THE PROFESSOR'S PIPE TOBACCO REVIEWS

Gawith Hoggarth Tobaccos

http://www.gawithhoggarth.co.uk/

These come from a blending house in the UK that specializes in old-style matured Virginia and burley blends which aren't all that easy to come by here in North America.

Bob's Chocolate Flake
BOB'S CHOCOLATE FLAKE
Body: 6/10
Nicotine Strength: 5/10
Flavour Depth: 6/10
Flavour—sweetness: 4/10
Flavour—fruitiness: 1/10
Flavour—floweriness: 0/10
Flavour—smokiness: 5/10
Flavour—mustiness: 3/10
Flavour—nuttiness: 5/10
Bite: 6/10
Room Aroma: Musty-sweet
Savoury, not sweet, like a cup of cappuccino with hardly any sugar added. In the pouch, you might not even identify the chocolate flavouring through the rich and earthy, semi-sweet tobacco scent. The long, dark slices are speckled with birdseye; random shreds of yellowish leaf are also woven in. It crumbles easily and burns well, so I prefer it somewhat coarse, not fully rubbed out, to keep it slow-burning. A thick, zesty flavour and a little kick greets the smoker right from the first puffs. The slightly tangy, predominately Virginia character is dulled down a little by the background chocolate flavouring. The unexpected seasoning in this flake is 8% latakia, which seems to highlight the chocolate taste more than anything else. Occasionally, I notice these flavour additions, but usually it all just blends together nicely. The balance of these flavours is tasteful and subtle. Its refreshing flavour remains pretty much constant while smoking, though it does get richer and a little smoother as the bowl is smoked—as one would expect from a quality Virginia. At the very bottom of the bowl, I often taste a bit of the latakia on its own. I find that this smokes best in pipes reserved for Virginias, though I've tried smoking it in latakia-impregnated pipes as well. This strikes me as surprisingly full-bodied and relaxing for a medium-strength smoke, but every now and then I'll find it just a little flat or hot-smoking for some reason. Although compelling at any time of day, I especially enjoy this as a morning smoke. This might be sweet enough to appeal to smokers of more heavily flavoured tobaccos, but maybe not. It leaves a mild and extremely pleasant milk-chocolate scent in the moustache, and a natural tobacco aftertaste on the tongue. The room aroma is a plain, slightly sweet pipe-smoker scent. '02

Bosun Cut Plug
Upon sniffing the pouch, my forever pipe-curious friend, Jose, exclaimed, "This smells like after-shave." He's not far off, as its aroma is quite perfumy, some would even say soapy, and not at all fruity. However, this aroma is many times more subtle, complex and compelling than after-shave lotion. Here we find almost-black slices of dark brown, flecked generously with light beige and medium brown, firmly pressed to the point that the leaves have practically melted together. Their texture is tarry and moist, but not at all oily or sticky. When crumbled between the fingers, instead of falling apart on their own, they tend to keep their form, sometimes breaking up into small chunks or veiny, stem-like pieces. This characteristic makes it easier than usual to imagine that one is about to burn the actual aged leaves of a plant, rather than just a smoking mixture from a pouch. Of the stronger English tobaccos I've tried (it approaches Condor's strength, although it's less perfumy), this one probably best fulfils the prophecy of "full strength combined with smooth, cool smoking," and doesn't develop undue acidity toward the bottom of the bowl. It also has excellent burning properties: when not rubbed out entirely, which is the way I like to smoke it, it burns slow and cool, yet is still easy to light and keep lit. Lots of relaxation, a slightly spicy taste, and a beautiful room fragrance! '96

