Frog Morton and the Curious Tins

L1000364.jpg Frog Morton collection ... Click image for larger file.

Frog Morton line of pipe tobacco … Click image for larger picture.

Frog Morton is a line of distinctive pipe tobaccos from McClelland Tobacco Company, of Kansas City. Among pipe tobacco aficionados, McClelland enjoys a deserved reputation as a purveyor of fine specialty or “boutique” tobaccos, such as their Frog Morton line, or the strong and aptly-named blend “Mississippi Mud”.

The History Channel did a 2006 special on Tobacco. You can always catch a re-run. They included a sequence on pipe tobaccos. History Channel singled out McClelland’s KC packaging facility and delightfully imaginative product line-up. I was pleased to see both the Frog Morton and Mississippi Mud brands featured.

The Frog Morton line consists of four blends (that I know of):

  • Frog Morton – “an exceptionally rich, smooth and dark Latakia mixture for the pipe”
  • Frog Morton on the Bayou – “Smooth and dark and calming, like the waters of the bayou, a relaxing Balkan blend”
  • Frog Morton on the Town – “An elegant, smooth Oriental blend”
  • Frog Morton Across the Pond – “A cool-smoking, fragrant blend enhanced with Syrian Latakia.”

It helps a little to de-code the descriptions in tobacconist jargon.

“Latakia” is a Syrian blend originally produced in the Syrian town of Latakia.  Dark black, earthy and strong, Latakia smells vaguely like a calamine preparation. Smoking it straight is usually considered over the top; it is a blending tobacco.

“Oriental” seems to refer to a quaint colonial notion of the British Empire that the orient consisted of the region of Turkey, Syria and such – what we today call the “Mideast”.

The “Balkans” refer to the mountains and peninsula of southeastern Europe, including Serbia and Turkey.

“On the Bayou” is heavily flavored with Louisiana Perique, a tobacco concoction prepared by soaking tobacco like rotting leaves in a puddle, until black, and then compressed, dried and flaked. The preparation is actually much like that of Latakia in the old world. The results is an earthier mixer. Used judiciously, it also makes for a pleasant and distinctive smoke.

I have used small quantities of Perique in my own earlier blends of “Alex’s Mix”. I also tried adding Latakia to the blend, but, finding the Latakia overpowers the Perique, ended up using only Latakia in my mix.

I find all of the Frog Morton line to be pleasant smokes, and generally will smoke one or the other as a dessert or after-dinner treat. I do prefer the original “plain” Frog Morton, which is not quite as complicated as others in the Frog Morton line, and probably will stick to this original Frog when re-ordering.

I don’t have the lingo to answer the tobacconist question “but what does it taste like?”  What does a honeydew melon taste like? At some point, you just have to buy one and try it. I can tell you that my own mixes (25% Latakia) are pleasant and medium-strong, sweet without a hint of artificial sweetness. and draw enthusiastic unsolicited compliments from perfect non-smoker strangers.

Of the four “Frog” blends, then, it being noted that I already lean toward a less complex Latakia-based blend, I find the Perique treatment interesting but a little out of balance for my palate and sense of smell (you can smell the Perique in the can). Of the Syrian and “Oriental” blends, I know much less, but for my taste the verdict is the same as for “On the Bayou” – interesting, but I still prefer the original Frog.

Frog Morton, then, would be stronger without being harsher, a pleasure to the very bottom of the bowl, a blend I could heartily recommend pipe smokers try when they are looking for something familiar but pleasantly different at the same time.

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Alex’s Mix No. 1 (2008)

 

2008 Tobacco Blend

Alex’s No. 1 mix has changed little over the last year and a half. I shared my blend with my good friend Al M. and he ordered his own. Al mistakenly cut the proportion of HS-3 from 32 ounces to 16, and we found that to be an excellent blend also. I am currently smoking a “half and half” mixture (24 oz. HS-3, everything else the same as 2006). We order tobaccos from the excellent Pipes and Cigars website. The returns still are not in – all three are excellent smokes. When you can change the proportion of the largest ingredient by that much, I think that speaks well for a winning blend!

Name (PipesandCigars.com) Code Qty Each
Lane Limited – BCA (by the ounce) bptlan05 8 1.35
Lane Limited – HS-3 (by the ounce) bptlan16 24 1.25
Altadis Bulk – Mild Burley – J4 (by the ounce) bptalt58 16 1.30
Blending Latakia Pipe Tobacco (1 pound) bptmcc45 1 29.10

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Tobaccos – 2

Notes and blends for favorite pipe tobaccos. My tastes are changing! Updated August 19, 2006

Alex’s No. 1 Mix (new) Five stars

My current order formula: 1 lb Medium Burley from Altadis, 1 lb Lane Limited BCA black cavendish, 1 lb Latakia blending pipe tobacco, and 2 lbs Lane Limited HS-3. I experimented with Perique, but went with the Latakia, which complements and defines the full flavor in a very satisfactory way. I am very happy with this mix and have stayed with it for over a year. I still order my bulk tobacco from Habana (PipesandCigars.com). Despite a respectable stock of other enjoyable blends mentioned on this page, I rarely smoke them.

