Fans of artisan pipes will likely find this small tobacco producer right up their alley. All the leaf, from seed to packaging, is controlled by one man, Vincent Manil. Imported from Belgium, this is a unique and special pipe tobacco brand.
We might never know about this brand if it were not for Wil Hylton, who wrote an article about his quest for Semois tobacco in 2013 for the New York Times. Thankfully, Hylton managed to succeed in his search and came home to tell the tale of Manil's blends.
To understand what makes Tabac Manil so unique, you need to understand the specialty that is Semois tobacco. Produced in the Ardennes, a forested region in Belgium, the first man to plant tobacco in this region was mocked. Joseph Pierret, in the 1850s, planted tobacco seeds near the Semois river. Considering tobacco typically needs a warm climate and stable weather, the Ardennes should be the last place someone would decide to cultivate it. However, Pierret's gambit proved successful. The tobacco evolved and transformed, turning from the traditional leaves into a new, exciting plant with a rich and full flavor, one that does not need to be hit with any additives.
It proved to be an instant success, one that saw demand spreading throughout Europe and even eventually reaching Africa. Farmers who once mocked Pierret were now copying his success, planting the crop in huge numbers. In 1910, there were 9 million tobacco plants in the region. Ten years later, the number more than doubled to around 20 million.
Today, Manil keeps the tradition of Semois tobacco alive. His four different blends are an artisan's dream, with the tobacco maintaining its popularity throughout Europe, while the demand in the United States has exploded since Hylton's 2013 article. Do yourself a favor and get some of this tobacco as a treat. You will only regret running out.