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 - 11 of 86 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 17, 2016 Mild None Detected Extremely Mild (Flat) Unnoticeable
I bought a pouch of this as I had forgotten my tobacco on a fishing trip and it was all the newsagents had. I'm not gonna waste time going into depth but it brought nothing to the table and ended up in the trash, burned quickly, tasted bland and left me thinking how has this stuff survived for so long?

My advice is as this is the same price as most premium your money...don't bother
Pipe Used: Falcon hunter
PurchasedFrom: B&M
Age When Smoked: Fresh
1 person found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 14, 2016 Mild Extremely Mild Very Mild Pleasant
The Virginias offer tart and tangy citrus with a fair amount of grass/hay, a few small floral notes, sugar, and a little peppery spice and wood. The earthy burleys provide mild molasses and nuts with a very light smoky woodiness and even lighter cocoa hit. The interplay between the varietals is well balanced as you notice all their inherent aspects in every puff, though the Virginias take the lead. The discreetly applied topping is sweet with a little fruity citrus, and does not sublimate the tobaccos. The strength is mild. The nic-hit is a shade past mild. The taste is very mild with mild strength. The tobacco is a little moist out of a freshly opened tin, but not enough to require any dry time, and I do not recommend drying this out. Being a shag cut, it burns at a slightly more than a moderate pace. I suggest a slow puffing cadence. Locomotive puffing may cause you to risk a light cigarette note. I experienced no bite or harshness. It does have a few very small rough edges. Produces a fair amount of smoke. Burns well with a cool, clean, consistent flavor as it easily burns to ash. Virtually leaves no moisture in the bowl. Has a short lived pleasant, woody after taste and a room note, neither of which is strong. An all day innocuous smoke without much body or strength. You won’t have to think about it much as you go about your business.

21 people found this review helpful.
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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
Mar 19, 2007 Medium Very Mild Medium Very Pleasant
Gold Block is not receiving the best of reviews here (for the most part), and that is no doubt because so many reviewers have only smoked the newer Mac Baren's pouched version which is not even a ghost of the original Ogden's produced Gold Block, which was a classic blend with deeply rich Virginia and Burley leaf that was almost black in color due to the special processing that made the palate squeal with delight. If you find an old tin of this stuff, pay the extra nickel to make it your own!

The tin I smoked was quite aged, perhaps 8-10 years. I'm here to tell you that it aged well. The shag cut and sublime Virginia/Burley leaf was peppered with an unusually naturally sweet flavor that I thoroughly enjoyed. It did indeed smoke cool, burn slow and provide lots of smoke. If you want a "tobacco tasting" tobacco with an unusual sweetness that is certainly unique, live on the wild side and try a bowl of this delightful blend.
8 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
Oct 26, 2020 Mild to Medium Mild Mild Pleasant
Ahh, Serendipity!

I don't order tobaccos much anymore, mainly because I have a cellar that should keep me going easily for a couple lifetimes. The other day I ran out of pipe cleaners, so off to smoking to order some. There, flashing across the header is an advertisement for a tobacco on sale. Gold Block huh? I have heard of it, but never payed it much attention. The site says the tins they have are from 2016. Really? Well, like any good American consumer, I do what we do best. Impulse buy, pull the trigger, and man am I glad I did.

I like this one, and I mean I like it a lot. There is just something about it. The reason I know I like it, is because I have a palate with ADHD. I smoke a blend, and often halfway through the bowl I am already thinking about what I will smoke next. With this one? I can't help but to reload the bowl and smoke it again. It doesn't happen often.

This is a hide and seek blend. Don't know what that is? That is because it is a phrase I made up. You see, some blends are unflappable. I think of the iconic drug store burleys. When I light up carter hall, I get the same flavor no matter what. If I sit and concentrate, I get the same flavor, if I am mowing the lawn, I get the same flavor.

These hide and seek blends are the opposite. Every once in a while this fantastic sweet flavor pops up, and I love it. The second I am not paying attention, it disappears. Then I have to slow down, focus and find it again. It is like hide and seek for the taste buds. It may sound annoying, but for me, it is terribly exciting.

This has a sweet and slightly vinegary smell in the tin. The tobaccos are mostly lighter in color. What used to come ( I have heard) in a crumble cake type of block, not comes as a mass of very very long strings of tobacco, which, as a gravity feed bowl packer, I found rather annoying and impossible to pack. I usually end up taking large pinches and tearing it to shreds. Once this is done it packs easily.

The taste is of a nice high end Virginia, with a subtle, yet delicious and perfect sweet kinda taste. I really can't characterize it as anything specific, but oh man is it good. Smoke slow, and concentrate and you will be rewarded with it. Be careful though, if rushed, this blend can come off as a pretty boring blend. Due to the very fine ribbon cut, I find, even though I try and smoke it very slow, the bowl is rather quick, even in my larger pipes. It seems to be a fast burner.

You might find this boring, like other reviewers here, or you might be like me, and find yourself thinking all day about smoking it when you get home. There is only one way to find out which it will be.......
Age When Smoked: 4 years Old
6 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 16, 2012 Very Mild Medium Extremely Mild (Flat) Strong
First tried this in the 80s - it was a very popular tobacco at the time, found everywhere and lots of English smokers smoked it.

I thought it burned very hot, savaged your tongue and tasted mostly of white pepper with a slight overtone of Lavender soap. The room note wasn't so much a tobacco-related odour as an acrid smell that wasn't very strong but caught you in the back of the throat.

As you may have guessed, I didn't like it.

Tried it again last week. It hasn't improved.
6 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
Mar 17, 2012 Mild Mild Mild Pleasant to Tolerable
I used to buy this when I was about 17 (I'm 39 now) and it came in a nice vacuum packed square olive coloured tin. The tobacco then, smelt of honey and mild fruit and was a light coloured mixture that had a hint of stickiness. It literally did look like a little 'block of gold' wrapped in white grease proof style paper.

It smoked well and had a nice room note. But that was then..

As with most other reviews about Gold block today's incarnation is a sad sad shadow of its former self. A completely different blend that is cigarette like, hot burning, and bland as a plain wall coated in magnolia paint.

1 out of 4 stars for the current production. 3 out of 4 stars for the 1989 version.
5 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 02, 2009 Mild Mild Mild Pleasant to Tolerable
This stuff has its place in the pipe smoking world. If you're an amateur blender and you have a concoction that won't take the match so well, add some of this. It doesn't impart much flavor and it will improve the burn rate.

Smoked by itself, this is an overly blase smoke that burns rather quick. It will certainly smoke hot if you allow it to but puffed temperately, this is cool enough. I just found it bland but if bland is what you want, this is your ticket. I plan to keep it stored for blending, and it really helped out one of my Vapers burn properly and also toned down an overly rich taste. Nice! Of course, some shag or finely cut burley will do the same trick at a lower cost.
5 people found this review helpful.
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