Would McClelland Sell Their Recipes and Methods?

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chasingembers

Captain of the Black Frigate
Nov 12, 2014
27,834
38,284
it’s quite sad for the makers who created it to be enjoyed.
Not at all, Mike and Mary are pursuing interests that they didn't have time to enjoy while producing tobacco.

Many blends and companies have disappeared since I started smoking in the early '90s. If you enjoy them, buy as much as you can when you can.
 

chasingembers

Captain of the Black Frigate
Nov 12, 2014
27,834
38,284
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.



From Mike McNiel

-"McClelland buys and ages their leaf in their storage building in the state of North Carolina for three to five years. During this period of time there occurs a natural "sweating" of the high sugar content leaf.
The next step is to ship the aged leaf to their factory in Kansas City where it is pressed and further aged in cake form for a period of time. Than it is further aged, in their tins, for one to two years before shipping to retailers.
The aroma, or imagined taste, is in reality a natural fermentation that takes place during this entire ageing process. Their tobaccos are of the best of high grade and quality with a very high sugar content, which enables this "natural" process to occur."

From Greg Pease

-"Many have commented on the "ketchup" odor of certain Virginia blends, the result of vinegar produced during fermentation. (I always noticed a pronounced "dill pickle" aroma in the old Sullivan Powell’s Gentleman’s Mixture.) Do tobacco processors and blenders use specifically chosen yeast, acetobacter or lactobacillus cultures to engender the results they want, or are they just letting nature take its course, as did the winemakers, brewers and bakers of old? Has anyone ever tried using Dekkera/Brettanomyces to produce a "Belgian" style pressed Virginia flake?
Pease: Personally, I’ve never quite been able to grok the "ketchup" thing. Certainly, there are some tobaccos that exhibit an acetic aroma, and with some expansion of the imagination, I might be able to find something akin to BBQ sauce on occasion, or perhaps Branston Pickle, but not ketchup. I’ve even gone so far as to open a bottle of ketchup and compare its aroma side-by-side with that of the most infamous of "ketchup" tobaccos, and I still don’t get it. I think people confuse their condiments, sometimes. Next thing you know, it’ll be mustard, and arguments will ensue over whether it’s Dijon or yellow.
More seriously, you’re right in that fermentation is the cause of this notable aroma, whatever someone may choose to call it. To the best of my knowledge, blending houses don’t inoculate their tobaccos with specific microflora in order to get these effects, but rely on the wild yeasts and bacteria that are present in their environment. One one occasion, I managed to recreate a similar effect, albeit accidentally, so I’m quite sure it’s not the result of any sort of additives; just the natural process that tobacco goes through under certain controlled conditions.
I like the idea, though, of using specific saccharomyces to excite fermentation in a tobacco. It might make for an interesting red ale. And, from the trivia department, the aging of tobacco was once referred to as lagering. Maybe beer and tobacco are linked more closely than we know."
 

oldgeezersmoker

Preferred Member
Oct 7, 2016
2,297
4,582
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.
Mary was the widow of Carl Ehwa, who with another Kansas City individual was the founder of McC. Mary did a lot of the archival research, and dug up most, if not all, of the photography for The Book of Pipes and Tobacco by Carl Ehwa, a glorious work available from out of print book dealers for not all that much money. McClelland was pretty special before Mike became an (early, and soon key, after Carl’s accident left him brain damaged) employee.

Things might have been different in another universe. But the reality in this one was that McClelland never was able to command very much, if any, of a premium in price relative to other pipe tobacco products. The home run they hit with Frog Morton was the exception, and it didn’t spill over as much as it should have. For years after it’s introduction, I could always count on finding.5 year old or more tinned Virginia’s on the shelves of tobacconists when I was traveling.

Maybe, if they had been able to get a significantly better wholesale price, they might have been able to train younger employees. Maybe they could have entered into long term contacts with farmers to grow and harvest tobacco to their specifications when the auction system started to disappear. But no. The last time I bought a 5 lb bag of bulk McClelland, it was cheaper, by a lot, than a 5 lb bag of any Dunhill bulk then available.

The only way they made it work was by doing so much work themselves, with a relative handful of good employees, and great relationships in the industry. I am just surprised their run lasted as long as it did. I sure hope they are enjoying their retirement, they earned it.

