Enter the NEW New Lab Series 06 Extra Strong Snus
Swedish Match snus designers and quality control fanatics spent October feverishly reformulating Lab Series 06 Extra Strong Portion snus since after a quick release, 06 was sent back to the Lab.
After October 31st, the re-engineered Lab Series 06 Extra Strong Portion Snus will be available at Swedish Match Distribution for delivery to authorized retailers like the SnusCentral Snus Store. I was fortunate enough to order version 1 of LS-06 and have forced myself to save a few cans to compare to the new 06 version 2. I really liked the first version but it was moister than Swedish Match mandates for Lab Series Products. It was still a great snus but Swedish Match is very demanding when it comes to meeting their own specifications.
At 20mg/portion nicotine, 06 was the first Swedish Match product to break into the ultra strong nicotine category. I'm guessing version 2 will be similar to Lab Series 05 Strong Portion in moisture content but I'm hoping the 06 taste and nicotine hit remain intact. Considering history, 06 version 2 should even be better than 06 version 1. I'll be conducting a side by side comparison of the two versions in the near future.
Don't Confuse Kardus with Kardus or Kardus
When I first discovered the glory of Swedish Match snus which allowed me to finally to break my cigarette addiction, there was only one snus named Kardus available outside of Sweden. It was called Kardus Superior Blend and was a showcase snus highlighting the Snus Master's art. Mass producing Kardus was impossible. Kardus was released only once a year in very limited numbers.
This year, Swedish Match has decided to produce only 800 boxes of Kardus Carnival 2011. Six hundred boxes are reserved for Sweden and 200 boxes for Norway. Of these, only 100 boxes of Kardus Carnival Blend 2011 will be available from authorized Swedish Match internet snus stores.
This seemed simple enough even for an American like me to understand until 2010. That's when Swedish Match also released a limited edition called Ettan Kardus. Ettan Kardus was 250 grams of fresh Ettan Loose snus packaged in brick form and wrapped in paper. It was not long after that I also learned of Grovsnus Kardus!
I was now completely confused. My fear is that new snusers will be too, especially after receiving the following information from Swedish Match Snus Lord Markus Ersmark just this past Friday.
This week Swedish Match will release 100 Ettan Kardus packages online. Next year, Swedish Match will also release GR´ Kardus and Götebrogs Prima Fint Kardus. Ettan, Grov, GR´ and Prima Fint are the only brands that Swedish Match are still selling today that used to be sold in Kardus.
The release plan for snus sold in Kardus during 2012 is:
1st Quarter: Göteborgs Rapé
2nd Quarter: Göteborgs Prima Fint
3rd Quarter: Grov
4th Quarter: Ettan
Let not your heart be troubled. I sorted all of this out after the 2010 Ettan Kardus release and urge you to read about the very substantial difference between the annual Kardus Superior Blend (called Carnival for 2011) and the Kardus packaging method which is something completely different.
There is no evil plot here. It has to do with the snus history, the Swedish word "kardus" and non-Swedish speakers perceptions...and possible confusion. Both the annual Kardus snus master's release and the Ettan, GR, Prima Fint, and Grov loose snus packaged in Kardus are excellent products. Just make sure you understand what you are buying so that you choose what's best for you.
The exception is this year's Kardus Carnival 2011 which everyone should own but few will be able to. SnusCentral.com is only allocated 30 of these boxes. Pre-orders are being taken with stock expected on or around November 7th. Once we're sold out, you're on your own.
Changes for Kronan snus cans and General Onyx portions
October also brought us news of two significant changes to long-time Swedish Match snuses. The first is very welcome; the second I'm sort of ambivalent about but will get used to eventually.
My pet peeve concerning portion snus cans from any manufacturer concerns the catch lid and the compartment for storing used snus portions. Quite simply, every portion snus can on the planet should have a place to store your used portions.
Today most do; at least Swedish/Scandinavian portion snus cans. Don't get me started on American snus cans.
One of the only exceptions to my rule in the Swedish Match portion snus offerings was Kronan. The Kronan brand has historically been Swedish Match's cost-friendly brand in Sweden although buying my snus in dollars, I wouldn't consider Kronan a bargain brand any longer. Not using the more expensive catch lid was one way to keep the cost down.
As I am curiously addicted to the unique brine flavor of Kronan, this made using Kronan while out and about inconvenient. I am not a snus litterer.
Happilly, October also brought us news that Kronan Portion and White Portion Snus cans will soon come with disposal lids. Thank you, Swedish Match.
The change to General Onyx I am less enthusiastic about. Beginning this week, Swedish Match will be switching the portion color from black to white. The stated reason is that snus consumers in Sweden don't like black portions.
I didn't particularly care when Nick and Johnny Strong Black Portion became Nick and Johnny Strong White Portion. I won't be traumatized when Grovsnus Black Strong Portion eventually turns into Grovsnus Strong White Portion.
Changing the General Onyx portions is different for a couple of reasons. Since 2005, General Onyx Strong Black Portion Snus has been the flagship of the General Snus brand. Changing the portion color to white just seems sacrilegious somehow. Since Onyx is both the name of this snus and the color of its portions, does that mean the name will soon be changed to General Ivory? Onyx doesn't seem to make a lot of sense anymore unless it just describes the can color.
My biggest concern is the mouth feel of the white General Onyx portions. There is a definite difference in the portion feel of General Onyx versus Grovsnus Black and the old Nick and Johnny Black. The black Onyx portion pouches have a silky; almost velvety feel on the gums where the other black portions did not. That more than the color was what made the Onyx portion pouch so special. It felt...rich, and as the top of the line General snus, it should.
I'll get used to the color of white General Onyx (or General Ivory) portions eventually. The recipe isn't changing so I'll still love the taste. Not experiencing that velvety soft pouch would be a very disappointing and to me, a downgrade in the stature of General Onyx.
I hope the focus studies which led Swedish Match to change portion colors will not be used as a cost-saving measure to move down to the standard Swedish Match white portion material. There is nothing wrong with their white portions; especially compared to some other pouches on the market. However, the Onyx pouch is special and I hope it remains so regardless of color.
Meanwhile, I've vacuum packed and frozen all my personal General Onyx stock for my eBay Investment Portfolio. Once the black portion Onyx has sold out, the new white portion Onyx will begin shipping.
For the Ladies
Finally on the product front, Swedish Match is launching new limited edition cans for Catch White Licorice and Catch Eucalyptus large portions. These new cans are scheduled to be released later this week and will be available through the end of January 2012. My wife thinks they look great.
On February 1st 2012, the entire Catch snus brand will get a complete makeover; to what I don't know yet.
Until then, men who enjoy Catch White Licorice and Eucalyptus may want to invest in an Icetool Snus Can or recyle one of the current Catch cans; at least when using Catch in public.
As with General Onyx, once the old cans are sold out through distribution, customers will receive the new cans automatically.
General Nordic Mint and Classic Blend Snus: The American Invasion Continues
The rollout of General Nordic Mint and Classic Blend in the three American test markets has picked up a lot of momentum. Living in the Dallas/Fort Worth test market, I've enjoyed checking the store locator on GeneralSnus.com over the past two months. So many stores are now carrying the new made-for-Americans General products that they all run together on the map view.
Anecdotally, I've heard only positive buzz with one gas station running out of stock of both new General snuses by the end of the first week. I will be following up with the General Snus Team at Swedish Match US later in November once more sales numbers are available and will report back to you.
While October was a busy month for Swedish Match, their future plans are even more exciting. Welcome to Snus Season!
Yours in snus,
Swedish Snus Ambassador to the United States
Reporting for SnusCENTRAL.org