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Bog Morta?

(39 posts)
  • Started 5 years ago by rockymtnsmoker
  • Latest reply from fishnbanjo
  1. rockymtnsmoker

    rockymtnsmoker

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    Was looking at some pipes by UK maker Chris on smokingpipes.com. He works a lot with wood pulled from bogs that can be hundreds or thousands of years old. Anyone smoked an Askwith and/or a bog morta pipe? Fascinated to know how it compares to briar or other woods like olive, pear etc., and what folks think of this pipe maker.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  2. peckinpahhombre

    peckinpahhombre

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    I have (I assume you are talking about Chris Askwith). You can probably see my ying and yang set that someone recently resurrected. I only have two Mortas - the Askwith and a Moretti. My take on Morta (mine alone) is that it does on ocassion produce a very mild smoky taste, though in my experience it goes away after 10 or 12 bowls. Chris is a fantastic pipemaker, no question.

    Posted 5 years ago #
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    Anonymous

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    Hundreds of thousands of years old, even for bog wood (morta) is a stretch. The oldest I've seen is about 10,000 years old. This one, from Chris is reputed to be 10,000 years old:

    http://cigars.gauntleys.com/product5612-chris-askwith-morta-billiard

    A tip, if you're buying a morta, or having one commissioned, as for the carbon dating certificate.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  4. petes03

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    It doesn't get much cooler than a pipe made from prehistoric,10,000 year old, sunken oak from a bog somewhere in Europe! I gotta get me one someday, maybe a Celtic like Roth's!

    Posted 5 years ago #
  5. rockymtnsmoker

    rockymtnsmoker

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    Cheers Roth. Hundreds or thousands of years I meant 10,000 years is pretty darn cool. Heck, 1000 is awesome. Seems his prices are reasonable, at least the ones on sp.com are.
    Wonder how the carbon dating would work on a pipe?

    Peck, any idea if he leans to a particular bog wood. Oak vs pine, say? Followed the link that Roth posted and in the write up on the Askwith they suggest the pipe can add a salty/ herbaceous note that favours lats and valpers. Very interesting.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  6. flakyjakey

    flakyjakey

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    Yes, see my thread "I'm feeling Morta Tonight" of a few days ago, and my post a few minutes ago on Peck's topic of circa six months ago

    Posted 5 years ago #
  7. rockymtnsmoker

    rockymtnsmoker

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    Funny Flaky . Saw that thread but hadn't heard of bog morta yet. Thought you were complaining about being dead tired

    Posted 5 years ago #
  8. flakyjakey

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    Ha ha! but I can affirm that you would not regret commissioning a Chris Askwith Morta. It is indeed 10,000 year-old bogwood, and IMHO adds even more to Latakia-rich tobaccos like the Balkan Flakes.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  9. philobeddoe

    Philo Beddoe

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    I have a Paolo Becker Morta pipe and it smokes anything I put in it with ease. It is one of my four or five best smoking pipes and I'm looking to add more to my racks.

    Very highly recommended!

    "So it goes." - K.V.
    Posted 5 years ago #
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    Wonder how the carbon dating would work on a pipe?

    The radiocarbon dating is done by a lab on a piece of wood from an individual tree (or what's left of it). This isn't like normal wood; bog oak is light but very hard and has the texture almost like a piece of coal (I know this sounds weird, but that's as close as I can describe it).

    The lab report, among other things, shows a graph measuring the carbon 14 in a spectrum, which, in this latest case, is accurate to within 50 years +/-. It is stamped and signed by the lab technician performing the test and also signed by the director of the lab. The test was performed on 4 December 2011 which may indicate some drying or curing was necessary before it was used to make the pipe.

    Posted 5 years ago #
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    I had the pleasure of meeting Chris Askwith at the British Pipe Smoking Championships a few months back. He is an extremely talented craftsman, he had a number of pipes on display and they were absolutely exquisite in every detail. I also have a few friends who have Askwith pipes, both briar and morta and without exception they rate them most highly.

