Lakelands - An Attempt To Understand The Famous Gawith Scents

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May 31, 2012
There's nowt like Kendal​
Perhaps no other tobacco known to man excites such unyielding passion or loathing hatred than that of the infamous Lakeland blends.
They are most certainly a love/hate proposition, as they occupy a completely unique place in the world of tobacco. A sort of mythology has developed, and the legends to go along with it. At some point it seems, many pipesmokers are drawn to them, in a curious enchantment, and either end up being totally revolted or hopelessly enamored.

I had my fling with them. I had to experience them for myself, to see what all the fuss was about, to satiate my desire for traditional British tobacco and to figure out what everybody was talking about.
Well, I wasn't exactly revolted, but I wasn't too enthused either, I mean some of them were pleasant enough and I could understand the attraction and why they developed such a large fan-base, there simply isn't anything else like them out there. I ended up coming to a common conclusion that I've often read from others, that the underlying leaf was indeed of very high quality, but the toppings and casings ruined the natural goodness of the leaf. But there was a brief 2 week period when I was enthralled by 'em, and enthusiastic about smoking 'em, enjoying the "mood" they set, actually enjoying some of the flavor profiles --- but that all changed when I finally got around to No.7 Broken Flake, a bacca I had extremely high hopes for because I had read from numerous sources that it was a very close match for St. Bruno, of which I love greatly, but that stuff was nowhere close to St. Bruno at all, not at all! Not only did that experience underscore my general distrust of general "reviewers", but it pissed me off that so much misinformation and falsehoods work their way into such matters.
To add insult to injury, after smoking the No.7 Broken Flake I had an intense allergic reaction, of which I'd read about too and one of the reasons why I had avoided them for so long, after smoking a bowl of it my throat had swollen and felt scratchily uncomfortable, and I felt little bumps on the back of my palate, also little bumps actually popped up on my lips as well. scary as hell! Not a pleasant experience at all! I was horrified when I examined my mouth in the mirror, it was red as the devil and I could clearly see the little bumps, whatever they were, I have no idea! After that unlovely experience, I hated the hell outta Lakelands and swore them off forever, banishing them to the realm of yucky-stuff and joining the chorus of ridicule regarding the grannies panties flower power sissy stuff proclamations that one will often read. But, my hatred wore off and now I will sometimes smoke something like Dark Flake Scented and enjoy it, but I much prefer the unscented versions, because the leaf is really really good. I like the African bacca alot. The scented bacca itself has a strange tactility, feeling silky-smooth, but laced with an odd glistening powder-like substance and imho they're nothing like the traditional "big tobacco house" offerings that're heavily cased or topped, but seem more integrated somehow, maybe it's those huge industrial steam-presses that the larger manufacturers can afford to use?
You may ask yourself, then why in the hell have you spent the time researching all this crap if you don't even really like the stuff that much?
Well, I like researching this kinda stuff, and the Lakelands play a rather large role in our modern pipesmoking experience, and their histories are longstanding and of interest.
I definitely respect them.
And I'm glad they've survived all the turmoil and still exist, offering us a unique take on what bacca can be, and still proudly standing upon British soil.
That they've become quite popular in North America is something to be celebrated, methinks, because these companies truly do love tobacco and actually have a bona fide historical pedigree which is so rare now-a-days after all the famous old brands have been put thru the wash and wrung out thru the wringer.
So, I'm asking that anyone who has anything to add, anything at all, please do so because these things are interesting, after all, that's why we spend so much goddamm'd time here on the forums ain't it?
Also, any comments regarding my "snuff theory" are most welcomed!
On with the blue-hair scented show!
Kendal lies in a Westmorland valley and, if viewed from one of the neighbouring fells, presents but a minority of red roofs. Nearly all the buildings are roofed with greenish-grey Westmorland slate. The local accent is like that of Lancashire, yet unlike it.
On a dominating hill stand the ruins of Kendal Castle, home of Katherine Parr, the lady whom Henry VIII married, and who managed to outlive him. The town is small as towns go - 17,000 - and is some seven miles from the lapping shores of Lake Windermere. A pleasant home town for the "fragrant pinch!"

