You know a tobacco is good when you keep coming back it, and so it is with Dunhill Flake. This has to be one of my all time favorite tobaccos and certainly one of my top straight Virginias.
Dunhill Flake has a wonderful, natural sweetness that you will discover with time and experience. I say experience, for it has taken me some time to learn to smoke and fully appreciate straight Virginias and the depth of flavours they contain. Also, it can take some practice to be able to effectively smoke flake pipe tobacco. With this flake, I fold and then squash and stretch a little to break up the center and then twist into the bowl; a few sprinkles of kindling can help start your fire. Of course, Dunhill flake can also be rubbed out, and experimenting with different preparation to see any flavour differences is a great pastime.
The presentation is typical Dunhill: very elegantly wrapped with wonderful, even flakes of gold and deeper caramels. I find that the moisture level upon opening is perfect to smoke from new. However, after a few weeks of being open, the flavours seem to develop even more. The tin note is a wonderful merging of fruit and figs and almost fresh hay. The initial flavours are light honey and natural sugary-ness. I use the word ‘natural’, for this is not the sweetness of a cased aromatic, this is a pleasing sweetness that stays on the tongue.
Dunhill Flake is not as dark in sweetness as say Old Gowrie and is definitely lighter in nicotine. However it is satisfying as the first pipe of the day as well as being satisfying as an all day smoke. I have never had any bite or tongue scorching from this tobacco. Again, with slow smoking you will discover layers of flavour that go from sweet bread to honey. This is definitely not a one dimensional pipe tobacco.
I would recommend devoting a pipe just to smoking straight Virginias and I would even say devoting one just for Dunhill Flake; it really is that good! If there was a sudden tobacco apocalypse and Dunhill flake was the only survivor, I would be more than happy.
Update: 14th November 2015.
Coming back to this Virginia flake after trying other tobaccos was a complete joy. I can appreciate the sweetness even more and the bready taste is absolutely delicious. I also found that the ‘fold and stuff’ method revealed more sweetness, whereas rubbing out this flake brought out more of the bread tastes bordering on gingerbread. This is truly wonderful tobacco and you can prepare differently on different days according to the tastes and the experience that you want.
Update: 19th November 2015.
I have since found that that rubbing this flake out has revealed even more flavour than before. I get a beautiful spicy, orange/mandarin taste that lingers on the tongue. Rubbing the flake out makes for a more even burn in my opinion and the sweetness is complemented by this gorgeous spice/orange zest note. The taste reminds me of those old-fashioned Christmas decorations where you cover a whole orange with cloves; that scent is what I am tasting! This stuff is nectar on the palate.