Mac Baren Gold Block

Virginia, burley tobaccos sweetened by a secret process. Smoke this tobacco peacefully. Pouch blurb: "An aromatic blend of bright Virginia and rich burley tobaccos. Finest quality leaf for a subtle smoke."
Notes: Now owned and made by MacBaren. From P&C's website: Gold Block from Ogden's of Liverpool was known for being one of the most widely available pipe tobaccos in the UK. This smooth and relaxing blend of sweet, bright Virginia and mellow white burley is treated to a pleasant top note which allows the user to get real tobacco flavor, while delivering an enticing room note. For anyone who is looking for an all day blend, or for a lightly flavored tobacco for earlier in the day, Gold Block is certain to please.


Brand Mac Baren
Blended By Mac Baren
Manufactured By Mac Baren
Blend Type Aromatic
Contents Burley, Virginia
Flavoring Sweet / Sugar
Cut Ribbon
Packaging 50 grams tin weight, 50 grams pouch weight
Country Denmark
Production Currently available


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

Average Rating

2.09 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 10 of 21 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 10, 2012 Mild Mild Very Mild Pleasant to Tolerable
I'm not sure why Gold Block has been reviewed so unfavourably by so many posters. I agree that it's not a patch on what it was years ago; but of what OTC blend is this not true? My late father-in-law loved it and introduced me to it forty years ago, and there's no denying that it's not the same now as it was then. The big difference, I think, is the omission of Cavendish from its present incarnation. Also, the demise of the tin is to be regretted. Sold in pouches in B&Ms, it is often very dry when you get it (though it isn't hard to rehydrate).

Nonetheless, I think there's still a lot to be said in its favour. It's a mild tobacco with a very subtle, sweetish flavour that you'll miss unless you smoke it as slowly as possible. Also, it'll burn away very quickly and fry your tongue unless you smoke it as slowly as possible. The answer, of course, is to smoke it as slowly as possible! GB is certainly not for the furious puffer, but it will reward you if you treat it properly; it's a tobacco for someone who doesn't want anything too distracting or fancy. The problem that people have with GB is, I suspect, precisely that it is so mild and unassuming: it's an all-day smoke that you can just light and forget while you get on with something else; it makes no demands on you at all, but for that reason doesn't offer much to interest the connoisseur. I'm inclined to describe it as a cheaper and less sophisticated version of Fribourg and Treyer's Golden Mixture. On its own, I'd recommend it, but with the reservation that you won't like it if you are looking for strong flavours or a big Vitamin N hit.

The money-shot is this, though: mix Gold Block 50/50 with Ogden's St Bruno (flake or ready-rubbed; it doesn't matter), let the result stand for a few days in a jar, and you'll have a very fine smoke indeed. People have taken to calling this "Ogden's Mixture," and I've reviewed it separately under that name. To my mind, it's an absolutely outstanding smoke that I'd recommend to anyone.
13 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 31, 2017 Mild Extremely Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant
Mac Baren - Gold Block.

This always makes me smile as I remember the UK TV advert with Ballard Berkeley from Fawlty Towers: where, when offered a fill of it off a fellow golf club member he produced the worlds biggest pipe!

Although no toppings are listed the pouch has a caramel-esc aroma. The moisture's good, it's ready to go right away.

The smoke has a subtle sweetness, a chocolate/molasses note, but I think a lot of that emanates from the burley. Although the smoke's sweet it doesn't necessarily imply much of a casing. The Virginia offers grass, hay, but little dark fruit, or deeper Virginia traits. As a bowl burns a peppery flavour comes forward. It burns well and doesn't bite.

Nicotine: mild. Room-note: pleasant.

A nice blend but not quite a four star smoke. Recommended:

Three stars.

Pipe Used: Various
PurchasedFrom: Various
Age When Smoked: Various
10 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 23, 2019 Mild Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant
Not a real review, I normally save those for when I've finished a tin, and really got to know the tobacco, but I thought I'd recount an experience. I'll add that I've always avoided Gold Block mostly due to the reviews on this website and the accounts of friends who have tried it.

So, I ordered two Northern Briars Liverpool pipes, having moved to Liverpool and scoured the tobacconists for a pipe in this shape. I like long shanked pipes, and it seemed appropriate. When I went to collect them Mr Walker kindly invited me to see the workshop on his narrow boat. He had an order in the go and let me watch how they are made, and offered me a fill of Gold Block from an ancient tin on the counter, early 1990s by the look of it. How could I refuse? Tobacco made in Liverpool in a new Liverpool pipe? Perfect!

The tobacco was wonderfully sweet, a mild Virginia flavour, with nutty flavour alongside some honey notes. I was particularly impressed, having broken in my share of Petersons, that the new pipe smoked beautifully! I needed a lot of matches but I usually do with new pipes, the lack of carbon and my fear of a burnout leads me to take it really slow. The aftertaste was mild and sweet, there was no bite at all, and I ended up having a couple of bowls of this while I watched the master at work.

I'll update the review if I ever get round to trying the blend in its current form, but if you ever get to smoke 20+ year old Gold Block from a new Northern Briars pipe, I say go for it!
Pipe Used: Northern Briars Premier
PurchasedFrom: A generous gift!
Age When Smoked: >20 years
7 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 30, 2012 Mild Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Very Pleasant
It's a strange business, smoking pipe tobacco. Very often you will find that tobaccos you couldn't stand early on in your smoking 'career' suddenly become very acceptable.

I always liked the aroma of Gold Block, which is probably the most popular proprietary brand in Britain, when other people were smoking it, but I couldn't bear the stuff at all when I smoked it myself. That was 27 years ago, when I started pipe smoking (at the tender age of 40).

