Bog Morta?

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rockymtnsmoker

Senior Member
May 31, 2013
418
1
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.

 

peckinpahhombre

Preferred Member
Dec 24, 2012
7,118
51
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.

 

petes03

Preferred Member
Jun 23, 2013
5,245
7
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!

 

rockymtnsmoker

Senior Member
May 31, 2013
418
1
Cheers Roth. Hundreds or thousands of years I meant :D 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.

 

flakyjakey

Preferred Member
Aug 21, 2013
1,118
1
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

 

rockymtnsmoker

Senior Member
May 31, 2013
418
1
Funny Flaky . Saw that thread but hadn't heard of bog morta yet. Thought you were complaining about being dead tired :rofl:

 

flakyjakey

Preferred Member
Aug 21, 2013
1,118
1
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.

 

philobeddoe

Preferred Member
Oct 31, 2011
4,807
781
East Indiana
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!

 

jimbo44

Junior Member
Aug 2, 2010
62
0
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.


 

pipestud

Preferred Member
Dec 6, 2012
1,761
180
Robinson, TX.
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

 

flakyjakey

Preferred Member
Aug 21, 2013
1,118
1
@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.

 

kcghost

Preferred Member
May 6, 2011
2,514
232
Becker puts an amazing crosshatching design on the exterior of his morta pipes that is simply exquisite.
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flakyjakey

Preferred Member
Aug 21, 2013
1,118
1
@ 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

 

fishnbanjo

Preferred Member
Feb 27, 2013
3,032
13
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.


 

flakyjakey

Preferred Member
Aug 21, 2013
1,118
1
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?????

 

fishnbanjo

Preferred Member
Feb 27, 2013
3,032
13
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. :D

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. ;)

 

kcghost

Preferred Member
May 6, 2011
2,514
232
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.

 

fishnbanjo

Preferred Member
Feb 27, 2013
3,032
13
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.


 

cigrmaster

Preferred Member
May 26, 2012
14,182
4,033
United States
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.

 
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