Lakeland-style is of course unto itself, as the names indicates, only made in that one specific region --- but, there was a time when more of these traditional "perfumed tobaccos" from the U.K. were available, not precisely Lakelands because they came not from Kendal, I really don't know what or how to refer to the genre of those nonLakeland perfumed tobaccos, but as I said, there was plenty of 'em at one time, usually they were quite stout tobaccos but had that grannies panties scent thing, perhaps a strategy to keep the missus pleased? Good strong bacca for daddy and mummy didn't complain too much acausa it smelled right good?
The most obvious and well-known to North American readers, and thus providing an excellent concrete example, would be the old Murray's of Belfast produced Erinmore Flake --- many readers here may think that they do indeed know Erinmore Flake, but they know it not, for in its true original form it was intensely and heavily perfumed, so much so that I was astounded when I opened an early 70's tin I had found on the cheap, even after all the years, its strong fragrant floral aroma flooded my sense of smell with overwhelming aggressive floral ferocity, so vibrant was the aroma that it soon overtook the room, lingering like a scented candle for even hours after opening!
Perhaps this angle is better told by someone who was actually there and flirted with this florid mistress, and I've read no better or entertaining description than that of the pipesmoking badger over at atthebackofthehill...

(excerpt from post)

Relevant and purely imaginary quote: "Good heavens, Cletus, it smells like a Turkish cat-house here". There are three things that mark a misspent pipe-smoking youth. One of which is Erinmore Flake.
All pipe smokers of a certain age have experimented with it - it is hard to avoid buying this product at least once, as the friendly and colourful tin with its garish red blazoon on a yellow field beckons one from across a counter, lures one with its cheery appearance, shakes an appealing visual leg at the easily distracted young rake. And like an adventure with a drug-addled whore, one very quickly regrets the decision. From close up, the perfume is strictly drugstore bargain, the make-up thick and smeared, the hotel-room mildewed and depressing.
Erinmore Flake, with its fruity reek and foul habits, was the veritable tart among the tobaccos, the whore of Babylon, the shameless Catholic Church among the sober Protestants. I loathed it. For years those attractive yellow tins mocked me, from dark corners of tobacconists, or neatly stacked shelves, on two continents. Where-ever I saw an Erinmore tin, it seemed to wink and say "how about it, big boy, I've had my shots".

I resented the implied familiarity - I did NOT want to be seen in its company under any circumstances.

full article, inwhich he compares his experiences of Erinmore of old to the new style version:
...and related, is his review of Erinmore Mixture,


The trollop was great fun. But this girl is a bore to be with, and wears too much cologne; the cousin is not nearly as zesty as the bouncy trollop herself. More like a haggard German bar-woman, who probably has a brute named Günter as her boy-toy cum strong-arm guy. She is past her prime, if she ever had one.

Really, one wonders what others see in her, and thinks it would have been better not to have given in to that sassy come-hither winking; she looked better from a distance. Even her perfume seems cheap.


full article:
Full Virginia and Squadron Leader were first produced in around 1925, we know this from a firsthand source, as quoted in this thread:
But it remains unknown, to me at least, when some of the other blends were first introduced, from both of the Gawith houses, that've become very popular here in the States. I'm hoping that someone may be able to shed some light on this.
Another thing is that we North Americans had no idea that the Gawith houses even existed until like the late 80's or early 90's?

