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 203 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 02, 2013 Medium Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
The very earthy, woody, slightly tart and tangy dark and stewed, sugary dark fruity, slightly grassy, vinegary and floral, mildly tart and tangy citrusy Virginias are the lead component. They also seem to offer a hint of chocolate at times if you look hard enough. The perique offers raisins, plum, and plenty of figs with some pepper as a supporting player. There is a very mild sweet topping, but it doesn’t tone down the tobaccos. There is a noticeable fermented quality to the sweetness, which likely comes from the aged tobaccos, the extra pressing and some stoving. It does need some drying time, but if you dry it completely, you lose a little of the flavor. I cut it in very small, almost cube size, mixed in a few short, slim strips. It burns slowly, requires some relights, and leaves just a little moisture in the bowl. The strength and taste levels are medium. The nic-hit is a couple of steps past the center of mild to medium. No chance of bite or harshness even when pushed. Has a few small rough edges. Has a cool, clean, fairly smooth, tart and tangy sweet, spicy, mildly sugary, consistent flavor from top to bottom with a very pleasant, lightly lingering after taste. The room note is a tad stronger. Can be an all day smoke.

102 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 24, 2008 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant
I somewhat recommend this blend to Va/Per lovers among us. It is a cautious recommendation because the Perique in this blend is absolutely over the top for me and judging from the previous reviews, may be a bit much for the average Va/Per lovers among us. Still, for those who love a Perique kick in the teeth, this is going to be worshipped.

As is the case with most all SG Virginia blends, the leaf is top-shelf and the presentation (in this case, flakes) is quite nicely done. The pendulum leans to the right in both strength and taste.
65 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 09, 2014 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable
Fortunately, I have lived long enough to remember the old Cope's Escudo. Unfortunately, old guys compare all VaPers to that mythic and unobtainable blend. I will try to review St. James Flake on its own merits.

Like all S. Gawith blends, the tobacco and the preparation are first rate.

Even with two hours of drying, it was hard to light. Once lit, it burned slowly and with little fuss. Neither the pipe bowl, nor the smoke, became hot.

In my opinion, most VaPers have so little perique, that is is hard to find. This blend has just the right amount; much more, and it would have been too much. The perique became even more prominent in the second half of the bowl, but in a pleasant way.

This is a "must try" for those who want a smoke that features the perique.
Pipe Used: Ben Wade, Author Shape, Size 3
PurchasedFrom: Iwan Ries
Age When Smoked: New Tin
52 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 13, 2014 Mild to Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable
I'm still new to Pipe smoking, so right now I aim for tobacco that is sweet and pleasant on a surface level. After going through my initial batch of 14 different blends (wide variety) I've finally done a second bowl of St. James flake, and it was every bit as satisfying as the first.

It does need to be dried out, left overnight as a flake, less time rubbed out. The flavour is just fantastic, sweet but definitely not overbearing, best with slow puffing, a little spice every once in a while, and it leaves an indescribable pleasant taste in my mouth for hours after the smoke.

I didn't get any "tongue bite" specifically, but by now I've learned to keep the stem away from the tip of my tongue and moving around regularly. I don't think it's big on Nicotine but I would probably have to smoke three bowls in a row to find out (basically all day, which doesn't actually sound like a bad idea at this point). Note: Yes three bowls in a row will put me down.

2016 Note: Over the last two years I've found that my mouth will only tolerate an extremely gentle puffing cadence, and this blend isn't quite compatible with such a slow pace. Even crispy dry I have a hard time keeping St James Flake lit. Especially since the flavour is best with a bit of moisture, some people won't naturally mesh with this blend very well.
Pipe Used: Vauen Churchwarden
Age When Smoked: New
34 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 12, 2006 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant
This kind of tobacco is what Gawith does best. If Gawith's marvelous Balkan Flake were my all-day English, St. James Flake would most certainly be my all-day Virginia/Perique blend.

Quality in presentation, appearance, processing, leaf ... all vintage Gawith. The flavor is bold without becoming obnoxious, and the mouthfeel is solid without distracting from the flavor. You know you're smoking, and you know you're smoking something wonderful.

The Virginia portion of this blend strikes me as a combination of the mixture used in Full Virginia Flake and the mixture used in Best Brown Flake or Kendal Plug. This is one savory tobacco.

