Samuel Gawith Bracken Flake

We have blended a carefully balanced selection of Kentucky & dark fired leaf to give this medium to strong flake. For the pipe smoker who seeks a satisfying smoke, then experience Bracken Flake, with its unique and alluring aroma, brought about by the application of a long-used essence.


Brand Samuel Gawith
Blended By Samuel Gawith
Manufactured By Samuel Gawith
Blend Type Virginia/Burley
Contents Kentucky, Virginia
Flavoring Other / Misc
Cut Broken Flake
Packaging 50 grams tin
Country United Kingdom
Production No longer in production


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

Average Rating

2.93 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 11 of 106 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 03, 2011 Strong Medium Full Pleasant
I thought this was an excellent tobacco and I'll certainly be smoking it again. A kinder, gentler little brother to 1792 flake? Definitely one for smoking in a small bowl.
1 person found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 06, 2013 Medium to Strong Mild Full Pleasant to Tolerable
I tried Bracken Flake a long time ago, early in my life as a pipe smoker. I wasn't very “wowed” by it and it was likely due to my lack of experience with stronger tobaccos. I was recently gifted a healthy size sample to try again and found myself moving through the entire sample in very short order. There are lots of comparisons to 1792, but for my taste, the added flavoring in 1792 (Tonquin) is nothing like Bracken and I find the added flavors in Bracken to be less pronounced than 1792. But like all flavored blends, even when the underlying tobacco is great, as it is here, if you don't like the added flavor, it is going to be a no go. I like it. It is rich and earthy and leaves me with a tad bit of sweetness. Lovers of stronger Lakeland style blends should have this one on the “must try” list. If you are not a fan of blends with a hefty dose of Lady N, than you will want to take a pass on this one. Great Stuff!
15 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 04, 2012 Extremely Strong Mild to Medium Full Tolerable to Strong
Well, sorry, but I really can't understand how someone may like such a fermented tobacco.

I mean: I like dark stoved Virginias, but only when they are smooth, leathery but still with a nice sweetness. In this blend, however (probably due to the Kentucky) the taste is pungent, earthy, woody, and somehow reminding me of the smell of cow dung.

It's absolutely the same approach of 1792 Flake, and while I understand that some may love it (especially those who like strong bodied cigars or Toscanos), it puts me off. It's not the kind of enjoyment I look forward in a pipe.

Actually, it may be slightly less intense than 1792 in the nicotine department: it IS strong, but in a small bowl it doesn't make me sweat or my heart race madly like 1792 did. Provided, of course, that I puff SLOWLY. Otherwise, it hits you with no forgiveness and becomes more acrid too. Luckily, the moisture and the thickness of the flake helps a lot to maintain a slow and cool combustion (although it may require some rubbing out otherwise it won't get lit at all).

Flavoring is attractive: not as sweet and tonquin dominated as 1792, but more "fresh" and "cool". Mint? Scented talcum powder? Cocoa? Liquorice? Whatever... Anyway, it's mostly in the scent, because the taste of the smoke is dominated by the tobacco (as it should be).

What else can I say? It simply isn't my cup of tea. It might have been many years ago, when I enjoyed Gitanes cigarettes (the ones with the black tobacco). Nowadays, my tastes have become subtler and more refined (which doesn't mean that this tobacco is gross and rustic: simply, it is stuff from another era...).
15 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 13, 2013 Strong Mild to Medium Very Full Strong
First, let me say that I love this flake, I find it uniquely satisfying. I went through three tins very quickly. Bracken Flake has quickly become one of my primary go-to flakes and entered a place in my top-ten desert island choices.

One of the reasons for this is that I find Bracken Flake's flavor profile so elusive that I keep being drawn to it to try to plumb its depths. It's like no other flake I know. There's an added essence to it, to be sure, but it's so perfectly integrated with its dark tonality its hard to discern. I just know that it works. It's not sweet (at least not overtly), it's not bitter (at least not overtly), it's not musty, nor like decaying flowers (at least not overtly), it's just... dark, like some exquisite subtle liquour the essence of terra. (Is there a hint of talcum, as Beer astutely noticed?) Indeed, there's something elemental about this flake, redolent of the humus of a dank forest floor, that I find immensely compelling. But this essence never overwhelms: the tobacco flavor predominates.

