Gawith, Hoggarth & Co. Dark Bird's Eye

Manufactured from dark tobacco 'whole leaf' rather than strips, the mid-rib (or stem) gives the 'birds eye' effect when cut. A strong smoke which was particularly favored by the fishermen as the finer cut meant the tobacco was easier to light and to keep-in on board ship when the weather was bad.
Notes: This is a combination of dark-fired whole leaf Virginias and mid-rib fine cut Kentucky leaf rolled and sliced to make 'bird's eyes'. This fine shag cut was preferred by fisherman and sailors because it was very easy to pack and light.


Brand Gawith, Hoggarth & Co.
Blended By Gawith, Hoggarth & Co.
Manufactured By Gawith, Hoggarth & Co.
Blend Type Virginia/Burley
Contents Kentucky, Virginia
Cut Shag
Packaging Bulk
Country United Kingdom
Production Currently available


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

Average Rating

3.30 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 10 of 60 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 13, 2010 Strong Extremely Mild Full Tolerable
Going through a lot of G&H tobaccos lately has shown me just how much that strength is relative to the smoker. Yes, this one is strong, but I found it a lot milder than Kendal Dark or the black ropes, none of which I can smoke. This one reminds me of Kendal Kentucky but does not have the full depth of flavor to my taste buds.

This is a rich, bold tobacco but not a head-spinner. This, along with Kendal Kentucky, is what I would offer someone that said that they just wanted to taste tobacco with no soap, florals, leather, wood, spices, etc etc. Just pure tobacco. I did find the faintest trace of lakeland soapiness here but it was SO faint, it may have even been my imagination. I'll keep this one around. It's just so ironic to me that G&H can make the "best" strong tobaccos and the "worst" ones at the same time - IMHO, of course!
27 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 07, 2016 Extremely Strong Extremely Mild Very Full Pleasant
Gawith Hoggarth - Dark Bird's Eye. I could use one simple word for this review: STRONG! However I'll try to do better, albeit, this site already includes pretty much everything that needs to be said.

I'm impressed by the cut as I was unsure what 'Birds Eye' would resemble. It turns out that the contents are very uniformly cut; all long and quite thin ribbons. The smell from the pouch makes me expect a smoke that tastes a little fired; it has a smoky, almost liquorice type of scent. It packs and lights easily, so I'll give my opinion on the smoke:

My initial thoughts are all to do with the strength; whether or not you inhale your smoke this will about knock you out. It's definitely one for the nicotine lovers! Putting the huge amount of nicotine aside, I have to admit I like this stuff; 1: it doesn't bite me at any point whilst enjoying a bowl, not even a nip. 2: I find the smoke is cool and velvety. 3: the smoky flavour I discovered in the pouch note is still around on the palate too, don't expect a Latakia resemblance, I don't find it that smoky or woody, I find it has more of of very mild charred addition and maybe also the subtle liquorice note I got from the bag. 4: the room note is exactly as the taste suggests: full and slightly smoky.

This is quite an enjoyable smoke; not one I could regularly smoke due to the strength but it still gets three stars for the other qualities.

Pipe Used: Peterson Sherlock Holmes Lestrade
PurchasedFrom: Robert Graham
Age When Smoked: New
18 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 20, 2013 Strong None Detected Full Tolerable to Strong
Dark Birdseye is a glorious tobacco. It bears a strong family resemblance to some of my favorite strong smokes like the Gawith brown ropes, Peterson’s Irish Flake, and G&H’s muscular Dark Flake Unscented. The potent dark-fired leaf here tastes like smoked meat lightly sprinkled with baker’s chocolate. It’s quite high in nicotine. It can be bitter on occasion. If I smoke it too often, I can get bored with its monolithic flavor.

But as an occasional treat (the doctors tell us that’s how we should treat bacon anyway), it doesn’t suffer from familiarity. Richer than dark fired Kentucky, the fired Virginias here have enough sweetness to balance the smoky, savory elements. I find that a small bowl is all I really need of this and it’s best accompanied by a peaty Islay whisky or a black beer with some smoky undertones.

