Esoterica Tobacciana Stonehaven

A marriage of air-cured leaf and Burley with selected dark Virginia. Hard pressed and aged to produce brown flakes with dark undertones. A traditional English flake favored by experienced pipe smokers.


Brand Esoterica Tobacciana
Blended By J.F. Germain & Son
Manufactured By J.F. Germain & Son
Blend Type Virginia/Burley
Contents Burley, Virginia
Flavoring Other / Misc
Cut Flake
Packaging 2 ounce tin, 8 ounce bag
Country United Kingdom
Production Currently available


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

Average Rating

3.55 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 11 of 217 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jun 25, 2014 Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant
A friend in my pipe club gave me a few bowls worth of the Stonehaven he had aged for around 2 years (and he's quite experienced at ageing quality tobaccos). It was probably the most extraordinary smoke I have ever had. I like how the flake comes, and in general I like flakes because I'm very particular about how the pieces of tobacco are broken up so I can pack it just right... which I find especially important with Virginias and Virginia/Burleys, given that they can be a bit more sensitive when it comes to how they are smoked. It definitely covered what I've always appreciated about a good Virginia/Burley blend, this one with the Burley more forward, as far as I could tell. What amazed me though was the sweetness. I'm not usually looking for a sweet taste in a tobacco, but this was absolutely delightful. It reminded me of a much more subtle version of the taste of chewing on a piece of freshly chopped sugar cane... which has that grassy, woodiness, but also a lovely sweetness that is in no way overbearing. I enjoyed every second of the few bowls I smoked. The nicotine was very pleasant as well. Perhaps on the slightly stronger side as tobaccos go in general, but pretty normal for a Burley/Virginia... very relaxing. I'm not sure I'll get to experience something quite like that tobacco ever again.
Pipe Used: Mastro de Paja bent acorn
Age When Smoked: 2 years old
5 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 10, 2013 Mild to Medium Mild Medium Pleasant
Original 2-10-2013 review: You may prefer to dry it some - I like it with some moisture, as I feel it tends to lose some flavor when it's real dry. Dry or moist, you'll get a long lasting smoke as it always burns cool, clean, smooth and slow. Fold and stuff, cube cut, rubbed out... no matter how you prepare it, Stonehaven delivers a very consistent VaBur taste with a rich, but mild dark chocolate, deep tangy dark fruit, plenty of wood and earth, bread, nuts (almond-like), some sugar, a little grass, tart and tangy citrus, and black strap molasses along with a light raisiny, floral quality. The burleys are a little more obvious than the blackened red and lightly obvious brighter Virginias. Treacle and light ale are the toppings. I have occasionally noticed a slight inconsistency from bag to bag over the years, and sometimes in bags produced in the same year. An experienced smoker will be more sensitive to what complexity is here as some flavors are subtle, and may not appear in every puff, or in every production. The strength is a step past the center of mild to medium, while the taste does reach the medium level. The nic-hit is in the center of mild to medium. Won't bite, or get harsh, and has few rough notes. If you leave it as moist is it usually is when purchased, you may have to stir up the bottom of the bowl a little, but generally, it leaves a little moisture, but no dottle. Requires some relights. I suggest packing the tobacco a little loose. Has a very pleasant after taste and room note. Can be an all day smoke. Four stars.

UPDATE 1-6-2022: As I noted in my original review, I have encountered differences in Stonehaven batches several times over the years. Mainly, that’s been due to the toppings, and seldom the tobaccos. In this latest version, the streaks of bright Virginias are in greater number than I’ve ever seen, and the tart and tangy citrus, grass, and floralness are more prominent than usual. The tangy ripe dark fruit is very light, which is an obvious indicator that the blackened red Virginia was replaced by blackened orange Va. The ale is currently a little more noticeable than treacle. The number of raisin notes that have varied greatly in the past are not present here. The diluted chocolate is milder. The less nutty, sweet burleys have a smaller presence. The strength is almost medium now, due to the change in Virginias and weaker toppings. The taste is still medium. It is moderately less sweet, and is a little rougher and sharper with less complexity and flavor depth. It also has a minor sour lemon aspect from the bright Va.s, and there never was a sour note in the past. All the other aspects of my original review are the same. I current give this three stars, and my TR ratings reflect this production.

