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Iwan Ries

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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
Blend TypeBalkan
ContentsLatakia, Virginia
FlavoringNone
CutFlake
PackagingBulk, 50gr. Tin
CountryUK
ProductionCurrently available
Where to Buy Iwan Ries
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Strength
Medium
Flavoring
None Detected
Taste
Medium
Room Note
Tolerable

Favorite Of 21 Users

3.2
133 reviews
Reviews
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61
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PeterD Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
PeterD (79)
★★★★
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.

10 people found this review helpful.

The Punisher Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
The Punisher (44)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Strong

Now this is tobacco!

Distinguished reviewers, what more do you want than beautiful dark, thin flakes, barely covered with sugar crystals, tossed randomely inside the tin, suggesting hand blending? And from such an honorable blender than Samual Gawith?

What more than a tin aroma like FVF combined with the rich spiciness of Latakia? This is exactly like FVF combined with Latakia. I can smell FVF and the spiciness of Latakia. Simply addicting. I smelled the tin for long moments before letting go. The moisture content is perfect. The flakes bended softly under my fingers. I only had to let the tin dry for a week or so in the Coleman cooler before smoking. I couldn't wait.

As always with Gawith, rubbing out is too easy. So is lighting up. The taste is DIVINE, nothing less. Rich, creamy, spicy and a tiny sweet. It gets only better and better as you go. Despite the fact that I pull a bit too much out of enthousiasm, it does not bite.

Oh my God. This might become my no 1 tobacco in my rotation. This is better than FVF. No shit. Excuse my language. And smokes dry all the way.

One friendly advice: at 1/3 Latakia, the room aroma is not wife-friendly.

Samual Gawith is the way to go. FVF, CF, now BF. At very inexpensive prices. European's craftmanship and extensive experience at yesterday's prices. What else do you want? GL Pease? C&D? McClelland? At higher prices, but without the extensive experience? the choice is clear.

Highly recommended

8 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.

7 people found this review helpful.

Aussie-man-die-as Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Aussie-man-die-as (13)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Very Strong

I read many reviews of Balkan Flake before I tried it, so I knew what to expect. No Oriental leaf, just Virginia and Latakia. The Samuel Gawith website says Virginia with 30% Latakia: can't get clearer than that. So I was not disappointed or surprised, or sidetracked by wondering what "Balkan" means in a tobacco. In any case, I think it makes more sense to review a tobacco on its qualities, rather than its name.

So, this one is the typical Sam Gawith flake - variable thickness, damp in the pack (mine was a bulk pack), moderately difficult to rub out. All of that is part of the charm to me - it seems sort of a cottage industry tobacco, rustic and somehow more "real" than the very orderly rows of perfect flakes in, say, Orlick Golden Sliced or Dunhill Flake. This is chalky-sticky to the touch (if that makes sense) - sort of a crumbly texture, with a very strong Latakia tin note. The Latakia smell adheres to the fingers even after washing with soap.

Once the labor of rubbing out this tobacco has been put in, the pipe loosely packed and the lighting effected (this takes a bit of effort), the reward is a slow-burning Latakia treat. Pungent and coarse, it satisfies the desire for clean, strong Latakia taste in a mid-strength tobacco (from a nicotine point of view). Very one-dimensional (no complexities or development of flavor profile); but it is an excellent dimension to be in.

But stinky - hated by all who come within odor-range, even on the clothes. Good for loners and the socially challenged; use near family with discretion.

This too shall pass.

5 people found this review helpful.

Sinister Topiary Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Sinister Topiary (74)
★★★★
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!

3 people found this review helpful.

BriarPatch Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
BriarPatch (33)
★★☆☆
Very Mild None Detected Mild Tolerable

Preface: I have been smoking Dunhill Standard Mixture Medium for near-on 30 years, believing that it has no equal anywhere on earth. But it is gone now, and so I begin a quest for my Holy Grail: A substitute to replace the standard on which all English tobaccos are based:

I am disappointed with Balkan Flake. I got really excited with Full Virginia Flake, and thought a touch of Latakia was all it needed to send me into nirvana. Sadly, no. The Virginia here is not the Virginia of Full Virginia Flake, but rather considerably milder. This, with a touch of Latakia makes for a very mild smoke. I keep puffing for more strength, but it never comes...

The tin states: Deliciously Cool. Which is a way of saying very mild and smooth, which it is. It is too mild for me and hence my rating. However, I think a lot of aromatic guys might love this stuff, but the term "Balkan" might chase them away. Don't let it. The flakes are gorgeous with little aged sugar crystals, and the tin aroma is divine.

We tend to think of any tobacco with Balkan in the name as being on the full side, but Blakan Flake is a contradiction to the rule.

BF would make a great way-station on ones journey to the truly great (and strong) Lakeland tobaccos. Even if you never get there, there's always the thing about the journey itself, and BF will (in this regard) not disappoint.

3 people found this review helpful.

Pipe4ever Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipe4ever (198)
★★★☆
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.

Jacinto Cupboard Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Jacinto Cupboard (77)
★★★☆
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.

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.

1 person found this review helpful.

JimInks Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JimInks (695)
★★☆☆
Medium Extremely Mild Medium to Full Tolerable

An easy to deal with flake once you dry it a little. The latakia is richly smokey and woodsy, and 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. A straight forward medium English flake.

1 person found this review helpful.

H Gillman Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
H Gillman (32)
★★★★
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.

Pipe Used: Peterson 302 P-lip et al

Age When Smoked: 5 years sealed

1 person found this review helpful.

StevieB Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
StevieB (257)
★★★★
Medium Mild Medium Pleasant

This is very nice and does not disappoint , but I find Samuel Gawiths are always pleasurable ! Firstly rubbing and packing is easy .The smoke is very cool and thick . Strong Virginia taste and the Latakia can be pleasantly detected . No bite even if drawn harsh and it doesn't burn too hot nor quickly . A very good smoke !

Pipe Used: Peterson

Age When Smoked: New

Purchased From: Smoke King

1 person found this review helpful.

ChurchWarden000 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
ChurchWarden000 (1)
★★★★
Medium Medium Medium Tolerable

Hello to all reviewers ,
this is my first tobacco review. I start with this tobacco because , is my favourite.
I like the taste of this amazing latakia/virginia mixture, from the start to the end of the smoke you will never have bad taste.
Also no tongue bite , only a fresh and natural taste of virginia and latakia.
The smell is the one of true cyprus latakia and virginia I think nothing is added , some one had sayed there is mentol inside , but for me nothing else than god tobacco .
Ofcourse it is moist, but let it dryed for 1 week and you will have a perfect slow burning tobacco, also easy to pack .
I prefer it to Brebbia Latakia Flake n°9 , that is one of my favorite, because the taste is very terrible at the end of the smoke.
Take it in bulk and you we will have your every day smoke.
I consider this an ascetic tobacco , to use when you want to stay away in the garden during the winter.
I smoke a lot of 250gr. bulk that have a god price instead of the tin that is very expensive.

