J. F. Germain & Son Rich Dark Flake

Notes: According to an email response from J. F. Germain and Son asking if they produced any other blend like Stonehaven, they replied that their Rich Dark Flake is similar to Stonehaven, which is produced for Esoterica in the U.S. market only.


Brand J. F. Germain & Son
Blended By J. F. Germain & Son
Manufactured By J.F. Germain & Son
Blend Type Virginia/Burley
Contents Burley, Virginia
Flavoring Molasses
Cut Flake
Packaging Sold in various bulk pouch weights.
Country United Kingdom
Production Currently available


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

Average Rating

3.60 / 4





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Displaying 21 - 30 of 35 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 29, 2012 Medium Mild to Medium Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
Rich Dark Flake is sold in the U.K. (online tobacconists) loose in pouches of 25g, 50g or 500g box and exudes quality from the minute you open the pouch to smell its rich fruity aroma to the exquisitely simple process of rubbing out the long thin flakes, packing your pipe and smoking one hell of a classy tobacco. RDF is not an extreme blend, one that is likely to ghost your pipes as Condor does. RDF will appeal to smokers who enjoy the classic British style flakes such as the aforementioned Condor or St Bruno and the presentation of the long dark flakes, not over moist, will surely encourage the smoker to smoke straight from the pouch without any dry time whatsoever. The smoke itself is medium in strength and produces a very 'moorish' flavour and roomnote, the taste is a full yet mellow Va taste backed up very finely with a Burley smoothness and produces absolutely no bite. Never having smoked the famed Stonehaven I'm unable to make any comparison but if Stonehaven bares even a slight resemblance to RDF then I can well understand its high ranking and regard amongst seasoned pipesmokers. RDF is a high quality flake which in my estimation deserves easily a four star rating as it is readily available in the UK and is of the highest quality. Smokers from the U.S. may find it not so readily available but then again, you have Stonehaven which I'm sure will prove a decent enough substitute for RDF 🙂
4 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 26, 2018 Medium Extremely Mild Extremely Mild (Flat) Unnoticeable
Yeah this is nice enough, But I dunno what all the fuss is about. Never heard of Stonehaven. Thought it was a town near Bristol.

Oh yeah, it's Stonehouse. Silly me.

Have to say this looks the business, it really does. Long, broad stripes of yummy looking dark, almost black, flakes. Chocolate, maybe something alcoholic in the smell. Looks and smells like SG's Navy cut.

But really the smoke is disappointing. Doesn't really taste of anything. Doesn't burn particularly well, either. Needs endless poking, prodding and relights. It's not a bad tobacco, it's just well er....tasteless.

Room aroma ? Zilch, nothing.

My son swears by this, as the finest on Germain's books, perhaps the tobacco world, but I just don't get it.
Pipe Used: All
PurchasedFrom: Cgars. 25g loose.
Age When Smoked: New
3 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 22, 2012 Medium to Strong Very Mild Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable
As mentioned in the description it is supposed to be similar to Stonehaven. And it really is. But still, I detect a little difference both in the composition and topping.

To me it seems that the Dark Flake emphasizes the Virginia more than Stonehaven does. The Burley is still very present, but it's a tad more in the background (which is why I rate the Dark Flake a little higher). And while Stonehaven seems to be topped with something chocolate like, the Dark Flake is more on a fruity (plum?) note. But actual differences or not, I find them to be very, very small. A fan of Stonehaven would surely feel right at home with this one.

Highly recommended!
3 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 24, 2020 Mild Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant
A natural comparison arises between Germain’s Rich Dark Flake (RDF) and Germain’s produced Stonehaven. For my own palate, McClelland’s Dark Star and Blackwoods are also within this same grouping of blends. Although the four blends are not identical, the composition and processed are similar. Focusing upon only the two Germain’s blends, a bit of hearsay may well justify the comparison as well as explain the differences. According to the website, and private conversations with the owner, of one of the top three UK online shops, the head of Germain’s said that RDF and Stonehaven are identical blends except for the preservatives and anti-fungal components allowed under the tobacco rules in the USA but not in the UK. Stated in a direct way, the US tobacco rules allow for a number of preservatives and anti-fungal agents that can be chemically produced (read: man made), while the UK limits additives to naturally produced. The UK allows plant based extracts to be used, as they come from processed (in a limited manner) natural products. The US rules have a more extensive list of allowed components. Other similar blends between the two markets are 1820 Flake and Penzance, and 1820 and Margate (purported to be Germain’s match version of Balkan Sobranie Original – which is a long story). In general, many pipe smokers identify a “creamy” taste, and a higher marriage of flavors, in the blends produced for the US market, as compared to their UK counterparts. Some smokers experience the UK blends are being better when fresh and maturing (aging) faster, while finding the US blends to be far superior when the blend has aged 8-10 years. These differences may well be explained by the addition of preservatives and anti-fungal agents. That said, when smoked, RDF has a more “tobacco” flavor as compared to the subtler Stonehaven. While this has been associated with speculation as RDF having a higher burley content I do not support this speculation. As someone who is no fan of burley in a blend and quite sensitive to it, I do not find the burley content in RDF to be any higher than Stonehaven. RDF has a more natural flavor, wherein the added molasses softens, but does not cut out, the cruder tobacco flavors. This is not to say that RDF is harsh in anyway, for it is not. It is only in comparison to Stonehaven that one can identify a more distinct tobacco flavor in RDF. Stonehaven benefits from long aging (8-10 years) while already after 5-years RDF has mellowed and smooth out to the sublime, sans the creamy deliciousness found in aged Stonehaven.
Pipe Used: Geigerpipes Billiard Dunills groups 3 - 4
PurchasedFrom: several UK shops
Age When Smoked: fresh, and years 1, 3, 4, 8, and 13
2 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 19, 2020 Medium Mild Medium Pleasant
This is the stuff. But then, I always think that about Germain tobaccos. This however, is the stuff.

