Samuel Gawith Full Virginia Flake

Samuel Gawith Full Virginia Flake is for lovers of pure pressed Virginias. Created in the heart of Lakeland, the hot-pressed blended Virginias take on a delicious and distinctive dark colour that creates a pipe smokers dream, a feeling of calm, serenity and anticipation of the next pipeful. A "must have" for all Virginia lovers. Medium strength.


Brand Samuel Gawith
Blended By Samuel Gawith
Manufactured By Samuel Gawith
Blend Type Straight Virginia
Contents Virginia
Cut Flake
Packaging 50 grams tin, 250 grams box, bulk
Country United Kingdom
Production Currently available


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

Average Rating

3.47 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 10 of 395 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 18, 2009 Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Medium Tolerable
Preface: I have been smoking Dunhill Standard Mixture Medium for near-on 30 years, believing that it has no equal anywhere on earth. But it is gone now, and so I begin a quest for my Holy Grail: A substitute to replace the standard on which all English tobaccos are based:

If you search here for the tobacco with the most 4 star reviews you have Full Virginia Flake. No, not an English type, and not a likely SMM substitute, but how could I go about my quest of trying all of these tobaccos while ignoring numero uno?

In May 1607, the London-based Virginia Company's three ships landed in Virginia and founded the first permanent British settlement in North America. It was a for- profit expedition. They hoped to find a route to the Far East (the infamous Northwest Passage) in order to further advance trade with China and/or to discover gold. They accomplished neither, while their mortality rate due to disease, starvation, & Indian warfare approached 70%.

What saved the remaining intrepid souls and their colony at Jamestown?


Seedlings from the Caribbean blossomed in the inviting Virginia soil & climate and Virgina-Type tobacco was born. So flavorful was this tobacco that it's reception in England was overwhelming. Demand skyrocketed from a little known or used product to a popular pastime. A colony was saved, which lead to a nation.

And now I know why, having sampled FVF! Oh, Virginia tobacco!

Sometimes we try too hard, and seek too fiercely, that which has always been. Like Mother's comfort food, Samuel Gawith's FVF satisfies us because it is simple, and simply, good. You don't have to put this brand in a cellar for 20 years to enjoy it, or search the far corners of the earth to find it, or pay dearly to buy it. Just open a tin, rub out the delicate flakes, pack your pipe, and relax. Your pleasure is assured.

I like this stuff a lot, and I now recognize that it is a very important component of SMM, and that blends without a proper Virginia component do not appeal to me. Virginia is the richness & the body. Add Latakia for it's wonderful smokiness, & Orientals for some complexity and viola: Perfection in a tin! Easier said than done perhaps, but we are closing in.

Smells too sweet in the tin, but doesn't smoke that way. The flakes are delightfully moist and any attempt to dry them would be immoral. Put down whatever you're doing instead, and just smoke. If you do that, I promise it will burn perfectly. And you'll savor the creamy richness that is the hallmark of a moist tobacco such as this. It is a proper example of how long a tobacco should burn, which is a long time for FVF! If you dry it out and then go on Tobacco Review to write how you find FVF to be boring and unappealing, I will come and find you...

Rubbing out the flakes is fun and easy, but I suspect as a regular daily tobacco this process might become somewhat tedious.

I would add that everyone should try FVF except that, -based on the review numbers-, everyone already has!

Update: I prefer my tobacco tinned, even though it is more cost effective to purchase bulk. I like knowing that everything is perfect and undisturbed in that tin until I open it, and that specifically includes proper moisture content. But it seems everyone is out of FVF so I resorted to ordering in bulk, specifically the original 500g box that comes direct from Samuel Gawith. I was expecting to be a little disappointed, but I was surprised instead. The flakes arrived completely sealed and with perfect moisture content. And for those upset about "quality control" when broken flakes are found in their tins (I fail to grasp the import) a 500g box is a thing of beauty to open. The box is specifically designed to hold flakes, there must be a million flakes in a 500g box, and (in my box at least) every flake was perfect and intact, all neatly aligned, row upon row, of delicious fragrant flakes.
148 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 03, 2014 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
Ah, Sam Gawith's Full Virginia Flake. What more can be said? Well, frankly, THIS:

This is an old-school tobacco in the purest sense. One type of quality leaf, handled and prepared with care and love, by an old-school company using, by and large, old-school methods.

For those of you complaining that the size and shape and thickness of the flakes are uneven: quit it. This stuff is made on machinery that dates back to the 18th Century. I kid you not. Look it up. Some of the machinery Sam Gawith uses is actually protected by the UK government as historical artifacts.

