McClelland Blackwoods Flake

The characteristic, natural sweetness of mellow, red Virginias mingles inextricably with the richness and inherently spicy aroma of black stoved Virginias in this doubly aged red and black all-Virginia cake mixture. An artistic achievement in tobaccos for the pipe, this beautiful mottled flake is incomparable in smoothness, balance and refinement.
Notes: From McClelland: Occasionally we meet someone whose familiarity with a variety of tobaccos, sensitive palate, and desire for "that special tobacco" provide an inspiration for us. In seeking to satisfy a taste other than our own, we pleasantly surprise ourselves with beautiful results. This is what the Personal Reserve Series is all about. We developed this concept early on as a way to enhance our creative spirit. We are proud to offer these fine pipe tobacco blends, and hope you will enjoy them.


Brand McClelland
Series Personal Reserve
Blended By McClelland Tobacco Company
Manufactured By McClelland Tobacco Company
Blend Type Straight Virginia
Contents Virginia
Cut Flake
Packaging 50 grams tin, 100 grams tin
Country United States
Production No longer in production


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

Average Rating

3.50 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 11 of 233 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 02, 2017 Mild to Medium None Detected Full Pleasant to Tolerable
I have only been smoking a year, but this is probably the best blend I've tried so far. It's delicious and complex. It has a sweet, spicy swamp smell. Well-balanced, mellow, yet tangy. Burns nice and slow with few relights. Smooth mouth coating. Orange blossom, mint. Like discovering a sunny little patch of flowers walking in a deep dark forest. I can tell I'll be spending a lot of time coming back to this one again and again. Inspiring.
Pipe Used: Savinelli Capri Root Briar 111
1 person found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 29, 2013 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant
I have managed to get my hands on another blend which is taken for granted in North America, but the rest of us treat as exotica. So please understand any over-enthusiasm I bring to this bit of verbiage!

First impressions: we just don't get packaging like this over here. Ring-pull cans, whatever will they think of next??!!

Second impressions: tear open the can and there it is in all its glory, the "ketchup" smell of which we read so much. What IS that all about? I passed the tin to the missus for sniffing purposes, interestingly her first reaction was "cinnamon," so there you go.

Third impressions: is this what you colonialists call a "flake?" Jeez guys, come on! Seriously, it comes as a shock to those of us used to seeing perfectly formed and uniform rectangles of beautifully pressed tobacco to be confronted with what looks like bits of bark stripped by a naughty schoolboy from a tree.

But for all that it does look straight away like quality leaf, predominantly mid-brown with the occasional fleck of bright and then the even sparser smattering of the dark, stoved pieces. Very attractive.

And very moist too. Which despite rubbing out and resting defeated me with the first bowlful. No problems with lighting, just a somewhat disappointing sensation of warm air and not much else.

So let it rest a good while longer. And try again. Now we're getting there. A lovely fruity tang gives way to the classic undercurrent of grassy hay and this is subtly joined by just a touch of cream, the stoved element I guess? Easy smoking, pleasant on the snork and a decent kick of the old nic along the way.

This is one that definitely needs time opened and then individual doses aired and dried to bring out its best. I was impatient at the outset, if you don't fall into the same trap you will find yourself rewarded with a top class smoking experience.

Highly recommended.
43 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 01, 2014 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
Blackwoods Flake is hands down one of the warmest red Virginia based flakes that I have ever smoked. The flavor is soft, spicy & sweet, yet at the same time it somehow manages to satisfy my desire for something more compelling. Most Virginias are shy introverts. They beg pipers to contemplate their nuances and to discover their depth. Blackwoods is one of the rare extroverts of the phylum. This flake wants to take you on a journey, and it will.

I find that this blend is amazingly versatile and it’s one of the very few that I enjoy smoking all year round. The flavors are substantial enough to make it a perfect companion on the coldest winter night, & they are sweet and subtle enough to enjoy in the spring or even the dead heat of the summer as a morning smoke. Frankly enough has been said here and one more rave review hardly matters. However there are good reasons as to why it is so highly regarded. Anytime, anywhere it smokes fantastic. In my book, Blackwoods Flake is a classic and a true stroke of blending genius.
Pipe Used: Various Briars, cobs
Age When Smoked: 7
33 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 14, 2009 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant
One of the best straight virginia blends I've smoked and ranks up there with Gawith's Full Virginia Flake in that regard, even though they don't taste alike. Both have the wonderful burst of flavor upon initial lighting that settles down into an extremely complex and nuanced journey through that incredible tobacco known as Virginia. But I find this a bit more subdued than FVF, a little more demanding of contemplation. I think this is aged longer than FVF before its tinned (speculation on my part) and the blend seems more mature, giving up some of FVF's youthful vigor for a more relaxed presentation.

