Samuel Gawith Balkan Flake

(3.21)
A beautifully formed dark flake of pressed Virginias and a generous helping of latakia. Relax and enjoy this medium strength tobacco with its "smokey" flavour and cool, smooth characteristics.

Details

Brand Samuel Gawith
Blended By Samuel Gawith
Manufactured By Samuel Gawith
Blend Type Virginia/Latakia
Contents Latakia, Virginia
Flavoring
Cut Flake
Packaging Bulk, 50 grams tin
Country United Kingdom
Production Currently available

Profile

Strength
Medium
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Extremely Mild -> Overwhelming
Flavoring
None Detected
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
None Detected -> Extra Strong
Room Note
Tolerable
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Unnoticeable -> Overwhelming
Taste
Medium
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Extremely Mild (Flat) -> Overwhelming

Average Rating

3.21 / 4
97

61

33

11

Reviews

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Displaying 1 - 11 of 202 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 04, 2011 Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable
Now this is a bit of a misnomer, a purported Balkan with absolutely no Orientals? I'd like to ask the Samuel Gawith people exactly what their definition of a Balkan is, which would likely blur the disputed genre lines even further.

The blend comprises both Latakia and Virginias, and coming from Samuel Gawith, that's quite similar to their 50/50 Virginia, Latakia Commonwealth Mixture, with likely different proportions. I've always admired Latakia mixes that come in flake form, they are rare and quite elegant. Old Ironsides is a favorite, and having sampled Quiet Nights, I enjoy the uncharacteristic cut which all possess, if a bit light in the press. And looking at my sample, I would say that seems to be true.

Balkan Flake doesn't approach the rigid form of other Lakeland Flakes, it is soft and unwinding. The flakes themselves are almost entirely black, very pliable and smell heavenly. This is a Latakia forward smoke, light in strength and almost salty, rather than sweet. There is a minimal spiciness present and the blend smokes somewhat flat without much variety in flavor. The absence of Oriental leaf makes this smoke rather bland, which I admit may be an unfair assessment, as I see nothing wrong with a strictly Virginia/Latakia combination, my palate likely conditioned to demand some Orientals in a blend.

It took an entire tin to appreciate Commonwealth Mixture, and I seem to be on track here for a repeat. I doubt I'll have a problem finishing my two ounce sample, though I can't say I'll be reordering a further helping. There are far more complex smokes out there.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 25, 2009 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Strong
Now this is tobacco!

Distinguished reviewers, what more do you want than beautiful dark, thin flakes, barely covered with sugar crystals, tossed randomely inside the tin, suggesting hand blending? And from such an honorable blender than Samual Gawith?

What more than a tin aroma like FVF combined with the rich spiciness of Latakia? This is exactly like FVF combined with Latakia. I can smell FVF and the spiciness of Latakia. Simply addicting. I smelled the tin for long moments before letting go. The moisture content is perfect. The flakes bended softly under my fingers. I only had to let the tin dry for a week or so in the Coleman cooler before smoking. I couldn't wait.

As always with Gawith, rubbing out is too easy. So is lighting up. The taste is DIVINE, nothing less. Rich, creamy, spicy and a tiny sweet. It gets only better and better as you go. Despite the fact that I pull a bit too much out of enthousiasm, it does not bite.

Oh my God. This might become my no 1 tobacco in my rotation. This is better than FVF. No shit. Excuse my language. And smokes dry all the way.

One friendly advice: at 1/3 Latakia, the room aroma is not wife-friendly.

Samual Gawith is the way to go. FVF, CF, now BF. At very inexpensive prices. European's craftmanship and extensive experience at yesterday's prices. What else do you want? GL Pease? C&D? McClelland? At higher prices, but without the extensive experience? the choice is clear.

Highly recommended
45 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 18, 2014 Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable
An easy to deal with flake once you dry it a little. The Cyprian latakia is richly smokey and woodsy, with mildly sweet, leathery notes. It dominates the earthy, lightly grassy, tangy citrusy, very slightly spicy Virginia. A nice combo, though there’s really not much dimension or nuance of flavors, despite the variances that I’ve described, many of which lurk, but do not stand up for attention. Has a slightly more than mild nic-hit. Won't bite. Burns at a reasonable rate, cool and clean with a relatively consistent flavor. Requires an average number of relights. Leaves just a little moisture in the bowl. A straight forward medium English flake.

-JimInks
42 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 27, 2009 Mild to Medium Mild Medium Pleasant
As I've said in other reviews, I typically smoke matured virginia plugs/flakes. In the last several years, I have been re-enjoying hearty english blends or more precisley, Balkan flakes/plugs.