Pipe Used: small dublin or big canadian

Age When Smoked: 6 month

Purchased From: bollito pipe italy

Similar Blends: brebbia flake n°9..

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.

PipesterJim Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
PipesterJim (44)
★★★☆
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.

1 person found this review helpful.

late-nitedrydrunk Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
late-nitedrydrunk (10)
★★★★
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

Let me begin by saying that this is a quality tobacco. The virginias are pretty tasty and the latakia is well, latakia. And as the description states, it is a nicely formed flake, which does smoke cool. However, my taste perception tells me the blend is missing something. Maybe it's the proportion of virginas to latakia, or perhaps the lack of orientals. But more likely it's that I thought this would be Commonwealth in the form of a flake. Well, it isn't.

Update 27-07-10: Raised two whole stars. I've had a batch aging in a glass jar for well over a year and decided the other day to try some. Sugar crystals abound. Even though this isn't a traditional Balkan, the Va's are so good that anything under 4 stars wouldn't adequately describe the quality. And yes, I could still taste the fruitiness of the Va's even with the large portion of latakia. Some age and a proper rubbing out did wonders. I find this an interesting blend for those few times a year I stray from my daily diet of straight Virginias.

And now a word about a rumor somebody is spreading on this site about Kohlhase & Kopp taking over the manufacturing for Samuel Gawith. Although I had my doubts that the legendary two hundred plus year old company would relinquish the rights to manufacture its own tobacco, I contacted Samuel Gawith and was assured that this rumor is "ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE." Thank heavens. In this unsure world where once great pipe tobaccos are being discontinued and pipe smokers as well as snuff users are being alienated and squeezed for every last tax nickel, it's good to know that staple companies such as Samuel Gawith are still around producing high quality tobaccos.

1 person found this review helpful.

MadMarv Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
MadMarv (15)
★★☆☆
Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

This was my first try of a VA/Lat blend without orientals or other condimental tobaccos, and I was a bit underwhelmed. Not really the fault of the tobacco, perhaps, just not a happy choice for my taste.

Quality is typical SG, and the flakes where just what I expected, fairly chunky and well formed, no clumping. There was no flavoring that I could detect, just good clean tobacco. The tin aroma was almost straight VA, I could just pick out the Lat. I tried it both folded and rubbed out to various fineness, and preferred the fold method. Moisture levels were good, near perfect actually.

Smoking this was a bit of a disappointment, though, just a fairly bland flat taste. I'm not a VA buff, and VA was too dominant in this albeit without enough sweetness to help much. SG's Commonwealth may have been a better choice, but I doubt I'll try it. I think this genre of tobacco is just unsuited to me.

1 person 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.

1 person found this review helpful.

Pseudo Nim Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pseudo Nim (96)
★★★★
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.

1 person found this review helpful.

herfinmickey Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
herfinmickey (5)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Very Pleasant

06/02/08 - Pure pipe tobacco delight. There seems to be quite a bit of debate as whether this superb blend is actually a "Balkan", "English" or a "Virginia - Latakia" blend. It appears each blender holds to his own standard concerning those definitions. Actually it is irrelevant as to what you wish to call this blend as the main point is that it is wonderful to smoke. I had just nicely reconditioned a lovely old Peterson Irish Army pipe (obtained as one of a shoe box full of old dust covered and very dirty and worn pipes purchased from a local resident) and chose my recently purchased tin of S.G.'s Balkan Flake for a "maiden voyage" with each. The tin opened with a pop and immediately my nostrils filled with the delightful sweet and sour aroma of the moist strips of pressed tobacco "flakes". I decided to rub them out and pack them. Some seem to prefer to dry out their tobacco prior to smoking. I never do. Like fine cigars, pipe tobacco if too moist may burn poorly but if too dried out all tobacco loses its flavor and will pick up some dull, acrid bitterness. A good pipe and smoking technique will allow you to smoke this and most other premium Tobaccos moist in the pipe but dry in the mouth. This tobacco lit nicely and burned well throughout the smoke only requiring one re-light near the bottom of the bowl. The flavors were absolutely marvelous; Mildly sweet/tangy and smoky, creamy with a round, ripe fullness. S.G.'s Balkan Flake's flavor is very rich but not at all overpowering and had not the slightest hint of tongue bite. While perhaps not as complex as Penzance for instance S.G.'s Balkan Flake is incredibly satisfying and leaves me craving and looking with anticipation to my next bowl. Highly recommended.

An update 06/07/08 - I tried folding a strip or "flake" of Balkan Flake instead of rubbing it out. I gently packed it into my Peterson Killarney, a nice, chunky, straight billiard with a generously sized bowl. The burning characteristics of B.K. remained similar as when I rubbed it out. However the taste became somewhat muted and while still quite enjoyable it lost much of the marvelous richness that makes Balkan Flake so delightful. If you desire fullness and richness of flavor I would recommend that this blend be enjoyed rubbed out.

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.

emmbee Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
emmbee (174)
★★★★
Medium Extremely Mild Medium to Full Pleasant

My recent disappointments with changing European and American blends narrows my options of pipe tobaccos to which I can eagerly return to again and again. Narrowness might be a blessing in disguise though, as a catholic taste tends to make one flighty and undiscriminating. From amidst the gloom of mixtures that taste depressingly the same or have since fallen from grace, there arises Gawith?s time-honored blending tradition. Chief among these accomplishments is ?Balkan Flake?, which is most definitely a flake but without a trace of Balkan. Though only Gawith could get away with this. In this case don't get hung up on semantics or even blending components. Balkan is a magnificent smoking experience for the professional, grown-up tobaccophile. It reminds me a bit of the chewy, briny ?Stonehaven? but without the sour note of blackberry. It has that characteristic Germain aroma but more understated and refined in that characteristic Gawith only style. The latakia is pleasant and beautiful, a subtle complexity that renders peace and silence and solace. The only thing one wants to do while smoking this is smoke. Reading or watching a movie would get in the way of this pleasure. Thus, I suggest savoring slowly and free of distraction, when not in the mood to do anything else. A small, full, well-packed bowl offers an hour or more of smoking bliss. At last, a blend that I can get excited about, and that has been a long while. It?s no wonder Gawith has existed for over 250 years. A rare & wonderful flake that should not be missed by the most fastidious tobacco enthusiast. Pipe smoking doesn't get much better than this.

Five of five stars

1 person found this review helpful.

mel51us Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
mel51us (47)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant

10/14/2006 I received my tin of Samuel Gawith's Balkan Flake yesterday. Inside the tin, I found 2 stacks of flakes about 3 inches long and about an inch wide. The flakes were tightly packed but pliable. I folded a flake, loaded it in my pipe, and let it air for about an hour. Once I was satisfied with the moisture level, I put match to pipe. Balkan Flake lit easily, burned cool and clean with only the occasional tamp, and left a dry pipe. I experienced no tongue bite and no gurgle from excess moisture. No one tobacco dominated the blend, but everything melded together to produce a flavorful smoke and a happy pipester. Balkan Flake, IMHO, is a good blend for the LAtakia lover, as well as the Va or Va/Per smoker looking for an occasional change of pace. Balkan Flake would also be a good introductory blend for the new pipester or the aromatic smoker looking for real tobacco flavor without being overpowered.