Comparisons to 1792 are apt in my opinion. It's like 1792 minus the strong tonquin topping, then infused with this essence of earth. If flavors exist on some kind of continuum like colors do on an HSV scale, it's like the blenders changed the flavor lookup table of the base flake from sweet to dark. I don't know how else to explain it: details are much easier to see when colors are bright, whereas they must be hunted for in a dark composition.

The tobacco was too moist in all three tins. I found that drying it under a bright light for 15-45 minutes or so until it's a little stiff (but not brittle) brought it to life. (Don't microwave it, since that seems to compromise the fragile oils and alter the flavor characteristics.) And I definitely preferred folding to breaking it up.

The only reason I give it three stars instead of four is that I don't feel comfortable giving my highest recommendation to a weed that the average pipester may not enjoy: I definitely think it's worth a try, obviously, but the flavor may be too strong, too intense, and too dark for the casual smoker. However, for the discerning palette of experienced pipesters, especially those with a penchant for dark flakes, I unhesitatingly give it my highest recommendation. (And SteelCowboy is right, it's an absolute must try for Lakeland explorers...) It's not a flavor that all will enjoy, to be sure, but those who do will be glad they found it.

UPDATE (a day later): No, I have to give it four stars. It deserves it: it's a masterpiece of the dark flake genre. It's tobaccos like this that (almost) make me feel sorry for non-smoking epicures who will shell out $110-an-ounce for a taste of Perigord black truffles, but will never experience the exquisite flavors we come upon.

If you're into strong, dark flakes -- especially of the Lakeland variety -- try it; if you're not, approach with caution. I also recommend reading the other reviews for this blend. For some reason I've particularly enjoyed the welter of voices trying to pin this one down...

UPDATE 05/31/13: I'm now on my fifth tin, and I'm a little concerned with SG's quality control. I almost feel sorry for SG: it can't be easy meeting such a great demand for their quality products using such ancient machinery. I worry about their mental and physical well-being.

My fourth tin had a problem with mold. Rather than return the tin, which is difficult for me to obtain, I removed the mold from the flakes and still smoked it since my craving was so great. It was fine.

My fifth tin contains flakes that have widths varying from paper thin to leather sandal thick. I've been seeing more comments lately about these variations in SG's flakes. I picture a lone arthritic old man who should have retired twenty years ago doing his best to meet his onerous quotas, slicing as quick as he can on his clunky Victorian machine in some Dickensian stone cellar.

Not that I'll stop smoking this flake, nor reduce its rating. It's just too good. But I am now curious to discover what surprise awaits me in each tin...

UPDATE 11/27/13: I've lost count on which tin I recently opened, but my current tin is like the first few I went through: the flakes are all uniformly thin. And it's like experiencing Bracken again for the first time. Thus I feel confident in stating with a degree of certainty that the width of the flakes has a decisive effect on the flavor of this blend: the thinner the flakes, the more the unique essence of Bracken comes through; thicker flakes are more difficult to smoke, and are not as flavorful. Sadly there's no way of knowing what width of flake you'll get when you open a new tin, but I hope for my sake -- and all those who want to experience Bracken in all its glory -- there will be nothing but thinly cut flakes from now on...

UPDATE 04/28/15: I learned back in November ('14) that SG has removed Bracken from its inventory. To quote an email from SG when I inquired about this: "Bracken used a particular type and style of leaf which we cannot get any more." (I pray SG can get that leaf again someday! Though, to again quote the email, it has been "permanently" removed from their inventory...)

I wish I had known this beforehand so I could have stocked up on it! I was devastated by the news, and am only now coming to terms with it. Thank goodness I found the last two tins in Canada at a brick & mortar in Toronto that I will cellar for as long as I can. In the meantime, the hunt for a replacement begins...
11 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 06, 2016 Medium to Strong Mild to Medium Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable
The Virginias are boldly earthy, somewhat floral and vegetative, and fermented dark fruit sweet with a hint of spice. The Kentucky and dark-fired leaf offer a lot of earth, some nuttiness, minor spice notes, molasses, a little cocoa, smoke and wood with a slight sharpness. They compliment and at times overtake the Virginias a little. The soapy, floral tonquin topping is very noticeable without drowning out the tobaccos, and I think perhaps just a little fruit may have been added as well. I also get a bare essence of vanilla from the tonquin. The nic-hit is just past the medium level. The taste is a little closer to full than it is to medium, and its strength straddles the line between medium to full. Won’t bite even if pushed, and has no harsh or dull spots. Very moist out of the tin, you may prefer a little dry time, although I did not do that. Some flakes are thick and some not so much, so you’ll have told determine how you want to prepare them. Burns slow with a cool, clean, very smooth and consistent flavor from start to finish. Requires a fair number of relights, and leaves a little dampness in the bowl. You can burn it to ash, though you may have to stir up the last quarter of the bowl depending how much or if you gave it any dry time. The after taste pleasantly lingers a bit, and the room note is pervasive. Not an all day smoke, but depending on your proclivity for this type of product, you can easily repeat it - more so than many others with this type of strength.