71 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 07, 2009 Medium Extremely Mild Medium Very Pleasant
This is a tobacco I always keep a good stock of. This blend always provided me with one heck of a unique smoking experience. The silky smooth, long dark strips (which look just like beef jerkey), always make my mouth water just by looking at them. They always are moist, so, rubbing to suit my taste is difficult (I like my flakes rubbed out to the hilt). Once rubbed out I let the tobacco sit in the open air for a couple of hours (minimum), because the flavor and strength is more pronounced when smoked dry.

The smell is deep and dark, just like the leaf, and the older Stonehaven (produced before the turn of the 21st century), is much more perfumed than current production with not quite as much of a nicotine hit. This is also one of the coolest smoking blends I've ever put in a pipe. The flavor comes on strong, and is almost like dark chocolate in its richness.

This may not be a morning smoke for some because of its strength on the palate. But, I can see where this can be puffed in the late afternoons and evenings non-stop. Puff as hard and fast as you like, there will be nary a nip! Again, I have never smoked anything quite like this. Although loaded with Burley, Stonehaven is smooth all the way down the bowl whereas many Burley blends will fan their gill plates near the bottom.
46 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 01, 2013 Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable
Esotericas Stonehaven tobacco is a good English tobacco - no more and no less. The approach to its marketing has apparently created a "mystique" based demand founded on its 'unavailability'. People are well known to want more of (and pay more for) what they purportedly 'can't have'. I'm no different - I paid a ridiculous premium for my first, and only, sampling of Stonehaven. Why so 'unavailable'? Is the tobacco harvested from the dark side of the moon? or from some mysterious tropical island that only appears once a year in the remote Pacific? C'mon....clearly it's a ploy to create demand and price point where the quality of the actual product doesn't truly justify such. Good tobacco in a fine blend? Yes, but there are many as good or better. Pipes and has a better English blend in their Marquee Magnum Opus, in my opinion. Compton's of Galashiels blends are far more rich, luxurious in taste, and rewarding to smoke than any of the Esoterica blends that I've tried, including Stonehaven and the equally 'unavailable' Penzance. Try Esotericas Stonehaven if the opportunity arises and you are a fan of good English pipe tobacco. However, if you never get your hands on it, don't fret. You haven't missed out on anything spectacular. Certainly, don't pay more for it than your local tobacco shops own good English blend. In all honesty, I'm a bit put off by the way it's qualities and desirability have been falsely inflated by the manufacturing of a supposed perpetual 'unavailability'. That seems greasy to me....After all, it's only tobacco for goodness sake.
35 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 20, 2013 Medium to Strong Extremely Mild Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable
Thanks to a pipe smoking friend, I have had some six year-old Stovehaven calling to me from my desk. This is one of those things where if you waited for the occasion that was worthy, you would soon have some seven year-old Stonehaven. I decided not to wait for a special event. Maybe I decided to create one.

It is hard for me to describe because I am not the poet. There is a depth to it, and it is smooth and full of VaBur flavor. There is a smoky thing going on in the flavor profile and I found it slightly sweet and a little heavy. It smoked very cool for me, and it was a longer smoke than I expected. Those flakes are dense. I have a theory that when there is not enough taste in a tobacco, I puff it too fast trying to extract some. Stonehaven does not have the "not enough taste" problem, and I am finding this to be a tobacco that suits me every well. I have about an ounce total, and I will enjoy it.

I know I am not adding much to the body of knowledge about this legendary tobacco, but I do want to cast my vote with four star folks. FWIW, I rubbed mine out.
Pipe Used: just rocked in a National large billiard
PurchasedFrom: gift from friend
Age When Smoked: six years
29 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 12, 2009 Medium to Strong Very Mild Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable
As Korndog said, this HAS to be dried out to be appreciated for the near-perfect smoke it is. I sampled it fresh out of the bag and it was a bit hot as it got down the bowl. Dried to the point where it breaks off easily (not quite crumbly) is about perfect for me. If you're going to give this blend the time it deserves, I recommend you dry it thoroughly. Experiment with different degrees of moisture until you find the right one for you.