Brown Flake Aromatic
BROWN FLAKE AROMATIC
Body: 6/10
Nicotine Strength: 5/10
Flavour Depth: 7/10
Flavour—sweetness: 6/10
Flavour—fruitiness: 7/10
Flavour—floweriness: 8/10
Flavour—smokiness: 2/10
Flavour—mustiness: 4/10
Flavour—nuttiness: 6/10
Bite: 6/10
Room Aroma: Musty-sweet
This must be the most floral-smelling, in the pouch, of the Gawith Hoggarth tobaccos that I've tried. The aroma reminds me of roses, but it's more complex than that. My buddy Trennel says that it smells like scented geraniums. You get the picture... In addition, a fermented, vinegary aroma resides in the background, and this further intensifies the floral scent. These medium-to-dark flakes contain a lot of birdseye and they rub out easily, producing a tobacco that somehow appears a shade or two lighter than it did in flake form. Most noticeable upon lighting up is the smoke that wafts over to my nostrils: it produces a pleasant tingly feeling. It feels fresh, astringent and wine-like on the tongue, but the smoke has a good body, so it feels smooth at the same time. I wonder if I am smelling the floral flavour more than I am actually tasting it. No, I am tasting it too, but I am tasting a nutty and spicy natural tobacco flavour just as much. Some sweetness is present, but it's the gentle, herbal sweetness of a Virginia tobacco rather than one produced by added flavourings. Smoking onward, the tobacco becomes peppery and slightly bitter, and the juxtaposition of these qualities with the fruity sweetness reminds me specifically of Campari liqueur. By the bottom of the bowl, the smoke becomes quite concentrated and homogenous, with a tarry, salty character. My taste buds don't feel like I just smoked a bowl of strongly flavoured tobacco, but my pipe will retain the strong, sweet scent and won't let me forget. I like this tobacco because it never gets boring, and I enjoy the spiciness and intensity that builds while smoking. On the other hand, I find that this has the potential to bite a little if I smoke it in a pipe that isn't 100% broken-in. It smokes like a strong tobacco in some respects, but it doesn't measure more than a solid medium on the nicotine scale. The room aroma smells mostly like tobacco, hardly aromatic at all. It leaves a sort of antique scent in the room and a nearly white ash in the pipe. '02

Ennerdale Flake
ENNERDALE FLAKE
Body: 6/10
Nicotine Strength: 5/10
Flavour Depth: 6/10
Flavour—sweetness: 5/10
Flavour—fruitiness: 3/10
Flavour—floweriness: 6/10
Flavour—smokiness: 2/10
Flavour—mustiness: 5/10
Flavour—nuttiness: 4/10
Bite: 5/10
Room Aroma: Musty-sweet
These medium-to-dark flakes have a light and fresh perfume that some might call "soapy," and which reminds me of something like roses and oranges mixed together. Having read that this is one of Gawith Hoggarth's milder offerings, I am a little worried that perhaps this will be one of those sharp, light Virginia tobaccos that tends to bite my tongue. It does start out with a bright, peppery feeling on the palate and I wonder if my fears will be confirmed. A little sidestream smoke gets into my nostrils and it tingles. Oh, please, don't be one of those... I forget about that for a moment and focus on flavour: this reminds me simultaneously of Saint Bruno and Amphora Red, which is a good sign since I like both of those blends. To my relief, this definitely tastes like tobacco, more bittersweet than sweet. Still, the flavouring is rather pronounced: if you don't like Saint Bruno in any way, you're not likely to enjoy this. On the other hand, if you do like Saint Bruno, but find it too strong, you might fall in love with this. After 20 minutes, I realize that I'm very happy smoking a big pipe full of this. It doesn't bite after all, but it does have some of the piquancy and thick body of a stronger tobacco—it reminds me of a Virginia tobacco that contains a little perique. One nice thing about this tobacco is that it smokes easily and its character isn't destroyed if you smoke a little faster than you intended. Toward the bottom of the bowl, the flavours concentrate, as is the case with most good Virginias, becoming more sweet and more bitter, but there's no other major evolution of flavour that happens while smoking. The room aroma is quite prominent and tobacco-like, and only barely aromatic. I like it a lot myself, but I haven't found out whether or not it would elicit any compliments. This tobacco smokes down cleanly to a medium-dark grey powder. '02

