Let's talk about the 'new' Condor

Rotherdale

Pelargonium Graveolēns Et Sāpo
Patron
#1
The under-the-radar news about production of Condor moving from Northern Ireland to Poland has caught many of us, not least yours truly, on the hop. The gist of several posts in the last couple of days, from members familiar with the 'new' stuff, was that the blend has drastically changed and that sales are well down particularly in Ireland.

The factory in Co.Antrim closed in Oct.2017 (https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/...as-factory-machines-fall-silent-36259173.html) but I'm guessing production started to shift over earlier than that - which would explain a curious situation we had in the UK last year around August when Condor was out of stock just about everywhere for several weeks. I'm pretty sure therefore that some of my cellar of Condor is the 'new' stuff because I've bought a few pouches since the changeover.

To be doubly sure I went to the supermarket and got a pouch of Long Cut yesterday to see what's what. I'm not doing a traditional review here in the sense of describing a blend to someone who's never had it - I'm talking mainly to the smokers who are well familiar with the unique Condor taste.

**The Review**

The most obvious and glaring difference is upon opening the pouch - the famous Condor moment just isn't there
. If you bury your nose into the pouch to take a deep smell you can just make out the familiar Condor scent struggling to overcome the smell of Virginia tobacco.

I expected to get hardly any of the Condor scent in the smoke because of this but for the first third/half of the bowl or so there's some there - it's just turned way, way down. To anyone familiar with Condor Blended and how that has the Condor taste dialled way back, this is a whole level lower in taste. In the second half of the bowl it gets really flat taste wise and what little there is of the old Condor taste is fleeting. You can just pick some up on the snork a little more often. It's not an unpleasant smoke when the taste wanes, but it's like drinking a watered-down Bitter to use a beer analogy.

I just don't understand what the manufacturers game is here - they clearly still have the famous Alcohol/Floral topping available, they are just not using anywhere near enough
. I'm positive they could smother the baccy with the topping and get the old taste back if they had a mind to. I also think the base tobaccos are pretty close to the original, a tiny shade stouter if anything.

I smoked it in a dedicated-Condor pipe first, and the old ghosts helped the new stuff along and made it a passable smoke flavour wise. However in a seen-everything Cob and a non-Condor briar it's a deeply disappointing smoke for Condor veterans. As I have said to someone in a PM the mighty Condor has had it's wings well and truly clipped.

I'm curious as to whether this is how it was when they first moved to Poland or if the manufacturers have responded to customer feedback and tweaked it any.

*The pouch and contents*



The flakes appear a little darker and certainly a bit 'scruffier' than these old WAYS pics from last year

 

Coda

Well-known member
#2
We can only hope that they will adjust the manufacturing after the first batch or two. I opened my jar of Condor this evening, and was overtaken by that tangy, vinegary smokiness that I always loved. These Condor moments are numbered, I reckon...
 

Spillproof

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
Sales
#3
I feel pretty foolish for not buying all the Condor I could have at the Chicago Show.
I walked up to the Larrysson table and said “I’ll take four of those (Long Cut) and four of those (Plug).”
As I was reaching for my phone to PayPal him the money he said something about the blend having changed recently but I couldn’t be bothered to Listen... I still had money and had other stuff to buy!
 

MLC

Foggy Fogey.
#4
Excellent reporting, I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to do this, although it deeply saddens me as well to hear that it does seem to be true that Condor has had its wings clipped as you so eloquently said.

I'm with you, I can't believe that the manufacturer passed this off and gave it the green light, did they not have a smokers panel or anything to evaluate it before release to the market?

It indicates to me that JTi just doesn't care.
:cry:

We can only hope that they receive enough complaints that they try and tweak it back to its former glory.
 

Deadfrog

Wyrd bið ful aræd.
Patron
#8
My only experience with Condor was a gracious sample from a forum member. After several bowls, it's still a top five smoke. Because it's so hard (expensive) to get here in Canada I never went after acquiring more. It's quite depressing to hear that the quality has failed so much.
 

MLC

Foggy Fogey.
#9
They are saving 4 cents per pouch on the flavoring, and that kind of corporate bean-counting is very very tough to over-rule as a customer.
:LOL::cry:
Made me laugh, then made me cry because it wouldn't surprise me if it was true.


Makes me wonder how the Gallaher factory stacks up in comparison to STG, as far as pipe tobacco goes, and as far as labor cost, or robotic automation.
:alien: Ess Tee Gee don't need no stinkin' humans...

 

MLC

Foggy Fogey.
#10
I was exaggerating when I said that I dumped the pouch, I actually jarred it. I had bought 2 pouches of Long Cut for evaluation after my experience with the Plug that seemed different --- and most the L/C is still there as I haven't been smoking it, I just dug in the cellar and got it to revisit --- it was just like Rotherdale said, since I smoked it in a Condor-dedicated pipe it was helped along a little, but it's still quite noticeably odd, and not the Condor of old.

I got it in Feb. 2017.

I'm going to the Post Office on Tues. and would be more than willing to send out samples to anyone who is familiar with Condor that wants to try the 'new' version for adding more opinion/observation/review in this thread.
--pm me with your addy and I'll send a sample out.
 

MLC

Foggy Fogey.
#16
Just this morning saw some great pix of the Hoggarth factory,
it makes the STG joint look positively Buck Rogers!


It was posted on a FaceBook page and linked by someone who shared the pictures, since I don't have an account on FB I couldn't access the original source so I made an imgur album,
here:
imgur.com/a/szuGji1

The FaceBook post was made by a Polish distro of Gawith Hoggarth and he prefaced by saying:
"As you did asked I share with you some pictures I made visiting Gawith Hoggarth pipe tobacco manufacture in Kendal UK. Two part because too much pics.
Part 1."


It was here on FB originally:
www.facebook.com/groups/2208299084/permalink/10156361938349085/
 

MLC

Foggy Fogey.
#19
I wonder if Sutliff could crank out a close enough match for Condor?...
Maybe if they had a steam-jacketed press, and even then it'd be very very difficult to reverse-engineer the casing and topdressing.

I'm not sure if any American companies have a steam-jacketed press, perhaps McClelland did but I've never seen any photos of their factory. I suspect that Larus & Brother of Edgeworth fame had one back in the day, and probably American Tobacco Company too --- some of the older USA companies may have had them too, but It's likely I think that they were destroyed during WW2 for the scrap drive?

Orlik, who later got bought out by STG, had theirs shipped over from Murray's of Belfast, and Mac Baren had some imported from England.

England, Scotland, and Ireland were the only countries that used them and it was a trademark of their style, of course that was back in those days when just by smoking a baccy you could likely tell where it was from, like Holland had the Holland style and most stuff from Denmark was goopers and etc...

...we've sort of lost that distinct localized flavor in the modern world.

edit:
but we've gained some too, I cannot deny that Semois is intensely localized, yet has gained worldwide fame and favor in our modern world,
and it only comes from there.
 

Coda

Well-known member
#20
I wonder if we should assemble a sit-rep of which classic British OTC's are still manufactured and available? I know a few have changed name: Mellow Virginia is now "Classic Virginia" or something like that. Walnut Flake is called "Ogden's Flake" now too, I think. Highland Sliced is no more. What about Player's Navy? Isn't Mick McQuaid also gone?...