11 December 2018

Ckiф Mint (Extreme and Ultra Strong) - Review. 11 December 2018.

Today we're going to be talking about something completely different from what I usually review: Ckiф. Ckiф (from what I've heard this is pronounced "skif"), is a product sold in Russia. Sales of snus are illegal in Russia, but this product, from what I've been told, is legal. This is a smokeless product containing nicotine but it doesn't contain tobacco. From that definition, we could group it into the "nicotine pouches" category that I review from time to time.  A special thanks to my friend Snusfreak who hooked me up with a few cans of this to try.  I've had some requests for it but it's not something available to the US.  I see this stuff posted on Instagram all the time, so I'll be honest, I've been curious to try it myself!

Inside the Pouch:

Last night, I spoke with a distributor of Ckiф who sells this stuff to local shops in Russia. I was curious what went into this product, and he told me "inside [is] crushed peppermint, nicotine, and flavors". A lot of these nicotine pouch products these days use plant fibers inside, so I was interested to hear that this one used crushed peppermint instead.  I'm not sure how they make it, but I did open a pouch up to see what was inside.  The material itself looks similar to tobacco used in snus, so they must process that crushed peppermint in such a way that it looks like tobacco.  I'm not a chemist, so I can't analyze it myself, but that's what I was told goes into it.

Side of the Can:

I found the side of the can and the contents to be particularly interesting. One side has Russian (I think?) and one side has English. I absolutely loved the description of this product on the side of the can. "CKIF - Melting vegetable-based candies for control of smoking."  I just thought that wording was really neat.  The instructions also say to put it under your upper lip for 5-30 minutes, don't use more than 1 bag within 4 hours.

Ckiф Extreme Mint

The top of the cans look the same, so to see what product you have look at the side of the can.  It has the flavor and strength listed, as well as a different color.  I don't have a flavor description for this one.  The side of the can says it's a 16 gram can with 20 portions at 0.8 grams each.  I was told the nicotine strength of this one is 23mg/g (2.3%) which is 18.4mg/portion.

When you open the can, the aroma is a sharp, sweet smell of peppermint. The portions look like original portion snus, and are pretty soft to the touch. When you put a portion in the lip you’ll encounter a burn, which gives way to a cooling presence. The flavor is a lot like the aroma; this one has a fresh, sweet, sharp flavor of peppermint. I can’t keep these in too long because of how strong they are so I can’t speak to how long the flavor lasts. As far as the nicotine goes, it has a solid kick and feels firmly above the extra strong level.

Ckiф Ultra Strong Mint

The top of the cans look the same, so to see what product you have look at the side of the can.  It has the flavor and strength listed, as well as a different color.  I don't have a flavor description for this one.  The side of the can says it's a 16 gram can with 20 portions at 0.8 grams each.  I was told the nicotine strength of this one is 45mg/g (4.5%) which is 36mg/portion.

This one is basically the same as the other one except for a few small differences.  The portions look to be more moist, and the nicotine kick is much stronger.  I thought the red one was strong, but wow, this blue one packs a kick.  I felt the nicotine almost immediately and was only able to keep a portion in for about 5 minutes before taking it out.  I don't use a lot of strong stuff, so generally I can't keep high nicotine stuff like this in for long.  There is, however, a market for these high nicotine products, so I bet people with a craving for nicotine are going to like them.  But the aroma, feeling in the mouth, and taste - it's the same as the red one.

If you're in Russia and can't get snus, you could give these a try.  They have a decent flavor, look like snus, and have a really strong nicotine kick.  As far as where they're sold, I have no idea.  I've heard they're sold in local stores in Russia.  But I'm glad I got to try them after seeing them on Instagram so much!

10 December 2018

Small Batch No7: Apelsin & Choklad (White Portion) - Review.

Swedish Match has released another Small Batch product, this one with an orange/chocolate flavor!  First, a shout out to my friend Michael who grabbed this for me.  Swedish Match doesn't sell this series to the US sadly, so he's been helping me out with these.

In the Small Batch series, the previous 6 releases have been pretty interesting and unique so far.  Small Batch 1, released in January, had a taste of champagne.  Small Batch 2, released in February, had a taste of blood orange.  Small Batch 3, released in May, had a taste of apple and mint. Small Batch 4, released in July, had a taste of raspberry and licorice.  Small Batch 5, released in September, had a flavor of coffee! Small Batch 6 had an odd taste of mushroom.  Of the 6 so far, Small Batch 2 - Blood Orange was my favorite.  This one interested me because I really liked the Gotlandssnus Pasksnus, which had a similar flavor.  Swedish Match describes the small batch series by saying, "We at Swedish Match have produced thousands of products over the course of a few hundred years. Our experts are experts in the correct sense of the word. But they have not been tired of developing new ideas. In order for them to get that opportunity - and for Swedish snusers to be able to share it all - we now launch a new range of products called Small Batch, where the flavor is replaced several times a year. Each flavor is produced in a small edition."

