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A beautifully formed dark flake of pressed Virginias and a generous helping of latakia. Relax and enjoy this medium strength tobacco with its "smokey" flavour and cool, smooth characteristics.

BrandSamuel Gawith
Blended BySamuel Gawith
Manufactured BySamuel Gawith
Blend TypeVirginia/Latakia
ContentsLatakia, Virginia
PackagingBulk, 50 grams tin
ProductionCurrently available
Where to Buy Iwan Ries
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PeterD Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
PeterD (91)
Mild to Medium Mild Medium Pleasant

As I've said in other reviews, I typically smoke matured virginia plugs/flakes. In the last several years, I have been re-enjoying hearty english blends or more precisley, Balkan flakes/plugs.

Perhaps I have received different lots of this fine flake tobacco, but I find this to be a very nice Balkan Flake. I like everything about it, other than its not in plug form. I smoke a lot of SG Commonwealth which is a 50/50 virginia/Latika mixture and enjoy it very much. It is not as refined as I find this Balkan Flake, but both offer the smoker a wide range of taste and flavors. While this Balkan may be one dimentional, it none-the-less, appears to be more complex than many would think.

I smoke this in a group 4/5 straight billiard and do enjoy this any time of day. Coffee in the morning and a single malt at evening time, enhance this experience. Of course, as many have said, taste and flavor are very subjective. A pipe smoker for more than 48 years, I'm sure my taste are quite different from someone else.

...a pipe is to be savored.

22 people found this review helpful.

JimInks Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JimInks (2158)
Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

An easy to deal with flake once you dry it a little. The Cyprian latakia is richly smokey and woodsy, with mildly sweet, leathery notes. It dominates the earthy, lightly grassy, very slightly spicy Virginia. A nice combo, though there’s really not much dimension or nuance of flavors, despite the variances that I’ve described, many of which lurk, but do not stand up for attention. Has a slightly more than mild nic-hit. Won't bite. Burns at a reasonable rate, cool and clean with a relatively consistent flavor. Requires an average number of relights. Leaves just a little moisture in the bowl. A straight forward medium English flake.

18 people found this review helpful.

Peter Piper Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Peter Piper (41)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Strong

Let's get any misapprehensions out of the way first, SG in their wisdom have christened this "Balkan" Flake even though there is not a hint of Turkish or other Orientals in the mix, go figure. What you do have is a very toothsome combination of Virginia and Latakia.

The presentation is dark and mysterious, with a rich smell of tar and leather out of the tin. The flakes are quite moist, so I prefer to rub out and leave to dry for a bit, it leaves brown stains on your finger tips!

Light it up and you wonder how a tobacco that provides so much flavour can be so easy and cool to smoke. The leatheriness comes through in the mouth, along with some bitter, dark chocolate and yet there is a faint honey sweetness on the after-taste. Beautifully balanced to my mind. I will add that I am smoking this alone at the moment, for all its positive attributes I am not sure that others present would regard the room note as amongst them!

I will add one final thought as a result of a response I got after discussion with another smoking friend. I wouldn't describe myself particularly as a Lat fan. This blend of course has it in abundance, but for me there is something about it that just works. As is sometimes wonderfully the case, an enjoyable smoking experience is greater than the sum of its parts. So if you have half a mind to check this one out without prejudice then please do, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Highly recommended.

16 people found this review helpful.

Sinister Topiary Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Sinister Topiary (84)
Medium Mild Medium to Full Tolerable

This is a superlative smoke. A beautiful flake, in the top rank of SG's finest, and that's saying a lot.

As everyone else has observed, there's no oriental in this "Balkan" flake, just virginia and latakia as advertised. (Though a couple reviewers, including Pseudo Nim who contacted SG about it, learned it's called a Balkan flake because the virginia originates from the Balkans.)

This reminds me very much of Commonwealth, but subtler, richer and more complex. Though SG usually brags about adding some special "essence" to their flakes, they are conspicuously silent about it with this one. Maybe there isn't one here; but I would be very surprised if there isn't, because I don't know how else this flake's unique hints of cool sweetness would occur otherwise. It's not like the whiff of vanilla added to Perfection, but something slightly minty, or menthol (as others have suggested), or even "medicinal" as one reviewer put it. Indeed it's vaguely reminiscent, to me, of that unique flavor in old-school cough syrup that was a kind of cool metholated herbal mint which I loved as a child. This very subtle sweet coolness, whatever it is, perfectly fills an interstice between the not overly sweet virginia and smoky latakia, and it's lovely. The sugar crystals that cover the flakes like the dusted frosting on a powdered donut (in my tin, at least) augment the delicate sweetness to push the experience to the next level.

The flakes are thick and moist. I find that drying them for an hour really brings them to life. And I didn't see a need to rub them out -- folding worked just fine; and a single double-light was usually all that was required for the entire bowl.

A topnotch flake for the latakia lover. This one's a keeper for sure. Highly recommended!

11 people found this review helpful.

Pseudo Nim Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pseudo Nim (110)
Medium Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Update 13/09/2008 As there is so much fuss over this flake being or not being a Balkan, and I, in my ignorance, not being sure, I decided to contact the Manufacturers and ask them what they thought a Balkan was, and with 216 years of blending experience behind them, seemed like a pretty good bet they would know what they were doing. I was told that "The Tobacco's for Balkan come from the Balkan Region" and if I cared to look on the tin, I would see a map OF THE BALKAN REGION, and that is where these tobacco's come from. Now that to me, seems a pretty straightforward answer, and a pretty good point to boot. Now had the tobacco come from Harry Grime's greenhouse in Gassworks Street Wigan, there may be a point to argue, but they don't, and there is'nt. So............ IT'S A BALKAN !!!!!!!!!! At least in my book anyway.

Okay chaps, this probably isn't Balkan, but then I don't know what Balkan is, I bought this to compare with the gratis pouch of Erinmore Balkan Mixture I had received. As soon as I tried the first bowl, I knew this one had found a home, Balkan it may or may not be, as Sam Gawith says, it's 70% Virginia with a shovel load of latakia, and here I am, lighting it up, and and setting fire to a pile of lorry tyres, but I like it.

Its a good quality tobacco as you would expect from such a fine blender, cool smoking with loads of taste and flavour. Enough said from me.

8 people found this review helpful.

tabaco Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
tabaco (111)
Medium to Strong Extremely Mild Medium Tolerable

A bit of a long one, pull your parachute now or parse the paragraphs.

When an enthusiast of Balkan blends reads a name as such one assumes some Oriental leaf (of which there are many) would be contained within, not the case here. Although, splitting provenance-pubic hairs one could assume that all blends containing Cyprian Latakia are in fact Balkan, Greece is part of the Balkan peninsula and Cyprus both culturally and historically are traditionally linked to Balkan culture.

That said a number of years ago American growers and harvesters tried to make their own version of Latakia an experiment which failed miserably.

On with the contents at hand, my scalpel is dull and the microscope lens needs a good clean; too much Latakia wafting around:

The tin nose is very nice, definitely Latakia forward but not into the bombing zone at least for me. A dense and heavily pressed flake, many folks assume that flakes, cakes, plugs, ropes, and twists are soaking/sopping wet which is not the case. The density of such can make it feel and appear so. My rule of thumb with any of the above is to take your apportioned bowl(s) and resting for a quater to half an hour before packing providing you're in a drier climate, currently it's the middle of winter -40 outside and the wood stove in the combustion-cabin is a tad carnivorous. French Polynesia although green and floral lush would tell a different tale, mind you I would be combusting a cigar and quaffing Rum. Up here N 60° it's hearty Latakia blends for the winter often paired with a dram or two of Scotch whisky, either climes are wonderful life moments.

A simple fold and twist, usually my preferred method for this style leading to a long, cool, and pensive smoke; notwithstanding longer until full ignition.

Initially the palate is quite Virginia forward, stoved, pressed of course, and most likely some black too; interesting since the tin nose leans towards smoky although some Virginia does arise. The smoke is dense and thick, slight creaminess on the palate too. Slowing down does reveal more Latakia but I find I have to seek it out mind you my palate as of late, surfeited with Latakia. Not that it's a bad thing, akin to imbibing many peated Islay whiskies.

The first third of the bowl is rather uneventful, the middle third does reveal more depth, Oakiness and Hickory I find you do have to chase them down. I would caution against over-drying this one becomes a bit flat and mundane.

Combusting along at a good clip it behaves like a real gentleman in the bowl, never hot nor moist; gurgles. It stays the same all the way down not a lot of development and nondescript. 'Deliciously Cool' . . . 'Disappointingly Cool' perhaps my anticipation was high being a pressed flake Latakia blend, somewhat recommended.

All in all a competent smoke, alas not really for me I won't cellar this although I cannot find faults apart from my preferences, more Latakia please some Yenidje or Samsun would not go amiss either.

I enjoy Navy Flake quite a bit more albeit considerably more Virginia forward, the S. Gawith distributed Winter Time flake is certainly superior, and Commonwealth too.

4 people found this review helpful.

Pierre Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pierre (14)
Medium to Strong None Detected Full Pleasant to Tolerable

A short while back, I ordered a big haul of different, all highly rated, latakia blends to become acquainted with a few new mixes and a few new manufacturers. Most, if not all, of the blends, had the same stereotypical latakia smell that we're all used to and for some, have grown to love. A fresh tin of Balkan Flake was the outlier of the bunch. Not even commonwealth was particularly interesting in comparison. A very creamy smell, a hint at what flavors it might produce. Absolutely not disappointed! I believe it's 30% lat, 70% va, and boy does it hit its' mark. A simple blend, of just two tobaccos, yet complex in it's own right. A beautiful, creamy flavor, that contends very readily with Penzance. No, there isn't quite the variety of flavors I'll say, but the two blends share a very ripe, soft, smoothness. I even came across a few tins from 2005, and being on the cusp of 2015 as I'm writing this, I have to say a decade of age does unbelievable things to this flake. Quite easily my favorite, possible (close) second to Penzance, tobacco. Very highly recommended.

Pipe Used: Blowfish, Cutty, Billiard

Age When Smoked: Fresh and Ten Years

Purchased From: Pipes and Cigars & eBay

Similar Blends: Penzance.

4 people found this review helpful.

irwanFahmi Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
irwanFahmi (4)
Mild to Medium Medium Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

It was very good tobacco, well blend it might because I'm a Latakia lover, very cool smoke can be a everyday smoke. Enjoy with coffee and good with after meal. Highly Recommended. It can be for those who started with latakia

Pipe Used: Brebbia

Age When Smoked: 27

Purchased From: Malaysian Distributor

Similar Blends: Balken Delight Peterson.

4 people found this review helpful.

Pipestud Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipestud (1825)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

Balkan Flake is indeed a mellow smoke with a variety of flavors as you work your way down the bowl. It has a nice, rich complexity that will keep your palate entertained. The flakes are beautifully put together and as one who rubs out his flakes, I found that to be an easy chore. The tobacco packs very evenly, burns the same, and was an absolute delight to smoke.

Most of the pipe smokers who are members here and submitted a review of this particular offering found Gawith's Balkan Blend to be an eloquent smoke and I concur.

4 people found this review helpful.

