Low quality tobacco?

Discussion in 'Pipe Tobacco' started by Skrymr, Nov 10, 2012.

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  1. Skrymr

    Skrymr Member

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    Ok, so I have a question for the group. I read a comment in another thread about "low quality" tobacco. This got me thinking about what constitutes a low quality pipe tobacco. I am not sure if my limited experience makes me any kind of a judge on the matter, but here are my thoughts.

    There is no really "low quality" pipe tobacco.At least none that have stood the test of time. Any pipe tobacco that has been around for more than five years has to be liked by enough people to justify still making it.

    Yup, that's it.

    Are there tobacco's out there I don't like? Yes, at least one.Is there tobacco out there labeled for pipes that really isn't pipe tobacco? Yes, but I'm not including them in my assessment.

    Does that make it low quality? Not to me. It just makes it one I don't like. If it was low quality, it wouldn't be around for long.

    Are OTC's low quality? Not to me. They are just more easily available for me. Just because it is hard to get doesn't make it a higher quality, does it?

    Please don't confuse "better" with "quality". Just because I like one tobacco more than another doesn't necessarily mean there is a quality difference, or does it?

    Or am I full of it? :laff:
     
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  2. LifeOfRiley

    LifeOfRiley Member

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    Well, yes and no. If you like something, you like it, end of story.

    But, like almost every other agricultural product, certain attributes in a product will attract a higher price. With tobacco, two leaves from the same plant can attract different prices based on where they grew on the stalk. This doesn't even get into leaf type, region, or growing conditions for the year.

    What makes it to market may not be "low quality" in some absolute sense, but the growers and wholesale buyers clearly differentiate between high and low quality all the time.

    The same can be found in almost any consumer good. The best isn't usually the biggest seller.
     
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  3. dmkerr

    dmkerr PG- free since '83! Moderator

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    Very astute analysis.

    I suppose we can all assume that boutique blends are mostly made up of high quality tobacco. Cheaper blends may be made up of lower quality, but I doubt that many of us can tell the difference with any objective certainty.

    It's an interesting point because I've used expressions like "this tobacco appears to be of high quality" as though I have a clue what that means. Usually that expression precedes a negative view of the taste of the blend, so it's used as a kind of "this is fine stuff but it sucks" comment.

    As for low quality pipe tobacco, I doubt there are many if any blends using low quality tobacco. I think they reserve that for cigarettes and some cheap chewing tobaccos.
     
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  4. LifeOfRiley

    LifeOfRiley Member

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    I've been guilty of the same thing. When I've said it, I guess what I was trying to get at was that the blend seemed to have a pleasant, natural complexity and agreeable smoking properties (stayed lit, didn't bite, etc.). But as far as being able to tell if, say, the tobacco was sufficiently irrigated or was harvested at the right time, that's waaay above my pay grade.

    But that's my limitation. I'd be very surprised if Dunhill pays the same per pound as the makers of the $15/lb plastic bag aromatics at Rite Aid. And if they don't, I'm sure they have a good reason.
     
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  5. Calam

    Calam Member

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    When we talk about quality, it really means two things: the quality of the leaves, and the quality of the manufacturing or blending.

    I think it's fair to say that some pipe tobaccos are of a lower quality than others, simply because the leaves are poor or they're saturated in syrup or blended out of proportion. That doesn't mean you won't like it or that it doesn't smoke alright or that it's not popular.

    People love McDonald's. That doesn't make it "quality" food.
     
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  6. OldSouled65

    OldSouled65 Member

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    Some people prefer lower quality stuff. I think high quality tobacco is tobacco that is taken care of well, grown well, blended well, etc.
     
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  7. Skrymr

    Skrymr Member

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    Wow, great points everyone. I appreciate the feedback. You've all given me new things to think about when I'm trying new blends. Thank you.
     
  8. OldSouled65

    OldSouled65 Member

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    What we've gathered in my eyes is...

