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What is Shag tobacco?

The tobacco smoking world is full of terminology which can be confusing. Super Slim, Volume tobacco and Shag tobacco to name a few. Without a knowledgeable friend, you can sometimes be met with an array of terms which are meaningless to you. With recent duty increases on tobacco announced by the government we started thinking, why is Shag tobacco called that. It's certainly nothing to do with the other, ruder, meaning of the word shag.

The terminology shag comes from how the tobacco visually looks. The strands of tobacco look like an old English fabric that has a thick pile giving it a shaggy appearance. It's believed the word shag comes from the old English word Sceacga, derived from the Norse word Skegg which means beard. Originally Shag tobacco referred to any cut or ribboned tobacco that was imported from Virginia; however, this meaning has now evolved to apply to pipe tobacco.

Shag tobacco tends to be a blend of fine and rougher cut tobacco that is mainly associated in the UK with pipe smoking. Slightly damper than hand rolling tobacco, shag tobacco tends to burn slower and have a stronger flavour. This intense flavour is something that some smokers cannot get used to; they often find it makes them cough - the smell of pipe tobacco is also very evocative. With pipe smoking much less common, the scent often reminds passers-by of a by-gone era.

Shag tobacco is taxed much less than hand-rolling tobacco or tobacco found in straight cigarettes. With this economic argument, some hand rolling smokers will use shag tobacco in their cigarettes. While some find the flavour too strong and difficult to roll with, the financial benefits outweigh the limitations of the stronger taste and rougher cut.

At Bull Brand, we stock a number of Shag tobaccos if you fancy trying one in a pipe (we also sell a pipe for £1). While we don't recommend rolling with shag tobacco, some customers do and enjoy the smoke and also save some money!

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