Tobac Pluga na hÉireann
Ireland has always been known for their hard tobaccos, often very stout and topped or cased with an exotic aromatic flavour.
The plug form is hands down my favorite baccy variant, and I've tried to research its origins and evolution, but there ain't much out there documenting the historical arc.
This is primarily a visual gallery, as textual traces are difficult to track, but at least I've been able to scavenge enough sufficient imagery off the vast cultural detritus known as the world wide web to at least give the viewer/reader a generalized approximation of what was what and how was how.
Back then, you usually knew what you were getting if you knew the country of origin of your tobacco, it was fairly easy to know what to expect, unlike today's over-homogenized market where the lines are very blurry.
We'll start this off with an American newspaper article from 1940, and it deftly illustrates the renowned, legendary, far-famed, and celebrated characteristics of what is Irish plug tobacco.
Another thing I've been highly interested in, but unable to find any concrete info about, are the steam-jacketed presses which were unique to Great Britain and Ireland.
I do think that a SJPress is a crucial instrument in creating the plugs ultra-compressed and raven black distinctive properties.
There were quite a many Irish Tobacco Houses, in differing regions, that made the plugs.For many years past the Meadow Foundry Company has devoted considerable attention to perfecting the various appliances in use by tobacco manufacturers, and in this direction have made their speciality, the "Mansfield" Steam Stoving Press, known as "The Mansfield Stove." This system is now applied by tobacco manufacturers throughout the world, and is acknowledged by the leading houses and the representative journal of the trade to be the only stove which meets every requirement for stoving, pressing and curing every kind of hard tobacco, ensuring solidity without loss in weight, a jet-black colour without blister, and perfect keeping quality. These stove presses are equally well adapted to large and small manufacturers, giving a greater heat, uniformly distributed, than any other stoving plan, and perform the work at less cost and in shorter time than any other system.
Here's a short rundown of what was once available and the associated imagery to go along with it all.
P. J. Carroll & Co. Ltd.
Mick McQuaid Plug
Anti-Combine Plug (A.C.P.)
Bog Oak Plug
Carroll's Golden Bar
Striker brown Long Squares
Spearman brown Long Squares
Patrick James Carroll, fresh from an apprenticeship in tobacco manufacturing, opened the doors of his own tobacco manufacturing store at 38 Chruch Street, Dundalk, County Louth. The trade was practically confined to "Roll and Twist"- so called because the first manufacturing process after the leaf has been prepared consists of twisting and spinning-in those days by hand, in these days by machinery. At first the sales of the products of the small factory were naturally confined to Dundalk and immediate surroundings, but soon the good quality of the material and of workmanship began to spread and hold the trade of three to four counties.
After more than twenty years in the industry, the tobaccos of Carroll's were well known throughout Ireland and for the first time crossed the Irish sea to Liverpool.
The founder's son, Vincent Stannus Carroll joined the company. His forward thinking and progressive ways would lead to the modernization of the factory and the opening up of the export market. He is credited with guiding the company's expansion, even in times of severe economic decline.
In the 1880's a popular magazine named 'The Shamrock' featured a serial written by a Colonel Lynam about imaginary conversations between an optimist, Mick McQuaid, and a pessimist, Terry Garrity. During these philosophical conversations, Mick often drew inspiration from a pipeful of Carroll's tobacco. Consequently, in 1889, the company launched one of its most successful tobaccos, Mick McQuaid. When, in the 1920's, the company had a figure of Mick designed, it is said that the artist based his caricature on three well-known British politicians of the day - David Lloyd George, Herbert Henry Asquith and Horatio Bottomley.
Distribution plant established in Glasgow Scotland.
The fire which destroyed the Dundalk factory on December 16th could have threatened the livelihood of the more than 100 employees who then worked at Carroll's, but instead provided an opportunity to modernize the rebuilt factory and secure further employment.
P.J. Carroll & Company was incorporated as a company in Ireland.
A new factory was opened in Liverpool and a distribution plant was opened in Cork.
Carroll's became a public company.
