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 - 11 of 544 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 24, 2020 Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
Not much to add, as this has been reviewed endlessly. I’m adding confirmation this is a perfect, classic, mild English blend. It’s perfectly mild mannered in all aspects. Lights easy, stays lit with minimal need for tending, and has a nicely balanced, savory/smoky/spicy expected English flavor. It’s not heavy in any way, but it amply scratches that itch for something savory and spicy. It’s an all day, everyday smoke if you were so inclined. No risk of turning your tongue to jerky or coating your mouth...and the after taste is excellent and mild - a very delicate campfire/wood flavor. If you’re on the fence about Latakia, this one will win you over as it’s so gentle and balanced in the flavor profile. If you’ve drifted towards Va or Va/per blends, this one might pull you back to the comforts of a classic style. There is no risk of spoiling your taste for more delicate blends. Those who say they couldn’t taste or smell the Latakia...I don’t get’s there from the moment you pop the tin, leather and smoke - albeit, lightly applied when compared to the many lat bombs flooding the market. It’s just a wonderful tobacco. Plus, it’s an English made in England and a classic one at that.
Pipe Used: Vauen billiard ( 9mm filter)
PurchasedFrom: Tobacco pipes
Age When Smoked: 6 months
3 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 27, 2009 Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
This is wonderful, high quality tobacco.

What Squadron Leader is not:

It is not a Latakia powerhouse. It is not a nicotine powerhouse. It's not a particularly 'full' blend -- there are no strong, rich flavors here. It is not a blend that struggles with its identity as you smoke it; flavor changes are subtle as the bowl progresses, but the essential character is present throughout the smoke.

What Squadron Leader is:

A light/medium, almost airy English, with subtle tobacco flavors. The Latakia is there, but it does not dominate. There is some mild Virginia sweetness, but it is not cloying. There is a good bit of dry Oriental spice, but it is never acrid. There is an incense quality at play, but no heavy perfume.

I think of this blend as being sort of like a glass of iced tea. When you're in the mood for a glass of iced tea there is nothing finer than... well, a glass of iced tea. I don't fault my iced tea for failing to give me the same sensory experience as a double espresso, and I don't fault Squadron Leader for failing to give me the same sensory experience as Nightcap or Penzance.

This is a superb light/medium English -- and for what it is, it's damn near perfect, IMO.
166 people found this review helpful.
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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.

84 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.
82 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 04, 2013 Medium Mild to Medium Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable
I found a tin in a B&M while traveling for work and since it was on my "purchase list" I scooped it up. I sat in the store and puffed away. I am hooked.

Upon opening the blend it was a tad wet, but based on other reviews this is normal and I was prepared. I sat the desired amount on the inside of the lid while I chatted with the proprietor.

After minimal drying it packed well and only took two false lights. I was very happy with the smoothness and billowing smoke. It burned down to a nice ash with no glop in the bowl.

I liked it so much I purchased three more tins. I had an eight hour drive in front of me after all. 🙂 By the time I made it back to Vegas I had smoked five bowls with zero tongue bite but overwhelming satisfaction. I immediately ordered a pound more.

This is a great English style with flavor and just enough taste to be an all day smoker.

Bulk update....... The pound I purchased had almost NOTHING in common with the tins. I packed it away for cellaring and ordered more tins for now. I had seen this on a different review so I'll be patient. Stay tuned.
52 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jun 24, 2013 Mild to Medium Very Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
I opened a tin of Squadron Leader about a month ago, and the tin aroma actually put me off a little bit initially. It was slightly perfumy or soapy, and really didn't smell like tobacco at all. It was fairly moist out of the tin, and steamed my tongue a bit during the first bowl. It had a slight smokey taste from the latakia, but seemed dominantly floral, and almost perfumy especially when exhaling the smoke through the nose. Nicotine was definitely present, but not at all "strong". Just right for me.

I put it away, and decided to give it another go last week after about a month of opening the tin. The tin aroma still didn't really smell much of tobacco, but wasn't nearly as perfumy or soapy, and it had dried out nicely. I packed a wide bowl Savinelli briar pipe and really wasn't expecting too much to be honest. It took light nicely, and then...