This blend has depth and complexity, the nuance of flavors coming through at different times. Sometimes the burley takes center stage and sometimes the stoved virginia rears its head. Throughout most of the smoke, this blend is a true "blend", with all the tobaccos melding harmoniously into what just may be my favorite mixture. I have about 20 "favorites" and I think this one may be the best of that group. I cannot recommend this blend highly enough. If you like natural tobacco taste with just a slight sweetness that can either be complex enough to sit and contemplate or easygoing enough to sit and forget, you have to try this one. Consistent from bowl to bowl and year to year, just don't forget to dry it thoroughly in order to experience the full flavor spectrum. If you don't like it, don't throw it out! I'll be happy to take it off your hands. 🙂
25 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 19, 2007 Medium None Detected Extremely Mild (Flat) Very Pleasant
The Esoterica line are some of the most well-regarded tobaccos to be found today. This is not unjustified as J. F. Germain, the historic company of the Isle of Jersey which blend and tin all of the tobacco under this label, are known for using the absolute finest leaf and employing the most exacting of processes. One need look no further than their price to determine this. I will say that, as regards the mixtures Germain puts out under their own name, I have always been impressed. It is when they produce for a private label, when they are asked to do something a little different, that I find I am never fully satisfied. Bear in mind, though, I can never fully decry these blends out of consideration for the obvious quality of the leaf. That, and I have yet to try any of the blends they produce for the Smoker?s Haven, which I understand are very good.

Stonehaven would initially appear to be a classic flake, all dark red and sweet-smelling as it is. The addition of Kentucky Burley here makes it something a bit more off from the beaten path, perhaps even an Americanized British flake. Sadly, an as much as I like Burley, this is Stonehaven?s one downfall. There is something about the addition of Kentucky leaf to red Virginia that destroys the sweet tang of the Virginia and makes the flavor of the Burley unnoticeable. When I am smoking a flake this dark or when I am smoking a flake containing Burley, I expect a big flavor. The flavor of Stonehaven is most often mild to the point of being a vapid nonentity. Sometimes it is as though the mouth is full of nothing but hot smoke, and while, I suppose, this is always true when smoking a pipe, it should never seem like only that. There is a middling amount of strength, but this is hardly any compensation.

Once again, the ingredients are of the finest. The flake is thin and flawless with a texture of silk and leather. Still, I would as soon exchange this for a foil pouch containing something with an appearance like unto dog hair if I were to get some true taste from it. Like that paper tiger Penzance from the same line, Stonehaven has many superfluities and very little of what counts.

Regards, A. Morley Jaques
20 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 06, 2006 Medium Extremely Mild Medium Strong
It seemed, based on other reviews, that I would enjoy Esoterica Tobacciana's Stonehaven immensely. I was sadly mistaken. The stuff (bulk) burns rather well, to address the positive qualities, and creates clouds that one could substitute for a bee smoker. Forget creating smoke rings--with practice I would wager that I could create smoke castles with this stuff. It is unfortunate, then, that the flavour of Stonehaven is nearly non-existent (and I find it difficult to rate this properly). While there is a bit of a cigar-like aftertaste, mostly what I get from this weed is a bit of a sting (bees take note). Admittedly, I am not such a fan of Burley. That taste does hint as does the Virginia but the bite overwhelms both. Indeed, this tobacco is a bit nauseating. If you like Burley, you will probably like this. If you like Virginia/Perique blends, you will probably like this (even if the peppery stuff is not present). If your bees are producing iso-pentyl acetate, you will find the smoke useful to douse that pheromonious alarm. For me, I would rather leave the hive to those more sensitive to the sting and enjoy the honey of different blend.
17 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 28, 2014 Medium to Strong None Detected Full Tolerable to Strong
The unobtanium of the pipe tobacco world. It is absolutely incredible and worth all that is said of it. The greatest vabur I have had the pleasure of smoking. I was lucky enough to have forum friends send me plenty of this over the past year and am just nearing the end of those samples. I have never had a bad bowl of it yet.

There is really nothing that I can compare this blend to. It has a lot of body to it and the Virginia (very mature) and burley combine to give a sweetness that is perfect to the tastebuds. The flakes themselves are so thin and fragile they make prep a thing of ease. I won't downgrade on the availability factor, but it is a bummer that Germain can't keep up with its demand.

It is even a bigger bummer that people can cash in on nearly double the cost of this once they buy due to that same demand. OK, rant over. Get if it you can find it.
Pipe Used: Best in my Dunhill 5103 shell
13 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 15, 2013 Medium Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
I ordered an 8 oz. bag of Esoterica Stonehaven back in January 2013 from a local tobacconist. One bag is all that the owner would allocate me. I received a phone call today to advise that the tobacco was in stock "IF I WAS INTERESTED!" Having never tried this highly touted tobacco, yes, I was interested. I traveled to the tobacco shop on my way to lunch, and the employee manning the register couldn't locate the bag. Bummer! After we both made a thorough search, and contacted the store owner by telephone, we located the Stonehaven in a bulk glass display jar on the shelf. No one had put my name on the bag, but the entire 8 oz. content was there, fresh, and only a few hours out of the bag. I was asked if I wanted the opened tobacco, to which I replied, "yes, I'll take all of it." The owner was embarrassed that this had not been set aside for me, so she volunteered to get me another, unopened bag, from a sister store in another city. She asked, "would you like one bag or two?" I said that I would take a couple bags if she had it available. She promised that she would have it available tomorrow. BTW, there was an unopened bag of Penzance in the store that was being held for me. I bought that as well. The Penzance costs $40, and they only charged me $33 for the opened quantity of Stonehaven. In short, today has been a very good pipe tobacco acquisition day for me.

