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Notes: According to an email response from J. F. Germain and Son asking if they produced any other blend like Stonehaven, they replied that their Rich Dark Flake is similar to Stonehaven, which is produced for Esoterica in the U.S. market only.

BrandJ. F. Germain & Son
Blended ByJ. F. Germain & Son
Manufactured ByJ.F. Germain & Son
Blend TypeVirginia/Burley
ContentsBurley, Virginia
PackagingSold in various bulk pouch weights.
ProductionCurrently available
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JimInks Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JimInks (3047)
Medium Mild Medium Pleasant

You say you like Stonehaven? Then, you may like this. Some say it's the exact same thing, but it isn't. This is Virginia forward with burley in a support role, whereas Stonehaven is burley forward with Virginia in a support role. The toppings are not quite the same either, though they are similar in their sweetness. I get a chocolate and treacle hit from it in different proportions than I notice in Stonehaven. They mildly sublimate and cohesively work well with the tobaccos. The Virginia is earthy (not as much as Stonehaven), woody and dark fruit sweet with minor grass and floral notes. The burleys are nutty sweet with a little molasses, wood, earth and a touch of sharpness. The nic-hit is in the center of mild to medium. The strength and taste levels are medium. Burns slow with a very consistent flavor to the finish; rich, creamy smooth, cool and clean. Requires some relights at first, but settles down unless it's sopping wet when you pack your pipe. Will need a little dry time, but I recommend leaving a little moisture for better effect. Has no dull or harsh spots, very few rough edges, and won't bite. Leaves a little moisture in your bowl, but no dottle, so it can burn to ash. Has a pleasant, lightly lingering after taste and room note. Not quite an all day smoke, and is a little stronger and deeper manufacture than Stonehaven is.


49 people found this review helpful.

Pipestud Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipestud (1829)
Medium Very Mild Medium Pleasant

Just for fun, I did a side by side taste test with Rich Dark Flake and Stonehaven. I am extremely familiar with Stonehaven as it is one of my all-time favorite tobaccos. The only caveat here is that the freshest Stonehaven that I could find in my cellar was from 2011 and the Rich Dark Flake is less than a year old.

My impressions - Both blends look the same, feel the same and almost smell the same. I like my tobacco dry rather than moist as I believe that once the water has evaporated, one gets a truer picture of the flavor of most tobaccos. So, I had to dry the Rich Dark Flake a little longer than the Stonehaven. The taste was not quite identical, but I will not say that there is any difference in the Burley/Virginia components as with each blend I got the same general overall impression. BUT, the mysterious topping was different. And that did change the flavor presentation only slightly. The Rich Dark Flake is a little sweeter. Otherwise, the two are the same. IMO, of course.

Suspicion - To ensure the integrity of the two blends being different, Germain simply splashed the "molasses" on the Stonehaven while steaming, and viola, out came Rich Dark Flake. Both blends are delicious and very satisfying.

28 people found this review helpful.

Wibblefishofdoom Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Wibblefishofdoom (139)
Medium to Strong Mild Medium Very Pleasant

On a bit of a Germain's trip at the moment. So, given the reviews of this stuff, I had a fair amount of anticipation of this, quite a lot actually. Normally, my gut instinct would be telling me to air on the side of caution. This time, as we shall see, it got it all wrong.

The whiff from the packet upon opening was divine, a healthy but not overly large dose of brandy, possibly with a splash of single malt thrown in. Things got even better when I got my mucky paw on those oh so fine and strangely dark flakes, long, thin and shiny slabs of, thus far, delectable tobacco. Rubbing out was surprisingly easy, even if it did seem wrong to break up those fine flakes, almost seemed like sullying them. Packing was very easy as was lighting, as usual, Germain's seem to get their moisture levels just right - other brands take note (yes Samuel Gawith, I'm talking about you!). The taste of the smoke was just, I hate to over use the word, divine. More brandy, more little slips of single malt, hitting the taste buds like some mellow jazz on the ears. These then slip without incident into an incredibly pleasant creaminess, perhaps with little hints of oak. Absolutely divine (there's that word again, tsk tsk). As for the room note, well, that just lingers like sweet lipstick on the collar, I normally smoke this last thing at night and it's the first smell I get in the morning, that's how I know I'm awake.

In summary, this is perfection itself. I'm normally a little suspicious of anything with burley in it, I've had enough bad aromatics to wonder if a lot of blenders use it to pad out and disguise bad tobacco. And I'm not normally one to love virginias either, I can thoroughly enjoy them an pick out good quality ones at three paces, but would drop any other tobacco for a good Latakia. This, however, is just perfect, heavenly and, dare I say it again, divine. This has to be the best tobacco I have smoked to date, I struggle to think of another that can come close to it. I am tempted to get in touch with the administrators for this site and ask them to add a few extra stars for this tobacco alone. I am glad to say that my gut instinct got his completely wrong this time round. As for Stonehaven, well, never tried it. But if it's even a fraction of the quality and flavour that this has, it will be excellent stuff.