Perhaps I have received different lots of this fine flake tobacco, but I find this to be a very nice Balkan Flake. I like everything about it, other than its not in plug form. I smoke a lot of SG Commonwealth which is a 50/50 virginia/Latika mixture and enjoy it very much. It is not as refined as I find this Balkan Flake, but both offer the smoker a wide range of taste and flavors. While this Balkan may be one dimentional, it none-the-less, appears to be more complex than many would think.

I smoke this in a group 4/5 straight billiard and do enjoy this any time of day. Coffee in the morning and a single malt at evening time, enhance this experience. Of course, as many have said, taste and flavor are very subjective. A pipe smoker for more than 48 years, I'm sure my taste are quite different from someone else.

...a pipe is to be savored.
34 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jun 18, 2013 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Strong
Let's get any misapprehensions out of the way first, SG in their wisdom have christened this "Balkan" Flake even though there is not a hint of Turkish or other Orientals in the mix, go figure. What you do have is a very toothsome combination of Virginia and Latakia.

The presentation is dark and mysterious, with a rich smell of tar and leather out of the tin. The flakes are quite moist, so I prefer to rub out and leave to dry for a bit, it leaves brown stains on your finger tips!

Light it up and you wonder how a tobacco that provides so much flavour can be so easy and cool to smoke. The leatheriness comes through in the mouth, along with some bitter, dark chocolate and yet there is a faint honey sweetness on the after-taste. Beautifully balanced to my mind. I will add that I am smoking this alone at the moment, for all its positive attributes I am not sure that others present would regard the room note as amongst them!

I will add one final thought as a result of a response I got after discussion with another smoking friend. I wouldn't describe myself particularly as a Lat fan. This blend of course has it in abundance, but for me there is something about it that just works. As is sometimes wonderfully the case, an enjoyable smoking experience is greater than the sum of its parts. So if you have half a mind to check this one out without prejudice then please do, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Highly recommended.
31 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 19, 2007 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant
Balkan Flake is indeed a mellow smoke with a variety of flavors as you work your way down the bowl. It has a nice, rich complexity that will keep your palate entertained. The flakes are beautifully put together and as one who rubs out his flakes, I found that to be an easy chore. The tobacco packs very evenly, burns the same, and was an absolute delight to smoke.

Most of the pipe smokers who are members here and submitted a review of this particular offering found Gawith's Balkan Blend to be an eloquent smoke and I concur.
16 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 08, 2013 Medium Mild Medium to Full Tolerable
This is a superlative smoke. A beautiful flake, in the top rank of SG's finest, and that's saying a lot.

As everyone else has observed, there's no oriental in this "Balkan" flake, just virginia and latakia as advertised. (Though a couple reviewers, including Pseudo Nim who contacted SG about it, learned it's called a Balkan flake because the virginia originates from the Balkans.)

This reminds me very much of Commonwealth, but subtler, richer and more complex. Though SG usually brags about adding some special "essence" to their flakes, they are conspicuously silent about it with this one. Maybe there isn't one here; but I would be very surprised if there isn't, because I don't know how else this flake's unique hints of cool sweetness would occur otherwise. It's not like the whiff of vanilla added to Perfection, but something slightly minty, or menthol (as others have suggested), or even "medicinal" as one reviewer put it. Indeed it's vaguely reminiscent, to me, of that unique flavor in old-school cough syrup that was a kind of cool metholated herbal mint which I loved as a child. This very subtle sweet coolness, whatever it is, perfectly fills an interstice between the not overly sweet virginia and smoky latakia, and it's lovely. The sugar crystals that cover the flakes like the dusted frosting on a powdered donut (in my tin, at least) augment the delicate sweetness to push the experience to the next level.

The flakes are thick and moist. I find that drying them for an hour really brings them to life. And I didn't see a need to rub them out -- folding worked just fine; and a single double-light was usually all that was required for the entire bowl.

A topnotch flake for the latakia lover. This one's a keeper for sure. Highly recommended!
15 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 11, 2012 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Very Strong
I read many reviews of Balkan Flake before I tried it, so I knew what to expect. No Oriental leaf, just Virginia and Latakia. The Samuel Gawith website says Virginia with 30% Latakia: can't get clearer than that. So I was not disappointed or surprised, or sidetracked by wondering what "Balkan" means in a tobacco. In any case, I think it makes more sense to review a tobacco on its qualities, rather than its name.