Enough with the logistics, how does it smell, smoke and taste?

Smell? The other reviewers were not wrong on the smell. There is a pronounced, delicious smelling aroma of figs, plums, and chocolate. The flakes are quite beautiful, moist, and a rich dark color. There is no question that this is premium quality tobacco.

Lighting? Fully rubbed out, and fresh and moist out of the bag, one flake fit my jet black rusticated Ser Jacopo Dublin perfectly. It took a couple of false lights to get the tobacco going, and then the burn was perfect - even though the Stonehaven was moist.

Taste and smoke? Mild. Satisfying. Subtle. A very nuanced taste of aged straight burley and Virginia tobaccos. The taste is slightly sweet. The tobacco smokes VERY coolly. Plentiful bluish gray smoke. There is zero tongue bite. Nose exhale is excellent. The ash is salt and pepper colored.

This is not a tobacco that reaches out and grabs ones taste buds, say, like a full Balkan or strong English blend; however, it DOES provide a nice, relaxing, smoking experience. My strong coffee with cream and sugar, frankly, overpowers the taste. The nicotine level seems to be about medium strength. I rate this tobacco - three stars. I will amend my rating, if my opinion changes, but I think that is a fair evaluation.

Esoterica Stonehave (and Penzance) are worth having at the retail price, but I refuse to pay the eBay scalper's exorbitant usury prices. I don't think an 8 oz. bag is worth $100, at least not to me. Stonehaven is very comparable to FVF, Full Virginia Flake, which I find is easily obtainable here in North Carolina.

Obtaining? How does one get it at the "regular" price, you may ask? Patronize and support your local tobacconist, put in an order request, and WAIT patiently. You will be rewarded for your loyalty. Esoterica releases this tobacco, and Penzance, twice yearly, about every six months. I placed my order in January of 2013, and I took delivery today, which is spot on for retail deliveries.

I plan on smoking the jarred 8 oz. flakes of Stonehaven in my regular rotation, and I will cellar the other two bags, if my tobacconist comes through on their promise. At one flake per bowl, it should last a long time....
11 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 19, 2016 Medium Very Mild Medium to Full Pleasant
Esoterica Tobacciana’s Stonehaven is – IMO – an archetypal English flake tobacco, not only in terms of the blend and the way it’s processed, but also in terms of the way it smokes, which is perfectly. It is everything I want in my pipe, and there is nothing there that I don’t want, apart from regret over not laying up more of it when I had the chance.

Tin note is the yardstick for VA/Burs, featuring chocolate and prunes over the tobacco. The tobacco is pre-aged, correctly pressed and fermented, and it’s also perfectly “conditioned”, ready to smoke right out of the tin, given a proper fold-n-stuff load, which is to say, not too tight. There seems to be a range of VAs, with plenty of red and brown, also some air cured leaf along with the stoved, and fruit has been added at some point. The lot is deep, dark and sweet like molasses and treacle, but it is not cloying, and the Burly is as “fatty” and rich as any I’ve ever sniffed or smoked, nutty and just tannic enough to add its own brand of “tang” to that of the VAs. The flakes are moist, and they require some patience at the light (preferable, IMO, to drying it out). Stonehaven is great right from the match, and it just gets better as it is smoked down. There is plenty of smooth, fragrant smoke, and the scents and tastes run parallel, quite rich and thoroughly satisfying, overall, with exemplary balance from top to bottom. Strength is medium; tastes are toward full; room note is pleasant. The aftertaste is the best of a very fine smoke, and it lasts for a long time.

I hope it’s clear that I love this tobacco, and I’m glad to have found a tin to review since I joined TR. IMO, this is one of the most “satisfying” pipe tobaccos on the Planet. It is delicious, long-lasting, and “comfortable” in a way that too few modern (not to mention available) blends can equal. Obviously, I think Stonehaven is worth the chase it seems to entail these days. Four Stars, of course.
Pipe Used: various briars
Age When Smoked: fresh to aged
8 people found this review helpful.
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