Samuel Gawith Squadron Leader

Samuel Gawith Squadron Leader pipe tobacco epitomises the traditional English tobacco. Blended dark and bright Virginias, together with Latakia and Turkish leaf results in a perfect, medium bodied product which gives a rich and slow burning smoke.


Brand Samuel Gawith
Blended By Samuel Gawith
Manufactured By Samuel Gawith
Blend Type English
Contents Latakia, Oriental/Turkish, Virginia
Cut Ribbon
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

3.38 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 10 of 176 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jun 14, 2013 Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
The smoky, woody, earthy, musty sweet Cyprian Latakia is the lead component, but doesn't dominate the blend. The Turkish offers light spice, some dryness and sourness, earth, wood, moderate floral herbalness, and vegetation along with a light buttery sweetness as a supporting player. The Virginias provide grass with some tart citrus, bread, sugar, and touches of tangy dark fruit, wood and earth as secondary stars, though they are not far behind the Turkish in terms of effect. The strength is a couple of steps past the center of mild to medium. The taste is a rung below the medium mark. The nic-hit is a tad less potent than the strength level. Won’t bite or get harsh, but has a few small rough edges. Burns cool and clean at a reasonable rate with a fairly smooth, mildly sweet and more savory, consistent campfire flavor from start to finish. Requires an average number of relights, and leaves little dampness in the bowl. Has a pleasant, short lived after taste, and lightly stronger room note. An all day English smoke with a little character and depth.

85 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 19, 2009 Medium None Detected 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:

Squadron Leader: You knew sooner or later I had to get to this one. The 5th most reviewed tobacco on the board. Same ingredients as SMM, the Classic English Three: Virginia, Oriental, & Latakia. Could this be the one? I?ve gone through 17 blends, with only 13 left and I am feeling the edges of desperation creeping in?

For a time (a long time ago), SMM was available in bulk, as well as 100gr big tins. It was a lot cheaper, I?ve never been wealthy, and lord knows I smoked a lot of the stuff. But I never bought anything other than 50g tins, 50 tins per order. Why you ask? Because one of the greatest pleasure of smoking SMM was the indescribable aroma that erupted upon the opening a fresh tin. I never once opened a tin without a long, ritualistic, inhaling of the contents (this aspect, by the way, did lesson with Orlik). It never ceased to fascinate me in its complexity and mystery, and always generated a contented sigh.

(There is a 2nd reason for the 50g tin, if you are not yet tired of my missives on the evils of dry tobacco: I smoke a tin about every week, give or take a day or two. The moist beginning of the tin is always more enjoyable than the end, particularly in winter with the low humidity levels. Larger packaging would only exasperate this problem and reduce the frequency of FreshTin-itis. )

But I digress?

Upon opening Squadron leader I smell?..


Or hardly anything. No eruption of Middle Eastern aroma wafted up to greet me. Instead I had to get my nose right in it to detect the scent of SL. And at this proximity, the bouquet is fine, if not faint.

And Squadron Leader is fine, if not fantastic. The strength is perfect. No pulling on the mouthpiece seeking satiation. It comes on it?s own. And the flavor is good. English 101 here, at it?s very essence. Dry & full. (Dry as in wine, i.e. not sweet). Where it falls a tad short is in the richness, the ?good enough to eat? category. That bit of magic bordering on wonderment.

So often during these trials I have been frustrated while smoking. Partially, of course, because I would realize that ?this isn?t the one?. Mostly though because my need for my tobacco ?fix? was left unmet. Sometimes the tobacco was too mild; sometimes it was so off tasting that I regretted smoking it. And time being what it is, I have to put the pipe down and get on with life, and a special part of my daily routine was disturbed.

Squadron Leader satisfied my ?fix?. But it does smoke a bit too fast for me, even though it is properly moist in the tin.

Squadron Leader is correctly rated as the 4th most reviewed 3-star tobacco. There is nothing not to recommend it, and it is an excellent introduction to medium strength English tobacco.
83 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 15, 2014 Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable
This was a very pleasant smoke. It is Virginia-forward with grassy and slightly sweet notes. There is enough latakia to taste without overpowering the other flavors. You can distinguish the orientals and that solid Virginia foundation is always there. if you are curious about English blends and don't want anything too extreme, this is a good one to try.

This tobacco was a gift from a friend, and so I am uncertain about age, bulk-vs-tin, etc.
Pipe Used: various briars
13 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 30, 2004 Medium to Strong None Detected Medium Tolerable to Strong
I don't quite get all the fuss about this traditional english blend. I ordered 50g bulk, and I was rather unimpressed: the aroma of the unburnt tobacco is, as someone else said, rather soft. In comparison to other blends of this kind, the strong Latakia smell one should expect is almost absent: and indeed the long ribbons that make up the blend contain a fairly small amount of dark leaf. It burns great, maybe a bit wet, but very even, leaving very little dottle in the light grey ash. However, the main disappointment comes from the rather bland taste: it is a medium english mixture, sweet and licoricey, but without the punch and fullness that I prefer. It shows some nice variations at each different puff, and actually gets tastier after the middle of the bowl. As expected, the Latakia presence is always very subtle. I found some similarities between this and Crown Achievement. Ultimately pleasant, but there are several better blends out there that I find more satisfying. Can't beat the convenience of buying this in bulk, though!

