Top 13 Best-Selling Flake Tobaccos

Like spun-cut or coin-cut tobaccos, flake tobacco began at sea as a means of preserving a blend's moisture content. Pressed tobacco dried out less quickly because less surface area was exposed to air, ensuring that sailors could enjoy smoking their pipes over the course of long voyages. Furthermore, with storage limited and efficiency paramount, such blends required less space than ribbon-cut tobaccos, making pressed mixtures ideal aboard a ship. Chuck Stanion delves deeper into the history of flake tobaccos in a previous article: "Tobacco companies began pressing blocks of tobacco. [...] Men at sea now had tobacco that maintained smokability over time. It wasn't pre-sliced at first, though. Sailors would carefully slice flakes from the tobacco block for smoking."

Today, few have to worry about pipe-smoking accommodations while sea-faring, yet flake tobaccos remain an ever-popular cut. Unlike ribbon-cut blends, which essentially combine the flavor profiles of several varietals, the process of pressing tobaccos alters the flavor slightly, making the mixture something different than the sum of its parts. Consider the difference between a fruit salad and a chocolate cake: While both are delicious, the salad incorporates its elements together yet still separately, even though a single bite might combine the flavors of multiple fruits. A chocolate cake, however, combines for something unique unto itself; instead of tasting the individual elements of flour, eggs, chocolate, and sugar, one enjoys the results of those elements married to heat. Similarly, flake tobacco combines with pressure (and sometimes steam-heat as well) to create a flavor profile that's distinct when compared to ribbon-cut blends, even those that use the same tobacco components.

Flake tobaccos are also known to improve with age, the maturing process deepening more so than ribbon-cut blends but also taking longer considering their reduced surface area. With a history of over 300 years, flakes are still counted among the most beloved tobacco styles by pipe smokers across the globe, and the cut is available across most all tobacco families, from English to Virginia to Burley. Below, we've compiled a list of our best-selling flake tobacco blends for your consideration, hopefully introducing you to some future favorites:

13. Mac Baren: Navy Flake

Mac Baren: Navy Flake

Historically, Mac Baren has specialized in spun-cut, aka coin-cut, tobacco, with many of the blending house's early mixtures, such as Stockton, being coin-cut blends. First introduced in 1965, Navy Flake was among the first flake-cut blends Mac Baren produced, and it's since come to epitomize the manufacturer's approach to the cut. Navy Flake is a traditional, Burley-forward flake tobacco, elevated with Virginias for sweetness and Mac Baren's Original Cavendish to smooth it all out. The tobaccos are blended together with a slight casing redolent of brown sugar, booze, and honey and pressed for a minimum of 30 days before being sliced into 1.4mm flakes.

This is a delicious flake! Smokes cool, tastes sweet with flavors of rum, honey, and brown sugar in a tobacco base. This is an awesome blend and with age it's even better. - Thomas S, 4.5-star review at Smokingpipes.com

  • Components: Burley, Cavendish, Virginia
  • Family: Burley
  • Strength:
  • Room Note:
  • Taste:

12. Rattray's: Marlin Flake

Rattray's: Marlin Flake

A somewhat elusive blend compared to others on this list, Rattray's Marlin Flake is blended by Kohlhase & Kopp and manufactured in Denmark, furthering the brand's reputation for quality tobaccos beloved by pipe smokers worldwide. Marlin Flake is similar to Rattray's Old Gowrie in components but is a touch darker and doesn't include Burley, comprising Virginias with a pinch of Perique and unflavored Black Cavendish for depth. Marked by tangy notes and stone-fruit sweetness, Marlin Flake is a rich Virginia/Perique blend that's known to age exceptionally.

Delicious, sweet, tangy and plenty of flavor! What else can i say?? one of the best VaPers on the market. Highly recommended!! If you are a fan of Luxury Bullseye Flake, this one will conquer you from the first smoke. And gets better with some cellaring!!!

- Fabcuesram, 4.5-star review at Smokingpipes.com

  • Components: Virginia, Perique, Black Cavendish
  • Family: Virginia
  • Strength:
  • Room Note:
  • Taste:

11. Mac Baren: HH Pure Virginia

Mac Baren: HH Pure Virginia

As the name denotes, Mac Baren's HH Pure Virginia is a hot-pressed flake composed of 100% Virginia tobaccos, namely those from select growing regions in North America and Africa. Its profile is deep and bready, with bright highlights and a distinctive hay-like grassiness. Compared to Mac Baren's other Virginias, such as Virginia Flake, HH Pure Virginia is slightly less sweet and citrusy, more redolent of freshly baked goods with a little spice and a deeper, more molasses-like sweetness. In other words, it's more similar to something like Samuel Gawith's Full Virginia Flake than to a blend like Orlik Golden Sliced.