This is a "must try" for any fan of virginias and virginia blends. McClellands is highly skilled in making such blends come to life. And for those of you into cellaring, this blend ages incredibly well. My review is from a tin dated 2007 but I compared it head to head with a tin from 1992 and the additional years definitely furthered its maturation and complexity, not to mention its smoothness. Go for it!
30 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jun 19, 2004 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
I don't normally head in this direction when choosing a blend, but a friend recently sent me about 25 grams of this and it was from a 1998 tin. The age may have something to do with the fact that I kind of liked this stuff... Okay, I loved it!

It was not difficult to load and stayed lit well. My sample was quite dry and burned that way. And wow, the smattering of about ten different flavor sensations all at once was delightful. Smooth, refined, spicy, tangy, sweet, sour, mellow and strong rather than weak pretty much sums up the way Blackwoods Flake presented itself to me.
28 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 03, 2014 Medium Very Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
The red and stoved Virginias are expertly melded to bring out most of the best qualities one looks for in a straight Virginia blend. Smooth, lightly spicy, tangy dried dark fruit sweet with a couple sour notes, light tart citrus along with some sugar and stewed fruit, it does have a little of the company "vinegary" smell that mostly dissipates while you smoke it. There's a woodsy, earthiness that bolsters the strength with no rough edges, adding a slight complexity. The strength and taste levels are medium. The nic-hit is in the center of mild to medium. Won't bite or get harsh. It needs a little dry time and some relights, but it lasts a long time in your bowl with a mostly consistent flavor. Burns cool and clean. Leaves some moisture in the bowl. Has a pleasant, lightly lingering after taste. Not quite an all day smoke, but it is repeatable. Three and a half stars.

27 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 06, 2007 Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable
Superlative is too reserved a word to praise Blackwoods Flake. The tin contents are delivered as per the tin description. I have a Bertram Safferling smooth brandy dedicated to it.

Popping my five year old tin was as if I opened a package capturing Christmas and Easter feasts combined. Fully fermented and ported fruit aromas greeted me, sans any ketchup odors, though Worcestershire sauce is arguable. However, the tin aroma is highly refined. If there is a brand of ketchup that smells like Blackwoods, then I want some ketchup! Moisture and texture were perfect. These flakes are much easier to handle than Dark Star or what I call ?chips? with some McClelland flakes. A la Fred Hanna?s air pocket packing method, I ?screw a plug? of BF into the top half of the bowl, light and enjoy.

As much as I like Hal O? the Wynd, this is the finest straight, nigh full-flavored, Virginia flake I have smoked. There are fuller-flavored flakes out there, but they are augmented with condimental leaf, scenting and/or simply stoved all-dark (and I have a fondness for them, such as 1792, FVF). Not only is the flavor fuller than HOW, but more complex as in ripe, dark, earthy, spicy. There is also that ?something? akin to an early morning walk through a meadow.

Blackwoods is some deep, dark taste depth, but it also has those tingly highs covering the flavor spectrum for VA blends for which I search. The natural spiciness makes exhaling through my nose almost like taking snuff. On the tongue, the flavors seem to lilt over and completely wash my mouth.

Amazingly cool for something this sweet and all Virginia. Though, if I get cocky, my tongue will pay for it. After a charring light, this is a one match smoke (Not so with Dark Star). Finishes dry with a white speckled ash. DGT works nicely when I have to walk away from my pipe for a time.

St. James Woods and Blackwoods are close cousins, but despite the perique in SJW, BF is the stronger of the two and perhaps slightly more complex. I smoked a bowl of each back to back in different pipes before writing my review. While some have praised Dark Star as McClelland?s magnum opus, I nominate Blackwoods. It has what I was missing in No. 25. I would place Blackwoods Flake in the fullness of flavor continuum among my favorite straight Virginia Flakes as follows: Brown Clunee, Medium Virginia Flake, Old Gowrie, Best Brown Flake, Blackwoods, Hal O? the Wynd, and Full Virginia Flake.

I do not see any McC bulk equating to BF. This leaves me having to buy the more expensive tins. Thankfully, McC is allegedly releasing tins with three years age. That means that I can smoke BF without having to age the leaf and pay a premium price.

Med-Full bodied, no flavorings, wonderful room note, Med-Full Strength and four bright stars.
15 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 07, 2015 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable
Distinguishing between the many McClelland Virginias can be quite difficult as they are all so similar; however, I find that this one distinguishes itself as one of McClellands finer offerings and worthy of four star rating just the same. It is a very smooth and full Virginia that has Va sweetness in barrels.

I really enjoyed this one and am thankful to fellow reviewer and friend, Captain, for giving me 100g of this two years aged. I made the tin last for around a year and a half. As I am sure I have stated in other reviews, McClelland tins rock, The moisture level stayed fantastic the whole time and there was never a need to jar this one.

I highly recommend this one even over Christmas cheer, which was what I had previously considered the top McClelland Va. And of course if the smell of McClelland vas bother you, take a pass on this one.
Age When Smoked: 2 years
9 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 24, 2009 Medium Very Mild Full Pleasant
Blackwoods Flake is surely one of the finest Virginia pipe tobaccos available. I am currently smoking a 4 year old tin that I just opened.

