Samuel Gawith St. James Flake

Genuine perique is added to an already delicious and flavoursome blend of fine bright Virginias to give St. James the light peppery characteristic enjoyed by so many pipe smokers. Medium strength.


Brand Samuel Gawith
Series Kendal Mayor's Collection
Blended By Samuel Gawith
Manufactured By Samuel Gawith
Blend Type Virginia/Perique
Contents Perique, Virginia
Cut Flake
Packaging 50 grams tin, 250 grams box, bulk
Country United Kingdom
Production Currently available


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

Average Rating

3.44 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 10 of 51 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 07, 2009 Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
Hmmm... there's perique in here? Where? Oh, there it is! Or is it? Hmmm....

I find this to more than pass muster as a virginia blend, where it fails as a VaPer, IMHO. The perique is "overwhelmingly subtle" to coin a phrase. I prefer a little more kick to my VaPer blends. Quite frankly, if I didn't know there was perique in this blend, I'd have mistaken it for a Lakeland-style top note that is very faint. Escudo, Davidoff Flake Medallions and the various McClelland blends such as St James Woods and #2015 still rule, as I can taste more of that incredible perique spiciness. This one is good but just lacks that spice kick.
15 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 18, 2014 Medium to Strong None Detected Full Tolerable
SJF is one of the great Virginia-Perique blends in my opinion, right up there with Escudo and McConnell Scottish Cake. There are still a bunch of VaPers that I haven't tried yet, so I can't state definitively where it fits in the overall scheme of things.

I agree with what some other reviewers have already posted, that the flakes need drying and some resting time after opening the tin. My latest batch was a 250g box, which I put into jars and waited a few weeks before smoking.

There is plenty of perique in SJF for me. In fact, sometimes it's a bit more perique than I'm in the mood for and I rub out a flake or two of SJF with a flake of Best Brown, mix it all together and let it dry out some before packing. It works for me, your mileage may vary of course.

Lit gently and smoked slowly, this can be a wonderfully sweet tobacco with the enticing peppery spice that VaPer fans love. I get a sweet flavor that reminds me of honey and figs. However, if you rush it SJF can turn on you quickly with a shocking bitter harshness. Not to worry though, I just set the pipe down, let it cool for a while, relight gently, and it comes back around to being a beautiful smoke again.

SJF is a fine smoke in most of my briars and absolutely sublime in a certain old "Regd. No." Stanwell from the late 1960s. But there are a couple of pipes that I don't dare smoke it in. They just don't get along. Harsh and nasty. Seems to work better in medium and smaller bowls.

I typically enjoy the first 2/3 bowl of SJF a lot more than the last 1/3 if that information helps you at all.

As much as I'd like to give SJF 4 stars because it really is one of my favorites, SJF's fussiness--the drying, the resting, the necessity to smoke it thoughtfully, its refusal to get along with some pipes--merits a slight downgrade.
Pipe Used: various briars
11 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 16, 2018 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable
Va/per's are easily my favorite blends, and this is one I have been dying to try for ages now. Because of where I live in Europe, it's really hard to find Samuel Gawith blends. So when I saw a few tins of this at my local tobacconist, I picked them up without hesitation.

I really, really love my Va/per blends, so I was really looking forward to this, as I've always been a fan of Gawith as well. FVF is one of my favorites, and Firedance Flake is another one that I really enjoy as well, despite being an aromatic. So I went home and cracked open a tin almost immediately.

I've been smoking Dunhill and Solani blends for the past year and pretty much nothing else. So I've gotten a bit spoiled in regards to cut and moisture content out of the tin. St. James Flake comes pretty moist, but not as moist as I remember my previous Gawith experiences in the past. I let a few flakes dry a bit before I loaded my first bowl. I never microwave or heat my flakes or anything like that. I just let them dry on a tray on my desk for about 20 minutes. Never heat tobacco to dry it.

