30 October 2015

Crafted Snus: Whisky (Original & White) - Reviews. 30 October 2015.

The day is finally here, and Conny Andersson's Crafted Snus: Whisky is here. I've known Conny for several years, and consider him a friend.  I met him in 2010 when I went to Sweden and visited Swedish Match, and we've crossed paths and several snus meetings across the US over the past few years. Conny is the genius behind creations such as Kardus 2009, Kardus 2010, Kardus 2011, General Green Harvest (2011), Kardus 2012, Islay Whisky Snus and Mellgren’s IPA Snus. Conny left his partnership with GN Tobacco and moved on to AG Snus of Denmark, makers of Blue Ocean Snus and the Kapten Snus line. He has also started his own company, Crafted Snus.  Needless to say, I've been looking forward to this release ever since I first heard about it.   My friend Julls of the GoSmokeless.org YouTube Channel always said it best, "Conny has a PhD in taste."  Now, on to the review!  Just an advance warning, my reviews are usually short and to the point, but with special snus products like this that are in the "craft snus" realm, I feel like more explanation of what makes them special is needed.  I'll be giving some background on what went in to this snus, and then doing a review of the snus itself.

Crated Whisky Snus is a blend of six different 100% Lamina tobaccos, meaning no filler, only full tobacco leaves. In Crafted Snus: Whisky you will find Mata Norte (from Brazil), Latakia and Green River (Amish tobacco from Green River/Pennsylvania, USA). There are also tobaccos from Kurnool (India), Guatemala and Spain. Mata Norte is a cigar tobacco from Brazil that is said to have an intense and sweet taste, along with a nutty rich flavor with hints of roasted/bitter coffee and chocolate. This tobacco was used in the Mellgren’s IPA Snus by Conny Andersson. Latakia is a well known pipe tobacco component that is known to have a smoky/peppery smell along with a wooden, smoky flavor with subtle hints of leather, pepper and anise. Latakia has a strong aroma/taste and is usually used in the tobacco blend. Green River is an Amish tobacco from Pennsylvania. Some of you may remember General Green Harvest, another Conny Andersson creation. This snus used Amish tobacco from Pennsylvania, as well. Some of the other tobaccos you may recognize from past Kardus Snus products by Conny Anderson. Indian Kurnool tobacco was used in Kardus 2008Spanish tobacco was used in Kardus 2005 and Guatemala tobacco was used in Kardus 2009.  These are tobaccos that Conny has worked with in the past and brought to this snus, as well. The Mata Norte and Latakia tobaccos are aged for two weeks in used whisky barrels from Glenfarclas Distillery, which adds more flavor to the tobaccos.  The difference between this snus and Islay Whisky Snus is that this snus is pasteurized, whereas Islay Whisky Snus is fermented.

Crafted Snus: Whisky is blended with a single malt whisky from the Scottish Highlands.  Single malt means it was distilled at a single distillery and distilled in a pot still. The whisky is distilled from water and malted barley and does not include the addition of any other cereals. Single malt whisky is made from a “mash” of malted grains. In Scotland, there are four regions recognized by the Scottish Whisky Association - The Highlands, Lowland, Islay and Campbeltown. Whereas Islay Whisky Snus was made with Islay Whisky, this snus is flavored with whisky from The Highlands. When it comes to scotch, Islay is the smokiest and strongest flavored of single malt scotch. The Highland whisky is more full bodied and has a deeper flavor of peat and smoke. The whisky used in this product comes from Glenfarclas, a Speyside whisky distillery located in Ballindalloch, Scotland that was established in 1836. Their whisky is produced "...in the traditional Speyside style, with a heavy Sherry influence."  Glenfarclas is known for it's smooth, rich flavor with hints of wood, nut, and dried fruit.

The cans have a side label, much like the Islay Whisky Snus cans do.  It mentions that this is a premium quality, small batch snus containing 100% lamina.  You'll find Conny's signature at the bottom showing that he is the final approver of this snus.  It doesn't say "Batch Number", however, like Islay Whisky Snus did.  This one has "Product Number", with these cans showing Original as number 0101 and White as number 092.  I'm not sure if this is the SKU number at AG Snus for the product, or if future releases will show this number changing and representing subsequent batches.

Crafted Snus: Whisky (Original Portion)

The Crafted Snus: Whisky can is a thing of beauty.  It is a metal can and has some exceptional artwork on it.  The catch lid is located within the top lid of the snus can.  The original portion version is a 20 gram can with 20 portions and 1.1% nicotine, or 11mg/g.  Conny did say he plans on raising the nicotine in the future to 13mg/g.  This snus costs $3.89 USD per can, which is slightly more than Islay Whisky Snus, which comes in at $3.74 USD per can.  The can is a little hard to open at first, you'll need to dig your nail around the seal to cut the label, and then it's a little bit easier to open from there. I've heard that AG Snus is looking into this issue, so it may be resolved and be easier to open in future batches.

When you open a can of the original portion version, the aroma is undeniably whisky. There's a little bit of smokiness to the aroma, and an earthy tobacco presence. The portions are very moist and feel very comfortable in the lip. The flavor comes on rather quickly and you'll immediately start to notice the whisky, a rich earthy tobacco flavor, and a little bit of smokiness. The tobacco and whisky flavors work very well together and stay in the front of the flavor. The longer you have the portion in, the more other subtle nuances will start to come out. Flavors of oak, a light nutty flavor, and very light hints of chocolate develop, but stay in the background and work very well to compliment the flavor of the tobacco and the whisky.  Going into this one, I was unsure if pasteurization would take away from the warm/smoky flavor you can get from a fermented snus like Islay Whisky Snus, but I found the flavor of this one to be vastly superior to Conny's last whisky snus. The nicotine content is definitely noticeable, and you'll notice that this one is stronger than your average snus. It's not too strong, but just strong enough that you can tell it's stronger than a regular strength snus.

