Whole Leaf Tobacco

Share your blends?

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smokesec

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Hello all! New to the forum.

I own a retail tobacco store that I am expanding to carry leaf tobacco in preparation for the coming TTB reclassifications. That being said, leaf tobacco is relatively new to me and my knowledge is limited.

I've just started doing business with Don and received my first order of tobacco leaves today. I've been experimenting with different mixes of leaves since this morning and my lungs need a break!

I'm wondering if you all would be so kind as to share what leaves you blend for your typical daily smoke, and what commercial cigarette you might compare it to.

Your responses are very much appreciated.
 

Jitterbugdude

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If I told you, I'd have to kill you..... :)

Actually, I'm one of the minority here that likes to smoke my tobacco straight, no blending.
Be prepared though... you're probably going to get inundated with everyone's best blend.
 

LeftyRighty

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There is no way that anyone can match a commercial brand cigarette, not by blending cured leaf alone, maybe with the exception of the American Spirit brands. Most common commercial cigarettes contain up to 200 additives, and overly processed tobacco.

Most of us on this site just blend what we grow, and enjoy it for what it is - quality home grown tobacco.
 

Whalen

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And as I understand, as soon as you bust that leaf up in any meaningful way, you are a processor. This means that the customer will have to either acquire the skills to shred, or god forbid, you provide the shredder, then you are a processor again. I do not quite get it, all I see is that by working around this law change, with another loophole, that it will put whole leaf squarely in the lime light. I feel your pain, I do, but we are already ahead of the curve here. My favorite blend is a classic blend, it tastes better than any crap commercial brand name.

LeftyRighty is correct, you cannot replicate anything but American Spirit.

I just visited several stores in South Carolina that were suddenly shuttered by adverse tobacco rulings. High speed rolling shops, they were asking for trouble, they got it.
 

Chicken

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if your selling whole leaf, then your fine, just being the middle-man,

and making a small profit, is legal.

i myself, like a light burley ---> yellow twist bud,tn90.virginia bright leaf,

a turkish in the mix--> shariza,bursa,ottoman

and a mild filler, [ sort of like a light tobacco ] big-gem,bright leaf, a maryland baccy,


and as stated, my blended cigg's really cant be compared, to a store bought cigg,[ it has no additives ]

but i can custom blend the strenght of it, to my liking....

not to mention the taste,

and both can be customized, GOOD TASTE, RIGHT STRENGHT,

i'd leave it up to the customer to figure out how they are going to '' process it'' cut it up<----

be it scisirror's... or toasting it in the oven, and crumbling it with thier hands,

or direct them to you-tube, '' thiers lot's of ideas. there on how to cut it up ''

and if you get a steady customer,

you can order them a shredder off this site, and make a 20 buck overhead comission,
 

smokesec

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There is no way that anyone can match a commercial brand cigarette, not by blending cured leaf alone, maybe with the exception of the American Spirit brands. Most common commercial cigarettes contain up to 200 additives, and overly processed tobacco.

I'm well aware of this. I already suggest different "pipe" tobaccos that are similar to commercial brands... ie OHM Bold is very similar to a Marb Red... etc.

I should have been more a little more broad in my request... such as heavy, medium, light smoke.
 

smokesec

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And as I understand, as soon as you bust that leaf up in any meaningful way, you are a processor. This means that the customer will have to either acquire the skills to shred, or god forbid, you provide the shredder, then you are a processor again. I do not quite get it, all I see is that by working around this law change, with another loophole, that it will put whole leaf squarely in the lime light. I feel your pain, I do, but we are already ahead of the curve here. My favorite blend is a classic blend, it tastes better than any crap commercial brand name.

I'm quite versed in the laws pertaining to my business, and what I can and cannot do. I'm simply planning ahead and getting my customers prepared. One way or another, RYOers are going to switch to leaf.


I just visited several stores in South Carolina that were suddenly shuttered by adverse tobacco rulings. High speed rolling shops, they were asking for trouble, they got it.

All of us in the tobacco field knew this was just a matter of time. A side note - there were rumors of "shredders" being installed into those machines, most likely in preparation for the TTB re-classification of pipe tobacco. That would have brought leaf into the limelight in short order. With them shut down I don't think you'll catch the feds eye for at least a few years.
 

smokesec

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Thanks everyone for your input thus far, please keep it coming!
 

