due to various reasons, factories got closed etc. although to this day Player’s is still in business.

mac-baren-pipe-tobaccoNot Orlik but…
Like I said the curtain fell for the Player’s Navy Cut Flake brand in 2015. I always thought that in the final years it was made by Orlik (read: the Scandinavian Tobacco Group) in license for the Imperial Tobacco Group like Tobaccoreviews.com says. But by someone on Instagram I was pointed in another direction: the mighty MacBaren. To verify this I contacted MacBaren mastermind Per Jensen. He had to say this: “Since 2006 we produced the Player’s Navy Cut Flake for Imperial Tobacco Group, but only for sale in the UK. When we bought the pipe tobacco portfolio from Imperial we did not buy the the Player’s Navy Flake, so production stopped in 2015. The reason, plain and simple, was that Imperial wanted to keep the Player’s name for their cigarettes.”

dutch pipe smoker players navy cut flake packagePackage / tin:
My Player’s Navy Cut Flake came in a (with a health-warning desecrated) pouch with inside a foil covered tray. Most of the pouch is navy blue with the logo of the sailor and lifebuoy in the top middle. The sailor image was first used in 1883 and the lifebuoy was added 5 year later. The sailor was known as “Hero”. Why? Just take a good look at the name on his hat band. Then you also can see the HMS Brittania on the left and HMS Dreadnought on the right. The image of Hero changed for a while (apparently the poor lad had no beard for a short period!) until he was standardised in 1927.

dutch pipe smoker players navy cut flake flakesContents / Cut / Ingredients:
Inside the foil covered tray are 2 rows of neatly stacked attractive looking brown cold pressed flakes with golden highlights. It is a Navy Cut, the slices you get when you cut a navy plug. Originally these had a round shape. Later tobacco manufacturers used the term more broadly and a Navy Cut could also be a rectangular flake or slice. The ingredients are Virginia and Burley with a slight topping of rum.

Smell from the tray:
When I removed the foil and stuck my nose near I was kind of surprised. It smelled a bit like Esoterica Stonehaven! Hay, treacle, dark chocolate and liquor with a certain fruity sourness in the background. Although the liquor smell fades away a bit after the tray is opened for longer.

Taste:
The flakes are easy to handle, not too moist, not too dry. I rubbed out the flakes a little bit, bigger chunks on the bottom of the bowl and the smaller ones on top. Lighting it was effortless and when the first smoke hits your my buds I immediately relaxed, it was smooth and creamy. Above all, it has a great basic taste. Many blends of old had a distinct flavour that set them apart from others. With Player’s Navy Cut Flake you get an almost perfect mix between the grassy, tangy, earthy, toasted, stewed fruits lighter and darker Virginias, the nutty Burley which fills up the holes in the tasting spectrum and the rum which doesn’t do much other than providing a slight dark sugar treacle taste. All by all the different elements are expertly harmonised. The taste throughout the bowl is not a rollercoaster. You get that distinct comforting creamy and smooth Player’s Navy Cut Flake flavour which only deepens and intensifies in the later part of the smoke.

dutch_pipe_smoker_players_navy_cut_flake2Miscellaneous:
Nicotine-wise this blend is surprisingly mild to my relief. I expected more because of the Burley and the fact it had been around a long time, in the old days they made blends more “manly” with more vitamin N oomph. When pushed Player’s Navy Cut Flake has a tendency to bite a bit. But that is ok, it commands puffing slowly which is a good thing. And by doing that you get the most out of this tobacco taste-wise.

Room-note:
When I smoke this one I get almost no comments from the old battle-axe. Only downside is the cigarette-like odour that still lingers the next morning.

dutch_pipe_smoker_players_navy_cut_advertising_1Conclusion:
All by all I was pleasantly surprised by this essential British tobacco. I can fully understand why it was like “bread” for years for the English pipe smoker. Although I would think of it more like that delicious cookie your grandmother used to give you when you were visiting her. And every time you eat it now it reminds you fondly of the old lady. Player’s Navy Cut Flake has something comforting. It is an easy smoke. It is not a roller-coaster of tastes nor bland. It just delivers good ol’ tobacco tastiness when you sit in your chair relaxing after a day of hard work. I smoked it in different pipes and each time was satisfying. I really regret Player’s Navy Cut Flake got discontinued. If today it was available I would surely buy it. Maybe it is the added Burley or the bit of rum flavour, but I burned through the pouch in no time. @MacBaren, perhaps you can convince Imperial to sell you the rights to Player’s Navy Cut Flake, release it worldwide, thus bringing back a little classic gem.

