Samuel Gawith's 'Navy Flake'

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Samuel Gawith's 'Navy Flake'

Post by FoxHound » Wed Sep 23, 2009 6:17 pm

First, let it be known that this is not your run-of-the-mill rum-topped boring navy flake. Gawith bills it as "choice Virginia blended with Latakia," which may sound uninspiring, but this blend is anything but boring. This is one of the most interesting tobaccos I've tried this year.

The tin aroma is rich, full, and pungent. The only thing I can compare it to is a glass of old-vines Grenache - earthy, meaty, with a certain leathery, smoked beef quality. Fascinating. The flakes are moist enough to separate cleanly, and they fold and rub out neatly. I tore one into four sections, each of which I partially rubbed out and stuffed into my Bjarne bulldog. I sprinkled a few loose bits on top and lit up.

The Virginia used in this flake is heavy and rich, with a dark organic flavor. The characteristic citrus overtones are present, but edgier than one might find in a milder-mannered Virginia flake. The flavor is reminiscent of Gawith's powerhouse '1792 Flake,' which suggests to me that 'Navy Flake' uses the same stripped and steamed African leaf as its big cousin. The Latakia is present, but it is difficult to pick out in the melange of spice and dense, smoky, earthy flavors. Despite its simple composition, 'Navy Flake' is deep, complex, and irrepressibly interesting, like a dram of Cragganmore or a glass of 40-year-old Vintage Port. The nicotine level is substantial but not overpowering, and the finish is pleasantly clean.

'Navy Flake' is a revelation for me. While not all pipemen will appreciate this style or this particular iteration, I find the Scotch-like depth and complexity to be a fine match for my lifestyle. This is a blend I plan to keep on the side table... right next to the Lagavulin.
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Post by taylor714914 » Wed Sep 23, 2009 6:33 pm

Shoot, anything SG is amazing.

End thread! :D

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Post by ArnieM » Sun Jan 24, 2010 11:39 pm

FOXHOUND

If I was to pick a perfect description of Navy Flake it would be yours. I first tried a small tin a year ago and then bought 2 pounds of it.

Thanks
Arnie

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Post by 7formy1911 » Mon Jan 25, 2010 5:43 am

Awesome review. I've actually got some on the way so it sounds like it should be quite a wonderful experience. I'm looking forward to it.
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Post by Steverino » Mon Jan 25, 2010 5:56 am

Great review, definitely want to try it. Don't think I've seen it on the shelf, though, will have to keep an eye out for it.
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Post by ryland » Mon Jan 25, 2010 6:23 am

Thanks for the review. Another one to try.
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Post by parson » Mon Jan 25, 2010 8:12 am

Good review. I enjoy this blend regularly.

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Post by madmarv » Mon Jan 25, 2010 9:20 am

Thanks, FH, sounds like something I would enjoy.
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Navy Flake

Post by fisherofpipes » Mon Jan 25, 2010 8:53 pm

This is great stuff; the Latakia is there but gets mixed up in the rum and Virginia sweetness. Just ordered 8 oz in bulk, hope it's as good as the tin.
Odi profanum vulgus et arceo:
Favete linguis. Carmina non prius
Audita Musarum sacerdos
Virginibus puerisque canto.

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Re: Navy Flake

Post by fisherofpipes » Sat Apr 03, 2010 2:40 am

fisherofpipes wrote:This is great stuff; the Latakia is there but gets mixed up in the rum and Virginia sweetness. Just ordered 8 oz in bulk, hope it's as good as the tin.
Where iss it, my preciousss? Still waiting.
Odi profanum vulgus et arceo:
Favete linguis. Carmina non prius
Audita Musarum sacerdos
Virginibus puerisque canto.

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Post by CharisPiper » Tue Apr 06, 2010 7:46 pm

Thanks for the review, FH! I love that you draw comparisons with wine--that helps me tremendously. I have a bit of bulk in my cellar, and your review is making me think it might be coming out sooner than expected.

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Post by fisherofpipes » Tue Apr 06, 2010 7:52 pm

CharisPiper wrote:Thanks for the review, FH! I love that you draw comparisons with wine--that helps me tremendously. I have a bit of bulk in my cellar, and your review is making me think it might be coming out sooner than expected.
Do it! It's a good one. Believe me, when my backorder comes in (we are told that the ship has docked!) I'm going to load up my biggest bowl.
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Audita Musarum sacerdos
Virginibus puerisque canto.

