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Vintage snuff

I recently purchased a 1.15 ounce tube of W.E. Garrett Scotch Snuff off of Ebay. The seller stated that it was from a tobacco shop that closed in the late 70's and was from a case of 24. The condition was fantastic as the metal top and bottom showed no signs of rust and the label was perfect. Aside from the 70's style print it could have been brand new. Curiosity forced me to open it up and give it a try. I've never tried W.E. Garrett before so I had nothing to compare it to. It's basically like snuffing petrified cardboard with a a nicotine kick but again, I have nothing to compare it to. I know pipe tobaccos and cigars age well and I have plenty of both in my cellar but I'm not sure about snuff. Especially after reading that the reason one of the online snuff suppliers quit carrying SG Red Crest was because they throw away tins after 2 months and they realized they were throwing away more than they were selling!  So I guess my question is, are vintage snuffs meant to be more of a collector's item or can they be consumed and enjoyed? Any thoughts would be appreciated.


  • Just like cigars and pipe tobacco, tobacco snuff relies on a good storage environment to maintain it's aromas and overall condition.  Based on your container's lack of rust, the snuff has obviously been stored in a relatively dry environment for 40 years.  Also, the container on these is mostly cardboard, correct?   Not the best for long term storage as paper is porous.  No wonder the aroma you get is cardboard.

    I've read where most snuff users transfer their blends over to glass jars with tight fitting lids for long term storage. And some go further by keeping these jars stored in the refrigerator or freezer.  This generally keeps the moisture and original flavors from evaporating.  Chef Daniel goes a step beyond and lines his jars with thin wood in order to facilitate even better aging of his complex tobacco blends.

    Note I'm not a snuff expert in any way, but have smoked cigars and pipes for 20 years.
  • Dry scotches usually have a smoky flavor . You can certainly introduce  flavor back into this snuff. If you want a smoky flavor you can buy liquid smoke at the food store and add a few drops into a snuff box full. Or flavor it with any scent you like the posibuilitys are endless . Tobacco does not rot but can go moldy. 
    My knowledge is worthless if not shared and applied . "Joseph McKenna"  
  • TobeTobe Member
    I recently purchased some vintage Square, Honest, and Society snuffs on eBay, and after inspecting them closely and decanting them into a jar, gave each a try. I'm nowhere near an expert on snuff, but I think over the decades, each of these snuffs lost their "oomph", if you will. Either that, or all the reviews touting them highly were written by individuals who are delusional. We each have our own tastes, sure, but with so many people having positive opinions... I think these snuffs died in the can.

    I will never again buy or try another vintage snuff off eBay, not only because of all the issues mentioned by others previously, or the whole roll of the dice nature of it in general, but also because we're always talking scotches here, and my personal experience indicates one is as good as another in MOST cases. May as well go for something that's fresh/still in production then, IMHO.
  • jmahesjmahes Member
    @Tobe, I've seen it go both ways. I've gotten pretty nice ancient snuff on Ebay and mummified remains.
    I agree, i prefer to get fresh American as long as we can.
    For instance, the Starr snuff Chef Daniel had recently, is new and really good. Is it really worth getting every variety of scotch just to realize they're pretty similar ( especially archaic versions )? I don't know I guess that's a personal choice.
    For me, I like to at least try them, just for historical purposes, even if they're practically dead, but then I hit some Lundy Foot and all is good in the World :-)
  • If it's sealed and dry it should be fine. Moist versions that have had the pH raised to form freebase nicotine will diminish over time as free nicotine is extremely volatile. Nicotine salts on the other hand will last the duration, and if mixed with something such as lime and kept dry won't freebase until use therefore will maintain their potency. So if it was a dry snuff that was sealed from air/humidity it should be as good or possibly better than the day it was sealed. I'd avoid cardboard containers though, metal fine, glass was awesome.

  • TobeTobe Member
    edited May 2016 PM
    @snuffsahoy I'd be interested in your take on that Square, Honest and Society Sweet that I mentioned. Samples sent, my friend!