I haven’t had any problems with this stuff arriving too dry, as others have. If anything, I usually find that it needs to be dried to just this side of crispy if it’s going to work well for me.
14 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 21, 2018 Strong Very Mild Full Pleasant to Tolerable
The cut is not so thin as 5 Bros or something like Drum. I would characterize it as very fine long ribbon. The color is a uniform very dark brown - almost black, and the pouch note is smokey and slightly sweet. Mine was delivered slightly moist, but I smoked it as delivered and did not worry about drying it. I but found it smoked better firmly packed, and it seemed to favor wide bowls.

This is a strong tobacco. I think it has the edge here on Kendal Kentucky which says a lot. You are warned. The Kendal Kentucky has a fuller flavor in the first few puffs, but this one builds.

Compared to Kendal Kentucky, this is sweeter and earthier. The Kendal Kentucky has a little more spice in the snork. Dark Bird's Eye has a rich taste that really grows on you. It is easy to keep lit, and is an easy smoke.It is a little thick in terms of mouth texture or "feel." There is just a whiff of Lakeland sauce every now and then.

This is a great smoke, but it is strong and full-flavored. It will not be suited to every smoker. It is expensive for a cheap guy, but I do find I am very fond of it. It is a solid 3.5 in that I sprang for a 500 g sack during a sale.
10 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 10, 2013 Strong Mild Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable
I am currently smoking this offering in a large bowl English straight stem London Export pipe (one of my absolute favorite smoking pipes) as I write this review. I felt it proper to engage this tobacco in an environment of hand to hand combat, ignoring "don't ever smoke it in a large bowl, sit down whilst smoking", worst case scenario type of environment, given it's reviews and my gluttony for punishment.

What a bunch of guffaw! This is a fine tobacco that behaves like an absolute Gentleman if treated with respect. It is most definitely strong in the nicotine department, but I find it odd that some reviewers have dinged it for being such whilst knowing what they were getting into. If you like a tobacco that is strong in the nicotine department without a cigar like taste and aroma as is common with some Gawith rope and twist tobacco, this one is for you. My "El Dictator" gave it's room note a thumbs up. It most definitely has a sweet, mild topping that is present to me only while exhaling through the nose and not on the palate.

Smoking this offering in a large bowl did, however, make me sit down, if I wanted to contemplate it's nuances further. I found this wonderful. My one complaint about this tobacco is that it is nearly a shag cut. I think a ribbon cut would have done it more justice. It packs very dense if not careful, and can be a bit harsh on the nostrils when exhaled through the nose. It is somewhat wet and requires a very slight (15 minutes in my air conditioned living room) drying time prior to packing the bowl.

It is spicy, but with no tongue bite. It burns very cool if sipped but will attack the throat if sipping is not your style of smoking a pipe.

This is a stellar smoke as an after dinner, before bedtime offering, or paired with a nice single malt Scotch or quality Kentucky Bourbon. Not an all day smoke to be certain, but absolutely nothing to be afraid of if treated properly.

I truly enjoyed my 8 ounces and will order more in the near future. A great smoke once figured out in your best smoking pipe. Recommended!
10 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 01, 2015 Strong Extremely Mild Full Tolerable to Strong
This is a stout and moderately spicy tobacco that also smokes smooth, balanced and full of flavor. The evenly cut shag practically guarantees a steady burn with very few relights. At a slow sip the strength is firm but not overwhelming. The flavors are dark, bittersweet and smoky. From time to time I’ll detect a subtle floral note in the side-stream, but for the most part, Dark Bird’s Eye represents the pure tobacco flavor constituent of Gawith & Hoggarth’s stable of blends.

I agree with those who have mentioned how well this stuff ages. The Dark Bird's Eye that I stashed away has definitely sweetened and smoothed out nicely over the last three years. It’s not an everyday kind of smoke for me, but it’s always good.
Pipe Used: Briar & Cob
Age When Smoked: 3 years
5 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 29, 2014 Strong None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong
The fine cut helps with packing and keeping it lit which is good because you will need to seep it in order to get the most of it and also to help you with the potency of this tobacco. A small pipe with a long stem is in order as you will not need more than a 20 minute rendez-vous with your pipe.

