Sometimes it makes sense to mix up a bit of the most unprocessed tobacco out there with a pleasant aromatic, producing a mixture labeled “Fruit McBullshit” on the jars here which is equal parts Savinelli Armonia and a blend of Cotton Boll Twist and Black Twist Sliced.
What on Earth would possess someone to concoct such an unholy mix? For starters, Armonia despite being not very popular represents perhaps the best of the aromatic genre: lots of tobacco flavor, a mixture of toppings, pleasant to smoke, and not too goopy.
Most aromatics are like soft drinks. You take a cheap ingredient, add sugar and flavorings, then ship it out the door for a massive markup. Your average aromatic consists of pile Burley, sugared Cavendish made from pile Burley, a touch of steamed young (i.e. cheap) pile Virginia, and sugary “goop” soaking it.
The goop shows us some alchemy by industry. The younger tobaccos save money on curing and aging, so they are the cheapest options for a blender. Add a dessicant, flavorings, sugar, and a humectant, and the leaf sucks in those flavors, gets sticky, and emits a strong scent and flavor alien to tobacco.
Like your average person seems to fear food that has not been blasted and flavored into an unnatural product, casual smokers like tobacco that leaves the room smelling good, will not clobber them with nicotine, and burns like the dickens because of the sugar to make it “easy” to smoke.
For those of us who are not sucking, gulping, drawing, slurping, panting, and gasping on our pipes this method ends terribly. Most aromatics are hard to smoke, if you smoke a pipe like a pipe; they are easier if you smoke it like a cigarette, taking big draws and then holding it for a few seconds.
Armonia delivers a topping that mixes chocolate, flowers, fruit, and liquor for a generalized perfume that integrates well with the woody and prairie scents of burning tobacco. Under the hood, this blend swaps dark fired Kentucky Burley for Latakia in the “English formula.”
The Virginias lead the flavor, with the dark fired Kentucky Burley providing strength and warmth while the Orientals give it a piquant taste. This results in something that by itself is quite a pleasant smoke with mild-to-medium nicotine, but us darker smokers prefer something with more kick.
When you mix in a barely-cured Burley like Cotton Boll Twist, the flavor gains Faustian dimensions as the light fruity topping battles with a surly demon with a faint vegetal flavor, but throwing in some Black Twist Sliced slows the burning and gives it a rich molasses undertone.
Aromatics will probably always both have a bad reputation and account for most tobacco sales as they do today. Rather than scream at the misinformed tastes of the masses, it makes sense to find an example of the finest of that genre, and point out where it could go to make it a top-notch smoke.