Samuel Gawith Best Brown Flake

A firm favourite for the pipe smoker looking for a medium strength, gentle and slow burning tobacco. Manufactured using hand-stripped flue cured Virginias with no flavours added, Best Brown will reward with a cool, sweet smoke with a delectable aroma and good sidestream. Mild to medium.


Brand Samuel Gawith
Blended By Samuel Gawith
Manufactured By Samuel Gawith
Blend Type Straight Virginia
Contents Virginia
Cut Flake
Packaging 50 grams tin
Country United Kingdom
Production Currently available


Extremely Mild -> Overwhelming
None Detected
None Detected -> Extra Strong
Room Note
Pleasant to Tolerable
Unnoticeable -> Overwhelming
Extremely Mild (Flat) -> Overwhelming

Average Rating

3.39 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 10 of 291 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 15, 2010 Mild Extremely Mild Mild Pleasant
Smoked from a tin dated 12/06, this blend is typical SG flake of uneven length that look a lot like beef jerky. The color is the only dark thing about this exceptional tobacco. I'm a big fan of FVF but where that one is dark and sort of "chewy" in its mouthfeel and has quite a punch to it flavor-wise, this one sort of sat back and forced me to come to it. The rewards were plentiful. The burn was slow and it didn't take too kindly to the first match but with ample drying time, it overcame its reticence. I dried it out for a couple of hours to great effect.

Over the years, I've found that virginia sweetness is somewhat overrated to my tastebuds. I prefer the tanginess of darker VA's. They are generally stronger but I find them more complex, with a depth of flavor that their lighter cousins can't match. This was no exception. The milder smoke made it more possible for me to discern the complex nature of virginia tobacco, and it's lack of citrus sweetness was gratifying. It was a lightly sweet tobacco, with plenty of tang and body, but mild to the tongue. This is without a doubt one of the 5 finest straight virginias I've ever smoked. Naturally there's a current shortage!

If FVF is too heavy for you, or Blackwoods Flake too earthy or Opening Night too sweet, try this if you can find it. This one is just right for me... not that I'm giving up the others I just mentioned! But this one seems to go with anything and in any situation. Very highly recommended!
87 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 08, 2014 Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant
A mildly creamy, mellow straight Virginia flake with a lot of tangy dark fruit, some tart and tangy citrus, mild hay and grass, plenty of wood, earth, a light floralness, some vegetation, hints of bread, spice, sugar, and dried figs. The strength is a couple of steps past the center of mild to medium, while the taste is a rung past that, just falling short of the medium mark. The nic-hit is as potent as the strength level. Has a few rough edges. Needs a little dry time, but it’s easy to break apart and burns slow, cool, clean, and dry with no bite or harshness. Has a very consistent flavor all the way through. Leaves little moisture in the bowl, and requires a little more than the average number of relights. Has a lightly lingering, pleasant after taste and room note. Can be an all day smoke.

86 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 17, 2010 Mild to Medium None Detected Mild Pleasant
After 45 years of pipe smoking, I just might have settled on THE one. Yeah, I still love a big, bold English. And sometimes I am romanced by an aromatic until I get that yucky stuff in my bowl and my mouth. A simple, high quality burley flake (Wessex or Solani ABF) is always pleasant. But this Best Brown really is the best brown! Soft and simple, a blend of the very highest quality Virginias. Nothing else. Nothing. And it just purrs along for hours, leaving not a trace of gunk in the bottom of the bowl. Yes, it can get monotonous. What wouldn't after something like 10 bowls a day in all seasons? But its purity and simplicity is second to none. Of course, I've read the dozens of reviews praying at the alter of Full Virginia Flake. I respect them. That's why I tried it. Yet, for whatever reason,it seemed sour and the nicotine blast almost knocked me off my feet. Sorry. My wife likes the light "pipe" scent of BBF. Noone at work or elsewhere has complained. And my every day is blessed with this constant companion. You can't do better than that.
56 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 19, 2009 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable
Although this blend is reminiscent of Full Virginia Flake in taste, I think it has it beat, hands down. FVF is darn hard to rub out and requires additional grinding to get it to a manageable grain size for packing. Not so with this blend.

