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No 310 May 16, 2013

What’s the difference?
Which Cigar Case to choose.

A premium cigar is still considered to be one of the few true luxuries that is still affordable to most people.
As such, it is right to be selective and, when the cigar is yours, to treat it with respect and care.
Keep it properly humidified
Use a sharp-bladed cutter or punch to prepare it
And preferably a soft flame when you light it up – hold that Turbo well away from the foot or you will braai the leaves, ruining the first puff or two which should have been delightful.

But what should you use when you want to take one, two or three cigars away with you wherever you are going?

A zip-seal bag will do
Odd tubes will do
An empty box will do
But they won’t enhance the occasion; just as a plastic vessel will do, but won’t enhance that single malt or fine wine you may want to enjoy with the fine cigar.

You need a cigar case!
An item that has been specifically made for you to transport, and present, your cigar in the correct condition and with style.
So what should you look for in a cigar case?

Leather is still the preferred material, but for this purpose “soft & pliable” is not right.
The leather should be firm enough to protect the cigars;
Moulded grooves will hold the individual cigars in place;
A telescopic design accommodates different lengths;
A generous ring size accommodates different thicknesses;
The two halves should fit snugly together, closure should “whoosh” out extra air;
The inner lining shouldn’t snag or dry out the cigars - often soft goatskin;
The appearance should be a delight to the eye, and the feel to the hand;
Stream-lined design with rounded top and bottom, to ensure that the case will slip easily into a pocket;

Alternatives are:
Especially for extra-dry climates, a case with a cedar insert offers maximum protection and can be slightly damped to increase the humidity;
Chrome tube for a single cigar R195.00;
Metal cases, especially for thinner cigars R171.50;
A leather case with 2 glass tubes with belt loop – for trekking  R150.00.

We have cigar cases to cover all these options – at a variety of prices, for all budgets:
Basic Leather Model – from R240.00
Spanish Cedar Insert model – from R495.00
Dunhill Cases – from R1140.00

And the prices will soon be even better  ………………

From May 23 – June 5, 2013:  25% off Cigar Cases
15% off Dunhill Cigar Cases
Normal prices from R150.00 to R1535.00
Only from Wesley’s shops and website!

Carry your cigars carefully and in style – they deserve it!
It’s the little things that make the difference.

Colin Wesley

No. 310 May 16-29, 2013

You can read previous articles from "Across the Counter" in The Library.


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No 311 - May 30, 2013

What’s the difference?
Which Tobacco pouch or Pipe bag to choose.

Tobacco pouches have been around for long time.

It was the item that was “nice” to have; it felt “nice” on the odd occasion when you were going somewhere; you could fill it up from your tobacco jar and take with you, which was “nice”.

But today a tobacco pouch, carrycase or pipe bag is an essential.
You can’t always smoke in the most convenient place – you may have to trek a bit!
You need something to carry your tobacco - and maybe a pipe, a pipe tool, a pipe lighter, some cleaners, a pipe rest - when you go to settle down, relax and enjoy a pipeful of your chosen blend.

If you don’t have one of these, what do you look for and what are your choices?

First, what do you want to transport?
Just tobaccoeasy, a simple roll-up, one-zip or drawstring pouch will do the job. (And the yellow roll-up is now fitted with a sieve dust trap in the bottom. An old Dunhill design.)
A pipe, tobacco and cleaners – exactly what the 2-zip companion pouch was made for.
A pipe, tobacco, pipe tool, cleaners and lighter  – add an extra zip compartment to the companion pouch, and there you have it.
So what do you look for in a pouch?
• Most important, a pouch needs to have a lining that will keep your tobacco fresh – one that won’t absorb the moisture from your tobacco. In the “old days” this meant a rubber lining, but with the progress in technology, a soft synthetic lining is less expensive, has no aroma and is very effective – especially if you introduce a “Humydrole” if you live or travel on the Highveld or any arid area.
• Check the Drawstring – does it have stud closure? Is it lined?
• Is there a double set of ridges under the zip to make the closure airtight? Important in dry areas.
• Does the pocket for the pipe have a zip long enough to take a big pipe – like a Savinelli 1616?
• The Roll-up – does it have gussets to extend the opening?
• A single zip pouch – a curved zip opening will open wider.
• A stud pouch won’t be airtight if it doesn’t have the extra inside flap.
Magnetic studs? Not essential, but handy.
• Are the zips sturdy, and do they flow easily?
Watchpoint – the experts say that a zip should be “pushed” not pulled!

