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According to an email response from J. F. Germain and Son asking if they produced any other blend like Stonehaven, they replied that their Dark Flake is similar to Stonehaven, which is produced for Esoterica in the U.S. market only.

Notes: Tobacco sold as Rich Dark Flake and not Dark Flake.

BrandJ. F. Germain & Son
Blended ByJ. F. Germain & Son
Blend TypeVirginia/Burley
ContentsBurley, Virginia
FlavoringNone
CutFlake
Packagingloose, packaged to weight, 25g 50g 500g
CountryUK
ProductionCurrently available
Product Image
Strength
Medium to Strong
Flavoring
Mild
Taste
Medium
Room Note
Pleasant

Favorite Of 2 Users

3.8
11 reviews
Reviews
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Wibblefishofdoom Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Wibblefishofdoom (111)
★★★★
Medium to Strong Mild Medium Very Pleasant

On a bit of a Germain's trip at the moment. So, given the reviews of this stuff, I had a fair amount of anticipation of this, quite a lot actually. Normally, my gut instinct would be telling me to air on the side of caution. This time, as we shall see, it got it all wrong.

The whiff from the packet upon opening was divine, a healthy but not overly large dose of brandy, possibly with a splash of single malt thrown in. Things got even better when I got my mucky paw on those oh so fine and strangely dark flakes, long, thin and shiny slabs of, thus far, delectable tobacco. Rubbing out was surprisingly easy, even if it did seem wrong to break up those fine flakes, almost seemed like sullying them. Packing was very easy as was lighting, as usual, Germain's seem to get their moisture levels just right - other brands take note (yes Samuel Gawith, I'm talking about you!). The taste of the smoke was just, I hate to over use the word, divine. More brandy, more little slips of single malt, hitting the taste buds like some mellow jazz on the ears. These then slip without incident into an incredibly pleasant creaminess, perhaps with little hints of oak. Absolutely divine (there's that word again, tsk tsk). As for the room note, well, that just lingers like sweet lipstick on the collar, I normally smoke this last thing at night and it's the first smell I get in the morning, that's how I know I'm awake.

In summary, this is perfection itself. I'm normally a little suspicious of anything with burley in it, I've had enough bad aromatics to wonder if a lot of blenders use it to pad out and disguise bad tobacco. And I'm not normally one to love virginias either, I can thoroughly enjoy them an pick out good quality ones at three paces, but would drop any other tobacco for a good Latakia. This, however, is just perfect, heavenly and, dare I say it again, divine. This has to be the best tobacco I have smoked to date, I struggle to think of another that can come close to it. I am tempted to get in touch with the administrators for this site and ask them to add a few extra stars for this tobacco alone. I am glad to say that my gut instinct got his completely wrong this time round. As for Stonehaven, well, never tried it. But if it's even a fraction of the quality and flavour that this has, it will be excellent stuff.

Thank you Germain's for the best pipe tobacco in the world.

4 people found this review helpful.

JimInks Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JimInks (655)
★★★★
Medium Mild Medium Pleasant

You say you like Stonehaven? Then, you'll like this. Some say it's the exact same thing and though I think there might be a slight more of the Virginia taste in this, I wouldn't hang on the difference. You won't get anything closer to Stonehaven, which this probably is. But be prepared to spend a lot of money on it because you can't get it in the U.S. Of course, you can barely get Stonehaven as it is, so if you need to have it, and can afford to order it from overseas, buy this and you'll be happy.

4 people found this review helpful.

Bonneville Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Bonneville (21)
★★★★
Medium to Strong Extremely Mild Full Pleasant

I was fortunate enough to acquire some of this tobacco while on vacation in the UK recently. A fan of Stonehaven, I had heard this blend was quite similar, so I expected good things.

It didn't disappoint. It is indeed like Stonehaven in many ways. And there is a possibility it's the same flake, different name. But for some reason I am more drawn to this offering, Rich Dark Flake. It is everything that Stonehaven is, but just a bit more. I can't quite put my finger on it. The pouch note is richer and the smoke is sweeter. It is simply perfection in a flake.