BBF is a finely shredded baccy that rubs out extremely easily and the thin string cut (with no sticks) makes it a snap for easy packing. The only drawback I found in it's delivered condition was too much moisture. Had to dry it out 2 full days on a cookie sheet to get it right. Packs extremely easily; lights easily with one false light; stays lit with no effort; smokes all the way down with no bad changes in flavor or smoking characteristics and leaves a nice, clean dark ash. Leaves the mouth and pipe with no bad after odors (the wife hasn't complained) or tastes.

The flavor is IMHO pure, high quality, unadorned Virginia, and lots of it. Does not smoke hot and never a trace of a bite. This has become one of my favorite baccys and I will certainly keep a good stock on hand. A good everyday smoke that I don't think I could ever get tired of.

Thank you, Sam!
39 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 23, 2005 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Very Pleasant
I love strong Flue-cured Zimbabwe leaf that dominates several favorite blends of mine, but not is so deliciously deep, strong, dark and yet sweet as this beautiful tobacco. And best of all, this rich dark brown flake turns near black with aging, loads up on the sugar crystals and ages better than Raquel Welch (well, almost).

38 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 10, 2009 Mild to Medium None Detected Mild Tolerable
Tin: A light colored blend, hues from blonde to light brown with some dark interspersed. A natural sweet hay and oats smell, not fragrant or floral. Comes folded in gold paper remniscent of Orlik GS , and in a form that reminds me of Wessex RVF and GVF. The pressed flake is a sheet 1x3x1/16". It is a little moist. The moisture level actually made it cool the touch in a warm room.

Packing & Burning: The flake feels rather moist. Just twist one strip into shreds for a medium size bowl, two strips for a large bowl. A medium size bowl is easy to keep lit; a large bowl is dfficult to keep lit and has moisture when the bowl is finished. Smokes moderately slowly.

Taste & Aroma: A very mild honeydew on oats taste; BBF is one of the most natural and easy on the palate blends. It is refreshing and vaguely sweet. Absolutely none of the signature Kendal floral scent.

About the last 1/3, after the tobacco has stoved a little, only then does it approximate the flavor of FVF.

The particular large bowl that I used produced a burnt taste throughout the bowl.

Nicotine: Mild to medium, closer to mild

Overall: Those square tins don't seal well. On par with the blends mentioned above and Wessex BCDF.

BBF seems different from other Gawith blends I have tried, in a category of its own.

This has very little similarity to FVF.

The only thing this could be is an all day indoor smoke, it is so refreshing and easy on the palate.
30 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 07, 2015 Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
Best Brown Flake is the first EU made straight Virginia I have smoked, as I usually smoke McClelland Virginias. At first light it was a bit hay like, but as I continued through the bowl it turned slightly sweeter and was smooth with no bite. This blend wasn't complex at all but to my surprise it turned out to be a very enjoyably pleasant straight forward smoke. I would definitely put this into my regular rotation and an overall great smoke.
25 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 07, 2016 Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
First up, a note on the moisture: Samuel Gawith's own Bob Gregory has said that the factory has no air conditioning, and that they do not use any humectants in their flakes, so the moisture you get this flake at varies based on the weather and seasons in Kendal. I have to jar it immediately, because it would dry way too quickly out here in the desert.

Soooooo, Best Brown Flake. It's a classic unflavored English flake, made by hand on some very old equipment. It's easy to pick out a couple different kinds of Virginia leaf from the flake, but it's all been steamed and hot pressed before aging, and this is where the magic happens. I am totally in love with the taste of steam pressed Virginia tobacco in the English style. After my first tin of Best Brown, I knew it was the one blend I didn't want to live without. The steam and heat softens the Virginias, takes away any bite they might have had, and makes them absolutely delicious.