Kendal Dark Shag
Shag-cut tobacco of a dark reddish brown colour with the same unusual flavour as Kendal Medium Shag, only more intense. This flavour is one-dimensional, rather plain and a little musty and nutty-tasting, with overtones of a metallic or medicinal character that I don't find particularly delicious. Maybe the word I'm looking for to describe its flavour would be "stale." It smokes smooth at the outset but gains strength and becomes rather acidic in the mouth after half the bowl is smoked, even though it isn't really sharp on the tongue. It doesn't seem to be in any way aromatic or sweet, and has a somewhat shallow flavour, which suggests to me that it may be burley-based. Not for the weak of heart, this is a nicotine-rich blend that should be smoked at a very relaxed pace, but the easy-burning shag cut makes it easy to smoke it rather quickly. The smoke from this tobacco is actually quite strong as can be perceived when it drifts toward your nostrils, or is blown out through the nose, or worse still, if it is inhaled by accident. I smoked my sample of this over a period of several months, during which it became significantly drier. I didn't find any significant degradation of flavour though, but that's perhaps because I wasn't very fond of it in the first place. An interesting tasting experience, but I wouldn't order this again. It burns to a fine medium-grey powder and its room aroma seemed rather neutral, and rather strong, neither sweet, nor rich and smoky. '96

Kendal Flake
KENDAL FLAKE
Body: 9/10
Nicotine Strength: 8/10
Flavour Depth: 10/10
Flavour—sweetness: 4/10
Flavour—fruitiness: 3/10
Flavour—floweriness: 10/10
Flavour—smokiness: 2/10
Flavour—mustiness: 5/10
Flavour—nuttiness: 0/10
Bite: 3/10
Room Aroma: Floral
Sometimes it makes me laugh to see myself change over time. Six years ago, I tried this tobacco and thought I'd never bother with it again (see below). Of course, one never knows for sure what the future might bring... Around the same time that Mark e-mailed me and asked if I had an opinion on this tobacco, I ran across a jar of it at a local shop that recently started carrying Gawith Hoggarth tobaccos (Smoker's Paradise). I was curious again. The contents of that jar smelled intriguing. Certainly, the heavy rose flavouring in this rich flake tobacco is foreign to the North American palate, but I have come to find such flavours quite compelling (there's an Iranian rice dessert that is perfumed with rose water which I really like). Descriptions of Kendal Flake mention that it is scented with musk, vanilla, and almond, in addition to rose. In food, when flavourings like these are used, the amount used reaches a threshold beyond which they add bitterness rather than more flavour— furthermore, who ever uses musk as a flavouring? As such, when these liberally applied essences mix with the strong, smooth flake-tobacco base, a perfumy bitterness is the result. There is definitely an implied sweetness to the smoke, but it's overwhelmed by the top flavouring and the strength of the tobacco itself. Each puff is a burst of flavour and body (could there possibly be more?), and there's hardly any bite to this (because its strength discourages any kind of heavy puffing?) It also supplies a big nicotine punch. I love this as a late-night smoke and find that its full flavour marries very nicely with a bottle of stout. I wish I could more highly recommend this tobacco, but I know that its iconoclastic bitterness just won't suit all pipe smokers. Trennel remarked that its heavy room aroma was quite flowery. '02

BACK IN '96, I wrote: This is a Virginia flake in the English tradition, fairly strong—of a similar strength of flavour as Saint Bruno, but a bit heavier in body and nicotine content. Dark reddish brown in colour with a few blondish stem spots, this flake has some of that "cosmetic" pouch aroma that some folks dislike and less of that wine-like aroma that I associate with Saint Bruno. It crumbles slowly and burns nice and slowly. It's supposed to be almond-flavoured, which is something that my taste buds really have to try hard to pick up on. I guess this is because the flavouring competes with that odd, medicinal taste underneath that is so present in the Kendal Mixed and Dark Mixtures. The flavouring obviously works though since I don't find the slightly sour undertaste to be unpleasant in this flake, which I can't say in the case of the Kendal Dark and Mixed Mixtures. Overall, it's not as sweet or aromatic a smoke as Condor or Saint Bruno, probably because of that Kendal undertaste, which becomes more pronounced during the last quarter of the bowl. A smooth, relaxing smoke with a dry taste that burns to a perfect, grey ash and leaves behind a heavy, musty and slightly sweet room aroma. I can see this appealing to a lot of folks, but, personally, I'm a bit put off by that classic Kendal flavour and won't be ordering it again. '96

