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The Tobacco Files 22 - Capstan Gold Navy Cut Flake & Orlik Golden Sliced

The Tobacco Files 22 - Capstan Gold Navy Cut Flake & Orlik Golden Sliced

Posted by Greg Rosenberg on 3rd Feb 2023

Capstan Gold Navy Cut Flake and Orlik Golden Sliced

For this, the first 2023 regular installment of the Tobacco Files, I wanted to cover some classics. I also thought I’d change things up a bit and feature one of my favorite pipe tobaccos.

Usually, the featured blends in these columns are new to me. When they aren’t, my experience is limited. Part of how I wanted to format these columns was to give an account of my futzing with an unfamiliar blend—a tasting journal turned outward. That’s how I’ll keep it for the most part, but it’s fun to change things up from time to time. So this month, we’ll have  Capstan Gold Navy Cut Flake and Orlik Golden Sliced, the latter being a favorite of mine. 

For the record, the “gold” theme was unintentional, but let’s hope it’s a good omen for 2023.

And of course we’ll end things with our featured cigar—my undressed notes on a  premium cigar I particularly enjoyed this month—My Fathers Le Bijou 1922 Petit Robusto.

Capstan Gold Navy Cut Flake 

Capstan Gold info

Bright Virginia tobaccos from 3 continents have been blended into this flake tobacco. The Virginia tobaccos are pressed into a block and cut into flakes, Capstan Gold Flake offers a balanced Virginia experience. 

Entry 1

This will be my first time diving into this particular offering from  Mac Baren, though I have had an affinity for its cousin, Capstan Original Navy Cut, ever since I featured it in a Tobacco File back in March.

But for a little background, the Capstan brand goes far back, being created over a century ago by W.D. & H.O. Wills, which would become one of thirteen companies to merge into Imperial Tobacco at the turn of the century.

In 2013, as part of Mac Baren's deal with Imperial, in which they acquired the pipe tobacco division of Altadis—formerly  Sutliff, which restored its original name at this time—Mac Baren also negotiated to take over production of Capstan and Three Nuns, at the time manufactured at Orlik/STG (they would buy the brands outright from Imperial in 2015).

Not only did Mac Baren continue production, but they expanded the line to offer a second, milder version (Gold), and a ready-rubbed style of each.

Mac Baren master blender Per Jensen says of these two blends:

"The difference between Capstan Original and Capstan Gold is that many pipe smokers find the Gold version to be a bit milder and slightly sweeter, where the Capstan Blue shows the full flavor Virginias in the taste (More Virginia taste)." 

Okay, that was a longer prologue than usual, but I do love a historical detour. Let’s get to it.


Mac Baren presses some pretty flakes, Capstan Gold is no exception.

Taking in the tin note, I get a bit of a fruity scent, apricot I want to say, with hints of bread and grass.

Capstan Gold Cut

I’m somewhat surprised by the ease with which the flake rubs out. I feel that often when a flake is pristine like this, it’s a touch moist and takes some work to break down,  Samuel Gawith comes to mind (not a criticism, good tobacco’s worth a little prep). But Capstan Gold proved to be very accommodating and worked right down to a nice ready rubbed. It’s slightly moister than is my preference, but as seems to be my method with new tobacco nowadays, I go ahead and pack it as is, and will navigate my drying time from there.

My first smoke will be in one of my favorites, my Bushido series J Mouton Poker. This somewhat narrow, long chamber seems to be a friend to Virginias.

Lighting up

Despite being a tad moist, I get a very agreeable char light. Immediately I get bright Virginia notes of grass, citrus, and hay and a mellow honey sweetness.

Capstan Gold in J Mouton Poker

I start to notice some spice and earth develop as I get into the first few minutes of the smoke. I wasn’t totally expecting it, being the alleged lighter Capstan offering. It’s not as though it’s particularly stout or anything, but some earthy expression in the sinus and a light cedar note brings something interesting to Capstan Gold. Gentle, but not without body.

Has a bit of a herbal quality I love in some bright Virginias—Orlik Golden Sliced notably one of them. Not sure to what extent it’s a feature of the leaf or maybe a common approach to casing this style of blend, but it’s right up my alley.