StevieB Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
StevieB (1644)
Medium to Strong None Detected Full Very Pleasant

Samuel Gawith - Balkan Flake.

Note, this is one of the blends I reviewed a few years back after shortly being discharged from hospital after suffering a head injury; it wasn't too articulate.

The term Lat-Bomb was invented for this! That could be the review, lol. Basically, if you enjoy Latakia this should rock your world: it's very cool, highly smoky, quite slow burning, and bite free (to me). The Latakia offers a lot more of the formidable smokiness instead of the cedar woodiness some often give, and this smokiness properly pushes the Virginia out of the way. There's no extra flavours, nor underlying nuances: it's a steadfast Lat-Bomb!

The nicotine's a little above medium, and the room-note's superb; superb, if your a pipe smoker'. I'm guessing non-smokers would loathe it!

Four stars, and straight back into my favourites list!

Highly recommended.

Pipe Used: Mr Brog No.34 Bulldog

Age When Smoked: New

Purchased From: My Smoking Shop

3 people found this review helpful.

DrumsAndBeer Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
DrumsAndBeer (203)
Medium Very Mild Medium Tolerable

A fine English smoke that works nicely for those that prefer folding and stuffing their flakes over rubbing them out. The flakes are thin, pliable and take to flame easily with only a minimal amount of dry time. The burn rate is low and slow; I have had a few group 4 sized bowls of this last a good two hours plus.

As others have mentioned, this is not an extraordinarily complex smoke, but I don’t think it needs to be. The tobaccos are top-notch and there’s plenty of flavor. The Virginias are soft, somewhat muted and have a dark, well-stoved taste. The latakia is smooth and smoky and provides a perfect counterpoint to the caramelized sweetness of the Virginias. It’s entirely possible that there’s some sort of sweet topping on this flake, I certainly get a subtle impression that there is, and I can understand why some English purists might take offense.

In some ways, Balkan Flake defies convention. It has a good amount of body and flavor strength but it’s also very mellow, refined and fairly delicate on the palate. Strangely, it’s not that bold of a smoke. Some latakia heavy flakes can be sooty, bitter or even acrid tasting. Balkan Flake is not. Instead, it’s deep, mild mannered and quite pleasant to the senses. It has a light spice on the finish but absolutely no edge to it.

Admirers of big latakia blends might find this one to be somewhat pedestrian, and one could always dry this flake to the point of crispy and rub it out to increase the intensity, but I feel that approach would be missing the point. Balkan Flake is meant to be savored, smoked slowly, gently sipped and piped at a snail's pace for optimum flavor & mellowness. For a bold and livelier experience, there's always Commonwealth Mixture. For those that enjoy the pleasure of smoking a long smoldering, gentle tasting latakia-laced flake tobacco, there's Balkan Flake.

3 people found this review helpful.

Pipenick Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipenick (27)
Mild None Detected Full Tolerable

Just finished my second tin of this absolutely lovely blend.Fruity aroma from (syrian) Latakia,not so over powering as cousin from Cyprus.Virginias mellows the another wise dark and full blend.Smoked one tin as rubbed and another as folded.As folded the flake itself has much smoother but stronger taste.Creamy,fruity just perfect.The room note not so pleasant have I heard from my pipe smoking mate who's in the aromatics.Just ordered 4 more tins.Brilliant smoke.

Pipe Used: Pete's System 314&Aran,Savinelli, and Cobs

Age When Smoked: a month

Purchased From: local tobacconist

3 people found this review helpful.

Dottie Warden Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Dottie Warden (22)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

Instant "Go to" breakfast smoke

Upon opening the tin the thick, wet, mottled flakes reeked of that familiar Latakia smokiness. The appearance was rustic and left me anxious to fill the pipe, however a little drying time was in order.

I rubbed out the flake and set it out to air for about one hour or so prior to filling my favorite morning pipe. Although it took a little work to get a good burn, once alit it burned evenly to the bottom and left no dottle. The taste, however one dimensional, was sensational.

Since the first bowl, I knew this would make the cut in my tobacco rotation and it has sustained its merit throughout the tin. When it comes to Lat blends the options are many, but for me Balkan Flake provides a perfect smoke every time so I feel no need to look further. Sure I'll try other Latakias, but this one is here to stay.

There is not much else to say about Balkan Flake other than if you're in the mood for a straightforward Latakia blend, then this should get the job done.

Pipe Used: Chacom Salsa 297 Smooth Canadian

Age When Smoked: Fresh

3 people found this review helpful.

Jorge Soler Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Jorge Soler (129)
Mild None Detected Full Pleasant

I just found this tobacco very difficult to smoke, maybe, because of its flake/plug form. For one thing, this tobacco needs to be dried before being able to smoke it. Also, I found the flakes very difficult to crumble and, even when it is dry, I have been relighting every now and again to keep it going. And it smokes really hot in the bowl. Because of this, I haven't been able to enjoy it that much, but I'll come back to this post if anything changes as I am going to keep trying anyway. The smell of the tin seems to be very promising, but I did not find this an easy smoke at any rate.

Edit1. The tobacco wasn't properly dry when I first smoked it. After a month or so, I've come back to this mixture and the smoking experience has changed. I like the fact that the sweetness of this mixture is achieved with the Virginia without adding any cavendishes or additional toppings. The Latakia is so much in the forefront (it predominates), but does not kill the sweetness of the Virginia. On another note, I find the preparation quite messy (it stains your fingers and very difficult to crumble), but if packed properly a very small amount of it will keep you smoking for hours. It tastes quite leathery and I'd say this mixture is full bodied. It sort of reminds me of some cigars if you you obviate the apparent Virginia. You can more or less start enjoying this tobacco from the very beginning, but it builds up in strength and flavour as you go past every quarter of your bowl. As the different flavours are quite apparent, it can be smoked unthinkingly while you dedicate yourself to other tasks. It is true it smokes quite cool and, if smoked properly, it will leave very little dottle at the end of your smoke. In my personal opinion, this mixture smokes best in a meerschaum pipe. I cannot be objective on the room note as I cannot smell it while I am smoking it, but I'd say it is rather pleasant despite the Latakia, which is not room friendly at all. I am changing this to 3 stars.

Pipe Used: Stanwell Free Hand

Age When Smoked: 1 year, perhaps

Purchased From: This is a present from D. Ian Walker from Northern Briars

Similar Blends: Nor sure yet.

3 people found this review helpful.

DK Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
DK (839)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Review based on a 5-bowl sample, so take it for what it's worth.

This came to me very dry which was good and bad. Good because I tend to smoke latakia flakes bone dry anyway and bad because I didn't get the opportunity to try it in various stages of moisture level. But the sample was a freebie - so it's good overall! Many thanks to the pipe buddy that provided it!

I agree with Johnny below in that this was a decent blend but that the latakia overpowered any real personality traits the VA could have brought to the party. The taste was good, with heavy campfire notes, but I would have preferred it just a tad sweeter and perhaps more woodsy-tasting. It behaved very well in the bowl, and I rubbed it out fully. Could not fold, as it was too dry to make the attempt but, again, latakia flakes I smoke dry and rubbed out anyway. For what this is, it's a fine smoke and is worth a try for any latakia fan. 2.5 stars for my taste rounded up to 3 because it's a high quality Sam Gawith product.

3 people found this review helpful.

pipe_organist Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
pipe_organist (14)
Medium Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant

=UPDATED 11/22/09=

I've smoked only one other bowl of this, and find it much too strong for my palate. It's got a very strong leathery overtone that doesn't improve with age. For some reason, it doesn't agree with me nearly as much as the first try.

I've dialed my recommendation back to 2 stars from 3.


Although I've been a pipe "collector" (with about 30 pipes in my collection) and a smoker for 27 years, I'd never been to a pipe show. Some chaps in the local pipe group let me tag along to the show in Columbus, OH this last weekend. Not broke but badly bent, I made sure to have enough money in my accounts to purchase a decent amount of tobaccos while I was there.

There were two Samuel Gawith tobaccos I purchased, this one and their "St. James Flake".

When I cracked open this tin I was really surprised by the overly musty, almost sour smell rendered by the VA in the blend, and was afraid of what I was getting myself into despite the "Deliciously Cool" description on the label.

I was advised by the person selling this that it was absolutely necessary to fully rub the flakes out, and I was a bit shocked at how moist, almost sticky and pasty the flakes were to rub out. I've put this in a full-bent style pipe, and am thrilled with the taste and burn. It's no fault of the tobacco that I'm getting a fairly gurgly, wet burn. (This particular pipe has a wet smoke problem that I'm trying to solve).

Do I care whether or not it's a "true" Balkan, or a VA/Lat blend or whether or not it's got any Orientals in it? Not one wit. This is an amazing tobacco with a consistent flavor and one I've no doubt I will continue to purchase and smoke as long as tobacco can be had and is legal to consume!

3 people found this review helpful.

Pipe4ever Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipe4ever (204)
Medium Medium Medium to Full Tolerable

Balkan or not Balkan I have here an enjoyable smoke with excellent tobacco quality and wonderful flake. Relaxing smoke, deep campfire taste, creamy, earthy, smoky, and soft on the palate and the tongue, easy to keep lit with clean burning properties.

I will finish the tin and will order some in bulk; I highly recommend it to anyone.

3 people found this review helpful.

Pipepundit Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipepundit (168)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Winston Churchill is supposed to have remarked, a propos a fellow member of parliament named Bossom "What! Neither the one nor the other!" To my mind Samuel Gawith's Balkan Flake also manages to fall between two stools.

The absence of orientals leaves a bit of emptiness which the virginia (FVF?) cannot quite fill. I do enjoy virginias with just a teasing hint of latakia - as also smoking virginias in latakia soaked pipes - and Balkans with varying proportions of latakia and oriental leaf. But this Balkan Flake falls into neither kind of experience.

Still, it smokes cool and has good virginia and good latakia. I got this along with a Balkan Flake by Bonds of Oxford Street and far preferred the latter. Unfortunately the establishment seems to have shut down.

REVIEW 15 SEPTEMBER 2008. So far I had changed my opinion of only one mixture, Odyssey. Now I must change my opinion of Balkan Flake. Since writing the original review (based on the consumption of one tin) I have smoked upwards of half a kilogram of it and it has grown on me. If one gives up expectations of Oriental leaf, this is a very good experience of smoking a latakia flavoured virginia, the virginia coming first. At the moment of writing, it is the perfect companion to the Goldberg Variations. Recommendation raised to four stars.

3 people found this review helpful.

Beer Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Beer (304)
Medium None Detected Mild Tolerable to Strong

THIS a BALKAN? Someone is pulling a trick on us, because it ISN'T.

Either someone forgot the orientals or they don't have the definition of Balkan very clear in their minds. Orientals aside, this is a flat, unidimensional, monotone flake.

If you desire a stoved Virginia, quite cool, with some Latakia which only makes its presence felt as a slight smokiness... this is the flake for you.

It's moist, dull, without nuances or complexities. Slightly better and tastier than the duller Navy Flake by the same maker... but that's not saying much.

Some drying helps in recovering a little taste, but it remains monochromatic and it does never become as refined as GLPease offerings (or a true Balkan like Gawith & Hoggarth's Balkan Mixture).