You need to carry more - an extra one or two pipes, tobacco, pipe tool, cleaners, lighter and fold-up pipe rest?
No problem, the compact pipe bag / carry case is fitted to handle all these, your pouch, and more; maybe your car keys, wallet and even your cell phone (“mobile” for overseas readers).

It’s the little things that make the difference.

You can see all these on our website (just click the links, and when you’re there, click on DETAIL) and then visit a Wesley’s to feel them before deciding to choose leather or synthetic. With eyes closed it may be difficult to tell which is which, over time though the leather will prove its worth.

 But don’t buy just yet, because ……

From next week we offer less 25% on any pouch or carry bag (15% on Dunhill).
But only for 2 weeks – from 6 to 19 June 2013.

Now - that PU carry case is almost a give-away!

That’s worth considering.

Colin Wesley

No. 311 May 30 - June 12, 2013

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No 312 -June 13, 2013

What’s the difference?
- Which Humidor to choose.
- Which cigars to store in it.

Back to the premium hand-rolled cigar which is considered to be one of the few true luxuries still affordable to most people.
Each year, as the colder weather sets in, I start to think about sending out a reminder of “Winter Care” for your cigars – keeping them in good condition especially in the hostile Highveld climate.
This year I would like to include a further line of thought about your cigars – where do you store them.

The Cigar Humidor:
"A container for cigars which seals and contains a hygrometer and humidifier." This definition covers anything from Tupperware to the finest, cabinet quality, cedar box with inlaid design.
So, a Tupperware will do – but to enjoy your hobby to the fullest, you should consider a proper humidor.
Read “A new Humidor” to find out what to look for.
Note: If the instruments are too simple in your new (or old) humidor, they can be upgraded for better control.
A good humidor is part of the whole experience of cigar smoking; together with correct cutting and careful lighting.
The funny thing is that a decent proper humidor, holding 25 to 50 handmade cigars can cost far less than the value of the cigars in it at any one time. And think of how many cigars it will care for in its lifetime.

The dedication, passion and skill which go into the making of a good humidor complement the dedication, passion and skill which go into creating a premium cigar.

And ………. now is the time to buy a humidor, because ……

From June 20 to July 3, 2013, we offer a special price of 25% off Cigar Humidors
(15% off Dunhill Cigar Humidors)
50% off a limited number of selected models of humidors – Preview days 18, 19 June, 2013

Only from Wesley’s shops and website!

Some more things to consider:
The modern cigar smoker can choose from a wide variety of cigars – each with its own distinct flavour, aroma and strength, depending on the region in which the leaf is grown.
Classic Cuban: The richest and most sought after cigar leaf in the world comes from a particular seed grown in the Vuelta Abajo area of Cuba. The cigars are named "Havanas" (spelt Habana in Spanish) after the capital of Cuba. A true Havana cigar is rolled in Cuba from leaf grown entirely in Cuba, and has a magnificent distinctive, spicy flavour.
Nicaraguan cigars: There is real magic in the cigar spirit of Nicaragua – richness of flavour, the embodiment of a great cigar. Check the USA import statistics in Cigar Aficionado.
Dominican cigars: Usually blends of subtle, smooth but light tobaccos, the manufacturers are imbued with the desire for perfection - they were, for example, the first to introduce “draw-testing”. Think of Davidoff, or the well-priced Casa de Garcia cigars, or the superb La Aurora brands.

Cigars are very receptive to outside flavours.
A yellowwood humidor, for example, is quite stunning, but it should be cedar lined, or sealed on the inside so that the aromatic oils won’t affect the flavour of the cigars. (Comments from a customer who made his own yellowwood humidor.)

But what about the effect of the cigars on each other – imagine the effect of a hearty Cuban or Nicaraguan cigar on the delicate Connecticut shade grown wrapper of a fine Dominican cigar.
Ideally they should be kept separate – if possible in a separate humidor.

And the very special Limited Editions?
Limited quantities, unique blends from Cuba, Dominican Republic – all the top marques.
Davidoff says of his 2012 White Collection: Limited Editions are like a playground for the Davidoff Master Blenders who are free to use very special, old and rare tobacco to create unique and unrepeatable blends – in this case some 6 year old tobaccos.
And think of the Cuban Limited Editions already available:
Hoyo Short Piramides (135mm x Ring 46), Cohiba 1966-2011 (166mm x Ring 52),
Montecristo 520-2012 (150mm x Ring 55), Cohiba Maduro 5 Magicos (115mm x Ring 52);
or the Regional Limited Edition (SA) Punch Petit Piramides (127mm x Ring 50)
Still to come – the 2013 Limited Editions:
Romeo y Julieta de Luxe (162mm x Ring 52), Hoyo de Monterrey Gran Epicure (130mm x Ring 55)

Do you want to disturb these precious cigars each time you reach for an everyday cigar?

