|I don’t know a whole lot about Leonard Dingler, beyond what the tin insert tells me. Apparently he arrived in South Africa in 1904 in search of fame and fortune and brought with him only his passion for adventure and the old family tradition of tobacco blending. The website for Wesley’s Tobacconist in South Africa adds that he started up a tobacco shop, and some more tobacco shops, created a couple of blends (No. 9 Brown-Full and No. 6 Green-Medium) and then the iconic Boxer arrived in the 1920s after his sons had joined the business. Leonard, I’m sure, is no more. His name, since 1999, has belonged to Swedish Match.
I gather that these Dingler tobaccos are rough equivalents of what are affectionately known as OTCs or “drugstore blends” in the USA. The most famous of these blends is Boxer, apparently a robust chin wallop of a blend. I’m not surprised at the rumored strength of Boxer given that this tobacco—technically an aromatic, I suppose, with its avowed coffee flavoring—is also pretty solid stuff. Someone else described the Nineteen O’ Four tobaccos (created as a centenary line in 2004 and comprising 7 blends—Original, Vanilla, Cherry, Whiskey, Peach, Rum & Raisin, Coffee) as being produced from “stout African Burleys” and I find that particularly apt.
I bought my little 20g tin from the shirtless owner of a strange little Pipe and Cigar shop in Beijing. Through a mix of hand signal and pantomime, he figured I was looking for pipe tobacco and pointed me to a low cabinet in a corner of the dusty shop. The selection was limited and all I knew about the lone tin of Dingler tobacco I saw was that I’d never had it before. I like coffee, I like tobacco, so I bit. In retrospect, I wish they’d had a whole lot more of this fine stuff, because I’d love to be able to buy a dozen more tins.
In the tin, it’s a ribbon cut mix of medium brown and beige leaves with a pleasant roasted coffee smell. My tin had only a little more moisture than I prefer. The cut makes it easy to pack, light, and keep burning and so I have nothing but praise for the burning characteristics. The flavor, as expected, is a little coffee-ish, but front and center is a nice, clean, and robust tobacco flavor. If I was hunting for comparisons with American OTCs, I’d probably light on something like Sir Walter Raleigh, or Edgeworth Ready Rubbed. The topping here, however, is a little more overt. The Dingler is also stronger and less nutty than the average American Burley, but it’s just as home-spun and pedestrian. And I mean those things in good ways. It’s not complicated, but it is a flavorful and enjoyable smoke.
I could see myself getting bored with this if it was all that was available. But I can also see myself pining for it a little when the 2 or 3 bowls that remain in my tin are gone. Simple, tasty stuff.