Seemingly ubiquitous among Virginia fans, even the most die-hard English fanatics might very well have this recommended to them on the pipe internet (not to be confused with a series of tubes). Samuel Gawith’s Full Virginia Flake is a default placeholder on many a top ten list. It’s probably on a bunch of top three lists. Perhaps as many top one lists.
Hard to say, I guess.
I will say it was among the first batch of Virginias I’d ever bought and, having been sufficiently hyped, it was the first one I ever opened. Everyone seems to call this one a “must have.” So I had to jump in the pool and find out for myself.
I remember it being…well really quite good. However it was the evening and I was suffering from a mild-to-moderate case of tongue bite. Also worth noting is I’d been greatly stricken with tobacco acquisition disorder. Hence, the flavors have faded from memory and there was no second bowl to be had (I still had 37 Virginia tobaccos to try that night, hoping one might finally cure my aching tongue).
No, my memories will not do the job here. It’s time for another smoke.
“Created in the heart of Lakeland, the hot-pressed blended Virginias take on a delicious and distinctive dark colour that creates a pipe smokers dream, a feeling of calm, serenity and anticipation of the next pipeful.”
A bold claim for certain. Mr. Gawith goes on and claims Full Virginia Flake as:
“A ‘must have’ for all Virginia lovers” 
As laid out above, Mr. Gawith tells us no lies here.
Out of the tin (jar?) there’s big raisin and dark fruit aromas soaring above a light forest-floor must. A lot of sweetness is being promised here, but it’s not claiming to be an overpowering, syrupy affair. Rather, you’re told there’s going to be big fruits and subtle earths, and that maybe, just maybe, your non-smoker significant other will welcome the room note.
The flake is supple and moist with a silky, thin leather texture. It’s like a pleasant and soft ribbon of well-marbled grain. A truly high quality, well processed Virginia tobacco from England.
Come bowl packing time, one is wise to give a rubbed flake twenty minutes of open air, and an intact one thirty.
Even with drying time, the first few lights fall dim. This doesn’t translate into much steam on the tongue, thankfully. One must always moderate of course. Up front and at once there’s a sharp coffee flavor that does not hold hands, a welcome sensation for dark roast fanatics or anyone who has taste buds. The flavor is nutty and round and always with that well-pronounced spice attending back-of-throat and side-of-tongue.
Where is all the fruit we were promised? The plums, the raisins dipped in honey, the pure, candied berries? What of the subtle spring and autumn earth-tones? Did I pack the right tobacco? Mr. Gawith has thus far avoided fibbing in his promotional literature, but is his tin note a lie?
Near mid bowl and a sort of iron-water flavor and texture emerges, bringing with it a fine chicory and campfire smoke. The retrohale now offers a slow, lazy burn in place of the eloquent jab of spice from the first half.
The jury is still out re: Gawith’s deceit.
A slow cadence and drier bottom half at last uncovers semi-sweet morsels of currants and plums. Like a dark homemade jam. This end of the bowl is further infused with a bright, grassy citrus that first balances and later overcomes the preserves. There’s that sweet smoke we were promised.
One might take notice, at this stage, the subtle and sweet room note. How does he do it? A well-sorted tobacco preparation, indeed. Dry or wet, this Flake provides a full spectrum of sweet fruit and savory aromas.
Mr. Gawith tells us no lies here.
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