    As well as the items available at retail outlets, Chris is more than happy to accept commissions. I am sure he will gladly field any further questions you might have, you can contact Chris via his website: http://www.askwithpipes.com/

    Tell him Chiz sent ya!

    Posted 5 years ago #
  12. jimbo44

    jimbo44

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    I got this one from Chris Askwith - it's a superb smoke.

    They say they excel with Latakia mixtures (and they do) but, on Chris' advice I also tried Va/Per's and it excels there too.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  13. pipestud

    pipestud

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    I sold a Dunhill Thames Oak pipe not too long ago and really enjoyed sneaking a bowl out of it. The reportedly very accurate method of dating the wood, dendrochronology, which is used to calibrate carbon dating, was used. The tests were then certified by University College of London. The Thames "Bog" Oak wood Dunhill used to make the pipe was dated to 186 BC to 63 AD.

    I test smoked a bowl out of this pipe using a tobacco blend (Royal Yacht/Five Brothers), that I have been smoking for many years. The entire experience was sensational. After loading up, I took a few draws while the pipe was still unlit. I tasted the tobacco with a clarity I've never before experienced. And after lighting, I tasted my tobacco in a manner that was more intense and satisfying than I could ever have imagined. I smoked the bowl all the way to the bottom with no relights. And further, the bowl never got more than lukewarm despite the fact that I was smoking puff after puff in machine like fashion. Was this the most incredible pipe smoking experience of my life? Not sure, but it was in the top five.

    Bog Oak, Morta, are they the same or different? I don't know. I smoked a Talbert Morta not too long ago and while I enjoyed the smoke, I did detect a sort of Dark Chocolate flavor from the pipe. Don't know if anyone else has smoked a Morta pipe and received the same or similar taste presentation.

    Pipestud

    Pipestud
    Posted 5 years ago #
  14. flakyjakey

    flakyjakey

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    @pipestud, I've probably smoked my Morta about 10-15 times. The pipe itself is incredibly light and in its blast gives it a unique handfeel. It needed no breaking in. Whatever tobacco I smoke it imparts an extra nutty, smoky flavour, especially towards the bottom of the bowl. This does enhance any tobacco, especially IMO dark tobaccos, and is a unique and wonderful combination with Balkan flakes.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  15. kcghost

    kcghost

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    Becker puts an amazing crosshatching design on the exterior of his morta pipes that is simply exquisite.

     photo BeckerMorta_zpsdec2c1ac.jpg">

    Posted 5 years ago #
  16. flakyjakey

    flakyjakey

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    @ kcghost beautiful!!! That's the same surface appearance of my Chris Askwith Morta and, as I remember of peck's black beauty. Chris and reborn tell me its how the Morta normally comes out of blasting. Reborn calls it "pinstripe grain". It results in a simply marvellous handfeel IMO

    Posted 5 years ago #
  17. fishnbanjo

    fishnbanjo

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    Although I wrote this back 4 months or so ago I can't find it to link it so the OP could read and am therefore re-posting it here. I now own 8 Morta pipes with 3 being from Chris Askwith who in my opinion

    Since I own seven Morta Pipes I thought it would be a good idea to discuss a bit about what Morta is, how it differs to briar, both as a base for a pipe and smoking wise.

    So what exactly is Morta? Morta, or Bog Oak. comes from dead Oak trees which have fallen into a bog, or similar environment, and have spent anywhere from 1000-10,000 years in the soup of the bog which gives the Morta its distinct coloration. The colors recognized are from blue grey over green grey to deep black, there are also brown and copper colored and a combination of grey, brown and black, very few are red or blue which I have not seen a pipe made with as yet but there probably will be at some point.

    Bog Oak stands for Fossil European Oak or Sessile Oak, which have lain in bog for centuries. Stored in bog, the tannic acid of the wood reacts with the marsh gases of the bog, whereby such wood changes its color extremely. Understand the closer it becomes to fossilization the blacker it gets as it will turn to coal if given enough time to fossilize.