Whalen

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@smokesec, sorry if I came off a little on the wrong side, I hate to see whole leaf get slammed next. You will have your hands full getting people up to snuff on blending, but many will get it and persevere. You will just have to get to know your bulk leaf and work out your blends. I always start with a good amount of golden Virginia bright leaf, chicken has given you a good blend. As the character of the leaf changes, so does the blending. Going to demand a very good knowledge of the leaf you have on hand. You will be forced to become a "tobacconist", an honerable trade.

Do you have any timeline on the reclassification efforts? I have been putting away a great amount of a certain brand of "pipe" tobacco that I like to include as the topping tobacco in my wife's blends. I prefer whole leaf tobacco after about 4 years of RYO, but i do not really care to have to case it myself, better to blend a cased tobacco in.

This unrelenting tobacco taxation has just been a non stop slap in the face, I hate to see it march on to whole leaf, but I would not put anything past them now. I think that is why so many of us grow here, that is the only self sufficient way to cope sometimes.
 

FmGrowit

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Here are a few links to some of the answers you're looking for. Blending tobaccos is only one part of recreating a cigarette comparable to the commercial types you're customers have become accustom to.

Finishing Tobacco


Casing

Toasting

The actual blending of the tobaccos for cigarettes starts with roughly 70% Flue Cured, 20% Burley and 10% Oriental. I've been a commercial cigarette smoker all of my adult life. The only whole leaf cigarettes that come close to commercial cigarettes are the one that are made with "Finished" tobacco.

What tastes good can only be defined by the one doing the tasting.
 

smokesec

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@smokesec, sorry if I came off a little on the wrong side,

No worries friend, all of us smokers are in this boat together!

Do you have any timeline on the reclassification efforts?

The best I can say is: sooner than later. Most of us retailers are surprised it hasn't happened already... probably because the TTB had a bigger fish to fry with the automated RYO shops. Nevertheless they have been making motions towards this for the past 2 years. I would not at all be surprised to see it reclassified by the end of the year.

This unrelenting tobacco taxation has just been a non stop slap in the face, I hate to see it march on to whole leaf, but I would not put anything past them now.

Agreed. They of course claim to want us all to quit, but we all know it's about the tax $$. However I think it will be much more difficult for them to lay a tax upon leaf tobacco. Certainly NOT impossible, but to do so would put a huge amount of strain on tobacco farmers and their clients - namely the big boys like Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds, etc. As demonstrated in the latest amendment to the IRC, they have some major pushing power. However, that is not to say they couldn't craft a law where leaf was not taxable ONLY to manufacturers, and the rest of us have to fork it over.

The moves I'm making now are to protect the solvency of my business for the next few years. The margins on tobacco are very thin. If and when they tax leaf tobacco that will be the final nail in the coffin to small tobacco stores such as myself. There is almost no money to be made on branded cigarettes, especially when you are in competition with major retailers and gas station chains, and other products such as premium cigars and traditional pipe tobacco are a very select market - in my area I simply could not survive.

My business will have to substitute income from something else (of which I have a plan in motion), otherwise it will inevitably fail. But, such is business, and that's why I always plan 3-5 years down the road.
 

smokesec

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Here are a few links to some of the answers you're looking for. Blending tobaccos is only one part of recreating a cigarette comparable to the commercial types you're customers have become accustom to.

Finishing Tobacco


Casing

Toasting

The actual blending of the tobaccos for cigarettes starts with roughly 70% Flue Cured, 20% Burley and 10% Oriental. I've been a commercial cigarette smoker all of my adult life. The only whole leaf cigarettes that come close to commercial cigarettes are the one that are made with "Finished" tobacco.

What tastes good can only be defined by the one doing the tasting.


Well the nice thing is that the vast majority of my customers have weened themselves from commercial cigarettes, and are open to new things. When I referred to commercial cigarettes I basically use it to, from my current selection, gauge what my customer will like.

Essentially: "You are/were a marb red smoker - use this tobacco and these tubes" or "You like Newports? Here try this 'mint' blend" - that sort of thing. I've become very adept with the tobaccos I carry and can usually get someone something they like on the very first sample. Leaf tobacco is new to me, so it's going to be trial and error for a while... but I thought I'd ask some folks who are more knowledgeable than myself.

Thank you for the links, I will certainly read them.

Again, much appreciated folks.
 

