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 1 - 10 of 48 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 20, 2014 Strong None Detected Full Pleasant to Tolerable
Another one of a kind offering from Gawith… I have not reviewed anything in a while since I have been on a cigar break but I still enjoy my pipe and this one is worthy of a few notes. Black XX is truly an unusual tobacco that has many nuances for the “seasoned” pipe smoker. I have always been a fan of Lakeland blends and had yet to try this one until recently. The presentation is amazing. I bought a bulk box from Mars and it was about a 15 inch long rope curled up in a bag inside a box with the Aston Villa colors on it. The smell to me was sweet and earthy. Others have mentioned machine oil and all the rest but I did not detect anything other than pure tobacco with a mild smoky scent to it.

To prepare I sliced off a 4 inch piece and then began to cut thin slices off the rope and rubbed it out to dry. While it was drying I prepared the rest of it (and the 500mg of Dark Flake scented I purchased with it) for aging. Mine came with only a moderate amount of moisture so once it felt like it was about to get crunchy I figured I would give it a go. The rubbed out slices produced a fine shag so I loaded it lightly into a Stanwell that I have had for years that always gives me a good indication of how a tobacco will behave. It was the perfect choice.

Upon light there was an unpleasant taste and aroma to be honest. I am very familiar with Lakeland offerings and expected that. They always seem to hit you off guard at first but after two more relights I was on my way. Black XX has a very distinct taste and aroma that I have not tasted with any other tobacco. Cigar like, yes I can see that. The taste is similar to a maduro at times but what I noticed more was the faint sweetness of dark VA with a clean burley like undertone. There is no “Lakeland essence” here just a dark sweet clean tobacco taste that stands alone and is very tasty.

As the bowl progresses the strength increases as does the sweetness of the VA. It is a musty sweetness that is mellow, subdued and somewhat masculine. I like to place the tip of my pipe up to my nose and slowly breathe in, not drawing smoke but catching the aroma from the stem. If you are familiar with good Virginias you will know what I mean and this one is dark, full and very pleasant. The room note (or garage note in my case) is a musty earthy scent with a slight floral top note which I did not taste during the smoke.

Is it strong? Yes, I would say so. It’s the kind of smoke that takes the edge off. No hiccups or anything like that, not quite sure what those guys were doing. It just mellows you out. I enjoy strong smokes such as 1792 so I sat back and sipped this one and it put me in the zone fairly quick. There is definitely strong nicotine in the taste and on the palate but its manageable with slow smoking. This is one that you should take your time with both in prep and smoke time. It has to be dry and you have to smoke it slowly. A cool dry strong sweet smoke will be the result, a true pleasure.

Bottom line, this is a unique smoke that is strong, creamy and full bodied with a sweet mustiness that is downright delicious. If you are a true pipe smoker you should try this one. Match it with a good beverage and enjoy it for what it is. Patience and prep time are essential but you will be rewarded for your efforts.
Pipe Used: Stanwell
PurchasedFrom: Marscigars
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 27, 2016 Very Strong None Detected Very Full Very Strong
Black XX Rope is a very special tobacco. It has a very strong, but also very smooth and velvety smoke. I usually like to smoke it after the Sunday dinner. It needs a good preparation and drying time. And it's hard to keep lit. But once lit, it rewards you with a very sophisticated and mellow smoke.
Pipe Used: Peterson Dracula 03, Peterson Dalkey 03
PurchasedFrom:, Local Pipe Shop
Age When Smoked: 1-2 year aged
7 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 13, 2017 Strong None Detected Full Tolerable
I love ropes. They are strong yes but that can be a good thing from time to time. I see a lot of comments about the difficulty for preparing ropes. So here is how I do it. Get an old or just a cheap cigar cutter and cut off the size you want. I like mine in a fine ribbon not quite a proper shag cut. The cigar cutter works wonders and takes no time to prepare. Once cut, simply rub it out and give it about 10-15 min. of drying time, no more than that. As far as the debate on which has more tar/nic between this and Brown Rope no. 4, for me it is the brown. The cigar cutter has to be cleaned about every 1/2 and oz. because of the tar in Brown. Black on the other hand cut the full 50 gr. without needing to be cleaned. Nic. being what it is is subjective and effects us all a little differently but for me the Brown has more. As far as the flavors go, there are some differences too. Black has stronger earthy, floral VA flavors, some dried dark fruit (which is different than the Brown for me having more of a toasted grain sweetness), a bit of spice, and the creaminess I find in Brown remains. I do get that smoked meat flavor from time to time (it reminds me more like the smell of Jack Links original beef jerky) but it is not all the time. Keep the smoke low and slow and don't try to get large plums of smoke or it will loose all these great flavors. All that said, I do prefer the Brown over this one and since they are the same tobacco I have rated this as recommended. It should be tried by anyone looking for a strong, full flavored smoke who can handle a good amount of nic.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 21, 2009 Very Strong Extremely Mild Extra Full Extra Strong
I have always liked to experiment with the extremes of aesthetic experience, so when I heard of this tobacco, and read the reviews, it was only a matter of time until I had to try it.