You can't get much more old-school than that.

And unlike most of the fine blenders that were once in the British Isles, they haven't sold out to tobacco company eating monsters from Denmark. Imagine: an English tobacco still made in England! Holy beans!

I love Sam Gawith on principle. If they were an attractive woman, I would ply them with alcohol and try to get them in to bed.

Tin note: fermented Virginia glory, a wet field in the Fall with year-old, mostly-rotted away manure on it. Gorgeous, gorgeous scent.

Smoking: dry out first! This advice about all Sam Gawith offerings is so important, it's not even funny, but still kinda is. A 50 gram tin of Sam Gawith tobacco contains around 25 grams of moisture, but, like a beautiful woman who lies to me just to build up my ego, I'm totally ok with it. A pleasant, mutli-dimensional, rich, Virginia experience.

Sip for best results. Relax while smoking it. Do nothing else.

Fermentation is very present to me with this tobacco. Though no sugar crystals seem to be on fresh flakes, it is obvious in so many ways that this has been aged quite a bit before being sent out.

It's just delicious.

A word about smoking high quality Virginia flakes: keep at it, even if you have several so-so smokes in a row. Try it in different ways, in different pipes. Once you figure them out, you will reach the promised land.

I promise.
101 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 22, 2002 Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Very Pleasant
This is indeed a full Virginia flake. It smells like a typical grassy Virginia in the tin, but the stoving keeps the aroma subtle.

A depth of flavor hard to find, even for a class Virginia, FVF is a long-time staple. Just marvelous.

86 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 21, 2009 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant
Whats to say that has not already been said? This is a wonderful tobacco that is very straight forward. Upon opening the tin I have to marvel at the aroma. Its very flavorful smell of fruits like raisins and plums. It reminds me of my grandmothers hand made farm jelly. Heavenly bliss in a tin.

The flakes are a little large for the pipe I smoke them in, so I usually shred a full flake by hand and allow it to dry in the open air for about 15-20 minutes. Then after loading I like to draw on the pipe unlit to allow for savoring the straight tobacco aroma.

I usually do 2 or 3 charring lights depending on the moisture. This allows a nice charred "cake" to form on top. After that its on to the enjoyment. This tobacco is very pleasurable for the aromas it imparts, as well as a flavor that reminds me of fresh cut hay. I spent summers on my grandmothers farm (mentioned briefly above) and that taste is unmistakable. They say that taste and smell are tied to memories, and this brings back some of the best for me. Anyhow the flavor is very unadulterated and I find it highly relaxing. It also stays on the pallet for a while after smoking so I usually find myself wondering when I can get the next bowl! Its that me.

I usually sit down and allow time to smoke every last bit in the bowl, as even the dottle is not overwhelming like other tobaccos I have tried. Ash is always a white/gray color and smoke is a thick creamy white. My live in room note adviser (AKA my wife) says the room notes are very tolerable, and she like the smell.

All in all this is a no nonsense VA blend that should be tried at least once. I venture to say this is the best of the Gawith blends. St James Flake is also recommended for a good change of pace.

Happy smoking, and please remember to support your local tobacco shops!
50 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 17, 2014 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Very Pleasant
Full Virginia Flake. I am not new to FVF; I have collected more of those lovely gold and yellow-green tins than I care to admit. I am simply here to help spread the word and remark on a few points for any novices of this flake.

My first point, based on reading these reviews, is this: if you feel that FVF produces for you only hot air, steam, and/or lacks any kind-flavor… you are not treating it properly. And you should not give up, because once you figure this stuff out, you will understand why it flies off the shelves. FVF is amazing.

Secondly, ignore the value hunters who moan that FVF comes moist in the tin to cheat them, is rough cut, or contains a piece of stem now and then. Please. The people behind this blend know well what they are doing. No one is trying to pull anything on these paranoid pipers. That is akin to exclaiming a love for delicious steak and then whining about the marbling and drippings. FVF is what it is, that is how they make it, that is how they tin it, that is how you get it, and in the end that is why it is so great. There is no need to compare a traditional Lakeland flake to a machine-made Danish-manufactured one. This is a flake of the highest and purest quality prepared in the oldest manner.

My experience with FVF started just like some of the negative reviews I have read. I didn’t get it. I was into heavy Latakia blends at the time, trying to get more out of my pipes…Old Ironsides, Penzance…my first pipe full of FVF tasted like paper to me. It was unwholesome and uninteresting…I nearly gave it away. But instead of whining that I had been swindled, I persisted. I got some advice and pressed forward in my determination to figure this stuff out. It was the single greatest endeavor in my piping career because not only did this flake finally give up to me its luxurious, syrupy, sweet, heady goodness, it also qualified me to master Virginia flakes in general, and I can tell you with honesty that I have never looked back. Latakia has become boring, overbearing, and unappealing to my palate. Burley blends are even further lost on me. Full Virginia Flake is largely to blame for such an about face. It is that good.

