Samuel Gawith Black XX Twist (Rope)

For over 200 years, Samuel Gawith & Co. have been producing fine pipe tobaccos that have been enjoyed by all walks of life the world over. In the mountainous Lake District of Cumbria, the generations of Gawiths have been hand cutting, stripping and blending their tobaccos. For over two centuries, the blenders and spinners of Samuel Gawith, Kendal, have been producing the famous Kendal Twists. Coal miners, both underground and on the ground, have been chewing our Pigtails, whilst pipe smokers have savoured the rich flavours and slow burning characteristics of the thick Brown No.4 and Black XX. All of our twist tobaccos can be smoked either flavoured or un-flavoured. Some of our popular flavours are black cherry, rum, whiskey and apple. All twists are available pre-packed or on the roll. Because the process is almost entirely by hand, quality control ensures consistency of excellence.
Notes: Categories refer to the thickness and colour of the twist. The Brown No.4 does not undergo any heat treatment and has full tar and nicotine content of the tobacco. The Brown No.4 is a thick twist. The Black XX is an extra thick twist. The Black XX under goes heat treatment that creates the black colour and less tar and nicotine than the Brown No. 4. All Samuel Gawith Twists are unsliced.


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


Very Strong
Extremely Mild -> Overwhelming
None Detected
None Detected -> Extra Strong
Room Note
Unnoticeable -> Overwhelming
Extremely Mild (Flat) -> Overwhelming

Average Rating

2.95 / 4





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Displaying 31 - 40 of 157 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 11, 2017 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong
I honestly can't understand why folks have such an issue with the strength of this blend. Maybe it is me being use to the South African blends, but this makes for a nice, relaxing smoke.

The meat taste comes through very nicely, but for the rest, it is a nice, mild every day smoke.

The nicotine hit is not too bad, Peterson's Irish whiskey is worse.
Pipe Used: Several.
PurchasedFrom: Local B&M.
Age When Smoked: New
3 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 12, 2016 Extremely Strong None Detected Overwhelming Extra Strong
I have attempted to smoke two bowls of this. One neat, and one mixed with a straight Virginia. The neat bowl tasted like sticking a charcoal briquet in my pipe,dusting it with chemical firelighters and lighting it with a drop of diesel. I managed to smoke about half of it. The mixed bowl tasted like a less concentrated version of the former. Although the predominant flavor was still akin to a smouldering damp pile of leaves.

This is the weirdest tobacco I have ever smoked and I just can't bring myself to go back for more. It's not the strength that's stopping me (I smoke brown ropes and Irish Flake on an empty stomach for breakfast), nor is it the prep. It's easy to get going if you know what you're doing and remarkably well behaved once alight. The problem is the taste.

Reading the different reviews leads me to believe that this is a very different tobacco depending on your taste buds. Some get Virginia and fruit flavors, some get motor oil and beef, others, like me, get a farmers burning pile complete with a few tractor tyres and a dead badger.

I like smoke. I like smoked meat, smoked beer, smokey single malts and Latakia... but this is too much for me.

Tin available for swap if anyone's interested.
Pipe Used: MM Mark Twain Corn Cob
Age When Smoked: 5 Years
3 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 09, 2015 Very Strong None Detected Very Full Pleasant to Tolerable
This tobacco is all tobacco. No flavourings added, beyond that deep, dark Virginia taste. It is not for everyone, that is for sure, but I like it, and have enjoyed thoroughly my fist tin of this fine tobacco. Let's get one thing straight, despite appearances (which may put some off) the tobacco used here is absolutely first class.

The tin appearance is - as many have mentioned - like a turd in a tin. To those of us who enjoy this tobacco, however, it looks like a turd of the gods, perfect & inviting (although that sounds a bit depraved). We are, however, aware of the delights it contains!

The tin note is oily, dark and rich. Bread-like in some ways, with a forceful backnote of burnt grain. Again, it may put some off, but I would advise that even if it does put you off, persevere as the smoke is worth the reward.

It may require some drying time for some, but mine was actually okay (the tin had previously been opened & re-sealed). I use a mostly rubbed-out disk cut with some broken disk contained in the bowl to temper the burn.