02/12/2007 This is quickly becoming my "go to" blend. The more I smoke this, the more I want more. Just ordered a pound, my first bulk order of Balkan Flake. I'll do an update if the bulk version is different from the tinned version.

02/18/2007 Wow, I didn't think it was possible, but the bulk Balkan Flake is even more enjoyable than the tinned version. This is going to be my "go-to" blend for a long time to come. Cool smoking, easy to load and light (after very little drying time), no gurgle, no excess moisture, and a fine ash. The folks at Samuel Gawith have a great blend here, IMHO.

1 person found this review helpful.

Ian Weeks Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Ian Weeks (36)
★★★★
Medium to Strong None Detected Full Very Strong

This is a big blend fellow reader?s, a very big blend.

Upon opening the tin I was greeted by the fragrance of Latakia, which overpowers the stoved VA component. I have read other reviews of Balkan Flake and noticed that the adjective ?oily? has been used to describe the aroma of this blend. Although I couldn?t agree more with this description of the bouquet it is my opinion that also the appearance and taste are deserving of this description. It is there and not unpleasant, like the difference between a Dominican and Cuban cigar. That nutty oiliness that permeates the smoke and the tobacco as it combusts? Magnificence afire!

I have smoked this blend in several different pipes, ranging from medium to large in size- one particular pipe, a freehand S. Bang (around a group 5) is the one that I most prefer to smoke it in, as S. Bangs have more of an ?open? draw which delivers more flavor and more body. Another contributing factor to flavor and body- as I define it- is the packing method. Although I have tried Balkan Flake rubbed out and broken I much prefer to fold and stuff it, as the former 2 methods can yield a smoke that is on the mono-dimensional side, the latter burns cooler, dryer, slower, and delivers a tremendous amount of flavor- but I think that it is the Cyprian Latakia component that is the source of most of the body for the first two thirds of the bowl- the dark rich roundness that constantly develops with the stoved VA?s as the bowl progresses.

One of my favorite things about smoking VA?s is the last third of the bowl, the heat stoves the Virginia tobacco and gives it that toasty roundness. Balkan Flake doesn?t disappoint, it is a fantastic example of what happens when quality Virginia and Latakia are pressed into a Flake, well done Samuel Gawith.

Highly recommended to the Latakia lovers out there.

1 person found this review helpful.

jmartindale Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
jmartindale (22)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

Oh, this is such a superb blend - perhaps one of the finest English blends I've ever smoked.

I have been smoking the bulk version - 6-inch (or so) strips with a beautiful pouch nose of Latakia spice and incense. The strips arrive damp - no question. Break a strip in half and put the other half back in the bag. Rub out the half-strip into smaller pieces and then spread it all out on a piece of paper for about two hours or until it feels dry. I smoke this in a larger Canadian sandblast pipe and I have been packing it fairly firmly, leaving any rubbed-out powder for the top of the bowl to help things get burning faster.

The smoke itself is very, very flavorful and mellow - it burns bone dry and is extremely cool...no, amazingly cool. The Latakia and Virginia components form a near perfect union and it all ends in a fine, white ash.

This is truly a top-notch blend and I very strongly recommended it to all English lovers - it's a "must try", really.

1 person found this review helpful.

monkeybong Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
monkeybong (7)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

My first review for this site. I like this blend alot. It is one of my favorites, as I am usually just about out most of the time. I also like to top off other lighter blends with this flake. It seems to blend smoothly with other non latakia blends as I smoke through the pipe. I tend to be a "hot smoker", a label my local tobacconist gave me, and I find that this flake blend smokes cool regardless... I will say that I almost always prefer english blends so my review is influenced by this.

1 person found this review helpful.

Beer Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Beer (300)
★★☆☆
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.

1 person found this review helpful.

Wonwon Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Wonwon (3)
★★★★
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

1 person found this review helpful.

Darth Vader Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Darth Vader (87)
★★★☆
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.

Otis56 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Otis56 (12)
★☆☆☆
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..

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Gentleman Zombie Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Gentleman Zombie (203)
★★★★
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: smokingpipes.com

Nobody has rated this review yet.

crackonosh Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
crackonosh (7)
★★★☆
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.

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.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

DrT999 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
DrT999 (162)
★★★☆
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.

Pipe Used: briars & meerschaums

Age When Smoked: smoked 7 months after purchased

Purchased From: 4 Noggins

Nobody has rated this review yet.

balkan_boy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
balkan_boy (34)
★★★☆
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.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

CoolPilot Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
CoolPilot (65)
★★★★
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 (6)
★★★★
Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Medium Tolerable

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

Nobody has rated this review yet.

The Happy Piper Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
The Happy Piper (14)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium Medium Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Balkan Flake is strange- it doesn't taste the way it looks for instance...all black and sticky and intense. It tastes manipulated and has the stength of an incredibly professional security man moving you out of the way by a foot or so- irresistible, but not rude. As far as I taste it, the topping is at least as prevalent as the Lat in the first third, but the Vas have been cased also of course, so it turns out to be a bit of a melange. This is like a club DJ you actually like or a cocktail given to you by a relative stranger which you never find out the name of- no Va, no Lat, just Balkan. I like it very much, but something I don't understand is going on.

Addendum: I seem to make a habit of amending my reviews, but I feel my pride is less important than contributing as much information as possible to the single most encyclopaedic tobacco resource in the world. I still really like BF- the first 3/4 are sublime, but there is somthing about the end of this smoke which is a real signifier of its cased nature- there is just a hint of ashiness and most of the flavour dissipates. I would stil recommend it, but it is not a four star blend. I really hope that S.G. gets rid of the casing, to allow the quality tobacco they always use, to truly shine.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

maigret fan Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
maigret fan (57)
★★★★
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.

rimchar Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
rimchar (4)
★★★★
Medium Extremely Mild Full Tolerable to Strong

Beautiful dark flake, not pressed too densely, produces prodigious opaque grey smoke, a perfect match for my meditative and Wabi, S. Arita sitter. Compelling like the scent of peat fire or an Islay scotch. Perfect for when you want the smoke to do your thinking for you. Wonderful in every way, you will want to dedicate a pipe as it will be utterly, indelibly owned by this burnt offering.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

tomspeed Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
tomspeed (22)
★★★★
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.

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

This is a very nice flake. The virginia is present but the latakia is at the forefront without being overwhelming. The underlying sweetness from the virginia really balances this out. I like to cube cut it for best results. This seems to provide a very refreshing and smooth smoke compared to some of the other flakes on the market.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Malcolm Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Malcolm (3)
★★★★
Medium Mild Medium to Full Tolerable

Shortly: Unique!!! Delicious! Cooooool! (especially with my Peterson Dublin Filter XL90). Not for everyone.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Philo Beddoe Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Philo Beddoe (140)
★★☆☆
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.