Thank you Germain's for the best pipe tobacco in the world.

26 people found this review helpful.

StevieB Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
StevieB (2081)
Medium Mild Medium Very Pleasant

J. F. Germain & Son - Rich Dark Flake.

Retype 10/01/2018.

Very dark, thin, flakes. Due to the thinness they normally arrive with a good level of hydration, not like some thick flakes where they could almost do with a run through a clothes mangle to squeeze them dry! Whether it's rubbed or folded it smokes well.

The molasses/treacle gives a notable flavour to the smoke without vanquishing the Virginia and Burley. The Virginia feels a little heavier than the Burley, lots of dark fruit and dough. The Burley acts as its back up, adding a sweet-nuttiness. Every bowl burns brilliantly, without a bite to be had. When smoked in a cob it's more of a rustic flavour, and not as sweet.

RDF has the perfect amount of nicotine to slake the want without making my head spin, and the room-note's pleasant.

Rich Dark Flake? Every bowl is pure enjoyment. Highly recommended:

Four stars.

A long time favourite.

P.S, if you purchase the tinned RDF you might notice the cut varies from tin to tin. Always the same tobacco in flake form but can be longer, almost coils, or neater stacks.

Pipe Used: Various

Age When Smoked: Various

Purchased From: Various

20 people found this review helpful.

TallPuffO'Burley Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
TallPuffO'Burley (633)
Medium Mild Medium to Full Tolerable

I was given a very generous sample of this. I was told it was better than Stonehaven and it very well may be. I have also heard that this is the exact same blend as Stonehaven.

With my first bowl it was clear that there was no other blend as similar to this one as Stonehaven as the toppings seemed identical to my tastes. If there is any distinction at all, it would be the composition of the leaf. And if there is a difference my guess is that the RDF may be a little heavier on the burley component than Stonehaven and that Stonehaven is perhaps a little heavier on the Virginia component.

In any case, they are both stellar and both deserving of a four star ranking. I could describe the flavor in more detail that it is rich, earthy and nutty sweet. The topping adds perhaps a touch of molasses and fruit. But with this or Stonehaven, it goes like this. If you see it, buy it. If you don't like it, you will likely be able to trade it for three times the volume of something you do like. The stuff is hard to get and there is a reason for that.

Similar Blends: Stonehaven.

11 people found this review helpful.

Shell Briar Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Shell Briar (2)
Mild to Medium Medium Medium Pleasant

After so many glowing reviews of this blend, to say it is excellent seems almost a moot point. But I will say it anyway. This is one excellent flake.

We are vey lucky in the UK to have such a wide range of excellent traditional flakes readily available, but this is unlike anything from either Gawith company. A heady smell greets you as you open the pouch that makes me think of dark chocolate coated cherries. The flakes are thin, soft and pliable, and very easy to rub out, should that be your wont (it is my wont). Depending on how fresh your tobacconist keeps his tobaccos, you may require a little dry time, but just a little - no more than any other SG or GH&Co blend. You certainly don't want to dry it too much, save you lose that delicious aroma.

On lighting up the aromatic flavours waft in and out between waves of sweet, slightly dusty, virginia/ burley. There are layers of complexity here, ranging from hay and butterscotch, right through cognac, molasses and ripe cherry, down to dark chocolate and liquorice. They are delicious subtle, ever shifting and compliment each other wonderfully. There is a softness and an ease to this smoke, which you don't always get with other British flakes, and I would say the nicotine is mild-medium.

So what about the negatives? I suppose the one point where this lacks compared to my top tier flakes (Samuel Gawith's FVF, BBF, St James) is that you do not get that intense sweetness build up in the final third of the bowl. It stays pretty uniform throughout. However, it is a pretty delicious uniform flavour, plus the aforementioned smokes can be very tricky to get 'just right' so this can be easily forgiven.

Overall then, this is a very delicious, enjoyable smoke. Perfect from first light down to the dottle. I would have no problem smoking this early in the morning, during the day or late at night. It is a real crowd pleaser too, with a delicious room note. I think my top tier needs to make room for one more!

Age When Smoked: Fresh as a daisy

Purchased From: GQ Tobacco

Similar Blends: Mac Baren's Old Dark Fired, Will's Golden Cut Bar (now long discontinued).

9 people found this review helpful.

McQueen Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
McQueen (41)
Medium to Strong Mild Very Full Pleasant to Tolerable

Holy cow. I got a very small sample from a friend, and after 3 bowls, I'm wishing I had more. This is basically a better version of Stonehaven (and harder to get in the US). Very similar to stonehaven as others have said, but with an extra kick and flavor. This is probably the best tobacco Germain produces, easily. Read jim inks review because he's spot on. No bite, no relights. If you like Stonehaven you will certainly love this.

