There are many flavors that never get the attention in the western world that they deserve because they are based on classic flavors popular in the Middle East. Al Fakher Gum Mastic is one such flavor and I hadn’t given it the time of day until a friend gifted me a hookah pack. I shouldn’t have waited so long.
Even though this is a classic Al Fakher flavor the tobacco is definitely a modern style with plenty of juice. I packed it the same way I would treat any other AF tobacco, loose and fluffed in the bowl. I opted for a shallow Egyptian bowl and two Coco Ultimate coals and the combination is treating me well. Lots of flavor and good clouds.
The smell is somewhat akin to the interior of a museum combined with a hint of spice shop. That may sound odd, but this brings back memories from my home town of Salem, MA where there are a ton of witchcraft stores peddling incense and usually burning frankincense and other such things. The air in such shops is usually thick with such smoke and not very pleasant, but this was lighter and actually enjoyable right out of the package.
The flavor itself is a bit odd. It reminds me a bit of incense, which stands to reason because gum mastic is actually a resin from the mastic tree much like frankincense. There are mild notes of pine and lemon with a distinctly resinous quality while still being quite light. The main flavor is sweet with a light caramel note and elements of cedar, vetiver and pine. It’s definitely a woody tobacco without being overly pungent. I know that not everyone wants to lick a Christmas tree and I don’t want you to think that this tastes like Pinesol. It is much more pleasant and approachable than that. I really think everyone should try this flavor as it could be a good intro to a whole world of interesting and delicious flavors but it’s not going to be or everyone. Happily I’m seeing this one pop up at many more vendors and it’s available in 50g packs, so it’s not a huge loss if you take a shot and decide you hate it.
I really like this tobacco, but I am a weirdo who seeks out anything that tastes or smells of cedar and pine. The room note on this tobacco makes my house smell a bit like an old magic shop and puts a smile on my face, but my fiance wrinkled her nose a bit, so expect a few odd looks when smoking this one.