 

Escudo; the VaPer king

©pipesandcigars

©pipesandcigars

If in the world of pipe tobaccos Balkan Sobranie Original Smoking Mixture is the king of Balkan-style blends, then Escudo Navy De Luxe reigns over the VirginiaPerique (VaPer) offerings. A legendary tobacco which is still made today, despite the many times it looked like the blend was going to be discontinued.

Navy PlugEscudo is a so called Navy Cut tobacco. In the old days sailors twisted tobacco into a roll, a Navy Plug, and tied it firmly in ropes or canvas while regularly moistening the leaves with liquids like rum and molasses. This way the tobacco matured during their voyages and (of course) improved which was certainly noticed. The sailors cut pieces from the end for chewing (this happened most of the times because smoking was often forbidden on the wooden ships, imagine, a little spark and *whoosh*) or they cut coins that could be loaded into pipes. The flakes we know today from tobacco manufacturers are evolutions of the pressing that the sailors invented to keep their tobacco usable. These days the term Navy Cut is used inadequately and it is often applied to any tobacco that is pressed and cased with anything you can think of. So tobaccos like Escudo, Three Nuns, twists and ropes are true Navy Cuts and are as close to the real thing as one can get today.

The old Cope factory in Liverpool

The old Cope factory in Liverpool

Escudo was first made by Cope Bros & Co; a Liverpool based company that manufactured tobacco products from 1848 until 1952. There is much to tell about Cope Bros & Co but that will be for another time. Let us focus on Escudo for now. Tobaccoreviews.com says that it was produced there from 1870 to 1936 but I think that is bullshit. First, Cope had a blend called “Navy Cut” but there was no trace of a “Navy De Luxe”. Pipesmagazine forum-member misterlowercase (hello Troy! Also thanks for the pictures below!) has several old Smoke Room booklets (promotional booklets made by Cope) from the 1880’s and he says no mention was made of Escudo Navy De Luxe. He could only find an ad for Cope’s Navy Cut. Second, the Portuguese Escudo coin (after which the blend was named) was introduced on 22 May 1911, after the 1910 Republican revolution. An ad from 1964 says the blend was perfected in 1912, which could very well be the case keeping the Portuguese Escudo coin in mind.

A&C Petersen made Escudo

A&C Petersen made Escudo

Late 1952 Cope Bros & Co was bought by Gallaher. Tobaccoreviews.com says the date was 1936 and I have noooo idea where that comes from.. They manufactured Escudo until 1994 when it was discontinued worldwide. Gallaher claimed that the costs of making it for a smaller and declining market were too high. Behind the scenes Danish company A&C Petersen was negotiating for the trademark, original equipment (!) and recipe in which they succeeded in 1997. At first they re-introduced it to Denmark only with Danish language tins. Later in 1999 A&C Petersen started shipping Escudo to the USA again to the delight of the pipe-smokers there.

Dunhill Deluxe Navy Rolls

Dunhill Deluxe Navy Rolls

Here in good ol’ Europe mainland the blend also did return. But not for long.. I asked fellow Dutch Pipesmokers forum member and VaPer fan Huub (who has a vast knowledge about pipes and tobacco) when he bought his last tin of Escudo in The Netherlands. “At the end of the 90’s I was able to get one tin and then it did not came back” was his answer which fitted perfectly with the information I already had. Also, at the end of 90’s a new blend under the Dunhill name appeared on the market: De Luxe Navy Rolls. Eejj, a new navy cut blend just when Escudo has disappeared from the market, what a coincidence! *ahum…* My suspicion is that there may have been a problem with the worldwide use of the Escudo trademark and somehow we in Europe ended up with the De Luxe Navy Rolls in stead of Escudo. For the discussion if the De Luxe Navy Rolls taste the same as Escudo I am directing you forward to 2 interesting articles on PipesMagazine.com: Dunhill & Escudo Navy De Luxe the Same? and Dunhill & Escudo Navy De Luxe: The Verdict. Plus I read somewhere that somebody did a test with the pH-measures of both blends. The outcome was that they were the same..

ScandinavianTobaccoGroup_co[1]In 2000 A&C Petersen were acquired by Orlik and the blend was taken off the USA market very shortly after that because of a trademark issue. It was not clear if A&C Petersen had the worldwide rights to Escudo. The involved parties went to work and cleared it up so that it returned. Despite Orlik ownership the blend was continued under the A&C Petersen brand. At that time the Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG) had a 50% share in Orlik (in 2008 that became 100 %). In 2004 they both decided to apply for a trademark-transfer to STG and the production of Escudo went from A&C Petersen to the Orlik/STG factory in Assens, Denmark. In 2006 they won the trademark and slowly started re-labelling the tins. So if you have a 2005 Escudo tin with A&C Petersen on it, well, it was made in the Orlik factory. Oh, dating Escudo tins is simple. Look for the code on the left of the barcode. The first 6 digits stand for the Year, Date and Month. So if the first 6 digits are for example 121105, the production date is May 11th 2012. And for those of you who have tins with “Made in Denmark for Peter Stokkebye” on the backside, that company has been owned by STG for many years. Nowadays it is simple and clear: “Made in Denmark by Scandinavian Tobacco Group Assens A/S”.