If you want a nice pressed Latakia-tasting tobacco, get Penzance instead.

3 people found this review helpful.

Virginia lover Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Virginia lover (191)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

Nice dark flake presentation with a pungent and sour smell. As I approach my nose to the textbook flake, I get a sweet Virginia smell as well. Quite moist, it requires some drying out.

The Latakia is leathery, smoky and earthy and has a perfect marriage with the sweet Virginia that somehow has a little sourness. It's as advertised a delicious and cool smoke and I would add creamy and smooth with enough nicotine to satisfy.

2 people found this review helpful.

ivanovnegro Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
ivanovnegro (1)
Medium to Strong None Detected Full Strong

It is raining here and the big heatwave went away, time for some real tobacco. That means I need something strong and full bodied, like a good English blend can offer. The summer was mostly dominated by some kind of Virginia flakes. Now is the time to go back to my beloved Latakia leaf.

The decision was natural to order some Balkan Flake from Samuel Gawith, a traditional English flake.

It is a very dark and smoky tobacco. When you open the tin you are greeted by the nice smell of Latakia. If I remember correctly there is 30% Latakia and 70% Virginia, so it has quite a bit of Latakia inside. You could call it a "Latbomb" but that is what I like about.

It is not the most complex blend. It is a simple but highly enjoyable high quality flake. I would call it even luxurious. On the tin it says "deliciously cool"! It is indeed an absolutely cool smoke, the coolest I ever had. No idea why or what it makes to be so "calm", it is not the minty note some describe.

There is one downside. The fresh opened tin is ridiculously moist! Let it air some hours or a day before putting the tobacco into your pipe. The best packing method for me with this blend is to rub out the flakes between my hands until I have very small particles and then filling the bowl as the tobacco is so moist that otherwise you would not be able to get it lit. With this method it burns very well with few relights. Relighting is also not changing the flavor and the flavor stays constant until the end, that is why I find it a simple blend in a positive way, no exceptional changes through out the bowl. Maybe for some smokers not exciting enough but for Latakia lovers it gives you what you expect.

It is not a womanizer, my better half runs always away when she notices the smell. Forgot to describe the flavor a bit; it is like burnt car tires :), leather and very very smoky. Short, a rich blend with a full flavor for lovers of natural tobaccos and a medium nicotine content. A real English, enjoy it with a drink of your choice and listen to the rainfall outside, pure pleasure. I have mine accompanied by a regional beer.

I love it!

Pipe Used: Hilson Designed by Rainer Barbi Darkred XII

Age When Smoked: Fresh from the tin

Purchased From:,

2 people found this review helpful.

Bartimeo Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Bartimeo (5)
Mild to Medium Strong Medium to Full Strong

In this mixture the Virginias not play the game, the smoke is bland and boring, dirty and the taste is bitter for the first two thirds of the smoke. A glimpse of Virginia, too small, only have enough to reduce the pungent mixture and make it bearable to not leave on the last third. Tobacco monochrome. I definitely rule. I'm not at all a smoker candy. This is more like to smoke the soot from a chimney. It will be a disposable tin gift for a friend who smokes all gratefully.

Pipe Used: Stanwell

2 people found this review helpful.

Otis56 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Otis56 (31)
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

Very moist, takes for ever to dry. I can not seem to keep this tobacco lit. Very disappointed. I seem to have a problem with flake tobacco. I have tried many times and blends of pipe tobacco flakes. With not much luck. I am sure by other accounts of this tobacco that it is indeed a fine flake. But just do not seem to Know how to use them properly. Peace to you all.

Pipe Used: Tripis/bent apple

Age When Smoked: 6 months

Purchased From: 4noggins

Similar Blends: Damp tuff leather strips., Not for me..

2 people found this review helpful.

Jacinto Cupboard Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Jacinto Cupboard (180)
Mild to Medium Mild Medium Pleasant

This is a review of the SG Balkan Plug which is the same tobacco as the flake. Came as a 10g sample from GQ Tobaccos England.

Attractive dark brown and gold block in which the constituent tobaccos are visible. Quite dense. I sliced and rubbed.

Pouch notes are caramel and pine. I believe there is a tonquin note here as well.

Takes a light well and the latakia and burning pine needles are well to the fore.

Despite the absence of orientals, initially, this tobacco still nudges the acidic side, but the sourness is balanced by the sweetness in the virginias.

The last half of the bowl the virginias come to the front with a pronounced sweetness.

Despite the initial energy of this tobacco, it is, overall, quite light and elegant.

Purchased From: GQ Tobaccos

2 people found this review helpful.

Gentleman Zombie Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Gentleman Zombie (729)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

There's something about a Lat/Va blend that pushes all the right buttons for me. Haven't smoked one yet that I didn't love. This one is no exception. I think it's the contrasting flavors of the two components that does it. It's a stark contrast and it wakes up all my taste buds. Medium in body and taste. 4 stars.

Pipe Used: MM General, MM Country Gentleman, MM Freehand

Age When Smoked: fresh

Purchased From:

2 people found this review helpful.

balkan_boy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
balkan_boy (49)
Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

I'm smoking it right now, as I'm writing this review. It's not a complex smoke, pretty much balanced, it needs a good amount of drying as every other SG flake tobacco. When dried a bit, goed smoothly, burns down to fine grey ash. I don't know why SG folks pack their tobacco so wet. (actually I know why, but it's not ok). Usually all attempts to make a latakia flake finish with an average and mediocre product, (except maybe Penzance) but this one is pretty good. Not as greasy as Penzance, not a Latakia bomb, strong underline VA body, and nice Latakia presence all the way. I enjoy it, it really is what it says on the description. A cool smoke. Latakia mixtures are like sex. When it's good it's good, when it's bad...... it's still pretty good. About the name "Balkan" flake, well, it is Balkan. I like it a lot. Not my favorite, but still good enough to want to smoke more of it. VA may be cased with some flavor, can't tell for sure.

2 people found this review helpful.

PipesterJim Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
PipesterJim (47)
Medium Very Mild Medium Pleasant

I wasn't going to review any SG blends as, although they make up a significant amount of my smoking, they have mostly been well covered by other folks...Then I thought, "Ah, nuts to it." So here is a review!

Balkan Flake is not one that I crave often, but when I feel the need for a proper Latakia fix it really hits the spot.

I have tried smoking this flake pretty much every way I can think of and my conclusions are that it performs best when it is cut up into wee cubes and gravity filled, and that unlike a lot of flakes, it likes to be pretty moist - not as wet as when it comes out of the tin, but still sticky enough so that the cubes can be pressed together and won't immediately separate.

Inital light up yields a strong waft of Latakia but this is quickly joined by the Va content which, as is customary with SG is top notch. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the quality of the Virginia component is what makes the blend. When the pipe is loaded using the technique described above they really reveal their sweetness and as the bowl progresses they impart a nice toastiness to complement the smokey Latakia.

3 stars as it is a little monochromatic, but nevertheless a very solid smoke if you enjoy your Latakia.

2 people found this review helpful.

Wonwon Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Wonwon (5)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

My Balkan Sobranie just ran out, so I tried John Aylesbury Latkia Blend (which is great) and this lovely Balkan Flake which was recommended by Shervingtons (337 High Holborn, WC1. Tel: 020 7405 2929)

Opening the 50g tin, the smell is everything tobacco should be, it is lovely.

The taste is quite flat,not spicy, but very pleasant and very relaxing. Easy to smoke 2 pipes in a row.

This Balkan Flake is beautiful, there is no bite and is a smooth,cool smoke. It is best rubbed and stays alight easily. There is quite a lot of smoke, but very plesant to inhale and doesn't cling to the room the next day.

The tin says 'Deliciously Cool' - It IS

This will be one of my regulars.

17.5.2004, I have now decided that the balkan flake in jar Shervingtons (337 High Holborn, WC1. Tel: 020 7405 2929) supply their Balkan Flake and this is the best I have tried. It is truly great. Better than all the other tinned or prepacked. at c.£17 75g it is quite expensive, but worthit.. It is a cool, lovely tasting smoke- highly recommended. If you want to give up cigarettes, this is the best way. Smoking a pipe is a million times more enjoyable, but not as convinient. Don't inhale and you will feel the benefits.

I have smoked cigars when going out, usually R&J 3 or 2 or cohiba siglo IV, but at home to save money , think that the Shervingtons balkan flake is wonderful. I normally get my cigars from spain , 3 box of 25 per yr., but at home, the pipe is best and more relaxing. I am 37 and dont feel comfortable with pipe in public.

My favourite pipe is the Savinelli 603 with balsa Shervingtons have the best selection in london of such pipes. They also have the best selection i have seen of tobaccos. Smith & son at charring cross road are also good. Leister sq tube

2 people found this review helpful.

Luckyluke Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Luckyluke (11)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

Loved this baccy from the first bowl, and it still remains one of my favorites and also is for me the best out of SG. The smell of this stuff is smokey delicious latakia. The taste in the beginning is full on latakia of course but after it gets going it turns into a rounded smoke with the virginia sweetness and the deep latakia with a thick smokey/chocolaty flavour. This baccy burns like a dream, i only needed one light after the charring light to keep smoking this till the very bottom. Third of the bowl still tastes very nice having a sweet and salty type taste. I can't express how much i enjoy this flake you just have to experience it yourself.

1 person found this review helpful.

RoundTwo Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
RoundTwo (38)
Medium Extremely Mild Very Mild Tolerable

Another smooth and high-quality tobacco from Samuel Gawith. A smoky Virginia and Latakia perfectly blended. Some debate over whether this truly a Balkan but I think it tastes just like a Balkan and has a delightful nutty flavor that develops over time. Nothing too strong in this one, this could easily be a blend that you smoke all day if the flavor is right for you.

Age When Smoked: Fresh

Purchased From: Iwan Ries

1 person found this review helpful.

crapgame1967 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
crapgame1967 (55)
Medium to Strong None Detected Very Full Strong

The flake was a bit wet and needed to sit out for and hour and once that happened I tried to rub it out and fill my bowl..well for some reason it would not stay lit and I had to unload and repack the pipe. Once again no success keeping it lit and my fun meter was dropping fast so I dumped out everything went to the kitchen and cut the beef jerky sized flakes into 3/8 inch pieces, rubbed some out,filled the bowl and was ready for some puffin'!


Cutting the flakes into something I know how to pack did the trick and for my efforts I was rewarded with deep rich smoke not unlike smoked almonds in flavor. The tobacco burned quite cool and I did not get any of the Virginia tobacco bite I was expecting nor was the ketchup flavor present as I also expected. I puffed slow and steady and had to relight just once. While smoking I found my tongue developed some kind of "feel"....not a burn but more like the smoke was leaving something there..a coating of sorts maybe?.. but of what? I can't describe what it is or tastes like I just know that it made my dark roasted decaf with light cream taste wonderful. I smoked this at 1 am outside watching my dogs do dog things in the back yard while sipping coffee and when I finished I was surprised that it was well after 2 am..WHERE DID THE TIME GO?

This to me is a tobacco to smoke while you are relaxing or doing something you enjoy such as fishing or hiking where the smoker does not have to keep track of time.

