J. F. Germain & Son Plum Cake Mixture

Blended from Virginia tobacco with dark cavendish and extra matured black cavendish. Flavoured with a delicate and barely discernable plum topping whose ingredients are known only to the owners of the company.
Notes: This is a traditional pipe mixture of which 80% is prepared from seven different types of Virginia leaf. The remaining 20% is a specially prepared black tobacco made from Cavendish and Negrohead. A rare air-cured leaf. This is possibly the only British made tobacco containing this particular ingredient. The unique added flavour gives an agreeable taste and pleasant aroma. Origin Channel Islands.


Brand J. F. Germain & Son
Blended By J. F. Germain & Son
Manufactured By  
Blend Type Virginia Based
Contents Black Cavendish, Virginia
Flavoring Plum
Cut shag
Packaging 50 grams tin, 50 grams pouch
Country United Kingdom
Production Currently available


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

Average Rating

2.84 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 11 of 63 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 08, 2016 Mild Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Tolerable
Bought a tin on a whim.

Smoked the first bowl... Ordered 4 more.

Former Somm and currently still in the wine Bussiness, so when I read about a tobacco that had been cured/marinated with wine I was both intrigued and skeptical all at once.

The smell in the tin is fantastic and took me back... In my younger years I consulted for a slew of restaurants and in building their cellars I'd always break a bottle of red on the floor to "baptize" it- but more importantly to make it smell like a wine cellar.

There's a certain dank grapey-plumminess mixed that sour tang of fermentation that is so very personal that smelling it ina tobacco sent me reeling.

Deeper olfactory examination of the fine and fluffy shag begins to reveal bitter-spice elements (someone before said Italian bitters which is spot on).

On the palate (sip this!!!) it fills your palette with that same wineniness found in the tin and the back-end unfurls with a panoply of dark sweet bitters and tobacco flavor proving the skill, ultimately, that went into creating such a daring (but balanced and delicious) blend.

I like it.

It's a grown-ass-man's aromatic.

Properly, it is a scented tobacco that the Brits seem to pull of brilliantly.

Everyone should try this- but everyone shouldn't expect to like.
Pipe Used: Briars and cobs- excels in small bowls!
Age When Smoked: New
5 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 14, 2005 Mild to Medium Strong Medium Tolerable
I guess I am the black sheep here, because this the bomb for me. I am normally not into aromatics, I wouldn't touch'em with a poker, but i found this one so unique and special that I would not count it as an "aromatic".

The cut is shag and the tin aroma is indeed very special. As always I will try to compare with foods: Aniseed, overly ripe oranges, dank store-room (yes I know, it is not food, and somehow or other it is meant positively) and Tawny Port. A strange mix indeed, but when lit, it produces the sweetest buttery smoke one could imagine.

The leaf is of outstanding quality and I sense some insignificant amount of orientals in it. It burns well, packs enough nic. to make me happy and does not bite at all. Normally I like some hot Earl Grey with my pipes, but somehow this does not work at all, because the fragrant aromas of both would mix in a negative way. Instead try some rich red Port wine with it, and sit back and dream away: This will tickle your tastebuds and lead your thoughts far away from the grey and dull everyday life.

The best (non-) aromatic I have ever tried, and I will explore the whole Germain line from now on.

***** Jakob Kiilerich, Denmark *****
Pipe Used: Several
PurchasedFrom: 4noggins.com
Age When Smoked: New
31 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 02, 2013 Mild Medium Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
There is a slight perfume taste and smell that comes and goes, and while it's not like the Lakeland essence, it has a light cousin-like effect. I taste a little vanilla note, slight touch of honey, licorice, and light sour wine. The grassy, citrus sweet Virginia is subdued a bit as is the black processed air-cured, lightly sugary, dark fruity, earthy dark and extra matured black cavendishes. I find the taste changes here and there as you smoke it down. Has a very mild nic-hit. The strength is mild and the taste is a couple of steps past that mark. Burns cool, clean and easy at a reasonable pace, and leaves very little dampness in the bowl. Requires an average number of relights. No chance of tongue bite, harshness, or hot feeling in your mouth as you smoke it. Has a pleasant, short lived after taste, and can be an all day smoke.

29 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 17, 2014 Mild Medium Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
Wow! This blend is sublime. I know it divides opinion, but the best blends often do. Upon opening the tin you are greeted with a predominantly yellow shag (or at least very fine ribbon) with black flecks, which has been pressed into a block. The smell from the tin is wonderfully rich, deep, fruitiness. The tobacco benefits from 15-30 mins drying time to really make it sing.

Plum Cake Mixture lights easily and rewards when packed correctly. It needs to be sipped or it could potentially bite. The casing, though sweet and fruity, is clearly derived from natural flavourings and I detect no chemicals whatsoever. Additionally there is a proper spiciness to the smoke which tickles the back of the nose on exhaling, similar to that of Perique. Lovely.

