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48 SMOKESHOP December 2015 W hen I was asked in recent years about the future of pipe tobac- co, my answer was always the same: bleak at best. The decline of this traditional plea- sure on the American scene seemed to match the acceleration of daily life, with fewer and fewer customers each year opt- ing for the pleasures of pipe smoking. Today my answer is very different. In fact, 2015 has been the strongest year the traditional pipe tobacco category has had in quite a long time. Plenty in the industry are excited about this resurgence, but I'd venture to say none more than Kelly Michols, pres- ident of Scandinavian Tobacco Group Lane and recently elected chairman of the Pipe Tobacco Council. "This resurgence is long overdue," said Michols. "Traditional pipe tobacco is a true art form, and it would be a tragedy for it to become a dying art. That's why we are committed to continuing to grow this important industry." The downward trend pipe tobacco experienced over the past few decades is hardly surprising. After all, pipe smok- ing is by nature slow and contempla- tive—two words that have lost meaning, or at least appreciation, in today's fast- paced culture. But there's something else that's been lost as well—the appreciation of true quality that only care- ful time and attention can understand. It's this under- lying concept that's expe- riencing a true renaissance—and pipe tobacco is just one of many art forms that are rising from the ashes of fast-paced consumerism. Others in this category include craft beer and bourbon, to name a few. In fact, Michols would put premium cigars into this category as well, noting the resur- gence they've had since the 1990s. "Over the last 20 years or so, the premium cigar manufacturers, the Ci- gar Association of America, and all the folks involved in that business have been able to create life, energy, excitement, forward thinking, and unique brand- ing, to the point where it's turned into an integral part of smokers' lives," said Michols. "That same opportunity exists for traditional pipe tobacco to see the same renaissance." The thing that makes this resurgence in pipe tobacco unique is that it's happen- ing in young adult smokers that are 25- plus years old—a demographic frequent- ly referred to as millennials. "What drives the millennial consum- er is being able to personalize things, be- ing able to talk about things, and to be as- sociated with products that are not part of big brands," said Michols. "Pipe tobacco fits all those criteria." The ability for consumers to create their own blend of pipe tobacco allows personalization of product. This desire to experiment with different brands is one of the factors that sets apart the new wave of pipe tobacco smokers. Leonard Wortzel, vice president of marketing and product development for Scandinavian Tobacco Group, said that 65 percent of millennials like experiment- ing with different brands, compared to only 15 percent of traditional consumers. So the big question is, as an industry, how do we keep this trend going in the > CAA INSIGHT The Renaissance of Traditional Pipe Tobacco After years of deadline, a sleepy category experiences an influx of innovation and is rebounding thanks to new, non-traditional demo- graphics and small batch excitement. >BY CRAIG WILLIAMSON > Blender Gregory Pease, whose mixtures are produced by Cornell & Diehl, has been a defining force in craft-grade blends for 28 years and continues to generate excitement. His latest release, Virginia Cream, is a stylistic departure that debuted in October. > Following a sneak peak at the 2015 Chicago Pipe Show, Nashville-based pipe maker BriarWorks International rolled out its first pipe mixtures, crafted by Cornell & Diehl: an all-day English blend, a smoky aromatic, and a Virginia/Perique flake.

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