So, this one is the typical Sam Gawith flake - variable thickness, damp in the pack (mine was a bulk pack), moderately difficult to rub out. All of that is part of the charm to me - it seems sort of a cottage industry tobacco, rustic and somehow more "real" than the very orderly rows of perfect flakes in, say, Orlick Golden Sliced or Dunhill Flake. This is chalky-sticky to the touch (if that makes sense) - sort of a crumbly texture, with a very strong Latakia tin note. The Latakia smell adheres to the fingers even after washing with soap.

Once the labor of rubbing out this tobacco has been put in, the pipe loosely packed and the lighting effected (this takes a bit of effort), the reward is a slow-burning Latakia treat. Pungent and coarse, it satisfies the desire for clean, strong Latakia taste in a mid-strength tobacco (from a nicotine point of view). Very one-dimensional (no complexities or development of flavor profile); but it is an excellent dimension to be in.

But stinky - hated by all who come within odor-range, even on the clothes. Good for loners and the socially challenged; use near family with discretion.

This too shall pass.
14 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 20, 2016 Medium to Strong None Detected Full Very Pleasant
Samuel Gawith - Balkan Flake.

Note, this is one of the blends I reviewed a few years back after shortly being discharged from hospital after suffering a head injury; it wasn't too articulate.

The term Lat-Bomb was invented for this! That could be the review, lol. Basically, if you enjoy Latakia this should rock your world: it's very cool, highly smoky, quite slow burning, and bite free (to me). The Latakia offers a lot more of the formidable smokiness instead of the cedar woodiness some often give, and this smokiness properly pushes the Virginia out of the way. There's no extra flavours, nor underlying nuances: it's a steadfast Lat-Bomb!

The nicotine's a little above medium, and the room-note's superb; superb, if your a pipe smoker'. I'm guessing non-smokers would loathe it!

Four stars, and straight back into my favourites list!

Highly recommended.

Pipe Used: Mr Brog No.34 Bulldog
PurchasedFrom: My Smoking Shop
Age When Smoked: New
11 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 13, 2008 Medium Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
Update 13/09/2008 As there is so much fuss over this flake being or not being a Balkan, and I, in my ignorance, not being sure, I decided to contact the Manufacturers and ask them what they thought a Balkan was, and with 216 years of blending experience behind them, seemed like a pretty good bet they would know what they were doing. I was told that "The Tobacco's for Balkan come from the Balkan Region" and if I cared to look on the tin, I would see a map OF THE BALKAN REGION, and that is where these tobacco's come from. Now that to me, seems a pretty straightforward answer, and a pretty good point to boot. Now had the tobacco come from Harry Grime's greenhouse in Gassworks Street Wigan, there may be a point to argue, but they don't, and there is'nt. So
IT'S A BALKAN !!!!!!!!!! At least in my book anyway.

Okay chaps, this probably isn't Balkan, but then I don't know what Balkan is, I bought this to compare with the gratis pouch of Erinmore Balkan Mixture I had received. As soon as I tried the first bowl, I knew this one had found a home, Balkan it may or may not be, as Sam Gawith says, it's 70% Virginia with a shovel load of latakia, and here I am, lighting it up, and and setting fire to a pile of lorry tyres, but I like it.

Its a good quality tobacco as you would expect from such a fine blender, cool smoking with loads of taste and flavour. Enough said from me.
11 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 18, 2009 Very Mild None Detected Mild Tolerable
Preface: I have been smoking Dunhill Standard Mixture Medium for near-on 30 years, believing that it has no equal anywhere on earth. But it is gone now, and so I begin a quest for my Holy Grail: A substitute to replace the standard on which all English tobaccos are based:

I am disappointed with Balkan Flake. I got really excited with Full Virginia Flake, and thought a touch of Latakia was all it needed to send me into nirvana. Sadly, no. The Virginia here is not the Virginia of Full Virginia Flake, but rather considerably milder. This, with a touch of Latakia makes for a very mild smoke. I keep puffing for more strength, but it never comes...

The tin states: Deliciously Cool. Which is a way of saying very mild and smooth, which it is. It is too mild for me and hence my rating. However, I think a lot of aromatic guys might love this stuff, but the term "Balkan" might chase them away. Don't let it. The flakes are gorgeous with little aged sugar crystals, and the tin aroma is divine.

We tend to think of any tobacco with Balkan in the name as being on the full side, but Blakan Flake is a contradiction to the rule.

BF would make a great way-station on ones journey to the truly great (and strong) Lakeland tobaccos. Even if you never get there, there's always the thing about the journey itself, and BF will (in this regard) not disappoint.
8 people found this review helpful.
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