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 21 - 30 of 203 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 28, 2017 Medium to Strong Very Mild Medium to Full Tolerable

Conclusion: Samuel Gawith is perhaps the best supplier of quality virginias out there, in my opinion. The addition of a rich dose of perique makes for a VaPer that is simply outstanding; I have yet to be disappointed by it. If you like VaPers you need to try this.

Taste: The perique is a player of great influence here, evident from the start. The mix of virginias and perique make for a sweet and spicy mix that brings forth a tingle in mouth and nose. There is also a bit of freshly baked bread to be noted, hints of grass and a profound sweetness. It's a rich bouquet of flavours, but the overall taste is that of sweet black pepper. It is delicious.

Mechanics: Flake cut, comes wet and needs some drying. Nicotine on the higher end of medium. No bite.
7 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 02, 2012 Medium Strong Mild Pleasant
I bought a couple of tins of this as I generally like Virginia/perique blends, and it seems to get generally good reviews.

On opening, both tins were stacked with various sizes and thicknesses of sopping, wringing, dripping wet flakes. The interior of one tin was actually rusting from the moisture.

After closing the tins and leaving them for a month the tobacco was still dripping wet, so I left the lid off one tin for four days. I do not exagerate.

After four days drying, I reckoned the top couple of flakes were just about dry enough to take a light, so I tried rubbing one out. It didn't so much rub out as break apart into brittle chunks.

I stuffed it into a cob and applied a light, and kept trying until it caught. My first though was "nice, mild Virginia, but not much perique. No bite at all though - that's good".

About 1/4 of the way down the bowl the sugar started. Sweet, sticky, clinging sugar. And the more I smoked, the more the sugar came flowing out of the stem, like smoking vapourised candy floss. By 3/4 of a bowl my mouth felt so sticky I needed to rinse it out, so I tried a mouthful of diet Coke. The Coke tasted sour and bitter compared to the tobacco.

I gave up in disgust and emptied the bowl into the ashtray. The next day, the cob's cake was full of sugar crystals, the ash in the bowl looked like charcoal and smelled strongly of caramel and the dottle could be snapped like bits of toffee.

I hate throwing tobacco away at UK prices, but both tins went in the bin. As, a week later, did the cob. Nothing I tried could begin to exorcise the sugary ghost.

I may have had a couple of bad tins - going by the rest of the reviews I guess I did. But the poor standard of these tins makes me wonder about SG's quality control.

So, based on my experience, my advice is to avoid unless you like taking chances - and don't try St James in a pipe you don't mind throwing away.

There's no aromatic flavouring in this tobacco by the way - I've marked the flavouring as "strong" because of the overwhelming sugary casing.

Quick update:

In plug form, this is supplied much, much drier and with a better texture, plus you can slice/whatever it as you like. St James plug is absolutely superb.
7 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.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 22, 2020 Medium Medium Medium Pleasant
For years I have been trying different types of VA mixes, where the Burley always appears, which obviously I have detected that is not to my liking. So I started with the pure Virginia (Full Virgina Flake, and Germain's Medium Flake, although the latter is difficult to get in Argentina), finding my way as a smoker. Then I experimented successfully with some aromatic variant with Grousemoore and latakia at SG Navy Flake, and not so successfully with Squadron Leader. I also occasionally taste the flakes of Peterson, Irish Flake and University Flake, which are very intense for me. This time I decided to cheer for the famous Perique and it was a pleasant surprise. As soon as the can is opened, a leathery smell of prunes appears. The smoke is that of an "intense" tobacco as I describe them, but without that bitter Burley background, always making it clear that I am smoking a Virginia. And the spicy note without being excessive, allows you to smoke it until the pipe is extinguished maintaining the flavor. I am not a pipe smoker every day, so my choices go in search of those tobacco that do not hit the chest. And St. James Flake (Kendal Mayor's Collection) is a good choice when you want to go for a well-seasoned VA to interject from time to time.
Pipe Used: Amadeus (Greece)
Age When Smoked: I brought it home and opened it immediately
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 17, 2017 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant
Virginia/Perique blends are my favorite and this is one of the best VaPers I smoked. As so common with Samuel Gawith, these flakes come very moist and you need to deal with them properly if you want good experience. Once you do, it is rich in taste, it burns cool, it is smooth, it doesn't bite, there is no harshness. All in all it is a very satysfying smoke. If you like VaPers and you have not tried this one yet, you need to go to priest and confess.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 04, 2017 Mild Very Mild Very Mild Pleasant
A true gem. It is exceedingly subtle, and i lose the best parts of this blend when i do anything but pack it with care, after drying sufficiently, into an appropriate pipe and smoke consciously slowly and unhurriedly. I generally shy away from blends that require such thought, but the mellow flavor i get from this one makes it worth the effort when i have the requisite time and patience. Flake is standard for the house: thick, and damp. I give SG flakes about an hour or 2 out of the tin spread flat on a paper plate to breathe, then jar. I rub one prior to loading and leave it sit for some moments before loading loosely. With this relatively short dry time i still usually require a cleaner midsmoke, but that doesn't bother me much. I agree with some who identify the va content here as the constituents of fvf and best brown. The perique is mild, sweet, with pepper present. The entire experience can be characterized as an earthy, thin bodied, ferment-sweet with carmelized mushroom. Hard to describe. The virginia is absolutely exquisite. The perique is, too. But it is so ineffable, so tantalizingly there but not there, that it takes a good deal of effort for me to not puff to catch the flavor i glimpse, thereby losing it for good. Fans of Gawith aged virginias will appreciate this greatly. I don't know that favoring vapers would necessarily qualify one to enjoy this, but i think it is certainly worth trying it to see if you find the magic here. A four star offering, without question. Magic is real.
Pipe Used: Cobs, meerschaums, briar
PurchasedFrom: Smokers Haven
Age When Smoked: New to 1 year
6 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 28, 2017 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
As I always visit this website before choosing a new tobacco to try and find the reviews very helpful, I thought, I might as well contribute to this page. So this is my first review and here it goes. The candidate is Samuel Gawith's St. James Flake and I strongly recommend this blend to anyone looking for a Va/Per with a considirable but not at all too high amount of perique in it.

Tin Note: Dark, yeasty, dark fruit, slightly sour note, perhabs a little hay

Preparation / Handling: No surprises here, meaning the tobacco arrives in a rather moist and leathery condition. I am aware that the condition of SG flakes is an issue to some pipe smokers because it always requires a little time to prepare and can often not be simply smoked right of the tin. I myself like to smoke SG flakes mainly on the weekends or after work in the late evening. It sort of forces you to calm down, take your time and really focus on and appreciate the tobacco... At least I tell myself that and it really helps me to enjoy the preparation part also! I usually rub the flakes out into a sort of thicker ribbons and let them dry on a small plate for about 30 mins. It's still quite moist then still, but I find that the tobacco tastes a bit more flavourful on the wet side. As other blends made by SG it needs attention while smoking to keep the tobacco lit but it's not bad at all. When I first started smoking SG flakes (may first was Navy Flake, also recommended!) I got a bit frustrated because I was quite new to pipe smoking and just managed to smoke some ribbon cuts right down to the bowl. So this was a setback, but I learned that with some tobaccos it is no shame at all to have to relight it a couple of times. With St James Flake, I find that it's rather easy to handle and doesn't require more than 2 relights, if any. Once lit and smoked slowly, it burns down really cool and doesn't seem to even have the ability to burn hot or cause tongue bite.

Taste: With Dunhill Deluxe Navy Rolls as one of my very favourite tobaccos, I was quite biased when trying this. Exceeded all expectations! The darker and yeasty virgnias offer a strong yet balanced natural sweetness. I've heard a comment saying it feels like a "sugar coating" in one's mouth but I do not agree. To me it is at no time too sweet and I almost exclusively enjoy natural English blends. The perique adds perfectly to this with a taste of plums and dried figs that (to my taste) is even more present than in the DNR. Though, the overall taste might be a little "lighter" and not quite as dark and intense as DNR and certainly a little lower in nicotine.

