The Decline and Fall of Certain Tobaccos

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I do not believe it has anything to do with the fact that they have been relegated to common pouches rather than in the good old tins (or the taller style cans which have by now become all but extinct); but I would like to point out the increasing homogenization of the available products. No more "Made in England". Taking a good look at (and trying) mixtures such as Dunhill and Balkan Sobranie's, it is painful to have to accept the vertical drop in quality of these once prized English tobacco blends. The shuffling of ownerships of many of the famous brands, generalized mass production of the products, the decreasing number of pipe smokers, and a string of other elements related to habits, conditioning and knowledge have led to a qualitative collapse, even of the most famous tobaccos. Who produces them? How are they prepared? What types of tobacco are used? What is added to them? ...and so on.
photo 2 These questions are inevitable, but they have no clear answers. The real producers and their unofficial customers have absolutely no intention of letting the truth out. We can, however, use our intuition: let's take a look at which countries produce the greatest amounts of raw tobaccos. Which are the low-cost (and therefore, more easily available) qualities? Which manufacturing companies have merged? The truth is that there are very few companies left, and they produce all sorts of blends. Every now and then chance incidents occur, which are even more indicative of the change that many pipe aficionados have dejectedly noticed in some classic mixtures. Not too long ago, a pipe smoker bought a few pouches of Balkan Sobranie in a shop near Rome. When he opened them, and smoked their contents, he was dumbfounded: it seemed to be Clan! I assure you that it is true: the name, place and date of this misadventure are all available to those who are interested. How can this be explained? It is simple: a major Dutch producer that prepares a vast selection of well-known pipe tobaccos (the only things that change are the names, and obviously the additives that are used) may have made a mistake: a pouch with a prestigious, and more expensive, name may have been packed with low quality tobacco. Some might say that it is only our impression, but we are regularly informed of similar incidents by our readers (and they are not naive pipe smokers...). As a matter of fact, if any of our readers have witnessed anything analogous please write to us, we'll be happy to publish it. We are talking, to be precise, not only of the Balkan Sobranie blends, which reveal a suspicious mixture of "breeds" (nowadays all problems have to be dealt with- sooner or later), but also all the other mixtures which have held on to their name, but not to their quality. The price, of course, remains high. This being the case, as the blends are made in a uniform manner, and as our legs are being pulled, we are faced
with two possibilities: either we are lucky enough to go abroad and buy those few remaining products that are produced as they should be, or, as the less fortunate have to do, we accept the present production. It might not be aristocratic, but at least it costs half as much.