Irish Plug Tobacco - A Pictorial & Historical Survey of Their Far-Famed Renown

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misterlowercase

Preferred Member
May 31, 2012
4,296
1
:
Éire tobac m ploig
:​
Ireland has always been known for their hard tobaccos, often very stout and topped or cased with an exotic flavour.
The plug form is hands down my fave, and I've tried to research its origins and evolution, but there ain't much out there documenting the historical arc.
This is sorta like a supplemental edition of Antiquarian Nicotiana Brittanica - in hopes of giving people an idea of this glorious old baccy.
This is primarily a visual gallery as mentioned earlier, textual traces are difficult to track, but at least I've been able to scavenge enough sufficient imagery off the vast cultural detritus known as the world wide web to at least give the viewer/reader a generalized approximation of what was what and how was how.
Back then, you usually knew what you were getting if you knew the country of origin of your tobacco, it was fairly easy to know what to expect, unlike today's over-homogenized market where the lines are very blurry.
We'll start this off with an American newspaper article from 1940, and it deftly illustrates the renowned, legendary, far-famed, and celebrated characteristics of what is Irish plug tobacco.
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:​
Another thing I've been highly interested in, but unable to find any concrete info about, are the steam-jacketed presses which were unique to Great Britain and Ireland.
I do think that a SJPress is a crucial instrument in creating their ultra-compressed and raven black distinctive properties.
For many years past the Meadow Foundry Company has devoted considerable attention to perfecting the various appliances in use by tobacco manufacturers, and in this direction have made their speciality, the "Mansfield" Steam Stoving Press, known as "The Mansfield Stove." This system is now applied by tobacco manufacturers throughout the world, and is acknowledged by the leading houses and the representative journal of the trade to be the only stove which meets every requirement for stoving, pressing and curing every kind of hard tobacco, ensuring solidity without loss in weight, a jet-black colour without blister, and perfect keeping quality. These stove presses are equally well adapted to large and small manufacturers, giving a greater heat, uniformly distributed, than any other stoving plan, and perform the work at less cost and in shorter time than any other system.

:​
There were quite a good number of different Tobacco Houses, in differing regions, that made the plugs.
Here's a short rundown of what was available at one time:
P. J. Carroll & Co. Ltd.

Dundalk

______________________________

Mick McQuaid Plug

Anti-Combine Plug (A.C.P.)

Bog Oak Plug

Tug-o-War Plug

Donegal Plug

Carroll's Golden Bar

Dundalk Bar

Striker brown Long Squares

Spearman brown Long Squares
:
Wm. Clarke & Son

Cork

______________________________

Galtee More Plug (Flavoured and
Full)

Nugget Plug

Nugget Plug Special

Perfect Plug

Walnut Plug

Cherokee Circular Plug

Square Tack

Onyx Bar
:



Gallaher Ltd.


Dublin

______________________________

War Horse Bar

Army & Navy Plug

Wrestler Plug

HammerHead Plug

Condor Bar

A.1. Plug

Sixpenny Plug
:
John Clune Ltd.

Limerick

______________________________

Kincora Plug

Sarsfield Plug

Thomond Plug

Honeybee Long square
:
Murray Ltd.

Belfast

______________________________

Warrior Plug

Erinmore Plug

Yachtsman Plug

Luckmore Plug

Maple Plug

Crowbar Long Square
:
Wm. Ruddell Ltd.

Dublin

______________________________

Velvan Plug

Curragh Plug

Derby Plug

Potomac Plug

Best Virginia Plug

Holdfast Bar

Ruddell's Golden Virginia Bar
:
G. Spillane & Co. Ltd.

Limerick

______________________________

Garryowen Plug

Hazelnut Plug

Poplar Plug

Treaty Plug

Warship Long Square
:
W. & M. Taylor Ltd.

Dublin

______________________________

Bendigo Plug

Patland Plug

Taylor's Navy PLug

Farrier Bar

Handy Plug

Sixpenny Plug
:
M. & P. O'Sullivan Ltd.