I have smoked pipes for 20+ years and I honestly feel this is the best Virginia without any Perique I have ever smoked. A good nice medium full flavor with a nice medium nicotine level. I highly recommend this to anyone wanting the pure Virginia experience. I will be purchasing as much of this as possible to cellar for future enjoyment. - Al W, 5-star review at Smokingpipes.com

  • Components: Virginia
  • Family: Virginia
  • Strength:
  • Room Note:
  • Taste:

10. Peterson: Flake 50g

Peterson: Flake 50g

When Dunhill announced in 2019 that it would no longer be producing pipe tobacco, pipe smokers rued the loss of some of their favorite mixtures and began the difficult search of finding close substitutes to Dunhill's famed blends. Thankfully, though, Peterson took up the mantle later that year, offering the same exact tobaccos, just branded under Peterson instead of Dunhill. Since that resurrection, Peterson's old Dunhill blends have surged in popularity, with three of them ranking among the top for of our best-selling English blends. Peterson's Flake is a simple, no-nonsense pure Virginia blend of select-grade Lemon and Bronze Virginia varietals, considered one of Dunhill's most expert mixtures and also ranking among our top-25 best-selling tinned tobaccos.

A complex blend of Virginia, like a symphony in G major.

- Joaquin D., 5-star review at Smokingpipes.com

  • Components: Virginia
  • Family: Virginia
  • Strength:
  • Room Note:
  • Taste:

9. Mac Baren: HH Latakia Flake

Mac Baren: HH Latakia Flake

English blends are most often ribbon-cut, making Mac Baren's HH Latakia Flake among the few flake-cut English mixtures. It combines Bright Virginias, Orientals, Burleys, and a generous portion of Cyprian Latakia, the Orientals enhancing the mesquite, incense-like qualities of the Latakia. The Virginias then add a bit of natural sweetness, while the Burley adds strength and depth to the smoke. It's an extraordinarily complex flavor profile, but it's also elegant and refined — the heat-pressing process marrying all those flavors together into a complex profile. HH Latakia Flake satisfies Latakia lovers, but is different enough from other English blends to delight those not typically drawn to Latakia-based mixtures.

Penzance is my favorite tobacco, but is notoriously hard to come by. HH Latakia Flake is very close, IMO. The balance of Orientals and Latakia is superb, held together by the touch of sweetness brought by the Virginias ... I am ordering a pound of this (as well as Old Dark Fired) a month to stockpile — it is that good. - owencopeland, 4.5-star review at Smokingpipes.com

  • Components: Latakia, Orientals, Virginia, Burley
  • Family: English
  • Strength:
  • Room Note:
  • Taste:

8. Newminster: No.400 Superior Navy Flake

Newminster: No.400 Superior Navy Flake

Newminster is the bulk-tobacco branch of Villiger, backed by the manufacturing prowess of Mac Baren, and while No.400 Superior Navy Flake may seem like a fairly standard straight Virginia blend at first, it's not your average mixture. These flakes combine the finest Virginias from three different continents — North America, South America, and Africa — offering a deliciously nuanced flavor profile of tart and tangy citrus notes alongside honey sweetness and woodsy depth. No.400 Superior Navy Flake is an immensely popular blend, ranking among our top 10 best-selling bulk tobaccos and number eight in this list of best-selling flakes.

Guys and gals this is a real bargain. I love it fresh or aged a bit. This is a Virginia that from first light to the last puff is creamy and in the pastry realm. It smells like a bowl of Golden Grahams cereal. I like to fold and stuff for best results but rubbing out is sublime too. It does have a slight earthy quality but on the sweet side. Sometimes I get a touch of cinnamon, but overall is toasty and bready and doughy. Burns super easy. I love it! - Chris S., 4.5-star review at Smokingpipes.com

  • Components: Virginia
  • Family: Virginia
  • Strength:
  • Room Note:
  • Taste:

7. Mac Baren: HH Old Dark Fired

Mac Baren: HH Old Dark Fired

Mac Baren describes HH Old Dark Fired as an English-style blend, referring not to the presence of Latakia but to the traditional processes employed to produce this old-school flake tobacco. Select grades of Virginia leaf are blended with a significant percentage of Dark-Fired Kentucky, cased only slightly to enhance the sweetness and balance the pH before being hot-pressed. The heat and pressure from steaming expedite the marrying process and gives the blend an aged, matured quality right out of the tin. HH Old Dark Fired offers a bold, hearty flavor profile full of earthy notes and spice, but balanced by a touch of molasses-like sweetness.