I don't know what to make of this one. Clearly it's a top-quality leaf that provides a unique and fascinating smoke. There's something primeval about this one, something of the excremental -- no, sorry -- elemental terra. It's easy for me to see how one can either fall in love with it or detest it; conversely I don't see how anyone can be neutral or indifferent to it.

Make no mistake -- this is an in-your-face tobacco. It's got strength all right, as everyone here attests. And it's got flavor, that's for sure, but it's one that I can't quite put my finger on; it's a flavor that is, weirdly, simultaneously alluring and repellent, much like scotch to the unacclimated. It smokes very strong, warm, and bone-dry, with an odd smoky dark sweetness hovering in the foreground, though the smokiness is very unlike the smooth full smokiness of latakia: this smokiness is raw and rough around the edges and sulfitic, like burning flowers with a hint of coal cased licorice, or maybe it's licorice cased coal.

I do have a problem keeping this lit, even though I cut off coins with a cigar slicer and rub them out into shaggy ribbons. But when it eventually burns to the bottom it leaves a fine white ash like talcum powder.

Black XX Rope is the tobacco equivalent of the blackest porter you can imagine, or the muddy sediment of turkish coffee, or grain alcohol with a touch of ouzo in it. If you like the smell of freshly laid asphalt -- which I do -- you'll probably like this.

I expect I'll be getting to know this strange, intense tobacco more intimately since it's such an intriguing flavor, one I find difficult to resist, like a vamp I'm drawn to against my better judgment. Indeed I find myself reaching for it on an almost daily basis. I wouldn't be surprised if I increase my rating of this to four stars in the future, as this smoke just gets better and better the more I get to know it.

Recommended for those who aren't afraid to peer into the abyss.

UPDATE 10/16/10: I've been smoking this now for almost two years, and I still find it hard to keep lit. But it's worth the effort. I don't smoke it regularly, but every once in a while I just need to have it. It's flavor is like none-other. I think the most accurate description I came across recently was "burnt machine oil," which apparently is a flavor I like. (Though I still say it tastes to me like burning soapy flowers with a hint of ouzo.) It's one of those unique flavors I find to straddle the line between repellent and enticing, and it's uniquely satisfying when I crave it. It's not in my rotation, but I always keep some around when I need to satisfy some masochistic itch.

UPDATE 04/13/15: A few years later, and I still feel the need to scratch an itch only Black XX satisfies, moreso now that some villain at SG removed my beloved Bracken Flake from their inventory. And I still find it both alluring & repellant, though now more the former than the latter. And I finally found a way to keep it lit quite nicely, even right out of the tin (I definitely prefer it moist -- the flavors are really alive when it has some moisture to it): I cut the coins very thin, rub and tear them apart into a loose shag, pack lightly, and tamp until it's a bit springy. Yes, I've grown very fond of this strong, vile, yet delicious turd. The more I get to know it, the more impressed I am by its remarkable depth, nuance, and unique, sulphitic sweetness.