WOW! It tasted absolutely fantastic! The floral note was still there, but much more subdued, and it began to really grow on me. The floral, combined with a slight wood and leather note (especially halfway through the bowl on down to the bottom) really complimented each other. It burned cool with no tongue bite at all, and the room note didn't get me ejected from the living room to the patio by El Dictator.

I finished the tin, ordered a pound of Squadron Leader, and it is going to be my new all day smoke. Highly recommended!

UPDDATE: The bulk Squadron Leader I received seems to lack severely whilst compared to the tin offering. It pales in comparison, and seems hardly like the same tobacco. It is dull, boring, and lacks that Lakeland Essence I initially hated and grew to love in the tinned tobacco. I am going to leave my rating at four stars for the tinned offering. In bulk I would give it two stars if being completely honest. If I factored in my disappointment between the tin and bulk, I would give it one star. This bulk product is beyond disappointing, it is hardly worth smoking!
43 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 25, 2008 Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
Now, THIS is an excellent example of an English/Balkan mixture! As Jaybee said below, SG really knows how to blend. It's a nice medium-bodied smoke that doesn't tire out the smoker with too much latakia or too liberal a hand with the orientals. It's extremely well balanced and very complex. After my first tin, I knew that this one was going into my regular rotation.

One of the nice things about this is that it's a good starter English for an aromatic smoker moving into Latakia Land, and it's also a great smoke for the seasoned pipester. It's an unassuming tobacco that, in not trying to do too much, ends up in doing everything right. SG should be proud of this one. Absolutely a winner!
36 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 11, 2014 Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant
Samuel Gawith - Squadron Leader.

Note: 9/01/18. Retyped and updated due to disagreeing with original post.

The much hyped, talked about, 'legend', Squadron Leader. Does it warrant such acclaim, or does it deserve pillorying? After many years of smoking here's my view:

The blend's on the coarser side of ribbon, and without astonishment every tin arrives with damp contents. It gives an aroma of a very mild English.

Squadron' ignites easily, providing it's not been loaded fresh. The smoke from it's synonymous to the likes of D' Hill Early Morning': well rounded without the Latakia smashing your face in. The Lat' provides a smokiness, but is of an equal weight to the Turkish, which gives a woody, slightly floral, spiciness. The Virginia lends a sweetness but is easily outweighed by the LaTur side. There isn't any trace of added flavouring, it's a good old fashioned natural smoke. The burn couldn't be any better: cool and consistent.

Nicotine: below medium. Room-note: nice.

So, does it do justice to the hype? No. I don't think it's any better than a plethora of English's. That doesn't mean I won't highly recommend it, I will, the smoke's very good, but I don't think it warrants as much hype.

Four stars.
Pipe Used: Various
PurchasedFrom: Various
Age When Smoked: New
32 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 20, 2003 Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant
I finally popped a well aged tin (4 years old) of Squadron Leader to satisfy my once in a great while Latakia craving.

Well, not much Latakia to crave here. It is a very light Latakia blend with little nicotine (a recreational drug I enjoy in large daily doses!) and an extremely smooth and refined taste. I can see where it will please the "light Latakia & Nicotine" crowd. The tin art also looks great!
31 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 10, 2014 Medium None Detected Medium Very Pleasant
Squadron Leader has been my mainstay, medium English mixture for 15 years running. It is the hub of my English mixture tasting wheel, my measure of a medium English mixture and all variance is indexed to it. (Do you have a benchmark tobacco in certain genres or categories? It would be interesting if you shared that in your reviews)

Bright, medium long ribbons and dark Virginia broken flake make up the base, with a compliment of lively, nutty Turkish and woodsy Latakia. This does not appear to be cased, topped or scented. Perfection, also by Samuel Gawith, would be example of a topped mixture.

The predominant flavor comes from the Virginias (about 50/50 lighter to darker leaf. I do not taste American-style Cavendish). The flue-cured leaf really provides a naturally sweet, chewy and a nearly caramelized presence at times, while giving the blend its overall structure. The Virginias set SL apart from other, beloved medium English offerings. Next in flavor contribution comes the Turkish leaf as a noticeable, pleasant condiment. Then there is latakia.