Swedish Match describes this product by saying, "Small Batch No 7 has a fruity flavor of orange in combination with dark chocolate and a little sea salt. Also, it has a dark tobacco character with sweetness, acidity and saltiness."  This product comes in a 24 gram can with 24 portions for 1 gram portions. The nicotine strength is not listed.

When you open the can, the aroma that greets you is a present smell of chocolate with hints of orange. It is lightly sweet, but there's a tartness to the aroma as well. The portions are in the star formation format, so I suggest fluffing them before you put one in the lip to distribute that tobacco a little. The flavor is a lot like the aroma; it's super tasty. The chocolate flavor is dark, and rich. It is accompanied by an orange taste that is lightly sweet, but also a little tart. There's a nice saltiness to the snus that works well with the citrus and the chocolate. The longer you have it in, the more you'll notice a mild tobacco character in the background. I'm not sure what the nicotine level is, but it feels to be at the regular strength level. The flavor, on average, lasts about an hour.  I really dig the flavor of this one and would definitely order some more!

Now that I've had this one, I rank it at number 3 in the Small Batch series.  This is my updated ranking for the Small Batch line:

1.  SB#2 - Blood Orange
2.  SB#4 - Raspberry Licorice
3.  SB#7 - Orange Chocolate
4.  SB#5 - Coffee
5.  SB#1 - Champagne
6.  SB#3 - Apple Mint
7.  SB#6 - Svensk Skog

08 December 2018

Zyn Cool Mint (All White) Extra Strong - Review. 8 December 2018.

To preface this review, this product is not like the dry Zyn products I reviewed in the past; they are much different. Also, aren't available to the US.  But, after reviewing Zyn Citrus a few months back, I've had some requests to review the other Zyn products.  If you're new to Zyn, this is how Swedish Match describes this product: "NICOTINE WITHOUT TOBACCO: ZYN is for those who like to enjoy nicotine but dislike the experience of tobacco. You can use ZYN anytime and anywhere - just put the portion under your lip.”  As the nicotine pouch category is growing, we're seeing more different ways companies will release products that contain nicotine but don't actually contain tobacco.

The flavor description for this product says, "Zyn Cool Mint has an intense peppermint flavorwith a refreshing and chilling aftertaste."  This product comes in a 16.8 gram can with 0.8 gram portions. Doing some math, it looks like a can contains 21 portions. The nicotine content is 14mg/g (1.4%), which breaks down to 11.2mg/portion.

When is Zyn not Zyn? If you're used to the Zyn products sold in the US or those sold as "Zyn Mini Dry" in Sweden, these probably look quite different. They aren't as dry, and they look much like the other all white snus products sold on the market. These don't contain tobacco, however, so they're not going to be like an Epok or a G4. These are going to be closer to Skruf's new Skruf SuperWhite. This Zyn product is a moist product, still tobacco free, and containing nicotine, vegetable fiber and cellulose powder (E-460). While it may look like other white tobacco products, it doesn't actually contain tobacco.

This product, in terms of taste and aroma, reminds me a lot of the General G4 Blue Mint product. They're extremely close in the way it smells, the way it tastes, and the way it feels in the lip. Except this one contains tobacco and that one doesn't. That aroma is a gentle, mild, lightly sweet smell of peppermint. The portions are very soft to the touch and feel very comfortable in the lip! Being a mint product, I do get a nice cooling presence in the lip when I put a portion in. The peppermint flavor is mild, lightly sweet, and very refreshing; it almost reminds me of a mint chewing gum. It's a relatively gentle flavor, and isn't too sharp. The flavor, on average, lasts about an hour. The nicotine strength feels just above the strong level, but not too strong.

If you like mint flavored products and want to quit tobacco but still enjoy nicotine, this would be a good one to try out.  I actually enjoy the taste of this one more than other mint nicotine pouches!

03 December 2018

RITE Cool Mint Chew Bags - Review. 3 December 2018.

I recently did a preview article about Mac Baren getting into the snus and chew bag game, and today I'm going to be reviewing two of the six new products they launched under the new Ministry of Snus A/S company: Rite Original Chew Bags: Large White and Slim White! Do check out their MinistryOfSnus.com website, it's really well done. Of the new RITE line, this is what they had to say: “Having produced fine lifestyle products since 1826, makes us able to guarantee you the RITE quality. Expect a rock-solid experience that packs a real punch. Always and with no exception - Daringly strong. We strive to create simple, flavour packed experiences for you. Without excess and with design in mind."