IMG_0582So, now on to the review. Yeahyeah, I know Escudo already has been reviewed to death but screw that, I am still going to do it hehehe. Unfortunately I never had the chance to smoke or buy (*kat$jing!*) the Cope, Gallaher or A&C Petersen Escudo incarnations so my humble tin comes from the Orlik/STG factory and was produced at August 9th 2011.

0001Package/tin description: A round 50 gr. tin with on the front the classic trademark “Escudo Navy De Luxe” and on the backside the following description:  A combination of full bodied Virginia from North Carolina and Virginia blended with Perique from Louisiana are the cornerstones in Escudo. The blend is pressed and matured before it is spun and cut into coins. This process ensures the unique character of “Escudo”.

escudo_coinContents/cut: Like I said before the blend is a navy cut, coins with a thickness around 1.5mm. They are neatly placed half on top of each other around the tin. And they look stunning! A piece of art for the pipe-tobacco connoisseur. Dark and light tobaccos are spun together to a very pleasant to watch coin which gets darker by age. The moisture level is perfect, immediately ready for smoking.

noseSmell from the tin: Newly opened there comes a fresh, bright smell from the tin. A kind of fruity (my guess would be plum), peppery (hello perique) smell which mingles elegantly with the hay-like scent from the Virginias. There definitely is some kind of light topping. I also noticed a slight odour which reminded me of a typical Dutch menthol liquorice sweet when I just pulled the lid off for the first time. But after a couple of days I did not detect it any more.

011Taste: First of all there is a bit of difference flavour-wise if you rub out the coins or fold and stuff them. Rubbed out you get a more consistent flavour throughout the bowl while with the fold-and-stuff method you get a bit more detail of the tobaccos involved. The times my nose started started to tickle while smoking I used that last method and probably hit a bit of perique. I prefer to rub. With the charring light there is no bitterness, just the full sweetness of the Virginias followed with a bit of zing from the perique. The first part you get bright top notes which are never too sharp (this blend does not bite). In combination with the occasional pepper-perique and the darker Virginias in the background these provide a rich creaminess. Halfway the bowl the tastes become stronger, fuller. Hay, wood and earthy flavours mingle with the sweet ones to a full creamy whole. Creaminess.. That is the main theme here. On the last small pipe-smokers meeting I attended someone smoked some Escudo for the first time. And he indeed said it was creamy. And lamented the fact it was not available in my small country.. The last part of the bowl I always dislike with this blend because before I know it, it is gone.

pipeCombustibility: Very good, also because of the perfect moisture level of the coins. However, with the fold and stuff method Escudo requires some more re-lights. What amazes me is how long this blend lasts. In my Dunhill group 3 billiard (which fits one and a half coin) I am easily puffing for 1.5 hour!

thumbs2Room-note: My girlfriend Ellen never says anything about the smell when I smoke Escudo. Which is a good thing! The blend produces rich fumes but Ellen does not seem to mind that plus the next morning you can barely notice I smoked the last evening.

Vintage Escudo. Should be very, very yummie!

Vintage Escudo. Should be very, very yummie!

Miscellaneous: In the nicotine department this blend is a tiny bit on the heavy side for me. But when I had a good dinner and smoke Escudo later in the evening, no problem at all. Also the blend ages very, very well. I believe it is the most cellared tobacco in the USA. I guess this also comes because there have been a couple of “Escudo-scares” throughout the years in which rumours were spread that the blend was being discontinued. 4noggins owner Rich certainly was very happy with the last scare halfway 2013, he sold dozens of Escudo tins per day!

moneyPrice: At 4noggins you pay $9,99 (± €7,32) for a 50 gr. tin.

