Sealed Tobacco Tins Life Expectancy

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shaintiques

Preferred Member
Jul 13, 2011
3,589
21
Georgia
Anybody know how long a sealed tin of tobacco is good for? I've heard of guys cracking open 70 year old tins of tobacco and smoking them. Is that safe? How old is too old? I would expect that tobacco that has been sealed by modern techniques would probably stay good a very long time, I mean it sits in canisters in tobacco shops for quite a while. So anybody smoke older tobaccos sealed up in "collector tins" and if so what has your experience been.

 

unclearthur

Preferred Member
Mar 9, 2010
6,883
0
Aromatics tend to fall off after a while but most Virginia based smokes are good for at least 30 years or more.

 

shillelagh3

New member
Feb 19, 2011
39
0
Georgia
Good question, shaintiques. Good answer, uncle. I've wondered the same thing. Last month I was visiting a B&M that doesn't move a lot of tinned tobacco, but they had several tins of Samuel Gawith in various forms. I've noticed that the anything with Sam's name on it is rare, so I grabbed a tin of St. James Flake to try. When I opened it up, I noticed some of the very moist flakes had a white substance on it. I don't know if it's mold or what. I hope not, because I dried it out and smoked several bowls of it. It's a little strong, but other than that, it seems fine to me. It probably sat on the shelf for at least a year. Any ideas what the white residue might be?

 

kcvet67

Preferred Member
Jul 6, 2010
968
0
Any ideas what the white residue might be?
Mold usually has a green or blue tint to it and a VERY rank, nasty smell. It's very rare in a sealed tin. What you're describing is sometimes said to be sugar crystals, but it's similar to "blume(bloom)" sometimes seen on cigars. Penzance is particularly prone to this, but it's not uncommon.

 

portascat

Preferred Member
Jan 24, 2011
1,058
0
Happy Hunting Grounds
The question about smoking the white crystals attached is all based upon your corresponding adventures in....
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfR_HWMzgyc
if you found yourself there, send me a couple bowls....

 

pdmus

Member
Apr 5, 2011
234
0
Santa Monica, CA
I have purchased several "vintage unopened" tins on ebay. It's hard to tell how old they are, but I think the oldest I have gotten was an Erinmore Flakes, 100 gr. It had the original price tag of $1.27. They haven't made the flakes in tins for years and how long ago did a 100gr tin cost $1.27? Anyway, I opened it with the usual vacuum sealed woosh of air, the slices were perfect and I eventually smoked the entire tin, it was in fine shape.

 

cortezattic

Preferred Member
Nov 19, 2009
14,378
104
Chicago, IL
IMO, sanitized Mason jars are best for long term aging; and factory sealed tins should be just as good if they are protected from external corrosion, especially modern tins with internal coatings. The following is a cut and paste from the now defunct Pipe Tobacco Aging, Storage and Cellaring FAQ.

Provided blends are cellared in decent conditions, they should 'improve' with age for at least one to two decades and in all likelihood for longer. When they 'peak' is probably as much dependent upon individual taste and storage conditions as the blend itself, but I suspect that in most all cases if reasonably well stored it is sometime after at least a decade. I also suspect that the greatest improvement comes during the first decade, that for the most part the peak is sometime during the third decade, but that the most memorable experiences will come, together with some disappointments, from well stored tins closer to a half century old.
John C. Loring, 2000-05-04

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I've smoked Three Nuns that was over 40 years old, and was magnificent. I've also smoked Balkan Sobranie of a similar vintage, and found it over the hill, though a 30 year old tin, sampled the same night, was spectacular. [...] Any truly exquisite tobacco will stand up to the test of time, and be bettered by patience. When it will begin to decline is highly speculative. Five years is safe, as, probably is ten. Beyond twenty years lies the gray zone.
GL Pease, 2000-05-03

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There is some practical upper limit to this, just like with wines. At some point, the tobacco's smoking quality will actually begin to decline. This turning point is determined by several factors, including the types of tobaccos in the blend, the conditions under which it is stored, how much air was left in the tin at packaging time, how moist the tobacco was originally, and so forth. As a general rule, the darker a tobacco, the longer it will age, while lighter, more delicate leaf loses some if its flavour and aroma if aged too long. (Interestingly, some light tobaccos will get quite dark after a few years of aging. Lemon Virginias, for instance, can turn to a lovely nut-brown.)
GL Pease, 1997-10-13
 

docwatson

Preferred Member
Jul 2, 2009
1,148
0
New England
Great post Cortez. Info like the quotes you posted are valuable information from highly qualified Pipe folk. Thanks for the message.

 

shillelagh3

New member
Feb 19, 2011
39
0
Georgia
@portascat: That's awesome. If smoking the white crystals brings on that feeling, it might be difficult to part with it. Haven't been there since college.

 

matchstickman

Preferred Member
Jul 15, 2011
2,363
0
On this note, I recently got a tin of MacBaren Black Ambrosia that I dont think was sealed quite correctly. When I went to open it, I failed to get the "Woosh" sound you get from a sealed tin. When I opened it and felt the tobacco, it felt a little on the dry side, but not falling apart dry, and as far as MacBaren blends go, I think it might actually be just right. Should I still smoke it if the tin wasnt properly sealed? Any danger of bacteria or anything like that?

