Disclaimer: Granted, I do write about American "SNUS" and "snus" from time to time, but the focus of my blog/website is introducing people to REAL Swedish Snus. When it comes to snus, REAL Snus comes from Sweden. There's a difference, and the difference is big. Please read this article to learn the difference for yourself.
Well the day is finally upon us. After doing a preview recently for the new Skoal "Snus" and Marlboro "Snus" products I'm finally getting to the review part of the Skoal version. In my recent review of Marlboro "Snus" I wasn't too kind. In fact, a comment on YouTube (in this video review) told me I was being too harsh. Well, I don't think I was. I personally hold snus to such a high standard after enjoying Swedish Snus the past two years that I consider these bastardized attempts on REAL Snus to be an insult. That being said, I always going into a review with an open mind - and Skoal "Snus" could be different. The Skoal brand is very respected in the smokeless tobacco world for having a high quality tobacco and I was hoping this would spill foward into their new "snus". Not to give too much away, but I found Skoal "Snus" to be a step in the right direction. Granted there are a lot of hangups and I still don't know how it's made nor is Altria disclosing such information to us, I still try to remain hopeful that someday someone in America is going to do it right and release a quality snus.
Doing a quick size comparison you can tell that the American "Snus" products are growing rapidly, and not just in availability, but in size. From left to right, a Skoal Bandits (non-snus) portion. A General White Portion, a Marlboro "Snus" portion, a Camel "SNUS" portion and last - a Skoal "Snus" portion. The Skoal "Snus" is obviously the largest portion in this lineup, and to date the largest snus portion I've ever encountered. In a world of "bigger is better", this portion is obviously made for that group of people. However, "bigger is better" isn't always true - and in this case the portion is too big. One thing I've always loved about snus is the discretion it provides. In the case of Skoal "Snus", there is no discretion. This stuff is huge and uncomfortable. Yeah, the portion is soft, but the size just puts it a bit too over the top.
Comparing the moisture contents of various other tobacco products left to right. Click the image/link for a larger version of the picture. From Left, General White Portion, Camel "SNUS" Robust, Marlboro "Snus" Original (2011), Skoal "Snus" Smooth Mint, and Skoal Bandits (Wintergreen). The Swedish Snus General White Portion is very moist and ground very well - it's a traditional snus. The Camel "SNUS" sits at around 30% moisture content and is very dry - looks almost like cigarette tobacco. The Marlboro "Snus" Original is also very dry, I want to say between 20%-25% or thereabouts in the moisture department, but also very dry - looking much like cigarette tobacco again. The Skoal "Snus" is more interesting. It's much more moist - definitely the most moist American "Snus" product I've seen to date, maybe around 40%-45% moisture content by my estimation. The tobacco is also more finely ground. The Bandits (not a snus) looks like traditional dip tobacco, very moist and pinchable, probably in the 50% moisture content range or so. Don't let this confuse you. The Skoal "Snus" tobacco itself looks much like other American "Snus" tobacco, it's just more moist. The Bandits tobacco looks much like American dip tobacco. That being said, Skoal "Snus" is much more moist than any American offering to date.
Someone recently asked me for a size comparison between the Skoal "Snus" and another pouched Skoal product, Bandits. I went ahead and did this and you can tell there's a big difference. The Skoal "Snus" is abnormally large, the Bandits are much smaller. The Skoal "Snus" is a white type portion, whereas the Bandits have a more soaked portion. The portion material on the "Snus" is very soft, whereas the Bandit portion material feels almost waxy.
When you open the can of Skoal "Snus" (Smooth Mint) the immediate, very sweet smell of mint comes through. It's more of a mellow mint, perhaps a subdued spearmint or a mint oil additive, but it's not sharp like with the Skoal "Snus" Mint, which is more of a Peppermint aroma. The portions are abnormally huge but very soft, great mouthfeel, just not comfortable because of the sheer size of the portions. I give the nicotine hit a thumbs up, for once an American "Snus" that isn't weak, this actually does give a little kick. When you put it in your lips you get an immediate burn and tingle sensation. The flavor comes through pretty quick, very sweet, mellow mint flavor. The portions juice up quite a bit and give me an increased urge to spit. I could keep a portion in for about 30 minutes before it got too sweet to bear and I had to discard it. The aftertaste is a killer though - really sweet and artificial taste that sticks around for quite sometime.
This one is a little different than Skoal "Snus" Smooth Mint. When I cracked open a can of Skoal "Snus" (Mint) I quickly smelled the aroma of peppermint. Very sharp and extremely sweet aroma. The portions are very large but very soft, the mouthfeel is spot-on, but just too uncomfortable because they're so huge. The nicotine kick to these is pretty pleasant, it's actually noticable, unlike most other American "Snus" products I've tried. The flavor that comes through is a really sweet Peppermint type flavor, accompanied by a burn and tingle in the lip, much like I experienced with Smooth Mint. The portions juice up a lot and made me want to spit, despite the can saying "Spitting Optional", it almost seemed like I didn't have a choice. I kept each portion in for about 30 minutes until it turned way too sweet and I had to quickly discard it before I got sick. The aftertaste really strong in this one as well, very sweet and artificial, almost like I licked 1,000 stamps. It stays in my lip for quite a while and is a bit much.
Skoal "Snus" isn't a total failure like Marlboro Snus 2011. I'm going to say there's some good and some bad. This product is a step in the right direction, it's vastly improved on any American "Snus" product I've had to date, but not enough for me to consider it a real snus, or something I'd use more than once a month, if that. The good part, as mentioned before, is that the tobacco itself is very moist. I'm going to put it up in the 40%-45% range by my estimation. That is definitely a step forward, as most American "Snus" products are abnormally dry. It was also interesting to see that it's 100% American Tobacco.
The bad? I think this "snus" is a tobacco product made for dippers. The portions are so large it's uncomfortable to upper lip them which makes it seem that lower lipping is the best option. Despite the fact that the can says "Spitting Optional", it's almost a requirement. The portions juice up so much that it seems like spitting must be done. As I say about all American "Snus" products, this one is no different. It's way too sweet. Granted, it is a mint "snus", so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt - if they release a pure tobacco flavored "snus" and it's not overbearingly sweet, I'll eat my words - but for now, I think this one is catering to a demographic they assume likes oversweetened tobacco. And nothing wrong with that - if that's what they think their target audience is, but for me - I don't dig it. It's way too overbearingly sweet. At the end of the day I think Skoal "Snus" is a step forward for American "Snus", but it still isn't up to par with Real Swedish Snus.