UPDATE: I tried the tin version of this tobacco, too. Well, it costs more, but the extra cost is certainly worth paying for. In the tin, Squadron Leader is a good medium EM, not as tasty as some of my favorites, but a very nice all-day smoke. The Latakia/Turkish taste is much more evident, and the sweet Virginia base has a nice flavor which is different from that of the Dunhill tobaccos: a well balanced blend. It has some similarities to Dunhill's EMP, probably a little tastier, especially if smoked slowly. Very gentle on the tongue, too. Buy the tinned one if you like English tobaccos!

2012 UPDATE: I keep returning to this tobacco once in a while, and it's always a solid choice! Recently I have fallen in love with Skiff Mixture by Samuel Gawith, and I can say that while both are very traditional medium English mixtures, the character is subtly different. Skiff is sweeter, while Squadron Leader tends to be spicier and drier (both in taste and moisture content). Squadron Leader seems to have a different kind of Latakia, and at times it almost seems of the Syrian variety (while Skiff is declaredly Cyprian). And it seems slightly stronger in nicotine than Skiff. I tend to prefer Skiff a little bit because of its rich creamy complexity, but I think that all lovers of English blends should seriously try both.

2020 UPDATE: This time, after many years, from a 250g bulk bag. Still a love-hate relationship with this tobacco. It definitely has to be dried out a bit, and it still is a bit too light in Latakia for me. The Virginias are great (a bit bitey, though, as many bright VAs are), the Orientals are fine, but overall this a bit too on the mild side for me. I like it, it has quality, but it always fail to WOW me. Especially in the bulk version. After many years, I can definitely say that I like Skiff much better: spicier, more Orientals, more fragrance, richer flavour, more complexity. Squadron Leader tends to be a mostly Virginia-centered affair.

Final considerations after MANY years: when you get a good tin, age it a bit and dry it out, it's a 3 stars blend. When you get a weak tin, or the bulk version, or you smoke it too wet, it's only 2 stars. It's a good blend, but Skiff is much more consistent in its behaviour/batch variation, and much gentler on my palate while equally flavorful.
12 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 16, 2017 Mild to Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable
This is my first review out here and I want to start by saying thank you to you all. This site along with your reviews have really made this pipe smoking adventure so much more enjoyable. I have been a pipe smoker off and on for 10 years but it wasn’t until this last year that I really learned to smoke a pipe and with this site and your reviews, have made this a wonderful and pleasurable journey. Discovering all these tobaccos has been a revelation.

Samuel Gawith - Squadron Leader has become a staple in my rotation. I tend to like a little bit of everything, including this wonderful medium strength English blend. I started with and worked my way through two tins of this with great pleasure. Following the tins, I also have my first bulk order in hand and have a few ounces of that pound in ash.

I found that there WAS a difference in the two versions. The tined versions were more mellow and nearly perfect moisture wise. Compared to the bulk version, I found it to be overly moist and a little rougher around the edges. Just a couple months in a Mason jars(big one) it has mellowed out. I do have to give the bulk a little “per smoke” drying time – about 10-15 minutes and its perfect. The flavor has mellowed and while it’s still spicey/peppery that has subsided considerably.

Overall, I find a very interesting duality in this tobacco. On one hand it leans toward the peppery side for an English. It also has a real creamy character that is amazing. It’s almost like a good steak in that its filling and savory. I enjoy its spice but for me, it’s not an all-day smoke. After a two or three bowls my palate is a bit overloaded and it needs a rest from the pepper bite. That said, a bowl of Squadron Leader is a daily given at this point.

Even with the pepper aspect this is a smooth enjoyable smoke. I DID have problems with bite but it was with bulk that was overly moist and I was not practicing patience and self-restraint. Given proper drying time I have zero bite issues. I can’t lay blame on the tobacco for my error.

I have various English/Scottish blends in my rotation. Dunhill 965 would arguably be my “all day” blend of preference. That said, having an Ashton Artesian, Mac Baren Vintage Syrian along with this wonderful Squadron Leader blend is making for a very enthusiastic and quite content pipe smoker. This is my go to when I need a little zing in the bowl.

