At the back of the hill

Warning: May contain traces of soy, wheat, lecithin and tree nuts. That you are here
strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton.
And that you might like cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


It isn’t what you think, you pervert!

Let me begin by first pointing you to the comments underneath a post on Dovbear’s blog (see here:, and then pointing you towards a lovely photo on e-kvetcher's blog (see here:

Now breathe deeply. What do you smell?


All of the above serves as preamble - this post is actually about tobacco.

I have a tin of Rattray's Jocks Mixture on my desk. I am airing it out - I had forgotten that I had added some extra moisture to it a while back, and the tobacco has since then turned a tarry speckled brown-black and smells marvelously figgy. I keep reaching over and sticking my nose into the tin - it's like smelling a spice-cake cooling on the rack. Perhaps after drizzling some whiskey down the center. Autumnal and toasty-rich. Pomegranatish.

Like an old-fashioned drogistery with a row of odd herbals. Like a countryside bar-billard in late autumn. Like a grossier's warehouse with crates of tea and boxes of spice.

I am sheerly intoxicated by the aroma.

Jocks Mixture used to be a blend of Latakia and Black Cavendish, full-bodied and spicy, with a wine-like fermented tang. Zesty.

In the day when the mixtures were still made in Charles Rattray's shop in Perth (at 15B High Street), the blends were truly magnificent. Then in the mid-eighties the blending was farmed out to the Danes, who made a complete pigs breakfast of it, followed by the Germans, who are actually fairly decent. Unfortunately by the time the Germans got a hold of the blends, it had become almost impossible to purchase varietal Turkish tobacco, and Syrian Latakia was nearly unavailable (and most blenders had substituted Cyprian Latakia).

So it has not been the same for years.

The Germans do make a good product. But there is something distinctly missing.....

The smell of Jock.



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  • At 7:40 AM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    January 2, 2014:

    In actual fact, by the fifties Rattrays was being manufactured by McConnels, per longstanding relationship with the Rattrays firm, whose logistics and where-whith-all did not extend to large-scale production.

    And Kohlhase & Kopp in Germany have continued the services of Orlik. So the tin I smelled back in 2007 was certainly from that manufacture. Both K&K and Orlik have fine-tuned their quality standards, and having smoked several of their offerings in the yeas since, I have no complaints.

    Without Orlik in Denmark and Kohlhase & Kopp in Germany, there would be far less excellent pipe tobacco.


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