The taste is really just what is expected from the tin note. Dark, heavy, somewhat dank, but at the same time extremely moreish. I get molasses, fatty meat & subdued herby notes dancing in the background. I sense some juniper, weirdly enough - but I think is probably just the tobacco itself teasing my tastebuds.

The burn for me was fairly steady. It required a few relights throughout the bowl, but not excessively so. When lit or re-lit the burn was even & cool. The room-note is tolerable. For those who don't partake of this tobacco, it could be a little overpowering as it does tend to linger somewhat, and leaves a stale tobacco smell (which I actually quite like) until the next morning.

The nicotine is very strong in this one, not a pre-breakfast smoke, to be sure. I have only smoked it in the late afternoon/evening, and that's the way it will stay.

If you are someone who likes stout, strong tobaccos that share a link with the past, then this is a tobacco for you. If you are into cherry-flavoured aromatics, stay away - this is not for you. For those who are looking into the world of straight tobacco types, I wouldn't recommend this as an entry point, you should be aware of a range of flavours in different types of straight tobacco before you try this one.

Overall, I like the tobacco, and I like the ritual of preparing it. I will go back to it regularly, but it just lacks the nuance and character of a go-to smoke. On that basis, I will give it a well-deserved 3 stars, and if this tobacco is your sort of thing (as it is mine), you could do an awful lot worse than go for some of this.
Pipe Used: Dunhill size 2 billiard
PurchasedFrom: A friend
Age When Smoked: unknown (bought from a friend).
3 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 13, 2014 Very Strong Extremely Mild Full Tolerable
Black XX tastes like BBQ'd bits of fatty beef, basted with black treacle. As far a strength goes, this is definitely a power-house. However, I do enjoy smoking it from time to time. The flavor is deep, rich and spicy but at a slower pace it can also be surprisingly mellow and even slightly nuanced. I notice a very subtle Lakeland scent in the side stream, as well as an earthy cigar like note to go with what I can only describe as a very dark stoved, sweet Virginia flavor.

Black XX is loaded with nicotine but I don't find it to be as strong as Brown No. 4. If I over do it, the nicotine seems to have immense staying power and usually puts me in a state of malaise. I am always amazed to read that some folks smoke this regularly as I can only partake after a good meal, sometimes being careful to pair it with some sugar. A rich Imperial Stout works nicely.

I believe that either you have the constitution for a tobacco like this, or you don't. I can smoke blends like 1792 Flake, Revor Plug, Dark Birdseye and Coniston Cut Plug without issue. However, Black XX is a stronger than any of these.

If you haven't smoked this yet and you feel compelled to do so, eat a good meal before hand and bring a small pipe to the party.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 16, 2012 Very Strong None Detected Full Very Strong
Upon reading the reviews here and hearing so much about the brute strength of this tobacco, I decided to order a tin for a test run. I was so anxious to try this that I rubbed a bit out and packed it immediately. Couldn't keep the pipe lit for anything, so the first couple smokes were less-than-enjoyable. I cut more off the rope and let it air dry for a bit before I rubbed it out. Working with this rope is a treat, leaves my hands looking like I've been working on oily machinery (I wonder if this is part of the reasoning behind the industrial gears tin art...) After giving it time to breathe, I found it much more enjoyable and easy to keep lit...

However, I have a tendency to smoke a bit too fast so I got a bit carried away once I was able to keep a light, and consequently I was floored by the nicotine hit. The flavor is smoky, though not in a latakia sense. It is a much deeper and darker flavor. It brings to mind the flavor of a nice grilled steak. I enjoy it best after a nice helping of corned beef and cabbage. Amazing! My wife doesn't agree with the room note at all, so I make sure to burn strong incense while I'm smoking this stuff.

This is definitely not a tobacco for the meek and will readily break its foot off in your ass if you don't give it the proper respect. Give it the space it needs and it will reward you with a beautiful, rich smoke. Definitely recommended, especially to nicotine lovers!