Alongside the quality Virginia and "plum" flavours is a touch of anise and an almost powdery element. Someone mentioned that this blend transports them to Victorian England and I can see why. This is what we imagine the world used to taste like.

The nicotine level is low, but this is not a weak smoke. To someone who usually favours strong blends, I still find myself satisfied by this blend.It is a delight. It does exactly what it says on the tin.

Don't be swayed by negative reviews. If you think this blend may appeal to you, grab a tin and find out for yourself.
Pipe Used: MM Legend Corn Cob
PurchasedFrom: Smoke-King.co.uk
Age When Smoked: New
14 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 26, 2011 Mild to Medium Medium Medium Tolerable
First off, to the star rating. I struggled with how to rate this. On the one hand, I have been smoking from the same tin for 6-8 years, so it is hardly a go to blend, and that pushed me to give it 2 stars. The flavor and experience is so singular, however, that it really deserves some special recognition. I give it three stars, therefore, because when you have a hankering for this, even if that only occurs once every six months, there is nothing else that will take its place.

Update: I am not changing anything but wanted to state that now that I am out, and it is so hard to find, I really miss it. It is very unique both in cut and flavor, so when you have a hankering nothing else will scratch that itch like the real thing.

If I had to guess, I would say that they start with a base very similar to that which they use for their Royal Jersey blends. It is the same ribbon/shag cut virginia base. I find a little spice in this when I smoke it, which could be from some use of perique, or from the topping applied. I have Royal Jersey Perique, and they are not worlds apart. In the tin it has a very unique aroma. I do not know what the heck makes up the plum cake topping, but I really cannot think of any one thing that it emulates. It is a sweet odor, with a faint hint of licorice, and something else, maybe tonquin. Germain refers to it as "honey sweet." There is cavendish there, but not a huge amount, and some other black tobacco which may be what is referenced in the description above, which, as others have noted, is different from what is stated by Germain.

I find all ribbon cuts a little tricky to get going, as you have to keep tamping them down when they start to burn. After the 3rd or 4th time though this will settle into a nice even burn which required few relights. It can bite if you smoke it fast or too wet, but when smoked slowly is generally cool. I find the strength to be mild to medium. There is definitely some nicotine there, and it would probably get to you if you smoked a huge bowl of it. I like to smoke this in a smallish Becker & Musico saddle billiard. It is the right size to enjoy the flavor without things taking a turn for the worse, and, as this burns relatively quickly, provides a short, enjoyable smoke.

This will produce fine volumes of smoke. The room note is not as pleasant as the tin aroma, and my wife proclaimed this to be a "stinky one." That of course is because I do not smoke the hardcore stuff in her presence, and I could probably get her to leave not only the house, but the county if I rocked some 1792 while she was around!

Everyone should try this at least once. You may love it or hate it, but you are really missing out on a truly antique, and truly original, blend.
10 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 04, 2004 Mild Mild to Medium Mild Very Pleasant
This was one of my pipe club's tobacco bar offerings a few months ago. It is totally different in looks and smoking quality when compared to Mac Baren's blend of the same name.This Germain offering is almost a shag in cut, almost black in color and is very moist out of the tin. It has a delicious fermented fruit smell that did not match up with the taste. The general impression of my sample was that it was a solid and pleasant tobacco.

10 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 24, 2015 Mild to Medium Medium Mild to Medium Pleasant
Plum Cake has one of the most peculiar tin notes of any tobacco that I have ever come across; its weird factor is right up there with 1792 Flake. I have to admit, the first time I smoked this blend I was repulsed and I couldn't finish a single bowl of it. I jarred up the rest of the tin and put it in the giveaway pile. That was a good four months ago. In the interim, I found a couple other J. F. Germain produced aromatics to be quite to my liking, so I figured why not try this one again. Much to my surprise, I found some enjoyment in this oddball traditional British aromatic. It’s good, but very different and very much what I would consider to be an acquired taste.

The tin aroma smells like a combination of spiced wine & dark rum, with hints of vanilla extract and licorice. The flavor improves and tastes more balanced with a bit of dry time. When lit, there’s a mild palpable tobacco flavor, a sweet mustiness and a slight acidic high note. By mid bowl the tobacco flavor strengthens, delivering a light spicy smoke with hints of anise & dark dried fruit, (kind of a currant and apricot flavor). The aromatic flavors are subtle but well nuanced, making this a better choice for moderate to lower temperature weather. Plum Cake is very smooth and burns cool with absolutely no bite.

Recommended, albeit with some reservations.
8 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 31, 2011 Mild Medium Mild Pleasant to Tolerable
Dark brown ribbon, nicely packed in the tin with a layer of cellophane. The tobacco appears to be of high quality but the results were ghastly. I could only make it through 3 bowls of this.

