Would McClelland Sell Their Recipes and Methods?

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gabejskyp

New member
Mar 5, 2018
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So I know this will be controversial but if you've listened to the most recent episode of that other pipe podcast they call out Mike and Mary and ask them to take on an apprentice.

I would love to see those blends come back but from what I've heaerd and read it may never happen.

Thoughts?
 

skydog

Senior Member
Jun 27, 2017
461
521
My understanding is they ran into issues sourcing leaf. They stopped producing 5100 well before any announcement of closing up shop came out because they were unable to source the red VA needed for 5100. So even if they could teach someone all their techniques it would still come down to being able to source quality leaf.
 

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hoosierpipeguy

Preferred Member
Jan 28, 2018
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As stated, their retirement was for a number of reasons. Lack of a source for their level of quality leaf, especially for the red Virginia, was a big one. At their age, I'm guessing they're not concerned where their next meal is coming from. I can't imagine why they'd want to mess with it or anyone willing to pay enough to change their minds.
 

verporchting

Preferred Member
Dec 30, 2018
1,617
4,328
I miss McClelland’s as much as anyone but I think Dr Seuss said it best - don’t be sad it’s over, be glad it happened.

This is useless sentiment if you had just discovered how much you loved their blends and didn’t get a real opportunity to enjoy it fully I know, but ... it’s definitely over.
 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
35,251
33,564
The question misses the point. About thirty percent of blending (or fine cooking, etc.) can be put in a looseleaf binder and imitated. All the chain restaurants do that, and sometimes, with luck, the results are quite edible. That's beside the point. The McClelland outfit made an art out of it, and went far beyond any directions they could offer, any outline they could put down. You want Picasso, you have to hire the man himself, with all his quirks and troubles. Otherwise you get a forgery. A good forgery, or a bad forgery, but a forgery all the same. The couple gave it their all and showed what could be done, and if someone else wants to do something similar, of their own, in their own right, let them take that journey, make their own discoveries, and see what they can do. It won't be McClellands, but it could be something good.
 

rushx9

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Jul 10, 2019
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Shelby, NC
I'm lucky to have had the opportunity to try several of McClelland's blends and experience the differences their approach in processing made in their tobaccos.
While no one else can do exactly what they did, there are still a few manufacturers left that use old world methods of processing. Unfortunately, any of them could vanish just as quickly as McC, and I expect some will get caught in the rain wishing they'd spent more time enjoying what's currently available instead of lamenting what's not.
2 independent UK manufacturers left. 2 indy US makers and 1 larger manufacturer owned by the Danes. 2 mid-sized German, and 2 massive, sprawling Danish conglomerates. If any one of them goes, how many great blends and brands will we lose?
 

condorlover1

Preferred Member
Dec 22, 2013
5,617
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New York
It's a very tough call. Whenever you try and recreate a blend there will always be someone who is (a) not happy (b) says the original was better/different (c) outright just slanders you. I know this from experience. The reality is just enjoy what exists, mourn the passing of what you previously smoked and ponder why the world we inhabit is so messed up!
 

sablebrush52

Preferred Member
Jun 15, 2013
13,609
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SoCal
jrs457.wixsite.com
So I know this will be controversial but if you've listened to the most recent episode of that other pipe podcast they call out Mike and Mary and ask them to take on an apprentice.

I would love to see those blends come back but from what I've heaerd and read it may never happen.

Thoughts?
Gone. Done. Finito. Fin. End of line. Terminated. Adios. Vaya con Dios. Au revoir. Sayonara. There's no controversy here. Mike could have trained a successor if he believed that would have worked. Clearly he did not.

As far as offers to buy the business, they had offers and turned them down. They weren't selling their baby to be turned into an inferior version of what they had achieved.

The recipes don't matter. Mike McNeil ran the line and his touch is what made those blends what they are. The kind of crop harvesting they got is largely, if not totally, a thing of the past and that affects the quality of the batch.