Carreras took a 40% shareholding in carroll's.
P.J. Carroll & Company Limited became a wholly owned subsidiary of Rothmans International.
Rothmans International merged with British American Tobacco.
A cool video artifact from 1964,
Why Buy Broadleaf?
Dundalk at Work - The Tobacco Industry
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/dundal ... 2263?mt=11
(this is a beautiful little book, I was fortunate to recieve a physical copy as a gift from my good friend Jason)
Wm. Clarke & Son
Galtee More Plug (Flavoured and Full)
Nugget Plug Special
Cherokee Circular Plug
Founded in 1830 at South Main Street, Cork.
In 1901, the Liverpool branch was one of the original 13 companies which had amalgamated to form the Imperial Tobacco Company.
In January 1924, following the formation of the Irish Free State, the United Kingdom trade of William Clarke & Son was transferred to Dublin and taken over by Ogden's.
The Liverpool branch got in a bit of a jam with the Irish Industrial Development Association, as read about here in an article circa 1907:
https://books.google.com/books?id=GgBCA ... ug&f=false
War Horse Bar
Army & Navy Plug
http://nmni.com/um/Collections/Collecti ... -S-TOBACCO
http://www.multimediaheritage.com/proje ... rsbook.pdf
Much more out there as well with further googling.
John Clune Ltd.
Honeybee Long square
A surviving ledger of John Clune Ltd of Limerick, indicates that between 1908 and 1916 trade was largely restricted to counties Limerick, Kerry, Clare, Tipperary and Cork. Some of these smaller firms had even developed a limited export trade.
The company managed to survive until 1980, when it shut the doors on the factory.
Little information to be found online.
Murray, Sons & Co. Ltd.
Crowbar Long Square
Linch Pin Brown Suare
Whitehall Tobacco Works
1A Linfield Road
Murray, Sons and Company Ltd was founded in 1810.
In 1953, Murray's was bought out by Carreras, who later in turn would morph into Rothmans International (thus the Dunhill blends being made at Murray), and in 1999 R.I. was bought out by British American Tobacco.
Finally, late in the Fall of 2004, BAT announced that Murray's would be closed:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/nort ... 957589.stm
The quote below was salvaged from an old Murray site on the wayback machine...
:The company reached a milestone in 1862 when it introduced Murrays Mellow Smoking Mixture. It was the first branded, packaged tobacco product to emerge from Ireland and is a product that the Murray's factory still produces today, although in limited quantities. Murrays managing director Brian Mallen describes the Mixture as 'a bit like drinking Guiness; you've got to try it a few times before you get to like it.'
While the recipe for the wonderfully alliterative Murray's Mellow Mixture has no doubt gradually changed over the years, its longevity is symbolic of the staying power of Murrays business. Despite world wars, economic depressions, a number of owners and bitter local conflicts, Murrays has been firmly ensconced in its current location at the Whitehall Tobacco Works since the turn of the century - and it remains a resilient business.
Out of this resilience was born one of the world's most notable pipe tobaccos, Erinmore. 'The modern-day business was founded on the Erinmores' explains Mallen. 'They were originally put together in the 1920's by a number of individuals, including the company chemist 'Daddy' Burns. Erinmore is now our flagship brand and Erinmore fans inside and outside the UK are equally passionate about their favorite smoke.'
The secrets behind the search for that 'best possible taste' are closely guarded. The recipe for Erinmore is known to only one living person. 'Daddy' Burns handed it on to one individual, and it has come down through each generation until it now rests within the head of Brian Mallen: 'Lots of people in the factory are involved in making the Erinmore flavour, but they're not making it up from containers with full chemical names on them,' he explains. 'All the products are brought under code names from a number of manufacturers, so no one manufacturer is making all the elements for Erinmore. The key to those codes I have. But there has to be a back-up, so in a locked vault in a bank in Belfast there are a number of files covering the manufacture of that particular unique flavour - if I walk under a bus someone can have access to it.'