Oh, and with all due respect to @saltedplug, they didn’t pour vinegar on their tobacco. Anyone who has been to Kansas City and dined at Arthur Bryant’s knows otherwise😀
 

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renfield

Preferred Member
Oct 16, 2011
1,963
9,553
From Mike McNiel

-"McClelland buys and ages their leaf in their storage building in the state of North Carolina for three to five years. During this period of time there occurs a natural "sweating" of the high sugar content leaf.
The next step is to ship the aged leaf to their factory in Kansas City where it is pressed and further aged in cake form for a period of time. Than it is further aged, in their tins, for one to two years before shipping to retailers.
The aroma, or imagined taste, is in reality a natural fermentation that takes place during this entire ageing process. Their tobaccos are of the best of high grade and quality with a very high sugar content, which enables this "natural" process to occur."

From Greg Pease

-"Many have commented on the "ketchup" odor of certain Virginia blends, the result of vinegar produced during fermentation. (I always noticed a pronounced "dill pickle" aroma in the old Sullivan Powell’s Gentleman’s Mixture.) Do tobacco processors and blenders use specifically chosen yeast, acetobacter or lactobacillus cultures to engender the results they want, or are they just letting nature take its course, as did the winemakers, brewers and bakers of old? Has anyone ever tried using Dekkera/Brettanomyces to produce a "Belgian" style pressed Virginia flake?
Pease: Personally, I’ve never quite been able to grok the "ketchup" thing. Certainly, there are some tobaccos that exhibit an acetic aroma, and with some expansion of the imagination, I might be able to find something akin to BBQ sauce on occasion, or perhaps Branston Pickle, but not ketchup. I’ve even gone so far as to open a bottle of ketchup and compare its aroma side-by-side with that of the most infamous of "ketchup" tobaccos, and I still don’t get it. I think people confuse their condiments, sometimes. Next thing you know, it’ll be mustard, and arguments will ensue over whether it’s Dijon or yellow.
More seriously, you’re right in that fermentation is the cause of this notable aroma, whatever someone may choose to call it. To the best of my knowledge, blending houses don’t inoculate their tobaccos with specific microflora in order to get these effects, but rely on the wild yeasts and bacteria that are present in their environment. One one occasion, I managed to recreate a similar effect, albeit accidentally, so I’m quite sure it’s not the result of any sort of additives; just the natural process that tobacco goes through under certain controlled conditions.
I like the idea, though, of using specific saccharomyces to excite fermentation in a tobacco. It might make for an interesting red ale. And, from the trivia department, the aging of tobacco was once referred to as lagering. Maybe beer and tobacco are linked more closely than we know."
I’m glad the above was posted.

If someone wants to know what vinegar/acetic acid applied to tobacco is like check out Sutliff’s 515RC. Better yet, dump some vinegar on some leaf for yourself. Nothing at all like McClelland’s Virginia tin notes.
 

craig61a

Preferred Member
Apr 29, 2017
2,547
15,821
Orion Arm, Milky Way Galaxy
I’m glad the above was posted.

If someone wants to know what vinegar/acetic acid applied to tobacco is like check out Sutliff’s 515RC. Better yet, dump some vinegar on some leaf for yourself. Nothing at all like McClelland’s Virginia tin notes.
I have topped Red VA with apple cider vinegar. Nothing like McClelland. I sprayed enough on to moisten the top of the tobacco layer, mixed it, then stoved it on a cookie sheet for about an hour. After 6 months it had a noticeable apple cider vinegar note, not over powering though.

Bottom line - I didn't really feel it worth the effort. Didn't really seem to add/detract much to/from the tobacco.
 

anglocatholicpiper

Junior Member
Jun 27, 2016
87
94
40
Orlando, FL
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.
Wonderful thought. I really value this view of the discussion.
 

chasingembers

Captain of the Black Frigate
Nov 12, 2014
27,834
38,284
I think they are at best, simply mistaken, and at worst, arrogant.
After Mary's husband Carl's brain aneurysm and deterioration, she carried that memory on her shoulders as well as much of the company for over thirty years. More likely a need of closure when the best opportunity revealed itself.
 

georged

Preferred Member
Mar 7, 2013
2,982
1,871
What a shitshow.

The sort of crap being tossed around in this thread is nauseating.

Anyone, who for any reason whatsoever, calls Mike or Mary McNeill "arrogant", "selfish", or refers to their retirement as a "dick move" or similar, knows nothing.

