Here is the press release that I promised you. We today launched CAMEL snus for the Swedish market. Our initial findings from market research show that CAMEL snus has the ability to please a wide range of snus consumers from the major market segments. In fact, some early tests show that most of the snus consumers we asked, prefer CAMEL snus to all the leading competitors.
JTI has spared no expense in order to make this a premium snus product, with a refined, well balanced pure tobacco taste. A few additives (mainly a hint of bergamot) are included to enhance the rich tobacco taste, thereby making it a traditional high quality Swedish form of snus.
Like I mentioned above – we are dedicated to make the best snus in Sweden – and that also includes the production process. We therefore have our own factory in the Swedish town of Vårgårda, where we manufacture CAMEL snus.
Coincidentally, I also received my JTI CAMEL Snus samples this afternoon. I ordinarily live with a new snus for a few days before reviewing it. I'm making an exception this time though. JTI took the snus world by surprise with the CAMEL Snus introduction in Sweden. Snus lovers are screaming for more information. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. So here is a first look and taste of CAMEL Portion Snus.
First and very importantly, lets define the term "Camel Snus".
CAMEL Snus or Camel Snus is a product made in Sweden by JTI designed for the snus market in Sweden. JTI owns the rights to the Camel brand name outside of the United States.
Camel SNUS is a product made in North Carolina by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco for sale within the United States.
So as if the question "what is real snus?" wasn't difficult enough to grasp in the United States, you now have to remember that SNUS in all capital letters refers to the American product by RJRT and CAMEL in all capital letters or Camel Snus with just the C and S capitalized is a Swedish product made by JTI.
Also remember that CAMEL Snus and Camel SNUS are not manufactured the same, don't taste the same, don't use the same ingredients or pouches, and have nothing in common to each other except the letters c-a-m-e-l.
Now that we have that out of the way, lets talk about JTI and CAMEL Snus. CAMEL Snus comes in two versions: CAMEL Portion Snus and CAMEL White Portion Snus. This review is of CAMEL Portion Snus. The review of CAMEL White Portion will be coming in the future: That review is going to be a head to head comparison of CAMEL White Portion against Philip Morris 1847 White Portion. I'm looking forward to that one!
The CAMEL Snus can is very similar in design to the LD container only nicer. It is plastic. The label, as you see below is tastefully done. By the way, the pictures don't do the cans justice at all. They look much nicer in real life.
The label is also PE-Plastic instead of the usual paper. As V2 Tobacco discovered with Thunder Snus, a PE-plastic label makes a near airtight seal unlike paper and extends the freshness of the snus. Unlike V2 who went with a high gloss label, JTI went with a matte finish. Combined with the graphics, it gives the CAMEL Portion Snus label a richer look.
The label finish was obviously deliberate. The top compartment lid, which is embossed with the traditional Camel graphics, is a very high gloss textured plastic. Even holding it right in front of your face, it looks more like metal than plastic. I actually had to tap on it a few times just to convince myself it wasn't metal.
My snus can appearance test is a simple one: would a single man or woman at a club trying to meet someone put this can on the bar or keep it hidden in their pocket/purse? JTI's CAMEL Snus can is definitely an "on the bar" can. It doesn't look cheap and it doesn't look like an American chew or dip can. Very chic!
To borrow from That Snus Guy, "Alright, Larry...the can is nice. How does CAMEL Portion Snus TASTE?"
In two words, Very Good! This is a high-quality traditional Swedish premium snus. It has a healthy tobacco taste and while the salt is evident, it is very nicely balanced. The salt complements the snus; it doesn't overpower it. I know I swore never to use this word in a review ever again, but I have no choice. As JTI says in the above email excerpt, there is a subtle but noticeable hint of .... Bergamot.
For new readers, I have nothing against the Bergamot fruit and the....tree, bush, vine, shrub, or whatever it grows on. It is very appropriate in Swedish CAMEL Snus and adds to the complexity of the flavor. Here in America however, we don't have Bergamots...or Bergamoti, whatever the plural of Bergamot is. When I first started using and reviewing snus, I always thought that throwing in "Bergamot" was a way for lazy snus reviewers to bang out a quick paragraph and look like they knew what they were talking about.
Bergamot's are a citrus fruit somehow in the Orange family even though they look more like a pear. Bergamot oil is used in perfumes...and snus. I assume you can also eat them, although no one ever seems to talk about doing that..... In the case of snus, and the CAMEL portion snus we are talking about specifically, it adds a touch of citrus to the aroma and taste.
I don't know what the nicotine content of either CAMEL Snus is yet, but I'm assuming 8 mg/g. I sent JTI an email with additional questions and the nicotine content question was one of them.
I also suggested they make an Extra Stark/ Ekstra Sterk / Extra Strong version if they hadn't thought of doing so yet. The CAMEL Snus product was designed for the Swedish market and traditional snusers in Sweden would rather put two portions in their mouth or use a Maxi Portion than use an Extra Stark snus. So why should JTI make a high nicotine CAMEL Snus if it won't be popular in their target market of Sweden?
I am going out on a limb a little here and included this in my questions to JTI, but I'm assuming that if CAMEL Snus was designed for the Swedish Market, Swedish Match would be handling the distribution. Shocked? Because of a variety of circumstances worthy of their own article...or book; Swedish Match is the distributor of 99% of all tobacco products in Sweden. All tobacco products. Even their competitors Snus! I'm not suggesting JTI or any other snus, cigar or other competitor to Swedish Match is happy with this arrangement: it's just how things are.
If, as is likely but unconfirmed at this point, Swedish Match is handling the Swedish distribution of CAMEL Snus for JTI, then they could potentially distribute it in Norway as well. Swedish Match is huge in Norway and it is no accident that SMAB's first extra high nicotine snus under the General brand was called Ekstra Sterk. Ekstra Sterk is Norwegian for the Swedish Extra Stark and the English Extra Strong.
Snus focus groups conducted in Norway and the United States for that matter determined that Norwegians (and Americans) LOVE high nicotine snus! General Ekstra Sterk and the unfortunate General Sterk as well were specifically designed for Norway. If JTI wanted to broaden the appeal of CAMEL Snus from Sweden to Norway, an extra strong version would be the way to do it. And Swedish Match's distribution network in Norway would be the perfect vehicle to accomplish it with if JTI doesn't have their own.
As to the United States, unfortunately R.J. Reynolds owns the Camel brand name in the United States (why they sold off all the non-USA rights to the name is beyond me). Americans will never see JTI's CAMEL Snus at their local convenience store: just Reynolds Camel SNUS. How lucky for us. yea. go usa. We can't buy Swedish Snus made with Cuban tobacco or Cuban cigars in the United States either. Great. Cuban embargo. The Cold War. Makes a lot of sense today, doesn't it?
So what is my initial impression of JTI's CAMEL Portion Snus? I really like it. It is most certainly worthy of being called a premium Swedish snus. It tastes great, lasts over an hour, feels very comfortable and non-irritating in the mouth, and is worthy of a place of honor in my refrigerator.
I'm going to throw a can of each CAMEL Snus into my office closet where That Snus Guy is hiding from the Snustopian Death Squads. I look forward to seeing if he agrees with me.... or calls me nasty names and throws old snus cans at me again. We'll see soon enough.
Here is the Press Release from JTI announcing today's official launch of CAMEL SNUS in Sweden. When I learn more from JTI, I'll keep you updated.
aka Mr. UNZ
Swedish Snus Ambassador to the United States
Reporting From SnusCENTRAL.org