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Pipe Manufacturers
Kohlhase & Kopp

Welcome to Kohlhase & Kopp’s World of Tobacco

The company premises in Rellingen, near Hamburg

Over 30 years of family tradition

Adam and Daniel Kohlhase

Oddly enough, although we had been cooperating for years, and Rellingen is only 30 kilometers away from Esterval’s Pipe House, I had never visited Kohlhase & Kopp before.

Of course, I had thought about it, but it took some time for me to finally make the decision to visit Kohlhase & Kopp, a family business that supplies us with the most important ingredient for a pleasurable pipe-smoking experience: tobacco in nearly endless variety.

The bonded warehouse

Kohlhase was established in 1976. Three years later, in 1979, Michael Kohlhase and Bernd Kopp became business partners, and Kohlhase & Kopp was born.

Long before the renaissance of the premium cigar, Michael Kohlhase had started importing exquisite cigar brands.

His singular intuition, his ardor for tobacco and the people he was working with, and not least his witty, unconventional style, made him stand out as a unique figure in the tobacco industry.

He was not only a man of great knowledge, but also a man with a heart of gold. In 2000, the great connoisseur and pioneer of quality tobacco products passed away at age 61.

Continuing the family tradition, his son Adam has joined Bernd Kopp in the management board.

There are more than 50 raw tobaccos in stock, which are for blending the pipe tobaccos.

By now, Adam Kohlhase and Bernd Kopp are being supported by Adam’s younger brother Daniel Kohlhase. And don’t forget the great staff of the family business, they are a real team. Unfortunately, this special kind of relationship between entrepreneur and employees is getting lost in a branch characterized by increasing monopolization.

A handful of tobacco

Well, it took us „only“ two years, until spring 2008, to make an appointment for a company tour including the tobacco production.

The blends are produced when orders come in:
the tobaccos have to be in exact proportion to each other.

As I’m leaving A7 at Hamburg-Schnelsen my route guidance system tells me to turn right. Actually, this is the same route I take when I drive to Hamburg, the only difference being that I normally turn left, not right.

Pipe tobaccos are stocked here.

Now I turn right, in direction Quickborn - Rellingen, a suburb of Hamburg.

Actually, you can think of Rellingen as a district of Hamburg, because they are not far from each other. Only 5 minutes after leaving the autobahn I reached Hermann-Löns-Weg, where Kohlhase & Kopp is located.

I use the on-site parking possibilities and stand at the entrance door, which was promptly opened. I was swept off my feet. Unless your olfaction is impaired, you instantly know what is being produced here.

As the smell of tobacco surrounds and captivates me with its manifold aromas, a big grin enters my face. That’s a great way to start the day! I’m on cloud nine already, “flying” to the office of Adam and Daniel Kohlhase.

The hearty welcome is followed with a cup of coffee and, of course, tobacco. Considering all this, it was no surprise that we lost track of time until a hungry feeling intervened and drove us to a nearby restaurant.

Here the tobacco is pressed into flakes

Back at Kohlhase & Kopp we instantly enter the holy halls of the master tobacco blenders. Due to the air conditioning it is very comfortable in these rooms, especially when coming from the outside, where a wind from the Sahara made Northern Germany feel like the Caribbean, which, to tell the truth, is quite uncommon for Schleswig-Holstein.

Roni Legg Ltd. Engineers - London, Flake Cutting Machine

Kohlhase & Kopp is the exclusive distributor for many outstanding brands, for example Arturo Fuente, Ashton, Flor de Copán, Pléiades, or Santa Damiana. But also for small but bright jewels like De Olifant, Chinchalero, Juan Clemente, Flor de Selva, or Padrón. .

Then the flake strips are made into a single/small flake,
curly cut, or loose cut – all by hand.

Beyond that, Kohlhase & Kopp created their own cigar series: bestsellers like the Blancos, or an insider tip like Joya de la Romana, are only two examples out of a terrific lineup of cigars that leaves nothing to be desired.

Cutter for a tobacco mixture
für eine Mixture Mischung

At first we go to the bonded storage, which houses world-famous products and tobaccos needed for the blending process.

The adjacent room accommodates the packaging material. The high rise racks are filled with plain and printed tins and boxes for Own Brands, which Kohlhase & Kopp produces and assembles for many tobacco shops.

Pipe tobacco was Kohlhase & Kopp’s “first love.” Since 1979, long before longfiller cigars were added to the product range, pipe tobacco has been the main merchandise of the company, which started by importing pipe tobaccos. So it’s no surprise that the following rooms take up most of the space. Here over 50 different tobaccos are orderly stored, and waiting to be processed by the master tobacco blenders.

Every employee you see is equipped with a little cart holding a scale and a box. Looking at small notes with incoming orders on them, they select and painstakingly weigh the appropriate tobaccos, and put them in the box. This reminds me of my report on “My Own Blend” from 1958. But of course there are big differences: a small tobacconist in Copenhagen is not comparable to this kind of business.

The Tobacco Roastery

Then the tobacco is transported to the next room, where machines create blends from the individual tobaccos, and the master tobacco blenders work their magic.

The tobacco is dehydrated in the roastery

Over the years, mere distribution was not enough – Kohlhase & Kopp wanted full control over the blends so that they could quickly react to the changing needs of the pipe smokers. They had made a quantum leap in the field of tobacco production knowledge by taking over the British “Robert MCConnell” in 1986 and German “Wehde Tabakfabrik” in 1987. The complete machinery of both firms was kept and is, to this day, used in Relllingen, near Hamburg. Furthermore, the blending recipes, some of which are more than 150 years old, are affectionately cultivated to this day.

Black Cavendish is being cooked

The machinery is impressive. Seeing a Hauni Model TSIII No. 1, built in 1948 (!), or a Roni Legg Ltd. Engineers, London, lets you enter a world that you would rather expect in a museum.

To flavour this special tobacco, it is stored in Highland Whiskey barrels

Besides the traditional brands of McConnell and Rattray’s, new tobaccos were created, refined and continually enhanced. Well-known companies like Ashton (USA), Savinelli (Italy), or Peterson (Ireland) could be convinced to let Kohlhase & Kopp produce their fine tobaccos. Thus, you will not find mass-production here, but only exquisite blends made out of premium tobaccos and first-class ingredients.

Flavours are applied to the tobacco

Kohlhase & Kopp is able to deliver a broad range of pipe tobaccos for every taste. “We manufacture more than 800 mixtures”, tobacco blender Hedtke proudly proclaims. At the moment, tobacco for the Chieftain’s series is maturing in old Whiskey barrels.

Security Storage for the additives

Finally, we reach the Shipping Department, where the ordered blends are packaged and labeled.

The Shipping Department

A special Shipping Department for international orders accounts for the national differences in tobacco laws and applies appropriate warning labels on the tins – the label for Switzerland, for example, is trilingual and “decorated” with shocking disease photos.

In the Quality Control Department every single cigar is inspected. Only if the high standard is matched, the cigar box gets its seal of quality by Kohlhase & Kopp.

The Shipping Department for international orders

It is not by mistake, that Kohlhase & Kopp has become Germany’s leading pipe tobacco distributor. The company not only stands out with an exceptional variety of tobaccos, but manages to stay innovative. Kohlhase & Kopp’s blends are a special treat for true pipe tobacco connoisseurs – because “quality is in the detail.”

Copyright © 2007 by TECON GmbH
with kind support of Adam and Daniel Kohlhase

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