Purchased From: Friend

Similar Blends: Esoterica Stonehaven.

7 people found this review helpful.

Pipemanuk Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipemanuk (76)
Medium Mild to Medium Medium Pleasant

I've been meaning to get some of this for a while as all the Stonehaven I have left is contained in one 8 ounce bag and I am loth to open it!

Anyway I finally bought myself being pretty easy to order online in the UK...and it arrived yesterday. It appears to be only available in 25 gram packets but I can confirm that it is Stonehaven by another name; at least to this smoker it looks the same, smells the same and tastes the same.

It's a good dark smoke, rich with the scents and tastes of red wine, berries and leather; it's very smooth and doesn't bite in the least. In other words..its good!

I think though that it's apparent rarity has added a lustre to it's reputation...I mean there are plenty of flakes as good as and quite a few that are better imho.

Still worth a deserving 4 stars though.

7 people found this review helpful.

jhand45 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
jhand45 (13)
Medium Medium Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

This is one of those blends that you hear about that is rated so highly that you build it up in your mind into something spectacular. Perhaps I would be more forgiving of this tobacco were it not for the hype surrounding it. Nevertheless, when I saw it on a recent visit to my B&M in York, I jumped at the opportunity to get some. First impression was great, It has a delightful tin note, rich and molassasey. The flakes are homogenous and relatively thin (at last compared to G&H). But in some ways the flakes present the first problem. Wet, wet, wet and hard to break up. Even with a month or two drying time, the flakes are still wet and difficult to break up. This obviously is going to affect the smoking mechanics and I found it difficult to keep lit and I'm sure it also had an impact on the flavours I was getting.

Flavourwise, it tastes of tobacco and the casing doesnt interfere too much. However, I do also get a chemical aftertaste on this blend which I personally find offputting.

In conclusion, its certainly not terrible, and enough people like it not to take my experience too much to heart, but I am personally unlikely to buy it again and wouldnt suggest people go too far out of their way to acquire it.

Purchased From: York B&M

6 people found this review helpful.

Stefanos Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Stefanos (222)
Medium Mild to Medium Medium to Full Tolerable

Regarding taste there is always a subjective element, so although I enjoy this tobacco it’s not one of my favourites. And mainly this is because I am not very fond of the licorice/molasses casings in general. Yet quality judgement has to be more objective and Rich Dark Flake has qualities that qualify it effortlessly as one the best flakes around.

Why do I say that? First of all it is a very complex and deeply flavorful tobacco with an interesting measured casing. Then it has medium strength with a good nicotine content to satisfy any smoker and never overwhelm. While producing abundant smoke it burns as slow as any tobacco and lastly has a perfect 'mechanical' behaviour and easy handling.

It comes in long black mildly aromatized heavily pressed and super-concentrated flakes that offer a very long, slow burning (I easily get a two hour smoke in medium sized pipes!) flakes with an elusive aroma which seems to be of brandy, licorice, molasses and plum but at times I also sense dark chocolate, pine resin and even a fruitier aroma reminiscent of sweet orange peel. The flakes are moist and sticky but to my experience do not need any drying as they smoke perfectly.

The smoke is rich, creamy, mellow and sweet - exceptionally smooth! The casing is integrated with the tobacco so that until mid-bowl it has a uniform taste with a prominent molasses/licorice/fruit liqueur taste where the tobacco flavor always present. I also taste dark flavors of fruit, leather, rubber and a slight floral nuance. Towards the end the taste becomes more natural and this is where Rich Dark Flake really shines for me when the nutty Burley is most felt… It never gets harsh, strong or bitter and burns to the very end to a very fine grey ash.

It is quite similar to MacBaren's HH Bold Kentucky and I agree with fellow reviewer TW who says it is similar to St. Bruno only better in every way. And I have never tasted Stonehaven to add my comment.

Similar Blends: MacBaren's HH Bold Kentucky.

6 people found this review helpful.

SteelCowboy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
SteelCowboy (685)
Mild to Medium Mild Medium Pleasant

Rich Dark Flake isn’t Stonehaven. Other than the fact that is each contains Burley and Virginia, I don’t even find them all that similar to each other. (I have smoked them side by side). RDF offers a different pouch scent that indicates right away that there is more topping and/or casing in RDF. The scent offers up some chocolate and in the pipe it leans more toward the aromatic side of the spectrum where Stonehaven’s steam treatment plays more of a prominent role in the flavor than RDF (which I assume has been steamed as well). Stonehaven is earthier where RDF is sweeter, especially when smoked in a cob. With all of that said, this is a very fine, lightly aromatic flake. It needs a fair amount of dry time and I prefer to fold and stuff it with some rubbed out to get things going. The Virginia’s are the lead players here with the Burley only in a support role. RDF is fairly straightforward in flavor and has a “richness” to it that offers up billows of smoke. There isn’t a bite to be found, even when pushed. RDF isn’t an easy acquisition in the US, but worth the effort. Three and a half stars.

