Blog by Kenneth Lieblich
Beside all the venerable gentlemen in the long history of pipe smoking, I am a but newborn infant. I have only immersed myself in this wonderful hobby in the last few years, and one of things that especially rankles my ever-ravenous brain is learning about wonderful tobacco companies that no longer exist and no longer produce the tobaccos that become semi-mythic to those of us who have never tried them.
McClelland Tobacco Company is a perfect example of the sort of company that no longer exists – but I wish did. I am mildly obsessed with tobaccos from McClelland and I have only tried a couple of their blends — thanks to the kindness of fellow pipe smokers, particularly Steve. My opportunities to try these old tobaccos have been exceptionally few and far between. The one that always springs to mind for me was trying McClelland’s Anniversary blend (from 2002), some twenty years after its release. That was a magnificent experience.I recently came across a post about recreating their legendary Frog Morton tobacco. I wish I could find the post (but can’t), but I will do my best to do it justice here. I’ve never had the chance to try any of the original Frog Morton tobaccos – and there is no question of me affording the prices to buy old, original tins on the secondary market – so this is the best I can do.
This recreation is whimsically called “Ghost of Frog Morton” by its originator, and I was keen to blend it myself to see the results. Allow me, for a moment, to go off on a brief tangent about the name of McClelland’s original Frog Morton. As many of you will already know, Frogmorton (as one word) is the name of a village on the Great Road in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. It is in Eastfarthing and is not a town of any great significance, but reference is made to it twice in the Lord of the Rings: once in The Fellowship of the Ring, at the end of the Prologue, when it is displayed on a map of the Shire; and later in The Return of the King, when Tolkien writes:
“As evening fell they were drawing near to Frogmorton, a village right on the Road, about twenty-two miles from the [Brandywine] Bridge. There they meant to stay the night; The Floating Log at Frogmorton was a good inn. But as they came to the east end of the village they met a barrier with a large board saying NO ROAD; and behind it stood a large band of Shirriffs with staves in their hands and feathers in their caps, looking both important and rather scared.”Many books about Middle-Earth include minor references to Frogmorton, including Day’s A Tolkien Bestiary, Fonstad’s The Atlas of Middle-Earth, Foster’s The Complete Guide to Middle-Earth, Hammond and Scull’s The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion, Strachey’s Journey’s of Frodo, and Tyler’s The Tolkien Companion – among others.
Back to the tobacco: it is a Virginia-Latakia mix. On the original tins, Frog Morton is described as “An exceptionally rich, smooth and dark Latakia mixture for the pipe”. Well, I love Latakia and Virginia, so this resurrected “Ghost of Frog Morton” should be a winner for me.The procedure to make it couldn’t be easier, and it is certainly worth a try. To begin, I ordered the ingredients from my preferred tobacco merchant. The two components of this blend are Peter Stokkebye English Luxury PS 17 and Lane Limited HGL. I ordered four ounces of each, figuring that half-a-pound would be good enough to start with and share with friends.I emptied the contents of the two tobacco bags into a large, glass salad bowl – incurring raised eyebrows from my beloved wife. I took several minutes to thoroughly mix the tobaccos together. I did not want hidden chunks of one tobacco or another persisting in this blend. With gloved hands, I mixed and separated and tossed and blended and turned over all eight ounces. I hummed and hawed for some time about how to store it. Normally, I cellar tobaccos in Mason jars in two-ounce increments. However, I wanted to keep this batch all together, so I used a canning funnel and put it all in one large Mason jar.Voilà – my first quasi-blending! I obviously don’t have the real Frog Morton to compare it too, but reports suggest that it is a very good imitation of the original. I’m going to let it sit for a while and I’ll get back to you all once I’ve tried it.I hope you enjoyed reading this brief tale of bringing a classic tobacco back to life. If you are interested in my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.