Cork

______________________________

Erin's Pride Plug

Coupon Plug

Take-me Plug
:
Lambkin Bros. Ltd.

Cork

______________________________

Cordangan Plug

Exhibition Plug

Kentucky Plug

Shandon Plug

Oaknut Plug
:
Grant Bros. Ltd.

Buncrana,

Co.Donegal

______________________________

Crana Plug

Ploughman Plug
:
Fairweather & Sons, Ltd.

Dundee

_____________________________

Rose Plug

Kara Bar
:
T.P. & R. Goodbody Ltd.

Dublin

____________________________

Patriotic Plug

Cora Plug
:
And now,

off to the glorious gallery we go...
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Notes:
Carroll's

http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/pj-carroll-dundalk-ireland-tobacco-co-mick-mcquaid-gtimage-heavy
:
Clarke's

Founded in 1830 at South Main Street, Cork.

In January 1924, following the formation of the Irish Free State, the United Kingdom trade of William Clarke & Son was transferred to Dublin and taken over by Ogden's.
:
Clune's

A surviving ledger of John Clune Ltd of Limerick, indicates that between 1908 and 1916 trade was largely restricted to counties Limerick, Kerry, Clare, Tipperary and Cork. Some of these smaller firms had even developed a limited export trade.
The company managed to survive until 1980, when it shut the doors on the factory.
:
Gallaher's

http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/the-big-huge-gigantic-gallahers-gallery-very-image-heavy
:
Murray's

http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/murray-sons-and-company-tobacco-works-of-belfast-ireland
:
Lambkin's

http://www.europeana1914-1918.eu/en/contributions/3394
:
Spillane's

http://www.limerickcity.ie/media/tobacco%2012.pdf
:


.

~

.

.​

 

rblood

Member
Mar 2, 2015
250
0
Impressive once again, mlc. You really need to write a book - may I reserve a copy now (signed of course)?

 

pitchfork

Preferred Member
May 25, 2012
3,803
8
Tobac Pluga na hÉireann
("Irish plug tobacco")
Great stuff, mlc. Never thought much about it, but you've clearly shown that there is a distinctively Irish style of tobacco. And that be a plug, by Jasus.

 

gloucesterman

Preferred Member
Jan 4, 2015
1,860
1
Massachusetts
Once again you have made for a most interesting evening. Thanks so very much.

Ps. put me down for a copy if you ever do decide to publish your posts.

 

misterlowercase

Preferred Member
May 31, 2012
4,296
1
Preshate the kind words gentlemen.

:!:
Tobac Pluga na hÉireann
Thanks for the correct translation Pitch.
:
Alt.Smokers.Pipes had a sort of "plug cult" that was particularly interested in Bendigo and I'm so glad their commentary was saved for the historical record.
Colonel Panic was kind enough to save for posterity this extract from McGahey the Tobacconist, describing Bendigo Plug:

"Bendigo is rare outside of the Emerald Isle, and is enjoyed primarily by the "established" Irish pipe smoker. "Established", in this sense, means impervious to doses of nicotine that would render most humans unconscious. Bendigo truly delivers in this department. If you fail to be satisfied by its rich and flavourful smoke, then you need to see a doctor. The jet-black plug is a delight to the eye. Though similar to a black rope tobacco in colour, the bar is extremely compact. A sharp knife is needed to shave off the slices, which -- after rubbing out--require only a slight amount of drying to reach perfect smoking condition. The resulting cut is somewhat fine, and very easy to keep lit. "
:
And this is a wonderful write-up here:

Mark Shelor

7/9/01
Many, many thanks to Mr. Ian Little--a very good soul indeed--for sending me a full bar of this delicious tobacco. I'll savor every shred. Here's why: Bendigo is rare outside of the Emerald Isle, and is enjoyed primarily by the "established" Irish pipe smoker. "Established", in this sense, means impervious to doses of nicotine that would render most humans unconscious. Bendigo truly delivers in this department. If you fail to be satisfied by its rich and flavorful smoke, then you need to see a doctor.
The jet-black plug is a delight to the eye. Though similar to a black rope tobacco in color, the bar is extremely compact. A sharp knife is needed to shave off the slices, which--after rubbing out--require only a slight amount of drying to reach perfect smoking condition. The resulting cut is somewhat fine, and very easy to keep lit.
OK. What does it taste like? What does it smell like?
My best description of Bendigo is that it's like a *strong* version of Condor without the heavy Condor scent. It's suprisingly smooth on the mouth and throat, but has an extremely intense and satisfying flavor. It has all the strength of a heavy dark-fired tobacco without dark-fired's throat-tickling--and at times irritating--qualities. This is marvelous. There's also a subtle cigar-like flavor underneath, similar in nature to

G&H's Dark Bird's Eye. However, the comparison stops there: Bendigo is considerably stronger than DBE. On the G&H strength scale, it would be necessary to recalibrate DBE to a 5 in order to make room for Bendigo at somewhere between 9 and 10.
The aroma is heavenly. It's considerably more understated than Condor, yet possesses that indescribable charm that Condor and Coniston Cut Plug fanciers like myself seem to enjoy. It would be overdoing it to say that Bendigo is "aromatic" in the sense of Condor. Nonetheless, the aroma is entirely bewitching: Bendigo just wouldn't be the same without it. I'm at a loss to describe the exact nature of the aroma.

It's unique.
Ian tells me that a number of experienced Irish pipe smokers in the West Country seem to favor Bendigo. I can fully understand this. It gets to the essence of pipe smoking satisfaction, much like a small shot of high-quality espresso does for the confirmed coffee lover. I'm quite content with just a half-bowl in my small Astleys newmarket.
I have no hesitation in rating Bendigo at the top of the list for strong smokes. Smoother and more flavorful than Coniston Cut Plug in my book, but far more potent. Not to be missed!
Thanks again to my good friend Ian for this wonderful gift!

Regards,

Mark
:
HoyoD gives us this:

A quick word about Bendigo

8/20/01
I have just finished my first bowl of this delicious stuff and all I can say is .........wow. Truly a serious tobacco. Delicious rich and dense smoke, very full straight tobacco flavor that comes across quite creamy in texture, s-m-o-o-t-h and very cool. It has a right smart nicotine kick as well. Alright. I guess I can say more than just "wow", I believe I could go on for quite a while longer actually, but that really sums it up. Thank you so much to my brother Ian in Eire for the chance to try this ambrosia.
:
Ian Rastall contributed this:

Review: Taylor's Bengido Plug

7/18/02
Paul Zolig, Buddy Springman and I should form a club, kinda like the Cheap Pipe Club. We could call it Ironman Smokers or something. We all seem to enjoy these really heavy blends. This stuff is a very strong, smoky VA. Possibly a mix of VA and burley. Definitely strong.
It's reminiscent, in a big way, of G&H Dark Flake. But whereas I don't care for Dark Flake, I love Bendigo. The former has a very "maduro" taste to it, and this has more of a fire-cured flavor. But both are straight, unflavored tobacco, with a "dark" character.
This would go very well in a clay. In fact, I imagine this is the kind of tobacco Sherlock Holmes would smoke when he needed to go through an ounce in one night of serious cogitation.
This came as a bar, and when bits were shaved off, it was very hard to keep lit. After sending it through the old coffee grinder, I have something that lights very easily, stays lit, and smokes great. I don't know what smokers did all this time without grinders and food processors, but this plug seems to have been created for it.
Overall, a tobacco that I will miss when it disappears. (It already seems likely to do so.) One of the hardest tobaccos to get a hold of, but worth it if you get a chance.
:
Ian Little gives us a good bit about Bendigo:

7/18/02
Since it is mostly destined for the domestic market in Ireland I'd be surprised if there are many Bendigo smokers left these days so there is quite a possibility that it may become extinct soon. I heard a qualified rumour that Gallahers in Ireland almost discontinued the plug version of Condor and in a last minute reprieve they decided to retain the smaller 25g packaged plug for the time being. Given Condors relative popularity this

wouldn't bode well for Bendigo.
And this:
...Bendigo appears to be plentiful is in the Western counties particularly Mayo where it

seems to be stocked alongside Condor bar in equal quantities even in the more modern convenience stores which stock tobacco and cigarettes.
And this more comprehensive write-up:
As the person who introduced a limited few on ASP to Gallahers (nee Taylor's) Bendigo here is what I know of it:
First off, I have no business relationship with Gallahers Ltd (of Condor fame) other than the fact that I happen to be from Ireland and resident here. It seems this tobacco (sold exclusively in traditional plug form) has a long tradition and at a first guess perhaps Gallahers are continuing manufacturing a smaller volume of it for exclusively domestic consumption. I have only seen it on the shelves of Petersons in Grafton Street in downtown Dublin city and at a few select general stores which carry plug tobaccos (a dissapearing few at that). As my wife's folks are from the West of Ireland I came across it stocked in some of the Western stores and and older gentleman did regail me with a story of his love for it (he gave up smoking and Guinness drinking about a decade ago though due to a heart bypass). In his case he mixed Bendigo with a bright virginia ready rubbed mix which has since been discontinued. His description of Bendigo was as exceptionally cool but not for the faint hearted. I think Mark Shelor and HoyoD Chris Little add great credence to his description.
OK - I also enquired with McGahey's and I think none of the UK tobacconists stock it. They stock the fine Murray plug range but none of the Gallaher plugs. So, in the interest of ASP kinship I will try to contact our friends at Gallahers in Dublin to understand their position on distributing this well received stuff. From the posts I am seeing it would seem like I unearthed the moral equivalent of Guinness stout for the pipe tobacco loving masses in the Americas :))
So, bear with me a few days and I'll try to relay what the position is with Gallahers. First off, I want to establish whether they are planning to continue this stuff because if my intuitions are even 10% right then I would imagine up until about a month ago their target audience were a crop of senior smokers who fondly remembered Bendigo. Also, just as I think of it there was a post on ASP quite recently which included a URL to a *very* interesting customs/tax document from the Irish government archives circa 1948 listing the tobaccos being sold throughout Ireland at that time. Taylor's were an entity at that time and Bendigo was listed alongside another Taylor's concoction whose name escapes me.
Anyway tune in soon . same NG, different time.
--Ian.
:
Neat stuff,

that.

:puffy:
A clutch of the other plugs were made for a good long while too.
Murray's had a few of these old plugs in their portfolio and made them until the the factory was closed.
BAT dropped them when the plugs were contracted out to Orlik.
Murray's manufactured them still branded with the names of their originators,

as seen in this post by Jari,

5/7/02
Hello group,
I just got an interesting shipment of tobaccos from James Barber. I ordered different kinds plug tobaccos and of course I got what I wanted, but there are a few unknown manufactures for me. I hope somebody can tell me something about them.
Tobaccos include:

Potomac Plug from Rudell's (never heard)
Garryowen Plug from Spillanes ??
Golden Bar Plug from Carrolls (this sounds bad, if the manufacturer is the

same as with the hamburgers:)
Revor Plug from JT International Ltd ??
Warrior and Yachtsman navy plugs from Murray's (Is this the same factory who

makes Erinmore tobaccos? I was under the impression that they only make

Erinmore?)
Ahh, but now I think I have to take some time and have a smoke with Warrior

Plug.
Hope somebody can help me, but I will send some reviews after I've tasted

the plugs.
Thanks.
A note about Revor,

I find it very interesting that at one time it was actually branded as a JTI baccy. JTI eventually used the house name Manchester Tobacco Co., and Revor Plug at one time was branded as made by them, and I've read that it was actually made in Manchester, a fact that leads me to believe that Revor might've been a heritage CWS brand...

http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/c-%C2%B7w-%C2%B7s-tobacco-antiquarian-nicotiana-brittanica-vol-15

...nowadays Revor is made by Gawith Hoggarth.
A while back, daft.de had put up an edition of the 1995 A.I.T.S. Tobacco Index, but after the massive hack it had seemed to be lost, but looking the other day I did find it still saved in the web archive and the pdf is still viewable:

http://web.archive.org/web/20130418082903/http://www.daft.de/uploads/Download/aits.pdf
Here's how it described some of the plugs:
Yachtsman Plug

