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 - 11 of 148 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 10, 2023 Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable
I have recently reviewed Gawith & Hoggarth's Rum Flake, which I thought heavily influenced G.L. Pease's Sixpence. Well, I also believe that their Dark Bird's Eye heavily influenced Pease's Penny Farthing. Despite some differences in ingredients and process and despite the fact that I have not smoked them side by side, my memory tells me that beyond their shared cut - they are extremely similar.

Tin Note of smoke perfume, leather, musty, floral.

The smoke carries on those notes, alongside soap, earth, and a bit of citrus sweetness. Others detected a Lakeland essence, which might be in there in small portions, but I also believe that the Lakeland flavor, in this case, comes primarily from the soapiness and perfume of the Dark Fired Kentucky. The description suggests that the Virginia has been Dark-Fired as well, making it black and smokey.

The flavor transforms throughout the smokes from the sweet-perfume into a smokey wood. The strength also picks up (more on that later) as you go down the bowl.

This blend smoked perfectly with a bit of drying time. It doesn't arrive overly moist, but I like my tobacco fairly dry, especially in this case. Once it arrived at the perfect dryness, it smokes very easy and delivers more clear flavors. It smokes fast and a bit hot if you're not careful, but does not give tongue bite. The shag cut makes it very easy to just fill up your pipe and go, with minimal relights, if any at all.

I did not get anywhere near the strength that others did, unfortunately. For me this has been consistently medium in both strength and body. Smoked well in all pipe sizes and shapes, but smoking it in a small bowl brought out a bit more of the strength. If it's not too strong for you either, this is an excellent all-day blend for Dark Fired Kentucky lovers. In fact, I've smoked it exclusively for a few days to help me avoid cigarettes and alongside a stronger blend, this was of huge help. It also pairs very well both with coffee and a good spirit.

Couple of other reviews got an awful menthol vibe towards the bottom of the bowl which had a bit of a numbing effect on the tongue. That happened to me when I smoked it just a bit too fast. So my advice is to take it easy on the puffing.

I gave G.L. Pease's Penny Farthing three stars, but Dark Bird's Eye gets four from me. Maybe I'll return to Penny Farthing and see that my taste has changed. But meanwhile, Dark Bird's Eye has been a lot of fun. Get some, let it dry for a bit, put it in your pipe and enjoy the smoke. No fussing, no playing around. Straightforward joy.
Age When Smoked: 1.5 years
2 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 25, 2012 Strong Very Mild Full Tolerable to Strong
The sweet, deep, rich earthy, woody, fermented tangy dark fruit from the Virginias, and nutty, lightly woody, earthy, spicy, floral, herbal, vegetative, dry and lightly sour Kentucky will fill your senses. The Kentucky is the lead component. It reminds me a little of Kendall Kentucky, which is less sweet, and a little stronger in intensity and nicotine, but this is no light weight blend. The strength is potent and the taste is full. The nic-hit is in the center of medium to strong. Won't bite or get harsh even if you're working at it. Has a few small rough edges mixed in with some smoothness. It may need a little drying time when you first open the bag. Thin cut, it burns at a slightly slow pace, cool, clean with a very consistent sweet and savory, floral flavor. Leaves some moisture in the bowl, and requires some relights. Has a pleasant, lingering after taste, and strong room note. Not an all day smoke. Smoke it in a small bowl or have a little something on your stomach if you use a bigger pipe for it.

47 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 09, 2002 Very Strong Very Mild Very Full Very Pleasant
I recently smoked a bowl of this powerful, yet delicious tobacco at a pipe club Christmas dinner. Not only was the company outstanding, so was this delightful, shag cut tobacco.

If I had smoked this at home, I would have given the leaf a whirl in my blender because the shaggy strands were too long for an easy pack job. The strength will make the veteran puffer giddy with excitement. The neophyte on the other hand, may swoon, drool and topple over.

