Tobacco Topping Fraud

Log in

SmokingPipes.com Updates

6 Fresh Castello Pipes
3 Fresh Il Duca Pipes
48 Fresh Nording Pipes
6 Fresh Ashton Pipes
18 Fresh Rossi Pipes

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

Status
Not open for further replies.

Jeremiah Johnson

Starting to Get Obsessed
Apr 15, 2020
154
597
Westchester County, NY
What's the deal with either tobacco blenders being dishonest about whether or not a flavoring is added to some blends, or reviewers being convinced that a topping IS added? Someone's not telling the truth.

Or is it that blenders don't want to give away the recipe for the secret sauce?

Also, what's the difference between a topping and a casing? I'm a little confused. Allright, very confused!
 
  • Like
Reactions: JOHN72

Chasing Embers

Captain of the Black Frigate
Nov 12, 2014
38,666
85,900
What's the deal with either tobacco blenders being dishonest about whether or not a flavoring is added to some blends, or reviewers being convinced that a topping IS added? Someone's not telling the truth.

Or is it that blenders don't want to give away the recipe for the secret sauce?

Also, what's the difference between a topping and a casing? I'm a little confused. Allright, very confused!
From G.L. Pease

Q: I keep hearing about "cased" tobacco. What does this mean?

A: There are two things of interest here, namely "casing" and "top flavouring." They are two distinctly different approaches to altering a blend's flavor. Some tobaccos employ both.

Casing requires that the tobacco be soaked in or sprayed with a "sauce" that may contain sugar, molasses, liquorice, alcohols like rum or whiskey, and various flavourings, natural or otherwise, depending on the manufacturer. Once the tobacco "drinks" the sauce, it's conditioned in large cylinders that dry it back to the desired moisture level, generally between 12% (on the dry side) and 22% (very moist). Optimal moisture for smoking depends on the smoker, but it's generally in the 13-16% range. The aromas and flavours imparted by casing will remain in the tobacco pretty tenaciously, and will affect the smoke throughout the bowl.

Top-flavouring is added by spraying the finished blend with scents and flavourings. This is usually a much lighter application, and doesn't alter the moisture content of the leaf dramatically. Sometimes called "top-notes," this can be quite ephemeral. Because of the volatile nature of many of the commonly used components, a tobacco left to "air out" may lose a lot of the perfume that's applied this way.

Depending on the casing used, tobaccos can become very sticky. Some producers use humectants to maintain a specific moisture level in the final product. You'll hear people talk about PG, or propylene glycol, the most commonly used humectant these days. It's generally spoken of in rather disparaging terms, thought it's not the PG that deserves the condmenation, but the blending houses who use it with reckless abandon. If the tobacco won't dry out, PG is likely the culprit. In small quantities, it does its job well. In large quantities, it produces a sticky, wet smoking, pipe clogging weed that should never see the inside of a pipe.

Not all flavoured tobaccos are cased, and casing is not always a bad thing, but the term is used incorrectly more often than not, so a lot of confusion has been created.
 

Grovius

Might Stick Around
Sep 27, 2020
53
106
Tui, Galicia
Well, I would also welcome some more transparency on this. I see nothing wrong with using ingredients (I'm fine with botanicals in gin or vermouth, or vanilla in chocolate; not so sure about "flavorings"), but I'd like to be told if a tobacco has a substantial quantity of liquorice or has been dipped in prune juice (as is the case with some). Knowing whether the chocolate topping of Solani's aged burley flake is cocoa powder or an artificial flavoring does not keep me up at night, but it would be nice to know.
There is a way to get more info, though: the German Ministry of Agriculture has a searchable database with the ingredients of some tobaccos, here's the list for Dunhill's DNR:

With Google Translate it is easy to get the meaning (I encourage everybody to learn German, though, it makes your life better, sort of like taking up pipe smoking)
 

judcole

Lifer
Sep 14, 2011
6,575
23,091
Detroit
What's the deal with either tobacco blenders being dishonest about whether or not a flavoring is added to some blends, or reviewers being convinced that a topping IS added? Someone's not telling the truth.

Or is it that blenders don't want to give away the recipe for the secret sauce?

Also, what's the difference between a topping and a casing? I'm a little confused. Allright, very confused!
Also keep in mind that some reviewers really don't have the - knowledge base, if you will, or perhaps experience is a better term - to comment intelligently. It takes time to learn what is what. A lot of inexperienced reviewers spew all sorts of nonsense, which is taken as gospel by pipe smokers who don't know any more than the reviewer. Doesn't mean any of them are bad people, they just aren't informed enough to have an opinion worth considering. puffy
 

workman

Lifer
Jan 5, 2018
2,786
4,175
The Faroe Islands
No fraud!
Most of us don't know the processes involved in making a smokable blend of tobaccos.
The terms we the smokers use to distinguish between types of blends, aromatic, va, va/per, english etc, are not scientific and not fixed at all. One man's balkan is another man's scottish.
Blenders use other terms entirely, and their terms aren't scientific or fixed either.
So a lot of the cunfusion stems from a lack of understanding.
It is probably fair to say that at least 99% of blends are cased or topped or both. Including the blends many of us refer to as non-aromatic.
It's all a matter of opinion. We just need to try to understand each other, or else all discussion is futile.
 

jvnshr

Moderator
Staff member
Sep 4, 2015
4,582
3,777
Baku, Azerbaijan
Also, what's the difference between a topping and a casing?