Entry 2

Capstan Gold has offered a very gratifying smoke the last couple weeks.

No big revelations in tasting notes. As you can imagine, it’s an honest bright-leaning straight Virginia. Uncomplex and unpretentious. Though, I have given it some miles in different pipes, and while not dramatically different, it seems to have some say in my experience.

I noted a couple days back I had Gold packed in my widest chamber, my Genod Pot, and noted—

Tart, with more of a woody, bready undertone weaving like a bass-y rhythm beneath the bright notes.

I’m currently smoking Capstan Gold in my Tsuge E-Star, which is on the wider side, and I feel I do get a woody accentuation. I’ve also taken to almost consistently folding in Gold. Which for me, means layering in some of that broken down detritus. This has become more standard to my flake packing the last couple months or so.

Capstan Gold in Tsuge E-Star Nine 66

Another thing I noticed with the Genod was a maltiness when really nursed. Unlike my Tsuge with it’s lovely bend, the Genod isn’t much a friend to clenching, and it reminds me of how I could still stand to program myself a bit better in terms of cadence. I love a clencher, especially while typing away, but nothing reminds me that I may be stoking a bit too much than the smolder of a pipe that needs to be set down.

Strength:   ◙◙◙○○○○○○○
Taste:      ◙◙◙◙○○○○○○
Flavoring:  ◙◙○○○○○○○○

Entry 3

So, I regret not having some Capstan Original Flake freed up for a compare and contrast, but I checked the ol’ cellar spreadsheet and what do ya know, I did stow away a tin of the ready rubbed variety some months back. So for this final entry, I’m packing up some clay pipes and doing a little side by side.

Capstan Comparison 1

Once Gold is rubbed out, I don’t find them too distinguishable in look, except Gold is perhaps a shade darker, though I’m not sure how well that picture shows it. The difference is slight, but makes sense, as pressing can have that effect. Perhaps the exposure from being broken up after pressing has lightened the ready rubbed.

Capstan Comparison 2

Definitely closely related, but I see where Capstan Original is the "heavier" of the two—perhaps not in nic hit, so much as it leans into some darker flavors. From Original, I get more herbal notes and more tingle to the palate. Gold has an emphasis on the floral, grassy, sweet side.

My basic impression of the differences—

Capstan Original leans herbal and vegetative to Gold's grass and citrus.

Original offers more woodiness to Gold's breadiness. 

For Fans of…

Orlik Golden Sliced

Orlik Golden Sliced info

A mixture of golden, mature Virginia tobaccos from the traditional tobacco districts in eastern USA. The tobacco is pressed into cakes and matures during storage before it is processed into cut cakes. This blend has the natural sweet flavor and freshness of the finest Virginia tobaccos.

Entry 1

Smoked by all shrewd judges, as well as mild mannered blog writers.

Originally a pipe company founded in 1899, Orlik has a long history of tobacciana excellence. Now Golden Sliced, offered in 50g and 100g tins, is all that remains.

Like all enduring mixtures from the pantheon of classic pipe blends, Orlik Golden Sliced has changed over the years. And though I can’t speak to its greatness a century nor a decade ago, this modern iteration has been a favorite of mine since I first tried it.


Generally, I have a fresh tin for the column, but I usually have Golden Sliced on deck. I jarred up a 100g tin some months back, so I’ll be smoking from that. It’s mostly already broken up, with a few intact flakes as you can see pictured below.

Orlik Gold Sliced cut

But upon opening the tin, this now broken-up flake was one long flake folded over on itself. Check out Reiner Tobacco’s flake cut for reference. I didn’t actually expect that, as I’d only had the 50g tin of Golden Sliced before, which has the pressed leaf cut and stacked in perfect rectangles. At any rate, as you can see, the aptly named flakes are golden and bright with medium brown mottled through.

Golden Sliced had me from the tin note the first time I tried it. Its herbal grassiness immediately lit up some nostalgia receptor in my brain. My mother used to use a heatable neck wrap, it had this herbal scent that was so pleasing, and taking in this tin note, I can hear the beeping microwave in the kitchen of my childhood home.

Sorry if that’s too schmaltzy, maybe I’m longing for a day when I didn’t need one of those wraps for my own sore neck.

