Tuesday, July 12, 2022

SHAKESPEARE AND GAGABOUL THE CAJUN

A few years ago British American Tobacco decided that as the association with tobacco was bad public relations for luxury goods -- imagine all the screaming vegetarians and Christian mothers if they found out -- they would stop production of Dunhill cigars and pipe tobacco. Henceforth the line would be exclusively nice leather wallets and belts, sundry expensive doodads, and designer upscale snooty clothing. The cigarettes remained in production because of various contracts that they couldn't weasel out of, and being immensely profitable, they felt that it was okay.

Since then, the pipe tobacco reappeared under the Scandinavian Tobacco impremature, relabelled Peterson. Because that brand name for tobacco had been bought when Laudisi purchased the pipe factory and name. So, Peterson pipes (Laudisi) and Peterson Tobacco (STG) continued as seperate lines, with Orlik manufacturing the tobacco under the well-known blend names. As they had since the late nineties when the Dunhill portfolio had ended up in the hands of British American, and since the early teens when BAT farmed it out to Kohlhase & Kopp who used Orlik as their jobber for such things, having had splendid results doing so for many years with the entire McConnell portfolio (that being McConnell, Astleys, Fribourg & Treyer, Rattrays, and a few other brands).

Naturally the same crusty old farts who decades ago screamed "it's not the same, it's not the same, they fornicated with the recipe" when the Dunhill factories in England were shut down and everything moved to Northern Ireland, and then again when everything moved to Orlik, and once more when Kohlhase & Kopp became involved, are now doing it again.


"It's not the same, they fornicated with the recipe!"


Sorry, boys, it is the same. Blubber into your stale beer all you want. Silly buggers.

Scandinavian, for some reason, did not pick up one or two blends. Just the core of the old brand: My Mixture 965, Standard Mixture, Nightcap, EMP, and the classic flake. Kohlhase & Kopp, who also produce copies under the Robert McConnell Heritage blends subline, have for a few years now shipped a clone of 'Ye Olde Signe', named 'Shakespeare'.
Ye Olde Signe and Shakespeare are the same product. Yes, there has been slight blend shift over the years, as is inevitable. Some blending components will change slightly over time, because tobacco leaf is a natural product, growers and processors change their production processes, sources wax and wane. Wise blending houses make allowances for that, and over time the crusty old farts who smoke it should not really notice.

At least, in theory. The fact is that what you bought a year ago might have been sitting on the shelf for ages, and what your shop has now is an entirely new supply made two years later. The bright flue-cured leaf might be a little more tangy, the red Virginias not as sweet and slightly darker in taste and hue, etcetera, etcetera.

Plus your nose and taste memories are more selective and narrower than you think.


SHAKESPEARE
McConnell Heritage blends.


Medium and dark Virginias, thin ribbon cut. Very slightly topped (which is tempting to do with Virginias). Smells grassy, fruity (plums!), dense. On the edge of floral. Less topped than Pipe Stud's favourite (Royal Yacht), and less overt weirdness than some iterations of Three Year Matured (raspberry?! Good grief). A straightforward middle of the road Virginia, which can be very satisfying, especially on slow afternoons, but unfortunately the nicotine content is enough to turn me into a right bastard the rest of the day after only two bowls.
Products like this darken with age and develop far greater character.
This is worth setting aside to be opened when you are an adult.

Earthiness, breads, fruit.


AFTER WORD

Blending tobaccos are very much standardized products, albeit with variations within each type. A tobacco mixture that depended on unique leaf made magical by a secret fermenting process developed by Gagaboul The Syphilitic Mad Cajun deep in the hills of Tennessee for its mysterious flavour would survive maybe five or six years maximum before he and his inbred mutant sons were locked up for poisoning the local water supply, and will never reach mass distribution in any case. The spiritual dancing natives who grew the shaman leaf for another legendary product are now working for a lumber company, earning far more, and snarfing junkfood; they've forgotton the sacred chants that changed the leaf.

These things are standardized to a fare-thee-well.
Can't have consistent products without that.

Change is rare, and brings risks.

Crusty old farts complain.
It's their nature.



TOBACCO INDEX


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