Top of the list recommended for those that like FULL BORE smokey goodness and have the time to fully enjoy this blend!

Pipe Used: MM Country Gentleman

Age When Smoked: unknown

Purchased From: Allegheney Smokeworks's Bulk Bar

1 person found this review helpful.

DCD Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
DCD (8)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

This is the closest thing I've experienced to a perfect tobacco. The high proportion of Latakia in this blend (30%) might make you think it is a Latakia "bomb," but far from it: The thing I most notice and like about this blend is not the Latakia, but the ripe, rich, and sweet Virginias that are its base. They smell and taste as though they have been meticulously selected and matured. I don't recall ever having tasted a Virginia with such an enveloping richness and sweetness. This is a very impressive quality in a tobacco that to my knowledge is not cased or topped. I've read the Virginias are from the Balkans, hence the somewhat odd name for a mixture without Orientals. If so, I want to try other SG blends that use this leaf. It's absolutely luscious. And the Latakia, also of extremely high quality, plays the role it should: both highlighting the noble Virginia base while lending its own rich but never overpowering contrast of campfire and leather. The blending here is simply superb: no sharp edges, everything fits together, and every taste and nuance is identifiable but integrated into the whole. All these qualities make Balkan Flake, for me, the quintessential English blend. It's interesting to compare it to other blends that could claim this status. I've smoked MM965, Standard Mixtures, and other Dunhills since the late 1970s. I still like the current iterations, but I find they almost all have an acrid, sour attack on the char light that I don't recall from earlier days and show a significant change in character as they're smoked down--not always to their advantage. Not so with Balkan Flake. As the tin says, "cool and delicious." It starts that way and stays that way down through the dottle. Despite my years of pipe smoking I have just started trying flakes and am new to Samuel Gawith. Based on this perfect example of the blender's art, I look forward to trying some of their other blends.

Pipe Used: W.O. Larsen, Pascucci

Age When Smoked: new in tin

Purchased From:

1 person found this review helpful.

Greekpipesmoker Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Greekpipesmoker (152)
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium Strong

Well this flake is a serious latakia player..with a high latakia content you get nothing else than woods coal and mud when you crack the tin.after rubbing your hands smell only latakia.from the first puffs you realize you don't wanna go hard because latakia it there with a dominant way and a medium nicotine level.the moist is proper with a cool burning.definitelly not an all day blend to me.if you are mostly on light english blends you won't like's a flake fkr the experienced latakia smokers .

Age When Smoked: Rubed and leave it to dry out a couple hours

1 person found this review helpful.

Stinkypipe Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Stinkypipe (156)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

This would be top notch if it was just a wee bit more flavorful. I get the smoky wood flavor along with sweet hay and leather from time to time. Delicious, I just want more and I just cant seem to get it. Burns cool and the bite is not really that bad. The taste that is what you get, is outstanding but there needs to be more. I wish they would just pump it up more and it would be a dream smoke for me.

Pipe Used: Boswell freehand

Age When Smoked: Couple weeks

1 person found this review helpful.

Little Steven Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Little Steven (66)
Medium None Detected Medium Unnoticeable

A very nice smoke.

Well dried and smoked slowly with a nice cup of tea it's the bees knees.

I won't be getting more because I like things darker and stronger. Having said that, if I was stranded on a desert island, I'd be content if this was in my stash.

Pipe Used: Stanwell billard.

Age When Smoked: Fresh from the tin.

Purchased From: The Danish Pipe shop (nice chaps).

1 person found this review helpful.

Effluvinator Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Effluvinator (51)
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Finally got around to this 9 yr old tin. It's definitely smooth and balanced with the age on it, though I suspect it would be good when fresh. A nice lighter latakia blend to start my fall transition into these tobaccos. Recommended.

Pipe Used: Kaywoodie Supergrain bulldog

Age When Smoked: 9+ years

Purchased From:

1 person found this review helpful.

pylet2000 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
pylet2000 (33)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Strong

Initial review:

Latakia is a bit like water in that it can take on different forms. Water can be solid, liquid or vapor; Latakia can be smoky, leathery, incense-like and occasionally downright pungent. Unlike water, Latakia can be multiple of its typical states at once. In the case of SG BF, it is of the leathery and pungent type.

Tin-note is very strong, and I thought in a generally bad way. Tar comes to mind. I wasn't optimistic based on the smell, but we all learned long ago that tin note only occasionally translates to the taste of the smoke. Aromatics smell wonderful in the tin but usually taste like dung in the bowl, and plenty of English types border on rotten but smoke wonderfully. This is the latter.

Smoked from a fresh tin with 30-40 minutes drying time, I found a workable moisture level. As advertised, it is remarkably cool smoking. Taste is delightfully salty, smooth, cool, leathery; the Latakia is the leader with the Virginias really only serving to prevent a lat bomb. No noticeable sweetness, a touch grassy. But what a Latakia flavor, downright divine. In a lot of ways this reminds me of what Plum Pudding was trying to be when smoked generally fresh, but this is so much more relaxed and balanced. The flavor is big, consistent and refined. Not much in the subtlety department, it starts with a delicious flavor and keeps singing the same song throughout the bowl.

Nicotine is pretty mid-range, burns down well although I did need a few relights, easy enough to work with for a thick flake, and no hint of gurgle. Bite isn't a remote consideration, you'd have to smoke this bone dry with a vengeance to get it to bite.

Mouth feel is pretty smooth and maybe even slightly oily, we'll see how this holds up with time since opening.

1 person found this review helpful.

Kreisi John Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Kreisi John (4)
Medium to Strong Medium to Strong Very Full Strong

This one is tough for me. As love it Is, I don't receive alot from it. Very cool, crisp smoke for a hot summer day. Maybe too much Latakia for me, but in small bites it sure is a tolerable gunner.

Pipe Used: Savinelli 2614 (Dry System), Stanwell 52.

1 person found this review helpful.

Calamiti Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Calamiti (66)
Medium Very Mild Medium to Full Pleasant

One of the best Latakia blends in my opinion. The flavour is smoky and even a bit sweet. The Latakias are superb and the Virginias remind me of FVF.

The reviewers who report a kind of "medicinal" flavour are right. Some elusive hint of capsicum plaster or something similar to it is definitely present here, which I prize a lot.

An excellent mixture, I buy it in bulks to have it always in my constant rotation.

Pipe Used: Peterson 268, Parker 42

1 person found this review helpful.

crazy owl Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
crazy owl (72)
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong

The coolest smoking experience in my very long piping life.Sometimes looks incredible savouring that fresh smoke coming fron a burning grass.The Punisher wrote a most perfect description.Not a show of subtle nuances,just straight Va-Lat flake.Veeeery slow burning.Once rubbed,not easy task,and,of course,dryed appear not pretty indeed but is delicious.If we insist about a slight fault,we can say that it lacks,perhaps,a touch of depth of the sibling Commonwealth.Both are fantastical on their ground.Also to say that BF needs a little attention to keep it alight.High grade virginias well matured,see the beautiful crystals,and powerful but not overhemly Latakia,maybe not so smoked than in other brands.

Pipe Used: small bowls

Age When Smoked: current production

Purchased From: local tobacconist

1 person found this review helpful.

Cobguy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Cobguy (3)
Medium Extremely Mild Medium to Full Tolerable

I can't add much to the already overflowing praises being sung for this blend. It's creamy and smooth and seems to almost have an opium-like quality. One thing I would like to add is that DGT'd bowls of this are amazing. I often leave a smoke for one reason or another and some do better than others upon relight. BF actually shines at the relight with an increased flavor at first that is fantastic. Another highly satisfied smoker here!

Age When Smoked: 8 years

Purchased From: gift

1 person found this review helpful.

point9 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
point9 (114)
Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant

Although Balkan Flake is by no means a Balkan blend which I think oriental should be included, it is a delicious and tasteful mixture. The lingering sourness of latakia combined with deep, tangy virginia really constitute a smooth, relaxing smoke. Some mentioned to be reminded of the flavor of Penzence, I could not claim that since I only had a bowl from visiting a seasoned pipe pal.

1 person found this review helpful.

ATW Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
ATW (45)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

I bought this stuff in a shop around Nashville and judging buy this tin and a tin of Best Brown Flake, my conclusion is nobody buys these blends too much at all from that shop.... because there was plume on the flakes....... Oh yeah buddy! Nothing better then buying aged tobacco for b&m prices 😄. Me and my wife went to downtown for the evening while I smoked a bowl of Balkan Flake. I just have to say this is some pretty good stuff. Smoky and salty with a slight sweetness. Burnt cool with no bite and for me not overpowering. To me it's kinda like Frog Morton but not nearly as sweet to my taste. I did find that this blend along with most heavier Latakia blends has a burnt wet log kinda taste after the halfway point. Not saying that I've ever smoked a wet log before lol just won't have this but every other blue moon. Not an all day smoke for me

12/22/15 I'm down grading this to a two star. This flak has become unbearable to me now. One of the most stinky Latakia blends I have smoked right next with HH Latakia flake. Needless to say I have more tobacco to get rid of.

Similar Blends: Frog Morton on the log.

1 person found this review helpful.

Mr. Big Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Mr. Big (320)
Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

(tin opened three days ago- Partially rubbed out to a broken flake) Very smooth, unlike " Lancer Slices", that I find harsh and is the same tobacco makeup ( Virginia/Latakia). Hard to dry/ light and keep lit, typical SG moisture problem. Tin contains 9 large 1"x 2 1/2 " flakes, these seems skimpy by volume, but after SG adds their typical 30% water, it probably makes 50 gr. by weight ! ANYONE ELSE ANOYED AT THIS ???

This tobacco is very hard to keep lit, produces only a smoldering smoke. Some reviewers claim that this is a "cool" smoke. I'm not really sure if they meant it doesn't burn hot, then I agree, IT DOESN'T BURN AT ALL ! Wait a minute while I relight this bowl for the 5th time , oops out, 6th time, 7th time. "Pipers", I'm not making this up. 8th, changed to a torch lighter ! Out again, dumped the bowl. I'll report back after a week of drying. ( Flakes coarsely rubbed out three days ago before packing pipe)

Day 4- Spent a 1/2 hour to fully rub this flake out, spent extra time and effort working on any larger flake pieces . Tobacco is now only damp and is still a problem keeping it lit, dumped another half a bowl.

Day 6- The tobacco has had a total of about 12 hours of an open tin and the tobacco is finally getting very dry. What do you know , I was able to smoke a bowl, but it still required a faster cadence than I'm used to in order to keep it burning.

Day 7- The tobacco is bone dry ( had to gravity feed into pipe). I still can't get this to burn properly . The flavor is very acceptable and smooth but doesn't knock me over.

Day 10- I rehydrated this tin slightly and smoked my 5th bowl, the burn was very good , along with the flavor. HOWEVER, I now have only about 3 bowls left !!! I've only been using medium size bowls and I generally pack using the "air pocket method". Wow, a total of 8 medium bowls per tin , talk about PRICE GOUGING !

This is just too much work ( rubbing/ drying/ attention) for an OK blend. Even McC's Dark Star wasn't this bad with burn issues. And the price per smoke, WOW. 2 stars

I feel reviewer "Aussie-man-die-as (13) 2012-03-11 " also had problems with keeping this lit

Pipe Used: cob & Brier

Age When Smoked: 3 to 10 days open

1 person found this review helpful.