    What I have learned through reading is that Bog Oak is available throughout Europe with Croatia, Ireland, England, Germany and Italy being the major sources, I'm sure there are more but these are the ones I see most of the Morta pipe makers make reference to. Recently Morta from Lake Michigan has surfaced and while not being a bog the conditions are similar in what happens to the wood and will be interesting to see if any more pipes are made from it then the one I saw that sold quickly, it was darker than the copper Morta yet lighter than the brown Morta I have seen.

    So how does Morta differ from briar, Meerschaum, clay, corn cobs and even rock pipes? Well simply put Morta like Meerschaum, clay and rock pipes (pipe stone or soapstone) smoke neutral, i.e. one gets a purer sense on the palate, and the snork, of the tobacco than one gets from a briar or a cob. Morta can smoke much hotter than the others as well but setting it down finds it cools much quicker as well. It's light and generally the pipes made from it are much larger than their briar counterparts and the bowls much smaller as well since they do smoke hotter but have the ability to be smoked again as soon as they are cool enough with no issue so they make a great companion if one were traveling and could only bring 1 or 2 pipes.

    Now that we've gone through a bit of the history of Morta and how it differentiates between some of the more common vessels used for pipe bowls let's see how different Morta pipes smoke against the others in my collection. For the purpose of the Smoke Off I did not smoke anything other than Anniversary Kake or a light VA in other pipes over the two days it took to complete this and I did it with the outside temperature being relatively equal except for the first smoke which ended up being a rather windy period.

    The seven pipes I smoked were smoked using 6 y/o Anniversary Kake from the same jar housed in the same pouch so as to not taint the outcome:

    A Chris Askwith Rhodesian, from England, with Olivewood Cap and white stem was the first pipe smoked and here is a photo and the results.

    The smoke in the Askwith Rhodesian took 45 minutes with mostly white pillow like puffs the first 1/2 of the bowl with a nice mild and cool smoking experience. From the second half of the bowl on there was decidedly more spiciness to the smoke yet still cool and the smoke thinned a bit to a blueish grey with the admittance of Perique was there in the background. The smoke ended w/o the need to relight simply the char light was sufficient and a mere few shards of moist dottle and moisture were found after it had gone out. Clearing the dottle with a pick was quick and what moisture that was observed in the bottom of the bowl dissipated within 30 seconds, an excellent smoke and a quick run through with the pipe cleaner produced a very light tan coating with no moisture.

    A Davorin Denovic, from Croatia, Rustic Freehand Bent with Field Maple end cap.

    The Denovic finished its smoke in 40 minutes with mostly medium billows of blueish grey smoke throughout the entire bowl, like the previous smoker it needed no further lighting after the initial one. The first 1/3 was a lovely taste of VA and migrated toward some spiciness into the next 1/3 with a dominant taste of Perique which lasted about 5 minutes into the last 1/3 then settled down into a lovely combination of spice and great tobacco flavors. The finish was met with clean grey ash and minimal moisture in the bowl which dissipated in 15 seconds. A pipe cleaner ran through came out a medium brown with no moisture.

    A Moretti Freehand Rusticated, from Italy, with Bone colored end cap.

    The Moretti smoked in 40 minutes with large billowy puffs of whitish grey smoke throughout and required only the initial lighting. The first 1/3 of the bowl was soft and luscious VA then notes of cinnamon crept in with the palate experience being like a wonderfully deep red burgundy and the snork sense continuing to cinnamon and developing to toasted nutmeg. Spiciness abundant in the next 1/3 with a deeper palate of dark red burgundy continuing through the second 1/3 of the bowl. The final 1/3 of the bowl was a dance of flavors from the spice to the wine then mellowing to just a delicious tobacco ending with a whitish grey ash with no dottle nor moisture in the bowl, a swipe with the pipe cleaner revealed a deeper tan color with no moisture.

    A Tom Richard, from Germany, Rusticated Freehand with Boxwood end cap and Cumberland Stem.

    The Richard smoked in 43 minutes with a light blue hue to white billows of smoke also required no lighting after initial. The taste of VA was predominate with the warmth of honey on the palate, the snork was true VA. It wasn't until the last 1/4 of the bowl did any hint of spice begin and it did not strengthen but continued to the end of the bowl which was left with no dottle just a clean whitish grey ash. Once the ash was removed there was nothing there but the bottom of the bowl and it was free of moisture, a quick run with a pipe cleaner gave a tan color and no moisture.