N7 Renegade Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
N7 Renegade (3)
★★★★
Medium to Strong None Detected Full Very Strong

Old Balkan Flake. A misnomer if there was one, since this tobacco seems to be only made of Virginias and Latakia. However I think this is one of those that most people should try once. It can and will grow on you. Unusual for SG tins, it actually holds a while after being opened. I've had this one (from 2006) opened for about 3 months now and it's still moist. Most of the SG mixtures seem to dry out quickly, maybe it's just the flakes that hold up.

Anyway on to the review. Balkan happens to be one of my favorite tobaccos to keep around. It's just complex enough flavor wise to always keep. As far as the tin aroma, someone mentioned meatballs. It just smells like lat and dark va's to me, however I do find it rather yummy as far as aroma goes.

Ive tried both methods on burning, the fold and stuff, as well as rubbing it out (ha), both work fine. I usually fold when I am feeling lazy and just want something to puff on. And that is the good thing about this product. The flavor and aroma stays there. Once you are familiar with it you know what you are getting. Always consistant.

I rank this bad boy above all others in the SG line even FVF (which I was never crazy over) and she is the one I consistantly go back to like the lady you didn't really like too much or too often, but every now and again provided ample entertainment.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Vovinam Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Vovinam (19)
★★★☆
Medium Very Mild Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong

I agree with who think that where's something wierd about the flavouring of this tobacco (maybe menthol?), but as long as the thing doesn't affect a good result who really care? When you open the tin it smell like meatballs and that is annoying. So a couple of days of airing are mandatory, also is much better when dried a little, then I recommend to move the content into another tin or better in a humidor after the airing process. Despite all the cons it's good smoke material: very tasty, cool, sweet, and refreshing, not much smoky as a normal Va-Lat flake or as a normal EM or Balkan, but maybe is more acceptable by who prefer aromatized mixtures. So SG Balkan can be a sort of intermediate step for a more classic EM.

Type: VaLat flake ; Contents: Virginia, Latakia ; Flavoring: Menthol? ; Cut: Flake ; Humidity: tends to wet, I reccomend a little drying (become much better) ; Lighting: Easy and constant despite the cut ; Pipe recommended: I prefer straight ones or maybe slightly bent, with a medium size bowl, a Dublin or a Bulldog for example.

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.

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.

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.

pipelovingcalvinist Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
pipelovingcalvinist (68)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong

Pretty good. Nothing outstanding. Good quality Latakia, a rich pungent smoke. Yep, a bit stinky if you are married but I don't mind it. Not a bad choice at all if you need a Lat fix but I prefer SG Commonwealth Mixture by far.

Soli Deo gloria!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

kanular Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
kanular (8)
★★★★
Medium Medium Medium Pleasant

I'm discovering latakias so far, first with the "perfection" of SG and now with this one "balkan taste". I wanted to go to a latakia without the vanilia aroma to figure out a little bit more about latakia. I LOVE THIS STUFF. This tobaco is just wonderfull. I smoked it without drying with a long pipe and what a surprise seeing there my true nature. Latakia smoker i'll be for sure. (Sorry for the english native language french) The tobaco is burning perfectly, it stay good to smoke all along, my pipe and i are enjoying it. It was also nice to break the tobbaco for 15mn till it was perfect to full my pipe with. Have fun. Peace

Nobody has rated this review yet.

steelcicada Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
steelcicada (9)
★★★★
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

Love it, my favorite Flk is SG Navy Flake this is similar but minus the sweetness imparted by the rum. Truly delish. Diolch

Nobody has rated this review yet.

KahveDelisi Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
KahveDelisi (45)
★★★☆
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.

SteelCowboy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
SteelCowboy (513)
★★☆☆
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.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

latakiaowl Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
latakiaowl (4)
★★★★
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 (137)
★★☆☆
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 (70)
★★★☆
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.

the_german Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
the_german (206)
★★★☆
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.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

goldfinger63 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
goldfinger63 (13)
★★★★
Medium Mild Medium to Full Pleasant

based on 31 years of pipe smoking,excellent tobacco and i must say this is one of the best blends on the market.also i think this is the best blend that samuel gawith ever produced.because in the past there other blends i have tried i notice the soapy taste.the latakia is not over powering and this is a very enjoyable smoke.this is my next blend after penzance.so if you like english blends and also a latakia fan you cannot go wrong and gonna like this.very highly recommened.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

zulujerk Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
zulujerk (134)
★★☆☆
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.

?pe Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
?pe (41)
★★☆☆
Medium Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Tolerable

"Deliciously cool"? "Suspicious cool" I say. If there isn't menthol in this flake then there's some other tobacconist's alchemy involved in stripping this of all flavour to create something artificially cool.

It's a crime to hide that lovely latakia hidden behind their "deliciously cool" voodoo.

If left to dry out then it becomes an acceptable (if dull) early morning smoke.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

DK Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
DK (589)
★★★☆
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.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Pipesrevisited Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipesrevisited (45)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium Very Pleasant

Update2: it's horrible! I don't want to smoke anything else anymore!

Update, i now adore the roomnote :)

Tinnote delicious

Roomnote burning socks

After having smoked a pouch of Best Brown I seemed to have gone of Latakia blends, but S.G's Navy and Balkan Flakes have put me right back on track. So maybe I'm just a flake smoker.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

japanpipeman Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
japanpipeman (8)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

Excellent tobacco! The Latakia is rich but not overpowering, allowing the Virginias to really give this flake and extra delicious dimension. I have to force myself to stick to my rotation, so as to not waste my other open tins. They are great, but this is fantastic. This is the best tobacco I've tasted. Forget the name if it bothers you, this rose smells as sweet!!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

JohnnyMcPiperson Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JohnnyMcPiperson (89)
★★☆☆
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.

fruktflugan Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
fruktflugan (19)
★★★★
Medium Extremely Mild Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

Have been smoking this flake now in various smoking utensils and I feel ready to pass judgement upon it.

When you open the tin you realize that this tobacco needs some drying out. I aired out the flakes with the lid off for 3 hours, but that didn't take care of it altogether so I have at a later time separated the flakes and left them to dry on a piece of paper for one additional hour and that makes a good moisture level for my tin in particular.

Smoking the flakes is a breeze. Any way you decide to prepare the flakes works. I prefer to rub them out and leave to dry just a couple minutes more before smoking. Taste (as always subjective) is first a sweet, very fulfilling, taste of old fabric saturated with incense carrying with it the whiff of old wood and maybe a little bit of "dusty attic". As the bowl progresses the sweetness subdues and gives room for a more serious note where the smell of hardwood and campfire reigns supreme. The Virginias in this are not intrusive or "green", they just add a generous helping of tobacco sprites to tingle your tastebuds!

It burns down to an absolute small particled white dust with almost no dottle at all. No tongue bite (but I've never experienced excessive tonguebite from any quality tobacco anyway), no moisture, just tobacco heaven.

I rate this as possibly THE best tobacco I've tried so far. It's full bodied and meaty where other baccies are thin. It's deeply enjoyable even when smoked outside in bitingly cold weather and it just epitomises all the best qualities of a world class tobacco.

