Samuel Gawith St James Flake - An Exercise in Frustration

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BROBS

Preferred Member
Nov 13, 2019
10,941
36,179
38
IA
SG tobaccos need a lot more drying time. I live in a very dry climate, so about 5 hours tends to do the job, though it could go longer. I generally rub out SJF. I never have an issue with lighting it, nor keeping it lit. If you want the big flavors and the wonderful Verginia sweetness, put it away for about 7 years, and then give it another go. It's an amazing smoke with some years on it. This is a tobacco that I feel does improve markedly with age.
Agreed on all counts here. I got my hands on some older SJF and it’s amazingly better. I fully rub out the flake and sometimes let it dry 8-10 hours indoors with AC.
 

hawky454

Preferred Member
Feb 11, 2016
4,262
6,296
Austin, TX
SG tobaccos need a lot more drying time. I live in a very dry climate, so about 5 hours tends to do the job, though it could go longer. I generally rub out SJF. I never have an issue with lighting it, nor keeping it lit. If you want the big flavors and the wonderful Verginia sweetness, put it away for about 7 years, and then give it another go. It's an amazing smoke with some years on it. This is a tobacco that I feel does improve markedly with age.
I agree... this and FVF are the two that I age for the sake of improvement. The darker the better! Fresh FVF is mediocre at best but with 5 plus years on it, it’s sublime.
 

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Rattray

New member
Jun 30, 2020
37
51
Canada
Samuel Gawith tobaccos, especially the flakes, are not easy to work with. I gave up on them years ago and that is too bad because I did really love 1792 as well as St James, which has a wonderful taste.
 

marconi

Senior Member
May 17, 2019
406
2,539
England
I regularly smoke three un flavoured G/Hoggarth blends, FVF, SJF, and Nos 27 perique flake they are all purchased in bulk and put in masons jars.The only preparation I do is to load a tall narrow pipe and leave it for a minimum of 24hrs.As we all have more than one pipe this is not a hardship:).When I decide to smoke the bowl it always lights easily and stays lit.The flavour on all three blends is much improved by the drying time.I then smoke half of the bowl and then let it rest.I smoke the second half which always tastes better the same day or the following morning.
 

lawdawg

Preferred Member
Aug 25, 2016
1,419
2,432
This is the reason I just rub out SG flakes. You get a great deal more surface area exposed so that it can dissipate moisture through evaporation more readily. This is the difference between throwing your bath towel on the floor after a shower (“drying” it in flake form) or hanging the towel up to dry on a rack therefore increasing the surface area exposed to ambient air (equivalent of rubbing out the flake). Even rubbed out, FVF takes hours to dry at my house in the middle of winter with low humidity.

One day, I will master the fold and stuff method. Until then, rubbing out the flakes works great. Just dry it as crispy as you can get it, then smoke it and experiment from there with moisture levels.
 

BROBS

Preferred Member
Nov 13, 2019
10,941
36,179
38
IA
This is the reason I just rub out SG flakes. You get a great deal more surface area exposed so that it can dissipate moisture through evaporation more readily. This is the difference between throwing your bath towel on the floor after a shower (“drying” it in flake form) or hanging the towel up to dry on a rack therefore increasing the surface area exposed to ambient air (equivalent of rubbing out the flake). Even rubbed out, FVF takes hours to dry at my house in the middle of winter with low humidity.

One day, I will master the fold and stuff method. Until then, rubbing out the flakes works great. Just dry it as crispy as you can get it, then smoke it and experiment from there with moisture levels.
BEST WAY
 

Mis Pipas

Preferred Member
Nov 11, 2019
911
9,797
72
Holy Land
Right now I'm smoking FV James Flake for a year and a half. This is an exceptional tobacco. The taste is excepcional. I lit it without any difficulty, it burns exceptionally well, taste is grate. What I did was cut small cubes and rub it gently. Then I exposed it to a temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit and 33% humidity for one hour. For me it is the best tobacco I have ever smoked. It's a shame not to enjoy it.
 

Mis Pipas

Preferred Member
Nov 11, 2019
911
9,797
72
Holy Land
Right now I'm smoking FV James Flake for a year and a half. This is an exceptional tobacco. The taste is excepcional. I lit it without any difficulty, it burns exceptionally well, taste is grate. What I did was cut small cubes and rub it gently. Then I exposed it to a temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit and 33% humidity for one hour. For me it is the best tobacco I have ever smoked. It's a shame not to enjoy it.
SG St James of course. EXCEPTIONAL, THREE TIMES EXCEPTIONAL:ROFLMAO: : )
 

--dante--

Senior Member
Jun 11, 2020
469
2,130
Pittsburgh, PA USA
I love VaPers and have loved everything I've had from the Gawith houses, so I've had a couple of tins of StJF in my drawer for about a year, doing the silly "saving for a special moment" thing. Oh well, this weekend I thought I'd open one to see what it's going to be like.