The first bowl was fresh from the tin (2 year old tin) and the flavor was of the Erinmore/tastebud wrenching sickly sweet stewed fruit variety. Quite objectionable. Even worse, this stuff burned hot. So I dried out the next bowl and was rewarded with tongue bite, although it did subdue that nasty flavor somewhat. For the third bowl, I re-hydrated and the flavor became sour and bitter. The tongue bite remained. Since no one else was bothered by this, I assume the tobacco and I simply don't agree.

My one star means "Not Recommended" and that's not entirely true. I think there are enough smokers that get better results than I that if someone is in the market for a fairly heavily cased tobacco of decent quality leaf, this might do the trick. As for me, let's just say that if this blend ever joins the ranks of those that are continually out of stock, I won't be one iota of the cause. The tin description states that this may be the only blend containing the specially prepared black tobacco. I certainly hope that's true. I did see where this is sometimes spelled as "Plumb Cake" in certain circles, which I think is appropriate. It does taste like what I would imagine those urinal cakes taste like.
8 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 20, 2017 Mild to Medium Very Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
This blend was my first fro Germain's blends.once you break the seal a nice fruity,honey with some wine notes smell comes out,wich never appeared in the flavours while smoking.the blend moisture is ok and the shag cut has a very soft and smooth texture.while smoking it behaves totally differend than promised.it has a complexity wich is not always pleasant.the main player is the air cured virginias wich are mostly smoky and subtlimate the other compoments.some citruses,grass and earthy notes are present in the backround too.the nicotine level is almost medium and the room note is ok.the moisture being created is a lot.no tongue bite appeared.burns very cool and slow.generally it reminded me some cigarette rolling tobaccos.it can be an all day smoke.
Age When Smoked: Straight from the tin
7 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 18, 2006 Mild to Medium Medium Mild to Medium Pleasant
This blend was a definite surprise in that it is a time-machine in the form of tobacco, read on...

Appearance and Tin Aroma: smells like some sort of oil essence. I cannot put my finger on what it is, it is a little scary too. This is almost a shag cut of yellow and black leaf. The room I am in begins to get fuzzy.

Packing and Lighting: The long ribbons are a little fussy to pack. The moisture is a bit high, but settles down after 4-5 re-lights. My office lights have turned into oil lamps, my ballpoint pens have turned into feathers with an inkwell...

Initial Flavor: The aromatic agent is there firmly, but it tastes much better than it smells. The leaf is flavorful, but mild. I walk to my car only to find that it is a horse. Also, my clothes seemed to have changed and I realize I am now wearing a top hat!

Mid-Bowl: This blend is really growing on me, it is smooth, mellow, but the leaf is flavorful in-spite of the aromatic agent.The room note is wonderful as well. I now find myself riding my horse not in Orange County, CA, but London circa 1880AD

Bottom of Bowl: It ends too quickly! It does not build up much strength, but ends with a clean and dry ash that practically floats away as you dump it. I immediately reload and start all over in this wonderful journey. Yes, I am in London before the turn of 19th century and in the company of other gents who have nodded politely as thay catch a whiff of my pipe's smoke. As my second bowl ends, I find myself back in the hustle and bustle of Southern California, too bad...

Overall: I really enjoyed this blend. Will it replace my other blends? No, but it will be a ocassional part of my rotation. It really is a time-machine type blend. It does everything in a very subdued, classy way, just like the gentlemen of old Victorian England. This would be a perfect blend to smoke while reading or watching "Pride and Prejudice". Yes, I have acquired a half-dozen tins to keep for the cellar. Give it a try...
7 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 01, 2014 Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Medium Pleasant
Of my most recent TAD purchase, I am finding Germain's Plum Cake a very nice smoke. I asked for advice before pulling the trigger from fellow pipers on what to buy and even took some of it. I also broke my self-imposed limits on TAD purchases, and my wife was totally fine with it.

Seriously, I have the greatest wife. Hang on, I'm gonna go kiss her. . . . . . Ok, I'm back.

Plum Cake is a delicate ribbon cut of mostly lighter colored tobaccos. Tin note is delightfully fruity with a darker hint of wine. Delicious smelling, like a high-end dessert. The smoking differs from the tin note quite a bit. It is rich and dark with hints of fruit popping in and out, certainly more tobacco forward than the tin note suggests it will be. It's a surprisingly complex and subtle smoke. Floral, fruity--dark, dried fruit, noticeable Virgina sweetness, an intriguing spiciness, which with the dark fruit, suggests perique. Very intriguing.

The Germain website says the mixture is four Virginas blended with cavendish and a "specially prepared black tobacco". Hmmm.

Nicotine-wise, it's on the medium to mild side (YMMV). It is weaker than Grousemoor, which also came in my shipment, but stronger than most American-style burleys, which I've also been smoking quite a bit of.

A civilized, fascinating, and well-done pipe tobacco, it certainly goes on my ORDER SOME MORE WHNE I RUN OUT list.
6 people found this review helpful.
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