There is a caramelized burnt onion taste than I find interesting, a smoky and pungent flavor that remains constant through the entire bowl. A stout, old style pipe tobacco that is good after a meal or late evening.

Virginia lover
5 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 30, 2018 Very Strong Mild Full Tolerable
I (somewhat) recently added reviews of Kendal Dark and Kendal Kentucky, so it remains to round those out with an impression of this related shag, Dark Bird's Eye.

It shares much in common with the other two, but the nose is less woody compared with KK, and less floral than the KD. Moisture is smoking-ready, and a tight pack will do you well.

The taste is astringent - dry, a bit of that rancid chocolate found in KD, and prickly on the tongue - and it leaves my mouth feeling like a good espresso recently passed through. This stuff will enervate ya, lots of taste and nicotine. I prefer it in smaller bowls, but it does well in bigger pipes, too - just takes more 'sittings' to consume.

One of the things I appreciate about DBE is that you can leave a half-enjoyed pipe and come back to it hours/days/weeks later, and in about 3 puffs, it is right back where left off, albeit knocked up a notch.

KK is still my fave of the 3, but this is an easy recommendation for those who like strong shag cuts and the general G&H flavour profile.

A whirlwind tour of English colonial history in your pipe.
Age When Smoked: Recent
4 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 08, 2013 Very Strong None Detected Very Full Very Strong
Once a true shag cut now more of a narrow ribbon thanks to the European 1.5mm cut rule for pipe tobacco.

Like most G&H tobaccos it's old-fashioned, pretty unique and has a hint of unrefined brutality about it. Dark fired leaf with surprisingly little of the birdseye that gives it's name. As supplied it's a little damp but immediately smokable, as it dries the colour lightens a little with some strands becoming a more mid-brown in colour similar to the air-dried Indian leaf in the dark range. I find this is most flavourful smoked on the damp side, and despite it's name nothing like the dark shag/flake/plug range.

Cool and virtually bite-free unless allowed to dry too much, it produces lots of smoke and burns cleanly and with little if any dottle. The flavour is smoky, pungent, very full and unchanging throughout the bowl. I recommend small, narrow bowls - I'm quite used to strong tobaccos, but the combination of high nocotine and loads of smoke give this one a real punch. Not quite a brown rope, but pretty powerful and stout. My 80 year-old father-in-law has smoked nothing but G&H black ropes for all his life, but Dark Birdseye even made him stagger a bit. It's supposed to be unscented by the way - no Lakeland florals or anything else, "Kendal/Lakeland" is a place, not a description of a particular flavour of tobacco.

My wife reckons the room note is fine when smoked in small quantities, but it counts as an acrid chemical weapon requiring immediate evacuation of the vicinity if fired up in a larger bowl.

The cut means it burns quickly, but it also burns quite cooly. I find a Peterson Belgique or similar "clay pipe" sized small bowl is great for a 20ish minute smoke when out and about. It also keeps it's flavour outdoors, which is useful.

Finally, it doesn't ghost at all and builds cake very quickly - it excels as as a tobacco for breaking in a new briar.

Recommended for those who like strong, stout old-fashioned tobaccos with plenty of unique flavour.

ps - I defy anyone to inhale this without exploding 🙂
4 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 29, 2021 Strong Extremely Mild Full Strong
Has a nice little sweet and bitter thing going on, caramel, ketchup, pepper, sourdough, chocolate and some floral notes. A tiny hint of the Lakeland essence (which I think all G&H products have) but nothing that will stick around for long. Pretty one note, and nice and strong, but that's not a big deal because the burn time is fairly short, even when packed tight. Medium to full body and won't bite, even if you try.

If you like Irish flake or ODF chances are you'll like this, it isn't quite as complex as the aforementioned but it is easy to pack and light and packs one hell of a punch. I routinely smoke this stuff to the bottom without relights. Great for a quick little pick-me-up, or a morning bowl on the way to work, or any other time when you need a short, stout, full bodied smoke.
3 people found this review helpful.
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