With every tobacco company hungry for the secrets of its rivals, it's not surprising that successful recipes are closely guarded. With all the companies buying similar tobaccos from similar areas, it's the expertise of the blender and the composition of the top flavour that form the challenge to create a really different and unique tobacco: 'It's like the perfume industry,' says Mallen, 'there's a lot of that type of mystique and technology involved.'
While Erinmore is Murrays flagship brand, it is only half the story. Murrays now produces a host of tobacco brands - some famous international names, other smaller local favourites, like Yachtsman, Warrior, Punchebowl and Barneys.
Wm. Ruddell Ltd.
Best Virginia Plug
Golden Virginia Bar
Not much hard info to be found online.
G. Spillane & Co. Ltd.
Warship Long Square
W. & M. Taylor Ltd.
Taylor's Navy PLug
Little hard info to be found online.
http://www.independent.ie/regionals/arg ... 07897.html
M. & P. O'Sullivan Ltd.
Erin's Pride Plug
Paddy O'Sullivan was one of nine brothers and two sisters who were born to a rural family in Clondrohid, near Macroom, County Cork. In 1905 he saw an abandoned store with a 'to let' sign in the window on Princes Street and established a wholesale base from which to work. Around 1910, Paddy's brother Michael joined in partnerhip and the firm became known as M.&P. O'Sullivan.
In 1927 a tobacco factory was built in Cork at Mary Street.
Lambkin Bros. Ltd.
Grant Bros. Ltd.
Little hard info to be found online.
T.P. & R. Goodbody Ltd.
https://www.offalyhistory.com/reading-r ... o-industry
The deep archives of A.S.P. provide some extra further pluggy footnotes.
Alt.Smokers.Pipes had a sort of "plug cult" that was particularly interested in Bendigo and I'm so glad their commentary was saved for the historical record.
Colonel Panic was kind enough to save for posterity this extract from McGahey the Tobacconist, describing Bendigo Plug:
:"Bendigo is rare outside of the Emerald Isle, and is enjoyed primarily by the "established" Irish pipe smoker. "Established", in this sense, means impervious to doses of nicotine that would render most humans unconscious. Bendigo truly delivers in this department. If you fail to be satisfied by its rich and flavourful smoke, then you need to see a doctor. The jet-black plug is a delight to the eye. Though similar to a black rope tobacco in colour, the bar is extremely compact. A sharp knife is needed to shave off the slices, which -- after rubbing out--require only a slight amount of drying to reach perfect smoking condition. The resulting cut is somewhat fine, and very easy to keep lit. "
And this is a wonderful write-up here:
:Many, many thanks to Mr. Ian Little--a very good soul indeed--for sending me a full bar of this delicious tobacco. I'll savor every shred. Here's why: Bendigo is rare outside of the Emerald Isle, and is enjoyed primarily by the "established" Irish pipe smoker. "Established", in this sense, means impervious to doses of nicotine that would render most humans unconscious. Bendigo truly delivers in this department. If you fail to be satisfied by its rich and flavorful smoke, then you need to see a doctor.
The jet-black plug is a delight to the eye. Though similar to a black rope tobacco in color, the bar is extremely compact. A sharp knife is needed to shave off the slices, which--after rubbing out--require only a slight amount of drying to reach perfect smoking condition. The resulting cut is somewhat fine, and very easy to keep lit.
OK. What does it taste like? What does it smell like?
My best description of Bendigo is that it's like a *strong* version of Condor without the heavy Condor scent. It's suprisingly smooth on the mouth and throat, but has an extremely intense and satisfying flavor. It has all the strength of a heavy dark-fired tobacco without dark-fired's throat-tickling--and at times irritating--qualities. This is marvelous. There's also a subtle cigar-like flavor underneath, similar in nature to
G&H's Dark Bird's Eye. However, the comparison stops there: Bendigo is considerably stronger than DBE. On the G&H strength scale, it would be necessary to recalibrate DBE to a 5 in order to make room for Bendigo at somewhere between 9 and 10.