Paulinprague Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Paulinprague (2)
Medium Medium to Strong Medium to Full Pleasant

This stuff is lovely. Hay, smoke, strength, scent. I have found something I could smoke until Kingdom come. I started pipe smoking with EMP and love that, but this has opened my taste buds to Virginia blends. Clear, clean and non tongue bitey. Thank you!

Pipe Used: Bassa dymka pot

Age When Smoked: New

Purchased From: Czech store

1 person found this review helpful.

H Gillman Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
H Gillman (39)
Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Very Mild Pleasant

I was very intrigued when my tobacconist suggested I try this. I am a big fan of flakes and I love English tobacco. The tin note was mellow, faintly sweet and ever so light of smokiness. The flakes were interesting to say the least. Black. Gooey looking and strewn with crystallization. I rubbed two flakes in my palm and gravity fed my pipe. It took a little bit of effort to get the bowl lit, but once tamped and re-lit, burned to the bottom of the bowl. I am an absolute fan of this flake. It is mild, smooth, and a true joy to smoke. I rolled the smoke around my tongue and savoured every single draw. Each draw seemed better than the previous. I sipped and rolled for a half hour before I reached the bottom. The taste is smooth from top to bottom. The flavour Is wonderful all the way through. There is no tongue bite at all. This is an absolutely wonderful tobacco and I am truly fortunate for finding an aged tin that was perfect for smoking.

Edited to add one more star. I highly recommend this flake. I bought out all of the old tins the tobacconist had, which he said were at least 5 years old.

2015-07-29 Update

1 full year jarred and this flake is even smoother than when I first opened the can.

Pipe Used: Peterson 302 P-lip et al

Age When Smoked: 5 years sealed

1 person found this review helpful.

Piepensmöker Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Piepensmöker (17)
Medium None Detected Medium Strong

I liked it out of the fresh tin, but it was hard to smoke due to the moist flakes, but the taste was very rounded, spicy and cool. Unfortunately the flakes dried rather quickly and although it was much easier to smoke, the taste became harsh and bitter after the half of the bowl. I also find the inconsistent cut of the flakes does not warrant the price. There are too many good Balkan mixtures around to be satisfied with this one.

1 person found this review helpful.

machinebcon Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
machinebcon (50)
Medium Mild Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong

Well this one is a keeper. What I noticed upon popping the tin was the resemblance to SG Navy Flake. As if the two were 80% identical in the tin note profile. Burned rubber, licorice, menthol. Some of the reviewers mentioned a topping/casing, and I agree that there is something added. The idea of menthol being the flavouring agent is not so bad. I indeed detect a hint (!) of spearmint freshness both when smoked and also in the room note. The flakes are quite chunky, so they need to be rubbed out well and dried for a few minutes near a heating. Packing requires some practice, if too tight the bacco can't expand, and if too loose it is hard to keep lit. The first quarter of the bowl is light, and most of the time I spend tampering, relighting, tampering, charring, etc etc. as usual for SG dark flakes (/rant off) The second to third quarter is the best part of the bowl, the smoke turns to be full, sweet (literally!), fresh (as in morning breath) and indeed "delicious". Probably not the ideal morning smoke, but similarly to Navy Flake this one tastes fantastic in cold or wet weather. 4.5 of 5 stars, as it is more complex than Commonwealth Mixture, and more "on the spot" than Navy Flake. A word of warning though: the stuff "stinks" (and that's a good sign!)

1 person found this review helpful.

Philosopher Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Philosopher (27)
Medium Very Mild Medium Tolerable

A very nice tobacco. A bit moist out of the tin, and I found that if smoked without adequate drying it could be a touch bland and monochromatic. It gives a much more satisfying and complex smoke with at least several days airing. I'd certainly be happy to smoke it again, but overall - and including the inconvenience of having to dry out - it's a 3 star for me rather than a 4.

1 person found this review helpful.

SteelCowboy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
SteelCowboy (685)
Medium Very Mild Medium Tolerable

Balkan Flake starts out like most SG flakes in that it is somewhat thick and too wet to smoke out of the tin. Like most flakes, I prefer to fully rub out Balkan Flake and smoke it on the dry side. There is a leathery, smokey taste that can be expected from a Lakakia, Virginia blend. There is also an underlying flavor that I think was best described by CPT/VSG below as medicinal. It may be a Lakeland scent, but if it is, it is not one I am familiar with as it's not the usual soapy, floral scent associated with Lakeland style blends. It doesn't ruin the flake for me, but it doesn't improve it either. I think it may be off-putting to some pipers. Balkan Flake is very straight forward in taste and that is where the problem lies for me. It simply is so monochromatic that it became boring. I don't mind the lack of Orientals, but the Virginia's really need to sing and they don't here. Latakia is the dominate player here and the usual complainers of “Latakia bombs” will find no relief here. Given the choice of Samual Gawith's Balkan Flake or a similar tasting blend, Gawith Hoggarth's Balkan Mixture, I would opt for Balkan Mixture every time as its more complex and flavorful. Somewhat Recommended.

1 person found this review helpful.

the_german Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
the_german (264)
Medium Extremely Mild Medium to Full Tolerable

OK, the tin is mislabeled. This is not a Balkan by any definition I ever heard of. But other brands have mislabeled other blends, too--let's forget about expectations (I had bought the tin hoping for lots of Orientals...).

Opening the tin, my first impression was SG Navy Flake minus the rum. Verrrrrry tasty-smelling (if that makes any sense). The tin aroma is full of Latakia, with a good amount of VA in there. The slices are relatively thick, very dark (almost black) and crumble almost before I touch them. With some care, I can fold-twist- sink them; that makes for an extremely slow burn.

Lighting up is the usual SG Flake affair; it does take some patience even when the 'baccy has been dried for a bit. The taste, once this stuff burns, is toast and sweetness; VA and Latakia. Beautiful for me (though I could use some Orientals in there). Not the most interesting smoke, but lots of sweet VA power to go with the Latakia smokiness and toast -- I love it.

Apart from SG Navy Flake, I am also reminded (by the taste, not the tin note) of Dan Tobacco's Holly's Discovery. The room note of both is similar; the Balkan Flake might be ahead on points--just barely.

Beautiful full Latakia flake; not a Balkan or true English, but not bad at all. Not recommended as an introduction to Latakia blends, but for those who love the sweeter ones, this thing delivers.

1 person found this review helpful.

Steden Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Steden (94)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Well, I'm not so expert in Latakia to provide a contribution to the "taxonomic" discussion Balkan or not Balkan: for me the English Mixtures are an occasional pleasant diversion, and this was particularly pleasant. Opening the tin the smell left no doubt about the composition, very classical and unflavored Va-Lat, as often with the flakes by S.G. the tobacco was covered with crystals sugar (good!) combined with the dark brown to black color, the result is that it looks like slate, very nice! Ignition and combustion are simpler than usual, the smoke is dry and cool, taste and flavor not complex but wide and deep with its unmistakable notes peaty, burnt-woody, zesty, balsamic and resinous, astringent but soft, round and smooth. Latakia here is not a curtain but a “velario”: it dominates the scene but without obscuring the flavors of Virginias always present in the background, discrete but with character. In the best tradition of the brand, only high quality leaves are used here.

As companion a good single malt like a delicate, dry and fragrant 10 years old Laphoroaig.

1 person found this review helpful.

Sylvian Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Sylvian (28)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong

High-quality Virginia plus delicious Latakia, not Balkan really, but I was buying based on the description and reviews and not on the name, so I was not disappointed. Moreover, I find this flake a real delight. Smoked after Penzance it seemed at first a bit on the bland side with its absence of Oriental, but after a couple of bowls it's balanced taste began to unroll for me. The constant teasing interplay between VA and Latakia leaves you craving for more. Smoky, leathery, and delicious, whatever the packing method. Highly recommended.

1 person found this review helpful.

PipePaladin Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
PipePaladin (78)
Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

This is a fine blend! I don't go mental with English blends but this one is good! I have no idea why they call it Balkan? I thought they should call Balkan a blend with north Greek orientals (where I come from actually). Anyway, i have bought it twice and I will buy it again!

1 person found this review helpful.

Fumatore Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Fumatore (48)
Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

This is a nice change of pace tobacco. As others have noted it is a one note wonder. To me that can be very pleasant at times. Certainly not a Balkan, but it is very well made. I find I use this as more of a blending tobacco, to tone down the oriental influence that overloads so many English blends.

1 person found this review helpful.

A. Morley Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
A. Morley (97)
Strong None Detected Very Full Extra Strong

I visited the Samuel Gawith factory in Kendall a few years ago. Kendall was, far and away my favorite town in England and from my time there I have many stories. One of my best, as far as the world of pipes is concerned, is that I was one of the first people outside of the company to be able to smoke their new Balkan Flake before it was made public. I was intrigued and have gone through a few more tins since. On the whole it is a fine smoke, demonstrating all of the quality that one pays for with Gawith tobaccos.

This is serious stuff, mind ye?. Not for the occasional smoker or the generally inexperienced. The Virginias, those that can be tasted, lend this flake a deep, almost brooding sweetness that one has to be in perhaps a brooding frame of mind to truly appreciate. It is, of course, the Latakia that Balkan Flake is all about. It is there in force and in a proportion that I usually regard as obscene, but here it works quite well. Works well if smoked slowly and softly, that is. Puff too fast and this will taste like you are chewing on a lump of hot leather (a hot, leather lump?say that four times fast). Otherwise, this is indeed all the best one could ask from a Balkan, with Latakia most definitely in control, but with the Virginia going along quite nicely. I, for one, am glad to have found a flake containing Latakia to which I would be happy to return.

1 person found this review helpful.

Steerpike Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Steerpike (60)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

A lovely tobacco, this stuff will appeal to both smokers of Latakia, and fans of dark flake tobacco.

The cut is fairly thin sliced, which allows a lot of control over the consistency it is smoked at, but it doesnt really matter as it does with pure VA- you could smoke this dry as a bone and crumled to dust, it still wouldn't bite. It smells splendid in the tin.

The flavour is an interesting change of pace from the more traditional English Mixtures- instead of that musty, dry, spicey body from the orientals, the Latakia here is supported by the full, slightly sweet taste of stoved Virginias. It is like Best Brown, but with Latakia! The latakia taste is quite full, I was expecting it to be lighter, but this does not in anyway dissappoint me! I think the richness of the VA really brings out the depth in the latakia.

The aroma is very pleasant,although quite strong. This is a lovely smoke when out walking, or spending an autumn evening at the pub.

1 person found this review helpful.

smoking-rob Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
smoking-rob (76)
Medium Mild to Medium Medium Pleasant

Reading all the reviews I am quite surprised that almost everyone seems to think that this very nice tobacco is unflavoured. It isn't but it is none the worse for it. There is some casing added, a bit cherry like but at least sugary that lends it the sweetness beyond that offered by the Virginia. Lovely dark stripes, quite thinly cut, of great quality VA and Latakia that is heaven for my palate. Be sure to fold the flakes in your pipe as opposed to rubbing them out and be prepared for the coolest, tastiest smoke I have savoured for a long time! Two more tins are already ordered, this stuff is addictive!