    High and Low quality are in the eyes of the beholder.
     
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  9. IrishRover

    IrishRover Active Member

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    I can't decide if it's low quality or wrong type of tobacco sometimes. I know a guy that loves Red Cap, which to me is a low quality tobacco - however; that statement is incorrect. What I should say is a wrong type of tobacco for me, as I believe that Red Cap is a cigarette tobacco, not necessarily a pipe tobacco..
     
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  10. smokerpipe

    smokerpipe Member

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    Wrong type (I don't want to say - low quality) of tobacco for me is Stanislav Balkan Latakia. Tipical tobacco for bricklayers (no offense).
     
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  11. dmkerr

    dmkerr PG- free since '83! Moderator

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    Then again, the Rite Aid stuff may be made by a large company as a "Private label" branded tobacco. I once took a tour of the Kellogg's cereal factory and when they put Corn Flakes in boxes they used the same batch of cereal as went into the, say, Kroger brand Corn Flakes. They didn't use cheaper flakes or cheaper corn.

    I agree, though, it's probably not the Dunhill quality. But I couldn't say for sure, and certainly not by sight.
     
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  12. Felixworks

    Felixworks New Member

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    Consider what you or others would do if all tobaccos were priced the same per pound. I would think that (currently) higher-end tobaccos would be more popular in such a scenario. But would that be the result of a higher quality smoking experience or people's leftover impressions?
     
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  13. Russell Hartman

    Russell Hartman Stay Silver

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    I will say that I have looked at some of the OTC blends---tried most---and I have NOTHING against them. HOWEVER----there is one thing I would tell anyone-----look at labels on certain types of drug store cigars, and such---ANY---product that states on its label---"Predominately tobacco product", or has the word describing the tobacco as "Predominately tobacco"---then it will NEVER see my pipe. There are products used as fillers etc that in my mind---well---what is it??????? Is is tobacco, sawdust, paper based product, horse manure, or floor sweepings???? I won't smoke ANYTHING that has the words "Predominately tobacco product" on its label. That for me goes well below, and beyond cheap, crappy so called tobacco---cause it isn't all tobacco. As a matter of fact I will go as far to call it anything but tobacco. NOW------------for ANYONE who feels differently-----------THATS COOL. DO NOT take ANY offense to my post--especially the lovers of the OTC stuff. Its all about what EACH individual likes.
     
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  14. Arkie

    Arkie Well-Known Member

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  15. RTOdhner

    RTOdhner Well-Known Member

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    Tobacco "quality" is often a matter of geography and climate. Tobacco was originally unique to the Americas, and when grown in the United States (the original source of commercial tobacco) it has a certain character. It's also fairly common, although tobacco plantations from Connecticut to the Carolinas are on the wane. However, Burley and Virginia tobacco seeds have been exported to many regions outside the United States - originally to the Caribbean and Latin America, but later to Africa, the Orient, the Balkans, and the Middle East. These other areas have unique soils and climates, and often unique curing methods, which impart unique qualities to the tobaccos grown there. These tobaccos are less common, at least when compared to their American grown counterparts.

    The leaf grown in these areas is no better or worse, genetically, than leaf grown in the United States. However, these strains of tobacco have flavor profiles that are often much different than their American counterparts and it is these unique characteristics which often allow them to command a higher price than their counterparts in the United States. Thus, any pipe or cigar blends made from these strains are going to command a higher price.

    Classic American OTC blends typically use standard strains of tobacco grown on large plantations in the United States using traditional American curing techniques. American pipe smokers have traditionally preferred blends that were heavy in Burley with a little Virginia leaf used to sweeten the blend because both of these strains were readily available in the United States. This means a less expensive and less nuanced blend, but not a cheaper bend. I suspect that if an American pipe smoker from the 1850's could time travel to today, he would be able to easily relate to a pipe full of Carter Hall or Sir Walter Raleigh because they are blends similiar to what he would have smoked in 1850.
     
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