P.S. Don't let the ugliness of the rope turn you off. It DOES look like something that my cats would leave behind in the litter box, but smells more like chipotles and motor oil.
3 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jun 13, 2005 Medium to Strong Medium to Strong Full Pleasant
Ok, I've read the reviews and now it is time to try it myself, well low and behold I walks into my tobacconist and there in a big jar sits a big black coil of a thing called xx Black Rope! Slice me off a hunk, say's I. Your gonna love it say's he. So off to my smoking cave I go to try out this stuff. As recommended by my very knowledgeable proprieter I slice some "coins" about the thickness of a nickel off and then slice them in half. I let them set a spell, about 6 or7 hours I suppose and return to find them nice and ripe for smoking. I then proceed to rub them out, and rub you will my friends because this stuff is the real deal, I began to notice that this was high grade tobacco, almost cigar leaf like. A M/M Cob was brought into service for this inagural smoke because I did not know what to expect and did not want to taint any of my briars. Light up was easy and uneventful except to say that I was surprised at how deliciously mild the first few puffs seemed to be! Complexity... the only word to describe what I was experiencing, Ok, rich and full bodied would work too. Now here comes the good part, if you are a current or former cigar smoker like myself and you have been looking for that "holy grail" of pipe tobaccos this is it! I discoverd that if you let your pipe rest for a while and relight for DGT you will experience flavor similar or better than say a dark Padron or a La Gloria Cubana Serie 7. Nicotine? You bet but not overwhelming for an experienced smoker, this one is not for sissy's or newbies that don't have tolerence for nicotine for it will kick you a@$. Finishes to a fine white/gray ash, Highly Recommend.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 03, 2022 Strong None Detected Full Tolerable to Strong
Tin notes of pungent smoky, leather and slightly tart sweet. The fat black rope needs preparation. The easiest way I found is to use a razor or thin sharp knife, cutting thin coins, and rubbing out. The Tabacco is relative damp and could use some drying. Burns slow and requires relights. The strength is strong and nic is moderate. No flavoring detected. The taste is full with notes of strong spicy cigar, strong smoky wood, very earthy and mildly grassy floral. To me sun cured Virginias are driving and smoked flue cured Virginias are supporting. Room note is tolerable to strong. Has a good aftertaste.
Pipe Used: Missouri Meerschaum 3 1/2 Inch Tasting Cob
PurchasedFrom: Watch City Cigar
Age When Smoked: 3 years
2 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 13, 2022 Strong None Detected Medium Pleasant
Crossing the threshold of that storied address, the mundane world retreats, replaced by an olfactory tapestry that commands my attention. A sweet musk, woven with undertones of strength and depth, wafts through the air—an unmistakable tobacco blend. Each step I take along the stairwell intensifies the scent, like a haunting melody growing louder with every note. It wraps around me, ensnaring my senses in a web of memories—countless moments shared with Holmes, intertwined with the tendrils of his chosen vice.

The smoke, dense and opulent, clings to the fabric of my attire, as if the very essence of this place yearns to possess me. This scent, deeply familiar, is Holmes' trademark, an unspoken language between us, a connection forged in a thousand encounters.

Arriving at the top of the staircase, I stand before the sanctum of 221B. A pause, a heartbeat's hesitation—should I breach the sanctity of Holmes' contemplation? The door stands before me, a silent sentinel guarding the mysteries within. With a touch as soft as the breath of a specter, I turn the knob, and the door groans open.

Through the gap, I glimpse a tableau of darkness and intrigue—Holmes, shrouded in thought, his pipe a conduit for tendrils of smoke that coil around him like serpents. A sense of reverence washes over me, an instinctual understanding that to interrupt this enigmatic reverie would be sacrilege. As silently as I entered, I retreat, leaving behind the mysteries of that room, the door sealing shut with a whisper.

Descending the staircase, a somber tranquility envelops me—a calm borne from the proximity to one who delves into the abyss of human darkness. It's as if Holmes' presence has transferred a piece of his resolute determination into my very being, a shield against the terrors that lurk in the night.

