Thursday, 02 June 2011 05:29

The Most Exclusive Snus in the World

Written by Mick Hellwig
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As many of you know I was invited to spend some time in Sweden, courtesy of our friends at Swedish Match.  Two friends, Julls and Feck, were invited also.  Tim/Snusify was a virtual unknown to me butMick, Julls, Feck and their new friend Snusify in Stockholm quickly fit into the group.  Our first evening together set the tone for the whole visit.

Before going I thought Julls would have to be the grown-up, but that hope was quickly dashed. We all were like kids on Christmas morning, or maybe a better analogy would be kids the night before going to Disneyland. For us this was the chance of a lifetime, and we were determined to make the most of it.

Mick Hellwig and Markus Ersmark.  Markus has a license to snus!Our first meeting of our host, Markus Ersmark, was not what I expected. I had seen pictures of him, but they were mostly company promo shots, staged for image and professionalism. I kind of expected a stuffed shirt type, full of salesman’s bravado. What we found was a person.

He was real and much like us (in the good ways). Actually after a while he reminded me a bit of James Bond:  sophisticated and smooth, well spoken and rarely at a loss for words. We did succeed in making him speechless a couple of times in 3 days, but it wasn't easy.  It usually involved things we weren't allowed to discuss.

This brings us to the main topic of this column.  When we first arrived at the Gothenburg factory we were asked to sign a confidentiality agreement. Nothing personal mind you; just so we would not be tempted to blab about things we saw that we maybe shouldn’t have seen.

Honestly there was very little that we are not allowed to mention and those were basically rumors. So even if I wrote about them, the information would be so sparse that I’d look like an idiot when the whole truth came out. “Hey! There is some new snus in a brown can coming out!” is not my idea of a scoop. So until I know a lot more I will just channel Sgt. Shultz from Hogan’s Heroes…I know nothing!

Conny Andersson; Tobacco Master and Clothes HorseOn day three of our adventure I did score one can of snus so exclusive that no one else in the world had tasted it yet. It was part of a hand mixed batch of snus, by Master Tobacconist and Evil Genius Conny Andersson.

When Markus was distracted by Julls asking a silly question about the World’s Largest Cigar in the other room I snagged a can of the freshly mixed snus. It was Mint, Lime and Rum flavored. Imagine rum with a slice of lime and a sprig of fresh mint on top of the tobacco. The scent was sublime, the flavors mingled beautifully and the remainder of the can is in my fridge. (Just kidding Markus, please don’t send a Swedish SWAT team after me.)

What actually happened is Conny had lead us through a session of smelling snus trying to guess the ingredients. It was an interesting experiment as the 6 of us had some very different impressions of the same snus.  We smelled 5 different snus that were prime examples of certain flavors. None of us were very good at identifying the base scent, but when it was pointed out we all got it.
Shortly after that there was a competition to see who could identify 6 brands of snus in a blind smell test. Two of us correctly guessed 5 of the 6. Both of us were close on the 6th. The winners were named “Snus Kungen” and given a nice bandanna, and a reproduction Birch bark snuff box. Then all of us were allowed to make our own snus. Conny had secured a few tins worth of tobacco from the factory for us to use.

The tobacco was the same base blend as Ettan snus without the flavors. There were a bunch of small bottles of flavors, a few red peppers, fresh limes, a clove of garlic, mint and coriander plants still growing in pots for us to choose from for our wild snus flavor ideas.

We learned quickly that inventing snus flavors is an art form, best left to those with a lot more knowledge than we had. One of us made a special garlic snus. I made a Lime/Licorice/ Coriander snus. It really wasn’t bad, but no one else had the courage to test it for me. That was fair as I wasn't about to try some of the other’s creations:  Especially the Garlic or the Scotch snus.  

One important lesson Julls and I learned firsthand is that freshly ground tobacco has a very quick and healthy nicotine punch. After making our snus, we both rolled a normal size lös prilla and popped it in. Approximately 8 minutes later we were wondering why we were getting the sweats and a bit light headed. Suddenly we realized this was the beginnings of nicotine overdose.

For me that was a shock. I almost always have some form of nicotine coursing through my body. It takes a lot to make me notice it. I notice withdrawal but seldom notice the nicotine affecting me. To quote Conny “fresh tobacco hits like hell!”  Lesson learned.

As all this was happening an idea was forming, before I knew what I was saying it exploded into words and I politely asked Conny to make a batch just for me. I figured he had given me a snuffbox, it was onlyThe World's Biggest Cigar.  You know you wanted to see it! right for him to make the snus that was to go in it. Conny knows more about tobacco than most of us ever will. I’m told he is/was very involved in the blending and flavoring each of the annual Kardus blends. I just knew he would come up with something unique and was good. I was right.

This is not an all day every day blend. Much like my remaining few grams of Kardus 2010, it is a special moment snus.  There were times this week I really was missing Sweden, the sights, the people, and the weather.  A pinch of Lime/Rum/Mint gave me a few minutes of memories and a smile. Thank You, Conny.

Thank You Swedish Match for having us and allowing me to own THE tin of the World’s Most Exclusive Snus. Just remember if Lime/Coriander or Lime/Rum/Mint snus ever makes it to the production floor, I’ll accept my royalty payments in snus.

There are a lot more stories and information we learned or lived while in Sweden and I will be sharing those in future editions of this column. I know the others are feverishly working on their reports also.

Reclining on my Throne,


Snus Kungen
Reporting from Sweden for

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