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