St. James Flake is an easy, pleasant smoke. Highly recommended.
21 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 25, 2014 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant
Bless me Father, for I have sinned - St. James The Patron Saint of Everything Perique

Tin Aroma: Deep fermented fruity, sour, tangy, plummy characteristic of a well fermented tobacco blend.

The Flake: The flakes come really delicately cut unlike other Samuel Gawith flakes like Firedance, Full Virginia Flake etc., if you looking to smoke a single flake it will not be possible to smoke it folded and stuffed unless you are using a tall slim bowl shape. The flake is quite moist even after a month of being kept in the tin. One word of caution, do not completely dry out this tobacco or you will lose all the taste to bitterness and a very hot bowl.

Preparation: The flakes come really delicately cut unlike other Samuel Gawith flakes like Firedance, Full Virginia Flake etc.I coarsely rub out the tobacco in thin small strands and then let it breathe for 15 minutes or so for optimal burn and taste. The best way to stuff your pipe with St James Flake is Frank's method. The flake when rubbed out is quite sticky, but as you let it breathe for a few minutes, that fermented stickiness goes away.

Charlight: Depending on the moisture content of your flake, it will take 1-2 relights to get this puppy going. The first light greys the flake and the first few puffs are incredibly tangy and mild. Once it gets going it will keep delivering awesome perique goodness balanced with good tobacco till you finish the entire bowl.

The first half: This tobacco is a real treat to VaPer lovers, it touches the mouth and your nose with such delicate caress, no need to retrohale St. James flake ensures all your senses are in total harmony with the fire of the bowl. I advise you to not worry about relights and smoke it semi-dry as totally drying out the flake takes away all the taste from the experience. The smoke is very light in nature when smoking St. James Flake. As a rule with all tobacco, puffing on it hard will make it extremely bitter. Clench your pipe and get your breathing in-sync with the puffing and you are guaranteed the experience of a life time. The perique really comes out in this flake and makes you forget that it has other tobaccos in the mix as well. The virginia plays a second seat and complements the perique greatly. By the time you finish first 1/4th of the bowl, the fruity tangyness with give way for the signature peppery spicyness of perique.

I will stress here that St. James flake is not a Perique bomb but rather a subtle experience which is wonderfully balanced by the guys at Samuel Gawith, which is the reason why that this tobacco is one of the most favoured VaPer flake in the pipe community. Smokingly it slowly and nicely will ensure that you get atleast an hour worth of smoke from a single flake.

By the time you approach the second half of the bowl the light smoke will magically give way to a nice cloud of smoke, you can actually feel the difference as the intensity increases in flavour, room note and strength. Thankfully there is no lakeland essence in this blend and hence its a very pure VaPer blend.

The second half: As you approach the second half of the bowl it is now time to tamp the ash and relight the bowl. You will notice that the taste remains the same unlike many tobacco blends which usually go bland or lose their character when they are approaching their optimal smoke. You will start to notice the virginia in the blend and if you have smoked Full Virginia Flake or Best Brown Flake, it is more or less the same virginia. A very high quality tobacco indeed. However, the aftertaste in the mouth changes from pepper-spice to a little ashy, but fret not bretheren it is barely noticeable and you won't be put off at all by it.

Your nose, still in tobacco heaven will make you see angels and cherubs dance in front of your eyes as the bold flavors of the Saint blow you away. Can I get a Hallelujah please? Church bells will toll and you will experience a full opera conducted by St. James himself.

Climax: By the time you reach at the end of the bowl, you will be blown by the Saint. YOU CANT HATE IT. This tobacco is easily on my Top 10 list for 2014.

A very satisfying smoking experience, it has become a part of my rotation. Trust me, your mouth and your brain will agree with me after you've smoked a few flakes of this wonderful tobacco.

I will give this blend a solid 3.9 out of 4.

Smoking Companions: A chilled can of Coke Zero, Club Soda. Pipes used: Peterson 2014 Christmas B35 Zulu, Falcon with Green Apple Genoa bowl and a Rick Black freehand sitter. Tobacco Components: Virginia/Perique with a touch of sugar. Will buy again? Hell YES!
Pipe Used: Peterson 2014 Xmas B35, Rick Black Poker
Age When Smoked: Fresh
19 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 29, 2008 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
One thing that I must mention about Gawith?s flakes is that I love how they basically fall apart when you take them out of the tin. Now I?ve never mastered the art of folding and stuffing flakes so I always break them up to some degree. Gawith?s flakes seem to be thinner than a lot of flakes and broken flakes (McClelland) and are really, really easy to rub out and pull apart. Because they are thinner, they also seem to dry out a lot faster before smoking them whereas a lot of the other brands take forever!! Another great plus in my book.