Does anyone know exactly when they first started exporting their bacca to the States?
It seems they were such small outfits that they were totally off the radar over here and completely unknown.
Another oddity I must discuss here is the fact that I've seen it on more than one occasion where a British pipeman will state that the term "Lakeland" to describe a class of tobaccos is an invented word that Americans have made up...
...well, right here in black and white, Illingworth's describes one of their blends as Lakeland Mixture, and this page is from 1935, so here's proof that well in advance of any American neologism, it was used by the Kendal manufacturers themselves to differentiate their goods:


From the same 1935 edition of Retail Tobacco Prices, one can see that Gawith, Hoggarth & Co had a pretty limited range of available pipe tobaccos, this is one reason why I'm curious as to exactly when they began producing a much broader range, because it looks like they didn't used to offer too much variety:


Traditionally, their primary business was snuff and it's my theory that's where many of the famous Lakeland aromas originated, in the manufacture of snuff, which has always traditionally been laced with perfumes or essences of some sort. I think perhaps that they simply transferred this flavoring knowledge of snuff-making and applied it to pipe tobacco.

So, to try and illustrate my theory, this thread will have a lot of snuff talk.
excerpt from W.D. & H.O. Wills and the development of the U.K. tobacco industry 1786-1965 by B.W.E. Alford, 1973

pp 11/12
"Techniques in one respect could call for substantial capital. In an age in which a knowledge of different sorts of snuff was part of a gentleman's education, and when it was not uncommon for wealthy men to lay down 'cellars' of snuff, it is not surprising that recipes and certain processes of manufacture were of considerable value to their possessors. One manufacturer pointed out that generally 'the principal part of the revenue raised on the tobacco is collected from those articles in which there is a mystery in the manufacture'. Naturally, great care was taken to conceal these secrets from employees, with the result that formal apprenticeship, providing instruction in the arts of manufacture, was a rarity in the industry. It was quite common for the owner to perform the secret processes after the business of the day was over, he himself having inherited the knowledge from his father or former associate. The worth of such knowledge was described by another manufacturer in 1789:
There are secrets of infinite consequence to the possessors - it is upon philosophical principles and by a philosophical process that a snuff manufacturer works his snuff, and which process he has formed on great attention, industry, experience, and observation of the natural qualities of different sorts of tobacco - and by which means he has acquired a peculiarity of flavour known only to himself.

I've yet to get myself a copy of Kendal Brown by William Dunderdale,

as it's a bit pricey, but I suspect it would focus on snuff, with pipe tobacco only to get a passing mention --- I hope to find this book at a reasonable price someday, then I'll find out for sure, but in the meantime I can only speculate on the topic...
Below are some excerpts regarding snuff,

most of this info was sourced from the book, Snuff - Yesterday and Today by C.W. Shepherd, 2008
"Rapee may be considered to be the parent of all other snuffs."
"...essential oils and essences have always played a crucial role in snuff manufacture, and a tremendously wide variety of "flavors" were available, and a guarded secrecy always surrounded the perfuming of snuff."
on the use of tonka:

"Great numbers of snuff-takers the world over keep a Tonquin bean in their snuff-box, to add its perfume to that already there...just when the Tonquin bean custom began is difficult to ascertain, but it is believed to have started in far-off days in Venezuela where the Tonquin tree grows."
...and in a detailed example, the author was curious how a snuff called Jockey Club had got its name, he found the answer in a book by Mr. Aytoun Ellis, who had written a book on perfumes called Essence of Beauty, 1960, who tells us that the scent was originally

" ...a bouquet compounded of bergamot, jasmine, mimosa, tuberose, orris and violet in imitation of the pleasant fragrance that pervaded the Downs at Epsom in the late spring, and was wafted across the course from the woods to the Jockey Club in the Grandstand."
...and some general descriptions of miscellaneous well-known snuffs also enlighten us, as the aroma profile may sound familiar to the devout Lakeland aficionados:
Royal Cardinal:

A blend of North American and Oriental tobaccos. It is perfumed with the purest Tonquin essence with an underlying nose of pure flower essences.
English Cardinal:

A high-dried snuff flavoured with a special compound of essential oils having a predominately lemon flavour.
White Cardinal:

A choice blend of Commonwealth tobaccos, lightly flavoured with menthol and a background of finest Mediterranean fruit essences and English flower essences.
Attar of Roses:

A full-bodied but mild snuff delightfully flavoured with Bulgarian Attar of Roses. A perfect after-dinner tobacco.
Cafe Royale:

Specially manufactured from a blend of North American and Oriental tobaccos, specially treated before grinding to release its natural aroma. It is perfumed with a pure coffee essence backed up with a nose of many fine spices.
Carnation No. 41:

A blend of the finest selected North American and Oriental tobaccos, specially treated to increase the natural pungency in order that it may carry the highly concentrated perfume of Carnation extract. This is backed up with a subtle nose of other flower concentrates.

A very mild, well-balanced blend of West Indian tobaccos. This snuff is virtually unflavoured, but has just a suspicion of Oriental oils to bring out the nose.
Golden Lavender:

A mild delicate snuff slightly perfumed with pure Lavender.

A pungent natural flavoured snuff made from the finest Syrian mountain-type leaf.

...perfumed with a balanced blend of citrous oils.
Special M:

A pungent medium ground snuff with almond flavour.

A light dry snuff flavoured with oil of tonquin.

A blend of Commonwealth tobaccos. The perfume is predominately pure extract of Violet, but this is cleverly balanced with a selection of the finest quality fixatives.
"...snuff had been traditionally and primarily made in Kendal and Shelffield, and a sizeable amount made in the little market town of Devizes in Wiltshire but it died out there, at one time the makers in Devizes supplied most of the snuff used in London."
Illingworth started making snuff in 1867, he was one of Samuel Gawith's commercial travellers --- back in those days, a traveller was necessary to distribute the product, they would go around to all the towns to supply local tobacconists. They played a crucial role in the success or failure of a tobacco firm, they had to be very aware of what was selling and what wasn't and get to know the local tastes, there was pretty wide variations as to the kinds of tobacco favored by all the different regions, for example, in a cosmopolitan city like London, Balkan Sobranie, Ardath or some similar "sophisticated" blend may hold sway, but in the more working-class or agricultural regions, it was usually something like Digger, or similar strong stout tobaccos --- each region had their own flavor profile preferences as well, it was part of the job of the traveller to determine what all those various preferences were in order to give the company a good handle on where to sell what --- it was like an early form of demographic market research in many ways, except it was on the ground by foot in the actual field.
circa 1983

When asked about declining snuff sales, Mr. G.F. Gawith of Gawith Hoggarth & Co Ltd said, "With nearly three million now on the dole it would be surprising if the volume of work-a-day snuff taking had not suffered."
Mrs. Dakeyne Cannon was a director at Samuel Gawith, perhaps the namesake of Cannon Plug?
snuff trivia;

Quite the most famous "communal" snuff-box is that in the House of Commons. Not only has it been used regularly by Sir Winston Churchill, but was actually presented by him to Mr. W.A. Brimson, the Chief Doorkeeper. It had long been the custom for the Chief Doorkeeper to be in charge of a substantial snuff-box, which he kept filled at the Government's expense. (Literally "on the House!") Members would take a pinch on their way in or out of the Chamber, among them the Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill himself. Then came the Blitz when, among other things blown out of sight, was the Chief Doorkeeper's snuff-box. This was in October, 1941. When Sir Winston heard of it he showed great concern. "We will have another one," he said, and without delay presented a fine Georgian snuff-box to the Chief Doorkeeper. As there are about a hundred snuff-takers in the House of Commons today, Sir Winston's box does not lack patronage.
If you've actually read this far,

whatcha think?




Jun 30, 2013
there simply isn't anything else like them out there.
This is true.
the underlying leaf was indeed of very high quality
I agree with this also. Not only high quality, but also unique. Perhaps it is the African blend. Earlier tonight I had a bowl of G&H Kendal Flake, which I like very much. There is a tangy quality to the blend: I can't tell if it is owned by the topping or by the leaf, or a combination of both.
I would like to try an older Erinmore blend one day, I have only had the Orlik version which I did enjoy. Is the Mixture closer to the original flavoring than the flake? Anyway I'm glad these blends are available here in the US and I will continue to support them.
Thanks for the insight.