RITE Cool Mint (Large)

The flavor description for RITE Cool Mint Large says, "Experience the COOL MINT explosion. The fresh feel of COOL MINT is based on the familiar MINT– with an extra burst of cool. Prepare for a kick-start, cool rush and maximum strength." This product comes with a 15g can with 20 portions for 0.75g portions. The nicotine content is 28mg/g (2.8%), or 21mg/portion.

When you open the can, the aroma that greets you is a sharp, biting, lightly sweet smell of peppermint. The portions themselves are soft to the touch, and feel rather comfortable in the lip. When you put a portion in the lip you'll encounter a mild burn, and then a fresh cooling presence, as well. The nicotine also comes on rather quickly. The flavor is a sharp, focused taste of peppermint with a light touch of sweetness. The nicotine kick is very strong. Though it is a white portion, the nicotine delivery is quick and it packs quite a punch. Comparing to other snus products or chew bag products, this feels right above the extra strong level. The flavor lasts a solid amount of time, as well; I find these last up to the hour mark!

RITE Cool Mint (Slim)

The flavor description for RITE Cool Mint Slim says, "Experience the COOL MINT explosion. The fresh feel of COOL MINT is based on the familiar MINT– with an extra burst of cool. Prepare for a kick-start, cool rush and maximum strength." This product comes with a 15g can with 20 portions for 0.75g portions. The nicotine content is 28mg/g (2.8%), or 21mg/portion.

This one is the same as the large version but with a few small differences. The aroma is sharp, mildly sweet smell of peppermint! The portions are slimmer, and have a great fit in the lip along with a soft portion material. There is also a mild burn when you put a portion in the lip, and a mild cooling presence as well! The flavor is very much the same; a sharp, focused, lightly sweet taste of peppermint. The nicotine is quite strong, but doesn't kick as hard as the large. Make no mistake, however, this stuff is strong, and it feels right above the extra strong level. The flavor also lasts a solid amount of time, on par with the one hour mark for the large version.

I was very impressed with these products. For first offerings from a brand new snus/chew company, these were of a very high quality and packed a great taste. If you want to try something new, check out their website and you can order some from there! If you are unable to buy these, don't fret! They plan to launch them as snus versions soon for the Sweden and Norway markets.

02 December 2018

Lyft Nicotine Pouches: Melon - Review. 2 December 2018.

The nicotine pouch category has been growing more and more for the past few years, and now it appears as though BAT/Winnington (makers of Epok) are getting into this category with their new Lyft product! Lyft is a nicotine pouch product that is made from eucalyptus and pine fiber. Lyft does not contain tobacco, but does contain nicotine. Lyft comes in all the same flavors as Epok, so if you're wanting to switch from Epok (which contains tobacco) to Lyft (which doesn't contain tobacco), you will be easily able to find your favorite flavor.

I'm kicking off these reviews with Lyft Melon, because Epok Melon is my favorite flavor in the Epok series.  The flavor description says, "LYFT Melon Slim All White Portion has a sweet and tropical taste of melon that is delivered in crisp white portions without tobacco."  This product comes in a 16.8 gram can with 24 portions for 0.7 gram portions. The nicotine content is 8.5mg/g (0.85%) for 5.95mg/portion.  Note, this is the same as Epok Melon in terms of contents and nicotine level.

I won't go too in depth on the differences between Epok and Lyft, but if you want to know more, I wrote an article about it, and I also did a video about it.  But here's a photo just so you can see it real quick.  You'll notice the cans look similar except the name, the portions look similar, and even the material inside the pouch looks similar.  The way the pouches feel in the lip, the way the nicotine releases, and even the flavors are all very similar as well.  So if you like Epok, you'll probably also really like Lyft.

As a big fan of Epok Melon, I will say this - this product seems almost identical to Epok Melon, even though Lyft Melon doesn't contain tobacco. I was really impressed with that. The aroma is a mild, fresh, lightly sweet melon smell that reminds me of cantaloupe. The portions are slim, soft, and feel very comfortable in the lip. The flavor is very much like the aroma; there is a natural, fresh taste of cantaloupe. It's not overly sweet, but does have a little touch of sweetness to it. The nicotine strength feels to be about the regular level. The flavor, on average, lasts about 45 to 55 minutes.

I enjoy tobacco and don't plan on ever switching to nicotine pouches, but I will say this - these are some of the best nicotine pouches I've tried yet.  I think BAT/Winnington did a great job with these!

Paz Snus & Nicopods By Dholakia - Preview. 2 December 2018.

Dholakia Tobacco, a snuff-making company in India, is branching out and will now be producing in two new categories: nicotine pouches (or "nicopods") and snus! I've enjoyed their snuff products for many years now, particularly their Swiss Chocolate snuff. So far, I know of 5 new nicopod products they will be launching as well as two new snus products. Years ago, there were a few Indian snus products that I tried and enjoyed: Haini Khaini Saffran in 2011, Chaini Khaini Spice in 2010, and Chaini Khaini Mango in 2010. These products were from Harsh International, a company under MAHAK Group. I enjoyed the mango most of all.