I worked myself up, imagining this will be the Dig Daddy VaPer of my dreams, covering all my partially unmet needs from other VaPers: I dreamed it to be thick chewy smoke, (very) sweet, spicy, and enough nicotine to stun a musk ox.

Initial smell from the tin is standard VaPer, leaning towards the peppery side, and grassy Virginia. The flakes are very thick, and borderline broken flake (akin to Conniston cut plug and Bob's choc flake) rather than flake cut, they certainly fall apart when handled, unlike say Balkan flake, or 1792 flake which are paper-thin and rubbery. They were also looking like they don't need drying based on touch, though I gave a flake about an hour's drying before folding and stuffing to my VaPer pipe.

Balls! This is not lighting, really not lighting. After many attempts it finally took fire, only to give me an intensely peppery taste...before the fire died after a couple of puffs. And this charade carried on throughout the smoke of that first flake, the second half of the bowl was noticeably better both in taste and flammability, and the taste is actually good when the stars align between overheating the ember, and it dying. This tobacco won't work wth fold and stuff, that's for sure...

Take two: dry for 3 hours, cube cut, gravity fill.
Similar deal with minor improvements, still the ember's dying after a couple of puffs, but more of the taste I am looking for, it took me forever to finish the bowl and not for lack of trying, these flakes seem to have some fire retardant on them (ok, I am joking of course!).

Take three: take a flake out, leave it for 24 hours, crumble to dust, and gravity fill. HERE WE GO!!! Finally, this damn flake is working as expected! Grassy, bready, slightly fermented sweet Virginia and peppery Perique. In fact the best taste I got when there was but a mere wisp of smoke coming out of the pipe, not enough to even retrohale, and I remembered @sablebrush52 saying "Virginias will school you", guess this is slow smoking? I thought I smoked slowly already! This thought added to the frustration as I'd like a bit more volume to the smoke, but the taste was indeed divine when smoked THAT slowly but it's still frustrating as I'd like some more of it! Like having an amazing plate of food that you're only allowed to eat with chopsticks. No, not chopsticks but tweezers for insect anatomy (I DID do insect anatomy as a biology student 20 years ago). The annoyance was that still it needed relight every 3 puffs, or if I puffed more aggressively it turned very peppery.

So in summary, a pain in the ass flake, unlike other stuff I've had from Gawith, in terms of preparation, including flakes and ropes, flavoured or otherwise. It certainly fulfills some of the expectations I had but having to plan 24 hours in advance for smoking it, and babysitting the bowl so much made it that I will keep a tin or three at hand but won't be getting a metric ton of it in the near future.
This summarizes why I'm not fond of _any_ flake. At least with a plug, I can control the thickness then rub out. A flake is like a plug sliced at a terrible thickness. Not a problem with some, but definitely (to me) problem with G&H or Samuel Gawith, I suppose because of the moistness of them(?)
 
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--dante--

Senior Member
Jun 11, 2020
469
2,130
Pittsburgh, PA USA
This summarizes why I'm not fond of _any_ flake. At least with a plug, I can control the thickness then rub out. A flake is like a plug sliced at a terrible thickness. Not a problem with some, but definitely (to me) problem with G&H or Samuel Gawith, I suppose because of the moistness of them(?). I've always liked most of their offerings, but not the labor and ritual involved with smoking them. I stick with their ropes and plugs.
 

workman

Preferred Member
Jan 5, 2018
2,441
2,738
The Faroe Islands
I don't see the problem with moist tobacco. If it's moist, dry it.
I never pop a tin of tobacco expecting to fire away immediately. The tobacco gets a lot better after some time in the air, and it needs to dry anyway.
I'm opening a tin of Hal o' The Wynd right now. Because I want to be able to smoke some of it in a week or two.
Plan ahead guys. That way you can be spontaneous when you want to.
 

BROBS

Preferred Member
Nov 13, 2019
10,941
36,179
38
IA
I don't see the problem with moist tobacco. If it's moist, dry it.
I never pop a tin of tobacco expecting to fire away immediately. The tobacco gets a lot better after some time in the air, and it needs to dry anyway.
I'm opening a tin of Hal o' The Wynd right now. Because I want to be able to smoke some of it in a week or two.
Plan ahead guys. That way you can be spontaneous when you want to.
I have multiple trays of tobacco drying all the time.
when I run low I think "oh shit" and put out more tobacco...
 

--dante--

Senior Member
Jun 11, 2020
469
2,130
Pittsburgh, PA USA
I don't see the problem with moist tobacco. If it's moist, dry it.
I never pop a tin of tobacco expecting to fire away immediately. The tobacco gets a lot better after some time in the air, and it needs to dry anyway.
I'm opening a tin of Hal o' The Wynd right now. Because I want to be able to smoke some of it in a week or two.
Plan ahead guys. That way you can be spontaneous when you want to.
I just popped open a Hal O' The Wynd myself just today. I agree it seemed way too 'fresh'. I put it in my cellar (even though I'm not cellaring it) to forget about it a while and go back to it.
 

karam

Preferred Member
Feb 2, 2019
820
2,846
Athens, Greece
What do you know, it's hardly been 15 days since I popped that tin and now it is over and planning to buy some of the plug version. Fully rubbing it out, drying to a crisp over a couple of days and then putting back in the tin worked best for me, now I can pick it from the tin and smoke straight away, it stays lit and gives off amazing taste.
 

meoget

New member
Jan 25, 2021
21
50
When I smoke SG tobaccos, I open the tin to break the seal, then close it and let it sit for a couple days before I try to smoke it.
I love VaPers and have loved everything I've had from the Gawith houses, so I've had a couple of tins of StJF in my drawer for about a year, doing the silly "saving for a special moment" thing. Oh well, this weekend I thought I'd open one to see what it's going to be like.

I worked myself up, imagining this will be the Dig Daddy VaPer of my dreams, covering all my partially unmet needs from other VaPers: I dreamed it to be thick chewy smoke, (very) sweet, spicy, and enough nicotine to stun a musk ox.

Initial smell from the tin is standard VaPer, leaning towards the peppery side, and grassy Virginia. The flakes are very thick, and borderline broken flake (akin to Conniston cut plug and Bob's choc flake) rather than flake cut, they certainly fall apart when handled, unlike say Balkan flake, or 1792 flake which are paper-thin and rubbery. They were also looking like they don't need drying based on touch, though I gave a flake about an hour's drying before folding and stuffing to my VaPer pipe.

Balls! This is not lighting, really not lighting. After many attempts it finally took fire, only to give me an intensely peppery taste...before the fire died after a couple of puffs. And this charade carried on throughout the smoke of that first flake, the second half of the bowl was noticeably better both in taste and flammability, and the taste is actually good when the stars align between overheating the ember, and it dying. This tobacco won't work wth fold and stuff, that's for sure...

Take two: dry for 3 hours, cube cut, gravity fill.
Similar deal with minor improvements, still the ember's dying after a couple of puffs, but more of the taste I am looking for, it took me forever to finish the bowl and not for lack of trying, these flakes seem to have some fire retardant on them (ok, I am joking of course!).

Take three: take a flake out, leave it for 24 hours, crumble to dust, and gravity fill. HERE WE GO!!! Finally, this damn flake is working as expected! Grassy, bready, slightly fermented sweet Virginia and peppery Perique. In fact the best taste I got when there was but a mere wisp of smoke coming out of the pipe, not enough to even retrohale, and I remembered @sablebrush52 saying "Virginias will school you", guess this is slow smoking? I thought I smoked slowly already! This thought added to the frustration as I'd like a bit more volume to the smoke, but the taste was indeed divine when smoked THAT slowly but it's still frustrating as I'd like some more of it! Like having an amazing plate of food that you're only allowed to eat with chopsticks. No, not chopsticks but tweezers for insect anatomy (I DID do insect anatomy as a biology student 20 years ago). The annoyance was that still it needed relight every 3 puffs, or if I puffed more aggressively it turned very peppery.

So in summary, a pain in the ass flake, unlike other stuff I've had from Gawith, in terms of preparation, including flakes and ropes, flavoured or otherwise. It certainly fulfills some of the expectations I had but having to plan 24 hours in advance for smoking it, and babysitting the bowl so much made it that I will keep a tin or three at hand but won't be getting a metric ton of it in the near future.


When I smoke SG tobaccos, I open the tin to break the seal, then close it and let it sit for a couple days before I try to smoke it. Always had good results with St. James Flake in that manner.
 

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