Samuel Gawith Jubilee 2012. It’s not often a blender stamps the year of production to the front of the tin. For someone as obsessed with dates as I am, this is a welcome feature.
This stamping in particular commemorates the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, a worldwide celebration of the monarch’s 60th anniversary as Queen. I’m writing this review in the 65th year of Her Majesty’s reign, my humble musings on the subject not quite as timely as Mr. Gawith’s were.
Better late to the party than absent, I suppose.
This tobacco was not well reviewed by some, but perhaps one can say that about any tobacco, even of Mr. Gawith’s pervasively adored blends. Still, the reviews are no where as compelling as the tin art, so I decided to sit down and find out whether Jubilee 2012 has overstayed its welcome, or if the after-party is worth checking out.
Samuel Gawith’s Jubilee 2012 is a black cavendish/Virginia blend described as:
“The new limited edition Jubilee 2012 pipe tobacco celebrates The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and Samuel Gawith’s 220th year of producing fine English tobaccos.” 
What a pair of occasions! Consequently, these tobaccos are infused with the “the fizz of champagne,” which sounds delightful. I love champagne and I love tobacco (better yet, champagne with tobacco).
I purchased this 50g tin of Samuel Gawith Jubilee 2012 for $9.28 from SmokingPipes.com, where you can also purchase an alternative tin-art version (adorned with diamond print) for the same price. As one might expect, this blend is no longer in production.
The first impression is purely visual. That gold paper liner (a match for the brassy-yellow tin) pops out and reminds one that Jubilee is meant as a special blend, and that you should keep digging for subsequent treasures.
One thing that does not pop out, however, is the tin note. There’s the usual suspects here; raisin, fig, even some dark fruit if you’re really going for it, but the whole bouquet is constrained and muddled by a certain…mustiness? Yeah, mustiness.
And I don’t mean it smells of must, as is used in wine, but that it is really quite musty smelling. Damp basement musty. There is no aroma of “champagne” remaining in this tin, assuming there was one to begin with. Whatever dry fizzy wonderment once bubbled here has gone considerably sour and flat with time. In its place is an inoffensive acridity dulled by a dusty sort of funk. Like your favorite bottle of white wine, only it’s been open on the counter for a bit too long…and there’s a sock stretched over the spout.
I can see no evidence of mold, and the vacuum seal was sound. Let’s press on then.
If you’ve read my Samuel Gawith Full Virginia Flake , Black XX, and Ennerdale reviews, you’ll know that I’m a pouch-carrying member of the Cult of Gawith. And so it’s with much dejection and disillusionment that I am now whiffing this commemorative blend.
Turning to the leaf, the ribbon cuts are long and sinuous, with what looks like a higher proportion of Virginia. The moisture is just about perfect for smoking from the tin, and there is no stickiness to the touch.
The first light immediately reminds one that this is a Gawith creation, with its excellent coolness, round character, and quintessentially refined tobacco flavor. Grassiness and a dry white wine taste arrive early, while the spiciness of the retrohale gives a welcome “fizz” to the gathering. These early encouragements prelude a slowly rising light-citrus flavor that reaches apex around mid-bowl.
The mouthfeel is medium-full, a pleasantly surprising amount of body for such a thinly incensed tobacco.
Mild burnt tobacco flavors overtake the aromatic components by the second half and remain, though they never become interesting. There’s a very light smokiness here. But then again, the entire bowl has been about very light flavors.
Toddlers could smoke this.
It really is that easy to smoke. There are no challenges being offered to the smoker here, no complexity, and that’s just fine. What isn’t fine is the boring blend being cloaked in such celebratory imagery…
…or maybe I’m being unfair. Maybe I’m not managing my expectations properly here. No one said this was a party in a tin, I just want it to be. And anyway there is something positive to be said about quiet reservation to simple pleasures, no? Isn’t five years a little long for an aromatic to be sitting around? Why, it could be way past its intended prime.
I’m not sure. It sure is boring though.
Of course, all things are relative. For those who favor mildness above all, but distaste the artificial and sticky preserves of over the counter “drugstore” brands, Jubilee could offer a satisfactory (and affordable) choice. And on managing expectations: just because cultism ruined mine in this case doesn’t mean that Jubilee couldn’t be a revelation to smokers of other stripes, be they pipe or cigar or even vaporizer.
Is it the worst Samuel Gawith blend I’ve ever smoked? Yes. Yes it is.
Still, if any blender’s worst entry tastes like Jubilee 2012, I’d be very much interested to try the rest of their catalog.
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