At that time it seemed little better than smoking hay. Now, however, I find a lot of depth in the Gold Block experience, and it barely seems like hay at all. I think the new EU regulations, which have increased the cut width of the tobacco, may have something to do with the improvement. They've given the tobacco more 'body'.

I find the stuff now to be a fairly rich, pleasant smoking experience, with good flavour and a really deep, impressive aroma. The tobacco does burn a bit fast, but not excessively so. You can't, in any case, really go wrong with a mix of Virginia and Burley, as most experienced pipe smokers will affirm.

For me, there's absolutely no tongue burn whatsoever.

I find Gold Block now to be very satisfying, and I do recommend it as a standard baccy which I'll often turn to, though I also vary my smoking a lot, as I like to smoke many different brands, as the dozens of tins displayed on my living-room wall testify.
5 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 25, 2018 Mild Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Tolerable
I have a great fondness for the older incarnation of Gold Block from the 1980s and 90s and wanted to try some of the latest iteration as blended by Mac Baren and so I bought some as a Christmas treat. Some of its behavior is as I remembered it, as in it has to be lit very gently with a careful charring light and not over enthusiastically puffed for the first few minutes or it can bite like a bitch ! I knew that from the old version and was prepared for it and smoked my way through 3 bowls with no tongue bite. There the similarity ends unfortunately. Pouch note is ok but not like the sweet honeydew I remembered. Something is missing in the flavour as well. It is merely an ok smoke and nothing like the original. Mac Baren, please revisit this and try again as It has a lot of potential if you stick to the old recipe !

Update:- Having had this pouch for 2 weeks or so I decided to revisit it and change my approach to smoking it. The weird pouch note has dissipated and it now smells more grassy. I rubbed the bejeesus out of the rather coarse cut and allowed it to dry for 30 minutes or so and was rewarded by much more flavour and a far cooler smoke. It is more like I would have expected from the older version with citrus notes and far more sweetness overall. My suggestion to anyone trying this is to allow it some time for the topping to mellow and perhaps jar it for a while. Now 3.5 stars for me.
Pipe Used: Falcon
PurchasedFrom: Tesco
Age When Smoked: Fresh
4 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 07, 2008 Mild to Medium Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant
I'm going to go against the flow on this one - I like it. I've tried all the readily available shop (or "drugstore") brands in the UK bar this one, until now. I was put off by the reviews on here.

Typical cost cutting from Imperial, no longer available in a tin - it comes in a pouch either 25g or 50g. Very lightweight tobacco, almost like cigarette tobacco.

Packs easily, burns evenly (too quickly IMO). Pleasant smoke aroma (lots of it too), good basic flavour with no topping, cool burning and no bite unless provoked. It has the taste and smell of a classic British pipe tobacco. Guess this was why it was so popular and "the aristocrat of pipe tobacco" for so long. This is the "straight" blend I've been looking for - not too heavy on the nicotine and suitable for all day smoking. As another reviewer said it leaves you wanting more. I think I'll race through the pack I have.

Loved the anecdotes on here about it being more expensive than St Bruno back in the day and also the one about the Ogdens sales rep who recommended a 50/50 mix.
4 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 24, 2020 Mild to Medium Very Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
Near perfection in mediocrity?

Gold Block is not what I normally look for in a tobacco in terms of genre and strength. Yet, the mix of Virginia and burley leaf work so well together. They are mellow, sweet, grassy, and slightly nutty. The sugary topping melds nicely with the tobaccos. I was always a bit weary trying it after seeing all the negative reviews; however, Gold Block is actually pretty good.

*This blend was based on a limited sample size.
3 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 24, 2012 Mild Very Mild Mild Tolerable to Strong
a ribbon cut mixture of of virginia and burly and perhaps other leafs but in lower percentage (bright virginia being dominant in texture and in taste). out of the pouch it has a hay grassy smell to it, the fine cut makes it easy to pack and it smokes cool if you dont pack it too tight and smoked slowly. very mild on the strength compartment and can be smoked any time of the day. burn to clean ash and leaves a clean pipe. the room note is not friendly though as with all non aromatics virginias. an easy non significant all day smoke. just put that in your pipe and smoke it!!
3 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jun 30, 2008 Very Mild Mild Very Mild Very Pleasant
I can?t think why I hadn?t reviewed this one before. Haven?t smoked it in a decade or so. A very popular blend in Britain, as I recall. It was easy to come by, not particularly expensive, and good to smoke in public. No one seemed to mind. In fact, publicans would encourage you to light up in order to produce a cosy, customer-friendly atmosphere.

Very mild, but without tongue bite, the blend?s almost natural sweetness (a topping, I presume) was redolent of cocoa beans and hazelnuts. It could become somewhat monochromatic and dull; then again I believe this tobacco was never meant to incite wondrous deeds, nor deep-contemplative inner experiences in the Balkanic/Latakian sense of the term. Rather, Gold Block seems to have been conceived as that perfect silent companion for those who enjoy a peaceful evening by the fire or sitting at a desk, surrounded by books, pen and paper.

Odgens? refer to Gold Block as the ?aristocrat of pipe tobaccos?. Personally, I wouldn?t find it an insult (to the breed or the manufacturer) to hail it as the Bassett Hound of Pipe Tobaccos.
3 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 25, 2011 Mild Very Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant
based on my 31 years of pipe smoking,i read that gold block gets very low ratings.but to me this is an ideal smoke for the first pipe of the day.i keep this one in my next smoke will be either penzance or balkan flake.also i have had no problems with tongue burn,it depends on how the pipe is packed.
2 people found this review helpful.
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