1 May 2006. I have just read Bigblends comments on my observation on the cherry/sugary note, thank you for including it and the blender's comment, I now believe to have been wrong about it.

1 person found this review helpful.

RCUSElder Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
RCUSElder (244)
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Strong

Revised 04-14-2005 Another Classic from SG!

Appearance and Tin aroma: two beautiful stacks of 1 inch by 3 inch sliced flakes that are mostly dark brown and they smell delicious!

Packing and Lighting: I found that rubbing out the flakes works best with 1 slice filling a group 4 bowl. Lighting can be a chore when the tin is first opened as it is pretty moist and oily. I found letting the slice dry out for a few hours before rubbing out and packing worked for me.

Initial Flavor: Cool, delicious Latakia with the VA there firmly.

Mid Bowl: Nice interplay with both leaves, thoughts of Tents, Turbans, and Camels in my mind.

Bottom of Bowl: Nice rich increase in strength, leave a fine grey ash when it is all over with thoughts of filling another bowl of this blend!

Overall: This is a delicious blend, but lacks complexity due to the lack of other orientals. It is not as complex as "Charing Cross" or "Balkan Saseini", but as its loosely style name implies, it is a wonderfully cool smoking delicious "Balkan" that occasionally makes my rotation.

1 person found this review helpful.

Spike Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Spike (296)
Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Tolerable

Smoke this as the first pipe of the day. Otherwise it is too subtle to enjoy after something like Squadron Leader or even Early Morning Pipe. It does last a long time though so set aside 30 to 45 minutes and enjoy this with a cup of strong coffee or some "P.G. Tips" tea. Highly recommended!

1 person found this review helpful.

Paddy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Paddy (127)
Medium Extremely Mild Full Tolerable

This is another SG tobacco which has earned a dedicated pipe in my rack. It comes in very thin, moist, dark brown, six inch strips of flake. I buy it in bulk and transfer about 100g to a 1/2 litre bail topped jar which I use as a humidor. I rub out a fistful and let it sit out for at least twenty-four hours before smoking. The left-overs go back in the jar where the moisture is restored, an effective way of bringing the moisture of the jar's contents down gradually. When treated this way, the tobacco burns easily and delivers plenty of smoke and flavor with no bite. This is an extraordinarily smooth combination of Virginia and latakia. This is not a complex smoke of changing flavors and nuances. Instead, the tobacco achieves a certain clarity of perfection and maintains that taste from start to finish. With the relatively recent offerings of Balkan Flake, Navy Flake, and Tavern Tobacco's Laurel Flake and Blackbeard's Queen Anne's Revenge, the Samuel Gawith folks have created some truly great tobaccos. Most highly recommended. Paddy.

1 person found this review helpful.

Danno Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Danno (102)
Medium Very Mild Full Strong

We have a winner here. I was most eager to try Gawith's version of a Balkan and am glad to report that it merits a look. And so, on to the finer points. Tin aroma is wettish, not reeking of Latakia(as in say Germain's Special Latakia Flake), but deep and somewhat dark. I wonder if there isn't some humectant involved here as my tin has stayed wet in the summer heat, lid off or on. Rubs out easily, stains your fingers with nico goodness. Initial draw through an unlit pipe is pleasant, a la any Dunhill english, hints at sublimnity to follow. Lightup is a chore unless the leaf is left to dry for an hour or better. Initial flavor is meaty but not too smokey. I must admit i was hoping for more sharpness at the match, a sure sign of oriental leaf lurking....Flavor through the first third of the bowl is straightforward, "woodsy" and showing a serious lack of any oriental play. Perhaps this one is misnamed. Rather routine English thus far. Past the half way mark , we are seeing improvement, but Aperitif is more Balkan in nature than this. Bowls ends easily, no surprises. Hmmm, I decide to switch pipes. Oh, there we go, a lovely oriental blast 3 minutes in, much better. After having consumed the tin through 3 different pipes, I am sold. This is a true Balkan, but quiet in nature. Those seeking an agressive experience needn't stop here. I would recommend smoking at leat 10 bowls before passing judgement, as it seems to show a bias for certain pipes. Subtle and refreshing, but as expected, the room note is not popular with 90 percent of those exposed to it.

1 person found this review helpful.

Pounder 5000 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pounder 5000 (178)
Medium None Detected Full Pleasant to Tolerable

Wonderful, Wonderful, and yet again Wonderful!!! This stuff really hit the mark for me. I had to order it from SYNJECO in Switzerland since I couldn't locate it in the states. I would have to say that the state side suppliers had better get with the program! I can't say enough good about this tobacco. The smell in the bag is buttery and smokey, promising the richest smoke ahead. The Latakia is heavy here, but not overwhelming. The Virginia ia naturally sweet, like an alfalfa hay bale that's slowly fermenting with age. The burning characteristics are great and when the flame hits the weed, billious clouds of creamy smoke are released. The smoke isn't complex, but still remains very classy and sophisticated, like a well made Brie. It never bites and leaves little or no dottle. I found that rubbing it out well seems to release the flavor better. This could be a great everyday smoke except for the lack of availability in the states, and I think the richness of this tobacco could be little too much after awhile. I can't wait to try Commonwealth after this and see how it compares. This is certainly the best I have yet tried from S. Gawith and company. All in all perhaps the best bulk Latakia available, displacing even Pirate Kake for smoothness. It packs a nice wallop of nicotine as well. Go and get some. I'll bet even Shakespeare would agree!

1 person found this review helpful.

LV9 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
LV9 (76)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium to Full Strong

This one is a keeper, sweet Virginia with healthy dose of in your face Latakia , the Latakia in this one is pretty similar to what you find in full English blends, now the f;ave is easy to work with either left alone or rub out its impossible to get this to burn your tongue but word to the wise it will turn ashy quick if you overpuff the nicotine is on the tame side now one thing is for sure I don’t think that this blend works well in a deep bowl a size 3 to 4 max is where it shines anything bigger than that the flavors become muddle. Would I buy this again? Absolutely! Is just a darn shame that finding SG blends is spotty at best.

Pipe Used: GBD 9242

Age When Smoked: 3+

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Rob73 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Rob73 (77)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

I expected a lighter Commonwealth. In fact it is but in its bulk version it lacks personality compared to its more spicy and satisfying "older brother". I suggest to buy it in tin. The flake cut, however, provides a cool a slow smoke which I love. 4,0/5 in my personal system.

Purchased From: Stop and Smoke, Milano (Italy)

Nobody has rated this review yet.

pinko Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
pinko (52)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

SG's Balkan Flake has twice the Latakia as Navy Flake, but without the topping. It's in a tough category though - only quality Virginia varieties and Latakia to carry the blend.

Balkan Flake smokes very smooth - while I had the tin open, I was using it as my breakfast blend. The Latakia is present but never overwhelming, and the Virginias underneath are standard SG quality. I usually smoked this partially rubbed into a broken flake, where it would burn cool and slow.

It's nothing to write home about, though - just a simple VA/Lat mixture. I kept wishing it was a full-strength mixture with Turkish to add another dimension. Lovers of English blends with no Turkish leaf will find this a good candidate. For me, it is unidimensional and doesn't hold my interest long. The tin got finished plenty fast, but I won't order more.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Lyle Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Lyle (30)
Medium None Detected Full Tolerable to Strong

My tin of Balkan Flake was from 2008 (eight years old), so these notes may not reflect current, un-aged production.

In the tin, this blend is inviting and intriguing. Sugar crystals show well-aged Virginias, with sweet, smoky and funky aromas. By "funky", I mean a kind of rotten sweet smell from anaerobic fermentation.

There was a disturbing amount of rust on the inside of my tin, but thankfully nothing that broke the airtight seal. As others have noted: beware of these square metal tins and inspect them often if you're aging in them.

I mostly smoked this loosely crumbled without extra drying out time. The smoke is delicious and complex, with many of the familiar Latakia aromas like leather and wet firewood. The Virginias are definitely present with a pronounced sweetness and complexity.

This blend is similar to Fairmorn's Lancer's Slices in that it is a perfect balance of sweet and smoky, and somehow presents a lot of English style complexity from only Latakia and Virginia.

Pipe Used: Briar pipes dedicated to VA/Latakia blends

Age When Smoked: 7 years

Similar Blends: Charles Fairmorn - Lancer's Slices.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Swiss-smoker Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Swiss-smoker (62)
Medium to Strong None Detected Very Full Pleasant

Scrumptious scent of Latakia and natural tobacco-sweetness on opening the tin. Dark brown, almost black, quite thick flakes. It is a chore to fully rub out and it needs a whole lot of drying time. The reward is an outstanding, delicious (English-)Latakia smoke. It is difficult to pack and light. Once properly packed and lit, you get a slow, steady, and very cool burn. However, a few relights might be necessary sometimes. The “secret” of getting the perfect burn is finding the ideal point of moisture. Too dry does not necessarily lead to a better burn.

The flavourful, more campfire-smoky than leathery Latakia is obviously dominant throughout the bowl. In spite of this, the Virginia flavours of bread and yeast sparkle up constantly. It is not one-dimensional at all. The more bowls you smoke, the more subtle tastes you will find. Such as spice, cream, wood, hay, sweetness, richness, deepness, and more. It’s a master blend. A generous, though never overpowering, natural tobacco-sweetness is always there. I appreciate this. No casing or flavouring.

The fly in the ointment is its name. There is no Balkan/Oriental tobacco in this mixture (except Latakia)! It’s all about Virginia and Latakia exclusively. It should rather be called “Latakia Flake”. It’s controversial whether to call this an English Mixture or not, since there is no Oriental in it. Nevertheless, I highly recommend these flakes to all Latakia aficionados. It has been one of my top five favourites for years.

Age When Smoked: One year.

Purchased From: Local tobacconist.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Leandro Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Leandro (13)
Medium Extremely Mild Mild to Medium Tolerable

Nothing to add to what was said. A nice flake for all day, pleasantly cool and some "medicinal" flavor. It's okay... But does not satisfy. I prefer the Commonwealth

Pipe Used: Chacom Billiard

Nobody has rated this review yet.

L'Italiano Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
L'Italiano (170)
Medium None Detected Full Tolerable to Strong

CLASS: Mixture TYPE: Latakia mixture CONTENTS: Virginia and Latakia RATING: 3,5 stars. In my personal system rating (from 1 to 10) my score is 9.

Very tasty, Balkan Flake is really aromatic and smokey and you can perceive an ancient flavor. Among Latakia mixtures this one is unique in taste and I recommend to try it for her individuality and distinctiveness.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

wandyhee Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
wandyhee (16)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

love the taste of this latakia blend but having to deal with flake tobacco is pain in the *ss. will buy again if there is no stock of old dublin/red rapparee/meat pie and other ribbon cut tobacco around.

Purchased From:

Nobody has rated this review yet.

quantumboy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
quantumboy (130)
Medium None Detected Full Tolerable

Can't believe after all this time I've never reviewed this blend! Shame on me...

