Would McClelland Sell Their Recipes and Methods?

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sablebrush52

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If you guys want to continue arguing debating, I'll gladly switch sides. As long as I don't have to say that the Sutliff stuff is anywhere near McClelland level of goodness... ha ha!
I don't believe Sutliff expected that it would be. The purpose was to create a blending base that would offer a similar flavoring component when combined with other tobaccos. I like the Sutliff product on its own, but it's not 5100. Then again, I like 5100 as a base, but not as a straight smoke.
 

sablebrush52

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In a sense, no blend remains the same for more than a few years, since the soil, weather, and growing conditions change even if the tobacco is sourced from the same farms, and especially if it isn't. The secret sauce of the McClelland brand wasn't the recipe or even the sourcing but the special sauce of the blenders who doted over their creation like a child. Could the brand be licensed and recreated under some of the same blend names? Sure. Would it be the same blend? Nope. And ... you can bet that the old timers who remember the originals would never taste them the same. Like, change is an inherent part of life and everything else. It's not a conspiracy, it's the way the universe works. Shopping for blends is like shopping for produce; find out what's good this week.
Blending houses often make up blends using components that are themselves blends of several years of crops in order to reduce the variation from year to year.
That said, blends change over time.
 

kcghost

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Mike supposedly said to someone some time that it would take $10M to get him to sell the recipes. It would take quite a while to recoup that investment. At times we talk about Mike too much. Mary is every bit as important to their success if not more so. Mike has said many times that her palate was so refined that he never released a new product without her okaying the blend.
 

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anotherbob

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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.
You know what I love about those matte paintings is how once you find out about them you start noticing them in so many movies from a certain time period. It's weird how obvious they really become, but what is really weird is how it actually often improves the scene. It's like the good version of when you find out how they film scenes inside of cars (excluding the times the drivers motions don't match the scene that's just great, you can pretend it's a self driving car and the wheel is more like the key in a windup toy). Seriously though those matte paintings are impressive even if you're not so into photorealism in art.
 

Worknman

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There's a bit a whispering and speculation a re-release of Frog Morton all because of that recent Instagram page and the pictures of the frog label, and especially because GL Pease is "following" (whatever that means).
Maybe GLP is his new apprentice 🤣
 
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sablebrush52

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You know what I love about those matte paintings is how once you find out about them you start noticing them in so many movies from a certain time period. It's weird how obvious they really become, but what is really weird is how it actually often improves the scene. It's like the good version of when you find out how they film scenes inside of cars (excluding the times the drivers motions don't match the scene that's just great, you can pretend it's a self driving car and the wheel is more like the key in a windup toy). Seriously though those matte paintings are impressive even if you're not so into photorealism in art.
I almost always spot a matte painting. Most people don’t.
It was a very tricky thing to pull off. If you painted too realistically the result looked fake. You needed to understand how a lens and an emulsion reacted to light. You needed to be able to compensate for the color response of a specific film type even a specific batch. Film didn’t record color accurately so you had to be able to calculate what color to paint to get the color you needed on the film. You had to know how an emulsion’s H&D curve would alter values. You needed to understand how a lens and a film emulsion would record a mark or texture. And you just had to have the ability to KNOW how all these variables, not to mention processing, in the lab, in the FX studio, etc would further alter the image. And your painting technique needed to take all this into account. That’s just the beginning.
Nobody who has not done this can possibly have a clue what is involved. The great matte painters were born with that wiring and experience honed that inborn talent.
And it’s a reality that extends across many disciplines. The exceptional have a gift that can be developed. But the gift needs to be present.
 

condorlover1

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Relaunching a tobacco blend is the most thankless task known to mankind. Don't believe me? Just ask Woodsroad and myself. You can analyze the stuff, run it through a mass spectrometer, compare it to every sealed, fresh surviving sample and you will never satisfy everyone. Tobacco changes, the climate changes, the machinery used in its composition changes. There exists 100 different variables. You cannot produce an exact copy of something made by a manufacturer in 1960, the best you can hope for is a 90+% match with a similar flavor profile. Even if you get the topping correct and the FDA still allows the use of components in the topping there will always be some 'Cheese Label' collector/purist who will defame the shit out of you and call you a profiteer. There is an old saying that says 'If you invent a better mouse trap the world will beat a path to your door. This is not true. The world will burn your house down'! Even assuming you make it that far you still have to send it out for blind tasting and review. A big thank you to sable brush for organizing that one for us five odd years ago, that before the blend is handed over to Jim Inks to run a comparative taste of the new verses the original. Never again!
 

chasingembers

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Nov 12, 2014
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Wait until the mcneil's estate sells the name to Sutliff and they reintroduce "McClelland 5100" and the young hipsters go gaga over it. It's just a matter of time. But maybe I'm just bitter over the current "Balkan Sobranie"
After Sutliff tried to capitalize on McC's closing by posting this list the day after the closing announcement, I doubt we'll see that happen.