May 22, 2012
Thanks lowercase, I'm not gonna lie, I will read it tomorrow. Where did you get that avatar from, it is really unique and wonderful.



May 25, 2012
The African and Indian ("Commonwealth") tobaccos definitely make these flakes and blends unique, regardless of any other processing or flavorings.
As to whether the flavorings were first used in the snuff, I'm not sure. I had that thought myself once, but I wonder if this didn't develop concurrently with the flavoring of the pipe tobacco. Adding strange essences and flavorings to manufactured consumables (tobacco, food or other) was just a common industrial practice, it seems, in the nineteenth century, when many of these tobaccos were first developed.
As you well know, even an "unflavored" tobacco like Three Nuns had plenty of industrial-grade flavor concoctions added to it. And I remember reading a story by Ben Rapaport in Pipes and Tobaccos that gave some of the bizarre ingredients added to manufactured tobacco products, like pipe tobacco.



Starting to Get Obsessed
Aug 21, 2013
United Kingdom
I was supposed to tour the Samuel Gawith factory later this month - sadly it is not going to happen this time.
They have a snuff press that pre-dates their 1792 vintage by some 50 years and the machine was reportedly first used to grind gunpowder before it was acquired by Samuel Gawith. The whole factory looks fascinating and from a bygone era. Here are some pictures of the factory taken during a tour by the Edinburgh Pipe Club who visited a couple of months ago. When you realise this place is now serving a worldwide market, combined with over zealous buying patterns, you can understand why supplies sometimes run out in the States.
Another great, well researched article.



Feb 13, 2013
I think lakeland's are like thrills gum, the gum that tastes like soap, you either love it or hate it, no inbetweens



Part of the Furniture Now
Jul 16, 2013
Condor and Ennerdale, both my regular all day smokes, are two of the top selling pipe tobbaco's in the world. Both are probably as "lakeland" as it gets, as far as flavor is concerned.
I would be content to smoke nothing but condor for life and am very happy to have found e-tobacco website in spain where I can buy it cheaper than even the English can in the UK.
I disagree with anyone who finds condor to taste like soap or have a sissy flavor. It's about the manliest smoke you can smoke. Very strong and full flavoured.
Ennerdale to me just tastes like good tobacco once you get a few puffs into it. The initial light has a very pleasant floral taste that I love. Best burning flake I ever smoked and always smokes cool.
Both are worth trying and if you really hate them, send my way!
Both will ghost big time.



Part of the Furniture Now
Mar 6, 2013
I have a related inquiry. Not too long ago I purchased a Gawith, Hoggarth, & Co. Broken Scotch Cake that I understand is considered a Lakeland. However, I also notice there is a Samuel Gawith brand that also produces Lakeland tobaccos.
My question, how are these companies related/how do they differ?
Very fun read though, as I haven't tried my Lakeland tobacco yet. Makes me itching to pop it open!



Part of the Furniture Now
Mar 6, 2013
Thanks peterpiperuk!
Another interesting read. Either way, still very excited to try my first Lakeland tobacco. Perhaps going in to the process with a positive attitude rather than questioning whether I will like it or not will be the key to enjoying this type of tobacco.



Aug 21, 2013
Does anyone else think the photo of Sam Gawith the Third looks like the avatar of peckinpahhombre? LOL



Nov 19, 2009
Chicago, IL
Thanks for a most edifying summary of the origins and influences of the Lakeland essence in pipe tobaccos.

I've sampled a few and I can see the allure, but they're not for me, really.