Alex’s No. 1 Mix (old) 4.5 stars

I mix burley, black cavendish and HS-3 golden cavendish in a 1:1.25:2.5 blend (4:5:10). My current favorite. I am using Medium Burley from Altadis, Lane Limited BCA black cavendish, and Lane Limited HS-3. These fresh individual components beat bagged retail blends as mixers every day of the week, turning an “OK” mix into a prize.

Trout Stream 4oz. 3.5 stars

Eric’s Adirondack Series. This is a mixture of Golden Cavendish Slices mixed with a sweet Black Cavendish. Perfect for tying flies or stepping out of your tent on a cool misty morning.

My comments: Mild, no bite down to the bottom of the bowl. Not as robust as anything I mix, but a very pleasant flavor. Excellent aroma in the bag or in the smoke. Seems ideal for the first smoke of the day, or last of the evening. A real pleaser, this has twice been a reorder item. Source: store.pipesandcigars.com

Milk and Honey 2.5 stars

Scotty’s Blends. Another house favorite. Loaded with the finest black cavendish and a single malt highlight. Perfect for the cool night.

My comments: Moderately robust, flavored blend gets better as you smoke it. Mild nutty flavor. In the bag, a hint of an aroma like strawberry jam. Not sure what “single malt” means in the blended tobacco context. Possibly a bit much for my liking in a big bowl; might be perfect for a standard 3/4 bowl or a bantam. Source: store.pipesandcigars.com

LL 1Q 3 stars

Lane Limited. Golden Cavendish blend but with a hint of fire-cured blended in provides a scintillating taste and flavorful aroma.

My comments: Nice smooth taste, nice aroma. I keep this one around. Best smoked alone, as its subtle qualities will be lost in a reblend. Many find it bland, and I would not argue the point, but it is a pleasant “dessert” change once in a while. Source: store.pipesandcigars.com or paylesspipes.com.

LL RLP-6 3 stars

Lane Limited. Blended with just the right proportion of Golden Virginia and Burleys, the basic blend of Toasted Cavendish tobaccos gets better as you smoke it.

My comments: Lots of Toasted Cavendish gives a more robust flavor, nice aroma in the bag or pipe. Golden Virginia gives an interesting variety compared to golden cavendishes. Although I generally prefer the golden cavendishes, this one is kept on hand for an after dinner or special smoke. LL-7 is a better example of this genre. Source: store.pipesandcigars.com

LL-7 4 stars

Lane Limited. Lane LL-7 A majestic combination of toasted Cavendish enhanced with premium Burley and Virginias that provide zesty taste, enchanting aroma and an unsurpassed smoke.

My comments: This instantly became one of my favorites. Source: store.pipesandcigars.com

LL HS-3 (blender) 3.5 stars

Lane Limited. Aroma, one of the most important aspects of any pipe tobacco, is the paramount consideration in this blend of Golden Cavendish tobacco. Everyone within smelling distance loves it!

My comments: Sweet, aromatic, wonderful taste on the tongue. As aromatic as they claim. Excellent mixer, this is my staple source of Golden Cavendish. I have already been through a couple of pounds of this. Source: store.pipesandcigars.com or paylesspipes.com.

LL RHQ3 2.5 stars

Lane Limited. A unique blend of Golden Cavendish tobaccos with a touch of Mellow Burleys enhanced with a delicate nutty and fruity flavor for a distinctively pleasurable smoke.

My comments: A pleasant but bland mix. I seem to be leaning to more robust blends. LL-7 has replaced RHQ3 and even RLP-6 as favorite in this category. Source: store.pipesandcigars.com.

Altadis Medium Burley 2971051 (blender) 3.5 stars

Altadis Bulk Tobacco.

My comments: A great mixer. Much nicer in-the-bag aroma than generic bulk bought at places like Walgreen’s. This is an enjoyable smoke with a nice nutty natural flavor, the best of the straight burleys I have tried so far. Source: store.pipesandcigars.com.

Lane Limited Light Burley 2.5 stars

A straight mild burley, no bite, burns a little hot unless repacked, and has a nice mild flavor. A good palate cleanser after a diet of aromatics. For smoking variety, I am looking for the “right” straight burley and this is a candidate. Source: Cup O’ Joes

Walgreens Golden Burley (“Blender’s Gold”) 2 stars

This was mentioned in the pipe.org forum: “It has no bite and a decent, if not exciting flavor.” I have most of a bag of this left and will dip into it from time to time. Walgreen’s sells a line of decent, above-average and interesting mild blends, as retail tobaccos go.

Walgreens Mellow Blend (“Blender’s Gold”) 2.5 stars

I started with the Walgreens “Mellow Blend” and instantly left Walter Raleigh behind forever. Adventuresome smokers interested in purchasing custom blends from tobacco houses, or in blending their own from bulk, can do far better. But, for someone starting out, on a budget, or just wanting a decent smoke, the Walgreens 12 oz packagings under the “Blender’s Gold” house label are creditable, economical, and pleasant, reliable smoking.

HGB-2000 Burley & Black 2763051 2 stars

Altadis Bulk Tobacco. Source: store.pipesandcigars.com.

My comments: Promising. More robust. Flavorful. Lots of Black Cavendish. Nice aroma in bag. A little more bite. I liked this at first but find myself going to the other canisters.

R-18 “Danish Cavendish” 2.5 stars

Lane Limited. Perfect burning quality and rich flavor combine to form one of our most popular blends. dark and Light Cavendish tobaccos. Source: store.pipesandcigars.com.

My comments: another Cavendish mix from LL. It’s getting hard to express a preference between some of these mixes. Smokes nice even in a brand new Nording. Mild sweetness. Starts out pleasant but light at the beginning of the bowl, progressing to a rich complex near-robustness toward the end, with not a hint of bite or artificiality. Mild.

Alex Forbes © 2005. Last updated August 19, 2006

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Tobaccos – Notes and Blends

Notes and blends for favorite pipe tobaccos, January 2005.

Alex’s No. 1 Mix

I mix burley, black cavendish and HS-3 golden cavendish in a 1:1:2.5 blend. My current favorite. I am using the burley and black from “Blender’s Gold” (The Tobacco Center”) retail rack blender bags. These are OK but perhaps not premium. I am sure I could do better. At first I often started with the Tobacco Center “Burley and Black” or “Mellow Blend” packages as a base mix, adding HS-3 and ending up with roughly the same mix by trial and error.

Trout Stream 4oz.

Eric’s Adirondack Series. This is a mixture of Golden Cavendish Slices mixed with a sweet Black Cavendish. Perfect for tying flies or stepping out of your tent on a cool misty morning.

My comments: Mild, no bite down to the bottom of the bowl. Not as robust as anything I mix, but a very pleasant flavor. Excellent aroma in the bag or in the smoke. Seems ideal for the first smoke of the day, or last of the evening. A real pleaser, this will definitely be a reorder item. Source: store.pipesandcigars.com

Milk and Honey

Scotty’s Blends. Another house favorite. Loaded with the finest black cavendish and a single malt highlight. Perfect for the cool night.

My comments: Moderately robust, flavored blend gets better as you smoke it. Mild nutty flavor. In the bag, a hint of an aroma like strawberry jam. Not sure what “single malt” means in the blended tobacco context. Possibly a bit much for my liking in a big bowl; might be perfect for a standard 3/4 bowl or a bantam. Source: store.pipesandcigars.com

LL 1Q

Lane Limited. Golden Cavendish blend but with a hint of fire-cured blended in provides a scintillating taste and flavorful aroma.

My comments: Nice smooth taste, nice aroma. I would keep this one around. Best smoked alone, as its subtle qualities will be lost in a reblend. Source: store.pipesandcigars.com or paylesspipes.com.

LL RLP-6

Lane Limited. Blended with just the right proportion of Golden Virginia and Burleys, the basic blend of Toasted Cavendish tobaccos gets better as you smoke it.

My comments: Lots of Toasted Cavendish gives a more robust flavor, nice aroma in the bag or pipe. Golden Virginia gives an interesting variety compared to golden cavendishes. Although I generally prefer the golden cavendishes, this one would be good to keep on hand for an after dinner or special smoke. I will definitely stock it. Source: store.pipesandcigars.com

LL HS-3

Lane Limited. Aroma, one of the most important aspects of any pipe tobacco, is the paramount consideration in this blend of Golden Cavendish tobacco. Everyone within smelling distance loves it!

My comments: Sweet, aromatic, wonderful taste on the tongue. As aromatic as they claim. Excellent mixer, this is my staple source of Golden Cavendish. I have already been through a couple of pounds of this. Source: store.pipesandcigars.com or paylesspipes.com.

LL RHQ3

Lane Limited. A unique blend of Golden Cavendish tobaccos with a touch of Mellow Burleys enhanced with a delicate nutty and fruity flavor for a distinctively pleasurable smoke.

My comments: Nearly indistinguishable from my own 1:1:2.5 mix; I think I use a tad more HS-3 Cavendish. This, after all, is a Lane Limited blend. I could be very happy on a desert island with a 5 pound bag of this mix. Source: store.pipesandcigars.com.

Medium Burley 2971051

Altadis Bulk Tobacco.

My comments: bought as a mixer. Much nicer in-the-bag aroma than generic bulk bought at places like Walgreen’s. Source: store.pipesandcigars.com.

HGB-2000 Burley & Black 2763051

Altadis Bulk Tobacco. Source: store.pipesandcigars.com.

My comments: Promising. More robust. Flavorful. Lots of Black Cavendish. Nice aroma in bag. A little more bite. Needs to be smoked away from a biting cold wind, in order to get the aroma. Try this in Phoenix.

Alex Forbes ©January 21, 2005

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