As I said; My ABSOLUTE favorite so far! -Recommended as heck!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Claudius Stradivarius Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Claudius Stradivarius (171)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Strong

This flake is amazing.

Rich, creamy and full flavoured. With a nice nicotine level, I was purely amazed.

I wonder if K&Kopp will respect the original recipe, or mess it up.

I will hang on the original tins from Samual Gawith as long as possible and monitor the new manufacture's reactions from my fellow reviewers...

Nobody has rated this review yet.

adauria Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
adauria (4)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

Tin Note: Smells amazing - strong latakia - deep, dark rich aromas. Definitely a little sweet and exotic. It was definitely too moist when fresh. For all bowls I broke up the long, dark, thin flakes (not fully rubbed, but mostly) and let it dry for 30-90 minutes.

Packing: Once broken up into a chunky rubbed-out state, it packed easily enough. I didn't want to overpack it either, and I feel that it tasted best when packed on the light side.

First Impression: The latakia hits you up front, but there is a sweet/tangy oriental flavor present from the initial light. The smoke has a rich, creamy texture.

Halfway Through Bowl: Oh man, this is good stuff. Big, strong, complex flavors are present - sweet, tangy, woody, and especially leathery. Flavor builds well.

End of Bowl: Wood and leather start to dominate. No big nic hit, despite the strength of flavor. Tangy starts to turn sour (in a good way). Teeters on too much tang/sour if you work it too hard at this point. Leaves more dottle than most.

Room Note: I would guess pretty awful, but smoked outdoors I didn't have anyone to notice.

Likes: Great, complex, big flavors. Really fantastic. Even though it was super hot out during most of my smokes, I was still excited to smoke this heavy English / Balkan style blend. A real winner.

Dislikes: Too moist out of the tin - but that's easily fixed with a little patience and planning. Sour if you work it too hard. Smokes a little hot. None of these will keep me from buying more of this.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Lombard65 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Lombard65 (48)
★★★★
Medium Medium Medium Tolerable

Frank and direct, simple, full and satiating. I would also very good for homemade blends. This in my opinion, better smoke it broke. Slowly smoked taste great! With absolutely no problems, sometimes leaving off the pipe for a few minutes!

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 (40)
★★★★
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.

rramstad Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
rramstad (115)
★★★☆
Medium Extremely Mild Medium Tolerable

For me, this was a very one dimensional latakia bomb. I don't recall ever smoking anything with as much of a latakia emphasis as this before, except for possibly Fairmorn Lancers Slices.

Obviously top notch tobacco, carefully processed, but I didn't get a lot of nuances from it, just pure smoking latakia with enough other stuff in there that it burns well.

Highly recommended for those who are looking for a latakia bomb in flake form. Otherwise, probably not. I will smoke this occasionally as the mood dictates, but suspect that other blends with more complex notes will get more puffing in my pipes...

UPDATE July 2011 I smoked a bowl of this recently and was very impressed, I was able to detect all sorts of Virginia flavors with the latakia, and felt that the bowl developed nicely throughout. My earlier review was obviously based on either a young tin, or poor smoking technique, or both.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

risle-lariviere Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
risle-lariviere (33)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium Very Mild Medium Tolerable

This is a sweet English/Balkan to me and the latakia is not to overwhelming.Need to be dried out for a day before smoking . I wished it to be a bit stronger on nicotine and latakia but this is a quality tobacco ,well pressed which mean I need only one slice to fill my bowl when rubbed correctly.A simple not complex blend which IMHO is of great value to any rotation/cellar. Another good to very good SG .

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Juna Gu Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Juna Gu (31)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Strong

This is as it says in the description. Maybe not to everyone's taste, but as far as quality goes very good. Very earthy and flavoursome. I think that the way the Latakia (of which there is indeed a "generous helping" so you'd better like it) is pressed into flake with the Virginias makes for quite a different effect than with mixtures; the tobaccos have imparted something of themselves to each other resulting in the smoothness mentioned in the description. I've not tried rubbing it out yet as it seems to burn just fine folded-n-stuffed. I can't find anything wrong with it and it's got a balance and flavour all of its own. Bear in mind that I'm not counting Latakia as a flavouring. I would definitly buy this again.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Mystic Rune Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Mystic Rune (35)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Full Tolerable to Strong

Another top notch flake from Sammy G. Very cool, creamy and smokey, with a perfect hint of sweetness. Slow burning and simply delicious.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Archangel Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Archangel (22)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong

Beautiful, very dark flakes. Intoxicating combined taste of spicy Latakia and cool, sweet dark VAs.

Simply delicious.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Steden Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Steden (85)
★★★☆
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.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Big Tex Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Big Tex (2)
★★★☆
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Very Pleasant

Another winner by Samuel Gawith!

It has depth, is not too complex and meets a latakia lover's craving.

Give it a shot!

Warning: Not for beginners!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Rodrigo de Xerez Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Rodrigo de Xerez (16)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Tolerable

As stated before, I am not a supporter of flakes. In this one, the rubbing thing is agravated with a very considerable dark amount of dust. Not quite pleasant, really.

The smell and taste is exactly what is expected: viginia & latakia (more present the first one), with some smokey/sour aromas not completely appealing.

It burns well if you totally rub... not as well after just bending into narrower pieces.

The general feeling is not complex nor strong enough... can be a good change of pace after many virginias or some aromatics, but is a little bit monotonous. The leafs are very good, it is creamy, a little bit sour... and, yes, as some told before: finally boring.

In this league I do prefer Commonwealth Mixture (More cream, more taste... and not a flake)

RdX score: 87.35 (I only smoke regularly tobaccos over 90)

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Alguhan Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Alguhan (140)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

A must try for all the Balkan or/and English mixture fans.

At first sight the flakes are very appetizing. Packs and burns very well. Tasty and very satisfying smoke. I will surely buy more.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

murfman Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
murfman (3)
★★☆☆
Mild Very Mild Mild Pleasant to Tolerable

I must admit that I do not smoke flake very often, but upon opening this 50g tin I wanted to bury my nose in it and never take it out. The aroma that this tobacco has in the tin is one of the best smells I have come across.

Unfortunately, the smoke itself did not live up to the hype. It was a little dull for having such a wonderful aroma. It was smooth smoke, however, even if slightly bland.