20210508_100605.jpg
 

saltedplug

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Aug 20, 2013
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Two things that MC did with their VAs that others don't do
that resulted in more flavor:

1. Subject the bales in the warehouse to a "summer sweat(s)" in an unregulated temperature environment.
2. Used vinegar to further break down the tobacco, which was widely misunderstood and the subject of endless complaints. I've still seen this in the last several months.
 

anotherbob

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I almost always spot a matte painting. Most people don’t.
It was a very tricky thing to pull off. If you painted too realistically the result looked fake. You needed to understand how a lens and an emulsion reacted to light. You needed to be able to compensate for the color response of a specific film type even a specific batch. Film didn’t record color accurately so you had to be able to calculate what color to paint to get the color you needed on the film. You had to know how an emulsion’s H&D curve would alter values. You needed to understand how a lens and a film emulsion would record a mark or texture. And you just had to have the ability to KNOW how all these variables, not to mention processing, in the lab, in the FX studio, etc would further alter the image. And your painting technique needed to take all this into account. That’s just the beginning.
Nobody who has not done this can possibly have a clue what is involved. The great matte painters were born with that wiring and experience honed that inborn talent.
And it’s a reality that extends across many disciplines. The exceptional have a gift that can be developed. But the gift needs to be present.
one of the tricks for me is honestly thinking those mountains are too pretty and perfectly match the tone of the scene too well. You're kind of reminding me of mixing music and how you have to think about the fact it's going to be played on this little device with tin sounding ear plugs and it's going to be played on a hifi stereo system and everything in between. And then figure out how to both get it to sound like the same music and also sound good or expressive (depending on the track) and how nearly impossible it is to explain this to people even people how have done more producing and mixing. And then how much easier it is to do that for more simplistic music and how every single sound effect or instrument you add makes it way more complicated. Especially when you have to explain why it sounds great but you're still not happy with it. And then it's not just understand how sound is propagated but also psychoacoustics (which is a delightful term even if it just means how the brain process sound input from the ears through the nervous system into perceived sound). And like I said before it's pretty easy to pull off for a rock album with four or five instruments that have already been played by four or five guys in various environments for a while compared to something more symphonic and experimental. I guess what I am saying is because of the hobbies I have I can get what you're saying even though my paintings don't even approach anything nearly as crafty or artistic as what you've done.
Oh and often the clouds and the light are a big hint as they don't move no matter how many takes it's gone through. :) "wait that cloud is the same cloud in the same place through that whole conversation (might be a short conversation but).
 
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anotherbob

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Two things that MC did with their VAs that others don't do
that resulted in more flavor:

1. Subject the bales in the warehouse to a "summer sweat(s)" in an unregulated temperature environment.
2. Used vinegar to further break down the tobacco, which was widely misunderstood and the subject of endless complaints. I've still seen this in the last several months.
that is a great point. There are so many little factors that go into making a tobacco or wine or coffee what it is. Example didn't people at one point think they could replicate the cigars that came out of cuba? And sure they made stuff I personally like better then any Cuban I've had (long story how I smoked some top of the line ones) but not the same. So it might not even be a matter of technique but a matter of conditions that can not be replicated.
 

fireground_piper

Senior Member
Jan 30, 2020
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Two things that MC did with their VAs that others don't do
that resulted in more flavor:

1. Subject the bales in the warehouse to a "summer sweat(s)" in an unregulated temperature environment.
2. Used vinegar to further break down the tobacco, which was widely misunderstood and the subject of endless complaints. I've still seen this in the last several months.
The summer sweats I imagine is a notable one and something a lot of companies just don't have the time for. It's extra expense to hold onto stock and rotate bales around.
 
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sablebrush52

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Oh and often the clouds and the light are a big hint as they don't move no matter how many takes it's gone through. :) "wait that cloud is the same cloud in the same place through that whole conversation (might be a short conversation but).
Not in my landscapes. I split off the sky into sections and painted ranks of clouds that could be panned at different rates. Plus I could use forms of interruption masks to mimic the look of tree leaves rustling in a breeze or water sparkling on the surface of a lake. I always had movement animating in some subtle way to take the curse of stillness from the painting if the painting was the focus. If there's action being staged inside the painting, the painting must integrate with it, which might include interactive lighting passes like lightning flashes through a window illuminating the study of a haunted mansion that's not been built as a set.
And you rarely get a lot of time to figure this out, mostly two to three days to design, paint, make elements, wedge test, and get it in the can. The person who said that "Rome wasn't built in a day." wasn't a matte painter.
 

anotherbob

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Not in my landscapes. I split off the sky into sections and painted ranks of clouds that could be panned at different rates.
I've seen that before. The funny thing is now when I see it I'll ask if it was you that made that one.
Plus I could use forms of interruption masks to mimic the look of tree leaves rustling in a breeze or water sparkling on the surface of a lake. I always had movement animating in some subtle way to take the curse of stillness from the painting if the painting was the focus.
I've seen that too. And it reminded me of the cave paintings I had that dream about where the fires flicker created animation (there is a documentary that came out that features these cave paintings, hosted by the glorious mad man Warner Herzog).
If there's action being staged inside the painting, the painting must integrate with it, which might include interactive lighting passes like lightning flashes through a window illuminating the study of a haunted mansion that's not been built as a set.
And you rarely get a lot of time to figure this out, mostly two to three days to design, paint, make elements, wedge test, and get it in the can. The person who said that "Rome wasn't built in a day." wasn't a matte painter.
it be a different story if movies didn't cost so much and have to schedule around so many different people. I've always said it's amazing that any movies actually get made.
 

anglocatholicpiper

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Jun 27, 2016
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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.
If this is truly the McC perspective, it’s quite sad; both for those of us who enjoyed it, and for the makers who created it to be enjoyed.
 
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