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Post by JohnnyMcPiperson » Wed Apr 07, 2010 4:14 pm

How is Macbaren's Navy Flake? I have considered trying it since they have it in bulk at the local B&M
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Post by fisherofpipes » Wed Apr 07, 2010 6:54 pm

JohnnyMcPiperson wrote:How is Macbaren's Navy Flake? I have considered trying it since they have it in bulk at the local B&M
Not had it, but some smokers seem to like it. I don't think it is anything like SG Navy Flake. PS Luxury Navy Flake is good, if you have not tried it. Most Navy flakes don't seem to have the Latakia and rum topping of the Gawith, as far as I can tell.
Odi profanum vulgus et arceo:
Favete linguis. Carmina non prius
Audita Musarum sacerdos
Virginibus puerisque canto.

Horace: Odes 3.1

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Post by ArnieM » Thu Apr 08, 2010 2:18 am

Not sure what to say now.

Last year I bought two tins of SG Navy flake and absolutely loved it. Every single bowl. Based on that I bought 2 pounds of bulk , and no matter how I try I just do not care for it. I have heard that some brands are different in bulk vs cans and now I understand.

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Post by Rusty » Thu Apr 08, 2010 3:03 am

ArnieM wrote:Not sure what to say now.

Last year I bought two tins of SG Navy flake and absolutely loved it. Every single bowl. Based on that I bought 2 pounds of bulk , and no matter how I try I just do not care for it. I have heard that some brands are different in bulk vs cans and now I understand.
I tried this one quite a few years back and I found it a little boring. There was nothing bad about it I just preferred some of their others. Balkan flake was much more tasty to me and though not a flake I like Commonwealth mixture.

But as to reasons why this may taste different in bulk vs. tin....
First, unlike some US manufacturers, the bulks are not different blends from the tinned equivalents. This is important because with some US manufacturers the bulks are different blends from those that are tinned. Gawith's bulks and tins with the same name are the same tobaccos. They are made in the same manufacturing runs so only the packaging is different. And a single manufacturing run seems to result in some tinned and some bulk. The tinned is further cut (6 inch flakes common with the bulk aren't folded into tins) but other than that there is no difference in manufacturing.

Second, there is some variation batch-to-batch in both SG's & GH's blends. This effects tin and bulk. There are noticeable variations to a pipe smoker and you'll see it in the reviews. The colour varies a little with the time in the presses and there may be other small differences. Easily noticed and it effects flavour. I have experienced them. These are hand made tobacco's made by small companies. I mostly enjoy their quality and I accept the minor variations as one would with vintages of wine. But to read the reviews there must be some batches that are further away from the ideal. These are not like the tobaccos produced by the big Stainless steel lines in Denmark. I'm ok with that.

Third, the packaging makes a difference in tobacco flavour in proportion to the time spent in the package, and especially in this case. S. Gawith's bulk packaging (the pound size boxes of flakes, not the 250g sealed bags) IMO is not well sealed. The pound boxes of bulk often dry in shipping (averaging 2 weeks in shipping to points north) and this makes a very big difference. By comparison the tins are usually much better. GH, by comparison, spends a lot more effort sealing their boxes of flake tobacco. I think Gawith attempted to address this issue by introducing bulk in a more consumer friendly package - the 250g sealed pack. But AFAIK the pound boxes remained the same.

So between the batch-to-batch variation and the packaging differences it's no wonder that some experience what you're reporting. To be honest I prefer the GH tobaccos over SG for these reasons as well as the blends themselves.

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Post by CharisPiper » Thu Apr 08, 2010 9:10 am

ArnieM wrote:Not sure what to say now.

Last year I bought two tins of SG Navy flake and absolutely loved it. Every single bowl. Based on that I bought 2 pounds of bulk , and no matter how I try I just do not care for it. I have heard that some brands are different in bulk vs cans and now I understand.
Hmm, interesting. Anyone else experienced this with SG Navy Flake?

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Post by CharisPiper » Thu Apr 08, 2010 9:16 am

Hadn't read Rusty's post yet in my last post. Thanks Rusty for the info on the variations between bulk and tinned with SG; very helpful information.

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Post by JohnnyMcPiperson » Thu Apr 08, 2010 10:05 am

I'd like to try this
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Post by fisherofpipes » Sat Apr 10, 2010 1:13 pm

CharisPiper wrote:
ArnieM wrote:Not sure what to say now.

Last year I bought two tins of SG Navy flake and absolutely loved it. Every single bowl. Based on that I bought 2 pounds of bulk , and no matter how I try I just do not care for it. I have heard that some brands are different in bulk vs cans and now I understand.
Hmm, interesting. Anyone else experienced this with SG Navy Flake?
I will post a comment as to whether the 250g package is just like the tin, or not, when it finally gets to me. Maybe a few more weeks? Who knows.
Odi profanum vulgus et arceo:
Favete linguis. Carmina non prius
Audita Musarum sacerdos
Virginibus puerisque canto.

Horace: Odes 3.1

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