I would allow someone to try some before I told them to go out and buy a tin.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Sniper3 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Sniper3 (26)
★☆☆☆
Very Mild None Detected Very Mild Unnoticeable

I hate to write a bad review of a SG blend. I enjoy most all of them. This one is a strike-out. If there was latakia in this I missed it. Very, very, bland.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Big bad Jon Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Big bad Jon (232)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

When opening the tin I notices that the flakes were a bit moist for me... After about a day of drying things looked good enough for me to give them a try. I hate it when flakes do not rub out easily, and fortunately for me the rub out went very well. The tobacco packed very nicely and burned very, very well. Two matches was all it took to get this to burn all the way down to the bottom. The tin aroma was my first disappointment. When I saw that this was a Balkan blend I expected loads of Latakia and some Oriental to keep things interesting. What was coming through in the smell from the tin was high quality Virginia tobacco ONLY. Upon lighting the blend I noticed that my highly trained nose was not deceiving me, there was just enough Latakia to consider this blend an English. The Virginias were very nice, almost a McClelland Christmas Cheer quality. What Latakia was present was very nice but absolutely understated. For a flake from SG it was very cool burning and really a pleasure to smoke. My big disappointment was that if this is a Balkan like the tin said it was, bring some more Latakia or rename the thing. As a light English blend, this was exceptional. As a Balkan, it reminded me of C&D Winthrop.

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.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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.

SMOKETSES Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
SMOKETSES (208)
★★☆☆
Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Extremely Mild (Flat) Tolerable

Thankfully my first taste of Orientals was not with the specific smoke. I would never smoke Orientals again.

Balkan Flake is a mature tobacco with various flavors, very heavy and with a very strong and bad taste of Latakia. It is very moist, considering I kept in the cellar for a year and a half. It has a pointless complexity that will ruin your palate roof, especially if you are not very careful and calm during smoking.

I forgot there are some good points in this mixture. The flakes are easily rubbed, the smoke is easily packaged in the bowl and it burns evenly from beginning to end. It was generally a bad experience, especially for my wife who for the first time expressed her negative feelings for one of my smokes.

It is not one of the worst tobaccos I have smoked, but definitely the worst Oriental.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

p4p4 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
p4p4 (52)
★★★★
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.

Zone Smoke Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Zone Smoke (199)
★★★★
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Without a doubt this is not a Balkan of any kind, but exceptionally good nonetheless. A perfect combination of flavorful Virginia and woodsy Latakia pressed into a dark flake. A bit wet out of the tin but smokable. Mild enough to be an all day smoke. I will continue to keep a tin on hand for when the mood strikes me. A perfect autumn time smoke.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

irishpiper Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
irishpiper (8)
★★★☆
Medium Mild to Medium Medium Pleasant

I find that I am very pleased with this blend. I left it sealed in the tin for the first three months, and then opened it for inspection. Excellent dried fruit aroma (dates and/or plums), but too moist to smoke as it was. Sealed it up for another month in a mason jar, and finally opened it again and used cutting board and knife to cut the flakes into small 1/4 inch squares. Have smoked it twice now - both times - taking enough for a bowl or two out in the morning, rubbing it out and leaving it to dry in a safe place during the day. Evening finds it - just right - slightly moist and still fragrant, and easy to light when packed loosely. Chewy smoke, hints of cocoa and some spice (actually reminds me of G&H's Bob's Chocolate Flake but with the spice added for an extra bit of enjoyable flavor). No big vitamin N kick - and just a hint of latakia in the smoke - easy to taste the sugars in the virginias. Yes, I will buy and jar up some more of this! Recommended.

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.

Roverboy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Roverboy (5)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant

A very pleasing tobacco, easy to rub out, pack and light. Nicely sweet but not overpoweringly so. Really smooth and mellow. I'm not that bothered if it is a Balkan or not but I do know that this is good stuff and will be my second favourite (after Mick Mcquaid.)

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Pipe-arazzo Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipe-arazzo (71)
★★★☆
Medium Mild Medium Pleasant

Lakeland Tour stop 7

I really liked this one. It was very user-friendly as opposed to some of the Lakeland virginia flakes. Perhaps because of the latakia, it dried out faster, and smoked pretty good even when wet. Also, it kept its flavor longer than FVF and BB2, but not necessarily more than BBF.

The virginias here are not as sweet as those in Squadron Leader or Commonwealth, but sweet enough and more rounded, richer. The latakia was definitely present in the smoke but by no means overwealming.

This is definitely mentholated. That makes it smoke cooler, and the added minty essence is definitely there, not overpowering and not really unpleasant either. It makes me wonder whether this might not be better, meriting 4 stars, without it. It's impossible to know. I don't know if I'll come back to this one, but I definitely enjoyed smoking it.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

jmrtsus Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
jmrtsus (10)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

I'll leave the Balkan or not debate alone... As to the tobacco I find this one a good example of a Latakia/VA blend. Smokes cool and lots of flavor. A nice change from Navy and VA flakes. Real tobacco taste without flavoring, room note is OK for me but then I don't really care! As with other SG tobaccos I like it and will buy again, not an everyday smoke for me right now as I seem to be in a Navy rut with a VA flake switch off. Balkan is my special treat for a change up.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

OTRFF Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
OTRFF (44)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Tolerable

This is a real good tobacco. I have folded the flakes and rubbed them out both and I had no problem keeping them lit either way. The flakes are presented very nicely and are attractive and smell deliciously "musty?" in the tin. Does this contain any oriental leaf? Is it really a Balkan? Dunno, but it is very good anyhow! Recommended.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

TechnoChimp Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
TechnoChimp (4)
★★☆☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Tolerable

Recently I ordered a tin of everything SG makes and some bulk Full VA flake. ALL their flake ships with ridiculous moisture content so their reasonable pricing is deceptive. Dried to any smokable state, the tobacco is 20% lighter. The Balkan has a muddy tongue coating effect. There is no burn and the smoke is cool. Either the VA is not bright enough to balance properly or the latakia is of low quality. The muddy flavor fades in the 2nd half of the bowl but its not worth the wait. Their Commonwealth Blend did not have the muddiness issue despite the higher latakia content so I suspect the VA is not up to its task in the Balkan. Its not bad but its not great. There are so many great latakia blends out there, this one won't be missed by me.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Pipers Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipers (19)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Medium Tolerable

This is a very rich and complex virginia with a touch of latakia to spice things up. A pleasure to smoke. 3 out of 4.

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.

Pipeline Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipeline (206)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

Very moist and really requires rubbing out the flakes for a reasonable lighting effort. Otherwise, forget it and make sure your lighter is re-fueled first.

There is less Latakia in BF than in Commonwealth Mixture, but they are about the same in effect. The difference is that BF is spicier, even darker and a little less complex than the slightly complex CM. BF reinforces my opinion about pressing tobaccos. Flavors meld and deepen by pressing and whether you want those effects are just a matter of taste.

BF is very cool and probably a reliable blend for those who like abundant condiment leaf. Not sure where I go with this, but I really did enjoy it. I think I'll stick with CM and Old Ironsides, though there's nothing wrong with Balkan Flake.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Katxinba Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Katxinba (6)
★★★★
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Unnoticeable

The only Balkan style tobacco I smoked before this one, was Balkan Sobranie ( one of the "untoucheables").That was 20 years ago, and never liked the stuff .I cannot tell what should or shouldn't be called Balkan ( I know the theory, but no practice). So, Balkan flake : opening the 50 gr. tin and unfolding the golden wrapping, I was expecting ( for not particular reason) a stronger latakia smell. I like the smell and colour of the flakes ( dark blackcurrant).