Jeremy Reeves explains here really well, at the end of the video he also suggests some blends with and without casing:


What's the deal with either tobacco blenders being dishonest about whether or not a flavoring is added to some blends, or reviewers being convinced that a topping IS added? Someone's not telling the truth.

Well, you have to call all businessmen and people working for them dishonest then. I have a business, there are some secrets that I will never reveal to my customers, because they are keeping my business alive. I do understand that we all have our own curiosities, but on the other hand there are people who have to work to create a blend, they don't manufacture it in their garages. They have invested money and time in it, they built something. Would you have revealed your secret recipe? Besides, curiosity makes everything interesting. There was a tea house that me and my friends visited regularly, they had this secret recipe tea; every single time we ordered we kept asking the waiter the secret ingredients and he would just smile and say "it's a secret". I knew that there were cinnamon, sugar and thyme in it, but I couldn't figure out the last component and I can live with that.

And here is How Golden Days of Yore sauce is made, just to kill some curiosity:

 

stokesdale

Part of the Furniture Now
Apr 17, 2020
846
2,527
Stokesdale
Not all flavoured tobaccos are cased, and casing is not always a bad thing, but the term is used incorrectly more often than not, so a lot of confusion has been created.
I agree, casing is sometimes a very good thing as long as it sits in the background. I smoke C&D's Interlude every day which is a high grade red Virginia with nothing on it except it is cased with a little bit of honey; you can't even taste the honey but you can tell if it wasn't there because then it would probably taste more like Carolina Red Flake which I also smoke every day--CRF is more peppery than Interlude. I'm sure that the honey casing has something to do with that difference.
 

stokesdale

Part of the Furniture Now
Apr 17, 2020
846
2,527
Stokesdale
What's the deal with either tobacco blenders being dishonest about whether or not a flavoring is added to some blends, or reviewers being convinced that a topping IS added? Someone's not telling the truth.

Or is it that blenders don't want to give away the recipe for the secret sauce?

Also, what's the difference between a topping and a casing? I'm a little confused. Allright, very confused!
I think that sometimes with the larger blenders, there is a disconnect between the marketing department and the workers doing the blending to be honest. If the workers wrote the description I'm sure it would look a lot different than what you actually are reading 'on the tin' so to speak. As for reviewers, I always said I think there's a ton of copying and pasting going on in these reviews...they seem to always use the same 15 adjectives,
 

condorlover1

Lifer
Dec 22, 2013
7,123
20,873
New York
I have never given this subject a whole lot of thought. I know that Condor has the sh*t sauced out of it and the same probably applies to St Bruno. Any of the Rose Geranium/Heliotrope family of plugs are probably like wise. As to people keeping the sauces a secret that's very much depends on the maker. I know we published the War Horse sauce recipe on here years ago although I have no idea of what went into Bengal Slices. It is an interesting Op-ed.
 

Grangerous

Lifer
Dec 8, 2020
2,799
11,010
East Coast USA
I understand that sugars/molasses are added to tobacco in order to balance the final products acidity and ph levels. This is absolutely necessary. The flavor does not necessarily translate to the taste when smoked. These are needed to make the tobacco smokable. I do not consider these blends “flavored”. Hence the confusion. Granger is a non-aromatic by my definition. It’s tobacco. I like tobacco. I like black coffee.

I dislike flavored coffee, whether added to the grounds producing a “flavored” black coffee or after brewing by adding any disgusting syrupy artificial pumpkin spice vanilla hazelnut etc. etc. etc.

What I steer far clear from are the sauced blends. The aromatics of any kind or degree. Even light aromatics like EGR kill the tobacco flavor.

Don’t put anything in my coffee except ground beans and water.

Don’t adulterate my tobacco except what is necessary to balance acidity and ph.

Burley is delicious naturally.
 

jpmcwjr

Moderator
Staff member
May 12, 2015
22,558
22,053
Carmel Valley, CA
13-16% RH? Cigars are good around 60/5, I'm confused.. isn't 16% too low RH?
Lot of folks are confused regarding moisture content and RH.
I can't afford a moisture meter, but have plenty of RH gauges. (little ones, about five bucks each.)

Pipe tobacco is better somewhere between 55% RH and 75% RH, depending on the blend, local humidity and so forth.
 

BROBS

Lifer
Nov 13, 2019
11,767
39,984
IA
Lot of folks are confused regarding moisture content and RH.
I can't afford a moisture meter, but have plenty of RH gauges. (little ones, about five bucks each.)

Pipe tobacco is better somewhere between 55% RH and 75% RH, depending on the blend, local humidity and so forth.
YeH, for storage.
 
  • Like
Reactions: CoffeeAndBourbon
Status
Not open for further replies.