As it was assumed that Swedish Match was not thrilled with this theft and had dispatched their own very efficient security team, we split up the samples and sent them to other snus bloggers as insurance someone would be able to get out the news.
As it turned out, Swedish Match really didn't care so everyone who received cans of General Classic White Mint Portion have been writing about it since yesterday. That's what I get for watching Skyfall in IMAX before writing this article...
After having spent the last day using General Classic WP Mint snus, I now understand why this product is so revolutionary in General Snus history. Yes, Swedish Match literally took the 200+ year old General Snus recipe and added additional flavoring to it, once considered a death penalty offense in Sweden. There is a much more important factor I doubt Swedish Match has thought about and certainly has not discussed publicly.
Before I explore this with you, for the sake of new and future snus users around the world, let me explain the differences between General Classic White Portion Mint and the other mint flavored snuses Swedish Match markets under the General Snus name.
Early in 2009, General Dry Mint Mini portion snus was released in the US and internet snus stores as a response to Reynold's perversely then-popular Camel Frost SNUS. General Dry Mint Mini crushed Camel Frost into the mud. Every Camel Frost user I ever heard from who tried General Dry Mint never went back to Camel Frost SNUS. General Dry Mint Mini snus introduced legions of new American snus users to Swedish snus.
About six months later, posts began appearing on snus forums around the world saying essentially "I really like General Dry Mint mini portion but I wish Swedish Match would come out with a larger regular portion version of it".
In early 2010, General Large Mint White Portion Snus was introduced into the US and internet markets, but not in Sweden. General Large Mint White portions had a little more moisture than the Dry mini version and contained a solid one gram of snus. All was right in the world of mint loving snus users again.
During the second half of 2011, Swedish Match decided to focus on the convenience store/gas station market in the US by introducing two new products in oblong cans. One of these is called General Nordic Mint. These were never released in Sweden either; just in the US and select Snus eStores.
All three of these General snuses were tuned to the sweet taste made popular by Big American Tobacco in the US as opposed to the traditional nuanced salt taste Swedish and Scandinavian snusers grew up with and loved for generations.
Other snus manufacturers jumped onto to mint bandwagon and some of their mint snuses were becoming popular over-the-counter snuses in Sweden.
This takes us to today. After what I'm sure were lengthy and emotional discussions at SMAB Headquarters in Stockholm, the decision was made to deliberately add a new flavor to the closely guarded General Snus recipe: peppermint.
I like General Large Mint WP on those occasions when I have a sweet tooth. Five seconds after inserting the first portion of the new General Classic White Portion Mint under my lip, it was clear this was not General Large Mint. The mint flavor is prevalent but not as in your face as other mint snuses designed for the American flavor profile.
I also taste vanilla, tobacco, and flashes of the peppery notes General snus is known for. I haven't tasted any bergamot yet despite Swedish Match listing it in the General Classic White Portion Mint flavor profile. At this point, I've done about 10 portions.
Fortunately, I know one of the world's most famous snus reviewers, That Snus Guy aka Rob Jarzombek. In addition to writing snus reviews here at SnusCentral.org, Rob is the publisher of Smokeless Aficionado.
According to Rob, the flavor of General Classic White Portion Mint is extremely similar to a popular Catch Collection snus from the past: Catch CHILL mini portion. Swedish Match denies it is the same recipe but in re-reading Rob's old review of Catch CHILL, it sure looks very close to what I am tasting. I think it is pretty safe to say that the General Classic White Portion Mint recipe was at least inspired by Catch CHILL.
This in itself is not a bad thing; Catch CHILL was very popular and one of the few Catch Collection snuses to be reissued by popular demand. General Classic Mint White is one of the finest Swedish mint snuses I've tasted. It certainly can wear the General Snus banner with pride. At the same time, General Classic White Portion Mint also makes me a little sad.
Snus has been a Swedish tradition for hundreds of years. Until five years ago, saying the word "snus" was shorthand for saying "Swedish snus". Aside from juniper, bergamot, licorice and maybe lingonberry/cranberry, the base of all Swedish snus was just quality tobacco, water and salt.
Then came Big American Tobacco who had no passion for snus as a product beyond profits and no respect for the tradition behind it. Failing to beat Sweden in the mouths of American snusers, they simply changed the rules. Reynolds spent millions redefining Swedish snus to the 99.9% of Americans who had never heard of Swedish snus before then.
Eager for success in the vast American market, a gold rush mentality overtook Scandinavia. More and more hereto unheard of snus flavors were created with the American market in mind.
Swedish Match did what they had to by adding mint and wintergreen to the General line, but kept them out of Sweden. They respected their legacy brands and the Swedish snus tradition at home. Other Swedish snus manufacturers sold their products including those designed for the American market wherever they could including Sweden.
I have to wonder if five years ago, anyone in Sweden would even consider using a mint snus; at least to the point of making a mint snus commercially viable there. Fast forward five years and the answer is apparently yes.
General Classic White Portion Mint snus is being released in Sweden next week and at select web-based Snus Shops. General Classic White Mint Portion is available for order at SnusCentral.com. If you like mint snuses already, you owe it to yourself to buy at least a can to try. Classic White Mint could become your new favorite regular nicotine strength mint snus.
If Swedish Match is willing to add flavorings to create General Classic White Mint Portion, I sure there is a market in Sweden for it and Classic Mint will be a strong performer. General Snus is the largest selling brand of snus world wide with good reason. You don't tamper with that unless you're sure of success.
For better or worse, mint snus has officially arrived in Sweden. Shame on you Big American Tobacco. If you couldn't match Swedish snus in flavor and quality, you should have just left well enough alone.
Swedish Snus Ambassador to the United States
Reporting for SnusCENTRAL.org