6 people found this review helpful.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30171)
Medium Very Mild Medium Pleasant

I ordered this flake from the UK. Having smoked Stonehaven before, I cannot say this is an equivalent. In fact, I was under the impression, from the pouch aroma, that I had purchased some FVF. A very stout aroma... Then, smoking it makes it similar to none of the two. It certainly is a good dark flake, enjoyable, with a good burning rate. VAs are definitively dominant here over BUs, which are in the background. And then, around mid - bowl, a licorice topping kicks in, bringing some sweetness to an otherwise leathery, alomost woodsy smoke. I like it. It is not grand, but it is much better than a lot of dark flakes on the market.

6 people found this review helpful.

TW Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
TW (38)
Medium Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant

An interesting tobacco.

The presentation is very good. Silky smooth, slightly damp dark flakes with a rich odour of something. I can't quite make up my mind what, but there's hints of cognac, molasses/treacle (it wouldn't surprise me if molasses was the main/only topping/casing) , leather, plum pudding and even ripe stilton cheese in there. Thankfully, there's no trace of Lakeland-style soapy florals or Danish/American type aromatic flavourings.

If there is a topping, then once rubbed out and lit it doesn't make itself obvious beyond the initial few seconds on lighting. After that you get a mellow, smooth, creamy smoke that's quite undemanding, anything but overpowering and very pleasant. No bite even in an unfiltered short pipe, and a steady slow burn. The burley is present in sufficient quantity to add it's own distinctive note, and there isn't the slightest trace of bite.

If I had to compare it to another tobacco it would be the old St Bruno flake, only RDF is better in every way. Higher quality, better flavour, smoother, nicer feel when handled. And if there is an aromatic topping, it's much less assertive.

And it doesn't seem to ghost briars, which St B can be inclined to do.

Overall, if this is the same or very similar to Esoterica Stonehaven, I can see what the fuss is about.

Smokes better in a briar than a cob or clay, in my opinion.

Highly recommended.

6 people found this review helpful.

Justindaze Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Justindaze (11)
Medium to Strong Medium to Strong Full Pleasant to Tolerable

Germain's Rich Dark Flake in a Bones Hanging Brandy is today's treat. The sweet, dark VaBur flake has notes of dark chocolate, molasses, and dried currant flavors. With hints of hay and nuts. The smoke is thick, creamy and divine. This is a miracle blend, honestly. I prefer it to Stonehaven, although both are amazing.

Pipe Used: Bones Hanging Brandy

Age When Smoked: Fresh

Purchased From: A Friend

Similar Blends: Stonehaven.

5 people found this review helpful.

JamesDarwin63 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JamesDarwin63 (6)
Medium Mild to Medium Medium to Full Very Pleasant

This has to be one of my all time favourite tobaccos, for me Germain's is unlike no other tobacco, I am yet to find another tobacco that has the same aroma upon opening the packet. Although slightly more expensive that other loose tobaccos that I normally smoke, this is is definitely worth the extra money. Virgnia & Burley tobaccos always tend to be my favourite, I cannot quite detect the flavourings in RDF as every time I smoke it I seem to detect different notes. A tobacco definitely worth trying. Most recently smoked in my new favourite pipe haha

Pipe Used: SAvinelli Bings Favourite

Age When Smoked: Fresh / 1 week old

Purchased From:

Similar Blends: Nothing that I have tried.

5 people found this review helpful.

Lazarus77 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Lazarus77 (91)
Medium Extremely Mild Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

One of the best tobacco I tried. Smooth, unique, amazing,relaxing. Lits, burn, smokes,aftertaste is beyond the expectation. More than highly recommended. One thing, is really hard to get it.

Pipe Used: Various

Age When Smoked: Fresh

Purchased From:

Similar Blends: Stoneheaven.

5 people found this review helpful.

leafy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
leafy (4)
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