The aroma is heavenly. It's considerably more understated than Condor, yet possesses that indescribable charm that Condor and Coniston Cut Plug fanciers like myself seem to enjoy. It would be overdoing it to say that Bendigo is "aromatic" in the sense of Condor. Nonetheless, the aroma is entirely bewitching: Bendigo just wouldn't be the same without it. I'm at a loss to describe the exact nature of the aroma.
Ian tells me that a number of experienced Irish pipe smokers in the West Country seem to favor Bendigo. I can fully understand this. It gets to the essence of pipe smoking satisfaction, much like a small shot of high-quality espresso does for the confirmed coffee lover. I'm quite content with just a half-bowl in my small Astleys newmarket.
I have no hesitation in rating Bendigo at the top of the list for strong smokes. Smoother and more flavorful than Coniston Cut Plug in my book, but far more potent. Not to be missed!
Thanks again to my good friend Ian for this wonderful gift!
HoyoD gives us this:
:A quick word about Bendigo
I have just finished my first bowl of this delicious stuff and all I can say is .........wow. Truly a serious tobacco. Delicious rich and dense smoke, very full straight tobacco flavor that comes across quite creamy in texture, s-m-o-o-t-h and very cool. It has a right smart nicotine kick as well. Alright. I guess I can say more than just "wow", I believe I could go on for quite a while longer actually, but that really sums it up. Thank you so much to my brother Ian in Eire for the chance to try this ambrosia.
Ian Rastall contributed this:
:Review: Taylor's Bengido Plug
Paul Zolig, Buddy Springman and I should form a club, kinda like the Cheap Pipe Club. We could call it Ironman Smokers or something. We all seem to enjoy these really heavy blends. This stuff is a very strong, smoky VA. Possibly a mix of VA and burley. Definitely strong.
It's reminiscent, in a big way, of G&H Dark Flake. But whereas I don't care for Dark Flake, I love Bendigo. The former has a very "maduro" taste to it, and this has more of a fire-cured flavor. But both are straight, unflavored tobacco, with a "dark" character.
This would go very well in a clay. In fact, I imagine this is the kind of tobacco Sherlock Holmes would smoke when he needed to go through an ounce in one night of serious cogitation.
This came as a bar, and when bits were shaved off, it was very hard to keep lit. After sending it through the old coffee grinder, I have something that lights very easily, stays lit, and smokes great. I don't know what smokers did all this time without grinders and food processors, but this plug seems to have been created for it.
Overall, a tobacco that I will miss when it disappears. (It already seems likely to do so.) One of the hardest tobaccos to get a hold of, but worth it if you get a chance.
Ian Little gives us a good bit about Bendigo:
:Since it is mostly destined for the domestic market in Ireland I'd be surprised if there are many Bendigo smokers left these days so there is quite a possibility that it may become extinct soon. I heard a qualified rumour that Gallahers in Ireland almost discontinued the plug version of Condor and in a last minute reprieve they decided to retain the smaller 25g packaged plug for the time being. Given Condors relative popularity this
wouldn't bode well for Bendigo.
...Bendigo appears to be plentiful is in the Western counties particularly Mayo where it
seems to be stocked alongside Condor bar in equal quantities even in the more modern convenience stores which stock tobacco and cigarettes.
And this more comprehensive write-up:
As the person who introduced a limited few on ASP to Gallahers (nee Taylor's) Bendigo here is what I know of it:
First off, I have no business relationship with Gallahers Ltd (of Condor fame) other than the fact that I happen to be from Ireland and resident here. It seems this tobacco (sold exclusively in traditional plug form) has a long tradition and at a first guess perhaps Gallahers are continuing manufacturing a smaller volume of it for exclusively domestic consumption. I have only seen it on the shelves of Petersons in Grafton Street in downtown Dublin city and at a few select general stores which carry plug tobaccos (a dissapearing few at that). As my wife's folks are from the West of Ireland I came across it stocked in some of the Western stores and and older gentleman did regail me with a story of his love for it (he gave up smoking and Guinness drinking about a decade ago though due to a heart bypass). In his case he mixed Bendigo with a bright virginia ready rubbed mix which has since been discontinued. His description of Bendigo was as exceptionally cool but not for the faint hearted. I think Mark Shelor and HoyoD Chris Little add great credence to his description.