I load a briar devoted exclusively to English blends ( untouched by any aromatic tobacco), folding the flakes ( no rubbing). Lighting goes fine, with a nice thick smoke. I get a mellow franckincense smell ( it came as a faint high pitch tune ).In about a couple of minutes, the franckincense smell starts to mature into a typical Latakia smell ,and start noticing the sweetnes of the Virginia . In 5 minutes I am getting an harmonious Virginia/Latakia duet that is maturing in flavour. You can guess how the smoke will develope, and it doesn't dissapoint. From then on, it continues as a delightful smoke, where the Virginia and Latakia are alternating in a very subtle way. P.S. I cannot vote on room note, as my smoke room is in the loft, and well ventilated ( wife not allowed, no smell feedback). The last 1/3 is the stage I spent thinking " 5 minutes more, please, just 5 more minutes ...don't finish". The final ash is snow white. After that first smoke, one week on and at the end of the 50 gr tin, I have been smoking it in meerschaum and briar: both ways , it is a wonderful smoke, and it creates addiction ( sometimes, at work, I am longing for some Balkan Flake). Is this a Balkan? Who cares. I love this tobacco, and I will keep smoking and enjoying it. Enjoy!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

student Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
student (21)
★★☆☆
Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Opened a tin of this last week without any anticipation of what it would be. I'm still not sure and I have smoked the entire tin in three different pipes. Three inch long strips of slightly too moist but attractive tobacco. Balkan? I don't believe this comes up to what my expectation of a balkan blend would be in the tasting.Pleasant? Yes, but not what I think of as Balkan. The tobaccos used are very good and result in a mild to medium smoke of the English variety. I perceived no bite from the VA's and all-in-all it is a pleasant enough smoke but nothing I'll buy again. Balkan smokers don't waste your time or money. It's nice but it ain't a Balkan. Were it not for the really fine grade of VA leaf, I'd only give it two stars.

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.

Pipestud Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipestud (1005)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

I think Bigblends hit the nail on the head with his recent and well put together review of Gawith Balkan Flake. While unable to match his superb review, I will offer a few added thoughts of my own after smoking my tin (and yes, I've since ordered a few more.)

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.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Kleophrades Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Kleophrades (39)
★★★☆
Strong None Detected Mild to Medium Tolerable to Strong

Is it a Balkan? Who cares. If you buy this you get a soft, well balanced blend of Virginias and Latakia, smoother and sweeter than even a mild English, with a nicotine wallop. Probably the most complex of all the Gawith blends I've tried -- the only one to which I'd apply the word "subtle." Plenty of flavor, but gentle. Like most Gawith blends, it doesn't evolve that much as you go down the bowl. Unlike most Gawith blends, it comes damp from the tin (PG?) and needs some drying to avoid the gurgles. That said, it rubs easily into thick ribbons and with right pack stays lit even fresh from the tin.

As for price (mentioned in some reviews), I'd say that Gawith is by far the best bargain out there for high-end (non-drugstore) tobacco; less than half of what a Pease or Butera charges, and it's good stuff.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

puro66 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
puro66 (73)
★★☆☆
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 (155)
★☆☆☆
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.

EDIT REVIEW OCT05/2009:

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.

Brutos Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Brutos (11)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

I purchased 8 oz. in bulk after smoking only two bowls. This reminds me a lot of Fairmorn's Lancer's Slices. Even though they both contain almost exact proportions on Va and Latakia, there is more sweetness from the Va and is more laid back on the Latakia in this blend. I have been smoking almost entirely Va & VaPer blends lately and Balkan Flake has allowed me to ease back into English types which I once smoked exclusively. I can smoke several bowls back to back with this one and not feel inundated with Latakia's smokiness. Sam Gawith Full Vir. Flake is a mainstay for me and Balkan Flake is a great variation on a theme.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

thedstnguishdgntlmn Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
thedstnguishdgntlmn (360)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Full Tolerable to Strong

The wonderful gents at Iwan Ries let me try some of this and I was pleasantly surprised.I thought it would be similar to "Commonwealth Mixture" due to the fact that it was from the same blender and neither blend has orientals in it. To quote a gentleman who spoke Lithuanian when asked : Is Lithuanian similar to Polish? His response was "Not even Close"! That is the case here with Balkan Flake. Where Commonwealth Mixture is rather mild, this actually has some spice to it.It is nothing like Penzance, Old Ironsides, or Karl Erik's Flake. It really is a simple, full English mixture, that has been pressed into a flake. It will appeal to both European and American tastes. Definitely worth a try. 3 English stars.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

ChicagoPipe Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
ChicagoPipe (45)
★★★★
Medium to Strong Extremely Mild Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

This was much more enjoyable than Bracken Flake. Even with 30% latakia, the flavor of the VA comes through and provides a nice touch of sweetness. There seems to be no Lakeland essence flavor (tonquin) in this tobacco. Smells like latakia and VA. I know there are other Balkan tobaccos that are fuller, but for my tastes, this flake is perfect.

It was very moist in the tin, and so was the Bracken Flake. I leftthe tin opened for a day, and the mositure level was just fine. The flakes fold up nicely, and can be put right into the pipe. Smokes very cool with no bite, and burns down to a fine grey ash. Very enjoyable!

Highly Recommended.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

A. Morley Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
A. Morley (73)
★★★☆
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.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Muddy River Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Muddy River (7)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Good blend, but not sure about the "Balkan" title. Cool smoking and full of flavor. I enjoy this blend. I treat it more like an english standard than a balkan. Even so, it's good.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

JazzSmoke Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JazzSmoke (37)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

Very cool smoking, fragrant, with a light sweetness from the virginias. Certainly not Balkan Sobranie or anything like a classic Balkan blend but it has the toasty sweetness that is characteristic of S. Gawith. Very nice. I enjoy it quite a bit but don't smoke it very often.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

tom lon Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
tom lon (2)
★★★★
Medium to Strong None Detected Full Tolerable

After only 3 months of smoking this tobacco it has entered my regular rotation. It smokes like Best Brown Flake with a pronounced Latakia taste and fragrance. It is a full bodied smoke with the fine VA blend forming the base of a cool, dry, and bite free smoke. I bought it in one pound bulk and found the tobacco needed no drying- the tin did. The Latakia is present from the first puff to the last, but there appears to be no additional flavoring or casing. I prefer it as my evening pipe and have dedicated pipes to it. The taste of the Latakia does come through in the cake and would ruin a VA or -horrors- an aromatic blend. My wife doesn't appreciate the room note, but since I was long ago banished to the back porch it doesn't matter. For the pipe smoker the aroma is great. It seems to take a few relights as opposed to Best Brown but perhaps that is because I am still new to it.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

wolf Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
wolf (5)
★★★★
Medium Medium Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

This to me is a wonderful Virginia/Latakia Flake. A Balkan it isn't but really good, it is. It just isn't full enough to be a Balkan, in that the Latakia is prominent enough in my view to qualify as a Balkan.i find this a very flavor full, smooth cool smoke. Something I can smoke a few bowls in a row off.

