|Gawith & Hoggarth Co.LTD, kendal twist,traditional hand spun tobacco, Dark XX (large) 25g white cellophane packet.
I got sent this by accident BTW when ordering a couple of 25g pouches of "samuel gawith black xx"online;i only got one packet because they had sold out and i got this last one.
This is "gawith and hoggarths dark xx",so i was obviously surprised to find a plug instead of a twisted rope. It was no big deal because i thoroughly enjoyed my first and only sample of this "dark XX". The only problem was that when i wanted to order some more "dark xx" (because i liked it that much) they had already sold out because i got the last one, and so i had to search high and low on the internet to find some more somewhere.(i have since tried "SamuelGawith's Black XX",and i like that as well)..
Comes in a white cellophane packet the size of a small packet of peanuts with 25g's worth..(i think it maybe UK market only,i am not sure,it seems hard to find)
Packet aroma is complicated;it has a slight lakeland floral smell coupled with, a slight avery note,like the bottom of a bird cage(a bit like gauloises rollup,,,smokey bird shit). It also has a sweet hard to define spicy honey aroma like sweet sweat but;more than any other factor when sniffing it at point blank range,it has a woody,meaty hide dog chew smell that is delicious like a gamey biltong south african dried meat,or beef jerky.It has a smokey note to it but more in the woody than the sooty coal sence.
Appearance is of a dark and slightly ox blood brown cube(this was my first ever plug).I can see its rough pressed and cook fused leafy construction which looks like a very thick scab or a dog chew hide,with a light powder of salt cystals on the cut side edges(i licked it and it tasted of sea salt).
Preparation;it is semi loose enough to tear in its leathery semi brittle way and peel a few layers off and tear into smaller flakes,but i have since used some stout stainless scissors to cut into flakes or cubes,and i have used a bud grinder to take it further in a fully rubbed out sence. They all work the same because the ingredients are minimal and so the shape of cut doesn't give any particular different strengths in the same way as say "rubbing out liberates the virginia",or "stuffing gives the burley more dominance" as in other plugs/flakes etc;just cut for your own convenience seems to be the rule. It has i will add,the perfect moisture level and being in a packet rather than a vacuume tin it needs no airing to normalise before a reliable ignition.
I load it into my favourite 6"georgian clay(my favourite pipe of which i have many dedicated to particular brands)i tamper and set light(i use pipe zippo or gas lighter because clays do not protest) It eventually takes flame and stays lit ok,,,i will note that if rubbed out it does not swell up as much,but a cube cut give a better airy draw with no resistance.
Taste;Quite a serious tobacco;Very old school dark woody taste,strait forward,cigarish,slightly floral ala baby powder/lakeland essence i am guessing,,,smokey strong but not sooty in a latakia sence.. When i first tried it out i was at work,and took it easy because i did not know what this would deliver ,and sipping it lightly i got a smokey sea salt taste and my imagination thought of a dark wooden sea vessel or a harbour and smugglers(?),,smokey sea air or a boat engine diesal taste in mouth,probably simular to when i have done boat sea fishing.I was thinking of burning driftwood on the beach More than any other factor i am struck at how meaty this tobacco is;it tastes at its best like a well done roast beef(not a burn't beef),,like the exposed outer layer of a roast beef actually.. Like beef stock or beef jerky/biltong south african dried meat;the aroma comes through in the taste also.
The room note and even outside smoking is like a roast beef with a floral smoky pine wood aroma,its strong enough that it doesn't even require imagination.. A very strong mid range from almost bass to treble,broad,round and full tasting;there doesn't seem to be a gap in the taste that could be filled with another ingredient.
The light up has a slight soap factor(probably the natural lakeland essence actually) on the light up but it settles in to its meaty groove ,delivering in moments of alternation;a smokey roast beef and aromatic smoking pine wood duality taste,,,in a big time tasty way. Any soap factor this has is a good dry luxury soap ala "imperial leather brand",and not a cheap OTC dish liquid type of soapy.
The woodyness sticks out like tasting a well seasoned and semi burn't wooden cooking spoon actually that has absorbed multiple meat and spice essences.There is a toastyness but not a burn't toast(brown but not black ie no coal factor)
Performance;it lights easy and stays lit in my clay which burn hotter than briar,leaves no real dottle and burns to a white/grey heavy talcish ash.. Its a cool slow burner and dry and only leaves a slight trace of tar and is very clean on my pipe and cleaners(low maintenance) This baccy required no predrying and is perfect to smoke strait away(i don't see what drying could do to improve the smoke actually)smooth cool smoke,no casing or flavourings detected.
It definately has a nicoteen factor which is hidden quite well under the strong full taste,but you can sence it like a hidden vodka in a spiked drink.I think its strength is near the ropes and "Irish flake" level,,i have good nicoteen tolerance to smoke a few successive bowls albeit in my smallish clay pipe with a half hour break between bowls and smoking while working. I think it could kick your ass if you abused it.I think it makes a great working smoke on a night shift actually.
I tried it at home in the garden on the weekend and gave this a good thermodynamic punishment on purpose to see what it would do, and for me at least it seemed to be an ok allday smoke(one an hour)Also giving it my usual hard puffing cadence brought out its full meaty stock flavour,i got a bit of a sweat sometimes. It did no harm though and i think some of its effect was associating its strong flavour with strength perhaps. For me i feel flavour determines how much i can smoke more than any other factor,,its vitamine N is full on but this baccy is so tastefully more-ish... Also i don't know if hard puffing burns off some of the nicoteen because it seemed less than when i was sipping it at work cautiously(i was probably getting used to it)but i was not inhaling.
I had never smoked anything like it at the time,but i definately think it has the secret hiden flavour i have tasted in some mixtures momentarily sometimes which i was looking to smoke in a pure form. Like a packet of twiglets i kept coming back for more..
I have already added this to my rotation because it serves a purpose and fills a gap where other weaker baccy's do not quite supply the fix or supply a big enough full taste,which means i can smoke a bowl and put the pipe down and forget it for a while..
I have tried other plugs and ropes since but i rate this as my current standard by which i judge strong and full tasting tobacco.
I was eventually lucky enough to find an online shop "shave and coster" that had some and i ordered all their current stock,,32x25g packs(they have since told me that they have some more because i initially ordered 40 just in case i wouldn't find it again if i wanted it)
Anyway i have no idea what the ingredients are because i emailed Gawith and Hoggarth for some product information to do this review because there is nothing on the packet,and i have no idea if it is exactly the same as their regular "dark plug" or wether this "dark xx" is special,new or discontinued or what? because its not on their product page and they didn't message me back.So i contacted the shop "shave and coster" if they had any info seeing as they purchase it in bulk and they kindly gave me the obove helpful description which may or may not be gawiths literal own description.(if they even have a description for this mystery masterpeice)What i will definately say is that it is a strong smokey dark fired leaf for certain.
I have got through a few packs now and can say that sometimes they are more floral and sometimes more meaty,,its has slight variation but no major departures from my first trial,,,it seems as well that; pre-shredding and letting it air before a smoke makes it more meaty and gives the mild floral factor a means of disipating before smoking.
Roast Beef and smoking Pinewood is my last word.