OK - I also enquired with McGahey's and I think none of the UK tobacconists stock it. They stock the fine Murray plug range but none of the Gallaher plugs. So, in the interest of ASP kinship I will try to contact our friends at Gallahers in Dublin to understand their position on distributing this well received stuff. From the posts I am seeing it would seem like I unearthed the moral equivalent of Guinness stout for the pipe tobacco loving masses in the Americas )
So, bear with me a few days and I'll try to relay what the position is with Gallahers. First off, I want to establish whether they are planning to continue this stuff because if my intuitions are even 10% right then I would imagine up until about a month ago their target audience were a crop of senior smokers who fondly remembered Bendigo. Also, just as I think of it there was a post on ASP quite recently which included a URL to a *very* interesting customs/tax document from the Irish government archives circa 1948 listing the tobaccos being sold throughout Ireland at that time. Taylor's were an entity at that time and Bendigo was listed alongside another Taylor's concoction whose name escapes me.
Anyway tune in soon . same NG, different time.
A clutch of the other plugs were made for a good long while too.
Murray's had a few of these old plugs in their portfolio and made them until the the factory was closed.
BAT dropped several of the more obscure of them when the plugs were contracted out to Orlik.
Murray's manufactured them still branded with the manufacturer names of their originators,
as seen in this post by Jari,
A while back, daft.de had put up an edition of the 1995 A.I.T.S. Tobacco Index, but after the massive hack it had seemed to be lost, but looking the other day I did find it still saved in the web archive and the pdf is still viewable:Hello group,
I just got an interesting shipment of tobaccos from James Barber. I ordered different kinds plug tobaccos and of course I got what I wanted, but there are a few unknown manufactures for me. I hope somebody can tell me something about them.
Potomac Plug from Rudell's (never heard)
Garryowen Plug from Spillanes ??
Golden Bar Plug from Carrolls (this sounds bad, if the manufacturer is the
same as with the hamburgers:-)
Revor Plug from JT International Ltd ??
Warrior and Yachtsman navy plugs from Murray's (Is this the same factory who
makes Erinmore tobaccos? I was under the impression that they only make
Ahh, but now I think I have to take some time and have a smoke with Warrior
Hope somebody can help me, but I will send some reviews after I've tasted
http://web.archive.org/web/201304180829 ... d/aits.pdf
Included therein, it's very interesting that War Horse Bar was still being listed available at this late 1995 date,
I wonder when it actually went off the market?
Here's how it described some of the other plugs:
A very traditional style of pipe tobacco presentation providing a link with established craftsmanship of Irish tobacco blenders.
Expensive top quality heavy bodied flue cured Virginias are purchased from established leaf auctions in Africa and Brazil. To this full natural flavoured tobacco is added aromatic Burley to balance and smooth the blend. Conditioned with water, the blend is slowly pressed in large steam presses for several days to meld the rich and varied aromas. The cakes are then divided into plug form, allowing the smoker to cut it and rub it out to his own preference.
Akin to Yachtsman Plug but stronger in taste and aroma.
The blend is made in the same manner and style as Yachtsman Plug, using appropriate rich flavourable styles of leaf. The difference is a light flavouring prior to the pressing process to give a unique flavour and aroma, with the traditional smooth taste required. Velvan has a fruity aroma and taste.
As Velvan Plug but with a floral aroma and taste.
Mick McQuaid Plug
As Velvan Plug but a traditional brandy almond aroma is given.
As Velvan Plug but with the international famous fruity sweet aromatic taste of Erinmore.
Selected Orange Virginias are used in this blend to give it a lighter smooth taste and aroma compared to the other plug brands. Despite being processed in the same manner it provides a mild strength and background aroma of spicy Cognac tones.
Any additional information, input, or errata corrections on this topic would be greatly appreciated.