Blonde or brunette?

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9 Iron
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Sat May 19, 2018 1:59 pm

Or, the powers of oxidation.

It all started several years ago when a kind fellow whom I barely knew gave me a half pound or so of very dark, very fermented smelling rough cut Virginia tobacco. He'd said it was bought in bulk and dipped into time and again and it just never turned out to be his cup of tea. He thought I might like it. Very generous. The bag smelled of damp oat hay on a hot summer day. Not a thin or light suggestion of oats but the powerful smell of walking into a hay barn filled with the stuff in June (a smell I'm quite familiar with). The flavor was just as wonderful and I burned through that bag in short order. Of course I immediately ordered more, it was common and readily available, but what arrived was nothing like what I'd had in the bag. Instead the pounds of Samuel Gawith Medium Virginia that lay spread out on the table before me looked blonde or golden in color and uniform in construction. It was quite damp too. The new stuff bore no resemblance to the wonderful dark pipeweed I'd fallen in love with. It smelled different, it tasted different. It was reaffirmed that, yes, this was the same stuff, but age or something must really change it.

So two years went by and a jar was opened and damned if the stuff hadn't changed a bit. I was stumped. I again conversed with the gentleman who gifted the original bag to me and all he could come up with was that he'd kept it in a heavy bag in his closet. The lightbulb went on in my head: this wasn't an issue of aging the tobacco, it was a matter of aging it in an oxygen filled environment.

I immediately cleaned out the biggest tobacco jar I owned, one of those big candy store types you see in tobacco shops with the house blends in them. I could probably press 2 1/2 pounds of flake into this jar but instead I put about a half pound in there, after fluffing it up significantly, and placed it on a bookcase where I could see it. Every week ir so I'd open the jar and toss around the tobacco, introducing fresh oxygen into the stuff and slowly drying it out. After about 4 months of this I had succeeded. The blond flakes had turned into a pile of dark brown broken flake and ribbon and the soft perfumey smell was replaced with a deep organic oaty, compost-like aroma. It was outstanding.

I've been doing this every year since then, slowly oxidizing my blonde medium virginia into darkness. Below are photos of the most recent batch, the jar with four months worth of tobacco and a smaller jar of the next batch up, what it looks like before hand (the smaller jar is aprox 8 ounces of MVF from 2010. Aging 8 years in a tightly sealed environment did next to nothing to it visually).

It's got me wondering what other tobaccos might benefit from such treatment. I've never tried it with anything else.
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Ruffinogold
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Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:16 pm

Ok , that is some sexy looking s*** right there !!! :o
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Whistlebritches
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slowroll
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Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:23 pm

Interesting. I'll try it.
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Wooda
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Thu Jun 14, 2018 8:16 am

4 months?

I can work with that timeline.
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Whistlebritches
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Whistlebritches
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Thu Jun 14, 2018 12:24 pm

Wooda wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 8:16 am
4 months?

I can work with that timeline.
That's exactly what I was thinking........time to get this project in gear
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9 Iron
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Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:44 pm

The only caveat I'll add is the reminder that this is Sam Gawith pipeweed I'm using, and it's notoriously wet stuff out of the manufacturers packaging. Another manufacturers tobacco may not hold up. 4 months in that exessive air space and constant opening did not turn the tobacco to dust like it would a drier tobacco. Even after the prolonged controlled climate drying, the end product stays perfectly pliable and smokeable when stored as one would normally store tobacco.
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