Can't Leave
Jul 2, 2013
Many thanks for an interesting article!
I think your snuff theory may be a sound one. Many old and new snuffs have floral flavorings and both Gawiths still make some of them, although many new flavors seem to be more like fruits and berries -- perhaps these flavors were not available then. As with both Gawiths' pipe tobacco and snuff offerings, I've always considered their leaf quality being their best advantage to other blenders.
PS. I've seen a term Empire tobaccos being used for African and Indian leaf, would Commonwealth tobaccos mean the same thing?

Jul 12, 2011
Lakeland Love/Hate...Didn't care for them at first myself..but I have grown to really enjoy them now. Dedicate a pipe for Lakelands cause they will ghost like no other :twisted:



May 26, 2012
Sarasota Florida
When I came back to my pipes after a few years off back in May of 2012, I decided it was time to finally try a couple of Lakeland blends. I grabbed a tin of Ennerdale Flake and Rum Flake both from GH. I gave them a fair shot smoking about 4 bowls of each and while interesting, I could not get past the Lakeland essence. It is all I could taste, I could not taste any virginia flavors so I gave away the tins. I honestly believe that the Lakeland flavors are an acquired taste much like Scotch( to me it tastes like Kerosene) so it takes time and patience to become used to the very different flavors. I think the tobacco is of the highest quality and I really wanted to like them, but it was not to be. I do believe every pipe smoker should try them so they can see for themselves what they are like. You never know how your taste buds will react to a certain blend so shying away because someone says they taste soapy or floral might cause you to miss something you will love. They are certainly available for some pretty good prices as well. You can buy them in bulk and that is always nice.

May 31, 2012
Great comments all around!
Thanks everyone for your input, y'all brought up some points I didn't consider in the equation, this is all a rough thought that popped into my head, the things with theories is that we often apply our own personal logic to them and try force assumptions into facts, everybody loves to rewrite history it seems. I appreciate the close readings and the involved critique.
I disagree with anyone who finds condor to taste like soap or have a sissy flavor. It's about the manliest smoke you can smoke. Very strong and full flavoured.
Your damn right about that brother!

Condor is kinda like a heavyweight boxer wearing Chanel No. 5, kickin' yer ass and smellin' good while doin' it! LOL Condor is definitely a full satisfying smoke, I even like the flavor profile too, unique as hell...another theory I have is that there may be some connection with the Lakeland style to the Irish tradition, just a hunch.

I didn't intend offense, maybe I shouldn't have used the word "sissy", but from reading pipe forums whenever the topic of Lakelands come up, there's usually some pretty funny and clever comments made about 'em, it's all tongue-in-cheek ribbing...smoke what you like is the universal truth.
I do believe every pipe smoker should try them so they can see for themselves what they are like. You never know how your taste buds will react to a certain blend so shying away because someone says they taste soapy or floral might cause you to miss something you will love.
That's right on the money cigrmaster!
A great piece of advice there, it'll reward those who heed it!



May 25, 2012
Have you tried Brown Flake Unscented or Best Brown #2? Both have a hint of Lakeland smell to them, but are nothing AT ALL like Ennerdale or even Rum Flake. Ennerdale is beyond over-the-top in terms of added essence. The two brown flakes I mention here have a bit of burley in them and are as smooth a VA flake as I have ever had.



May 26, 2012
Sarasota Florida
pitch, I have not tried either of those blends, some day I might take a shot. I am honestly just trying to fill in on a couple of blends and my cellar is complete. The last thing I need is to fall in love with another blend and then have to buy 10 pounds of it. lol



May 25, 2012
The last thing I need is to fall in love with another blend and then have to buy 10 pounds of it. lol
Good point. It's actually horrible tasting stuff, anyway. You'd probably hate it. :mrgreen:



Starting to Get Obsessed
Nov 30, 2012
Excellent article, misterlowercase. I like quite a few Lakeland blends, particularly Rum Flake and Ennerdale Flake. I don't smoke these blends often, but I do keep them in stock and enjoy them.

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