Dunhill's history dates back to 1893. At the age of 15, Alfred Dunhill joined his father's upholstery shop, which specialized in accessories for motorists. In 1904 he designed the first pipe that was specially designed for the needs of motorists. Because at that time you mostly drove with the top down, and the pipe threatened to get hot from the wind. His pipe prevented this. In 1907, the first Dunhill shop specializing in tobacco products and pipes opened in London's Duke Street, a cross street off the famous Oxford Street. Alfred Dunhill had long been involved with cigars; he also mixed pipe tobacco, which he adapted to the individual wishes of the solvent clientele. Other branches in Paris followed and the flourishing company was soon known for its excellent tobaccos and pipes. This established the almost legendary reputation of this brand to this day.
Withdraw from tobacco
Dunhill now belongs to the Swiss luxury group Richemont, which decided in 2008 to completely withdraw from the manufacture and sale of tobacco products. However, the retreat was only gradual. Since 2018, neither cigars nor pipe tobacco have been sold under the Dunhill name. It is true that residual stocks from duty-free warehouses occasionally turn up, but Dunhill tobacco products can usually no longer be found in specialist shops. Nevertheless, Dunhill pipe tobaccos have a future. Because the manufacturer of the Dunhill tobaccos, the Scandinavian Tobacco Group, which has been producing the Dunhill blends since the early 2000s, acquired the rights to the brands and the recipes for the respective blends. So pipe smokers can continue to enjoy their "Early Morning Pipe" or "Nightcap" — albeit under the Peterson label.
However, the smoking accessories division remained in the Richemont Group. Most of the manufacturing takes place in London; here are the workshops for the production of leather goods and humidors, among other things. Incidentally, this area is managed by a German: Kalmon Hener is from Munich and has a keen sense of the immense tradition of his brand. The motto that applies to all products is still to create the best quality in the respective branch. Absolutely high-quality workmanship, first-class raw materials and the British style characterized by understatement still find their place in the manufacturer's current portfolio.
The range currently includes numerous cigar cutters, cigar and cigarillo cases, humidors, travel humidors, lighters, pipe cases, tobacco pouches, pipe tampers, pipe cleaning accessories, and, last but not least, pipes.
A legend in the pipe world
Every pipe smoker knows Dunhill pipes and knows how to deal with the terminology coined by the brand. For example, sandblasting the surface of a pipe is an invention of Alfred Dunhill, as is the use of ebonite as a mouthpiece material. The influence of the brand on the world of pipes was much greater. The various pipe series such as Cumberland, Shell Briar, Bruyere or Root Briar are common words in the vocabulary of pipe smokers and each creates an association in conversation with one another. Almost every pipe smoker probably has at least one Dunhill in his collection. If not, he likely wants one. There is a large community of pipe collectors worldwide who have specialized in this brand and who cherish and care for their specimens, some of which are more than 100 years old.
Another special feature at Dunhill are limited editions and re-editions of old pipe models. These are particularly attractive to the collectors. Every year there is a Christmas pipe that is dedicated to a certain motto and is delivered in elaborately designed packaging in the form of a book. So-called "seven day sets" (a pipe for each day of the week) or sets of two with a matching, specially made pipe bag are popular features of Dunhill.
Dunhill is also a big name for cigar smokers. If you look at history, you can see that Dunhill did not only set the standard in terms of style, but also in terms of sales and distribution. Already at the beginning of the 20th century, Dunhill maintained close contacts with Cuba and imported famous Habanas such as Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta. After the revolution, the company, as a partner of the state company Cubatabaco, secured the exclusive distribution rights for the brands Don Cándido, Don Alfredo and La Flor del Punto. Dunhill epitomised Cuban cigars.
Already after the First World War, the house built the first walk-in humidor in Europe — a large cabinet with air conditioning and walls made of cedar wood. With this device Dunhill had created a sensation that cigar dealers all over the world wanted to emulate. In general, Dunhill was a pioneer in many things: cigars were manufactured in Cuba, which were offered under their own brand name Dunhill, until the Cubans took up the export trade of their precious goods themselves in the 1980s. With the cessation of Dunhill's tobacco branch, the manufacture of cigars ceased altogether.