The flake is clearly of English origin, akin to the house of Gawith and their offerings. It comes damp. I little dry time is definitely recommended. It has been masterfully prepared. It is damn well near my favorite tobacco. In fact, yes. It is my favorite tobacco. Shame I have to go to the UK to get it. I guess I should start looking for flights, as I only have about another month's supply at the rate I've been smoking it! This could get expensive.

Pipe Used: 4th Generation (Erik Stokkebye)

Age When Smoked: unknown

Similar Blends: Stonehaven.

2 people found this review helpful.

StevieB Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
StevieB (228)
★★★★
Medium to Strong Medium Very Full Pleasant

I found this very auspicious indeed . Without waffling on to much and to be very succinct I found it salubrious from start to finish and it is a tobacco I always want to return back to again and again !It is wonderful to rub and pack with . The smoke gave no bite at all , only a lovely full virginia / burley flavour ! It is truly a treasure to behold and will not disappoint ! I can honestly say this is the finest flake to grace my pallet as of yet !!

Pipe Used: Altinok Lee Van Cleef

Age When Smoked: New

Purchased From: Mysmoking Shop

2 people found this review helpful.

Deleted Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Deleted Account (574)
★★★☆
Medium Very Mild Medium Pleasant

I ordered this flake from the UK. Having smoked Stonehaven before, I cannot say this is an equivalent. In fact, I was under the impression, from the pouch aroma, that I had purchased some FVF. A very stout aroma... Then, smoking it makes it similar to none of the two. It certainly is a good dark flake, enjoyable, with a good burning rate. VAs are definitively dominant here over BUs, which are in the background. And then, around mid - bowl, a licorice topping kicks in, bringing some sweetness to an otherwise leathery, alomost woodsy smoke. I like it. It is not grand, but it is much better than a lot of dark flakes on the market.

2 people found this review helpful.

TW Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
TW (25)
★★★★
Medium Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant

An interesting tobacco.

The presentation is very good. Silky smooth, slightly damp dark flakes with a rich odour of something. I can't quite make up my mind what, but there's hints of cognac, molasses/treacle (it wouldn't surprise me if molasses was the main/only topping/casing) , leather, plum pudding and even ripe stilton cheese in there. Thankfully, there's no trace of Lakeland-style soapy florals or Danish/American type aromatic flavourings.

If there is a topping, then once rubbed out and lit it doesn't make itself obvious beyond the initial few seconds on lighting. After that you get a mellow, smooth, creamy smoke that's quite undemanding, anything but overpowering and very pleasant. No bite even in an unfiltered short pipe, and a steady slow burn. The burley is present in sufficient quantity to add it's own distinctive note, and there isn't the slightest trace of bite.

If I had to compare it to another tobacco it would be the old St Bruno flake, only RDF is better in every way. Higher quality, better flavour, smoother, nicer feel when handled. And if there is an aromatic topping, it's much less assertive.

And it doesn't seem to ghost briars, which St B can be inclined to do.

Overall, if this is the same or very similar to Esoterica Stonehaven, I can see what the fuss is about.

Smokes better in a briar than a cob or clay, in my opinion.

Highly recommended.

2 people found this review helpful.

Pipemanuk Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipemanuk (76)
★★★★
Medium Mild to Medium Medium Pleasant

I've been meaning to get some of this for a while as all the Stonehaven I have left is contained in one 8 ounce bag and I am loth to open it!

Anyway I finally bought myself some..it being pretty easy to order online in the UK...and it arrived yesterday. It appears to be only available in 25 gram packets but I can confirm that it is Stonehaven by another name; at least to this smoker it looks the same, smells the same and tastes the same.

It's a good dark smoke, rich with the scents and tastes of red wine, berries and leather; it's very smooth and doesn't bite in the least. In other words..its good!

I think though that it's apparent rarity has added a lustre to it's reputation...I mean there are plenty of flakes as good as and quite a few that are better imho.

Still worth a deserving 4 stars though.

2 people found this review helpful.

Arko Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Arko (8)
★★★★
Medium to Strong Very Mild Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

As mentioned in the description it is supposed to be similar to Stonehaven. And it really is. But still, I detect a little difference both in the composition and topping.