Opening the tin, one is confronted with a Ketchup/Vinegar aroma, which is not unpleasent but quite different than many other Virginia tobaccos.

The first pipeful of this that I smoked was a little moist and I found that it seemed to bite a little; detracting from the experience. While I could tell it was sweet and knew that there was a great tobacco underneath, my initial experience was soured.

I gave the tobacco a couple of days to air out. This reduced the tin aroma and dried the tobacco somewhat. I also smoked it in another of my flake pipes-a calabash. I was quite pleasently surprised at the difference this time around.

Very sweet-almost like raisins or figs. The 'zone' begins early and lasts nearly to the end of the bowl with this tobacco. A smoker can enjoy the great taste and sweetness of this while working in the yard, but I reccomend sitting back and tasting each sip as it develops.

My only complaint is that this is a little more expensive than my standby Samuel Gawith Virginias. As I build an index of what I really like and what I don't, I expect I will keep an inventory of this around, however, to satisfy my Full Virginia in addition to Full Virginia Flake.
9 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 08, 2008 Medium Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
I know I've gone on before about my ancient age and the number of years I've been a pipe smoker (42) and I'd like to stress that that doesn't mean I'm claiming some kind of spurious wisdom or anything! I've smoked, for the great majority of my time, the English blends...or the Irish ones. I wish now that I had hoarded some tins of the greats, but like most of us, I always assumed they'd be available for ever. Anyway the point of this rambling narrative is that it's only recently that I discovered this wonderful website and had my eyes opened to the great American tobaccos. McClelland is one of the greatest of these. You are so lucky in the USA to have tobacco companies that still care and put so much effort into producing quality product. In some ways your micro tobacco blenders match our micro beer producers. I just wish I could buy McClellands in the UK. I know we have still some fine producers...Sam Gawith for example...but they are few and far between and the vast majority of tobacco sold in our main outlets is poisonous crap (though B & H Mellow Virginia ain't too bad). Anyway....back to the point of this review...Blackwoods Flake. Can looks great. Marvellous artwork...classic, restrained, sophisticated. Popping the lid and mmmmmmm...I love the HP sauce smell by the way. Not sure whether it would be better as whole flakes rather than broken up..but who am I to quibble. It's superb. Bitey if you don't treat it with respect. Lasts forever if you treat it gently. Wonderful aroma. I can see this getting better and better with keeping. I smoke this in a Group 4 Dunhill shell and a bowlful lasts a couple of hours with care. Flavours deepen as you travel through the bowl and are never bitter even on relights. This is a tobacco I will never allow myself to run short of..indeed one I am already putting into store. And in front of me is the incredible list of other varieties to meet for the first time! God bless
9 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 16, 2007 Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
I normally don't care much for straight VA tobaccos. While some smokers get a lot of flavor and complexity, I find that very few VAs blends have enough taste to justify the kind of preparation and luck it takes to "unlock them." I love VAs as part of a mixture, and I've developed a deep appreciation for the much-maligned "Lakeland" species, but overall my experiences with sraight VAs have been disappointing (and that includes SG's Full Virginia Flake). Blackwoods Flake is the exception to the rule, and what a dramatic exception it is!

Although I veered away from this company for a long time because of the vinegar/ketchup flavor that seems to haunt all its Virginias, I think I've finally "got it" thanks to this blend. While I must disagree with those who say the vinegar-like essence can't be tasted in the smoke, I've come to appreciate it on its own terms. Some suspects it's a casing of some sort, while others maintain it's an all-natural aspect of either the leaf or the processing. I've come to believe the latter theory, as I've detected the same smell in some batches of GL Pease and C&D tobaccos. Whatever the case, Blackwoods Flake is absolutely dripping with this odd aroma/flavor. It also burns well, it goes through a kaleidoscope of warm, sweet, smoky flavors as the bowl progresses, and it rarely bites.

On the negative end of things, this is like all VA flakes in one way -- it can be a fussy tobacco, albeit far more user-friendly than many others. In order to get consistently good smokes, I suggest cracking open the tin and then sticking it in the back of a cabinet for a month or two with the lid on. Then, make sure you dry each bowl of tobacco before loading it or, alternatively, pack a bowl and let it sit overnight. Even then it might take a few lights to get it going. The good news is that, once you've established combustion, it burns like a dream.

When it comes to strength, this is a hard one to measure. Like almost all McClellands products, the nicotine level is on the mild side. But Blackwoods has a very full flavor, in its own unique way. I can actually suck on an unlit bowl and taste the tobacco, and very few VAs have that strong a flavor. I've taken to sometimes just keeping an unlit pipe clenched between my teeth, drawing on the unlit tobacco until my desire for nicotine or a more intense taste finally overcomes me.

I feel this is without a doubt the best of the McClellands Virginias, which guarantees a "highly recommended" rating. For the record, it's also the only straight, unflavored VA I smoke regularly (preferring instead strong burly, perique or latakia blends). It's a bloody shame this hasn't retained its four-star rating while FVF seems to have won the popularity contest as Queen of the Virginias.
8 people found this review helpful.
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