Samuel Gawith Commonwealth Pipe Tobacco Review

I’ve heard of aged tobacco, but 200 years old is really getting up there. Ok, the tobacco isn’t really that old, but Samuel Gawith’s Commonwealth Mixture is a Bicentenarian – meaning this pipe tobacco blend has been around for 200 years. I’m not surprised it’s lasted that long as it is one of the best pipe tobaccos I have ever tasted. SG Commonwealth Mixture was recommended to me by member John Gioannetti, aka  "mate". I think I will take all of his recommendations from now on.

I was already anticipating something good when seeing the tin saying, "Full Strength Mixture", and I wasn’t let down.

Upon opening the tin, you see and smell a dark, smoky mixture. The tobacco in my tin was rather moist, but I just filled up a bowl and lit it up.

Even though it seemed too moist, I had no trouble lighting and keeping lit.

There is definitely a hickory aroma pre-light, and in the room note.

Laura’s son Miguel was visiting and he said it smells like hickory and like it would go good with a steak. (Not a bad compliment from a non-smoker in the room.)

I thought the SG Commonwealth had a great full-bodied taste without being too strong to knock you over. The smoky hickory flavor stayed throughout as well as an underlying sweetness that reminded me of a dried fruit mixture I have – "a sweet, tart, and tangy medley of fruit flavors" (tart apples and tasty apricots) along with the hickory – in a word – "Delicious". The tin doesn’t tell you what’s in this, but the taste combinations make sense after you check the SG website to find out it "is a full-strength blend of 50% heavily steamed Virginia and 50% Cyprus Latakia. There you go. Samuel Gawith Commonwealth Full Strength Mixture delivered a taste combination of smokiness (the Latakia) and a sweet, tart and tangy medley (the steamed Virginia). Something else I like about Commonwealth is that it provides the same smoky sweetness in all forms – the tin aroma, pre-light taste, room note, and the flavor while you smoke it.

I highly recommend the Samuel Gawith’s Commonwealth. Don’t be alarmed by the "Full Strength Mixture" tagline. I thought I would need to save this for after a big meal, which I did, but now that it is the morning after, I am ready to light it up again before breakfast or even having coffee.

A look inside the tin reveals the moisture.
Click for a larger image.
Here’s an extreme close up of the SG Commonwealth Mixture. Click for larger image.

Brand: Samuel Gawith
Tin Description: None, but the website says – For the dedicated smoker who demands a fuller flavour to their tobacco. Commonwealth, another Samuel Gawith Bi-Centenarian, is a full-strength blend of 50% heavily steamed Virginia and 50% Cyprus Latakia.
Country of Origin: UK
Curing Group: Air Cured
Contents: Latakia, Virginia
Cut: Ribbon
Packaging: 50g Tin
Strength: Medium to Full
Flavoring: Mild
Taste: Medium to Full
Room Note: Tolerable
Recommendation: Highly Recommended

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11 Responses

  • I have 25 tins and I am waiting for Bulk to become available, so I can buy 2lbs for now use
    If thy said there could only be one tobacco available, I would go for this baby.
    As I said in another post, find someone who has similar taste and use them as a sounding board. The Reviews are good info, but you really have no idea of the reviewers personal taste. If someone likes a few tobaccos that you like, its a good bet that you will like new ones that they like too

  • Because of the high Latakia content, I wonder how this will age?
    Does anyone have any first hand knowledge on this blend, or would like to make an educated guess

  • Hmmm. Commonwealth is best Gawith, and one one of the “best Latakia Blends” of the world. If u like Dunhill Nightcap, u like this. Couple of my friends says “i don´t like Latakia” But Still this one is best have they have be seeing.. =)

  • Latakia tends to mellow and lose some of the smoky qualities over time. Normally this isn’t a huge deal-breaker, but as this is half Latakia, it is possible that the half Virginia would become more dominant after years go by.
    There are many variables, of course:
    -Steamed Virginias are not as sugar-laden as other Viriginias.
    -Sugar seems to be the primary agent for excellent aging
    -Aging tends to meld flavors, making a blend more harmonious
    Most condimental tobaccos like Latakia and all (?) flavored tobaccos tend to lose their strongest elements (strong flavor, aroma) after some aging.
    If I had to guess what would happen to Commonwealth after, say, 10 years of aging, I’d hazard to say the blend would be more unified, (I find Commonwealth to be less than nuanced and complex as is, with age it might taste like a single smoked Virginia); the smoky element would likely be subdued to some extent, and surely some added sweetness from the Virginia element would be found.
    My purely amateur opinion would be to age half of your stock and smoke the other half. I’m not positive that this blend is slated for aging greatness. In my opinion, the blends that truly age well are:
    -Blends that are very multi-component and seem discordant (I’ve had this happen with G.L. Pease’s Lombard as well as others)
    -Virgina blends and nearly 100% of McClelland’s Virginia products (Christmas Cheer is a classic example of a tobacco that becomes legendary after 5 years)
    -Very very strong tobacco that is too bold or harsh (I’ve had great luck aging Samuel Gawith’s Black XX rope and Gawith, Hoggarth & Co.’s Dark Bird’s Eye)
    -Brand new Cornell & Diehl cans (IMHO never smoke their product unless 9 months old. After that, prepare for great stuff! They are kind enough to date their cans quite clearly)
    As Commonwealth doesn’t fall into any of these categories, I’d not rush to age them. Wait. Aging is the opposite of rushing. Oh, dear…
    However, as always, I am a beginner in these things and only a fool would listen to me.

  • Unquestionably, IMHO, this is the best Latakia blend I have smoked so far, and that includes Balkan Sobraini and Early Morning. If this is an original latakia blend from way back, then all the english blends should strive for this. It’s 50% Latakia content amazes me, as it smokes so mellow and the Latakia doesn’t overpower at all. When smoking it, I found myself in church before Vatican II. It’s aroma is heavenly (pardon the deliberate adjective), with at times strong hints of frankincense.