To me it seems that the Dark Flake emphasizes the Virginia more than Stonehaven does. The Burley is still very present, but it's a tad more in the background (which is why I rate the Dark Flake a little higher). And while Stonehaven seems to be topped with something chocolate like, the Dark Flake is more on a fruity (plum?) note. But actual differences or not, I find them to be very, very small. A fan of Stonehaven would surely feel right at home with this one.

Highly recommended!

1 person found this review helpful.

doc'spipe Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
doc'spipe (194)
★★★☆
Medium to Strong Mild Medium to Full Pleasant

I requested this one for review. Other than the above description that I placed under "Tin Description," I can't find this one anywhere in the USA. From what I can discern from Germain's email, this is Stonehaven but sold under the name "Dark Flake." As such, I'm using the Stonehaven ratings to get this one going.

Have any of you pipesters from the UK or elsewhere ever try this stuff? Your thoughts and comparisons will be greatly appreciated by us all!

1 person found this review helpful.

leafy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
leafy (4)
★★★★
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

I have recently adopted RDF and it has quickly become my core smoke. As said, a shadow of red wine etc but its the delight of a well- rounded dark virginia burley blend which has soul that has made it a must-have for me. I have recently realized a preparation option which I now use with all flakes, and which has expanded my blend options. I am opposed to that advice which encourages the drying-out of tobacco flakes; the end result is that one smokes the bones of the blend. One must see that, as received, the moisture in a blend is locked in and the smoking experience is a wrangle on that condition. If a given flake rubs out to thick and sticky strings and is a bitch to smoke a realistic error might be made whereby the tobacco is rendered, through dessication, to a condition comparable to that of a dry, dead goat in the desert. Pre-hydration is the answer; instead of drying the flakes up, on opening the tin put a square of sponge (pre-cut to 1cm thickness and to shape) which has been moistened (not drenched) with mineral water onto the pile and close the lid. Leave for several hours and invert the flake pile, replacing the sponge, before retiring. Try the result and be mildly amazed. The pure, live mineral water hydration, a kiss of moisture on the tobacco, has brought the tars and oils to life, the burn is even, right through the smoke and there is a fulling of the tastes and flavours of the blend. At the same time, the smoking is cool and the pipe never overheats. I would place one caveat here; I am primarily a charcoal filter pipe smoker and the filter handles the slight increase of moisture with ease. I have encountered a slight but temporary steam burr with a plain pipe but this is relative and should not discourage suchlike smokers from testing my assertion. I am so satisfied with the congeniality and advantage of this hydration method that I now always use it to prepare my flake tobacco. I note that our American brothers, whose eloquent digest of blend reviews is almost a literary genre in itself, here on site, have problems acquiring tobacco from UK due to credit card rules? My supplier is at Mysmokingshop.com and has a wide range of noted blends. I don't know if this will be useful, but maybe money transfer through email contact with the dealer would help?

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Piper@thegates Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Piper@thegates (20)
★★★★
Medium Mild to Medium Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Rich Dark Flake is sold in the U.K. (online tobacconists) loose in pouches of 25g, 50g or 500g box and exudes quality from the minute you open the pouch to smell its rich fruity aroma to the exquisitely simple process of rubbing out the long thin flakes, packing your pipe and smoking one hell of a classy tobacco. RDF is not an extreme blend, one that is likely to ghost your pipes as Condor does. RDF will appeal to smokers who enjoy the classic British style flakes such as the aforementioned Condor or St Bruno and the presentation of the long dark flakes, not over moist, will surely encourage the smoker to smoke straight from the pouch without any dry time whatsoever. The smoke itself is medium in strength and produces a very 'moorish' flavour and roomnote, the taste is a full yet mellow Va taste backed up very finely with a Burley smoothness and produces absolutely no bite. Never having smoked the famed Stonehaven I'm unable to make any comparison but if Stonehaven bares even a slight resemblance to RDF then I can well understand its high ranking and regard amongst seasoned pipesmokers. RDF is a high quality flake which in my estimation deserves easily a four star rating as it is readily available in the UK and is of the highest quality. Smokers from the U.S. may find it not so readily available but then again, you have Stonehaven which I'm sure will prove a decent enough substitute for RDF :)

Nobody has rated this review yet.