Why would anyone go to the effort to make their own cigarettes? While I can only answer for myself the reasons are many. Coming from a low-country town in Carolina, I can still very well remember the sweet and pungent aromas of the tobacco auction season and the myriad sights and sounds that accompanied the auctioneer and buyers as they walked among the beautiful rows of golden leaves.
Due to my age, I can also recall sitting in the company of many others as they instructed me in just how many leaves to grasp by their stems while then wrapping another around the top to produce a hand of tobacco. My father, being from upstate New York where propane was used for many purposes, owned a propane gas company and soon afterwards invented the system that inaugurated the move from wood to propane in flue curing bright tobacco. Those many aromas and the bustle of the auction season still lingers with me as I think back on the many sensory delights of fine tobacco just out of the curing barns.
Maybe from that direct exposure I was exposed to an appreciation of what tobaccos SHOULD smell like. In fact, I even remember watching once as I was given a lecture on the differences between our fine Carolina brights versus those “other” tobaccos that were left in the fields. the burleys of the up-country. To even further educate me, I was once given a demonstration of how burley was soaked in a solution of sugar, salt and water, wrung out, shaken, and then made into a twist for drying. Back then chewing tobacco was either a similar twist or a plug, not the subtle stuff of today’s highly cased bags.
Years later, when I was grown, I was exposed to many of the “store bought” cigarettes that rarely had filters. Lucky Strikes, Home Run, Camels, Chesterfield, Phillip Morris and others. Eventually, the American taste turned to filtered cigarettes and the decline of intense toasted flavors and Turkish blends. However, as cigarette tobaccos were more and more enhanced with additives better transportation and communications led to the growth of international blends in pipe tobaccos where Balkan, Turkish, and English blends led to a plethora of pipe shops and a rapid growth in new blends, cuts, and flavors.
Maybe it is a personal recollection as many of the older ways seem better, but it seems that in now having so many options among cigarettes today, much of the flavor and aroma has gone. With the hundreds of additives now the standard, are we smoking tobacco or some lesser grade tobacco and myriad chemicals?
When I first thought of Roll Your Own cigarettes my thoughts were of the old men I used to see who fascinated me with their dexterity as they hand rolled a smoke from one of the many over the counter varieties found in many groceries and pharmacies. For myself, this meant something that would inevitably leave you with a mouth full of bitter shreds and a smoke that was dry, harsh, and packed the subtlety of a mule kick.
However, after a moment of exploration on the Internet I soon found that there were indeed alternatives. After reading in RYO Magazine and a quick call to D&R in Smithfield, North Carolina, I was soon eagerly awaiting a shipment of an injector, some filter tubes and a wide selection of blends. Upon their arrival, my wife and I spent a few days sampling and experimenting.
I am now glad to say that we were both thrilled with our purchases and what we have since experienced. Now, our home no longer has that foul reek of inferior tobaccos, in fact, the new blends actually are more a fragrance than what previously was more that foul stench of stale cheap tobaccos. Too, we have both rediscovered the overwhelmingly pleasant taste and aroma of great tobaccos. However one totally unanticipated side benefit is that we now smoke far fewer cigarettes as the wonderful D&R and other blends are infinitely more satisfying. Even more, there is no longer that coughing and congestion that used to accompany each morning’s waking.
Today, we have come a long way, as we now experiment with our own blending and have studied the many varietals, variations, and characteristics. For general smoking there is a light blend, but sometimes there is the enjoyment of a great Turkish blend or even a dessert blend with a bit of Latakia. Sometimes a sweet smoke and for other times more of an English blend. The fun part is that with our own custom made cigarettes we now have the opportunity to enjoy the finest quality in an incredible range of styles. Sometimes a thin, rolled smoke, other times a thicker injected smoke, with NO additives.