The scent of his chosen tobacco blend lingers, a lingering echo of his enigmatic self, as I step back into the night's embrace. A single question, born from the depths of our shared obscurity, echoes in my thoughts: What arcane concoction of tobacco does Mr. Holmes partake in, a vice as enigmatic as the man himself? Black XX Twist?
Pipe Used: Manduela Stack
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 21, 2021 Very Strong None Detected Very Full Tolerable to Strong
I have been revisiting this one over the years trying to gather my thoughts on it. This is a tricky blend for me to review. On paper this should be a slam dunk win for me. I love Maduro and oscuro cigars as well as heavy spicy dark pipe tobacco. But I just cannot get behind the Black XX Twist. I think my main gripe is the performance. I don't mind slicing the rope. Actually I kind of enjoy getting to use my S&W knife on it, pretty therapeutic actually. But it is way too moist. It needs all the dry time you can spare. It is very hard to light and keep lit, and needs constant attention. I do not appreciate bless that are needy. The way I see it is, I purchased the tobacco it works for me. The flavors are nice however, very dark, spicy, with some prune sweetness, and hints of coffee. There is one note that I think many people call a cigar note, but it's a unique damp earthy flavor that has a clay like character. Very nice flavor and I love that note. However the fussyness of this blend is a total turnoff for me. But is am not totally dissuaded from future purchases of this blend because I have found a use for it a blending tobacco. Slice it up dry it out a little and add it to some home brewed Burley based blend and it's a win.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 20, 2021 Extremely Strong None Detected Very Full Very Strong
Katy Bar The Door!!!

I got tell you, the suspense was killing me, so well, here it is finally. Gazing sheepishly at the unassuming square tin of tobacco in my hand, I had a sickening feeling in my stomach that somehow, I had managed to latch on to the original Pandora’s Box. A virgin to the mystery or perhaps the mayhem that was chambered inside, my unchecked curiosity had led me to this crossroad. Do I tiptoe around this specter or should I boldly flay open the lid and jump in with both feet posed akimbo?

Thinking to myself, “do not be a wuss, you have never shrunk from personal challenges so why start now?” I will tell you why start now, the word going round was that the ill-reputed creation that lie hidden inside the box was wicked from the word go. Despite the scathing commentaries and personal accounts from those whom chanced previously poked this bear, in resolved determination I succumbed to a compelling need to find out “what’s up”.

Looking back at the matter, if you were to suggest that someday I would be placing such a gnarly looking substance in my pipe bowl and profusely puff away, I would have told you that you were crazy if not plain stupid. Nonetheless, be it an act of stupidity, bravery, or personal misadventure that is exactly what I did.

Although rather small, the foreboding tin with its Daguerreotype photo of Samuel Gawith felt exceptionally heavy in my palm. This did not feel like your typical 50-gram container, how odd an appropriate in this case. From a blackened backfield strange geometrical shapes cradled the blend’s infamous moniker. I spied the bold face inscription Black XX -Finest Kendal Twist looming back at me. Intrigued by this initial presentation, I proceeded earnestly with the uncapping ceremony.

Opening the box and peeking inside, there it laid, an offensive-looking oily specimen of black-brown twisted Virginia tobacco. The proverbial turd; now my Pandora turd. Coiled like a serpent, the pressed curl cloaked in leathery and toothy maduro-like skin mocked me with shameless abandon.

Raising the tin to my face, I shyly breathed in. Eek Gad! The rancid stench resembling a cocktail of urine and dirty feet knocked me back in my chair. Wincing from the sting of this entanglement, I yelled to my wife who was in the other room, “call for back-up I’m going in again”. Thankfully, the second round proved to be a tad bit more palatable. With a gustier inhale, the strong aroma of barbeque, smoldering campfire, dark fermented earthiness followed by the bold spicy character of a cigar danced on my nasal registration. Fighting through the layers of darker brooding scents, a brief hint of native Virginia made its way to the surface only to be choked off quickly by the bleaker elements from within.

