Jersey’s Historic Brand
The Germain’s brand can be traced back as far as 1820, but may be older. Thomas Aubin, the original founder, set up his business on the southern coast of Jersey, where it remains to this day.
Some years after the business was created Aubin’s nephew Philip Germain came onboard. In the beginning the company rose to prominence by utilising the opportunity to sell tobacco to the ever coming and going sailors.
Jersey was an important island port and island trade was reliant on merchant vessels that came to dock.
In time the business was passed on to the next male heirs John Francis and his son John Philip. Under their ownership the brand would change its name to honour Philip Germain, thus becoming “GERMAIN’S”.
During the conflict of World War 2 the island became cut off from outside resources. As a reaction, islanders began growing all manner of crops, many not being suited to Jersey’s environment.
Tobacco was one of these crops, records show that there was a varying degree of success to these harvests. These same farmers would take their crop to Germain’s, and if deemed suitable the requested blend of the farmer would be manufactured for them.
The family tradition of the business being passed down the line to male heirs has continued to this day. John Philip’s sons joined and since then their sons have taken the mantle, successfully continuing the family legacy and providing some of the most sought after pipe tobaccos on the market.
Good Things Come To Those Who Wait
Today’s main focus is the incredibly popular Rich Dark Flake. This tobacco has won the hearts of smokers with it’s sublime blend of choice Virginia and Burley that have been compressed into a flake format and topped with a saccharine aroma.
Germain’s treat the tobaccos to a unique extra long fermentation process by which the natural sugars are secreted. A slow pressing is key to this result and yields a gratifying sweetness. Once deemed ready to be removed from the press, the flake is then taken to be topped with molasses.
When looking at the end result, Rich Dark Flake as the name implies, is a dark shade of brown verging on a dark chocolate interspersed with a few lighter shades of burley. A strong, deep cocoa and plum aroma is immediately present upon opening a packet or tin of this flake.
Many will take note of the cut of the flake, narrower and thinner than most of its contemporaries. A considerable moisture level is also present making it easier to rub out than most other flakes. Something about the moister nature adds to the aromatic properties of the flake, never losing its distinct scent.
Once finally in the pipe Rich Dark Flake lights with little resistance if rubbed out well. A slow burning, cool smoke is always provided allowing the smoker to enjoy the relaxing effect and take time to appreciate the nuanced flavours.
Prepare your tastebuds for the glory that is Rich Dark Flake. Dark cocoa powder, plum, earth, molasses, treacle, cream and woody notes can all be attained. There truly is nothing like this flake on the UK market, that being said…
Over the pond a popular tobacco by the name of Stonehaven is manufactured by Esoterica Tobacciana. This flake is a doppelganger of Rich Dark Flake as attested to by Germain’s.
When a customer wrote to ask if they had any similar tobaccos to Stonehaven, due to its availability being only on the American market Germain’s responded “Rich Dark Flake is similar to Stonehaven”.
There is no question about the similarity between the two but there is debate as to whether they are a 1:1 of each other or have some slight differences in production. No conclusions can be drawn as neither Esoterica or Germain’s will fully disclose their secretive manufacturing process.
This similarity has been a key proponent in propelling its popularity in the UK. Customers who were originally seeking Stonehaven have been redirected to Rich Dark Flake and subsequently become avid fans.
George Scott – 5/5
February 7, 2019
The finest tobacco I’ve ever had the pleasure to smoke. Absolutely delicious. I prefer to roll and stuff rather than rub out, a bowl lasts a good hour. I like several other tobaccos, Solani Festival being among my favourites but every time I’m in the shop I’ll score a pouch of this. That’s it, going to have to have a bowl now!
David Lowe – 5/5
April 15, 2021
First off, excellent service from the good folks at the Edinburgh pipe shop, I placed an order 10am Wednesday and it arrived in the post 8:30 Thursday morning.
Rich Dark Flake is undoubtedly an excellent blend, the tobacco arrived at a nice moisture level, slightly sticky and earthy to touch with a slight alcohol and dark chocolate scent on top of the pure tobacco smell. It smokes cool from light up to the bottom of the bowl even without drying out.
The flavour remains consistent throughout the bowl and the sweet bread like virginia leads with a backdrop of buttered toast like burly and an undertone of wine or sweet port. Ultimately though the main flavour profile is of good quality tobacco, it has a creamy mouth feel and good quantities of smoke.
My everyday smoke switches between st Bruno and Sliced Brown Rum, both of which have a decent dose of nicotine as does Rich Dark Flake, although the difference between the latter blends and RDF is I can smoke them thoughtlessly whilst doing other jobs, they’re just a good solid smoke, RDF forces you to sit down and think about the smoke and enjoy the experience.
If St Bruno and Sliced Brown Rum are a daily bottle of real ale or a glass of whiskey, Rich Dark Flake is a top quality cognac to sit and fully appreciate. Therefore RDF for me is not an all day smoke, but one to be enjoyed for an hour’s solitude on an evening or a weekend treat. Will be buying more, definitely five stars.