Peter Heinrichs Curly Block

Peter Heinrichs Curly Block

Alternatives: If you like Escudo there are some blends that are well suited for a change of pace or for a replacement if you can’t get the real stuff.
Davidoff Flake Medallions (Referred to by some as “Escudo light”)
Dunhill De Luxe Navy Rolls
My Own Blend (Paul Olsen) Big Coin (made in the same factory as Escudo)
Peter Heinrichs Curly Block (Recommended by many German pipe-smokers as THE replacement to the old Escudo. And it looks damn great! I smoked it and in comparison to current day Escudo this one is heavier in the nicotine department, has less sweet but fuller Virginias and more perique.)
Peter Stokkebye Luxury Bullseye Flake (with a core of cavendish)
Wessex Sovereign Curly Cut

©cigarsinternational

©cigarsinternational

Conclusion: I am not amazed at the fact that after all this time Escudo is one of most cellared and best selling tobaccos ever. It is the benchmark for all VaPer blends. I puffed away quite a few of those in the couple of years I smoke pipe, but every time I crack open a tin of Escudo it feels like coming home. The secret is that it is not an overly complex tobacco. All the ingredients are so well balanced that they provide a fullness of flavours for the archetypical VaPer smoking experience. Regardless of the age of the tin and in what kind of bowl you smoke it. All hail the VaPer king: Escudo!

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Cut, cut, cut!

Tobacco cutting machine at DTM

Tobacco cutting machine at DTM

The cut of any tobacco is determined by the product that is going to be manufactured: pipe tobacco, cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco or snuff. Here I only will go into pipe tobacco cuts (and a bit of cigarette cuts). The ultimate goal of any tobacco manufacturer (or home blender) is to get a well mixed tobacco with a consistent uniformity in taste and “rate of burn”. That means it may not burn too fast (in which case it would probably burn hot) or too slow (which will require the smoker to relight often).

close-up-of-tobacco-pipe-smokingThe burning qualities of any blend are determined by the following factors:
1. The type of tobacco used. Thin leaved tobacco will burn better than tobacco with heavier leaves.
2. The moisture content of the tobacco. The degree of dryness affects the speed with which it burns.
3. The type of cut or cuts used. The air circulating around the shredded leaf determinates the rate of combustion. The denser the tobacco, such as plugs, the slower it will burn.
4. The amount of casing or flavouring used. The less casing applied to tobacco, the longer it will burn.

Below I described a lot of tobacco cuts. I am sure I missed some and sorting them out was pretty damn difficult.. Several tobacco cut descriptions are in essence the same. If you think I am wrong somewhere or you know cuts I have not described, please contact me so we all can benefit from that information. Anyway, here they are in alphabetical order:

broad cutBroad Cut: Wide ribbon-cuts which burn at an average pace and pack well are often called broad cut. The thickest cut, about twice as wide as a loose cut. Commonly used with air-cured Virginia which is then used to blend with other cuts.

broken flakeBroken Flake: Flake-form tobacco that has been partially broken up.

cake_plugCake: Cakes (also called “plugs”) are dense, hold their moisture well and therefore are handy to carry with you. But they require a little preparation before smoking. The smoker slices off a bit to the thickness he desires and rubs it between his hands to create a fine or coarse tobacco.  Whatever his preference is. It can also be cut into thicker slices and then cross-cut twice to make a rough cube-cut. Very versatile this one. Also see “Plug”.

cavendish cutCavendish Cut: In older blends, Cavendish was generally referred to as tobaccos which had been treated with flavourings or even sugar water. Sometimes they were steamed and then pressed, cut and rubbed-out. These were the original aromatics. Through the years the term has become broadly used and refers to many flavoured tobacco blends. Most of the times the Cavendish Cut was a long cut, between a fine cut and a ribbon cut, depending on the manufacturer.

4Coarse Cut: Ribbon cut containing some chunkier pieces.

coinsCoin: Thin tobacco circles which look like coins. You get those when you cut a navy plug, twist, rope or roll cake. The terms “Coin”, “Medallion”, “Roll Cut”, “Navy Cut” and “Spun Cut” are all pretty much interchangeable as they are all sliced off round-shaped, pressed (or spun) tobacco.

crimp cutCrimp Cut: This is a slightly smaller cut than the granulated one.

cross cutCross Cut: A broad cut that is cut twice, creating small squares.

krumble kakeCrumble Cake: Cakes that are made from ribbon-cut tobaccos. The smoker can easily break off a chunk, crumble it between the fingers and prepare it for smoking. This form shares the moisture-holding capacity of plugs. With the added convenience of being somewhat easier to make ready. The downside is that this form tends to break into small fragments. Which can clog the airway or burn too quick. So if you load a pipe with a crumble cake, put some bigger chunks in the bottom of the bowl and the small fragments on top.

crushed plugCrushed Plug: This tobacco is cut at right angles to a plug. It may be classified as a coarser and larger granulated tobacco cut.

cube cutCube Cut: Pressed tobacco which has been cut into fine or coarse cube-shaped pieces. The most common type is cube-cut Burley. The thick, chunky pieces burn slowly, so cube-cut tobaccos normally smoke quite cool.