It's been a favorite for years. Any time I'm in the mood for a big dose of Latakia, I reach for Balkan Flake. Always reliable, always delicious, always a great big in-your-face latakia smoke for those times when I'm in the mood for a rich, campfire-smoky experience. Very highly recommended.

Pipe Used: Lots of different pipes - always great!

Age When Smoked: About 5 years.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

twaksak Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
twaksak (54)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

In the tin: Smokey, mouldy and roasted coffee/dark chocolate. Also picked up some cinnamon spicyness.

Taste: Smokey, creamy and buttery. The dark chocolate on the nose was evident in the smoke as you progress through the bowl. A nice English (not Balkan IMHO) blend.

I tried a few bowls rubbed out and folded flakes. The bowls where the flakes were folded, presented more pronounced tastes however, I preferred the rubbed out form.

YT review .. YouTube Video

Pipe Used: Stanwell, Piet-en-pauw

Age When Smoked: 5 yrs

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Fubber Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Fubber (14)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

smooth, creamy, cool nirvana. 30% latakia is about the right amount for my palate (recently had a tin of JFG's special latakia flake and found it harsh and overwhelming). one of the best.

Pipe Used: Peterson 303

Age When Smoked: New - dried and rubbed out

Purchased From:

Nobody has rated this review yet.

christausky Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
christausky (2)
Medium to Strong None Detected Full Unnoticeable

This is the second tobacco I did buy many tins to stock up. Since so many reviews about it, I feel I have nothing to add. Only one trick to gents who wants to truely try this. Pls DO let the tobacco dry for a long period, I mean at least one month in the tin or jar. After drying, it tastes up to a holy new level vs just out of the tin. I can swear that's a huge difference. After finishing one bowl, I feel energetic, "full blooded". I was ex- heavy smoker and almost no feeling to nicotine bomb. But this one is truly amazing✌️.

Pipe Used: Peterson Iceberg & 2012 Christmas Edition

Age When Smoked: 1 month

Purchased From: Kuala Lumpur

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Darth Vader Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Darth Vader (110)
Medium to Strong Extremely Mild Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong

A decent smoke. The Latakia in this is very strong. Quite similar to the iodine smell of Penzance. Good for the occasional smoke.

Why is it call Balkan when there are no Orientals in it?

Nobody has rated this review yet.

crackonosh Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
crackonosh (8)
Medium Extremely Mild Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong

It is not very easy to be a fan of Samuel Gawith’s flake tobaccos. Athough they usualy taste well, the quality, condition and shape of the flakes is at least uneven. In fact, I have nothing against hand-cut flakes of a variable thickness—Rattray’s tobaccos prove it can be done right. But Gawith’s attitude is definitely on the very bottom level. Exaggeratedly moist flakes have no visible structure of the tobacco leaves, they look more like a pressed dust, like a trash. When you try to brake a flake to the fibres, you allways end up with a dust.

Balkan Flake reacts to the popularity of Balkan Sobranie. Full English/Balkan mixtures, based on Latakia and Virginia are usualy supported by high quality orientals. But not in this case, Gawith offers us pure Latakia/Virginia blend. Too simple for Balkan. The flakes are very dark in colour and very moist, the aroma reminds me of an old motor oil. Surprisingly, the taste is quite pleasant from the very beginning. Not too overwhelming, but still full and deep as it should be. Balkan Flake is easy too keep lit and easy to finish to the bottom. It the manufacturer used real tobacco leaves instead of tobacco dust, these flakes were much better. Looking for Latakia blend? Try this one. Looking for Balkan? Try something else.

Similar Blends: Robert McConnell - Latakia Flake.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

no guts no glory Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
no guts no glory (4)
Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Mild Pleasant to Tolerable

Big fan of English type blend, this tobacco, is a really good one; the smoke is cool and rich, the flavor is bold but not in a bad way, I love it !!!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

DrT999 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
DrT999 (266)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

A nice straightforward smoke -- you get exactly what most descriptions say. The Latakia dominates without being overwhelming while the VA adds a good platform and some complexity. Unless you really dry it, it lights best in narrower chambers, but once going it tends to stay lit. Since I know there are many tobaccos out there I would rate a 4, the question arises would I rebuy this particular tobacco, assuming my tastes don't change much more. In this case, the answer is yes.

Pipe Used: briars & meerschaums

Age When Smoked: smoked 7 months after purchased

Purchased From: 4 Noggins

Nobody has rated this review yet.

CoolPilot Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
CoolPilot (69)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

Fresh smoke is the best definition for this flake. Very brown and dark thin flakes, which tend to dry up quickly once the tin is open. Ready to be rubbed and smoked right after opening. Sweet virginia, very gentle latakia. Not too strong, almost a medium. But perfect in my opinion. Sweet and fresh.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

onurturker Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
onurturker (14)
Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Medium Tolerable

Great virginia and latakia combination.Highly recommended for all latakia fans

Nobody has rated this review yet.

maigret fan Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
maigret fan (74)
Strong Strong Very Full Strong

As often with the brand, the tobacco has too much moisture in the tin. I put it in a pouch, let it dry for two weeks and that was perfect, otherwise I was keeping relighting it.

A good English mixture for the experienced smoker as the strength is rather fool. Good blend. I agree with previous reviewers about the 'Balkan' origin of the tobaccos, hoping the present situation in the Middle East will not make difficult finding the tobaccos put in the blend.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

tomspeed Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
tomspeed (23)
Mild Mild Mild to Medium Very Pleasant

Another beauty Virginia from Sam Gawith Excellent pipe tobacco and highly recommended

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Philo Beddoe Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Philo Beddoe (180)
Medium Mild Mild to Medium Tolerable

I found this blend rather bland, I did not taste the oriental components hardly at all. It was mostly Latakia with a Virginia base. I did not get any Balkan character at all. However, the tobaccos used were very good, as usual for Samuel Gawith. I was gifted five bowls of this and will not be purchasing any.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

rogermugs Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
rogermugs (14)
Medium to Strong Extremely Mild Full Tolerable to Strong

It's true that when you open this tin you'll think you purchased death. But you didn't. It's just the smell of the tin for whatever reason.

It's a bit strong for my tastes, but I'm admittedly a huge lightweight... and even as such I rather enjoy this when I want something more than a very-mild.

My first bowl burned for over two hours, I had to put it out because it just kept burning and burning and burning. Never got hot. Left a good taste on my mouth, but the balkans leave something to be desired on my clothing.

I suggest this if you can get past the tin.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Burner Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Burner (8)
Medium Extremely Mild Medium Tolerable

This is very good virginia and latakia and that's it. Splendid smoke with the smoky latakia interplaying with sweetness of the virginias. I don't know where the guy below gets his crackpot ideas but there are no weird flavourings here just excellent tobacco.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

SmokingMySav Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
SmokingMySav (9)
Very Strong Strong Mild to Medium Very Strong

A lot of people question the name "Balkan" for this blend, since there are no orientals, but the name is perfect. I guess not many people know, but the Virginia used by SG comes from the Balkan states (Bulgaria, Macedonia, etc), thus the name fits perfectly.

To mask the cheap Virginia in this blend, SG has employed the usual aromatic tactics, this time lacing the cheap tobacco with some kind of medicine-tasting casing and maybe a bit of menthol. The menthol is working - no matter how hard you puff on this flake - it will burn cool. The medicine flavor is really weird, it smells just like old pharmacies used to, back in the days, when they actually made drugs on premises.

In a nutshell, if you are looking to try the weirdest aromatic blends, SG does not disappoint. If you want something that even remotely resembles tobacco taste, this manufacturer is not the one.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

KahveDelisi Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
KahveDelisi (52)
Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

I haven't tried out all Samuel Gawith line but so far balkan flake is the only one I'd buy again and buy in bulk if opportunity arise. And that's not because it's my favorite, it's not. Yes I liked it to some extent but for me it's a great addition to yayladag which is all turkish leaf pipe tobacco. Sometimes I'm adding an extra orlik golden sliced flake and there you have it, round, smooth, cool and everything.. but on it's own? hmmnnnah.. not so much.

to be honest I'm not fond of SG flakes for obvious reasons. wet wet wet, inconsistent cut, compared to other brands you get half amount of baccy out a tin --I'm not convinced we are getting 50gr tobacco-- overly pressed very tight flakes, hard to rub when wet, even harder when dry. I can't say WOW I'M IMPRESSED except golden glow and that was broken flake.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

latakiaowl Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
latakiaowl (5)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

This is going to be a short review.........for you all that have been crying ( like me) and pulling your hair ( most of mine are gone , probably for this reason) since old Balkan Sobraine 759 in its golden pouch/tin has gone, here's the new KING. This Balkan has settled itself on the throne and I can't see any sensible pretendant around. God save the King! P.s. Ok, guys, I know that SG's Skiff Mixture is in a way closer to old sobranie, but let's admii it, this one is a winner indeed. The best Balkan tobacco I have ever tasted since the good 'ole days of the Sobranie golden pouch. ( Which died before disappearing, the tobacco made in the late 90's - by Gallagher I guess - wasn't even close to the former King but a bad alias). Highly recommended, it will always be the first choice in my cellar. Some say that since there are no oriental tobaccos in this flake so it would not even deserve the Balkan name at all. I don't know but even mislabeled nonetheless to me it's the king:-)

Nobody has rated this review yet.

krg1000 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
krg1000 (180)
Medium Very Mild Medium Tolerable

I was expecting something more from this blend. When opening the tin, I must agree that there seems to be a strange smell out of the tin. It does seem to have a just right amount of Vitamin N and once lit, seems to burn down to a nice ash at the bottom of the bowl. I just didn't think that this tasted as it should without at least some Orientals in the mix. I don't think I will be procuring more of this, but YMMV. I would recommend you try it, you just may like it. Just not for me.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

CPT/VSG Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
CPT/VSG (72)
Medium Extremely Mild Medium Tolerable

If I could, I probably rate BF somewhere between recommended and somewhat recommended. BF has a very odd--and none too pleasant--note upon opening the tin, which never dissipates over the life of the tin. It is a medicinal, not tobacco, scent. The blend tastes better, though, that its tin note. It is a basic, uncomplicated Virginia/Latakia mix, apparently without Orientals (which does may one wonder how it is "Balkan" when there are no Balkan tobaccos). BF does smoke cool to a fine ash--it would be a good tobacco to break in a pipe with. It comes fairly dry from the tin, which I like. Overall, BF is good but not great; it's a pretty simple blend for all day smoking.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

zulujerk Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
zulujerk (145)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

Now this is a bit of a misnomer, a purported Balkan with absolutely no Orientals? I'd like to ask the Samuel Gawith people exactly what their definition of a Balkan is, which would likely blur the disputed genre lines even further.

The blend comprises both Latakia and Virginias, and coming from Samuel Gawith, that's quite similar to their 50/50 Virginia, Latakia Commonwealth Mixture, with likely different proportions. I've always admired Latakia mixes that come in flake form, they are rare and quite elegant. Old Ironsides is a favorite, and having sampled Quiet Nights, I enjoy the uncharacteristic cut which all possess, if a bit light in the press. And looking at my sample, I would say that seems to be true.