Kendal Mixed Shag
This blend has taken some getting used to. Although I'm still not sure if I'm a fan of it, I do see that it can hold an attraction for some smokers. It's an extremely relaxing smoke that's mild on the tongue and with a flavour and after-taste along the lines of Condor or Digger. However, this one's old flowery taste and room aroma isn't nearly as rich or heavy and it provides a drier smoke. There is an odd component to its flavour that I can't yet pinpoint: something I would called vaguely metallic or medicinal for the time being. This part of the flavour is somewhat flat and sour tasting and I don't care for it. I particularly don't like the smell it leaves in my pipe. It comes in a fine, stringy shag-like cut, in mottled medium-to-dark brown, that guarantees easy burning. '96

Rum Flake
RUM FLAKE
Body: 7/10
Nicotine Strength: 7/10
Flavour Depth: 8/10
Flavour—sweetness: 6/10
Flavour—fruitiness: 2/10
Flavour—floweriness: 6/10
Flavour—smokiness: 3/10
Flavour—mustiness: 7/10
Flavour—nuttiness: 4/10
Bite: 5/10
Room Aroma: Musty
In addition to its natural, heavy tobacco scent, two seemingly separate aromas rise out of my mound of this medium-dark, broken flake: one that is floral and garden-like, and another which reminds me of brown sugar. This sentence could serve as an introduction to an aromatic cavendish like Amphora Red, I suppose, but—no—Rum Flake is far darker, more mysterious and could never be used as potpourri. The flavour here is akin to its pouch aroma: an earthy, unapologetic tobacco taste with an equally deep fragrance garnish. Sweetness is always somewhat present, and it increases slowly and deliciously while smoking. However, the natural, bittersweet taste of the strong tobacco always comes through because, it too, develops strength while smoking, becoming fuller and mustier, then nearly burnt-tasting by the bottom of the pipe. I find this intense sweet-musty balancing act quite compelling, but it is likely to be too much for some smokers. This is richly bodied, and small puffs are quite fulfilling, as well as flavourful. In some of my pipes, I find that this tastes very dense, strong, and aged, while in others, a somewhat fresher, lighter Virginia flavour comes through for some reason. Perhaps my mood affects my perception of this tobacco as much as the pipe... This is a dry tobacco that would never be called "aromatic" by North American standards, even though its added flavourings are a significant part of the smoke. The room aroma is pleasant and musty, with a hint of sweetness, and the simple tobacco aftertaste and moustache scent is pronounced and enduring. Contains more than adequate nicotine for a most relaxing pipe-smoking session. Burns down to a light-grey powder. '01

No. 7 Broken Flake
A dark-brown, broken-flake tobacco with a few light-brown stem flecks, produced in the old English style. Like most other tobaccos of its style, it smokes strong and smooth. Slightly stronger, sharper and darker-tasting than Bosun Cut Plug and Condor, this one has little of the citrus taste that is noticeable in Condor and Saint Bruno. Overall, it's less perfumy and fruity tasting—less rich—than many similar tobaccos despite its cosmetic-like pouch aroma. Someone who likes the strength and smoking qualities of Condor, but would prefer a somewhat less aromatic flavour would probably fall in love with this one. There is definitely something about its darker, straightforward, and not overly complex, flavour that appeals to the latakia-lover within me. As for the room aroma, it's semi-sweet and pleasantly heavy, yet clean smelling. Burns down to a very fine white ash and leaves a noticeable black residue in the shank of the pipe. '96