Loading up was simple enough. However, even after sufficient drying, the tobacco is a real pain to light. And it's an even bigger pain to keep lit. This is a bit tough because as with most, if not all, Va/per blends you want to keep the tobacco as cool as possible, so you don't want to be puffing too hard and constantly having to relight. That said, when it gets going, it's pretty much okay. But obviously nowhere near as easy to maintain as a Dunhill blend like Elizabethan Mixture or something like that.

I have always been a big fan of Perique, and I always wished in the back of my mind that blenders would include more of it in their Va/per blends. Well, careful for what you wish for, I guess, because St. James Flake is a Perique bomb. So much so that it masks the flavor of the Virginia's in there. There can be too much of a good thing, and I appreciate this flake for teaching me that yes, there is such thing as too much Perique, and yes, the blenders at Solani who make 633 are absolutely masterful with how they craft that tobacco, because the balance in 633 is downright perfect.

St. James Flake is still enjoyable, but to me it can't compare with Solani 633, Davidoff Flake Medallions or Escudo. I'd rather smoke any of those when my Va/per fix kicks in. It's hard to light and maintain, and at a certain point it just becomes too much work. It is flavorsome, I'll give it that, but it's more on the murky side - it's not a bright tobacco by any means. It's more of an autumn/winter smoke. I have a few unopened tins which I have put to the side - perhaps they will mellow out and get better with age. Because right now, there is a raging demon inside of these tins.

Update: I would suggest removing this from the tin, rubbing it out all the way, then putting it into a jar. Only then does it really mellow out and reach it's full potential. It's still hard to light, but the flavor and ease of smoking improves drastically. Cheers.
Pipe Used: Various
PurchasedFrom: Local tobacconist
Age When Smoked: New
8 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 23, 2009 Medium to Strong None Detected Medium Tolerable
St. James Flake seems to be Full Virginia Flake with some Perique added. As my first virginia/perique blend, I didn't quite know what to expect. I didn't find the perique to be very strong, noticeable, but not strong. For me, it wasn't strong enough to justify smoking something other than FVF. The virginia's in SJF are just as good in quality as the one's in FVF though...

Like my tin of FVF, SJF needed to be dried for 12-24 hours before smoking, because it was rather wet out of the tin. I also had better luck smoking it by fully rubbing it out.

*EDIT* After opening the tin I set some aside to for around 9 months. It's a much more enjoyable blend now.
7 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 27, 2014 Medium Mild Medium to Full Pleasant
Somewhere perhaps, there are old master codgers who have worked out how to prepare this tobacco, and which pipe to smoke it in, in order to have a trouble free smoke. I am not one of them.

The thin loose flakes are very moist, greasy in fact, and cannot be rubbed out properly by hand. Used in this form I had to battle to keep the bowl alight, to ensure adequate draught, and, consequently, to get any reasonable volume of smoke going. In this form however, whereby the tobacco was barely alight, it was possible to get a good 'look' at its flavour profile. Accordingly, this might be a legitimate way to smoke this tobacco. I found it very frustrating, and in desperation, resorted to cutting the flakes against the grain to produce a sort of small cube cut. Gravity fed into the bowl it cut my relights down to 3 and when going properly, produced some lovely, creamy smoke.

This is essentially a matured Virginia flake in the British old school style. It has some nice lemon overtones, kicked off I think by some bergamot in the casing, and underpinned by a creamy licorice undertone.

The perique marries well with these Virginias and presents as a spicy pepperiness and an effervescence on the tongue. Retrohaling further reveals the smokiness of the perique.