Plug

-

M

Dark

Character:

A very traditional style of pipe tobacco presentation providing a link with established craftsmanship of Irish tobacco blenders.
Expensive top quality heavy bodied flue cured Virginias are purchased from established leaf auctions in Africa and Brazil. To this full natural flavoured tobacco is added aromatic Burley to balance and smooth the blend. Conditioned with water, the blend is slowly pressed in large steam presses for several days to meld the rich and varied aromas. The cakes are then divided into plug form, allowing the smoker to cut it and rub it out to his own preference.
.
Garryowen Plug

Plug

-

Med

Dark

Character:

Akin to Yachtsman Plug but stronger in taste and aroma.
.
Velvan Plug

Plug

-

Med

Dark

Character:

The blend is made in the same manner and style as Yachtsman Plug, using appropriate rich flavourable styles of leaf. The difference is a light flavouring prior to the pressing process to give a unique flavour and aroma, with the traditional smooth taste required. Velvan has a fruity aroma and taste.
.
Potomac Plug

Plug

-

Med

Dark

Character:

As Velvan Plug but with a floral aroma and taste.
.
Mick McQuaid Plug

Plug

-

Med

Dark

Character:

As Velvan Plug but a traditional brandy almond aroma is given.
.
Erinmore Plug

Plug

-

M

Dark

Character:

As Velvan Plug but with the international famous fruity sweet aromatic taste of Erinmore.
.
Golden Bar

Plug

-

Med

Dark

Character:

Selected Orange Virginias are used in this blend to give it a lighter smooth taste and aroma compared to the other plug brands. Despite being processed in the same manner it provides a mild strength and background aroma of spicy Cognac tones.
It's also very interesting that War Horse Bar was still being listed available at this late 1995 date,

I wonder when it actually went off the market?
.

 

rblood

Member
Mar 2, 2015
250
0
This post on plugs by mlc a few years back is worth a look as well if you are finding this post interesting.
http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/for-the-love-of-plugs-an-historical-appreciation

 

pitchfork

Preferred Member
May 25, 2012
3,803
8
It's also very interesting that War Horse Bar was still being listed available at this late 1995 date,

I wonder when it actually went off the market?
A friend of mine used to smoke it and he said he last remembers having it sometime in the late 80s or early 90s.

 

misterlowercase

Preferred Member
May 31, 2012
4,296
1
A friend of mine used to smoke it and he said he last remembers having it sometime in the late 80s or early 90s.
That's friggin' cool.
Did he offer any impressions of what it was like fresh off the shelf?

 

misterlowercase

Preferred Member
May 31, 2012
4,296
1
Steam-jacketed press information remains elusive.
Here's what the presses at Wills looked like,

photo from a circa 1934 book...



:​
Robert Legg was the most famous maker of tobacco processing machinery.

:​
Arno has a most excellent post on his blog about DTM Tobacco,

they actually have Robt. Legg presses.
In the article, Arno said that 2 of the presses could be heated if need be.



https://dutchpipesmoker.wordpress.com/2015/08/04/luxury-tobacco-from-lauenburg/

:






:puffy:

 

misterlowercase

Preferred Member
May 31, 2012
4,296
1
Hey Arno,

yeah that's the one that Klause sent over.
I love those pictures too,

reminds me of the Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
I was also stoked to find that pic of the old Clune's Kincora Plug.
btw

I recently tried some DTM Salty Dogs, do they make it there in those presses?

 

misterlowercase

Preferred Member
May 31, 2012
4,296
1
Eyeballs popped outta my head!

8O
Just moments ago I scored an old Murray's Warrior Plug shelf edge sign.
These things are exceedingly scarce and I'm totally stoked.







 

kcghost

Preferred Member
May 6, 2011
2,384
51
This is another amazing post from mlc! I cannot begin to estimate how much time it takes you scout out all this information and then present it here.