    A Chris Askwith, I believe a Freehand Volcano Sitter but hopeful Chris will set that straight if he reads this, from England, with Mastodon Ivory end cap and White Stem.

    The second Askwith smoked in 38 minutes with a light grey medium smoke, again no lighting beyond initial. The taste of VA was present and turned to a note of Fig on the palate with cinnamon in snork, eased its way into spicy which it finished with leaving a white grey ash, no dottle nor moisture evident in the bowl, the color of the pipe cleaner inserted and removed was light tan with no moisture

    A Paulo Becker Maya Shape, from Italy, as Paulo puts it the name comes from "Maya desnuda" by Goya, with Chocolate colored stem and Smoky swirls.

    The Becker smoked in 40 minutes with a medium grey smoke throughout with no lighting past the initial. The taste of VA was present after the first tamp and through to the middle of the bowl where some hints of cinnamon and other spices began then leveled off to spice on the palate and the snork and finishing with no dottle nor moisture in the bowl, a pipe cleaner ran through left residuals of dark and tan but no moisture

    A Radice Chubby Morta AEROBilliard, from Italy, in collaboration with Luca di Piazza.

    The AEROBilliard smoked in 35 minutes with no lighting beyond the initial, with huge puffy pillows of whitish grey smoke until the first tamp where it settled down to medium grey puffs. The initial note was cool and mild and the VA made its presence known on the palate and the snork. The palate note quickly changed to a rich red burgundy feel and the snork picked up hints of Cardamom and other spiciness. The wine note stayed the course on the palate with playful meanderings of VA, spice and pure tobacco on the snork with the final few minutes being wine, wine and more wine on the palate and the snork. There was no dottle nor moisture and a pipe cleaner picked up the lightest trace of coloring with no moisture

    Well as you can see my experience differed some from pipe to pipe but not one of them was less than an outstanding smoke. I hope you found this helpful if a Morta pipe is something you've been thinking about and will happily answer any questions that I can, thanks for reading.

    Morta #8 is also by Chris Askwith a 9 1/2" long Cutty shape with 100 years worth of growth ring on it and a maple syrup colored stem. While I don't have any of the Anniversary Kake I used on the other pipes open at the moment I will at some point in the future open another jar that is cellared and revisit this test with the Morta Cutty to see how it stacks against my others.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  18. flakyjakey

    flakyjakey

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    A fascinating piece fishnbanjo, and truly informative for a recent Morta convert like me. I love the last pic of the cutty - so elegant. I have also marveled at how dry the Morta bowl is at the finish. I'm not sure sure how 'neutral' is my Chris Askwith Morta though - it does seem to add something to the smoke, even with bright VAs - a nice woody/nutty note. So , a couple of questions if I may:

    1. If it is truly neutral, could the Morta pipe be allowing a taste to come through that other pipes, eg briars 'absorb', thereby giving the tobacco its 'true' unadulterated flavour, rather than my speculation that my Morta "added" something??

    2. If Morta pipes are truly neutral, how do they compare with a clay pipe (supposed to be neutral) in smoking the same tobacco? If they are truly neutral, are Mortas the ROBUST 'clay pipes' of the future, rather than the very fragile past? lol And if this is the case should we use them for more meaningful comparisons of one tobacco against another?

    3. Finally, would you be happy, forgetting brand loyalty/sentimentality, if you had ONLY Morta pipes to smoke in the future?????

    Posted 5 years ago #
  19. fishnbanjo

    fishnbanjo

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    flakyjakey,
    I love your questions and will give an answer later when the effect of my ivIG infusion, and the meds they give me, wear off as my answers will be more lucid then they could be at this time.
    banjo

    Case in point is my mind completed the thought that Chris Askwith in my opinion makes a great Morta Pipe, don't own a briar by him though, as I said I'll be more lucid later.