It has just the right amount of Latakia for a medium English mixture. It could have a bit more, but not much more without bleeding into some other style. Compare to Dunhill's EMP or Standard Mixture Mild to know why SL is not a mild English. If you do not like Turkish tobaccos or you define an English mixture as heavy with Latakia with minimal Virginias and Turkish, then SL might not be for you.

The Turkish leaf in SL has none of the sharper edges of those in Dunhill's medium English blends (which I like, too) and Rattray's Red Rapparee, or the tanginess distinctive of Germain's in Margate (Full English) or Exotique (Oriental; quasi-Balkan), though more lively than in McClelland's British Woods. Those in SL are something akin to long gone Renaissance by GL Pease or Crown Achievement in complexity without CA's edgy personality.

SL burns to a white ash with no dottle. Even with the Virginias requiring slow, steady puffing, the smoker is rewarded with copious clouds of cool smoke. The flavors from the constituent leaf migrate in and out, deepening as the ash moves from the rim to bowl bottom. Delicious barely describes this blend.

This works best in for me with group 4 or larger chambered pipes in my experience. Compare straight sided to tapered smoking chambers with SL, and note the differences in finish.

The drier and cleaner the pipe, the more subtle flavors come through. SL really shines if the packaging moisture content is reduced so that the blend is still pliable without feeling moist.

SL is blending perfection for those who appreciate medium English mixtures in a classic presentation and form.
PurchasedFrom: Various
Age When Smoked: New and Aged
29 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 06, 2014 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable
The first tobacco that I took to immediately. I didn't know that non-aromatics could taste like this! In my formation as a pipe smoker, there's BSL and ASL - Before Squadron leader, and After Squadron Leader. In the beginning I smoked the aromatics that came with the starter kit my wife gave me for Christmas 2013. Being me, I then hit the internet seeking tobaccos with the highest nicotine content I could find (GW Happy Brown Bogie, SG Brown No. 4, etc.). After a month or so of smoking these -- intensely flavored, high nicotine -- tobaccos, I found myself no longer enjoying pipe smoking; and for a month or so I left off with it. Then I tried the aromatics again (mainly 1-Q) and found that they had enough nicotine to subtly soothe me after a day's work. But I wanted more -- and not just nicotine. I wanted a pipe smoking experience that was of a piece with the men from pre-industrial times. I enjoy the historical aspect of pipe smoking. For me, it's a romantic connection with the past -- with simpler times. And, in my imagination at least, men of yore smoked "real" tobacco -- not "aromatic" tobacco sprayed with food-grade flavoring. Also, I wanted more nicotine! I went to the local tobacco shop and asked for something between aromatics and the high-nicotine ropes I had tried. The guy behind the counter had no clue. (Cigars seem to dominate there.) On a whim, I asked for Squadron Leader (recalling a singular reference to its substantial nicotine content). The guy helping me asked the boss if they still had "that bag of Squadron Leader in the back", leaving me with the impression that it had been consigned to an out-of-the-way place and forgotten. Disappearing to the back of the store, he returned several minutes later with a giant sack of Squadron Leader. I procured two ounces, drove straight home, fired up a bowl, and immediately fell in love. My only experience with latakia thus far was Ten Russians -- a tobacco firmly situated in the unofficial category of "lat bomb". I didn't like it; but in the proportion found in Squadron Leader, the latakia gave the tobacco a new dimension that I had not previously experienced in non-aromatics. It is difficult to describe due to my unformed palate, but it seems to lend a subtle earthy, if not slightly exotic flavor. Yet, credit must not be withheld from the Virgina and Turkish tobaccos for their role in the ensemble. Something (Turkish or Virginia, I don't know) is playing a nice sweet note. The whole thing together is a symphony of taste that is quite magical to me. After learning that Squadron Leader is considered a somewhat quintessential English blend, I have procured several English blends, all of which are quite good, if not excellent; but I think Squadron Leader is just exceptional. My only beef with Squadron Leader is that it tends to smoke hot. I thought I was just being a noob, but after going through a fresh tin, trying various packing and smoking variations, I think it's the tobacco. Yet, when packed just right and sipped slowly it smokes just fine. Oh, and the nicotine level is quite nice -- probably around a six on a scale of ten.
24 people found this review helpful.
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