FVF must be learned, but when you get it, oh boy do you get it. This dubious looking hot-pressed flake, made of African leaf and English know-how, will turn to ambrosia in your pipe when you do it proper. Tangy, rich, heady, syrupy, and sweet. It fills my head without a hint of irritation or bite. The tin note is deep and rich and evolving…like dark, dripping Christmas cake. And even better, FVF is a rare tobacco that produces a room note matching the glorious tanginess of its palate. When I smoke this flake every room in my home is bathed in its deep, tangy, luxury.

This flake ages wonderfully due to the purity and quality of the leaf, but it is also enjoyable from a fresh tin. It is affordable and, with patience, actually fairly easy to procure. To those who whine about the unavailability: you need to pay closer attention and be patient. SG is a small company that makes their tobaccos one batch at a time on presses and hand-operated cutters that are probably older than anyone alive. They are not a giant manufacturing conglomerate. If you require that kind of security and mechanization, then just move on and shut up already.

FVF benefits from some breathing time after unsealing. It usually (not always) requires drying before loading. It is best folded when the flakes are thin or broken when they are thicker, but not rubbed, which can be difficult to get right. It can be stubborn to develop its deep flavors until you figure it out. Too much overhead? It’s a no-brainer for me. FVF is, quite simply, the tastiest tobacco I have ever smoked, and I can say that with confidence because my opinion hasn’t changed in over twenty years.

Long winded reviews may be annoying…but I could not help myself on this one. Full Virginia Flake has provided me with so much pleasure and satisfaction that I owe it as much. Cheerios!

Revised: May 2023
Pipe Used: Various
Age When Smoked: 1 to 20 years
36 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 11, 2009 Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant
Sam Gawith's Full Virginia Flake:

So much has already been said about this particular offering from the esteemed Sam Gawith that it is fairly hard to make any new observations other than personal ones about this blend.

So here they are:

Really a professionaly done product. The Virginias used(wherever they come from) in this mixture (flake) are superb. Simply that. The initial light up is a delight and the following burn is ,of course , remarkable. My pipes and my taste buds and my contemplations all are overjoyed with my choice of this tobacco in my daily itinerary of smoking indulgences. We just loves it!

Strength: Perfect, not overpowering but definitely robust and hearty. I have several other of the Kendal tobaccos from Sam Gawith and from Gawith and Hoggarth that I enjoy but I always return to the main course- Full Virginia Flake confidently and often. I am justified each time with the choice. Conistency of taste and all the other looked for attributes are the result.

Flavorings: Good Tobacco and various undertoines that are very pleasing. I am not sure if they are natural to the tobacco or applied. I really don't care either way. It really makes little to no difference in the "botto0m line" taste for me. The best advice I can offer for those wanting to know exactly what the taste is I can only say try it. I really can't say anything authoratative as some have about"rasins" or "figs" or any other subtle taste aspects. Mama and Papa's marinara sauce was like that. Nobody seemed to have time to ask why it was so good they were too busy enjoying it.

Room note: I don't give this much thought. It is tobacco, good tobacco burning and that's good enough for me. I'm not sure how everyone else does it but personally I can't much smell what I'm smoking. I refuse to get up and go outside to clear my sinal passages to find out. I am too busy enjoying myself for such activity. Besides which it is just not that important to me and mine.

Recommendation: Fairly obvious from the above review I would think. A professionally done product with everything that a medium to mild blend of Virginia tobaccos could posibly be expected to provide for a grateful pallet.

Get some.

The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
34 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 02, 2009 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant
I just finished a tin of this and I'm going to buy more in bulk and put into my steady rotation. It's that good.

Thankfully, no Lakeland florals are present. This is a rich flavorful, no-nonsense virginia flake that has loads of depth, color and nuance. A complex flake that yields vast riches of complexity. Not much to add to other wonderful reviews here except to say that if straight virginia is your thing (if you're a Hal O' The Wynd fanatic as I am) you definitely need to check this out! I won't say it's "better" than the Rattrays but it will sit proudly alongside the Hal in my tobacco bar. I'll bet this stuff ages beautifully! Well done, SG!
26 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 23, 2010 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant
Full Virginia Flake is about as good as a flake can get: full of flavour, sweet (in a natural way), cool, slow-burning with a pleasant room note, and uniform all the way down the bowl. Taken slowly, it's absolutely delicious, though it probably won't appeal much to the lover of strong flavours.

