McClelland Going Out of Business

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gkhanna74

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I was just browsing the older threads and saw this one. How depressing! No more 2015, 5100, st james woods, etc. i have tried a ton of stuff to replace 2015—peretti’s cambridge flake, watch city’s old dominion, etc—-but nothing quite matches it. What a great job McClellands did for many years.
 

RSteve

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What a great job McClellands (McNeils) did for many years.
Mike and Mary said that one of the reasons (perhaps, the main reason) they were shutting down was the unavailability of the tobacco they'd previously processed and blended. I still wonder why that tobacco disappeared and why another blender hasn't attempted "match" versions of the McClelland blends. I also find it difficult to understand why companies like SmokingPipes.com that purchased C & D didn't attempt to purchase the McClelland recipes.
 

Brewdude

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Mike and Mary said that one of the reasons (perhaps, the main reason) they were shutting down was the unavailability of the tobacco they'd previously processed and blended. I still wonder why that tobacco disappeared and why another blender hasn't attempted "match" versions of the McClelland blends. I also find it difficult to understand why companies like SmokingPipes.com that purchased C & D didn't attempt to purchase the McClelland recipes.

I remember reading that Mike stated that the types of 'baccy were becoming much harder to source, plus the methods used to produce the leaf were so very time consuming that it wasn't worth it for the farmers who were largely old and having no heirs to pass on the legacy to. Without those specific 'baccy types and methods it became an impossibility and Mike refused to compromise with lesser quality leaf and different methods.


Cheers,

RR
 

gkhanna74

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When I first heard that The McNeil’s were retiring, I thought they would sell the company’s blends/trade secrets to someone else—-perhaps a bigger firm (like Sutliff or STG) who would have enough buying power to keep those farmers around. But obviously, they did not sell the trade secrets/formulas, which is sad. For example, I appreciate that Kramer’s sold their blends to SP bc now Father Dempsey and other great blends live on
 

RSteve

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I remember reading that Mike stated that the types of 'baccy were becoming much harder to source, plus the methods used to produce the leaf were so very time consuming that it wasn't worth it for the farmers who were largely old and having no heirs to pass on the legacy to. Without those specific 'baccy types and methods it became an impossibility and Mike refused to compromise with lesser quality leaf and different methods. Cheers, RR
Do I believe that tale of woe and scarcity? I'm skeptical. It seems to say that all the other manufacturers are using inferior tobacco and multi-million dollar conglomerates like Altadis can't or won't put their resources into producing tobacco that's the equivalent of what the McNeils sourced. If Mark Ryan could save Louisiana perique, I tend to think that if C & D, MacBaren, etc. could source high quality leaf. But, then, perhaps McClelland production and sales were comparatively so small, there's no financially sound reason to revive the McClelland processes and blends.
Great shade Connecticut cigar leaf is grown in Ecuador. There's no reason superior Virginia leaf can't be grown in Central and South America.
 

Brewdude

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Do I believe that tale of woe and scarcity? I'm skeptical. It seems to say that all the other manufacturers are using inferior tobacco and multi-million dollar conglomerates like Altadis can't or won't put their resources into producing tobacco that's the equivalent of what the McNeils sourced. If Mark Ryan could save Louisiana perique, I tend to think that if C & D, MacBaren, etc. could source high quality leaf. But, then, perhaps McClelland production and sales were comparatively so small, there's no financially sound reason to revive the McClelland processes and blends.
Great shade Connecticut cigar leaf is grown in Ecuador. There's no reason superior Virginia leaf can't be grown in Central and South America.

All I can point to here is the unique quality of McC blends, particularly their ginny weeds. No other manufacturer was able to duplicate the ketchupy character of say 2015 or 5100. C&D did do a good job with their straight red ginny, but it wasn't a patch on McM.


Cheers,

RR
 

RSteve

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All I can point to here is the unique quality of McC blends, particularly their ginny weeds. No other manufacturer was able to duplicate the ketchupy character of say 2015 or 5100. C&D did do a good job with their straight red ginny, but it wasn't a patch on McM. Cheers, RR
There must be a rational and reasonable explanation why the major manufacturers have not replicated the process used in producing the "ketchupy character."
 

GtrSmoker

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There must be a rational and reasonable explanation why the major manufacturers have not replicated the process used in producing the "ketchupy character."
Have anyone who loved that given Sutliff’s bulk 515-RC Matured Red Virginia a go? I’m very fond of it, but my McLelland experience was very McMinimal.

Did Sutliff do a good job here, guys?
 

RSteve

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I have used Sutliff: 515 RC-1 as the red Virginia in almost all of my recent personal blends. I like it for what it is, but it's not really very close to McClelland 5100 Red Cake. While I occasionally would smoke straight 5100 for a change of pace, I have not done so with 515 RC-1.
On another forum, some time ago, I read that a contributor top dressed 515 RC-1 with a personally mixed "soup" and said he came up with a very close clone of 5100. I have no interest in attempting that.
 

ftrplt

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Many, many threads ago, we had extensive & in depth discussions about McC's Ginnyweed "quality control" and demanding product requirements. Most, if not all, of their Ginnyweed had to hand-pulled, or primed in tobacco parlance. This allows for selected leaf to be sorted and used for differing requirements/uses. Top, middle, and bottom leaf can be separated, mixed/combined, or ignored as the customer requires. This "priming" is work-intensive; I did this in my younger days as my family grew tobacco. We ended up with a 40 acre "allotment" years ago after the "Gummument" stuck their fat nose into our business!! Mike and Mary were losing their growers who were willing , at any price, to do this work. Much easier to machine-pick all the leaves and process them for market. I do not have any idea how the "C&D" folk acquire or process their tobacco.

Second, I'll just say that Sutliff's 515 RC-1 is a nice Ginnyweed; McC's 5100 it ain't in my opinion!!!

Thirdly, tobacco is a fun plant with which to experiment! Yes, tobacco seed may/can be grown in many places/many soils around the world. However, the end product will probably taste quite different. Virginia seed and tobacco originally was from "Virginia!" Over time, as folk moved to other parts of the country, Ginnyweed came to be grown in many places. North Carolina "Bright" is ginnyweed grown in the various tobacco "belts" in North Carolina, southern Va., and the northern edges of South Carolina. Then air-cured, flu-cured (wood and/or gas), sun-cured, etc. The taste of each is unique and will change a bit year-to-year as tobacco is a natural plant. What soil it grows in matters also. Ginnyweed may be grown in other parts of the States, South America, India, Indonesia, and Southern Africa. The European manufacturers get much of their leaf from sources outside the USA. One of my personal favorite Ginnyweeds is grown in Malawi. The soil there imparts a heavenly sweetness I truly enjoy. Georgetown Tobacco, for example, uses Malawi as a base ginnyweed in several of their English blends. FWIW, FTRPLT
 

RSteve

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Many, many threads ago, we had extensive & in depth discussions about McC's Ginnyweed "quality control" and demanding product requirements...
Great post:
Your discussion of priming is integral to the tobacco blending of cigars, as this is an essential process in cigar blending of long filler cigars. I am convinced, however, that if a major manufacturer of pipe tobacco saw significant profit in replicating the McClelland process and blends, they'd find a way to do it.

In cigars, one of my favorites for the past year has been A. Flores Desflorado which pertains to the wrapper leaf.
It's from a Connecticut plant that's been removed of its flower, seeds, and large parts of the entire upper portion of the plant. This causes the tobacco plant to redirect its strength and flavor to the remaining upper tobacco leaves. The product is a Connecticut wrapper with significantly more flavor than Connecticut or Connecticut shade.

I'd guess, without evidence, that there are other producers of pipe tobacco/Virginia that go through a priming process.

To be honest, I think the McNeils' unique tobaccos were as much a product of their casings and top flavorings.
 

ftrplt

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Dem upper leaves are the "good" ones. FTRPLT
 

GtrSmoker

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I have used Sutliff: 515 RC-1 as the red Virginia in almost all of my recent personal blends. I like it for what it is, but it's not really very close to McClelland 5100 Red Cake. While I occasionally would smoke straight 5100 for a change of pace, I have not done so with 515 RC-1.
On another forum, some time ago, I read that a contributor top dressed 515 RC-1 with a personally mixed "soup" and said he came up with a very close clone of 5100. I have no interest in attempting that.
I’ve enjoyed the 515 alone, but I’ve gotten into the habit of needing to have a little something extra with my various straight Virginias, whether it’s a little dark fired Kentucky, a pinch of perique, or even just plain old burley.

But I’ve found it a nice smoke on its own. This and Sutliff’s Crumble Kake Red Virginia (I think they’re basically the same thing) are the only tobaccos I’ve come across thus far that actually make my mouth water when smoking it. Just really nice zesty, tangy sweetness.

There have been some really great posts on this thread today. You guys are the kind of fellas I’d love to share a few bowls with someday. Maybe I’d learn something along the way.
 

RSteve

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...Sutliff’s Crumble Kake Red Virginia (I think they’re basically the same thing) are the only tobaccos I’ve come across thus far that actually make my mouth water when smoking it.
I think there's a basic similarity between Sutliff Crumble Cake Red Virginia and 515 RC-1, but as JimInks noted in a review of Crumble Kake Red Virginia, it seems to have a more pronounced fermented taste with a touch of vinegar. I think, depending on the tin you get, there is a closer profile to 5100 than you'd find with 515 RC-1. When blending I use 515 RC-1 because my blends are latakia dominant and the cost per ounce, for the quantity I purchase of 515 RC-1, is about $1.85, while Sutliff Crumble Cake Red Virginia at $11.70 for a 1.5 oz tin, comes out to $7.80 per oz.
 

GtrSmoker

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I think there's a basic similarity between Sutliff Crumble Cake Red Virginia and 515 RC-1, but as JimInks noted in a review of Crumble Kake Red Virginia, it seems to have a more pronounced fermented taste with a touch of vinegar. I think, depending on the tin you get, there is a closer profile to 5100 than you'd find with 515 RC-1. When blending I use 515 RC-1 because my blends are latakia dominant and the cost per ounce, for the quantity I purchase of 515 RC-1, is about $1.85, while Sutliff Crumble Cake Red Virginia at $11.70 for a 1.5 oz tin, comes out to $7.80 per oz.

You don’t get any of that vinegar with the 515? Because I certainly do.
 

scottbtdmb

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I haven’t had those Sutliffe blends mentioned above, but I will say that Watch City’s Simply Red or Rhythm & Blues scratch the itch when I need something with a McClelland like flavor. Their blender Ernie sources the red Virginia from Sutliffe and then does some additional processing which really brings out that tangy, vinegar note that I’ve always associated with McClelland Va’s. The only problem is that both Simply Red and R&B are only release several times a year, and you have to be quick on the draw to get them. I have been fortunate to grab about a pound of each, and from the limited aging my stock has gone through, I can only say that they are both heading in the right direction.
 

GtrSmoker

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I haven’t had those Sutliffe blends mentioned above, but I will say that Watch City’s Simply Red or Rhythm & Blues scratch the itch when I need something with a McClelland like flavor. Their blender Ernie sources the red Virginia from Sutliffe and then does some additional processing which really brings out that tangy, vinegar note that I’ve always associated with McClelland Va’s. The only problem is that both Simply Red and R&B are only release several times a year, and you have to be quick on the draw to get them. I have been fortunate to grab about a pound of each, and from the limited aging my stock has gone through, I can only say that they are both heading in the right direction.

it’d be interesting to compare those with the Sutliff matured red Virginia. As far as I’m concerned, it’s already got a lot of tang and a very vinegary tin (jar?) note. I’m not sure I’d like it much heavier.

But, again, I never had the pleasure of the McLelland process. I tried maybe two or three of their bulk offerings, but it was years ago. My understanding of (and appreciation for) tobaccos back then wasn’t very developed.

It’s still not. But compared with then? I’m like the Roger Ebert of tobacco compared to me back then.
 
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