    Edit: Same samples sent to you @TerrapinFlyer!
  • TerrapinFlyerTerrapinFlyer Member
    edited May 2016 PM
    That's interesting, @snuffsahoy. I did not know that. I'll give my impressions of whatever @Tobe included with my trade. It should be here tomorrow, along with some Starr from @chefdaniel (as well as some OM snuff).
  • @Tobe, I look forward to giving it a shot, never met a scotch I didn't like, thanks.
  • Thank you very much for the samples, @Tobe ! They arrived today. I have had so much new snuff in my nose today that I couldn't do the new old ones justice here. I didn't take anything today that was bad, though. I'll go at the antiques with a fresh nose tomorrow.
  • SHbickelSHbickel Member
    edited May 2016 PM
    @Tobe My package arrived as well, thank you kindly for the samples.  The only non-sweet, non-vintage American scotch I can compare to is Starr, and these are most definitely different beasts.  Starr is buttery, bread-like, yeasty.  Smoke upfront, but fades quickly.  I really enjoy the Starr.

    Compared to Starr, both Honest and Square are darker in color.
    The vintage Honest is much smokier, and the tobacco has a deeper flavor than Starr.  It smells a bit like your fingers after handling pennies.
    The vintage Square does seem to have lost its "oomph" as you put it.  It smells like a used book store, paper and dust.

    To be frank, both are a bit off-putting.  I'm not sure if my imagination is running wild, but they smell... well, old.  (Maybe it's your fault for the Large Marge reference! haha)  They don't smell rancid or gone over, but if I can get fresher stuff elsewhere, I'll certainly do that instead of buying vintage on eBay.

    Could you guess the age of the tins?

    Thanks again!!
  • TobeTobe Member
    edited May 2016 PM
  • TobeTobe Member
    edited May 2016 PM
    @SHbickel The Square I was told dates from around the 1960s or so, the rest I have no idea.

    To be honest, while looking each of them over I was kind of put off. All of the tins were in good shape, but... @jmahes mentioned receiving vintage snuff from eBay that was little more than "mummified remains". That's kind of what I felt I was looking at. After trying them, I decided right then and there that I'd never do it again. To each his or her own, but that Square really could've been powdered chalk based on what I got from it.

    Glad everything reached you and @TerrapinFlyer quickly and without issue. Thanks again!
  • I have not had fresh Honest or Square, so I can't make what would be a useful comparison. I can make an educated guess regarding the smokiness, though. I've smoked old Latakia blends where the smokiness has flattened, softened, or otherwise faded. The dark fire cured component of these snuffs, especially the Square, may have undergone similar degradation. Hey, I date from the 1960s and I ain't what I used to be. Ha, ha.

    The Square had a ''mummy dust" quality about it that, while I wasn't put off, caused me some hesitation in putting a second pinch in. Not that the aroma of age was bad, but what it might signify for my continued health concerned me. I didn't find mustiness, which I like in certain snuffs. Had I found it here, I would have suspected mold contamination. This snuff is trying to trigger a scent memory, unsuccessfully.

    The Honest I enjoy more. It has some smokiness which bring to mind antiquarian bookstores--more as a hint than an actual scent. I like a leathery quality that sometimes comes with dark fire cured. I actually can't perceive that in this snuff, but the bookstore image still presents itself. It could be the cardboard flavor subliminally influencing me.

    I have some left of the generous samples and I'll be taking a bit here and there to see if anything else comes to mind.

    So, while neither one rings any bells for me, I'm very grateful for the opportunity to try them. It was a good learning experience.

  • snuffsahoysnuffsahoy Member
    edited May 2016 PM
    Package arrived today, I'm settling in for some samples. BTW awesome job packaging @tobe they could have played baseball with the package and I think it would still be fine:)

    Will try all these separately on a clean nose but first how can I not try them all right now?:)

    Bruton-might be a solid 50+% fire cured tobacco. No scenting that I can detect beyond that. Nice one dimensional fire cured product.