It's what I've been looking for in a pipe tobacco for 30 years. It's like smelling a pig in a smoker with great tobacco added to the smell. It's my go-to smoke from now on. Add a couple of fingers of your favorite Scotch and enjoy life because it's too damn short to go without this tobacco any longer. - Charles Z, 4.5-star review at Smokingpipes.com

  • Components: Dark-Fired Kentucky, Virginia
  • Family: Burley
  • Strength:
  • Room Note:
  • Taste:

6. Comoy's: Cask No.4

Comoy's: Cask No.4

A blend to delight lovers of traditional Virginia/Perique mixtures, Comoy's Cask No.4 is a simple, no-nonsense pipe tobacco that relies on the natural flavors of quality components and expert blending techniques. Mature Virginias combine with spicy Perique in thinly sliced flakes for easy packing, folded or rubbed out, and the characteristically sweet and tangy flavor profile that VA/Per aficionados yearn for. Plus, it's also available in bulk, perfect for cellaring larger quantities.

One of the nicest navy flakes I ever smoked. Sweet, citrusy, no bite, cool. - Thomas S., 5-star review at Smokingpipes.com

  • Components: Virginia, Perique
  • Family: Virginia
  • Strength:
  • Room Note:
  • Taste:

5. Sutliff: 507C Virginia Slices

Sutliff: 507C Virginia Slices

Ranking among our top-25 best-selling bulk tobacco blends, Sutliff's 507C Virginia Slices places fifth in this list of best-selling flakes. It's a pure, Bright Virginia mixture of A-1 grade, flue-cured tobaccos, lightly topped with sweetness to elevate the natural grassy and tangy notes that make Virginia tobacco such a beloved varietal and cut into long strips of flake that break up consistently for easy packing.

Firstly, with all tobacco reviews, your mileage may vary! I have been really quite impressed with how delicious this tobacco is. And you cannot beat the price! The tobacco comes in a long and quite thin flake form and at the perfect moisture content for smoking and aging. They say there is an aromatic top note, but it is undetectable by my tastes. Everything about this tobacco speaks quality, the presentation, the aroma, how easy it is to work with — it's just what I was looking for, a straight Virginia flake in bulk that seems to be readily available. Sutliff is mostly known for aromatic blends that are either love or hate ... this one will probably be love from the first light. I'm one who enjoys a lot of nicotine, and although other reviews state that this is mild, I didn't feel it was lacking anything. This is a winner, a beautiful tobacco that is delicious new and will also improve with age. - Jonathan, 4.5-star review at Smokingpipes.com

  • Components: Virginia
  • Family: Virginia
  • Strength:
  • Room Note:
  • Taste:

4. Peter Stokkebye: PS402 Luxury Twist Flake

Peter Stokkebye: PS402 Luxury Twist Flake

Peter Stokkebye's PS402 Luxury Twist Flake is a slightly different flake compared to others in this list process-wise. Before being pressed and sliced, the tobaccos are first hand-rolled, much like a spun-cut or coin-cut blend, giving Luxury Twist its unique, spiral texture. It rubs out as easily as any other flake, though, and is composed entirely of Virginia tobaccos from the eastern United States and the finest growing regions of Zimbabwe. A timeless classic, Luxury Twist Flake is an ideal mixture for lovers of pure Virginia blends, topped with an ever-so-subtle caramel note that makes for a delightful room note.

All day smoke. Very good room note. Stays lit well. An all around winner!!! - Mark G., 4.5-star review at Smokingpipes.com

  • Components: Virginia
  • Family: Virginia
  • Strength:
  • Room Note:
  • Taste:

3. Orlik: Golden Sliced 100g

Orlik: Golden Sliced 100g

A favorite blend for many pipe smokers, including artisan carvers Adam Davidson and Tom Eltang, Orlik Golden Sliced is a mixture of golden, mature Virginia tobaccos with a very small pinch of Perique, offering a naturally sweet flavor and room note reminiscent of bergamot. It's considered by many to be the quintessential Virginia flake due to its approachability and enjoyable flavor, and is immensely popular in both the United States and Denmark, easily recognized by its bright red tin and shrewd, pipe-smoking judge logo.

This tobacco is absolutely perfect. Orlik is like an old, dear friend or slipping into some comfy clothes. I prefer the smaller tin, which is probably mental — but it just tastes better to me this way. This tobacco has saved angry pipes who didn't ... like anything, and broken in some new pipes excellently. A standard; a classic. So terrific that your pipe acquires a taste for it after a few bowls. I cannot state enough how beloved Orlik Golden Sliced is. It is as perfect of a flake as one can hope for. A+. - ven, 5-star review at Smokingpipes.com

  • Components: Virginia, Perique
  • Family: Virginia
  • Strength:
  • Room Note:
  • Taste:

2. G. L. Pease: Quiet Nights

G. L. Pease: Quiet Nights

A mixture that also placed second in our list of best-selling English blends G.L. Pease's Quiet Nights is an intoxicating combination of Red Virginias, Orientals, Cyprian Latakia, and a pinch of Acadian Perique — all pressed and matured in cakes before being sliced into delicate flakes. It's a part of Pease's Old London series and is one of the most complex and captivating Latakia mixtures I've come across. Though you could smoke it any time of day, it's not what I would describe as an all-day smoke. It's a blend meant for quiet contemplation, for slowing down and appreciating every note that plays across your palate. When I'm in the mood to sit and think and reflect, I smoke Quiet Nights, and with every bowl I seem to discover something new.