Okay so dispense with the drama and let us get to the charred meat of this discussion. Samuel Gawith Black XX is most definitely a singular mixture. An immensely pressed matrix of assorted Virginia comprises the rope of varietals. Cutting a quarter inch coin using a guillotine style cigar cutter, the rope produced a textured chunk of what looked like a smooth piece of dark variegated fudge honestly.

With closer inspection I eyed a smartly mashed mixture of Bright, stoved Red and yellow filler Virginia types comprising a tight slug of a chunk. This sliced disc was so thick and dense it refused to cooperate and rub-out. As result, I was forced to further chop-up little chards with the mentioned cutter, which did require some level of applied force to accomplish, nonetheless. Black XX will exercise your patience and skill in the prepping stage, bottom-line.

My smoking trial consisted of two individual sessions which was highly sufficient to get a qualified read on this hellion. This blend is not one of those that lends itself to back-to-back bowl smoking unless you have no plans for the rest of the day. By nature, this is one strong, heady beast of a tobacco and that is coming from a man who can freight-train stout Cuban cigars.

I allowed the first prepped pile of tobacco to set up for 20 minutes before attempting to smoke. Although the fragments appeared reasonably dry, I probably went through two lighters just trying to keep the stressed pipe lit. The second time around, I was smarter and observed a full 2.5-hour dry time, much better results for consistent burning. Black XX, once properly prepared, does in fact burn cool, slow, and aptly dry. The Pandora mix produces a thick bright white ash with an impressive black bullseye nested smack-dap in the middle. Why would you expect anything to the contrary given the mystique surrounding this twist?

And now for what you all have been waiting for the flavor. The first drawl of Black XX caught my immediate attention. Right out of the gate, the strength screamed at me with its full, rich bold essence. My mouth was instantly dry. In chewing the smoke to better savor, it, I was left with a bleak astringent aftertaste just like I had smoked an old Viceroy cigarette (re-lit 5 or 6 times). The nicotine kick is real on this one! If I am not mistaken, I believe this was the stuff the crazy dude was herfing in that cheesy Reefer Madness film from the 1930’s.

Looking at my tasting notes, I wrote down so many adjectives, bullets and even some choice explicatives, that it would be impossible to list them all. The nuisances and the colors expressed by this concoction are probably some of the most pronounced and brazen that I’ve yet to partake. This stuff is truly live and organic. I think this Pandora is the sasquatch of pipe tobacco folklore, in that it is elusive and hard to find yet once encountered highly riveting to the experiencer.

Bear with me as I attempt to summarize my findings. The base note reminded me of the overly charred steak fajita mix that I usually order at our local Mexican restaurant. The overall feel of the flavor was semi-sweet, musky, and mean. There is a decided buttery-toasty woodiness on the retro-hale, which about singed off my nose hairs in the undertaking by the way. Accent and primal tones of Black XX are pungent, smoky, dark molasses/burnt caramel, deeply floral, tart, zesty, raw cinnamon, citrus-scorched grass notes, two spoonful’s of Stubb’s Bar-B-Q sauce, aged bitter dark chocolate, and my grandmother’s pickled beet juice. Geez!

The ensuing room note of this smoke was very heavy, menacing, fiery, herbal, and grassy sweet. The vapor of actual plume is thick and meaty, commanding an omnipresent posture in the entire surrounding area. There is no hiding this one so it is best to open a window so that the cat can continue to breathe. Black XX does have a nice hearty side-stream note, however, that is superbly buttery and woody, that I found appealing all the same.

Drawl in or sip Black XX measurably slow to avoid tilting the human machine and stave off the definite cigarette-like character that will come with a too quick of a cadence. This is not a blend that one can run all day with. At best, an occasional treat or trip whatever may be the case for optimum personal enjoyment.

Despite the trite commentary, I did like this mixture once the dust settled and I learned the proper dance with the Pandora demon. It tends to implant itself upon you and eventually seduces the attraction. If you like strong, full-bodied blends then take a chance to open the box and see what is inside. Definitely an unique experience.

Bucket list checked; Black XX been there, done that, wearing the t-shirt. What’s next?
Pipe Used: Baraccini Briar
PurchasedFrom: CupOJoe
Age When Smoked: 2 months
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