curly cutCurly: Thin tobacco circles you get when you cut a navy plug, twist or roll cake. In my experience a curly cut tobacco is much rougher in appearance as for instance neatly stacked medallions in a tin.

fine cutFine Cut: Usually used for (roll-your-own) cigarette tobacco. This is a variation of a long cut and shag cut. Fine cut tobacco is cut between 30 and 40 times to the inch when it is to be used in pipe tobacco. In cigarette tobacco that is 50 to 90 times to the inch.

flakeFlake: Tobacco is placed under very high pressure with varying degrees of heat. It is then pressed into bricks and sliced into broad, flat flakes. These are typically about 1-2 inches wide and 0.1 inches thick. You fold or lightly rub the flake to put it in your pipe.  There can be many different tobaccos in a flake. These tobaccos benefit from the pressing because it allows their flavours, densities and moisture levels to marry. It will also help them to have a better synergy as they age. The most common flakes are based upon Virginia and Virginia-perique tobaccos. This because of the density of the flake the Virginia will burn more slowly so you get a cooler smoke.

granulatedGranulated Cut: tobacco is cut from stemmed leaf in irregularly shaped, medium sized flakes. Because this cut of tobacco packs quite well with air spaces between particles, it burns slow and cool.

Lanyard: See “Rope”.

Long Cut: See “Shag cut”.

loose cutLoose Cut: A long, thin ribbon cut. Commonly found in many Captain Black and Lane Bulk blends.

Navy PlugNavy Plug: This name was given because sailors would fill a long canvas tube with tobacco (or tightly wrap rope around tobacco) and sometimes add flavourings like rum, fruits and spices. Then the tube was twisted tight, mimicking the pressing process. This technique created a dense roll of tobacco about an inch thick which could be cut into smaller pieces or coins. In essence the navy plug is the same as a roll-cake.

navy cutNavy Cut: The slices you get when you cut a navy plug. Originally these had a round shape. Later tobacco manufacturers used the term more broadly and a Navy Cut could also be a rectangular flake or slice (for example Capstan). Good examples of round Navy Cut tobaccos are Escudo and Peter Stokkebye Luxury Bullseye Flake.

medaillionMedallion: See “Coin” and “Navy Cut”.

mixtureMixture: A term often seen on pipe tobacco packages. It simply is a mix of different tobacco types, cuts and flavours.

Plug: See “Cake”.

ready rubbedReady-rubbed: Flake tobacco that has been mechanically rubbed out so it can be readily smoked or combined with other cuts. Sometimes you see a regular ribbon cut with pieces of ready-rubbed Virginia flake. This way the Virginia can’t burn too fast and hot and the smoke is kept cool.

ribbon cutRibbon Cut: More narrow than a broad cut, this has a steady burn and it packs well. It is a good cut for tobaccos that don’t burn easily. Often you see latakia as a ribbon cut because of its poor burning qualities.

roll cakeRoll Cake: Similar to a Navy Plug, round in appearance.

roll cutRoll Cut: A sliced version of roll cake. See “Medallion” and “Coin”.

rope tobaccoRope: The tobacco is spun by machine into long ropes which can be as much as 60 feet long which are then cut in larger pieces for sale. There are a few of these ropes which are cut into coins before they are finally packed.

rough cutRough Cut: Tobaccos which are cut into larger flat pieces, a heavier version of the granulated cut. This cut burns slowly and can be used to keep hotter tobaccos from burning too fast.

shag cutShag Cut: Tobacco which is finely cut/shredded into long threads. It is thinner and longer than a ribbon cut. It may range from a 19th of an inch to a 16th in width and in length from a half inch to an inch.  Virginia tobaccos lend themselves to this cut because of their large leaf size. A shag cut can easily pack too tightly and burns very well. Just like a fine cut this cut is common for roll-your-own cigarette tobaccos as well.

slicesSlices: In essence the same as flakes. The only noticeable difference is the thickness; slices are thicker than flakes. One of the most well-knows tobaccos of this type is (of course) Troost Slices.

Spun Cut: See “Curly” “Coin” and “Medallion”.

square cutSquare Cut: Flakes which are cut in squares, the picture is not so good but the only one I could find. A good example of a square cut is Mick McQuaid Square Cut.

twistTwist: Similar to rope. Leaves are layered and then twisted tightly to mature the tobacco. That is why many ropes and twists tend to be rather strong in flavour and nicotine content. It can be sliced into coins for pipe smoking or cut in thicker chunks for chewing.

If I have forgotten any tobacco cuts or if you have any comments, please let me know!