10 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 08, 2007 Medium Very Mild Medium Pleasant
This appears to be another love/hate blend. Whenever one of those appears here on, that usually means it is a stout tobacco. And yes, this is a Virginia/Burley with flavoring that I find to be delicious.

There is quite a bit of powder in this keg, so if you do not tolerate blends with a healthy (and wonderful) dose of nicotine, you may want to head for lighter fare. This deep, almost black dark fired flake packs some punch. It's also too moist right out of the tin. I advise to let it air out a bit before breaking up and loading up.

Old world deep and rich flavor comes pouring out of the pipe in delightful waves of spine tingling enjoyment. I think this blend is Gawith 1792 Flake with an added flavoring that has been substituted for the Tonquin in 1792.

This one is not for those smokers with weak constitutions.
10 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 06, 2017 Medium to Strong Mild to Medium Full Pleasant to Tolerable
A big thanks to StevieB for sending me this in a trade.

This is some good stuff. Smoky, earthy, leathery and mildly fruity and sweet with a topping I find very pleasing. I couldn't say for sure what's in that topping, but it taste great and that's what really counts. Has a good deal of strength that shouldn't leave anyone unsatisfied. A first class smoke in every respect.

Medium to strong in body and nic. Flavoring is mild to medium. Taste is full. Burns very well.
Pipe Used: MM Dagner Poker, Country Gentleman, Marcus
PurchasedFrom: acquired in trade (Thanks Steve)
Age When Smoked: unknown
8 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 07, 2011 Extremely Strong Medium Full Tolerable
Yes, Bracken Flake is very strong stuff. Probably over-the-top for a lot of people. But I think that's a given when you look at the constituent tobaccos and consider that Samuel Gawith is the blender.

That said, if you like stout blends and enjoy other dark-fired offerings, this is a must-try.

There are considerable added flavorings. I'd compare it to 1792, just in terms of the amount of top-note. But rather than Tonquin, Bracken Flake brings it's own essences: chocolate, menthol, cedarwood, liquorish even? But none of these manages to be overpowering. Probably because the SG Kentucky and Dark Fired burleys are so overpowering on their own.

All that said, I'm not a big Lakeland fan. And this stuff is aggressively flavored.

So why 4 stars? Because Bracken Flake, when treated respectfully with a small chamber-size and some patience, is a one-of-a-kind experience. It's not something I reach for every day. But there are times when I want a strong, sipping smoke. In the right circumstances, with a bit of caution, Bracken satisfies like few blends can.
7 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 25, 2018 Medium to Strong None Detected Full Tolerable
I had tried this flake around ten years ago, and browsing in my tobacco shop the other day I found a tin of this and decided to give it another spin. I know it's a discontinued blend so a part of me was thinking about putting it in the cellar, but you know, the first thing I ended up doing when I got home was opening it up and having a smoke with some strong, black tea.

There's just something about this flake though. Like most Gawith flakes, I love the presentation. This however, was different in the way that it was not moist out of the tin at all, but just absolutely perfect. Almost a crumbly like texture, which surprised me as these things are usually very moist and need to be dried out. Not with this particular tin. Was ready as soon as I opened her up. Which makes me wonder how long this tin has been sitting around for. I wish I knew. The flakes that I have are covered in white sugar crystals, so I'm guessing it has some pretty good age on it.

Smells of rich, deep earth, and just straight up tobacco. I don't understand some of the other reviewers saying that they get vanilla and menthol and stuff like that. I don't at all. I just get tobacco. Dark, stoved tobacco, in very handsome flakes.

Packing is easy as I tend to rub out most of my flakes these days anyway. But keeping it lit is another story. Even with the right moisture content I usually need to relight 2-3 times after the initial light. But once it's going you get a very rich, creamy, strong and honest smoke. One of the key words here is strong - this is not for the faint of heart, or for beginner pipe smokers. The nicotine is just too much. I mean you could easily kill someone who only smokes American aromatics if you give them a big bowl of this. Which is why I usually smoke this in my corn cob - it's the smallest pipe I own. While it's not as strong as Black XX Twist - which literally feels like you're having a bowl of cardiac arrest - it's still not advised for the newcomers.