Germain’s I always find smokes best fairly well compacted in a smaller bowl. Not so Rich Dark Flake (probably because it is a flake rather than their usual fine ribbon) which is where I initially went wrong. I did my normal thing of rubbing out a flake and packing in my Peterson 304 – perfect up to now for Germain’s. But whether it was the higher proportion of Burley or the fact that it was not Germain’s usual ribbon/shag but the resultant smoke was merely very good. Folded and stuffed in a wider bowl led to another very good experience. How disappointing.

But three bowls later, well rubbed out and with just a little drying time I realised that this too was indeed another excellent Germain product. So many flavours are revealed and all very subtle – possibly cocoa, possibly orange zest, possibly red wine or liqueur, a hint of liquorice, a touch of treacle. However, you are never in any doubt that you are smoking tobacco but for such a dark flake the flavours are light with hints and nuances that are fleeting and implore you to chase after them.

The main thing to note is that his is not a Burley aromatic – most of the flavour comes from the compounds contained within the tobacco but the subtly flavourful casing is expertly added and adds to the experience. Quite special.
Pipe Used: Peterson, Savinelli, Falcon, Missouri Meerschaum
Age When Smoked: Fresh
2 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 17, 2020 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Very Pleasant
Having seen so many positive reviews on this tobacco, I thought it would be very rude not to give it a go so I ordered a 25gm pouch of loose flake from My smoking shop. On opening the bag I was met with a smell reminiscent of a tobacconist shop from years gone by. Sweet and intrigueing and very seductive in its fruity deep goodness. I seldom review on a first bowl so this is based on my third smoke. The flakes are typically paper thin like most Germaines flakes and break apart easily in the bag. Very dark like an old English style steam pressed flake with some sugar forming on them. I rubbed out a sufficient quantity for my Falcon Bulldog and let it stand for about 15 minutes, having judged it to be a mite sticky in nature and not overly wet, so I didn't dry it any further. It lit very easily and burned evenly all the way down with an immediate release of sweet fruityness on the charring light that just continued to intensify and improve all the way down to the heel of the bowl. Flavours of plum and raisin and a deep brown sugar and molasses with the Virginia forward and less evidence of the Burley, which is there to give moral support to the Virginia and keep it burning cool. It is so cool in fact that it would be very hard to get it to bite at all and if more newbies tried this instead of heading for aromatics, then less of them would give up at the first hurdle. The room note and beard/moustache note are also sheer delight with an after taste that only comes with well matured and processed quality leaf. I can actually see no negatives at all with this blend and give it an easy 4 stars. I will be getting more to enjoy and would heartily reccomend it to anyone who likes a full flavoured well behaved treat for the senses. Do yourself a favor and try some soon !
Pipe Used: Falcon
PurchasedFrom: My Smoking Shop
Age When Smoked: Fresh
2 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 27, 2019 Medium Mild Medium Pleasant
The title of this blend couldn't be more fitting: It's rich, it's dark and it's a flake. Very similar to Esoterica Stonehaven but with a little more body and strength. The topping noticeable but does not overpower the top-shelf tobaccos. It is somewhat reminiscent of treacle toffee. If you like Stonehaven, you will love Rich Dark Flake!
Pipe Used: Park Rhodesian (briar) & Peterson Meerschaum.
PurchasedFrom: GQ Tobaccos
Age When Smoked: Fresh & 2 years
2 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jun 10, 2022 Mild Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
Bag note is a slightly sweet coco aroma. My sample was quite dry already but needed a bit of rubbing out. First light was pure Virginia but once it settled down with very slow puffing. I was greeted with light coco and some sweet molasses flavor. The burley keeps the Virginia in check so it burns very nicely, not to hot. Nic hit is mild to medium. Burns very nicely, needed only a few relights. Very nice mild to medium smoke Could be easily an all day smoke. Personally I would smoke this after dinner.
Pipe Used: Dr. Grabow duke tasting pipe
PurchasedFrom: friend gift
Age When Smoked: gift not sure but aged a bit
1 person found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 01, 2021 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant
Pure, unadulterated, ambrosia. Some say there is a molasses type topping, which I can understand as it does have a wonderful sweetness to it, but I am not sure if this is actually the case. This is so well behaved after a little drying time. Rich, dark fruitiness throughout. Depressingly hard to obtain (Even in the UK), so when you find it, grab it quick.
Pipe Used: Dunhill Tanshell billiard, GBD New Standard Pot
PurchasedFrom: My Smoking Shop
Age When Smoked: Various
1 person found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 20, 2020 Mild to Medium Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
The tin note is sensational, it rubs out easily. I give it 30 minutes drying time and it lights and burns easily and steadily to the end of the bowl. It's name tells you all you need to know. Smoke it and you dive into a deep, rich dark pool of contentment and contemplation. This is blended and manufactured by people operating at the very top of their game. It is a magnificent blend and I cannot imagine any pipe smoker not enjoying it. I bought it to compare with Marlin Flake, which is my usual go-to when I want a break from my favourite Scottish mixtures (Old Dublin, Tree Mixture and Red Rapparee). This is better than Marlin which gives you some idea of how good it is. It is now a destination in it's own right, and will be a permanent part of my rotation from now on. Recommended without reservation. The only fly in the ointment is the price, but it is worth every penny.
Pipe Used: Smokes beautifully in all my briars
PurchasedFrom: Barbers of Harrogate
Age When Smoked: 1 month
1 person found this review helpful.
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