Would McClelland Sell Their Recipes and Methods?

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Preferred Member
Apr 28, 2019
1,773
4,754
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.
Haha... well I'm not suggesting there could be a re-release that Sable would approve of. Pretty sure we all know you'd enjoy any reissued version of McClelland about as much as you like the current version of Balkan Sobranie.
 

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kcghost

Preferred Member
May 6, 2011
4,714
5,194
74
Olathe, Kansas
I can tell you from personally knowing Mike & Mary that their blends will not be revealed by them. It is over, finito, kaput. I listened to that podcast and felt the gentlemen had the story a little confused. The next person to get a tour of the McClelland factory will be to first person to do so. Mike worked 60-80 hours a week personally blending every tobacco they had. He had no one helping him. He isn't going to share his recipes and that's it. I knew for six months before they closed they were going to close and encouraged people, subtly, to buy all the McClellands they could. A few listened but most didn't. They have sold the building the factory was in, they are not going to take on any kind of apprentices, and they are not going to sell the recipes, etc. It's over.
 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
34,109
28,687
When I joined Forums in 2013, and McClelland was going strong, it was a continual favorite, which is why some Forums members still have big stashes of their products, so I don't think all the lamentation is just that they went out of business. It was a small mom and pop company that did remarkably good blends featuring best grade Virginias, and there is nothing just like them remaining. However, I agree that too much pining over them is annoying with so many excellent blends out there still. Find what you enjoy among the dazzling array still available. I have several tins of McC's left and intend to enjoy them too.
 

jyrreb

Member
Apr 6, 2019
134
1,424
If only I had picked up a pipe a couple years sooner...

I started in late 2017 and didn’t hone in my “cheap tobacco exploration” phase until after McClelland was gone. Having limited funds in college didn’t help the situation either. I’ve never tried a McC tobacco, likely never will. Cant miss what you never had...
 

mingc

Preferred Member
Jun 20, 2019
1,737
4,087
US Pacific NW
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.
Of course not. As Heraclitus, that great Zen philospher said, "No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." Erinmore today is not the same as Erinmore of yore. Nor too Escudo, Bengal Slices, Nightcap, Three Nuns, etc., ad infinitum They're facsimiles, simulacrums, imitations, what have you. But just because they're not exactly the same doesn't mean they're meaningless. New can actually be better than old. It happens all the time. Thanks to the Japanese and the Germans, cars no longer have to be tinkered every day to keep running. The internet is full of rubbish, but you can find out things almost instantaneously today that even just 25 years ago would have taken you weeks or months in the library. We live longer than our ancestors thanks to modern medicine. There is no reason why new blends can't be better than old. I actually prefer the STG Durbar over the Murray's. The McNiels seem to think what they did cannot be reproduced or improved upon, so they won't pass their knowledge to someone else to give them the opportunity. I think they are at best, simply mistaken, and at worst, arrogant. So be it. The best is yet to come.
 
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krizzose

Preferred Member
Feb 13, 2013
1,870
5,602
Michigan
I managed to acquire a respectable stash of my 3 favorite McClelland blends before the news got out. I tend to hoard it, but a few months ago I decided to stop worrying about it, and smoke it when I want to. When it's gone, it's gone, and I'll enjoy every bowl. I've got a bunch of other stuff I like just as much.

That being said, I'll trade for Navy Cavendish and Classic Samsun ;)
 

cigrmaster

Preferred Member
May 26, 2012
17,064
29,581
63
Sarasota Florida
I'd be more worried if K&K went away, since K&K make both of these formerly independent British made blends.
I know K&K makes all of Wessex and Astleys which is why I would be nervous if I were still buying. It is a freeing feeling to have my cellar all done up and I don't need anymore tobacco. There are still lots of blends that are worthy to be in my cellar which I bought a few years ago. Things like Curly Block, Salty Dogs, Savinelli Doblone d'Oro to name a few. Old Dark Fired ages very nicely as well as GL Pease Navigator. The Navigator with 8 years is quite tasty. The Kentucky really smoothed out and is a fine blend. I have a number of blends that I am aging and soon enough they will make it into my rotation. I have so much aged tobacco I can just let it sit until it becomes 6 plus years old.
The Capstan Gold Ready Rubbed is a great blend first in the morning. I have a couple of pipes that I smoke that blend in. They are both a group 6-ODA. One is a Rad Davis the other is a Brian Ruthenberg. Both smoke it really well. That was pretty cool that SP found 2013 tins in their warehouse.