Crafted Snus: Whisky (White Portion)

As with the original portion version, this one comes in a sleek metal can. You'll also find the catch lid inside the top lid of the snus can. The white portion version is also a 20 gram can, with 20 portions at 1 gram each. The nicotine content is 1.1%, or 11mg/g.  The white portion version has the same price point, coming in at $3.89 USD, which is just a touch over Islay Whisky Snus, which costs $3.74 USD per can.  This can also takes a little effort to get open, you'll need to cut all around the edge with your fingernail, and then it's much easier to get open.  I assume AG is looking into this, like they are with the original portion can, to find a way to make it a little easier to open.

Upon opening the can of Crafted Snus: Whisky (White Portion) you'll notice the aroma is a little milder than the original portion version.  There is a very light smokiness, a touch of whisky, and just a little earthy tobacco presence.  The portions feel a little bigger than your average white portion when they're in the lip.  They aren't very moist so it takes a little while longer for the flavor to develop.  Conny mentioned that he wanted to add a little more moisture to these white portions in future batches.  The whisky flavor comes through in a more mild presence, along with a gentle flavor of mellow, earthy tobacco.  The smokiness is much more slight, and stays more in the background.  The flavor is much more mild, but the longer you have the portion in the more you can notice subtle nuances in the flavor.  The oak flavor comes through as the portion begins to get more moist.  I didn't notice the nutty flavor or chocolate as much in the white portion as I did in the original portion.  Those flavors are there, but they're much more mild in the white portion than in the original portion.

Crafted Snus: Whisky is a great release by Conny Andersson and AG Snus. It was definitely worth the wait. I am personally a fan of original portions, so the original portion was obviously my favorite. They are both tasty snuses, but in the end the original portion is my personal favorite of the two because I felt like I could truly detect and appreciate all the apparent and subtle flavor notes more clearly. I suggest trying both, because tastes are subjective and you may like the white over the original portion. I definitely suggest ordering both so you can see which one you like more. But both are absolutely delicious and I'm very glad they are finally released.  I'm impatient, I won't lie, so it felt like an eternity from the time I first heard this product mentioned to the day I finally put a portion in my lip.  I found these to have a better taste than Islay Whisky Snus, so Conny has definitely one-up'd himself with this release! SnusCENTRAL.com had these in stock for sale to the US as of this morning, and if you're in the EU, TopSnus.com has them in stock, as well!

1 comment:

  1. Chad,
    Excellent, excellent, excellent! I watched your review of Osterlansnus last night on their website. Obviously the whole site is in Swedish but they had your's and Nash's reviews on it. They must get a kick out of watching these Americans interpret their creations. And I'm sure they appreciate your passion. I sure do. A couple questions for you: Found your own old Copenhagen Natural Long Cut review on Youtube last night. I enjoyed watching that too. I am a Copenhagen dipper that would probably totally go to snus if it were readily available & especially if we had access to to these newer small batch snus products. Fast forwarding four years, what is your take on Copenhagen now? I am especially interested in your opinion on Copenhagen Long Cut, Natural Extra LC and Copenhagen Whiskey and Cope Whiskey Blend, if you've tried any of those more recently. How do they stack up against these newer small batch snuses? The small batch snuses seem to be getting back to a more tobacco-oriented taste and/or whiskey blend, which are my favorite pairing with smokeless products. I am very concerned about manufacturing practices and TSNA levels in American dip as well as quality issues. My first go-round in snus was in about 2011, right before PACT Act kicked in. I was able to try Roda Lacket, General, Grov los, Probe los and several Gotlandssnus in their regular portion, los licorice and portion licorice. This was shortly after I picked up dipping which I still do lightly and usually only after a good meal. In that timeframe I came away very disappointed with my snus experience. I found snus, in comparison to Copenhagen, to be relatively tasteless, the loose products to come across like Play-doe and the portions to take forever to get flavor. In that time I found Probe to be so-so, Grov the same & the rest was sorta, "bleh." That order lasted me forever & based on the limited amount of my smokeless use, that was enough. As I sampled various Copenhagen products, I really found what I thought a smokeless product should be, salty, smokey, tobacco-ey, etc. Because I am such a light user of these products I find the Cope nic-hits are more than I can stand, the long cuts, while delicious, get all over my mouth and finally there is the relatively high-TSNA level though Dr. Rodu has somewhat alleviated my concern about this as Copenhagen products still have relatively low TSNA levels compared to 1980's/1990's levels and in general, though not as low as Swedish snus. A few weeks ago I stumbled upon some General portion and while the bergamot is real tough for me to deal with, I am sensing the superiority of Swedish snus in smoothness, even nic release, full-bodied tobacco flavor (under the bergamot) and safety in statistically insignificant levels of TSNA's. So... for Christmas this year I am going to eat the PACT tax and gift myself an order from Snus Central. Based on your reviews I am going to pick up some Ettan, Gotebergs Prima Fint, Grov, Probe, Islay, possibly Skruf Ecological and some of this Craft Whisky you have reviewed today. If at all possible I am going to try to get some Osterlansnun as that sounds like it could become my replacement for Copenhagen. With that said I think Copenhagen is an excellent product. Their LC regular is the nectar of the Gods and Southern Blend, Whiskey and Cope Whiskey Blend, with a cup of coffee in the morning or at night, is supernal. Would you please comment on the Cope/snus tobacco flavor divide, whether or not you ever use Cope/Copenhagen now and your view on this matter. I know that's a lot but would love your opinion on this. Thank you.

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