I have recently adopted RDF and it has quickly become my core smoke. As said, a shadow of red wine etc but its the delight of a well- rounded dark virginia burley blend which has soul that has made it a must-have for me. I have recently realized a preparation option which I now use with all flakes, and which has expanded my blend options. I am opposed to that advice which encourages the drying-out of tobacco flakes; the end result is that one smokes the bones of the blend. One must see that, as received, the moisture in a blend is locked in and the smoking experience is a wrangle on that condition. If a given flake rubs out to thick and sticky strings and is a bitch to smoke a realistic error might be made whereby the tobacco is rendered, through dessication, to a condition comparable to that of a dry, dead goat in the desert. Pre-hydration is the answer; instead of drying the flakes up, on opening the tin put a square of sponge (pre-cut to 1cm thickness and to shape) which has been moistened (not drenched) with mineral water onto the pile and close the lid. Leave for several hours and invert the flake pile, replacing the sponge, before retiring. Try the result and be mildly amazed. The pure, live mineral water hydration, a kiss of moisture on the tobacco, has brought the tars and oils to life, the burn is even, right through the smoke and there is a fulling of the tastes and flavours of the blend. At the same time, the smoking is cool and the pipe never overheats. I would place one caveat here; I am primarily a charcoal filter pipe smoker and the filter handles the slight increase of moisture with ease. I have encountered a slight but temporary steam burr with a plain pipe but this is relative and should not discourage suchlike smokers from testing my assertion. I am so satisfied with the congeniality and advantage of this hydration method that I now always use it to prepare my flake tobacco. I note that our American brothers, whose eloquent digest of blend reviews is almost a literary genre in itself, here on site, have problems acquiring tobacco from UK due to credit card rules? My supplier is at and has a wide range of noted blends. I don't know if this will be useful, but maybe money transfer through email contact with the dealer would help?

5 people found this review helpful.

Jorge Soler Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Jorge Soler (203)
Mild to Medium Mild Mild to Medium Very Pleasant

It feels like one of the Lakelands. The label reads "contains Virginia and Burley" and I believe it as I cannot detect any smoky edges so typical with Kentucky leaf. The topping is quite apparent but difficult to describe. The tin note kind of smells like a bottle of spicy old rum, but it slides inconspicuously through your taste buds. Because of its dark colour, you would have expected something somewhat stronger, both in the nicotine and taste departments, but these flakes seem to be rather mild/medium in this sense. The moist content is ridiculously high, so they might benefit from some drying time. I am finding the whole thing rather bland and tasteless, so 2 stars is as good as its gonna get.

Edit1: I had a few more bowls, and it seems to be OK. The only problem is that the Virginia it contains does not tell me anything, but I am going to upgrade to 3 stars as it seems to have other good qualities.

4 people found this review helpful.

orka Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
orka (66)
Medium to Strong Very Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

RDF arrived in a peculiar unsealed pouch and inside were 10 quite long and very thin dark (nearly black) flakes, streaked with some crystals here and there. Quite wet, but I suppose that's a good thing considering it's only available as bulk. Airing a flake before packing is a good idea, but not absolutely necessary. And even so, it takes a little bit of work to get smoldering.

I had expected RDF to be, well, chock-full of flavour and to the point. But it's really not, it's actually quite the opposite - it needs to be smoked gently and slowly to find out what's really going on. I don't think the burley is immediately noticeable - at least for me it's very much in the background. The VA is the main player here, and it's really quite good. The creamy earthiness, brandy and malt notes, like mr Wibblefishofdoom suggests are quite accurate as a general flavour profile, but I associate the main flavour more with a dry red wine than whisky, and the brandy note coming through in the sidestream. It's all subjective in the end, of course, but very tasty all the same.

Each flake usually lasts me a good 2 hours or so, so it's a pretty slow burning affair, suitable for winding down in the evening. Not too strong in nicotine, but by no means too weak either - just right, in other words.

All in all, this is a very good blend. And while I probably won't be spending the rest of my life smoking it, I will certainly not be opposed to buying it again in the future. Go ahead and try it if you can, I'm sure it'll appeal especially to those fond of dark stoved flakes. In my opinion this is much better than certain other dark stoved flakes from another British blending house.

Pipe Used: Northern Briars billiard.

Age When Smoked: < 1 month

Purchased From: MySmokingShop

4 people found this review helpful.

Bonneville Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Bonneville (52)
Medium to Strong Extremely Mild Full Pleasant

I was fortunate enough to acquire some of this tobacco while on vacation in the UK recently. A fan of Stonehaven, I had heard this blend was quite similar, so I expected good things.

It didn't disappoint. It is indeed like Stonehaven in many ways. And there is a possibility it's the same flake, different name. But for some reason I am more drawn to this offering, Rich Dark Flake. It is everything that Stonehaven is, but just a bit more. I can't quite put my finger on it exactly, but I do suspect that there is less Burley in this flake. The pouch note is richer and the smoke is sweeter. It is simply perfection in a flake.

The flake is clearly of English origin, akin to the house of Gawith and their offerings. It comes damp. I little dry time is definitely recommended. It has been masterfully prepared. To me this is a "special treat" tobacco. Even if it were readily available I would not want to smoke it every day. It is not a hearty meat and potatoes type blend, but rather a desert blend. And given its rarity, it suits it just fine. FVF Monday through Friday, and Rich Dark Flake on the weekends :)

Pipe Used: 4th Generation (Erik Stokkebye)

Age When Smoked: unknown

Similar Blends: Stonehaven.

4 people found this review helpful.