I almost forgot I am aging 100 tins of St Bruno Flake. I bought it as soon as it came out and buried it in my closet I haven't looked at it in years. I have no idea when I bought it but I figure I will start cracking tins when they hit the 8-10 year mark. I am really looking forward to seeing how it has aged.
 

sablebrush52

Preferred Member
Jun 15, 2013
13,105
14,611
SoCal
jrs457.wixsite.com
Of course not. As Heraclitus, that great Zen philospher said, "No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." Erinmore today is not the same as Erinmore of yore. Nor too Escudo, Bengal Slices, Nightcap, Three Nuns, etc., ad infinitum They're facsimiles, simulacrums, imitations, what have you. But just because they're not exactly the same doesn't mean they're meaningless. New can actually be better than old. It happens all the time. Thanks to the Japanese and the Germans, cars no longer have to be tinkered every day to keep running. The internet is full of rubbish, but you can find out things almost instantaneously today that even just 25 years ago would have taken you weeks or months in the library. We live longer than our ancestors thanks to modern medicine. There is no reason why new blends can't be better than old. I actually prefer the STG Durbar over the Murray's. The McNiels seem to think what they did cannot be reproduced or improved upon, so they won't pass their knowledge to someone else to give them the opportunity. I think they are at best, simply mistaken, and at worst, arrogant. So be it. The best is yet to come.
I certainly hope that you're correct about the best being yet to come. I'm tasting the opposite, as a variety of blends are getting cut with cheaper components to increase profits.

And I don't agree with your assessment regarding the McNeils and I get the impression that it's based on a lack of knowledge.

First off, McClelland was their creation. The various blends were largely the work of Mary McNeil and the processing largely the literally backbreaking work of Mike McNeil. It was their company, not yours, nor mine, nor anyone else's. And their decision regarding what to do with it is theirs and theirs alone. They don't owe you, or me, or anyone, diddlysquat.

Not everything is objectively quantifiable, or at least easily so. You can't take Mike's instinct for picking tobaccos to use and how to process them and turn all of it into a formula. There is an artistry to it, just as there's an artistry to Hans' HU blends, or Per with Macbaren, or Greg Pease with his blends, and it's not something that can be copied like a toilet seat. And it's not something that can be taught.

In my own arcane way I have analogous experience. I was, for about 20 years, a matte painter for live action films. When I started in the late '70's there were maybe 25-30 people worldwide who were considered capable of successfully and consistently carrying out this work. The skill of creating a painting that could be taken through any of a number of different photo/chemical processes to end up looking like photographic reality when projected onto a 30 to 50 foot screen cannot be taught. I tried, many times for over a decade of teaching.

One had to have the innate instinct, talent, call it what you will, some wiring in one's brain that enabled one to foresee how the image would develop through the process, an instinct that few people have. If you had the instinct it could be honed. Without that peculiar instinct, forget it. But even with this tiny target to hit, artists contributed something uniquely individual to those photographically "real" images. It's a personality that can be a little lacking with today's amazing digital imaging technology.

So nobody is going to reproduce McClelland blends because the instinct will be different, even if the same components are available (which they are not). If someone comes along with something "better" then give it a new and unique name, rather than use someone else's.
 

jpberg

Preferred Member
Aug 30, 2011
1,600
2,387
I certainly hope that you're correct about the best being yet to come. I'm tasting the opposite, as a variety of blends are getting cut with cheaper components to increase profits.

And I don't agree with your assessment regarding the McNeils and I get the impression that it's based on a lack of knowledge.

First off, McClelland was their creation. The various blends were largely the work of Mary McNeil and the processing largely the literally backbreaking work of Mike McNeil. It was their company, not yours, nor mine, nor anyone else's. And their decision regarding what to do with it is theirs and theirs alone. They don't owe you, or me, or anyone, diddlysquat.

Not everything is objectively quantifiable, or at least easily so. You can't take Mike's instinct for picking tobaccos to use and how to process them and turn all of it into a formula. There is an artistry to it, just as there's an artistry to Hans' HU blends, or Per with Macbaren, or Greg Pease with his blends, and it's not something that can be copied like a toilet seat. And it's not something that can be taught.

In my own arcane way I have analogous experience. I was, for about 20 years, a matte painter for live action films. When I started in the late '70's there were maybe 25-30 people worldwide who were considered capable of successfully and consistently carrying out this work. The skill of creating a painting that could be taken through any of a number of different photo/chemical processes to end up looking like photographic reality when projected onto a 30 to 50 foot screen cannot be taught. I tried, many times for over a decade of teaching.

One had to have the innate instinct, talent, call it what you will, some wiring in one's brain that enabled one to foresee how the image would develop through the process, an instinct that few people have. If you had the instinct it could be honed. Without that peculiar instinct, forget it. But even with this tiny target to hit, artists contributed something uniquely individual to those photographically "real" images. It's a personality that can be a little lacking with today's amazing digital imaging technology.