Given the spice, I have to give this a 3.5 of 4. Really that’s due to my personal preference. While I love it, I can over do the spice factor. If you haven’t tried it, the ratings are justified. I highly recommend it and not only is it a daily ritual, it is one of the few tobaccos that I buy in bulk and intend to always have in stock.
Pipe Used: Various - Generally Canadians
Age When Smoked: New
9 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 03, 2014 Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable
I'm a "long time listener, first time caller" to English blends. After much research, I thought I would start with SL as it has so many, and overwhelmingly positive, reviews. And I admit I'm a sucker for the biplane on the tin. I was a bit put off by the smell from the tin. It wasn't really bad, just unexpected. Added to the woody smell is a bit of a funk. It burned very well, maybe because of the uniformity of the ribbon cut. So I was surprised when I found something that I can only describe as a twig. Not a problem, Just wondering how it got through the system. This definitely has the woodsmoke flavor English's are known for. Easy smoking, no bite, lots of smoke, and stays lit. I'm not sure if I will become an English smoker, but there's nothing wrong with this tobacco. And I now know what an English tastes like. Based on other's reviews, it probably doesn't get much better than this, so I will return someday or maybe try Frog Morton Cellar for a twist on an English.
Pipe Used: Peterson System
Age When Smoked: Fresh from tin
7 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 02, 2014 Medium None Detected Medium Unnoticeable
Beautiful Tin Art-I understand that back in the gap it would have been embossed (bet that looked sweet).

The tin note is scrumptious, and I sense a faint cocoa-like scent. I know that makes little sense, but I got it day one nonetheless.

Upon opening the tin, I reminisce over Willie finding that Gold Ticket, as the pricey gold foil peels back to reveal a compressed block of high quality ribbon. Its densely packed, professionally cut and appearing heavier than 50 gms normally feels to me.

I have burned this without drying-due to great moisture- just springy and slightly tacky upon compression. I find for me this burn well when stuffed, it doesn't burn hot, requires few if any relights. It becomes slightly sweet than slightly sour, moderately high Vitamin N, but solid and good all day long.

I especially like the retrohale. Good quality dependable smoke-which is understandable with its loyal following.
Pipe Used: Bent BC Egg w/9 mm filter, Mizz Meer
PurchasedFrom: Pipes
Age When Smoked: 1 Year
7 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 23, 2020 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
Let me preface by saying: this is a good tobacco. That said, I think there is a lot of hype around this blend that is, IMO, unwarranted. I've always been a big fan of Peterson/Dunhill Standard Mixture, so naturally, I wanted to get my hands on some Squadron Leader. After all, both Squadron Leader and Standard Mixture have been dubbed "the quintessential English blends".

What I loved about this blend was actually not the taste, but the tin note. Imagine going into your grandfathers attic and opening an old wooden chest. Inside, you find a musty uniform that he had worn a century earlier on the Somme along with his bayonette and a faded photograph of his unit. Each trinket carries the memories of trenches, gunpowder, and smoke. That is the tin note.

Now the taste. It was both exactly what I expected and nothing what I expected. I expected this would be a standard english blend, yet due to the hype surrounding it I somehow simultaneously anticipated being blown away by some sectret magic. I was not. Latakia forward but not in your face. Same with the Turkish. The Virginias were also noticable, providing a nice balance. It was just as its been described - a standard blend. Not bad by any means, just nothing special.

Ultimately, I am happy that I tried it, but would not go out of my way to get it again. Probably something you need to smoke yourself, but not necessarily something you will add to your list of favorites.
5 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 08, 2020 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
I should post a few disclaimers. I am an aromatic fan, I bought this because I liked the tin and I never smoked an English blend before.

This blend was surprisingly good. I was really surprised with the whole balance of it. Not sweet, not bitter and the aftertaste proved to be much more pleasant than any other tobacco I ever tried. The room note proves to be very inoffensive and has more to it than the smell of burning plant matter.

It burns extremely cool and will for the life of it not extinguish.
Pipe Used: Keyser no 10
PurchasedFrom: Cedar & Leaf Tobacco shop
Age When Smoked: 2 years
5 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 09, 2020 Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable
Samuel Gawith- Squadron Leader

A mild English, smoking this blend off and on for the last year or so. The Latakia which is usually the main focal point is a little subdued here, but I could smell it upon opening the tin, as far as the taste goes it never overpowers but is there. The orientals are sour, not sour like the candy my grandmother used to give me in church when I failed to pay attention but more so tangy sour. The Virginia’s give a little sweetness but I can never taste the leaf completely nor does it become a over powering player in the mix.

This blend is a little wet upon opening and needs some drying time, I had to re-light a few times but it never smoked hot for me regardless of how hard I pushed the blend.

This blend is great, not overly great but I like it a lot. I feel as though this blend may be rated higher recently due to the lack of stock at many major tobacco outlets therefore increasing its mystique.

The tin art is fantastic also and I always love seeing it.
Pipe Used: Corncob, Morgan One Poker
Age When Smoked: 1 year
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