Pipe smokers and premium tobacco retailers are surely rejoicing over the news that some of the best-known—and most-loved—tobacco blends are at last returning to the pipe tobacco market, thanks to Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG).
Dunhill’s Nightcap, Early Morning Pipe, De Luxe Mixture, Flake, Royal Yacht, Standard Mixture, Elizabethan Mixture and My Mixture 965 have been unavailable in the United States since the middle of 2018 after Dunhill announced that it would no longer sell or market cigars and pipe tobaccos. Upon learning the news, many pipe tobacco retailers and consumers stocked up on these favorite blends, hoping to savor them for years after they were no longer available. One need only have attended a recent pipe show to witness some of the steep prices those discontinued blends fetched from collectors to understand the status of Dunhill’s pipe tobacco blends in the pipe smoking world.
Starting in November however, those blends were once again made readily available for pipe connoisseurs to enjoy. STG, which had produced the blends for Dunhill for many years out of its factory in Assens, Denmark, has acquired the trademark and design rights of the blends in question and is now selling them as part of its Peterson pipe tobacco line, which was also recently acquired by STG. Other than the brand name under which they are sold, nothing else has changed about the blends.
“We were able to acquire the rights to continue with the blends and use the blends’ historic names and actual artwork that they were associated with,” says Leonard Wortzel, who oversees marketing at STG-Lane Ltd. “These are 100 percent the exact same blends that consumers have been smoking for years. From a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standpoint, we had to keep them the same. With our purchase of Peterson pipe tobaccos and now the re-release of these blends, we’re seeing a real chance to breathe new life into the pipe tobacco market.”
The premium pipe tobacco category in the United States is a market that has indeed needed some good news of late. Within the past two years, a number of venerable and loved blends have disappeared from the market, including all of those made by McClelland Tobacco Co., which ceased operation in March 2018.
“Given the environment that we’re in and that manufacturers large and small are having to navigate now in regard to the FDA’s testing requirements, it’s really made some of the smaller folks say it isn’t worth it anymore,” says Wortzel.
Between its acquisition of the entire Peterson pipe tobacco portfolio in July 2018 and the reintroduction of the old Dunhill blends under the Peterson brand umbrella, STG-Lane Ltd. is showing that, despite the challenges facing the premium pipe tobacco market, the category still matters to the company.
“Consumers were legitimately on the brink of losing some of the most iconic blends that this business has ever known,” Wortzel explains. “The consumer passion for these blends has been unbelievable. One customer called me every couple of weeks begging me to assure him that Nightcap wouldn’t go away forever. There is some solace for consumers that we are invested in the market. In spite of all these industry shakeups, there are still some companies with the passion for the market to ensure that some of these iconic brands and blends don’t disappear forever. This business still matters a great deal to us, and we’ve been able to jump through the hoops to ensure that these blends are still available for consumers to enjoy.”
While pipe tobacco sales continue a slow decline on the mass market side, Wortzel reports that sales of premium pipe tobaccos in premium tobacco shops are holding steady and that there may well be more premium pipe tobacco consumers today than there were 15 years ago. These new pipe tobacco consumers are willing to experience different blends than their predecessors, who were likely to be loyal to one brand. They’re also not quite as price conscious as pipe smokers have typically been in the past.
“It would not surprise me that retailers who are committed to the pipe side are seeing a growth in their pipe tobacco business because there are new pipe smokers continually coming into this category,” Wortzel concludes. “They’re not smoking the same volume that the old-timers were, but they are coming into the category, and they’re into the premium side of it. The new enthusiasts like to try other tobaccos and experiment with different blends. Blends like Nightcap, Early Morning Pipe and the others fit really nicely into that demographic.”
With STG acquiring Peterson and now relaunching the old Dunhill blends under the Peterson brand, those inquisitive pipe smokers will have even more choices to explore and more reasons to visit their local tobacconist.
This story first appeared in the November /December 2019 issue of Tobacco Business magazine. Members of the tobacco industry are eligible for a complimentary subscription to our magazine. Click here for details.
– Story by Stephen A. Ross, editor-in-chief of Tobacco Business Magazine.