In Search of Luxury Cigarettes
My favoured cigarette over the last 40 years has been the Sobranie Black Russian, and I had grown to love its strong, rich, yet smooth flavour. Unfortunately, it doesn't today have the same flavour as I remember in my youth - and anecdotal evidence from my tobacconist indicates that others have commented likewise....... It seems this could be down to current restrictive cigarette legislation (tar limits - see below) rather than problems with tobacco supply or jaded palate! Perhaps someone from Gallaher (of old) would be prepared to comment on this? (Gallaher was acquired by Japan Tobacco in 2007 and is now part of JTI (Japan Tobacco Industries).|
It seems that this lack of full flavour can all be put down to a legislative requirement brought in during the early 1970s - to reduce tar and nicotine content. Doubly unfortunate for those who appreciate the flavour of specific cigarettes, since in order to compensate for the associated reduction in flavour, additives were introduced into some cigarettes with the agreement of the government. It appears that, from my recollection of the flavour in the 60's, the tar content now could well be down by over a half or even by a factor of three. You can see it all unfold in sordid detail in the British Government's Select Committee on Health - Second Report, where it now appears that there are two opposing views on whether reducing the tar content of cigarettes actually benefits smokers. Personally, I would prefer to smoke fewer high tar cigarettes and get my full enjoyment rather than be forced to take in a range of additives in less flavoursome cigarettes. Also, as far as I can understand, the toxicity of the additives in the burnt fraction has never been definitively researched. I find this astonishing.
Why does the Government have to interfere in such a prescriptive manner? I'm happy to be educated as to the risks, but surely it should be my informed choice? What about alcohol? Using the same logic it should have been an even greater imperative for the Government to ban spirits with the high alcohol content - since I can kill myself in one night if I drink spirits to excess whereas I could probably smoke myself sick day in and day out for 30 years and still not die! Somebody with some scientific integrity and even vague appreciation of civil liberties really needs to take on this increasingly prescriptive government interference in our daily lives. (Just going off to have a quiet cigarette to calm me down!)
Anyway, back to luxury cigarettes. For those interested in a review of different flavour cigarettes, see Laslo's Lengthy List of Luxury Smokes, although it is somewhat out of date now and needs revising. E.g. the Charles Fairmorn Black and Gold have been discontinued for about 10 years (?), as have many others - shame, they sound good! no doubt victims of the increasingly prescriptive government regulations..... The list provides a nostalgic look at the cigarettes available from yesteryear..... time to reflect...
Here's another luxury cigarette I tried some time ago now - "Treasurer". They've been on sale in the British market since February 2000 and are billed as the world's most expensive cigarette. They are "manufactured from a specially selected blend of additive free pure Virginia Tobaccos wrapped in watermarked paper with an elegant silver tip". They come in a brushed soft-metal packet and the price of ~£18 per packet of 20 cigarettes is a little sobering. However, although the Virginian tobacco is undoubtedly good, they are not heavy enough for my taste - although it's probably that my palate is not refined enough to fully appreciate the subtleties of flavour. For this I would need to smoke them for some extended time - much like a fine Medoc wine is only really appreciated by a well-educated palate! However, I fear that this would require some considerable financial investment which I would find hard to justify! They also now come in black and gold versions with similar aluminium casing.
Nevertheless, full marks to Chancellor Tobacco for producing a luxury cigarette which will no doubt suit some smokers (it is a pity more manufacturers don't develop this side of their business). It would be exciting if they could produce a luxury Balkan style cigarette at half the price, say £8-£9? Now that would be really interesting!
Also recently on the market are a "Treasurer Slims" version in four different varieties (non-metal packs) - black paper with gold tip, white paper with gold tip, white paper with silver tip and white paper with white tip. These can be bought online in UK here. The black/gold are specified as "Superb slim cigarettes 6mm diameter and 97mm long made from the world's most expensive, unique and superior Virginia tobaccos. Chemical (additive) free and futuristically designed. Tar 10mg, Nicotine 0.9mg, Carbon Monoxide 10mg." Priced at around £7.50 per pack of 20. They are not strong but do taste/smell good, and the lack of additive chemicals is noticeable in the flavour. However, they don't last long!! The white paper varieties all have Tar 7mg, Nicotine 0.7mg, Carbon Monoxide 7mg and are correspondingly milder - but very pleasant.
TOR cigarettes, made in Belgium, produce three very interesting cigarettes - ToR Oriental (see alongside), ToR Turkish, and ToR Virginian. (I have blurred out the (misleading) government health warning for the more squeamish amongst you!) - "TOR Turkish are made from a fine blend of choice selected Ismir and Samsun tobaccos to create a taste from the past". They are not strong, but have a fairly full flavour with that background of Turkish. They also come in an "Oriental Blend", which has a more distinctive (with mild vanilla?) flavour with subtle tones of a mild pipe tobacco. These are very pleasant and alternate well with the heavier Black Russian. The straightforward Virginian have a well balanced and quality flavour.
The George Karelias "Excellence" alongside is a new quality cigarette I have recently come across in England. It is a pure Virginia tobacco blend and has a smooth and very pleasant flavour.
An embossed leaflet within the lavish and luxurious packet states :"We guarantee these fine cigarettes to be of the highest standard. The specially selected premium tobaccos are carefully blended to provide the well balanced and satisfying smoking characteristics demanded by discerning smokers and so rarely found in modern cigarettes".
It is a fine looking cigarette as well, having a white tip with the gold "Excellence" name stamped around the cigarette above a central gold ring and two adjacent blue rings - as shown alongside.
Printed on the inside of the lid of the pack is a quotation from Aristotle: " If happiness is activity in accordance with excellence, it is reasonable that it should be in accordance with the highest excellence".
This is an excellent cigarette, one to have with that mid-morning coffee and set your sights towards excellence for the rest of the day! They currently retail in UK at around £7 for a pack of 20.
Why is it that more cigarette manufacturers don't appear to be interested in producing high quality cigarettes?
Perhaps we ought to start a campaign to lobby cigarette manufacturers to produce high quality cigarettes for discerning smokers - the "Social Smoking" philosophy.
Please let me know of your favourite quality, luxury cigarette - and where they can be purchased - and I'll compile a list on this page for everyone's information. Or, if such a site already exists - please e-mail its address and I'll provide a link through to it.
Readers Recent Comments
* Nat Sherman "Ovals" seem to be well worth aquiring - however, they only seem to be available in America, and recent mail restrictions on posting cigarettes mean one would have to go to USA to get them - anyone any other sources?.
The reader says : "The firm manufactures an extensive range of additive free cigarettes. The Havana Oval replicates the first cigarettes to become available (filterless, brown paper, spiced tobacco); the Classic line of more standard king-size, 20-to-a-box cigarettes comes in red, blue, and green (menthol) versions. There are a few other lines of cigarette produced by Nat Sherman, generally in the more unusual queen-size format, but I've found them all to be quite agreeable. They generally run $10-12 per box of twenty, as compared to $6 or so for a pack of Marlboros."
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