It has a dark taste with a nice Latakia balance that compliments what I think is their Full Virginia Flake, or variation thereoff. It is the flip side of their Navy Virginia Flake. A very satisfying blend.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

loosewatches Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
loosewatches (108)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

This some good good stuff. I bought some in bulk without sampling it first, when I was 'in town'. Now I wished I'd bought a whole lot more. Is it a Balkan? Who cares. It is a fine smoking, easy rubbing, easy lighting, ever burning, well balanced flake. Love it.

Now, I'm a little afraid to give it 4 stars, there's gotta be a catch. Nothing's really this good, is it?? Is my next batch going to be a let down. Don't expect it, with the consistency of Sammy. There's sure to be a fourth star comming for Balkan Flake, but I need to smoke more of it first.

As to it's oilyness. . .I found it to be chalky rather than oily. Doesn't matter to me, I'm smokin it, not wearing it. Also, this is great mixed 50/50 with Royal Yacht; it's even better mixed with Cob Plug -go figure. . . and go smoking!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

smoking-rob Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
smoking-rob (70)
★★★★
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.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

jackhackett Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
jackhackett (76)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Subtle, simple, barely balkan, but lovely. Very Sam Gawithy in construction and taste. A bit like what I would imagine a 'commonwealth' flake would be, but more earthy and understated.

Maybe 'light balkan flake' would be more appropriate; this is no latakia whammy-stick like pirate kake or penzance or old ironsides or sobranie. Flavor stays within a certain range, but subtle changes do take place throughout the bowl when layered properly, and reasonably recent DGT'd bowls are usually pleasant.

It's refined, dark, and velvety without being heavy. Enjoy it in your shiny new dress black dunhill at the opera, or in your well-chomped stanwell while trout fishing.

The other nice aspect of this blend is that it gives you the smoker some decent VAlatakia flavors, and yet its smoke is among the least offensive to the nose among similar blends so that those around you are less likely to flee or threaten violence when faced with your billowy smoke (this flake can really crank out the volume of smoke if so desired, with little ill effect on the tongue).

Lakeflake and latakia lovers will likely find a new friend here.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Hemlock Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Hemlock (57)
★★★☆
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.

bigblends Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
bigblends (46)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Very Pleasant

ORIGINAL REVIEW 04/25/2005

Samuel Gawith Balkan Flake is the newest member of my top-tier-tobacco rotation. I've only smoked a few bowls of it, but that's all it's taken!

Here we have a marvelous English flake, despite its name. I'll allow for some artistic license in that department from the folks at SG. They could call it Steamrolled Rhino Shit and I'd still smoke it.

The flakes are lovely, and the scent is inviting to point that I have to fight a strong urge to eat the stuff. Balkan Flake is an easy pack, easy light, and easy smoke. Charring light reveals a top-quality Latakia -- rich and satisfying. The VA component is presented nicely as well, though it opens up a few puffs after. It's naturally sweet and free of bite. Together, these two present the lucky smoker with a round, tasty, superb experience.

Top third is wonderful. Excellence in simplicity -- nothing to hide. Second third evens out, drops half a notch in intensity, and is a real performer. This is great for when you want to divert your attention back to the task at hand, whether it's driving, reading, relaxing, etc. Delicious! (I wouldn't blame you for ceasing your activity to celebrate this tobacco from charring light to pipe heel.) Bottom third brings a bit more body to the smoke -- a bit more than the top third and a full step up from mid-bowl. However, it's not harsh in the least.

Overall, the maturity, quality, and execution of this blend yields a remarkably smooth, cool, creamy, bite-free, and mellow mouthfeel. Again, there are no sharp edges to detract from the awesome flavors that leap from the leaves. This blend also relights after several hours of rest without a harsh or bitter introduction.

A bit more fullness in the mid-bowl puffs wouldn't hurt, but I believe that the gents at SG really got it right, all told, with Balkan Flake. When I'm in the mood for a high-grade, classy, and rewarding all-day English, this is it.

ADDED 03/01/2006

As you read the reviews of this magnificent blend, you'll come upon one that suggests Balkan Flake is flavored with a cherry essence. In fact, it is not. I contacted Samuel Gawith Co. in December 2005 to put to rest the notion that Balkan Flake is topped. The response I received from Mr. Bob Gregory follows.

"There are no flavourings whatsoever in Balkan Flake. Perhaps some smokers are using pipes that have been smoked using a flavoured tobacco which, on occasion, leaves a residue in the briar."

My purpose in presenting this information is not to attack a fellow reviewer; rather, I feel obligated to clear up a misconception about this tobacco. Pipes in which aromatics (flavored tobaccos) are smoked are not good candidates for tastings -- even when sampling other aromatics.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

butman Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
butman (41)
★★★☆
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.

Meerschaum Man Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Meerschaum Man (85)
★★★★
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

The treatment of the Virginia leaf reminds me of another SG blend. Smooth and mellow in both the smoke and the room note, this complex mixture is an engaging addition to the diversity of Balkans. For me, the smoking experience evokes memories of simpler times and youthful zeal. My sample contained a token amount of leaf trash that did not require rubbing the slices out. With an easy burn it allows increasing flavor as the smoke progresses. The ritual of the smoke is best enjoyed indoors and leaving the slices intact so that none of it's nuances are lost. Serving well as an all day smoke for those so inclined, it has no single element of dominance, instead it demonstrates harmony and balance. I find no flaw in this blending achievement and recommend it without reservation to those who seek good things.

Meerschaum Man Smoking a signed Ural with Flourishes

Nobody has rated this review yet.

DrDNA Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
DrDNA (58)
★★☆☆
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong

Notes: I have smoked a 3-4 ounces of this in several pipes. I actually prefer it in my Ukranian Briar pipe, as this helps to bring out the spicy top notes, but quite good in briar as well.

Appearance: A dark brown to black relatively uniform 6" flake.

Aroma: Sweet, oily, reminiscent of the Balkan Sobranie Original Mixture or 759 in some ways, but slightly more feisty and less dulcet. Smoky, with suggestions of walnuts, Brazil nuts, and cloves, and mace.

Taste: A faintly spicy vinegar and ketchup taste is detected. The overall flavor is very smoky, with frankincense, sandalwood, patchouli, allspice, nuts, the faint suggestion of stewed fruit. Slightly bitter at times throughout the smoke. The flavors are gentle in their presence, not intruding upon you, but there if you contemplate them.

Comparisons: A latakia-laden blend with not so many of the other oriental leaves as a result. Less full, nevertheless than Penzance or Krumble Kake, but with a subtlety reminiscent of the old Balkan Sobranie, although the blend is not the same. Slightly less sweet and less present than Gawith & Hoggarth's Balkan Blend.

Bottom Line: For those who enjoy the smoky taste of latakia, but not so much as Penzance demands, this is a quiet, mellow smoking mixture.

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.

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.

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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!

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Paddy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Paddy (125)
★★★★
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.

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Danno Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Danno (87)
★★★☆
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.

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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!

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