Piper@thegates Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Piper@thegates (20)
Medium Mild to Medium Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Rich Dark Flake is sold in the U.K. (online tobacconists) loose in pouches of 25g, 50g or 500g box and exudes quality from the minute you open the pouch to smell its rich fruity aroma to the exquisitely simple process of rubbing out the long thin flakes, packing your pipe and smoking one hell of a classy tobacco. RDF is not an extreme blend, one that is likely to ghost your pipes as Condor does. RDF will appeal to smokers who enjoy the classic British style flakes such as the aforementioned Condor or St Bruno and the presentation of the long dark flakes, not over moist, will surely encourage the smoker to smoke straight from the pouch without any dry time whatsoever. The smoke itself is medium in strength and produces a very 'moorish' flavour and roomnote, the taste is a full yet mellow Va taste backed up very finely with a Burley smoothness and produces absolutely no bite. Never having smoked the famed Stonehaven I'm unable to make any comparison but if Stonehaven bares even a slight resemblance to RDF then I can well understand its high ranking and regard amongst seasoned pipesmokers. RDF is a high quality flake which in my estimation deserves easily a four star rating as it is readily available in the UK and is of the highest quality. Smokers from the U.S. may find it not so readily available but then again, you have Stonehaven which I'm sure will prove a decent enough substitute for RDF :)

4 people found this review helpful.

renwardhoop Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
renwardhoop (177)
Medium Extremely Mild Extremely Mild (Flat) Unnoticeable

Yeah this is nice enough, But I dunno what all the fuss is about. Never heard of Stonehaven. Thought it was a town near Bristol.

Oh yeah, it's Stonehouse. Silly me.

Have to say this looks the business, it really does. Long, broad stripes of yummy looking dark, almost black, flakes. Chocolate, maybe something alcoholic in the smell. Looks and smells like SG's Navy cut.

But really the smoke is disappointing. Doesn't really taste of anything. Doesn't burn particularly well, either. Needs endless poking, prodding and relights. It's not a bad tobacco, it's just well er....tasteless.

Room aroma ? Zilch, nothing.

My son swears by this, as the finest on Germain's books, perhaps the tobacco world, but I just don't get it.

Pipe Used: All

Age When Smoked: New

Purchased From: Cgars. 25g loose.

Similar Blends: No idea. A mild SG Navy cut without the rum..

3 people found this review helpful.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30171)
Medium to Strong Very Mild Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

As mentioned in the description it is supposed to be similar to Stonehaven. And it really is. But still, I detect a little difference both in the composition and topping.

To me it seems that the Dark Flake emphasizes the Virginia more than Stonehaven does. The Burley is still very present, but it's a tad more in the background (which is why I rate the Dark Flake a little higher). And while Stonehaven seems to be topped with something chocolate like, the Dark Flake is more on a fruity (plum?) note. But actual differences or not, I find them to be very, very small. A fan of Stonehaven would surely feel right at home with this one.

Highly recommended!

3 people found this review helpful.

Brendhain Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Brendhain (1)
Mild Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant

A natural comparison arises between Germain’s Rich Dark Flake (RDF) and Germain’s produced Stonehaven. For my own palate, McClelland’s Dark Star and Blackwoods are also within this same grouping of blends. Although the four blends are not identical, the composition and processed are similar. Focusing upon only the two Germain’s blends, a bit of hearsay may well justify the comparison as well as explain the differences. According to the website, and private conversations with the owner, of one of the top three UK online shops, the head of Germain’s said that RDF and Stonehaven are identical blends except for the preservatives and anti-fungal components allowed under the tobacco rules in the USA but not in the UK. Stated in a direct way, the US tobacco rules allow for a number of preservatives and anti-fungal agents that can be chemically produced (read: man made), while the UK limits additives to naturally produced. The UK allows plant based extracts to be used, as they come from processed (in a limited manner) natural products. The US rules have a more extensive list of allowed components. Other similar blends between the two markets are 1820 Flake and Penzance, and 1820 and Margate (purported to be Germain’s match version of Balkan Sobranie Original – which is a long story). In general, many pipe smokers identify a “creamy” taste, and a higher marriage of flavors, in the blends produced for the US market, as compared to their UK counterparts. Some smokers experience the UK blends are being better when fresh and maturing (aging) faster, while finding the US blends to be far superior when the blend has aged 8-10 years. These differences may well be explained by the addition of preservatives and anti-fungal agents. That said, when smoked, RDF has a more “tobacco” flavor as compared to the subtler Stonehaven. While this has been associated with speculation as RDF having a higher burley content I do not support this speculation. As someone who is no fan of burley in a blend and quite sensitive to it, I do not find the burley content in RDF to be any higher than Stonehaven. RDF has a more natural flavor, wherein the added molasses softens, but does not cut out, the cruder tobacco flavors. This is not to say that RDF is harsh in anyway, for it is not. It is only in comparison to Stonehaven that one can identify a more distinct tobacco flavor in RDF. Stonehaven benefits from long aging (8-10 years) while already after 5-years RDF has mellowed and smooth out to the sublime, sans the creamy deliciousness found in aged Stonehaven.

