Samuel Gawith’s 1792 Dark Kendal Flake


When I first smoke this many years ago, it knocked me out.

Recently I got re-acquainted with it again.

It is not for the faint-hearted.

This pipe tobacco separates the men from the boys.

It is one of those Lakeland tobaccos – Lakeland referring to the area where the Gawith clan first set up shop to produce snuff, and also introducing the soapy/floral smell of snuff to pipe tobaccos. (The Gawiths then had a fight and the house split into Samuel Gawith and Gawith Hoggarth.)

The 1792 is a full strength, mellow tobacco comprising a blend of dark fired Tanzanian leaf. It is Samuel Gawith’s best-selling premium grade flake. Samuel Gawith says it starts as seven pounds of hand stripped leaf and goes through a steaming process prior to being pressed.

The cake, having been prepared, is wrapped in a select leaf and packed by hand into a 12-inch square. This cake is pressed and left for a minimum of two hours. Then, the pressed cake is placed into a steam press where it is baked at full heat for two to three hours. The baked cake will by then taken on 1792’s characteristic rich, dark color. Its hardening occurs during cooling. Once the process of cutting the flake and adding a tonquin flavoring is carried out, hand wrapping and packing finalizes 1792, making it ready for smoking.

Most reviewers of the tobacco warn that you have better be sitting down while you smoke this or you’ll regret it and you’d better like/get used to the taste of tonquin. It’s a like-it-or-hate-it kind of tobacco. Definitely an acquired taste.

The sit-down warning come from the fact that the blend is quite strong, has high nicotine content and will deliver a wallop. I read from pipe-smoking forums that the tonquin is applied liberally as well and its strong flavor adds to the effect, though the tonquin does not itself have any psychotropic properties. But what the heck is tonquin?

It’s the extract of the Tonka bean, much like vanilla is extracted from the Vanilla bean, and it has a very powerful and distinct aroma and taste. It naturally contains a fairly copious dose of coumarin, an active blood-thinner that is poisonous in large amounts. However there is little if any coumarin entering the blood stream when tonquin is in tobacco that is smoked.

Strength: Very Strong

Flavoring: Medium

Taste: Full

Room Note: Tolerable to Strong

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