As anyone in our little office will tell you, I have a love (read: obsession) for Lakeland tobaccos. Whenever a customer calls to inquire about Gawith Hoggarth tobacco, I can always tell. Right after a representative's greeting I hear, "Well, let me transfer you over to Kaz. He will definitely be able to point you in the right direction," after which my phone will ring and I will hear one of my coworkers announce over the cubical walls, "Gawith Hoggarth!"
For me, it has become a clarion call of sorts. The moment I hear those words, I prepare to (happily) share my appreciation for the finest tobaccos of the English tradition.
A few years back, Andrew Wike wrote a blog post on the general history and production methods of Gawith Hoggarth & Co Ltd, so instead of rehashing the wonderful information that he so eloquently shared, I have decided to cover my own personal favorites and experiences in hopes that others will enjoy their scented flakes to the fullest.
"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven."
Most of us feel that certain blends (or blending styles) tend to be uniquely suited to particular seasons or weather. That's not to say that our favorites aren't our favorites at any other time, but we seem to get everything a blend has to offer under the right conditions. It is generally accepted that Latakia smolders richest in the cold, while most Virginias are their sweetest in the spring and summer. I feel that Lakeland tobaccos are no exception to this phenomenon.
Furthermore, a fair few among us enjoy specific beverage pairings with our favorite tobaccos — another aspect of pipe smoking of which the floral flake is not immune.
Perhaps the most famous of the Gawith Hoggarth catalogue, Ennerdale is a bright Virginia flake with a small amount of Burley, which successfully provides body and a "carrier" for the added essences and extracts applied. This flake is perfect for springtime smoking, and has a full, creamy body to the smoke that is at once satisfying and perplexing. It brings bright flavors of fruit and cream, with the slightest floral suggestion lingering in the background. It is like a lemon meringue pie for your pipe.
Beverage Pairings: Hendrick's Gin & Tonic, Earl Grey tea, or lavender lemonade.
Also recommended for spring: Grasmere Flake
This flake marked my first exposure to Lakelands, and has always been a favorite. While Gawith & Hoggarth have kept the toppings' full ingredients list a secret, we do know that it contains rose, rose geranium, vanilla, rum, tonquin, musk, and heliotropin. This is hands down the most complex topping they have, but it can somehow still be fully enjoyed without having to study the smoke. There is a portion of dark, air-cured tobaccos with the Virginia, and this mixture of tobacco and topping produce a hearty, but lively smoke. While this tobacco is great at any time, I tend to enjoy this one most in the mid-afternoon, and especially in the summer.
Beverage Pairings: Hefeweizen or unsweetened iced tea
Also recommended for summer: Louisiana Perique Flake
A hearty blend of Indian air-cured and sun-cured Virginia, Rum Flake is my favorite morning smoke, having enough "umph" to get me going, as well as pairing well with a stout, dark roast. This one is a great autumn and wintertime smoke, and due to the maple sugar casing and rum topping, many have dubbed Rum Flake the "Christmas Cake" of tobaccos. This is probably one of the least floral of Gawith Hoggarth's offerings, and is a great tobacco for smokers looking for a darker tobacco with a naturally derived sweetness.
Beverage Pairings: Dark roast coffee and, of course, dark rum
Also recommended for autumn: Scotch Flake
Essentially a broken flake, this is one of my all-time favorites. A mixture of bright flue-cured and darker fire-cured Virginias, this Kendal beauty is brought to life with the addition of rose geranium extract and oil of clove. Perfect for winter, it is, to my mind, the quintessential Christmastime tobacco. Smooth, woody, slightly spicy, and rich, it is no wonder that this tobacco is one of Gawith Hoggarth's oldest.
Beverage Pairings: Mulled wine, black tea, and eggnog.
Also recommended for winter: Dark Flake - Scented
Fan of Lakeland blends? Have you had any discoveries of your own when smoking these unique mixtures? Feel free to share in the comments!