There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of tobacco production companies.
With the vast number of producers out there, it takes seriously delicious tobacco, great business skills, and a passionate blender in order to elevate a company to pipe tobacco fame.
Mac Baren Tobacco Company is one of the few notoriously good examples of how the three pieces of the puzzle can come together to create mastery.
While few of us have ever tried 90% of the tobacco brands out there, I would say that 90% of us have tried Mac Baren tobacco. Of the many great lines within the Mac Baren Tobacco brand, there is one that stands out among the rest: The HH line.
A History of Mac Baren
In 1887 Harald Halberg purchased the Svend Bonneclyckes Tobacco Spinning Mill in Svendborg, Denmark.The company continued to manufacture tobacco related products under the name of Harald Halberg’s Tobaks and Cigar fabrik.
Through the 20th century, the Halberg family owned company evolved over and over again until finally it reached its current style of tobacco production.
Jorgen Halberg, a member of the “royal” Halberg tobacco family became landlocked in America in the 1940’s, unable to be transported back to Denmark during WWII. While stuck, Jorgen went to work in various American tobacco facilities and to learn all he could from their unique style of production. Jorgen’s hard work and effort in American paid off. He learned the process of flavoring Burley tobacco and turning it into the strong aromatic blend that Americans love.
The Halberg family used the knowledge Jorgen accumulated and purchased a few steam presses for their tobacco plant. Steam presses lighten and bring out the natural sweet flavors of the tobacco. Thus began their American production.
After years of processing tobacco, the Halberg’s created matching blends of aromatic Virginia tobaccos that compared to the sweet Burley’s so often smoked in America. The Halberg’s used this new technology and method learned by Jorgen to make its way into the American pipe tobacco industry.
Years later, the Halberg family industry evolved into the Mac Baren Tobacco Factory.As of late, the company has been run by 4th generation master blender and owner Henrik Halberg.
Henrik has made incredible contributions to the tobacco world. Perhaps most importantly (and yes, as an American I am slightly bias), he has brought excellent foreign flavors and blends into American pipe smokers.
When smoking an HH tobacco, you experience the wonderful history of a legendary family in a way only a pipe smoker can. With an HH blend, the smoker gains respect for every part of the tobacco manufacturing process that is sometimes lost to us.
Smoking HH Tobacco
The accumulation of all this history and effort has been exerted into creating these wonderful tobacco blends.
I personally believe that blending tobacco is an art. And when I look at the HH series, I see a masterpiece that I translate as a delicious tribute to Henrik and all the Mac Baren Tobacco Company stands for.
HH Old Dark Fired
The Old Dark Fired blend is a masterfully flavored full-bodied blend.
Made from hot pressed Burley and Virginia tobacco, Old Dark Fired is an English flavored flake that tells the story of Mac Baren. It is a blend that directly connects the smoker to the aura that Mac Baren has sought to create since 1887.
With strong taste notes of a woodsy campfire, Old Dark Fired is the perfect blend to enjoy while taking a hike through the wilderness and sipping on a hot cup of coffee.
HH Acadian Perique
Acadian Perique is one of the more complicated blends coming from Mac Baren, produced to show the high quality of blending done at Mac Baren and to act as a tribute to the work of Henrik.
Made with a tricky blend of Burley, Cavendish, Dark Fired Kentucky, Oriental, Perique, and Virginia tobacco, Acadian Perique is one of the most friendly and inviting Perique based blends on the market.
Having a full bodied flavor, but a medium level strength allows Acadian Perique to be smoked by almost anyone. Acadian Perique is the best blend for smoking at your local pub with friends while enjoying a whiskey or beer.
HH Latakia Flake
The Latakia Flake is Mac Baren’s homage to the working class man; specifically, I believe, to the dedication and hard work of their employees.
A Burley based Latakia and Oriental, Latakia flake is an English blend meant to be smoked all day long. With a relatively low strength for an English flake and medium bodied flavor, Latakia Flake can be smoked all day long by the working man.
This blend is to be smoked when you are working in your wood shop, running errands for work, smoked on the ground floor of a factory, and every other place hard workers make their living.
HH Vintage Syrian
In my opinion, Vintage Syrian acts as the blend that pays thanks and offers welcome to all outside countries that have had the pleasure to do business with Mac Baren.
A tremendous Balkan blend of Kentucky, Latakia, Oriental, and Virginia Tobaccos, Vintage Syrian offers the classic Latakia flake that is so coveted in almost every pipe smoking country.
Vintage Syrian is a blend that chooses not to hide the fantastic bold flavors of its intrinsic elements, and instead shines through as a bold tasting medium bodied blend. Vintage Syrian should be enjoyed in the company of others, no matter what that may look like.
Embrace the differences between others and yourself and allow that to create and nurture a proper community within your smoking group.
HH Bold Kentucky
Bold Kentuckyis the latest blend released in the HH line, having hit the shelves in March, 2015. Bold Kentucky is the final thank you to Henrik Halberg from this Mac Baren Line.
Bold Kentucky is one of the fullest blends you will ever smoke. The nicotine content is high enough to rivals any other blender. Consisting of Dark Fired Kentucky and Virginia Tobacco, the flavor of this blend is very straight forward.
At the end of any long journey, or hard days work, it is only proper that relaxation is involved. With the potent content of Bold Kentucky, it is guaranteed that every hard worker will have time to sit back at night and enjoy the spoils of the day.
Whether this is the end of the line for the Henrik Halberg series of Mac Baren or not, I cannot say. What I do know is that the next time a blend is released, the excitement and hearts of thousands of pipe smokers will be set aflame with eagerness to try it.
Let us all hope that Henrik Halberg and Mac Baren Tobacco Company continue for four more generations and continue to improve their tobaccos every single day.
Meet Chris Hopkins, a pipe blogger and former tobacconist. Chris worked for his first tobacco company at the age of 17 in Kentucky, then later as a tobacconist in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Chris currently operates an in- depth blog review of pipe tobacco and products at Pipe Tobacco Critique. He is currently a graduate student of theology at Kentucky Christian University and a minister in Winston Salem. Chris' passions include pipe blogging, movies, and cooking for his beautiful wife Emily.