I usually smoke this without rubbing it out, just screwing bits of flake into the pipe and lighting them as is. I like the flavor much better that way, it seems deeper somehow. It never smokes hot and never bites. The flavor intensifies nicely as the bowl burns down, but it never leaves that light/medium profile.

I do not recommend drying this flake too much, it loses flavor when it's crispy.

This is my desert island tobacco, my daily smoke, and a wonderful example of Samuel Gawith's 200 year old craftsmanship.
Pipe Used: basket pipe
Age When Smoked: anywhere from fresh to 4 years old
24 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 23, 2014 Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant
A very good VA flake by one of the better houses in the UK. BBF starts off slightly stringent in comparison to FVF, but quickly mellows into a sweet grassy essence. The flake is not as strong as FVF, but it does have a bit more "sting" if puffed fervently. BBF is stronger than MVF/Golden Glow and also, again, can nip a bit more around the edges of the tongue, particularly if the sample is too dry, which was the case with one of my 16 oz orders which I had not jarred quickly enough. I prefer my tobacco slightly on the dry side, so did not attempt to re-humidify, though in this case, I should have done so.

BBF has some components similar to FVF, but carries a differnce in most aspects. Passing the first 1/4 of the bowl, the sweetness becomes more pronounced, but is slightly inconsistent. Though there are no orientals in this flake, it is pure VA, BBF conveys a touch of sandalwood which can be detected occasionally during the course of the smoke. This is likely due to the presence of African VA's which may occasionally lean toward the exotic more so than American VA's. Such differences in the notes are slight however, and if I were using "hay" as an analogy I might say that BBF carries an alfalfa note, in contrast to the "clover" element in an American VA. Whichever point the smoker may contend however, what can be said is that BBF is a very good VA though does not quite encompass the full melody of FFV; though clearly BBF does impart some unique qualities that would allow it to stand on its own merit.

I would give this 4 out of 5 stars if I could, but since we are constrained by a maximum of 4, I will need to give it 3 stars. I recommend the flake just as I would recommend most good VA flakes, and add that there are some special qualities that make the blend worth trying. Keeping in mind that, for the budget minded consumer, it may behoove them to try other "brown" VA flakes that are less costly per oz, while saving their premium dollars for FVF as there are fewer comparisons to the latter.
Pipe Used: Ferndown
Age When Smoked: 2 yrs
19 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 14, 2014 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable
I don't know that there's much point to me adding my $.02 about a tobacco that's already been reviewed 200+ times, but I want to go on record that BBF is one of my all-time favorites.

It took a while for me to come around to straight virginia tobacco, and BBF is the one that opened my eyes. Pure, unadulterated tobacco flavor with no gimmicks or games. That's what BBF is all about.

If your tastes have come to expect a strong jolt of distinctive flavor, the zing of perique, or the rich smokiness of latakia, then I can see where BBF might seem dull, boring, one-dimensional. I used to think that about all straight virginia in general. But give BBF a try as your first bowl of the day, or do what I do and smoke straight virginia exclusively for several days. Let your palate become attenuated to the subleties.

BBF can be a bit of a chameleon, though it's not nearly as finicky as some others. It tastes a little different depending on how you prepare it, which pipe it's smoked in, your puffing cadence, etc. I have a couple of briars that it smokes best in, and I like it partially rubbed out into smaller pieces and somewhat dried out. Smoked patiently BBF will get into the zone easily and stay there for the entire bowl, with a nutty sweetness.

People talk about a tobacco burning all the way down the bowl to a dry, clean ash. I rarely achieve this lofty goal except with BBF. And it doesn't bite me, even with aggressive lighting.

Guess you could say I like the stuff.
Pipe Used: various briars and the occasional cob
Age When Smoked:
17 people found this review helpful.
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