Pipe Used: Geigerpipes Billiard Dunills groups 3 - 4

Age When Smoked: fresh, and years 1, 3, 4, 8, and 13

Purchased From: several UK shops

Similar Blends: Stonehaven, Dark Star and Blackwoods.

2 people found this review helpful.

Courtney Fish Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Courtney Fish (33)
Medium Mild Medium Pleasant

This is the stuff. But then, I always think that about Germain tobaccos. This however, is the stuff.

Germain’s I always find smokes best fairly well compacted in a smaller bowl. Not so Rich Dark Flake (probably because it is a flake rather than their usual fine ribbon) which is where I initially went wrong. I did my normal thing of rubbing out a flake and packing in my Peterson 304 – perfect up to now for Germain’s. But whether it was the higher proportion of Burley or the fact that it was not Germain’s usual ribbon/shag but the resultant smoke was merely very good. Folded and stuffed in a wider bowl led to another very good experience. How disappointing.

But three bowls later, well rubbed out and with just a little drying time I realised that this too was indeed another excellent Germain product. So many flavours are revealed and all very subtle – possibly cocoa, possibly orange zest, possibly red wine or liqueur, a hint of liquorice, a touch of treacle. However, you are never in any doubt that you are smoking tobacco but for such a dark flake the flavours are light with hints and nuances that are fleeting and implore you to chase after them.

The main thing to note is that his is not a Burley aromatic – most of the flavour comes from the compounds contained within the tobacco but the subtly flavourful casing is expertly added and adds to the experience. Quite special.

Pipe Used: Peterson, Savinelli, Falcon, Missouri Meerschaum

Age When Smoked: Fresh

2 people found this review helpful.

John_B Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
John_B (35)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Very Pleasant

Having seen so many positive reviews on this tobacco, I thought it would be very rude not to give it a go so I ordered a 25gm pouch of loose flake from My smoking shop. On opening the bag I was met with a smell reminiscent of a tobacconist shop from years gone by. Sweet and intrigueing and very seductive in its fruity deep goodness. I seldom review on a first bowl so this is based on my third smoke. The flakes are typically paper thin like most Germaines flakes and break apart easily in the bag. Very dark like an old English style steam pressed flake with some sugar forming on them. I rubbed out a sufficient quantity for my Falcon Bulldog and let it stand for about 15 minutes, having judged it to be a mite sticky in nature and not overly wet, so I didn't dry it any further. It lit very easily and burned evenly all the way down with an immediate release of sweet fruityness on the charring light that just continued to intensify and improve all the way down to the heel of the bowl. Flavours of plum and raisin and a deep brown sugar and molasses with the Virginia forward and less evidence of the Burley, which is there to give moral support to the Virginia and keep it burning cool. It is so cool in fact that it would be very hard to get it to bite at all and if more newbies tried this instead of heading for aromatics, then less of them would give up at the first hurdle. The room note and beard/moustache note are also sheer delight with an after taste that only comes with well matured and processed quality leaf. I can actually see no negatives at all with this blend and give it an easy 4 stars. I will be getting more to enjoy and would heartily reccomend it to anyone who likes a full flavoured well behaved treat for the senses. Do yourself a favor and try some soon !

Pipe Used: Falcon

Age When Smoked: Fresh

Purchased From: My Smoking Shop

Similar Blends: Unique.

2 people found this review helpful.

Pipe Wizard Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipe Wizard (18)
Medium Mild Medium Pleasant

The title of this blend couldn't be more fitting: It's rich, it's dark and it's a flake. Very similar to Esoterica Stonehaven but with a little more body and strength. The topping noticeable but does not overpower the top-shelf tobaccos. It is somewhat reminiscent of treacle toffee. If you like Stonehaven, you will love Rich Dark Flake!

Pipe Used: Park Rhodesian (briar) & Peterson Meerschaum.

Age When Smoked: Fresh & 2 years

Purchased From: GQ Tobaccos

Similar Blends: Esoterica Tobacciana - Stonehaven, J. F. Germain & Son - 'Hampton Flake.

2 people found this review helpful.

Mijnnif Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Mijnnif (130)
Mild Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Bag note is a slightly sweet coco aroma. My sample was quite dry already but needed a bit of rubbing out. First light was pure Virginia but once it settled down with very slow puffing. I was greeted with light coco and some sweet molasses flavor. The burley keeps the Virginia in check so it burns very nicely, not to hot. Nic hit is mild to medium. Burns very nicely, needed only a few relights. Very nice mild to medium smoke Could be easily an all day smoke. Personally I would smoke this after dinner.