    Posted 5 years ago #
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    I have long admired your taste in pipes banjo, nice to see all those wonderful mortas again on here.

    Posted 5 years ago #
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    Recently Morta from Lake Michigan has surfaced and while not being a bog the conditions are similar in what happens to the wood and will be interesting to see if any more pipes are made from it then the one I saw that sold quickly, it was darker than the copper Morta yet lighter than the brown Morta I have seen.

    Just to add, if anyone is curious, I believe Russ Cook is the artisan who made that "Lake Michigan Morta pipe" Banjo is referring to. I saw it for sale on SPC as an estate for $150 -- it looked great -- and it did sell quickly. I thought about grabbing it, but I couldn't help but wonder why such a pipe was being sold as an estate so quickly -- I mean, who would sell a morta volcano like that? was it too big? Or worse, the performance was disappointing? I was going to ask Mr. Cook about this, re: his experience with the Lake Michigan Morta wood, but never got around to it.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  22. kcghost

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    I would like to hear more about this Lake Michigan "Morta". It just doesn't seem possible that it could be as fossilized as European morta as it has been under water for only a couple hundred years. One of the key features of the bogs where morta is found is that they are almost devoid of oxygen. I don't see how Lake Michigan could meet that criteria.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  23. fishnbanjo

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    I too saw that Lake Michigan Morta and had errands to run and was going to purchase it when I returned but found it had sold, lovely looking pipe and Russ Cook is the maker and like rothnh I wanted to followup on it but never did, I did keep a photo.

    Posted 5 years ago #
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    @kcghost = As noted, you may want to Email Russ Cook. All I could find was something about the "bog wood" in Lake Michigan being harvested from the lake bottom, which IIRC is very deep and supposedly buried in the sediment.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  25. cigrmaster

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    I keep looking at all these great looking Morta's and have been hemming and hawing about buying one for months now. I have yet to hear someone say how great they smoke VA flakes. I hear good things about Vapers and English, but the fact that the pipe leaves a smokey flavor concerns me.

    Can anyone state unequivocally that a Morta will smoke VA flakes as good as briar? I need someone to put their neck on the line so I can blame someone if I don't like one.

    Harris
    Posted 5 years ago #
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    Harris, with mine, it's neutral. I don't get this "smokiness" at all. The pipe remains dry, and while I don't do it, I have no doubt that once the pipe cools (which is quickly), I very well could load 'er up right away with another type of blend and the experience would remain the same.

    And as I noted in other threads earlier, I've smoked various virginias as well as the other blends I enjoy in this Morta with nothing but excellent results.

    Of course, my experience is limited with this one (but certainly not my last) Morta -- and I assume it is possible experiences will differ depending on the specific bog oak used to make the pipe.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  27. cigrmaster

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    roth, thanks for going on the record. I do trust your opinion in this matter. What type of Morta is your pipe and who made it?

    Posted 5 years ago #
  28. kcghost

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    @kcghost = As noted, you may want to Email Russ Cook. All I could find was something about the "bog wood" in Lake Michigan being harvested from the lake bottom, which IIRC is very deep and supposedly buried in the sediment.

    I think I will do that. I will also ask him whether the pipe he won Best Non-Briar Pipe at the KC Show in 2012 was made of LMM or BM.

    Posted 5 years ago #
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    What type of Morta is your pipe and who made it?

    3,000 year old from Siberia. Todd Harris made it.

    Posted 5 years ago #
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    lestrout

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    Harris - judging from my Askwith and Becker mortas, this wood does throw a very interesting earthy depth into the mix, so a light VA (flake) starts to mirror a GH with its exotic Malawi, etc. leaf. Maybe even a hint of Tambolaka. The 'morta effect' is most pronounced in the first couple of dozen bowls, at least relative to taste. Olivewood is the same for me - at some point the cake dominates the taste profile.