Absolutely not a single solitary damn thing about the situation or circumstances which guided their decisions.

I do.

I could walk to their house from where I'm sitting right now, and have known them for decades.

Both are absolutely at the top of the list of people I've ever known regarding generosity, helpfulness, caring, and integrity. I could tell firsthand stories and incidents that you literally would not believe regarding those traits.

So, shit talkers and self-declared experts, please AT LEAST stick to subjects you actually know something about. The S/N ratio here is already abysmal enough.
 

balkisobrains

Preferred Member
Jun 27, 2016
1,279
87
That IG page is probably a total work, & that podcast was full of powdered drink mixture concerning a number of topics, & there are plenty of people out there who love to get all up in peoples business & start telling them what they "should" be doing, when really it's none of their business. Surprised that they didn't say something on that podcast like "So OK GUyZ, HurRy uP & dUmP alL yoUr MacLAnDS ASAP fOr a LoT leSs tHaN bEforeE, SiNce the "NEW MACLANDS!!!" Gong gErt RurLurseDDDD aNY time NoW+1+1omg+2...!!!" :rolleyes:
 

chasingembers

Captain of the Black Frigate
Nov 12, 2014
27,834
38,284
That IG page is probably a total work, & that podcast was full of powdered drink mixture concerning a number of topics, & there are plenty of people out there who love to get all up in peoples business & start telling them what they "should" be doing, when really it's none of their business. Surprised that they didn't say something on that podcast like "So OK GUyZ, HurRy uP & dUmP alL yoUr MacLAnDS ASAP fOr a LoT leSs tHaN bEforeE, SiNce the "NEW MACLANDS!!!" Gong gErt RurLurseDDDD aNY time NoW+1+1omg+2...!!!" :rolleyes:
Made me question buying from Country Squire again.
 

BlackSwampPiper

New member
May 9, 2021
25
142
Ohio
Probably not the best post to jump in on for a first post, but I thought that Country Squire handled it with “backhanded grace”. It was the equivalent of the southern “Bless your heart”. JD loves and respects Mike and Mary but was immensely disappointed at how it ended. What he expressed and how he did it was brutal respectful honesty that our generation will be marked by. Older generations either go brash and get written off or bury their disappointment deep down inside and move on.
 

logs

Preferred Member
Apr 28, 2019
1,773
4,754
Probably not the best post to jump in on for a first post, but I thought that Country Squire handled it with “backhanded grace”. It was the equivalent of the southern “Bless your heart”. JD loves and respects Mike and Mary but was immensely disappointed at how it ended. What he expressed and how he did it was brutal respectful honesty that our generation will be marked by. Older generations either go brash and get written off or bury their disappointment deep down inside and move on.
It was a very weird show, a mixture of fawning compliments and weepy accusations of betrayal.

I thought his main point was a fair one, (i.e. that McClelland could have been more straight-forward with their business customers to prepare them in advance for a lack of product). As for Mike McNeil's claim that there's no quality American leaf left, I don't really know enough to judge, but I can understand how that could be interpreted as a slam against the products of American blenders who remain in business.

Overall I thought the show was an embarrassing mess of emotion. They had a couple of good points to make; I'm just not sure why they needed to be made with so much hand-wringing.
 

sablebrush52

Preferred Member
Jun 15, 2013
13,105
14,613
SoCal
jrs457.wixsite.com
I thought his main point was a fair one, (i.e. that McClelland could have been more straight-forward with their business customers to prepare them in advance for a lack of product).
What more were they supposed to do? They let their dealers know months in advance so that they could inform their customers, while asking that it not be spread about, so that regular customers could stock up rather than the usual horde of speculators and wannabe scalpers. It wasn't exactly a secret. I knew they were closing months before the announcement.

I bought a few tins of this and that and stocked up on the 40th. I would have stocked up on that one, closing or no. Maybe I should have bought a few hundred tins with which to gouge people but that didn't occur to me.

Some people here have commented that they weren't informed by their B&Ms. Well, this effort involved human beings, so not perfect, nor consistent, and not the NcNeill's responsibility

People act like the NcNeils owe them and that's delusional.

I honestly do not see the benefit of rehashing this over and over. McClellands has been closed for 3 years. They worked their asses off for 40 years and provided many much loved blends. It's done, done, done.
 

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