Review by Cortezattic
Stonehaven: In same family as SG/FVF; and as hard to find.
Stonehaven is a somewhat moist, hard pressed flake, about 5” x 1¼”, and only 1/32” thick. It has a very dark, mottled brown color and leathery appearance – though for all of that it handles fairly well. If one is reasonably careful, the flakes can be folded and rubbed out into a springy shag without crumbling them excessively or creating tobacco pebbles. From that point I dry it slightly with a hot air blower before use.
The aroma from the bag is at once wheaty, musty and boozy; and a faithful harbinger of the dark flavors that will soon bathe the palate. It packs nicely; lights-up reasonably well on 2 matches; and burns slowly – seemingly forever. One flake in a bowl large enough to accommodate it will burn for about 1½ hours; and given its full flavor and strength, it can easily fatigue the palate. Since my first experience with it I have relegated it to much smaller pipes.
Stonehaven has a very heavy, full tobacco flavor -- very complex, but not delicate by any means. It has good body with a full mouth feel that involves all the taste buds, palate, nose and sinuses. The exact taste of a blend is a quintessential property, and therefore to a degree, ineffable – it is the thing that it is, and nothing else; but I can characterize it by alluding to similar tastes. They belong to the dark end of the spectrum, like anise, fennel, fig, coffee bean, black chocolate, tree bark, black tea, etc. -- not precisely those flavors, but like them.
There are also ethereal traces of something floral or perfumy, musty, and citrus – but these are mere suggestions -- not explicit tastes and aromas. This is not a bright, sharp Va. flake. Neither is it sugary sweet. Perhaps the pressing technique moderates both of those Va. properties, rendering a smooth smoke with only a subtle sweetness. It is rather strong in nicotine, but exceptionally smooth; and produces great volumes of lush, chewy smoke that is fun to channel through the nose and sinuses.
I like it a lot, though it’s too rich and luxuriant to smoke on a daily basis; and I don't understand why people hoard it and make it difficult to obtain. I would recommend that everyone try a bowl of it -- but if you can’t get it, rest assured that there are better, more available blends with their own allure. If you have tasted Gawith’s Full Virginia Flake, then you have covered pretty much the same ground as Stonehaven aficionados
Tin note: 2 stars (just OK)
Flavor: 4 stars (liked it a lot)
Recommend: 3 stars (If you can get it, go for it. But if you can't, no big loss.)