This is a magnum opus of English blends. Not for the faint of heart, but for those discerning lovers of fine English Blends, Quiet Nights will become a dear friend. I enjoy this with some Islay Scotch; the peaty flavors work with this blend well, preferably with a book in hand and an hour or two to spare. - YoungTraditionalist, 5-star review at Smokingpipes.com

  • Components: Latakia, Orientals, Virginia, Perique
  • Family: English
  • Strength:
  • Room Note:
  • Taste:

1. Peter Stokkebye: PS400 Luxury Navy Flake

Peter Stokkebye: PS400 Luxury Navy Flake

Peter Stokkebye's Luxury Navy Flake is a pressed and sliced blend of matured, "Old Belt" Virginias — the term denoting Virginia tobaccos from North Carolina's oldest growing regions — lightly accented with a whisper of Louisiana Perique. Incredibly popular and maintaining the number one spot in our list, this bulk offering from Peter Stokkebye has been a celebrated favorite of countless pipe smokers old and young, expert and novitiate alike, thanks to its approachable flavor, thin cut, quality components, and unbelievably attractive price.

You can't go wrong with this stuff. Open up the bag and you smell what you'd expect; bready Virginias, rum, and a bit of that Stokkebye sweetness. The flavor's right about in the middle of light 'n grassy and the dark and malty type Virginia. I rate a ... blend as it is out of the package, and this one is great. Given time I imagine it'll age well. A great value for the Virginia smoker as well. - Dr. Brandon, 4-star review at Smokingpipes.com

  • Components: Virginia, Perique
  • Family: Virginia
  • Strength:
  • Room Note:
  • Taste:

So there you have it: our top 13 best-selling flake tobaccos here at Smokingpipes. Keep in mind, these blends were ranked based on popularity, not by our own tastes or judgements. If you don't see your favorite on the list, leave us a comment and share your thoughts — perhaps it will make it in a future list!

A note on the tobacco information.

Strength: a measure of the tobacco's body and nicotine. One is the lowest. Five s is the highest.

Room Note: a measure of the pleasantness or intensity of the smoke's odor to everyone else in the room. One is the least intense room note, while five s would be the most noticeable to others.

Taste: A measure of the the power and fullness of the smoke's flavor, with one being the most mellow and five s being the fullest.


Comments

    • Gary Yovan on March 21, 2021
    • Light bulb moment as I read this blog today. Please consider a monthly update on the likely availability of out of stock tobaccos--estimates not exact dates. I have missed Lancer's Slices and Old Ironsides for some time and am sure others would like to know when their favorites may be available. A simple list would be helpful.

    • Orhan Bukey on March 21, 2021
    • Why einmore flakenot included in the above list

    • Orhan Bukey on March 21, 2021
    • erinmore flake.?ΓΌ

    • Truett on March 21, 2021
    • @Gary Yovan, we do offer something similar to that! For out-of-stock blends, you can sign up for email alerts (button is located on the product page where "add to cart" would normally be), and we'll send you an email as soon as we get more of that specific blend in stock. Hope that helps!

    • Truett on March 21, 2021
    • @Orhan Bukey, I wondered the same thing. Sales for Erinmore just weren't quite enough to get it in the top 13. Maybe next time!

    • Linwood Hines on March 21, 2021
    • Y'all know I've avoided buying much Virginia flake tobacco blends since THAT company shut down. OK, an old fav - Capstan for social settings, a trial new blend or two of others. So, now, thank you, I have a list to try! Great idea! I AM familiar with the Sutliff 507C and must tell all that it smokes and ages wonderfully! PS Luxury - an occasional since meeting Peter in the late '70's! Right after that, I discovered the OTHER COMPANY's 2010, 2015, etc. so it somewhat took me out of the market for much else.

    • Glenn H on March 21, 2021
    • I'm very surprised not to see Escudo on this list, and perhaps Astley's 109!

    • Truett on March 22, 2021
    • @Glen H, Astley's 109 is fantastic, definitely underrated. As for Escudo, even though it is a pressed tobacco like the others on the list, it's cut into coins instead of flakes, so we *technically* couldn't include it on this list haha. It definitely would be, though, were it to meet the criteria!

    • Keith Bowers on April 12, 2021
    • Nice list. This got me thinking...I'd love to see a "special edition" of Quiet Nights in full (unbroken) flake form. You guys know Mr. Pease, put in a good word!

Join the conversation:


This will not be shared with anyone

challenge image
Enter the circled word below: