I have recently discovered a new flake tobacco that has me all fired up. I do want to tell you what it is and why I’m prepared to go on about it excessively, but (you knew there would be one of those) first I must share with you an anecdote that does not particularly make me look stalwart, wise or even competent. At my expense, the tale goes something like this:
A few years ago I was visiting a wonderful tobacco shop in Fairfax, Virginia called John B. Hayes Tobacconist. I was perusing their pipe offerings and ended up purchasing a rather large Castello that had caught my eye. The store manager complimented me on my selection and asked if I would like to try his favorite tobacco. “Sure” I said, “That’s very kind of you.” I was presented with Samuel Gawith’s 1792 Flake, then unknown to me, and I proceed to load up the Castello’s commodious bowl with this pungent pressed tobacco. Saying my thanks and goodbyes I headed out to my car to begin the 40 minute drive home delighted with my purchase and eager to try this new tobacco. Pipe burning nicely, I pulled out onto a highway I had traveled numerous times before and puffing away contentedly I drove towards home.
Things get a little sketchy after this. The next thing I remember is driving down a very nice residential neighborhood that I did not recognize. Not sure why or how I got there I thought it might be a good idea to pull over and try to reconnoiter. Seeing no obvious threat from any quarter it occurred to me that perhaps I should close my eyes for a moment and then devise a route home that took into account this unfamiliar terrain. Depending on what my objective was at that moment, this was either experimentally cavalier or profoundly stupid. As I closed my eyes, the humble Corolla in which I sat suddenly transformed into a multi-million dollar NASA flight simulator. As the G forces pressed me into my seat I frantically grabbed the steering wheel to anchor me in place and braced my feet against the protesting floorboards intent on riding out this training mission for which I now felt I had signed up in error. A very long hour followed.
I can report that the earth settled back into its proper orbit and that there was no permanent damage done to me, the car or the neighborhood and I did get home eventually.
Fast forward (not too fast) to about a week ago. Samuel Gawith has recently released a new tobacco in partnership with the Kearvaig Pipe Club of Scotland. It is called Bothy Flake. A Bothy is a small structure that can be found in remote areas of Scotland, Ireland, Wales and the north of England. It is a cost free shelter for hikers and wilderness adventurers who need a place to rest and to seek cover. I was intrigued by the name of this blend and drawn to the story of the spirited and eccentric members of the Kearvaig Pipe Club who travel many miles through the wild hills of Scotland to meet at the Bothy on Kearvaig Bay to enjoy a dram and to avoid the disapproving eye of the tobacco police and other self appointed custodians of the public good. The blend is Virginia based with a bit of Latakia and a subtle splash of peaty Highland malt whisky. I was so fascinated at the prospect of trying this tobacco that I set aside the memories of trauma and disgrace (many perfectly normal people smoke 1792 Flake without incident) and dove in.
What a lovely tobacco! The sweetness of the Virginias paired with a hint of Latakia smokiness just shines through the top note of faint peat and maltiness. This is a cool weather smoke that comes alive in the crisp air. The burn is great with a bit of drying and its medium strength makes it an all day delight. The members of the Kearvaig Pipe club, who most certainly are stalwart, wise and competent, have given us a fine blend that Samuel Gawith has made widely available. I still avoid the 1792 but the same can be said for tequila as well. That story is for another time……..