MORTA, and Why You are Missing Out

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Jan 8, 2020
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EDIT: Fixed Capitalization in Title (See Rule 9) - Bob

EXPENSIVE, RISKY, I know.
There is no shortage of briar, and cobs are awesome too. So why should you invest in this random black material? Hopefully I can sell you on it.
My thumb hovered over the purchase button on the Briarworks website. Afterall 150 bucks ain’t nothing to sneeze at. “All I know is they won’t form a cake” played back in my head over and over. The gentleman at my local b&m were right, it sure doesn’t. It’s not particularly aesthetically pleasing either. Just black rusticated wood. I had been looking at this Moonshine Devil Anse in Morta for a few weeks. With the bright yellow amber stem, it’s certainly an acquired taste, and with that kind of money I could have taken my fiancé out to a nice Italian dinner.
I purchased the pipe and a wave of anxiety and regret instantly hit me. But I sure am happy that I made the investment.
Titanium. That’s what comes to mind when I hold this pipe. It’s light as a feather, Morta is between 3,000 and 8,000 years old. Oak trees that have fallen into a bog. Over time and through anaerobic processes the saps and other minerals are replaced. The final result is a half wood/ half stone hybrid material that smokes like a cob or meerschaum. It’s light as a feather and tough as nails.
Unadulterated flavor with a dry, cool smoke. Who can argue with that? I have two briar devil Anse pipes from the same company that don’t stand a chance against this. It’s rugged, tough, and I can smoke it all day, and perhaps every day without worrying about it wearing out or getting too damp.
Stop reading this review and get yourself a morta pipe, what the heck are you waiting for?
 

danimalia

Preferred Member
Sep 2, 2015
1,820
4,638
First of all... I don't think morta pipes are ugly at all. In fact, i think they're beautiful. I have a weird hangup where I don't like smooth, black pipes. Rusticated or blasted is good, but not the standard black, glossy dress pipe style. Morta looks awesome, though, even the smooth ones.

I don't own any, but really want one. Like meerschaum, I feel like I should have at least one. If I end up liking it, maybe more. Will have to check out BW's selection as well as VT Freehand and my friend (your friend too, probably) with Moretti since I know he makes some great ones at a reasonable price

Have you had to clean it or do any maintenance on it? Any differences from briar? Didn't know they didn't form a cake but as long as they smoke dry and cool without it, that might actually be a plus.
 

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hoosierpipeguy

Preferred Member
Jan 28, 2018
2,784
2,540
I have three Morta pipes. They smoke very good but not great. The bowl does get hotter than a similar size briar but not to the point it is a problem. I'm happy with the three Morta pipes I have not I'm not going to be trading my briar pipes for Morta anytime soon.
 

mingc

Senior Member
Jun 20, 2019
327
509
Portland, Oregon
Great as hand warmers for the winter then!

(I'm assuming that if morta wood is so much stronger then heating them up a bit wouldn't be an issue or lead to burn outs.)
I don't know. Morta is bog oak and was apparently a valuable source of heat fuel in rural England: So it does burn, but then again, so does briar.
 
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mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
28,125
5,029
I especially like that morta are light weight for their size, and they have a great look, but I have too many pipes. In the unusual material department, I do have several pipes carved of Mountain Laurel by the only carver I know who uses it, Jerry Perry of Colfax, N.C., who doesn't sell online but only at the N.C. State Fair in October and the TAPS pipe show at the Fairgrounds in April. I've bought these starting in 2002, and they are durable and smoke like briar. He also works in briar, maple, and he did one I bought in cocobolo.
 

alaskanpiper

Preferred Member
May 23, 2019
3,995
6,865
Alaska
I have two, both Moretti smooth gray ones. One a fat magnum pot, the other a slight bend pot/prince with a silver band. Both great smokers, not enough experience with them yet to compare/contrast with briar though.

Didn’t notice any heat difference, but the magnum is so huge I wouldn’t anyway, haha.
 
Jan 8, 2020
104
213
So the morta pipe that I have does heat up a little faster, but it cools down faster as well. Because of the tiny devil anse shape, I tend to clinch it a lot, so I actually haven’t paid too much attention to the temperature of the bowl.

My local bar allows smoking inside and I usually stop in for a drink and a few bowls after work. This has been the pipe that I have wanted to grab lately.

As far as maintenance goes, it seems to be more porous than briar and better at absorbing tar and resins, but I always run a pipe cleaner through my pipes during my smoking sessions (halfway through the bowl) and after.

I can’t speak for all morta, I have heard that they have different characteristics depending on their age. I can say however, that my particular pipe in morta smokes way better than the same pipe in briar. Briarworks does a great job and I have no doubt that they source the best stuff.

Finally I haven’t experienced any ghosting at all, and I can smoke Balkan Sobrainie, then smoke a Va/Per blend or vice versa without tasting any lingering flavors. This is huge for me.

Given these characteristics I would say that Morta makes for an excellent travel pipe. Low maintenance, can handle multiple bowls in one session, doesn’t experience ghosting, and is durable.
 

olkofri

Preferred Member
Sep 9, 2017
4,020
3,649
As far as maintenance goes, it seems to be more porous than briar and better at absorbing tar and resins,
Hmm. This is a concern to me, at least the way I'm understanding it: it absorbs tars and resins, and then? Do these remain forever embedded in the pipe's pores?
 

jaytex969

Preferred Member
Jun 6, 2017
5,303
5,321
Here
My one morta is a Todd Harris Panel Lovat. I got it from Kyle, who does reviews on this site.

Mine does get very hot, very quickly, if not careful. That said, the walls of this one are incredibly thin.

It's been a good cadence training aid for me. It cleans up easily and looks nice, IMO. I use it maybe once a month, usually with burley flake.

I'm happy to have it in my rotation as a representative example ("token" black pipe? rotf) but am not likely to seek another.

15305

15304
 
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pipebuddy

Guest
I took the plunge and went for a Provenzano 'C' Morta pipe recently.
After 1/2 dozen pipefuls, I came to the conclusion that it's different, but not that much from briar.
I find it's so much better than meerschaum, in fact.
So I decided to buy another one; a Radice.
I guess I like it.
 

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