In the end they looked at the future and decided it was time to take a well earned retirement. According to their statement at the time of their closing it was getting increasingly difficult to obtain the kind of leaf they needed to use for their blends. That, plus an increasingly hostile regulatory environment, loss of federal subsidies resulting in growers turning to different crops, etc, made it clear to them that it was time to move on.

They had a great 40 year run.

In the several years since they shut down their operations, several blenders have claimed, without justification, to have reproduced equivalent match blends. If you believe that, then believe that I can get you a great deal on a bridge that spans the East River.

There are plenty of enjoyable blends available on the market. Focus on that.
 

logs

Preferred Member
Apr 28, 2019
1,781
4,800
Actually I think there's reasonable possibility that STG or MacBaren might recreate one or two of McClellands best known blends somewhere down the road. The leaf sourcing isn't really the issue. Lack of proper leaf didn't stop anyone from releasing a new version of Three Nuns or Balkan Sobranie--neither of which are identical to the originals. It's really just a money and timing issue. It could be as simple as the McNeils or their heirs concluding that the old recipes, McClelland brand, and logo are worth a bundle and just sell them off the rights to one of the big producers. Nostalgia for old brands and blends is a proven seller in the marketplace--even if they aren't a perfect match. While a close match to Christmas Cheer might be out of the question, let's be honest, it wouldn't be that hard to make a new Frog Morton.
 

sablebrush52

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Jun 15, 2013
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Actually I think there's reasonable possibility that STG or MacBaren might recreate one or two of McClellands best known blends somewhere down the road. The leaf sourcing isn't really the issue. Lack of proper leaf didn't stop anyone from releasing a new version of Three Nuns or Balkan Sobranie--neither of which are identical to the originals. It's really just a money and timing issue. It could be as simple as the McNeils or their heirs concluding that the old recipes, McClelland brand, and logo are worth a bundle and just sell them off the rights to one of the big producers. Nostalgia for old brands and blends is a proven seller in the marketplace--even if they aren't a perfect match. While a close match to Christmas Cheer might be out of the question, let's be honest, it wouldn't be that hard to make a new Frog Morton.
Many have tried to reproduce their Virginias and none have succeeded. As for the latakia and orientals, that they bought elsewhere (think Sutliff for one). They had offers, from what I've been told very good offers, to sell the operation and the IP and they declined. So I doubt that they're going to change their minds about that.
But on the very off chance that the name eventually gets sold, so what? It won't be McClelland blends in that tin, it will be some other blend with a McClelland label. Completely meaningless. I get that some people are stupid. But that doesn't translate to a resurrection.
 

hoosierpipeguy

Preferred Member
Jan 28, 2018
6,323
22,563
Gone. Done. Finito. Fin. End of line. Terminated. Adios. Vaya con Dios. Au revoir. Sayonara. There's no controversy here. Mike could have trained a successor if he believed that would have worked. Clearly he did not.

As far as offers to buy the business, they had offers and turned them down. They weren't selling their baby to be turned into an inferior version of what they had achieved.

The recipes don't matter. Mike McNeil ran the line and his touch is what made those blends what they are. The kind of crop harvesting they got is largely, if not totally, a thing of the past and that affects the quality of the batch.

In the end they looked at the future and decided it was time to take a well earned retirement. According to their statement at the time of their closing it was getting increasingly difficult to obtain the kind of leaf they needed to use for their blends. That, plus an increasingly hostile regulatory environment, loss of federal subsidies resulting in growers turning to different crops, etc, made it clear to them that it was time to move on.

They had a great 40 year run.

In the several years since they shut down their operations, several blenders have claimed, without justification, to have reproduced equivalent match blends. If you believe that, then believe that I can get you a great deal on a bridge that spans the East River.

There are plenty of enjoyable blends available on the market. Focus on that.
Excellent post that covers the entire story I think.
 

jewman22

Senior Member
Apr 2, 2021
471
2,562
Ontario Canada
I respected the deep quality and passion that went into their blends, and I have even more respect for them knowing that they aren't sellouts.
Some times it's better to let the masterpieces die, then to attempt to make cheap fakes in an attempt to recapture the spirit of the original. The car world is full of examples of this.
 

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