Rich, smooth, creamy and mounds of smoke. Cool too. What more could a pipe man (or woman) ask for? On second thought, I don't think the women will want to try Dark Birdseye because this blend will put hair on your chest!
37 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 10, 2007 Strong None Detected Full Pleasant
UPDATE: Because of the amount of this tobacco that I consume and the frequency at which I consume it - I felt compelled to revisit my review. I have elevated this from 3 to 4 stars.

This is now in the forefront of my daily rotation. It is strong - but not overwhelming. For me ... slow ... shallow puffs gives me the most enjoyment.

Not unlike Fairmorn's Dark Fired Shag there is an unmistakable smoky quality when flue cured with oak. But - this IMHO is a better smoke for a few reasons, not limited to wonderful fine ribbon cut. The overall tobacco is more pleasant and the faint Lakeland Distict cologne may have a great deal to do with it. If one is so inclined to enjoy an occasional pinch of tobacco in the cheek (I'm not talking about those candied floor cuttings they pawn off as chew or that fiberglass laden crap one dips) - you wouldn't be disappointed in this at all either.

This tobacco loves aging and becomes sweeter, more complex and the faint Lakeland scent lingers in the background. I find the room note draws no complaints, which is mind-boggling considering the stoutness of the tobacco.

Cheers, VC

9/21/05 - This is the equivalent of a doppio espresso in pipe smoking for me. It's simple, straightforward and strong. It has it's own bit of complexity and lanquishes in the deep tones.

Fill is easy, burns cool yet quick and is the perfect full flavor short smoke. In my experience this is best for a small bowl despite its fast burning qualities, great in a cob. I smoke this when I don't have time for my ritual but would like my satisfaction. The perfect tobacco for a long walk off a short pier.

Cheers, VC
32 people found this review helpful.
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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
Jul 11, 2016 Strong Extremely Mild Full Pleasant to Tolerable
Sweet, dark fired, natural tobacco flavor with just a hint of Lakeland in the background. I like this flavor very much. I also like the strength of this smoke. If it were a weapon it would be a blunt instrument. I have smoked this in small bowls only and can't imagine ever using a large one. It's just not necessary or desirable. If you like your tobacco strong and natural you owe it to yourself to try this. If you have an aversion to Lakeland flavor, don't sweat it as it's barely noticed. It's actually a nice touch.

Body is full (strong). Taste is full. Lakeland is extremely mild. Burns perfectly. Wonderful stuff.
Pipe Used: Ropp Acorn, MM Dwarf, MM Little Devil Acorn
Age When Smoked: fresh bulk
22 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
Apr 10, 2014 Medium to Strong None Detected Full Tolerable to Strong
This is the espresso vermicelli of tobaccos! And the last time I enjoyed virginia like this was with Ratray's Black, only you don't have to fight Bird's Eye, in fact it is nothing but easy to pack, light, smoke, tip out ash, and clean after. The long long fine shag cut is great and so is the deep dark caramelized flavor. The strength is just strong and very predictable - nothing to be afraid of. Bag note is a bit intimidating and don't be scared off by this, but it reminds me of a stinky dog's ear and coffee beans (now you have to buy some). Flavor is simple but full and if you've been smoking brown twist, you'll surely recognize this as one componet of those more complex tobaccos.

A few notes.... Packing the pipe is as easy as it gets and there is absolutely no marginal material in the product. No woody bits or clumps that need to be fussed with. Lighting the fine shag is easy as is tamping it. Because the vermicelli like strands are deep seated in the pipe, you can tip out the ash as you smoke without fear of dumping out the unburnt tobacco. This is a good to the bottom of the bowl tobacco; never sour but it does get potent. Nice clean pipe afterwards no gooey sugar mess or heavy soot to clean. Like most Gawith products, this is quality UK style. Treat yourself to something other than cheap!
Pipe Used: MM Diplomat COB
PurchasedFrom: smokingpipes
Age When Smoked: fresh bulk
14 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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