This is IMO far and away the best SG tobacco. The only quibbles that I have are (a) that it comes much too moist in the tin, and (b) that the flakes tend to be rather thick and difficult to rub out (at least this was true of the 50 gm tin I bought). I find it better to rub them out, rather than folding and stuffing. If you fold and stuff you'll be forever relighting.

Excessive moisture is a besetting sin of SG tinned tobaccos, all of which benefit from drying. One aspect of this is that, as part of your 50 grams, you get a significant amount of water that evaporates off and leaves you with less weight than you think you bought. This is more than a little naughty on the part of SG.

But these drawbacks are so insignificant compared to the exceptional quality of this tobacco as to be hardly worth mentioning. It should be pointed out, though, that the FVF experience is greatly enhanced by a little drying; you won't get the best out if it if you plunge straight into a newly opened tin.

With those few insignificant caveats, a first-class all day smoke. Absolutely outstanding.

Update: I am beginning to notice a significant decline in the quality of FVF since the Gawith merger. Perhaps it's just me? I hope so.
23 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 12, 2011 Medium Extremely Mild Extra Full Pleasant to Tolerable
Full Virginia Flake, what's there to be said that already hasn't? Hmm...Well here's one for you. STOP HORDING THIS SHIT YOU DUMB A- HOLES!. Don't you realize that most of you will be dead by the time you actually smoke one third of your tobacco? And then what huh? Your spoiled kids aren't going to be fighting over ownership of your old stinky tobacco when you're dead, no, they'll go for the house. Maybe the car, what kind of car do you drive? If it's a nice car that still has a lot of value, hmm, ok so the kids would fight over the house and the car after they stick you in the ground. Then what, your one kid that none of his siblings like (probably has some kind of mental dysfunction) will be stuck with it. And God knows what he's going to do with it after you're rotting. Maybe toss in some grass and smoke one for Papa. How degrading!!!!! This is an excellent tobacco that you'd rather spend money on and throw away than give someone else a chance to enjoy it. You're tobacco will outlive you. If I knew who you were, I'd form a FVF rescue and break into your house and steal your shit. Let it be enjoyed.
22 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 14, 2014 Medium Very Mild Medium to Full Pleasant
Samuel Gawith’s Full Virginia Flake is on a short list of tobaccos that I think “every pipe smoker should try”. OTOH, if you “just don’t like VAs”, then stay away, because FVF is nothing more (or less) than a consummate VA. To me, it is the Unwobbling Pivot of VA flakes. Yes, there are other good ones with more “obvious” qualities, if that’s what one wants; but, while the others might be “different”, FVF is ever unbowed and “the same”, and I hope it never changes.

In the tin, FVF looks ordinary enough, dark and lightly mottled, and the flakes are a little on the thick side. The tin note is restrained, TOP quality, stoved and hot pressed, fermented VA leaf, with shades of dark, figgy raisin bread, medium roast coffee, and a bare brush of dark chocolate. Surely, too much has been made here of the original moisture. It’s perfect for sealed tin aging, and it’s fine for smoking, too, given some technique and some patience at the light. YMMV, but drying FVF too much results in a harsh smoke, especially for deep sniffers. I like to fold, spindle and loosely stuff most of a moist flake into a dedicated VA pipe. FVF always smokes fine for me with minimal (if regular) attention, although it took practice to consistently smoke the very last of it. There is plenty of smoke for a VA, and the scents and tastes start deep for a VA and then they get deeper, with subtle and subtly spicy overtones, and it’s all pure, premium tobacco, from top to bottom. I actually enjoy the “sophisticated” casing and/or topping, very mild, with a nice taste and smell. Like any good VA, FVF gets better as it is smoked down. It is a very “mature” smoke, complex but never popping its buttons. Basically, it smells and tastes well-aged when it’s fresh from the tin, then it gets even better with aging. Strength is medium. Tastes are fuller than medium. Room note is pleasant. Aftertaste is best of the smoke, only sweeter, and it lingers long, adding just a hint of anise as it trails off.

4 Stars, of course, for this excellent and very satisfying tobacco, and I’m sorry if I’ve ever taken it for granted. I wish I could stay away from my cellared tins.
Pipe Used: various briars; dedicated preferred
PurchasedFrom: 4 Noggins
Age When Smoked: fresh to 18 mos; to 8 mos. from jars
20 people found this review helpful.
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