    I first got the 2 mortas because of the reputed synergism with Latakia, and found it was so. But I tried various VAs, including flakes, to see what would happen, and was very pleasantly surprised to find a new dimension to familiar VAs. At the time, several years ago, I didn't find anyone else commenting on this wrinkle.

    hp
    les

    Posted 5 years ago #
  31. tbradsim1

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    I am smoking my Becker Rhodesian Morta with Wessex Campaign, smoked the same tobbaco yesterday in a Becker Briar and I"m getting some earthiness I didn"t get with the briar.

    The Old Cajun
    Posted 5 years ago #
  32. cigrmaster

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    roth, How do people know how old it really is, do pipe makers do carbon testing on it? Siberia, never heard of bog coming from there, that is very cool. I thought most of the Morta came from England.

    Les, thanks for that thoughtful post, very interesting indeed. It sounds like I should be prepared for a different kind of smoke in the beginning and then as the cake builds more of a briar type flavor.

    Bradley, is that earthiness a good thing or do you feel it takes something away from that blend? That is one of my favorite all time smokes and I am not sure how I would feel with earthiness added to it.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  33. peckinpahhombre

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    I don't really detect the "smoky" or "earthy" flavour in my mortas anymore - I do think it dissipates. I love my mortas especially when I travel because I can just take a couple of mortas and don't feel so bad about smoking two or three successive bowls.

    Posted 5 years ago #
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    roth, How do people know how old it really is, do pipe makers do carbon testing on it? Siberia, never heard of bog coming from there, that is very cool. I thought most of the Morta came from England.

    Harris, I really don't know if pipe makers require the carbon dating or if they even get the certificate. But then, what? Take someone's word for it? Not I. I know it was a big deal for me -- it had to be just right, though it certainly delayed the completion of my commission. Hey, I'm extremely fussy, but also a patient guy. Other puffers may not be like me and the artisan they select may not be able to comply even if they are.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  35. tbradsim1

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    Harris, 2 things , I was told the darker the Morta the older it is, Becker did not say how old it was,the bog was in Germany and was assumed. To be over 5000 yrs old. The taste thing I will try to describe, the campaign has for me at start and mid bowl a sharp flavor,with my Morta the flavor is still there but subdued, not in a bad way, one thing it is a Nitecap smoking machine. Is it better than Briar? I don"t know, if you can get a deal.you ought to try it.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  36. cigrmaster

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    roth, you fussy, say it ain't so. lol I hear you buddy, I am the exact same way, I would rather wait months than get something not perfect.

    Bradley, thanks for the description, I do get a sense of what you are talking about. I am definitely going to grab one soon and see for myself.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  37. rockymtnsmoker

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    Gentlemen, I have been to morta school. FB, thanks for that amazingly descriptive post on your incredible morta collection. To you all...

    Posted 5 years ago #
  38. zonomo

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    Here's mine. I love it. Smokes a little hot but I love thinking about the thousands of years this wood was under water. This was made by Davorin. He signed a Certificate with my name and everything. Very cool.




    Posted 5 years ago #
  39. fishnbanjo

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    Harris et alia,
    Took the 9 1/2" Askwith Morta Cutty out with the now nearly 7 y/o Anniversary Kake and here is the report on that smoke.

    I always take great care when lighting a Cutty since you generally can't see the flame on the tobacco so in order to prevent charring the bowl I cant it so it is pointing straight out then find the center of the side of the bowl and move the lighter to my finger on the opposite side then center it, I use a pipe lighter with a soft flame and it has served me well.

    At first light I was immediately greeted with the taste of wine on my palate and snork with medium grey smoke, tamped it and the smoke continued medium grey and the taste alternated between wine on the palate and spice on the snork with hints of cocoa at the end of the palate after the wine. This playful concert continued through 1/3 of the bowl then a huge spice note on the snork with a Vitamin N hit on its heels which then settled down for 10 minutes and the playful concert of wine and spice picked up again somewhat subdued almost taunting you to take another puff. The final 1/3 was a continuation of a lovely concert of wine and spice very cool smoke throughout the 50 minutes and was left with nothing but grey ash, no dottle nor moisture nor any relights.

    I plan to repeat this smoke off using a VA and perhaps a mild Lat blend using all 8 pipes. I will discuss more tomorrow.

    Posted 5 years ago #

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