This is a very different take on the VaPer to something like Dunhill Navy Rolls, the latter being very clean and elegant. SJF is darker and less refined, more working class if I might say so. That isn't a bad thing at all, but personally I would prefer this as a straight Virginia without the casing, and I honestly think the perique is wasted here. Having said that this is a valuable survivor in the British Flakes genre and anyone disappointed by weakling Virginias or overcased Lakeland type entries will find a place for this tobacco.
6 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 19, 2016 Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable
This is a thick blend. The tobacco is quite fat and greasy at the touch. Perique is quite well identified. It is not easy to light it up and keep it lit up. A bit strong, but not really too much. Coffee taste. Quite some tar.
Pipe Used: Bauer and Caminetto
PurchasedFrom: Dubini Lugano Switzerland
5 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 25, 2014 Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
Yet another fine flake from SG. Sweet and subtle tin note. Nice beige flakes with brown streaks. Crystalline formations along the lines. I was lucky to find a sealed aged tin. I think the aging must make this a smooth smoker. I hand rubbed the entire tin to relieve moisture and find it a one light smoke after gravity feeding, charring, tamping and lighting. The top third of the bowl is rather nice with a mild sweetness and a wonderful aroma. Mid bowl is a bit better but the bottom third is where I find this flake to comes alive. Sipping, rolling round my tongue and exhaling through my nose lets me get the most from this flake. There is a lot to be said about these flakes that are flavoured through aging rather than chemicals. Smooth. Moderately mellow and a genuine joy to smoke. Recommended
Pipe Used: Peterson's/ Missouri Meerschaums et al
Age When Smoked: 5 years sealed
4 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 29, 2009 Medium Very Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
This tobacco has a very nice tin aroma. Dark fruits and a surprising note reminiscent of Junior Mints (an American confection). The smoke is very easy on the tongue and can be puffed a bit more than other VA's I smoke. the Perique is well balanced and quite complimentary. This blend can be smoked a bit wetter than FVF with a good burn. The dark fruits carry over to the taste making this a good smoke when you feel like something sweet and spicy. I would pair this with a small batch bourbon.

4 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 30, 2020 Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable
I had extremely high hopes for this blend. I envisaged it to be the strong, sweet, spicy VaPer to blow away everything else. High hopes are dangerous.

The smell is VaPer, perhaps with an emphasis towards hay, the flakes were not particularly Gawithy, they are quite thick and partly broken in the tin, and not very wet. I did dry one for about an hour though just to be sure...only to find that the damn thing is not catching fire, ever. This experience persisted and tainted the blend. On top of that, even though the flavour I was looking for IS there, it's hidden beneath needing endless, ENDLESS relights. Maybe my technique is poor, but this is probably the 30th blend I am smoking and never had such issues with anything else.

Its only saving grace is that WHEN I get the taste of this tobacco, it is really great. It is THICK, bready, sweet, and spicy, exactly as I imagined.

Results with smoking it improve dramatically after rubbing out the flakes and drying them for MORE THAN 24 hours. Not kidding, that's what this needs to be smokeable. I'd rate it 4 stars, but such preciousness from a tobacco, and inconvenience to the smoker needs to be reflected somehow. Further on this point, I believe that a product should be good to go, ie good to smoke from the tin. Sure, drying a flake on one's desk for a few minutes is not an issue, but having to plan 24-48h ahead to smoke this take the piss a bit.

I started this review thinking I'm going to blast it because of the annoyance it gave me, but everytime I think about it what comes to mind is the thick, sweet and spicy taste that came out, and is, for my tastes, a good few clicks above the "typical" VaPer taste of sweet and spicy hay
3 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 22, 2018 Medium to Strong Very Mild Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong
While I do enjoy VaPers from time to time this was too much peppery Perique for me. I liked the original versions of Elizabethan, Three Nuns, Escudo, as well as current VaPers such as Solani 633. I have not tried GLP Haddo's yet, suspecting it will be not to my liking due to the strong Perique presence. I don't have an aversion to Perique--I want to know it's in there, just not to a degree where it is so to the fore, especially when paired with only Virginia. For me this is perhaps 1 to 2 stars as i really don't like it, but as that is personal preference and it is not a bad tobacco, i'll go with 3.
Pipe Used: Various
PurchasedFrom: Smokingpipes
Age When Smoked: Fresh
3 people found this review helpful.
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