FmGrowit

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You might be better off going with a higher blend of Bright Leaf and maybe some of the Dark Air 2nd, 5% Oriental and a touch of Burley for flavor.
 

leverhead

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I've pretty much settled in at about 75% Flue Cured, 7% Oriental, the balance has been a varying mix of Burley, Dark air Cured and Maryland. It seems to go well with the "full flavor" smokers. For my wife, 93% Flue Cured and 7% Oriental. It seems to go well with the "Gold Box" smokers. For now there's still something missing with my full flavor, I just don't feel like messing with casings right now. Some of the 30 somethings want a smoke in between "Full Flavor" and "Gold Box".
 

FmGrowit

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I just don't feel like messing with casings

Think of casing as a counter weight in balancing a tire. You don't know the weight is there and the ride is smoother.

Casing doesn't have to be cooked or toasted into the leaf to work. Try some Hershey's and licorice (either extract or ground powder) on some shredded dry Burley. You will notice a difference and you can make adjustment or experiment with your recipe..
 

Chicken

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you could also , look into selling some seeds,

and small plants to your customers,

and i'd suggest,

getting a 150 watt grow-light,

and grow 3 tobacco plants at your shop.

you'd be amazed at the ammount of attention that will grab,

[ i once visited a fertilizer store that had 5 huge sunflowers growing like that ,, VERY IMPRESSIVE TO LOOK AT, IN A STORE, WINDOW<}
 

leverhead

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Try some Hershey's and licorice (either extract or ground powder) on some shredded dry Burley.

I played around with both last winter, if you can call it winter. When the cold fronts come through we get some nice drying weather. I had a little bit of success, but when I got some of your really nice Burley and Dark air Cured, it made a huge difference. That's where I left it, about when I got seeds. First year growing, well I think everybody here knows where the spare time goes then. I'm shure I'll get back to it again in a few months.
 

Whalen

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@smokesec - Your reasoning on whole leaf bringing a larger farmer/ commercial base into the picture is somewhat of a comfort, since they have at least some clout and may cause the TTB to reconsider taking on an organized/connected group.

Blending for brand matches - I found that using small amounts of heavily cased tobacco can go a long way with helping match flavor profiles of leading smokes. You may find that selling some heavily cased "flavor" tobacco, as a small amount, fully taxed, may help with this. I use a commercial pipe tobacco, cased with chocolate and cherries, to sweeten the flavor profile for my wife, I only use it on a 10% basis, so even at the taxed rate it may help some to enjoy a whole leaf based blend. You might give some thought and do some research on selling a spray casing too. Makes a huge flavor difference! Other wise all of the blend ratios I have seen presented in this thread are good to start with.

You will need to establish a supply of quality tobaccos, no easy task, since whole leaf can easily be too strong a smoke. I suggest getting to know the growers on a real close level, and working with them to help you with selection.

I feel your pain from the business side, I lost my 12 year old company during the 2008 fiasco and have never recovered.
 

BarG

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Iv'e decided I definitely like the lower burly leaves with most any mix I try, along with some flue cured and oriental in the mix. I have been mixing the lower leaves of many cigar varietys also with the flue cured and oriental.

Aside from ones own personal taste or lack therof in my case You may try setting up a multi pack sampler for the consumer to try and experiment with with small quantitys of several types.

My blend never stays the same.
 

olivercramden

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Agreed. They of course claim to want us all to quit, but we all know it's about the tax $$. However I think it will be much more difficult for them to lay a tax upon leaf tobacco. Certainly NOT impossible, but to do so would put a huge amount of strain on tobacco farmers and their clients - namely the big boys like Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds, etc. As demonstrated in the latest amendment to the IRC, they have some major pushing power. However, that is not to say they couldn't craft a law where leaf was not taxable ONLY to manufacturers, and the rest of us have to fork it over.

Prohibitive taxation, or the outright outlawing of gyo tobacco is something the "Big Boys" are all for. (I'd be shocked if they weren't actively lobbying for this, at this very moment.)
What we do is direct competition. "It's just business. No hard feelin's, bro."
With the quantity and quality of tobaccos currently coming out of Africa and S. America, Big Tobacco could adapt to a total ban on ALL tobacco growing, in the USA.
(It would likely lower their current expenditures on raw leaf, for that matter.)
Sorry to be Buzz Killington; I just don't think you can count on Big T to 'have you're back' on this, or anything, outside of selling their products.
 
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