Room Note: I myself find the room note very pleasent and reminiscent of freshly baked bread and again dark fruit. Eventhough, I don't dare to rate this "Pleasant" as - while I was typing this - my girlfriend just got up from the table to fully open the balcony door...
Pipe Used: Peterson Slim Line 407, Savinelli Punto Oro 806
PurchasedFrom: Local Tobacconist
Age When Smoked: As it came from the store
6 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 10, 2016 Medium Extremely Mild Medium to Full Tolerable
As with Chocolate Flake, I bought St. James Flake in the 250gram box which contains a plastic zip-closure pouch which is permeable by air. Bear notice to the caveat emptor: ‘sold subject to loss by evaporation 250g’. So in truth as far as moisture is concerned you’re buying a pig in poke… Mine came in just the right moisture level to smoke straight away and jar immediately.

Pouch aroma was of sweet fermented tobacco with a citric fruit touch and a faint pungent vinegary note. On closer inspection each individual flake has a grassy aroma as well.

Now it’s easy to fold, load and light. As far as smoking behavior is concerned the flakes I received are excellent – they need almost no relight and burn fully leaving no dottle. However I found it difficult to just sip; the amount of smoke produced is huge… This does not mean that it buns quickly, it just produces abundant smoke. Strength is medium with a healthy dose of nicotine. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy and has a bitter-sweet flavor. I think I detect some molasses or licorice casing but it may be just the effect of the Perique on the blend. The sweetness can be described as fruity - imagine dried plums. As I said the fruitiness comes either from a casing or from the Perique which in either case is not pungently spicy in this blend.

It’s not my favourite Samuel Gawith flake, as I prefer the earthier, ‘browner’ and more natural taste of other let’s say FVF or the cool scent of Kendal Cream, to St. James Flake ‘blacker’ taste, but St. James is definitely a four star tobacco.

--Based on a whim after smoking a bowl, I thought it would pair well with Tabak Manil's La Brumeuse, I mixed them both and I liked it a lot, I suggest you try it, if you have both, and like me you got bored after the initial excitement with La Brumeuse and don't know what to do with it...
6 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 10, 2015 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable
I am not a novice to the pipe and have been exploring the Va/pers extensively over the last several years and have tried most all of them. I must say that I have narrowed it down to S.G. St. James Flake as being my all time desert island favorite if I had to choose only one. All of the other reviewers that gave this four stars have described this perfectly. I can't imagine anyone doing any better with a Va/Per than S.G. has with St. James Flake. I think it has even the infamous Escudo beat by far. I use a large 3/4 bent GBD pipe with a 7/8" bore and near two inch deep bowl. I allow the flake to just air dry overnight and fold and stuff the entire flake. There is enough room in the bowl that the top of the flake is near even with the top of the bowl and the bowl is large enough that it leaves ample room around the flake for air circulation and heat expansion. I have been able to keep one flake smoldering for an hour and half or longer. Very tasty!
Pipe Used: Large 3/4 bent GBD
PurchasedFrom: Smoking Pipes
Age When Smoked: 1 Year
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 09, 2015 Medium Very Mild Medium to Full Pleasant
Very nice tasting flake. The Perique seems to have more fruitiness than spice and that's ok here because it taste so good. The Virginias are sweet hay and earth. The end result is delicious. My tin wasn't as wet as I expected from some of the other reviews and did not really require any drying time. This is first class tobacco. Highly recommended.

Medium in body. Medium to full in taste. There may be a very mild sweet topping here. It's hard to tell, but I'm gonna say there is. Burns pretty well. Will need a relight or two. Smoked the same in cob and briar.
Pipe Used: MM Mark Twain, Ropp Dublin
Age When Smoked: fresh
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