But smoked slow and respectfully, it will give you a very unique and great experience. It has lots of depth, lots of flavor, and it is just all round pleasant. I know it's not produced anymore but if you can find a tin somewhere then pick it up.
Pipe Used: Corncob
PurchasedFrom: Local tobacconist
Age When Smoked: No idea
5 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 25, 2017 Extremely Strong Medium Full Strong
Can you hear me, Samuel Gawith? Please bring this one back! As I have understood it this blend was discontinued because of a shortage of the leaf required, but if that is the case how come 1792 and Lakeland Dark are still in production? This is a great blend for the experienced smoker, rich, bold and powerful with a unique topping that really adds a one of a kind character. Stronger than Goliath it packs a punch few will shrug off, but a slow cadence treats the patient smoker to a sunset of impressions. Beware, and be amazed.

Taste: The scent of of the tobacco is that of an autumn forest; wet earth and moss, decaying leaves and a pine-like odour from the topping. Once lit this translates well in to the taste, a deep earthy taste with prominent strokes of wet leather and a pepperish tingle on the tongue. It is powerful, in every meaning of the word - strong in nicotine and flavour. It takes some sitting down and really focusing on it, as this dark blend simply won't let the smoker off the hook until it is finished. It should probably be noted that I am a fan of 1792 and Lakeland Dark and thus a fan of Samuel Gawiths dark and bold blends in general, but whereas some reviewers find this blend to be harsh I rather find it to be well rounded. That might have something to do with the age of the tobacco, as I smoke this it has been out of production for three years so this tin is at least that old, but I really couldn't say since I never had the pleasure of trying a fresh tin.

Mechanics: Samuel Gawith and their flakes, one never knows what to expect (a feature I actually really enjoy). This particular tin contained varying sizes with the shared trait that they need rubbing and drying, how much depending on the flake in question. After proper preparations it is a dry and biteless smoke that will require some relights. Loaded with nicotine!
Pipe Used: Various briars, cobs and clay
PurchasedFrom: in Sweden
Age When Smoked: At least three years
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 12, 2014 Strong Medium Very Full Strong
About the Reviewer: Primarily a cigarette smoker until switching totally to pipes in 2006. Due to this I primarily smoke and enjoy stronger blends. I have recently reset all my reviews because I feel that only now I really know what blends I enjoy and now have the experience to accurately give an honest review based on my personal tastes.

Blend Preferences: Straight Virginia - Sometimes (Spring/Summer) VA/BUR - Primarily VA/PER - Rarely (I believe Perique should be used as a condiment) English Mixtures (Oriental/Balkan/Latakia) - Sometimes (Fall/Winter) American - Sometimes Aromatics - Never

Smoking Frequency: Weekdays - 3 to 4 pipes per day. Weekends - 6 to 8 pipes per day.

Desert Island Blend - Samuel Gawith Bracken Flake

General Comments:

I jokingly refer to this as 1792's little brother. Where 1792's tonquin topping is over the top and Sam's Flake is too light to be noticed, Bracken Flake's topping shines. If I could consistently acquire this, I would smoke this morning, noon, and night. This flake is best smoked a little drier than what Samuel Gawith ships it as, just make sure to not let it get bone dry. My only complaint with this blend is that it can get bitey on the finish in the summer. I attribute this to the humid summers of Virginia and to be honest all my blends smoke wet when July rolls around.


On first light you get an immediate creamy smoke with a spicy sourish taste coupled with a light fruity/vanilla/musk undertones that come from the tonquin topping. One charring light and your ready to go.


By mid-bowl the sourness has increased and also the alkaloid taste of the Dark Fired Kentucky.The fruitiness/muskiness of the tonquin topping moves to the background. Lurking in and out you get a periodic Virginia tang.


The Kentucky really shines through with a rich strong finish. Minimal Virginia undertones. If you exhale through nose can detect faint hints of tonquin in the background. Little dottle and the majority burns to a nice grey ash.

Pipe Used: 1972 Dunhill Shell Briar
PurchasedFrom: iwan ries
Age When Smoked: Unknown (No date on Samuel Gawith tins)
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