    Starr-maybe 20% fire cured? might be burley and dark air too and some slight very nice scenting. Great product.

    Garrett plain- less fire cured than Bruton, but still high. Molasses too maybe? Very nice.

    Square vintage- delicate snuff everything totally melded. After scent of the tin I think, was there some slight rust bloom?

    Honest vintage- again nice and fine, I don't detect any of the above tin scent that I did with the Square, this one is real nice. Fire cured to be sure but it has mellowed. I will try this on a fresh nose tomorrow.

    Saved the sweet for last, Garrett Sweet-very nice, sweet molasses with a decent % of fire cured. Reminds me of RR mills sweet but not as sweet. Very nice sweet.

    Well it's been 20 minutes and I spooned about a tenth gram of each up each nostril without blowing so I'm sure there is some melding of flavors going on here but I gotta say, most enjoyable 20 minutes I could have had with my clothes on, awesome snuffs thanks @tobe!
  • TobeTobe Member
    edited May 2016 PM
    @snuffsahoy @TerrapinFlyer You guys have noses to be envied! Very nice reviews. All I can really do is say whether I liked a snuff or didn't.

    As to the Square tin, there's some oxidation on the exterior lid (not exactly "rust"), but the underside of the lid shows no signs of it, nor does the interior of the tin.

    Now if anyone asks where you got the vintage snuff from, please tell 'em "Large Marge" sent 'em to ya. I don't want to be associated with gifting people the remains of once great snuffs; they're both dreck to my nose. :-q
  • I've had hit or miss experiences with vintage snuff. Some were pretty blah, while others were really good. The 1943 Gallaher's Irish High Toast, that was still sealed, and the snuff in a white paper tube taped closed, was really good. I scooped some out and let it breathe some fresh air, waited awhile, then tried it. Not as good as fresh F&T HDT, but within range. I've also had good luck with vintage Garrett Sweet, in the 5oz jar. Still sweet, and the tobaccos have mellowed out, but still good. The same goes for Tube Rose, but it's lost some of it's scent. I still search eBay for the old ones, but I actually prefer fresh snuff overall.
  • volungevolunge Member
    edited September 2019 PM
    There's one vintage 50 g carton of Bernard Feiner Offenbacher Cardinal at

    This snuff was discontinued in the first half of 2013.

    I still have few grams from a carton bought in 2010 (or '12). It's lightly oiled snuff and stores well. There's a high probability that purchaser will find it in a good (if not decent) shape.

    FOC was one of the so few unalkalized snuffs. Based on publicly available data on the ingredients, only Bernard Civette and Alt Offenbacher Kostlich are made without the use of alkalis. And this discontinued FOC.
  • @volunge I am contemplating getting it, might be too late if there is only one. I'll update if I do.
  • volungevolunge Member
    edited September 2019 PM
    @rostanf, I still haven't tried Civette and AOC, so can't draw a comparison. FOC falls under plain category, but has a very special aroma of past times. A blend of seven spicy tobaccos... And unique uneven grind, close to the feeling of ground allspice between the fingers.
  • RoderickRoderick Member
    edited September 2019 PM
    I love these vintage finds. My father left me some 1948 Churchill Havana cigars. I think I have about 10 left and it is like smoking air, they are so mild. I also have some H Upmans from the 1970's that are amazing.  Even my Cohibas from the 1990's are great.  The weird thing is I love vintage snuff more. I have worked my way through a jar of Garrets snuff from 1936 and I am panicking about getting some more.  How ridiculous is that? I make the finest snuff in the world and I crave vintage snuff?  Am I mad? 
  • @roderick I recall a story about someone finding a hoghead or two of old cigars they ground up into snuff. The story was that the transformed cigars became some of the finest snuff available at the time. I'm wondering what one of those 1948 Churchills would be like in the nose. May be worth a try.
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