Pipe Used: Dr. Grabow duke tasting pipe

Age When Smoked: gift not sure but aged a bit

Purchased From: friend gift

1 person found this review helpful.

Bowler Hat Piper Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Bowler Hat Piper (24)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

Pure, unadulterated, ambrosia. Some say there is a molasses type topping, which I can understand as it does have a wonderful sweetness to it, but I am not sure if this is actually the case. This is so well behaved after a little drying time. Rich, dark fruitiness throughout. Depressingly hard to obtain (Even in the UK), so when you find it, grab it quick.

Pipe Used: Dunhill Tanshell billiard, GBD New Standard Pot

Age When Smoked: Various

Purchased From: My Smoking Shop

Similar Blends: Apparently Esoterica Stonehaven.

1 person found this review helpful.

Jonno51 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Jonno51 (11)
Mild to Medium Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

The tin note is sensational, it rubs out easily. I give it 30 minutes drying time and it lights and burns easily and steadily to the end of the bowl. It's name tells you all you need to know. Smoke it and you dive into a deep, rich dark pool of contentment and contemplation. This is blended and manufactured by people operating at the very top of their game. It is a magnificent blend and I cannot imagine any pipe smoker not enjoying it. I bought it to compare with Marlin Flake, which is my usual go-to when I want a break from my favourite Scottish mixtures (Old Dublin, Tree Mixture and Red Rapparee). This is better than Marlin which gives you some idea of how good it is. It is now a destination in it's own right, and will be a permanent part of my rotation from now on. Recommended without reservation. The only fly in the ointment is the price, but it is worth every penny.

Pipe Used: Smokes beautifully in all my briars

Age When Smoked: 1 month

Purchased From: Barbers of Harrogate

Similar Blends: This is my first VaBur, no need to try any others IMHO.

1 person found this review helpful.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30171)
Medium Mild Medium Tolerable

This is without doubt a very high quality smoker can dispute that. But I can't see why it's so regarded. It's not the rolls Royce of all tobacco as some say. There's nothing derogatory you can say about it.but the wow factor is not there for me sells like hot cakes it's in stock then out in a day so I'm probably missing something in my palate . Burns very slow and cool. A black treacle topping on this one

Pipe Used: Poul Winslow crown Viking bilard

Age When Smoked: New

Purchased From: My smoking shop

Similar Blends: Original flake.

1 person found this review helpful.

thesmoggypipester Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
thesmoggypipester (77)
Mild to Medium Medium Medium Tolerable

You have probably heard the hype surroundIng this, looked online found some and eagerly placed it in your electronic basket, fervently waiting for the postman to drop off this God like baggie of tobacco goodness.

You open the pouch and the aroma hits you strong molasses, a touch of treacle. Then you look at the flakes, they are almost like strips of leather, and WET, so much so ithat makes same gawith offerings seem arid.

Breaking apart is a chore but with a bit of drying it makes the task easier.

Lighting is easy when dried l, if straight from best make sure your lighting tool of choice is well filled.

Smoking wise, the molasses comes through as does a bit of burley nuttiness but barring that I don't find it all that it's hyped up to be. Sure it's not a bad smoke but it just feels like it's on the buildup to something spectacular but doesn't quite get there.

Room note won't offend, but it won't will you masses of friend's either.

All in all not just not a lot going on, I know this has its legions of devotees but sadly I'm not one of them.

Pipe Used: Falcon

Age When Smoked: New

1 person found this review helpful.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30171)
Mild to Medium Medium to Strong Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Bought small amount of this to try , a wise decision as I am not too keen , taste is reasonable although a bit flat and watery , slightly harsh or perhaps more accurately sharp , not as expected , too much licorice , will finish this off purely for the sake of a change , but for now back to my plain burley.

Pipe Used: Briar

Age When Smoked: Fresh

Purchased From: Local tobacconist

Similar Blends: Old gowry.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

fengbo Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
fengbo (10)
Medium to Strong Mild Medium to Full Pleasant

In China, the price of 1 pouch used to be more than 30$, which was called the best Virginia blend by pipers.

It smells really sweet and mouth watering. It is very easy to burn and emits amazing aromas from the full smoke. The mouth is full of sweetness.

Don't smoke too much, this is a great snack.

Pipe Used: Stanwell 37

Age When Smoked: 4 years old in lock&lock

Nobody has rated this review yet.

doc'spipe Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
doc'spipe (242)
Medium to Strong Mild Medium to Full Pleasant

I requested this one for review. Other than the above description that I placed under "Tin Description," I can't find this one anywhere in the USA. From what I can discern from Germain's email, this is Stonehaven but sold under the name "Dark Flake." As such, I'm using the Stonehaven ratings to get this one going.

Have any of you pipesters from the UK or elsewhere ever try this stuff? Your thoughts and comparisons will be greatly appreciated by us all!

Nobody has rated this review yet.