I believe it was 2003 when Phillips & King International bought the rights to distribute Mac Baren Pipe Tobacco in the USA and Gene Thompson (whom I knew from Lane Ltd and Dunhill) was hired to manage the pipe tobacco division of P&K. Gene is one of the 'good guys' in the tobacco industry and I miss harassing him on Monday mornings when I ordered pipe tobacco.
In any event, Gene brought Per Georg Jensen to Just For Him that year to give a presentation on Mac Baren pipe tobacco to our staff and customers and that presentation made a big difference to me on how to enjoy these tobacco blends. His method for packing flake tobaccorevolutionized my appreciation for these blends and I recommend that all pipe smokers review this site.
Now, many Mac Baren blends are in my regular rotation including Dark Twist, Stockton, Virginia Flake, Vanilla Flake, and Navy Flake. Here is the manufacturer's description:
From the moment Navy Flake first appeared on tobacconists' shelves, pipe smokers everywhere have shown their appreciation of this mixture. There are many reasons why Navy Flake has become a true Mac Baren classic since then. When Navy Flake was developed in 1965, much work went into the composition of the raw tobaccos. Selections of Burley tobacco were made from our extensive stocks and after countless tests the right Burley content was found. Similarly, tests were then carried out on Virginia tobacco. Different qualities of Virginia tobacco were selected and test smoked. Finally, a handful of these were selected for inclusion in the mixture. Once the right basic tobaccos had been found, a final important element was added to the mixture: a small measure of original Mac Baren Cavendish was added, and it is this which gives Navy Flake its full body. SRP: $14.95 100 gm tin.
The tobacco is layered on brown flakes with mottling that ranges from black to light golden hues. I fold the flakes and twist into the pipe - I do not rub out - and the tobacco lights easily. As the flake burns into a light, white ash I get a distinct rum and raisin flavor that soon fades into the background to be replaced by an earthy burley and sweet Virginia. The flavor is not complex but some liveliness is evident as the competing factions of this flake do rise to the forefront from time to time. The flake burns evenly but thoughtless puffing can raise the temperature.
Overall, this is a good all day flake that has a wonderful aroma that is not too aromatic yet pleasant for others to enjoy. This is a great blend for the Virginia smoker that has to placate a wife who demands some sweetness for the room.
Rating: 4 puffs out of 5