Lighting up

I pack my  Missouri Meerschaum Let Freedom Ring cob for my first smoke. There’s a simple pleasure to a Virginia’s natural sweetness in a corn cob pipe.

Orlik Golden Sliced in Missouri Meerschaum Let Freedom Ring Corn Cob Pipe

Upon lighting, I am met with that familiar hay, grass, and molasses, complimented by a cane sugar sweetness, carried on a toasty bread low-end. A bit of Virginia plummy, raisin accent. There’s a consistent spice throughout, not like a peppery-perique spice, but an element of that herbal note—perhaps something to do with the casing. A distinguished floral note is there as well.

There has been much discussion in the past as to whether Golden Sliced does in fact contain perique. I believe these doubts were put to rest—it does—but it’s not hard to understand the doubt. The bold varietal’s presence is subtle, and it seems to me that it emphasizes that spice and Virginia woodiness without a lot of distinguished character of its own. Somewhat like doubling the singer on a recording—adds dynamics and weight, and would take the absence of that second track to get the full sense of what it's bringing to the mix.

Entry 2

Featuring a favorite blend spurs a departure from the investigative element of this column.

Wrestling with a blend I have little to no experience with means tracking how my impression develops with familiarity. That familiarity comes, not simply through more time smoking the blend, but in different contexts—experimenting with packing methods and smoking in pipes of different sizes, materials, etc.

I have alternated between rubbing out fully and folding in to see if I could glean some sort of distinction. I still get a consistent experience with the profile, but I prefer its slow burn rate with a fold and stuff method.

Orlik Golden Sliced in Lorenzetti Avitus 95

I will say, one thing that has made Golden Sliced a mainstay of my rotation is the affable smoke I get in any of my pipes. It doesn’t seem to play favorites. Sometimes I do get one of those different smokes out of it, where there’s no real rhyme or reason, and very well may be more psychological than anything, but it’s as close to perfection as life allows. But of course, we’d manifest those smokes every time if we only could.

Maybe another reason I love this blend for its straightforward consistency is because, otherwise, I smoke quite widely. There are plenty of blends I love, but the blends I have opened and on deck at any given time are mostly new to me, so even those blends I love I only come back around to so often. This is how I like things, but it’s still nice to have those few anchor blends, familiar favorites, personal classics.

Strength:  ◙◙◙◙○○○○○○
Taste:     ◙◙◙◙◙○○○○○

For fans of...

Featured Cigar

For January, it was  My Father’s cigars that really grabbed me. I enjoyed quite a few, but the Le Bijou 1922 Petit Robusto was among my favorite smokes in smoke time. Blended as a tribute to Jose “Pepin” Garcia’s father, Le Bijou (French for “The Jewel”) takes the classic My Father blend and amends it, swapping the Ecuadorian wrapper for Habano Oscuro. The Torpedo vitola won Cigar Aficionados Cigar of the Year in 2015. 

My Father Le Bijou 1922 Petit Robusto 

My Father Le Bijou 1922 Petit Robusto

Wrapper -  Habano Oscuro 
Binder  -  Nicaraguan
Filler  -  Nicaraguan
Size    -  4.5 X 50

First third:

  • The first minute or so introduces rich, dark flavor: black coffee, oak, pepper, vegetation
  • Plenty of spice develops, tingling the lips
  • Umami, mushroom alights
  • Slightest hint of citrus

My Father Le Bijou 1922 Petit Robusto

Second third:

  • Cocoa and that woody, oakiness seem to be forward into the second third to the halfway point
  • Strength has been hugging the mild side of medium to my impression, now settles at the mid mark. 

Final third:

Kept a consistent, tight burn and flavor till the end. 

Until next time...

Last February, I was told to grab two tins and write about them under the name "What I Smoked This Week." February 18th, I posted  What I Smoked This Week 1 - Bengal Slices and Escudo Navy De Luxe. It's been a great year of sharing my exploration of these 53 blends and counting. To think, I would be at 104 if we kept to a weekly post, but I think I found a rhythm here in this monthly column. 

Thanks for reading as always. February, we explore two tobaccos blended to the style of the original Richmond recipe. 

As always; feedback, advice, requests, corrections, friendly hellos—