UPDATE 04/16/16: I seem to have smoked more tins of this than any other since SG has decommissioned my beloved Bracken Flake, even though I still have an ambivalent relationship with Black XX: it's still both repellent and alluring to me. Every so often I smoke a bowl of this that is perfect, but it requires a very slow rhythm and real concentration. But more than anything, I've discovered that the moisture level needs to be just right to make the bowl successful: it requires some moisture for the flavors to come through, but too moist and it's impossible to keep lit; too dry, and the taste becomes too harsh. (Indeed getting the moisture level right seems as difficult as cutting fugu safely...) But every once in a while, when the moisture level is just right, it's an immensely satisfying smoke: it stays lit easily, and the flavor is a thing of dark and dangerous beauty... which I suppose is the reason I keep coming back to it, I want to hit that elusive bullseye which just hurts so good when I do...
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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
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).
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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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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 27, 2020 Very Strong Strong Medium to Full Overwhelming
C3PO. Alone. Walking in the desert of a planet marked for destruction by the Death Star. 3PO, once a loyal servant, now an exile, a marauder on this desolate planet. He's running out of time. The heat of the midday's sun is beginning to fry his circuitry. Power reserves running low, he begins deleting non essential programming and memory from his memory banks, to conserve that power. He feels himself becoming dumber and more useless as he deletes his over 6 million forms of communication from his hard drive. He runs through what is left in his memory banks and settles on a distant memory. A memory of Anakin Skywalker and the early days of his own existence with the tiny master. Ironic he finds it, that this young boy would grow up to be Vader. The man who's followers will end up destroying him along with this godforsaken planet. It all screams irony, in his understanding of the abstract idea. Yet, it isn't surprising. In his memories, he recalls the anger always being there from the beginning, festering and perfecting itself inside of young Master Skywalker. He moves deeper into his memory banks and accesses one earliest memory of his Tatooine birth place. He sits on Anakin's bed as Skywalker remains in the corner, at his desk, rolling a deathstick filled with Gawith Black XX. Skywalker smokes the death stick and the dark, early forms of Vader surface. Skywalker disrobes and touches himself, then he touches 3PO, then he makes 3PO touch him. He accesses another memory: It is of Anakin mutilating a doll of his Slave master Watto, in effigy. Burning it with matches and stabbing needles into it. He moves yet deeper into the banks. In this memory, Skywalker is having relations with a Twil‘ek prostitute, while C3PO is forced to watch. Asserting his dominance would be a more accurate description. As the session ensues, the whore refuses some of Skywalker's more dangerous and sadistic 'in bed' suggestions. He beats her. To death. Her blood stains his clothes, and drips from his knuckles, which he licks clean. The look in his eyes would haunt 3PO until the end of his days. From the beginning it was obvious the kind of man he would become. Then the Jedi came. Those fools put a light saber in his hand and taught him how to use it. Taught him how to use the force, and none the wiser, perfected the killer Anakin Skywalker already was. Dark secrets that will die with C3PO. As 3PO's programming begins to unhinge and all his non- essentials fade away, a green light erupts in the sky, piercing the earth off in the horizon. As he gazes out, he along with the the desolate rock on which he stands are obliterated, left to float in the shadow of the Empire, as voices cry out in the force.
Pipe Used: Tsuge
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 18, 2018 Very Strong None Detected Very Full Overwhelming
The foulest room note in a piper tobacco, ever. This stuff will choke the most veteran smoker. Yes, it is that bad.

Room note aside, this is a nicotine laden dark fired virginia, which is worth smoking for the anomaly of being the only dark fired, which is not pure bitterness. The pipe must be loaded with fully rubbed out slices, which are dropped, not packed, into the bowl until it sticks out about a quarter inch, then only pressed until level with the rim. Any further packing turns this from a quality smoke, into a tar bomb.
Pipe Used: Vauen meerschaum golf ball.
PurchasedFrom: Tinderbox
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 03, 2015 Medium to Strong Extremely Mild Very Full Very Strong
My first smoke of this wasn't that pleasant. It tasted like a burnt cigar to me. Thinking this smoke was overrated, I put the rest of the oily turd into a jar and forgot about it for roughly a year.

I ended up finding it in the back of my tobacco stash and decided to give this smoke another try and let me tell you, I am so glad that I did.

So many variables are present during a smoke that I do not know what changed. It could be my tastes, the pipe, the weather and/or allowing the tobacco to age. This tobacco gave me the push towards trying other twists which I prefer now.

I can taste cocoa, caramel and coffee when I smoke this. It's surprising complex and sweet. It burns very cool with cool cream like smoke. This smoke tends to burn my nose if I exhale through it. This is a wonderful smoke that everyone should try at least once. Prepare yourself for the nic hit as well. Although I did not find it as strong as other reviewers it is very present in this blend.
Pipe Used: Yellowbole
Age When Smoked: 1 year
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