Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Bob's Chocolate Flake

Good morning, Gents! Today I’m writing about a relatively new discovery for me - Bob’s Chocolate Flake.

Bob’s Chocolate Flake is produced in England by Gawith, Hoggarth and company. The flake itself is a blend of virginia, burley, and latakia with cocoa and vanilla flavorings added. It’s available in 50 gram tins from your favorite online retailer or B&M tobacconist.

I first became acquainted with Bob’s Chocolate Flake when my May 2018 box from the Tin Society (www.tinsociety.com) arrived. The sample packet contained broken flakes of dark brown, lighter brown, and a few flecks of almost black tobacco. I opened it up and and was greeted with the scent of good quality tobacco with a whiff of latakia smokiness. Among the delicious tobacco scent was just a hint of cocoa. I passed it over to the Mrs. for the smell test and Bob’s was approved for indoor use - very unusual as blends with latakia are, with the exception of Lane’s HGL, relegated to the porch and garage (which reminds me - be on the lookout for my “Dogfight” review - Junkyard Dawg vs. John Bull - coming soon!).

I loaded up my trusty Kaywoodie author with the expectation that I was in for a treat. (insert sad trombone sound here) The first bowl was very disappointing. I found it difficult to keep lit, a bit harsh, and the flavor was nothing to write home about. I definitely didn’t get any hints of cocoa. The bowl wasn’t bad, just bland and I didn’t care for it. I put the sample aside and moved on to the other tobaccos that were included in the box. Something told me not to give up on old Bob however, and I decided to treat it like I do Dunhill’s Dark Flake. I took some of the broken flakes and rubbed them out completely then let the tobacco sit for about fifteen to twenty minutes to dry a bit. With a little trepidation, I loaded up my Forseti rusticated bent egg (my Father’s Day 2017 gift from the Mrs. and kiddo) giving the tobacco a light pack. The afternoon wasn’t terribly hot for Houston, so I went out to the porch to read and give Bob’s another go. The charring light went well, and after a very light tamping, the true light. Oh how wrong was my first impression…

Puffing slowly, almost sipping, I got a delicious flavor of good tobacco and began to taste a little sweetness from the virginias on my lips. Suddenly, the terrific pipe tobacco flavor was replaced in my mouth with the creamy taste of cocoa and vanilla, almost like hot chocolate, but not the instant or Hershey’s flavored kind - think homemade hot cocoa made with cream, Dutch cocoa powder, vanilla, and a little sugar. The flavor was that good. The Mrs. got a similar feeling form the room note when she stepped out. The cocoa flavor receded and the tobacco flavor came to the fore again. The flavors slowly alternated as the bowl burned lower, fading into each other and becoming more concentrated as the bottom of the bowl approached and the tobacco combusted into fine grey-white ash, leaving no dottle behind other than a pleasant memory. The reliable Zippo pipe lighter didn’t get much of a workout with this bowl. I only had to relight it twice.

Over the next few days I experimented a bit more with rubbing out and packing Bob’s Chocolate Flake and found that rubbing it out completely, letting it dry a bit, and packing it lightly gives the best results for me - your mileage may vary though. Interestingly, I’ve not picked up on the floral or Lakeland notes that some reviewers have mentioned. I’ve also not found any whisky flavor. That’s not to say that the floral and alcohol notes aren’t there, just that my sniffer and tastebuds aren’t picking up on them.

I am now a true fan of BCF and am actively adding it to my cellar  I would heartily encourage any piper to give this blend a try!

On another note, Padre Piper’s (@PadrePiper) recent vlog on codger blends got me thinking - what are my top codger blends?

5. Captain Black Dark
4. Lane HGL
3. Granger (a tip of the hat to Granddad Damewood)
2. Friends (what will I do when my stash is gone???)
1.  Velvet (My favorite everyday pipe tobacco)

I love the smell of cherry pipe tobacco, and at 47 I’m old enough to remember sitting in the stands at high school football games and catching whiffs of cherry tobacco in the Autumn air. My grandfather, L.J. James was also a cherry blend piper, so I have very happy memories there. Unfortunately I’ve never found a cherry blend that agrees with me.

Until next time,. Keep the fires burning!

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