McClelland Tobacco Company, Maker of Legendary Pipe Tobaccos, Closes Down
McClelland Tobacco, one of the most legendary names in pipe tobacco, is closing its doors after more than forty years in business. The company, which created some of the most popular pipe tobaccos in the world (Dark Star, Personal Reserve: Blackwoods Flake, Christmas Cheer, and Turkish Ribbon, to name a few), cited policy and regulatory changes as the dominant driver behind the company’s closure.
This is a huge blow to pipe lovers everywhere.
Mike and Mary McNiel, owners of McClelland, wrote the below letter to friends and customers on February 28th, 2018:
The McClelland Tobacco Company is closing after 40 years. We want to thank all the retailers and pipe smokers for their support and efforts to spread their appreciation of our pipe tobaccos, taking us from a very modest beginning in Grandpa McClelland’s basement in the Fall of 1977 to a company with a worldwide reputation for quality.
We have made our pipe tobaccos – Virginias, Oriental Mixtures, Aromatics, etc. – from the highest grades of leaf and strip tobaccos because of their basic richness and natural sweetness. That has been the beauty of McClelland and that is now the problem. We can no longer access tobacco of the quality we need. The time-honored, labor intensive processes at the farm are disappearing. The aging of leaf over several summers to mellow in “sweats” is largely a thing of the past. We need “old school” methods at every stage before manufacturing to make it possible for McClelland to draw from the leaf the flavors that have been our hallmark. Without the supportive infrastructure our government used to provide, a small company such as ours cannot continue. We might have limped along with lesser leaf but nobody would have been happy with the resulting products and we would have been ashamed of them.
We have sold down all the inventory that we have been able to produce with the finest leaf. We want to thank you, our customers, and thank our great employees/friends who have been so capable and conscientious and thank our leaf suppliers who have made extraordinary effort to search out the finest leaf possible for us for 40 years. We will miss McClelland and our daily contacts with our friends in the pipe community. We feel privileged to have been part of this wonderful world of the pipe for so long. The finest people we know have been and are pipe and tobacco people, and we hope to keep up our contacts as we move on to the next phase of life.
We wish everybody good luck and good fortune.
Mike and Mary McNiel
March 5, 2018 @ 4:54 pm
Wish we had had a heads up so we could stock up 🙂 … not really laughing … I will miss my 2015 more than I can say and have not found anything that comes close. Guess I’m back to the old Stokkebye Navy Flake standby – which is good but different. DANG IT!!
March 5, 2018 @ 4:56 pm
I’m not even a huge pipe smoker and honestly, I’m devastated.
Anyone reading want to drop a hint or two on the best places to stock up on McClelland?
March 5, 2018 @ 9:52 pm
Since my first Tin of your wonderful Virginia Tobacco I bought at the Tinder Box in Lennox Square Atlanta, GA. in 1978, I have enjoyed, and keep on hand #8, #14, #22, #24, #27 & MY go to MUST HAVE, NAVY CAVENDISH…….McClelland has never let me down!! I will miss you, and I have no clue how or with what I will replace my McClelland. Wish I had known, (been traveling) I would have stocked Up!!!
Mary, enjoy your next stage of your Journey through this thing we call Life; you certainly deserved it. Thank you for the years of relaxation, while sitting back and having wonderful Pipe Dreams with a bowl full of McClelland Tobacco!!!
March 6, 2018 @ 8:49 am
This is really shocking news indeed. My favorite tobaccos, the company I trusted for quality more than any other, shutting down. I wish they, or someone, would more fully explain the “policy and regulatory changes” referred to. However, after what are now decades of government persecution and media harassment of everything concerning tobacco, I suppose it’s not difficult to have a general idea. Man oh man, if I were to pick one tobacco company to save above all others it would be McClelland.
March 6, 2018 @ 9:09 am
Same. I simultaneously can and can’t believe it.
I also wonder how much demand for pipe tobacco in the last few decades has performed. My sense as a cigar smoker is that pipe smoking has had a dwindling audience for a while now. But I could be wrong and am open to correction there.
March 7, 2018 @ 12:06 pm
Amen to that!
March 8, 2018 @ 6:42 am
Wow this comes as a shock. The only tobacco I smoke is McClelland 2010. I haven’t found anything that comes close. Looks like it’s time to hang up the pipe for good.
March 11, 2018 @ 10:16 pm
You can find frog morton clellar/ on the town blends on ebay of course marked up on price on ebay 50g tins in the 30-40$ range and the 100g tins in the 60$ range. Wish you best of luck. Wasnt able to try this amazing blend due to my age birthday came a month too late for this awful event.. But I wish the best of luck to anyone else feeling sad because of this unfortunate event
March 13, 2018 @ 5:00 pm
I don’t suppose anyone like Lane or Sutliff would buy McClelland, and continue with thier blends???????? That would be too much to hope for. Frog Morton was my absoaute favorite…..
Gay Joe From Buffalo
March 26, 2018 @ 1:51 pm
Yet another victim on Corporatization in this once great land and world of earthly delights. The minions of persecution have succeeded in trampling yet another right of individuals to practice a pleasant pursuit. I, for one, will never relent to those who would stop me from being happy.
December 9, 2022 @ 3:29 am
Hey Joe, I’m from Buffalo, but haven’t lived there in years. I was a big fan of the Oriental blends from McClelland. Met Mary at a Tinder Box convention years ago. When and if I ever get back to Buffalo maybe we can talk pipes and tobacco over a slice or two of LaNova pizza!
April 10, 2018 @ 7:39 pm
I was in a state of shock when I first heard the official news of McClelland’s closing. Apparently no one wanted to make the kind of commitment to making the kinds of stellar tobaccos that McClelland manufactured. But I also have to remind myself, it is still early in the game and maybe some creative soul will figure out how to get the kinds of Red Virginias Mike & Mary insisted on from S. America or Africa.
April 16, 2018 @ 4:56 am
I’m a united Kingdom pipe smoker and am very sorry to hear this, McClellands Frogmorton and Deep hollow have been firm favourites of mine for many years. I will keep a little saved away in memory of a great blend.
April 17, 2018 @ 12:51 pm
My sense of loss is profound, truly akin to losing an old friend. I’d been an avid McClelland customer, as both retailer and consumer, since shortly after Carl and Mary established the brand. They made nothing I didn’t like, but their bulk #2020 and #2035 flakes were my personal mainstays, for which I’m sadly certain no substitutes are forthcoming. Moreover, I can’t shake the nagging dread of McClelland’s demise serving as the proverbial canary in the coal mine, a harbinger of worse things yet to befall the industry. Best to find my next new-favorites soon, I think, and stock up – way, way up.
April 18, 2018 @ 4:03 pm
Unfortunately another thing in my life that has/will disappear. I was deeply shocked when I received the news from McCranies. Fortunately, I do have a stash of McClelland’s “Red Cake” which I will cherish until it’s all gone.
May 16, 2018 @ 3:09 am
I was privileged to have been close friends with Carl and Maria from inception.
We took many evening rides in the Porsche to Weston, Missouri so that Carl could
walk the fields and be near his “tobacco plants”. We sat around the apartment Calabash’s filled with Charles Rattray’s Old Growrie and an occasional English cigarette dreaming and conceptualizing the brand.
I miss Carl dearly, RIP Old and Dear Friend.
My love to you Maria.
May 25, 2018 @ 9:20 am
33 yıl önce başladığım pipo sevdamı süsleyen McClelland 2015 bu harika tütünü bir daha içemeyecek miyim? Buna canım çok yanıyor. Hüzünlü günlerimde bana ne güzel bir yoldaştı. Sizleri emeğinizden dolayı seviyorum. Sevgiler Muğla TÜRKİYE
June 5, 2018 @ 12:58 pm
The saddest news in my 57 years as a pipe smoker.
I first experienced McClelland’s (in its preposterously fussy package) on a business trip to Illinois, around 1979. Immediately, I had my Pittsburgh tobacconist order it in.
McClelland’s consistently beat the best from Dunhill’s, Rattray’s and many other old brands, most long-gone. Mixtures 22 and 24 were unique in this world.
My stock is disappearing. Sad!
(Thank you, Mary, for the kind birthday gift some time in the early 1980s.)
June 14, 2018 @ 10:19 pm
I cant believe it! I am devastated and my heart is broken. I talked to Mary once to share my admiration for their tobacco and she was so nice and real! There will never be another brand like McClelland! Thank you Mike and Mary,we will miss you!
July 12, 2018 @ 2:35 am
Since McClelland has always been one of my favorite tobacco companies I am fortunate to have over 600 tins of various McClelland tobaccos in my tobacco cellar. I will miss the wait each year for Christmas Cheer to arrive. I have a good stock of Christmas Cheer going back to 1998. I am now 60 years old and I believe that I will have enough McClelland tobaccos to last me the rest of my life. I’m glad that I stocked up well over the years. I hope that everyone else did too.
March 12, 2019 @ 5:47 am
I can‘t believe that，try the other some place。I very like McClelland。