Lord MacCraigan was visiting London on business and wandered into a cozy looking pub for a wee dram. He quickly fell in love with the house tobacco, an exquisite English flake. When the owner of the pub refused to give Lord MacCraigan the recipe for the flake so MacCraigan's local Highlands tobacconist could replicate it, old Haimish did what any self respecting Scots Lord would do: he bought the pub lock, stock and tobacco recipe. One puff and we know you'll agree it was a bargain at any price! An exquisite hand blended Virginia/Latakia flake,smooth enough for all day smoking.
I opened this tin not expecting much after the description of the tobacco which I thought was a lure for mediocrity in disguise. Surprisingly, I liked it. Well prepared flakes perfectly lined up and ready to be smoked. The moisture level was spot on (unlike Laurel Flake which needs time to dry out), and this burned right down to the bottom. Nothing fancy here tastewise, just good Latakia with Virginias interplaying throughout the smoke. I've had better, but I would recommend this for sure.
I received my first sample of McCraigan's Flake yesterday. I figured that 4 ounces ought to be enough to give it a fair evaluation. Today was the day. For those who just want to know whether the weed's any good, here's the Executive Summary:
If you're a Latakiaholic, McCraigan's Flake is nirvana. On a scale of 1 to 10, it's a 10. Or possibly an 11.
I instantly fell in love with the aroma when I opened the vacuum-sealed pouch. The stuff fairly oozes the smell of rich, sweet Cyprian Latakia. There was something familiar about it, although I couldn't put my finger on it at first. Then I made the connection; this stuff smells a LOT like Gawith Hoggarrth Mixture No. 12, which contains 45% Cyprian Latakia.
I cut the flake across the grain with scissors, loaded chunks into the pipe, and set fire to it. That was 40 minutes ago, and I'm still sitting here sipping luscious, sweet smoke from a pipe that's just warm, and my tongue is grateful to be tasting it rather than roasting in it. This is one of the coolest, smoothest, tongue-friendliest weedages I've ever smoked.
McCraigan's Flake is complex. The flavors are intense, but varied. Cyprian Latakia is the dominant flavor, so much so that only those pipers who have thoroughly studied (and who throroughly enjoy) the virtues of Latweed are likely to appreciate this superb flake. It is flat-out loaded with Latakia. In fact, the Virginia's presence in the blend really isn't recognizable as a distinct Virginia flavor until about mid-bowl. By that time, the 'Ginny had become sufficiently carmelized by the combustion of the first half of the bowl that it started to come through on its own.
But before that, WOW!...what a phenomenal melange of flavors. The Virginia made its presence known in three ways:
--It added a big boost in sweetness to the natural sweetness of the Latakia. In fact, this is one of the sweetest Latweed blends I've ever smoked, and I'll swear that there's no sweetener of any kind added. All the sweetness comes from the tobacco itself.
--In the first half of the bowl, there was a very definite fruitiness in the taste and aroma?not the kind that comes from casings, but rather the kind of tangy fruitiness that is characteristic of fine matured Virginia.
--There is a smooth, creamy, natural tobacco taste that's akin to a fine cigar. It's like nothing I've ever tasted when I've smoked straight Latakia, so it must be a result of the interplay between the Latweed and the Virginia. It's a pure delight for a lover of all-natural (unflavored) pipeweed.
When I first opened the bag of flake, I was surprised to find that it was much drier than I expected, especially since the sample of Samuel Gawith's Laurel Flake that I had opened yesterday was much more moist. (In fact, it was almost too moist, but it burned OK once I got it lit.) Anyhow, the moisture content of McCraigan's Flake is perfect.
A note on pipe selection: It's always a bit of a challenge to select the right pipe in which to give a new blend a fair try. Most of my pipes are dedicated to specific blends. I don't want to pollute a well-seasoned pipe's cake with something that might befoul it. Perique is probably the biggest offender in that regard, but Oriental (Turkish) weedage also leaves a very distinct note in any pipe in which it's burned. As it turned out, the choice of which pipe to use for McCraigan's Flake was easy: a Mastro de Paja 1B full-bent sandblast that has never smoked anything but GawHogg Mixture No. 12. In fact, when I sniffed the cake and sniffed the still-unburnt McCraigan's Flake, it was an obvious match.
Compared to GawHogg Mixture No. 12, McCraigan's Flake definitely has a much more obvious Latakia flavor. That's not to say it contains more Latweed than Mixture No. 12. I don't know how much is in there, but the Latakia that Samuel Gawith uses is less processed than GawHogg's Latweed (which I suspect is steamed to make it milder). Consequently, there's much more natural, full-bore Latakia taste and aroma in McCraigan's Flake, whereas in Mixture No. 12, the Virginia flavor is more recognizable. It's also more likely to bite yer tongue; Mixture No. 12 must be smoked more slowly than McCraigan's Flake, the latter being one of the most forgiving flakes you're ever likely to smoke.
So, to any lover of GawHogg Mixture No. 12, I say unto thee, get thyself some McCraigan's Flake! And to any lover of Virginia/Latakia flake in general who relishes the taste of fine Latweed, I suspect you'll love this stuff.
See my reviews of Samuel Gawith's Navy Flake and Balkan Flake, as this is made by the same blender and completely similar in taste.
Like Blackbeard Queen Anne's Revenge, this is a very mild stoved flake with Latakia. Very little Latakia, alas, and no orientals. The result is very bland, boring and delicate... like the above mentioned tobaccos.
Many people like these Samuel Gawith-made flakes of Virginia with Latakia... I don't. I prefer a nice GLPease Balkan, with lots more taste and complexity. There's nothing wrong with McCraigan, nothing unpleasant... it simply doesn't click for me: rubbed, folded in huge pieces, wet or dry... it never has enough flavour.
NEWMAN says it all, if you like flakes and Latakia then this is for you. I thought, quite simply...it's ok. Not great. Just ok. Needs to be dried alot. Much as Black Beards Queen Anns Revenge. Perhaps it was just my state of mind at the time. I wanted to love it...I tried to love it........I didn't love it. It's just ok. 2 1/2 out of 4 stars
I can almost believe the lore and agree that Lord MacCraigan made a wise decision to acquire this flake recipe. Knox Cigar via Samuel Gawith gives us another bulk winner under the Tavern Tobacco Co. name. The tobaccos are on the darker side but vary from golden to almost black in perfectly prepared, pliable flakes ~ 1"x6"x1/16". I normally don't rub out my flakes so packing was easier than with some others in this category. As with my prior trial in this line, I felt the initial moisture content was high and less bowl condensation developed and inital lighting was easier after some air drying. The pouch aroma was distinctly of Latakia as was the taste and room aroma. However, all were toned down as compared to a Penzance and the room aroma was not nearly as objectionable to non-smokers. This nicely balanced blend yields a cool, rich, thick smoke that I truly enjoy after meals. The aftertaste of the Latakia lingers much longer than my normal VA flakes and is great. However, I normally don't prefer Latakia blends as heavy as even this one as all day smokes and this blend will be reserved for special smokes. If you enjoy Latakia and flakes, this one is a must try.
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