As a lover of Gawith?s Full Virginia Flake (FVF), I knew that they had the Virginia blending down to a science but I was curious as to their knowledge of throwing Perique into the mix. Here is how this blend is described:

A sumptuous blend of Virginias and Perique, this big, bold British style flake incorporates a generous proportion of St. James Parish, LA perique.

The tin aroma was typical fruity and spicy, maybe more on the spicy side, which is what I would expect from the description of this VaPer. The Virginia aroma is very reminiscent of FVF and I suspect that they might use a Virginia blend very similar to it. I took out a tin of FVF and gave them both the ?sniff? test and they the Virginias were almost identical.

As stated above, I took a couple of flakes out of the tin and gently rubbed them out and let them dry for about 30 minutes before I loaded up the bowl. It was very easy to light and had a white ash right off of the bat. This blend burns extremely clean, just like FVF. During the smoke, the Perique dances along with the Virginias almost as if to a beat. It comes to the front then goes to the back and so on and so on. It was a great experience!!

Now I am going to go against what most people on have stated about this blend. A lot of people on here have stated that the Perique quantity in this blend is way over the top and that there is a high level of nicotine in this blend. I did not find either of these statements true for any of the bowls that I smoked of this. And I have smoked two tins so far. While the Perique is noticeable in this blend it does not come to the front and punch you in the face with its strength like other blends (Kajun Kake, Night Train, etc). Also, there is nicotine in here but not anymore than I have experienced in other blends.

This blend is very tasty to me and the price when buying in bulk really can?t be beat. Taste-wise, I enjoyed this more than Escudo. The reason is that the two types of tobacco (Virginia and Perique) seemed to be blended together with more consistency than Escudo. I have smoked Escudo where I almost didn?t have any Perique until I hit the bottom and then it came on too strong. St. James Flake is not like this. The Perique chimes in as if on cue every time. It?s a wonderful blend and will be a staple in my rotation and cellar from now on
17 people found this review helpful.
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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
Jun 12, 2016 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
A Virginia perique flake that I find to be in a class all its own, and there are quite a few nuances to its flavor. The Virginias are dark and sweet, the perique adds depth, spice and the delicate taste of tart plum. Like Full Virginia Flake, further down the bowl is where St. James Flake shines. The flavors develop substantially and a bit more spice steps forward in the mix. The sweetness deepens as the sugars caramelize and the smoke tingles the senses in a way that only the finest Virginia Perique blends can.

St. James Flake burns cool and consistent with no bite or harsh notes. The smoke is smooth, rich and zesty. The tobacco flavor strength is medium as is the nicotine strength, making this a stand out choice for a morning, mid-day or even a late night pipe. St James Flake does require a bit of dry time and may also require a few extra relights, but the reward is the humble pleasure of smoking one of Sam Gawith’s most outstanding offerings.
14 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 27, 2015 Medium None Detected Full Pleasant
As I opened the tin I wondered if I could just eat it. The dry fruit stripes' appearance of this tobacco has really surprised me. I was very pleased to feast my eyes on this, I must say. This stuff is very sticky and leathery, and you can clearly see the crystallized sugars forming into the grain of this flake. Cut into different sizes and lengths, It all comes bind toguether in a lump due to its moist content, but it is easy to bring it all apart in order to dry it. After the flake was dry enough to be able to smoke it, rubbing and crumbling it was all a woman's work. The tin note is absolutely gorgeous and it looks well aged and cured.

If not properly dried, you'll have a hard time keeping this tobacco lit, so be advised. Also, I recommend leaving this tobacco in your jar, forget all about it, and come back in a week's time: it will have improved considerably (believe you me). This is top notch quality tobacco, but you need to smoke it very slowly in order not to break it. I found this to be true with most tobaccos, but it is a must with all VaPers. The amount of Perique is just right and I find the Virginia simply gorgeous. The tin note is not overwhelmingly strong and rather pleasant. Despite its molasses and sticky appearance, I cannot detect any toppings and I like the fact it will consume very slowly in your bowl if smoked properly. It will evolve in different layers and undertones as you progress in your smoke and I cannot detect any tongue-bite at all. Highly recommended.
Pipe Used: Meerschaum
PurchasedFrom: A tobacconist in Spain
Age When Smoked: 1 year, perhaps
14 people found this review helpful.
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