I'm not sure who will sell these products, where they'll be available to, or when they will be on sale - but I do look forward to trying them.  With that being said, let's meet their new products!

PAZ Nicopods

Dholakia describes PAZ Nicopods as having a smooth nicotine delivery with a good taste. They also mention that these are the first all white products to ever come from India. These come in 5 flavors: Melon, Lime, Mint, Ice Cool, and Aniseed.

PAZ Snus: Original Portion

They describe their original portion snus as "lip smacking", and being blended with the finest quality tobacco grown in India.  They say it is a strong snus, and has the finest quality bergamot with hints of herbs, smoke, and (of course) delicious tasting tobacco.  They say it is smooth under the lip with a long lasting taste.

PAZ Snus: White Portion

They describe their white portion snus as "lip smacking", and being blended with the finest quality tobacco grown in India.  They say it is a strong snus, and has the finest quality bergamot with hints of herbs, smoke, and (of course) delicious tasting tobacco.  They say it is smooth under the lip with a long lasting taste.

29 November 2018

General Kardus (Winter 2018) - Preview. 29 November 2018.

Swedish Match has released General Kardus Winter 2018, another release in the Gastronomy Series and partnership with Karl Ljung and glass manufacturer Orrefors. And, just in time for the holidays! General Kardus Winter 2018 weighs in at 999 SEK or $110 USD, so I just consider this an early Christmas present to myself. This year, only 800 of these have been made, so it is a very, very limited edition. While the Kardus series is nothing new, the General Kardus series has been around since 2015. First came General Kardus Selection 2015, which was a tobacco centric snus with dried fruit/citrus hints. Next came General Kardus Fäviken 2016, which was a collaboration with Swedish chef Magnus Nilsson from the Fäviken Magasinet Restaurant and Hotel located which is located in Northern Sweden. This one had a tobacco centric flavor with hints of lingonberry. Next came General Kardus 2017 (Hernö Gin) which was, of course, gin flavored. Next, we saw the creation of the Gastronomy Series with the release of General Kardus Spring 2018 (Gastronomy Series). This was a collaboration with restauranteur Karl Ljung, and it had a tobacco centric but herb-heavy flavor profile.

Now enters General Kardus (Winter 2018). This product, once again, comes with 150 grams of snus and a nicotine content of 1.2%. The flavor description of this year's release says, "This snus is inspired by General's characteristic flavors with clear elements of bergamot and herbaceous tones. General Kardus Winter 2018 has a dark tobacco character that is recognized by General's main flavor bergamot, but also has shades of rosemary, conifers and flowers."

This year's release is also 100% lamina, meaning only the finest parts of the tobacco are used. The tobacco is single cut, and is cut into strips of 0.72mm which gives a completely different experience and feeling under the lip compared to regular los snus. The tobaccos this year have a more nuanced and wider flavor spectrum compared to last year. This year, tobaccos from Argentina, South Africa, and India were used. From Argentina, a sun dried tobacco with spicy and fruity aromas was used, which is grown at high altitudes in Los Altos de la Cocha Valle in the northern part of the country. From South Africa, air dried tobacco from Cape Province was used which has a dried fruit quality. From India, the sun dried Kurnool Natu from Andhra Pradhes was used. It comes from the southern part of the country and has shared of sweet, dried fruit.

General Kardus Winter 2018 was produced in partnership with Swedish Match Master Blender Lars Öberg and Karl Ljung.  This was the team that also created the previous General Kardus release.  Karl Ljung said "I always strive to create the best taste experience. To achieve this, skillful crafts and qualitative raw materials are required. For this endeavor, Master Blender Lars Öberg and I worked together to create General Kardus Winter 2018."  Skilled crafts and quality raw materials was the motto for this year's release.  This Kardus was the most costly and well crafted snus that Swedish Match has produced.  The greatest care and attention was paid to tobacco quality, flavoring, and manufacturing process.

For this year's release, Swedish Match has worked with a manufacturer that truly symbolizes the Swedish glass industry, Orrefors. Orrefors is the largest glass manufacturer in the entire Nordic region and is the creator of the glass vessel in which General Kardus Winter 2018 will be housed in. The glass vessel is blown by skilled craftsmen at the glass mill in Kosta. Each glass is hand signed. Since the glasses are hand made, each vessel is truly unique and one of a kind!

This release is on sale now at the Swedish Match webstore.  Only 800 of these were made, so I'm not sure if US consumers will be able to buy this or not.  If you want it, make sure and purchase soon before it is sold out!