Monday, 17 February 2014 13:43

General Variation Smoky Oak and Rustic Blend Snus Review

Written by Mick Hellwig
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General Variation Snus: Great Snus Expectations

When I first heard about General Variation last fall, I got excited. Schoolgirl new crush excited. Finally two new Swedish Match offerings that didn’t involve fruity overly done flavors or mint. Bring ‘em on.

General Variation Smoky Oak and Rustic Blend snusAfter what seemed an inordinately long wait I got a few cans of each in January.   After using both in my usual testing ordeal I figured now was a good time to share my thoughts. I also have procrastinated for a while knowing that Swedish Match might not like what I have to say.

The General family of snus has many members. Some like Mint, Mini Mint and Wintergreen which to me aren’t really General snus.  They are just riding the name hopefully to fame and fortune, much like a politician named Kennedy but who has no real blood connection the more famous Kennedy clan. The two new General Variation flavors are both very much members of the real General Clan. You can taste  the tried and true General recipe in both.

Hit and miss. That is the best I can describe my overall thoughts on the first two General Variation snuses.

When news of these first came to me I had no indication of the flavors, except the names. Smoky Oak and Rustic Blend. Smoky Oak sounded like it had great possibilities, Rustic Blend I immediately wrote off for some odd reason. My expectations were 180 degrees removed from the reality.
The tins were lovely, understated, in some ways basic, not flashy but showing a level of sophistication above the usual Swedish Match labels. Definitely not the eye catching splash of recent Nick and Johnny tins, more the plain “girl-next-door” look. I really like the tin presentation.

I had expected some new, possibly mind blowing, flavors. Something like the annual Kardus limited Editions of past years, only in an easier, cheaper to produce snus. Honestly, I hoped for a Premium level snus; something in the realm of Onyx, with great tobaccos and new flavorings.  What we received is what I can only speculate is a combining of existing recipes....

General Variation Smoky Oak Portion Snus

General Variation Smoky Oak Portion Snus ReviewWith a name like Smoky Oak I really hoped for a snus in the flavor line of old Copenhagen. Fire Cured tobacco taste with an Oak chaser and a hint of sweetness. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. My first emotion was sadness that such great promise was squandered.  When I calmed down and thought about it rationally I realized that Swedish Match wasn’t making “Mick’s Ideal Snus” and calling it Smoky Oak. They just a made a snus that they believe a lot of people will like.

Smoky Oak is what it claims to be. Smoky and Oaky. Sort of. The smoke is out front, the oak is hidden behind the usual pepper of General Original portion. The opposite of what I had hoped for. I want my Oak up front, the smoke fading and mixing with the tobacco.

Also my lip and gums do not get along with artificial smoke flavor very well. It is irritating so after an entire day of using Smoky Oak I need to switch to something milder.

My initial impression was that they combined General OP and N&J Black Tarmac, without the licorice flavoring. I have since changed that slightly, but I can taste elements of both snus. Smoky Oak is merely Okay for what it is:  a nice new snus in the General family, but nothing earth shattering, mind blowing or otherwise remarkable.

General Variation Rustic Blend

General Variation Rustic Blend Snus ReviewGeneral Rustic Blend on the other hand is very close to unseating my top Swedish Match snus, Tre Ankare. This is mostly because Rustic Blend to my taste buds is the love child of General and Tre, with a touch of Kronan thrown in. The soft herb taste is up front a complimented by the bolder background of pepper and citrus.

I had written off Rustic Blend before tasting, I think, because my brain equated it with the Swedish Match  American market Nordic Blend snus. I guess I saw the word Blend and went stupid. As disappointed as I was in Smoky Oak, Rustic Blend pleasantly surprised me.

The scent is hard for me to pin down. I’ve talked to or read several opinions on the scent and I don’t really agree with any of them. The only word I can honestly use is “herb”, which herbs I can’t say. I’m just not the good at picking them out. All I know is it’s really, really good.

Rustic Blend is a complex flavor which never really settles down. Hints of citrus, pepper and herbs come and go throughout the time it’s in your lip. I know that sounds like a bad thing and the flavors do meld, but which one is up at bat changes. The others are there just on deck as it were.
So my final thoughts on the first two General Variation snuses? Much like my first thoughts: Hit and Miss. Rustic Blend is a hit, a home run and has earned a coveted place in my top 5 snus list. Smoky Oak, for me is a miss. Not a strike out, but more a bunt. It gets the job down, but barely.
My advice? Try both. As a trusted adviser told me a few days ago my snus tastes are eclectic, which I know is a polite way of saying bat crap crazy. He actually said that he trusted his opinions of snus mostly based on the opposite of mine. Meaning if I liked it he wouldn’t.

We do agree on a few, but those are few and far between. So if you generally agree with my tastes, try both. If you disagree with my tastes, try both. You will like one of them. Feel free to let me know your thoughts on General Variation in the comments section or on the forum. I love to hear your opinions and debate them if you’re wrong. Heh heh.


Snuff Takers Ephemeris Magazine

Mick Hellwig is a Founding Member of

Read 15107 times Last modified on Wednesday, 14 October 2015 17:19


  • Comment Link Heather Schable Friday, 28 February 2014 23:41 posted by Heather Schable

    It sounds like I would rather enjoy the Rustic Blend. I'm going to have to pick up a can.

  • Comment Link Mick Hellwig Monday, 17 February 2014 18:37 posted by Mick Hellwig

    Experienced snuser, thank you for your thoughts.
    Rustic Blend being a white portion will take a bit longer to develop the full flavor. Original Portions, like Smoky Oak will get there quicker. I think Rustic in a original portion format wouldn't work as well.
    I'm glad you like one of the General Variations.

  • Comment Link Experienced snuser Monday, 17 February 2014 17:32 posted by Experienced snuser

    Welll, I guess our taste is quite the opposite of eachother. To me the rustic blend doesn't start tasting anything before I've had it under my lip for a good half an hour. Then it's good, but I'm just not willing to put in the time. The smoky oak on the other hand, starts tasting immediatly, and has a strong, rich flavour to it. I just love it. It might have something to do with the fact that I'm a regular General loose user and preferes more of an instant kick, but that beeing said, I really likes the taste of it. As you I got my hands on a roll of each in January, and I gave some away to fellow snusers to hear their opinion about it. They are all ancious to get their hands on more of the smokey oak! Happily for them, it reached the shops here in Norway yesterday.

  • Comment Link Larry Waters Monday, 17 February 2014 15:29 posted by Larry Waters

    Absolutely great reviews, Mick! And thanks for validating my taste buds: Smoky Oak is now one of my current top five favorite snuses while Rustic Blend..not so much. :-)


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