Saturday, 7 May 2011

Farewell to finely cut blends?

During my recent camping holiday near Inverness (hard to beat the pleasure of sitting in the sun, enjoying several leisurely bowls with no distractions), I had to buy an extra pouch of St Bruno Ready Rubbed...never a hardship as St Bruno (Flake and RR) is a fixture in my "Top 5" list.

On opening the 50g packet, I found a very prominent notice stating: "From 1st January 2011, the cut width of pipe tobaccos will increase to a minimum of 1.5mm under EU legislation. The exceptional quality and taste of St Bruno remains uncompromised".

I'd agree that the taste remains the same...medium strength with that immediately recognisable "Lakeland" floral undertone...however, for me, the nature of the tobacco has changed. The RR now just looks like someone's taken some Flakes and roughly crumbled them. "What's the problem?" you might ask. The change makes the Ready Rubbed much more similar to the Flake, which (I find) gives me a blend that burns less easily...fine for an evening bowl that I can take my time over, less suitable for a quick smoke during a working day.

This is the first time I've come across the new packaging on St Bruno (probably a sad by-product of how little pipe tobacco gets sold, even by a major supermarket like Tesco), so I did some research and found out that the legislation was introduced to help clarify the distinction between pipe and rolling tobaccos (with pipe smokers benefiting from lower duty). There's more information on the "Tobacco Products (Descriptions of Products) (Amendment) Order 2010" here.

Update (7th June '11): After working my way through a couple of pouches of the wider-cut Ready Rubbed, I'm warming to it! However, there is a trick I use; I leave the tobacco out on a piece of kitchen paper for a while so that it dries slightly, then I rub it between my palms to get a much finer blend more similar to the old, thinner stuff.


  1. It is still possible to get St Bruno in the old, finer cut...I got a 25g packet from a local Co-Op yesterday...I think it just depends on their turnover. Unfortunately, there's no way to distinguish the unopened packets (unless you know the intricacies of St B's batch numbers).

  2. St Bruno Flake now comes with a different cut width (1.5mm).

  3. Hi Folks,
    The new 1.5mm is a disaster. I agree with Peter for a quick smoke it is hopless. However I have found a quick solution. Get a dedicated (you don't want to mix tobacco with anything edible) coffee bean grinder (£10) and grind your tobacco to the desired fineness and then pop it back in the pouch.