Balkan Flake doesn't approach the rigid form of other Lakeland Flakes, it is soft and unwinding. The flakes themselves are almost entirely black, very pliable and smell heavenly. This is a Latakia forward smoke, light in strength and almost salty, rather than sweet. There is a minimal spiciness present and the blend smokes somewhat flat without much variety in flavor. The absence of Oriental leaf makes this smoke rather bland, which I admit may be an unfair assessment, as I see nothing wrong with a strictly Virginia/Latakia combination, my palate likely conditioned to demand some Orientals in a blend.

It took an entire tin to appreciate Commonwealth Mixture, and I seem to be on track here for a repeat. I doubt I'll have a problem finishing my two ounce sample, though I can't say I'll be reordering a further helping. There are far more complex smokes out there.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

JohnnyMcPiperson Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JohnnyMcPiperson (108)
Medium Extremely Mild Medium Strong

For me this blend was good, but I thought the Latakia was a bit too dominant, and took away from the flavors that might have blossomed from a better balance of VA's. No that I count this as a bad blend, it is a unique flake, and it really took to my small bowled churchwarden, but I felt like it had the potential to be better. It smokes well when folded and packed loose in a narrow pipe. This blend is worth trying but it didn't blow me away.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Kerdy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Kerdy (43)
Medium None Detected Full Tolerable to Strong

This is the first flake I ever smoked. Takes a little getting used to in the packing department. Good solid smoke, but what I like best (even though its a pain to keep it lit) is how slow this one burns. I never thought I would actually get tired of smoking my pipe. This is a slow burner, so if you have the time and want to just sit back and day dream, this is the ticket for that trip. I really like this. Odd thing is it feels really moist out of the tin, but when packing that feeling goes away.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

ynrozturk Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
ynrozturk (60)
Medium to Strong None Detected Full Tolerable

This is one of my first real experiences with Latakia. Having not tried it before (besides Davidoff's English Mixture, but I couldn't even detect it in that) I was very curious to do so, even though I am primarily a Virgina lover. And flakes - I just love flakes.

Opening the tin, I was hit with a smell which I was not expecting at all. In fact, I didn't know what to expect, really. It smells extremely earthy, pungent, strong. At first I thought "no way", but I loaded up a bowl of the broken, dark flakes, and off we went.

The first bowl made my stomach turn. The second was better, the third was good, the fourth was awesome. And it just keeps getting better and better. Having spent some more time with this blend (a lot of time, actually) I can now safely say that this tobacco is nothing short of amazing.

The Virginia's are very high quality and sweet, and the dense smell of the Latakia has sweetened as well. What you're left with is a creamy, gorgeous smoke which does not bite in any way, shape or form. It's also possibly the most even burning tobacco I've ever smoked. The taste upon the first match is heavenly, and as the bowl progresses, it gets deeper, sweeter, and even more delicious.

I need to stock up on this. Extremely addicting, and quite simply, flawless.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Croaker Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Croaker (13)
Medium Extremely Mild Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong

I have only purchased Balkan Flake in the tin. From the tin the flakes are around 4 inches long and tend to have a somewhat inconsistent width. It takes some effort to fully rub-out the flakes, and I usually fully rub-out Gowith flakes. After drying out Balkan Flake burned unusually well for an SG flake. I can easily produce a volume of smoke with Balkan Flake and I have never experienced tongue bit.

Balkan Flake afforded me just about the smoothest tobacco smoking experience of my life. The Virginia and Latakia seem to meld together to produce a unique sweet earthy leather flavor. This is easily the best pure Virginia/Latakia blend I have smoked.

I have read on line different explanations of the composition of a ?Balkan? verses an ?English? blend. I understood that a Balkan was an ?English-type? blend with a heavy (non-Latakia) oriental tobacco presence in addition to the Latakia and Virginia typical of an English blend. Recently, by way of Pease?s web-page, I have changed my mind. Pease suggests that ?Balkan? is really just another name for an English blend.

I am certainly no authority on English vs. Balkan tobaccos. My reason for mentioning the issue is two part. First, those looking for the tangy-sour flavor of oriental tobacco will find none in this blend and may be disappointed. And, second, somewhat ironically, I eventually grew tired of Balkan Flake because it lacked the complexity and nuance that probably would have been provided with some oriental tobacco!

I recommend Balkan Flake; however, my recommendation is tempered. If you like the straight Latakia/Virginia genre of English tobacco I think you will really enjoy Balkan Flake. I have never smoked a better representative of this genre: Lancer?s Slices, Commonwealth Mixture, etc. Those looking for more complexity would probably still like Balkan Flake; but many may find it just-misses excellence.

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kg0mz Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
kg0mz (54)
Medium Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant

Delicious, sweet Virginia tobaccos. Straight VAs tend to dry my throat, and I cough. I like them very much, but my throat objects. Maybe I have a rotation issue? The Latakias here cool and smooth out the smoke, but not at the expense of the VA flavor. I don't have a minimum-daily-requirement for Latakia. I enjoy English/Balkans as a change up, once a week or so. I am fascinated by Penzance and Abingdon, but the VAs come and go in the the layers. The Virginas in this flake are prominent and very sweet.

Eyes closed, this smells like Penzance. Picking up a flake it is denser and does not readily crumble. No problem. A little elbow grease and it rubs out. Pretty moist, but I don't dry it. BF burns even, cool and seldom requires a relight.

Pros: excellent VAs with a woodsy/peppery backdrop. Cons: N/A.

07/27/09 UPDATE: I am revising some of my reviews. I have given out more 4 star ratings than anything else. That practice is probably not helping. So, I am reducing BF to 3 stars, not because I like it less than I did before, but because I am limiting 4 stars to fewer than 25% of all my reviews. One day I may use the 4 star rating to designate my top five.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

p4p4 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
p4p4 (59)
Medium to Strong Mild Full Tolerable to Strong

Incredible smooth, rich and elegant in the Gawith's style. Not complex, sure not a "balkan", but delicious and impeccable. In my opinion this may be a perfect every day winter time blend.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Battling Maxo Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Battling Maxo (8)
Medium Mild to Medium Medium Tolerable

Curious tobacco. I taste virginia, latakia, menthol, and no orientals whatsoever. Menthol is definitely part of the recipe. Breathe through your mouth after a few puffs and taste the "deliciously cool" menthol. Not a Balkan blend per se, but Pseudo Nim's assertion that the tobaccos used are from the Balkan region was indeed a revelation. It all makes sense to me now.

I don't mind this tobacco. In fact, I'm in the middle of my second tin, but I give it 2.5 stars for its slightly misleading name. Who here bought it not expecting orientals?

I feel it's worth a try to break things up in your rotation.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

DoctorThoss Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
DoctorThoss (146)
Mild None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

I'm going to keep this short: This is not a Balkan at all, but rather a straightforward Va-Latakia concoction that is smooth, extremely sweet, and nice to look at. The room note is unusually pleasant for a latakia mixture and there's not a hint of tongue bite to be found. After going through a tin, however, it simply failed to hold my attention. It was kind of like a ramped-up, all-natural version of Frog Morton, which isn't really a bad thing but isn't exactly spectacular, either. I'd recommend it in a heartbeat for those wanting to get their feet wet with latakia and those who enjoy a restrained English-type tobacco, but I don't plan on buying anymore.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Stacey Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Stacey (40)
Extremely Mild Extremely Mild Very Mild Unnoticeable

I was looking for something a bit stronger than Balkan Sasieni when I picked this up and boy did this disappoint. It's not even in the same league. Let's see, where do I start. At first I thought I detected a nice Virginia taste, but that disappeared after the first bowl. Now I get nothing but this faint minty menthol taste. I couldn't in good conscience recommend this to anyone. It is simply a weak tobacco that requires constant puffing to keep it lit. Who would like this tobacco? I guess if you are trying to give up Salem's, Kool's or some other menthol cigarette this might be better alternative(healthwise, though it won't taste as good), but if you like the mint taste you'd be better off eating a mint or brushing your teeth. I left the jar open for a night but I'm not that hopeful that it will improve much, though it might burn better. This one is probably destined to mulch my shrubs.

UPDATE 11/2/07 - I tried to doctor up the rest of this just for grins. I boiled some water, then mixed in a bunch of salt and soaked the baccy in it. I poured off the mixture, baked it and put it in the garage to dry. Although this succeeded in nixing that weak menthol taste it didn't improve it enought to raise this a star. Per the other reviewer's suggestion I did buy this in a tin so no mistake there.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

puro66 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
puro66 (74)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

Ah! The blessed leaf! This is a truly balanced and tasty tobacco. Many blends, or should I say blenders, claim balance, this one really does deliver. I walk freely between the virginia and latakia smokers camp. Balkan Flake satisfies on so many levels. It is rich without being overbearing, smooth without being boring, enjoyable to the last puff. This is a keeper for me and will never be far from reach!

Buy some. On second thought don't. I don't want popularity to drive up the price!

UPDATE 5-01-13: I smoked a bunch of this and at some point either my taste changed or subsequent tins were off. It began to have a bad chewing gum flavor similar to stale wintergreen.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Skando Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Skando (187)
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Tolerable to Strong

I confess that I share both Sasha's and Beer's reviews. Sure this is not a balkan. Small quantity of slices and quite moist. They MUST be dryed and rubbed out, otherwise your pipe will not stay lit. The smoke is very cool, slow and sweet, much more pleasant to the nose than to the palate, but there's nothing else to drive me crazy. If You think that SG's products are on the very top pricing list, and this one is priced EUR. 17.50 per 50grms ... Cannot give more than two star, and just because of the quality and tradition of SG.


during the months passed after my review, this Balkan Flake has never called me again... I even tried to mix it with something could bring it some life. I tossed the rest of the tin in good company of Sam's Flake. Never again.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Hemlock Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Hemlock (60)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

Not too many balkan flakes out there, are there? Is this a real balkan? I'm not sure. Lovely texture, sort of like humid slices of tender bbq'd pulled pork.... er... maybe better to think of it as a dark tobacco flake... Easy to rub out, fairly thin and easy to work with. I smoke it in a small Colm Magner rusticated squat tomato.

Comes a bit moist, so dry it for a few minutes near the fireplace in an open cigarello tin or something like that. It burns cooly, and has a richness that virginia flakes don't offer. Not overwhelmingly balkan, but more on the mild side. Doesn't have any oriental components to give extra depth, but good as it is. Not a bad room note, but it is a latakia blend in the end Try a tin, you may just enjoy it. Gawith is a good house...

Nobody has rated this review yet.

butman Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
butman (47)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

You open the can and you smell smoky latakia. You massage the flake to a manageable configuration and gently push it into a small briar (billiard or dublin). Touch it off and you are delightfully surprised. It does not burn you. It is very subtle in flavor and it is so cool smoking it is almost cold. You would swear there is a touch of menthol. It does not have any deep stuff, it just burns and delivers. I still haven't put it in a big pipe, but I think it would do fine. I smoke it 1-2 times a week. If I could smoke at work it would be used more often. Nice change of pace from all the soapy stuff you can find in Northern England.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

sasha Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
sasha (228)
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

I didn't like it, no way. Who named it "Balkan" should have a VERY odd idea about how a Balkan should be, or should be sued for fraud! Not deep, not complex, not spicy....just a bowl that can be easily smoked absent-mindedly, due to boredom.

Nobody has rated this review yet.