 

admin

Smoking a Pipe Right Now
Staff member
Nov 16, 2008
7,910
52
St. Petersburg, FL
It is interesting to note that the flat tins that you usually see in either 100 or 50 gram tins that come from the Denmark factories of Orlik and Mac Baren are vacuum-sealed.
Tins from Cornell & Diehl's factory, which include G. L. Pease, Two Friends, Capt. Earle's are NOT vacuum-sealed.
I just opened Altadis and McClelland tins and didn't get a whoosh, so they appear to not be vacuum-sealed either.

 

pstlpkr

Preferred Member
Dec 14, 2009
9,739
0
Birmingham, AL
I would think the vacuum sealed tins may last longer "un-changed".

But, the non-vacuum sealed will probably age better/faster, owing to the presence a greater/larger oxygen supply.

Before they are opened, that is.

Maybe.

But, that is just a supposition on my part.

 

ravkesef

Preferred Member
Aug 10, 2010
2,529
1
Cheshire, CT
For reasons not entirely clear to me, I squirreled away several four cans of Balkan Sobranie in 1977-- yes, the original stuff, before it got corrupted, etc. Actually, the cans were misplaced in a move, and only recently came to light. Over the past several months, I've opened and savored these. They were perfect! Enough to bring tears to the eyes of this old aficionado of what was, for many of us, the pinnacle of tobacco blending. I'm sitting here, staring at the last 8 oz can. No--I'm not selling it. Not for any price. But I may save it a while longer, and open it in the company of some friends who have the same appreciation for this tobacco as I do, and the same sense of nostalgia.

 

zunismoke

Member
Nov 3, 2010
185
0
NC
Archeologists have recovered tobacco from egyptian tombs, 2-3 thousand years old. Still smokeable. I have smoked tobacco from about 60 years back. I have a number of tobacco 50-60 years old that I have opened and then put in Mason Jars so I can savor them over time. Virginias age the best and then English mixtures. Aromatics tend to degrade instead of get better.

 

ravkesef

Preferred Member
Aug 10, 2010
2,529
1
Cheshire, CT
"Archeologists have recovered tobacco from egyptian tombs, 2-3 thousand years old. Still smokeable. "

One thing we may be certain of: tobacco is a native American plant. As creative as the Egyptians were, they didn't make it over to this side of the pond.

 

lonestar

Preferred Member
Mar 22, 2011
2,822
0
Edgewood Texas
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pre-Columbian_trans-oceanic_contact
"Some have advocated that Ancient Egyptians may have traveled to the New World. The evidence for such claims involves the mystery of the "Cocaine mummies", mummies found to contain coca and nicotine. The initial discovery was made by a German toxicologist, Svetlana Balabanova, after examining the mummy of a female priestess called Henut Taui. Follow-up tests of the hair shaft, performed to rule out contamination, gave the same results.[15] The significance of these finds lie with the fact that both coca and tobacco plants are indigenous to the Americas and thought not to have existed in Africa until sometime after the voyages of Columbus.[16][17] Subsequent examination of numerous Sudanese mummies undertaken by Balabanova, mirrored what was found in the mummy of Henut Taui.[18] Balabanova suggested that the tobacco may be accounted for since it may have also been known in China and Europe, as indicated by analysis run on human remains from those respective regions. Balabanova proposed that such plants, native to the general area may have developed independently, but since have gone extinct.[19] Other explanations include fraud, though curator Alfred Grimm of The Egyptian Museum in Munich disputes this.[20] Skeptical of Balabanova's findings, Rosalie David Keeper of Egyptology at the Manchester Museum had similar tests performed on samples taken from the Manchester mummy collection and reported that two of the tissue samples and one hair sample did test positive for nicotine.[21] Sources of nicotine other than tobacco and sources of cocaine in the Old World are discussed by the British biologist Duncan Edlin.[22] Mainstream scholars remain skeptical, and do not see this as proof of ancient contact between Africa and the Americas, especially as there may be possible Old World sources.[23][24] Two attempts to replicate Balbanova finds of cocaine failed, suggesting "that either Balabanova and her associates are misinterpreting their results or that the samples of mummies tested by them have been mysteriously exposed to cocaine."

 

admin

Smoking a Pipe Right Now
Staff member
Nov 16, 2008
7,910
52
St. Petersburg, FL
@Lawrence

I would think the vacuum sealed tins may last longer "un-changed".

But, the non-vacuum sealed will probably age better/faster, owing to the presence a greater/larger oxygen supply.

Before they are opened, that is.

Maybe.

But, that is just a supposition on my part.
I believe this is closer to fact than just opinion.
And, Craig Tarlar (Cornell & Diehl) said they do not vacuum seal because they want the tobaccos to be able to age in the tin. It's in the Cornell & Diehl video tour we did. He says it at the 9 min, 20 sec mark.

 

pstlpkr

Preferred Member
Dec 14, 2009
9,739
0
Birmingham, AL
Kevin

That is one of the coolest of all the videos on the site.

Down home folks making great stuff.

Thanks for bringing that one back!

 

strave19

Member
Aug 13, 2011
116
0
Just want to say that that video tour of C&D was awesome! I had no idea that C&D's blending was that small and intimate. Just some good people blending some good tobacco! I wish we could show that video to any lawmakers who lump pipe tobacco in with cigarettes. Show that video next to a cig factory... show that video and say "do you want these people to go out of business?" awesome stuff!
Edit: didn't want that to come off like I'm against cigs or cig smokers, its just a very different thing from pipes/pipe tobacco IMO...