So nobody is going to reproduce McClelland blends because the instinct will be different, even if the same components are available (which they are not). If someone comes along with something "better" then give it a new and unique name, rather than use someone else's.
So for the record, you still vote no?
 

mingc

Preferred Member
Jun 20, 2019
1,737
4,087
US Pacific NW
I certainly hope that you're correct about the best being yet to come. I'm tasting the opposite, as a variety of blends are getting cut with cheaper components to increase profits.

And I don't agree with your assessment regarding the McNeils and I get the impression that it's based on a lack of knowledge.

First off, McClelland was their creation. The various blends were largely the work of Mary McNeil and the processing largely the literally backbreaking work of Mike McNeil. It was their company, not yours, nor mine, nor anyone else's. And their decision regarding what to do with it is theirs and theirs alone. They don't owe you, or me, or anyone, diddlysquat.

Not everything is objectively quantifiable, or at least easily so. You can't take Mike's instinct for picking tobaccos to use and how to process them and turn all of it into a formula. There is an artistry to it, just as there's an artistry to Hans' HU blends, or Per with Macbaren, or Greg Pease with his blends, and it's not something that can be copied like a toilet seat. And it's not something that can be taught.

In my own arcane way I have analogous experience. I was, for about 20 years, a matte painter for live action films. When I started in the late '70's there were maybe 25-30 people worldwide who were considered capable of successfully and consistently carrying out this work. The skill of creating a painting that could be taken through any of a number of different photo/chemical processes to end up looking like photographic reality when projected onto a 30 to 50 foot screen cannot be taught. I tried, many times for over a decade of teaching.

One had to have the innate instinct, talent, call it what you will, some wiring in one's brain that enabled one to foresee how the image would develop through the process, an instinct that few people have. If you had the instinct it could be honed. Without that peculiar instinct, forget it. But even with this tiny target to hit, artists contributed something uniquely individual to those photographically "real" images. It's a personality that can be a little lacking with today's amazing digital imaging technology.

So nobody is going to reproduce McClelland blends because the instinct will be different, even if the same components are available (which they are not). If someone comes along with something "better" then give it a new and unique name, rather than use someone else's.
I've heard the McNiels' story many, many time times over. The effect on me is that that it becomes more and more a fairy tale every time I hear it.

When someone claims knowledge or skill that that can't be passed on, I think that that person doesn't understand that skill and knowledge enough to do so. It's like me and my handful of languages that I know enough to ask for the restroom and the price of an item. I can speak it but not enough to teach my kids.

To think that the McNiels can't teach someone to equal or better them smacks of gnotism and claims of arcane and occult knowledge. I..e, you can't teach something that cannot be understood. I simply refuse to take that proposition seriously.
 
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Kilgore Trout

Senior Member
Nov 5, 2019
494
3,712
i get it that they worked hard & it was their passion, and they don't owe us anything, etc., but here's the thing; how many times have we all heard an interview where the same story was repeated... we were working on blend X and no matter what we did, no matter how hard we tried we just couldn't figure it out. So Mary went to the library and researched how it was done, once she had that knowledge we tried again and VOILA!

Yeah, so just imagine if the people who had invented those tobacco processes had the attitude that the McNeils have and said, "hey, you know what? This is my proprietary process and F everyone else, I'm not going to share my knowledge."

Nobody operates in a vacuum, the McNeils certainly didn't, they gleaned their knowledge from the hard work of others, who understood this fact and were wise and generous enough to share the fruits of their labor so that others who were equally passionate about the tobacco process wouldn't have to start from zero.

I understand that they didn't want to sell the brand or recipes and see them diminished, but to refuse to even share the process, the unique way they processed their VAs, so that some other passionate proto-McNeils could learn from it, and expand on it, and hopefully create the next "McClelland" is a selfish, D**K move. Sorry, but it just is.
 

skydog

Senior Member
Jun 27, 2017
449
485
I thought I heard that the Govt changed the way tobacco auctions worked, so you couldn't go the grower direct and get the A+ leaf anymore.

The US government was actually the buyer of last resort, so if a farmer's crops didn't sell at auction or didn't meet the criteria for their contract then the government would buy the crop. When they ended that program more and more farmers would only grow tobacco when they had a contract with a major manufacturer, usually for cigarettes. There is still a small portion of tobacco grown each year that isn't to fulfill a contract or that doesn't meet quality requirements or exceeds quantity required of the contract that is sold in auction. But it's easier and safer to just grow tobacco for the cigarette manufacturers since it can be machine harvested vs hand picked and you know your crop will sell as long as the quality is high enough.
 

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