Are you aging some cigars?
You’ve bought some really good cigars, and feel they would improve with “aging”.
According to Rick Hacker, these should be checked on a 6-monthly basis, but otherwise remain undisturbed for the aging period which could be as much as one to two years.
Makes you think!

Now let’s not panic or get carried away, ….. but it does seem as if you could use another humidor.
(Or at least a humidor with some separate compartments.)

Well actually,  “ 50% off a limited number of selected models of humidors”
is nearly the same as “Two for the price of one” – except that you don’t have to buy 2 of the same model.

Watch out for the email with the link to the special preview on June 18,19 of the offer of 50% off.
This is available to privileged cigar customers on our database.
The quantities are limited – if you see what you want, don’t delay; order at once through your nearest Wesley’s, or direct.

Well that should make you think!
Colin Wesley   

No.312 June 13 - 26, 2013

You can read previous articles from "Across the Counter" in The Library.


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No 313 -June 27, 2013

The new Pipe Smoker
- How do you start?

The Internet is a wonderful way to communicate.
It’s quick and easy, and there is a wealth of information on almost anything.
But sometimes you still want to talk to the man behind the counter – even if remotely.

The questions I often get asked are to do with starting to smoke a pipe.
From as far afield as the US (see Ben’s letter) to close at hand - here are some of the more recent questions:

• My name is M…, and I have always been fascinated with the nostaglia associated with pipes and pipe smoking. I did some searching on the internet and came across your website, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the fortnightly articles which further interested me in starting this pastime
I would like to start pipe smoking and I have done extensive research on your excellent website but I still do not know what I should buy.

• From C…
Hello Colin, hope this email finds you well.
I recently became interested in pipes, and turned to the internet and Youtube for inspiration and some information.
Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be much information on the subject - thankfully there is your website and youtube.
I had a look at your website and the collection of pipes one can order.  Obviously as a newbie, price is a factor.  I don't want to spend thousands on something I don't know if I will even enjoy. I had another look at your website, especially at pipes under R250.  Here is the link I looked at: http://www.wesleys.co.za/tenminutepipes.htm
Colin, here I need your advice.  Which one of these would you recommend to someone wanting to try the hobby out?  The mini briar?  Short and chunky or slender?

• Hi Wesley
I was thinking about changing to pipe smoking.
Can you please let me know what I have to budget for to get a complete pipe smoking kit.
I am particularly looking at the Italy Baby Rage LI6 pipe. But what other accessories do I need to get my pipe ready and keep it clean.
Regards B….

• And then a phone call from R… - which pipe should he consider as his first pipe?

Here is a combination of my replies to these “cries for help”.

As I said in the 2009 Internet article (and in the shop, and on the phone), you should look at buying an entry level “Filter” pipe such as the Lorenzo Filtro, the Marca 6 or the smaller Lorenzo Pavia Spot carved.
This will give you a pipe with a virtually unbreakable peg and the option to use 9mm or 6mm “filters”. To find out more about “filters” – read (in this order): Archive174; Archive195Archive225

As part of your visit to the website, did you find the section “The Complete Pipesmoker” with special reference to the new pipe smoker
Other articles that are certain to be of help are:
Starting with your new pipe: #211 Through the smokescreen
Also: #193 The New Pipe
Practical hints about a very common problem: #219 Tongue Bite
And to finish with (for now): #221 How I fell in love with pipes

The theory is good, here is the practice:
The pipe: As I said, a medium-priced “Filter” pipe would be best. Just choose a shape that appeals to you – preferably a bent pipe, not too large. Then you also have to consider where and when you will smoke the pipe. To start with you should aim for a relatively quiet, maybe even uninterrupted, time in the late afternoon or evening. There is a school of thought that claims that an evening smoke, far from stimulating the mind, relaxes the whole body so that sleep comes easily. Your pipe, with a suitable nightcap, can sooth a late-night vigil.
Once you have settled in with your pipe you may like to smoke more often, during the day maybe. For a “quick” smoke it is better to have a smaller pipe, since a half-filled pipe is not easy to light and you may not have time to finish the tobacco in a larger bowl. In any case sooner or later you will need a second pipe, as a pipe should be allowed to dry out properly between smokes.
Tobacco: The two Wesley’s tobaccos which are easiest for a new smoker are No.43 Old Gold and No.1 Rhodesian Blend; comparatively easy-burning, very smooth and with delightful aromas. In the shop I encourage the customer to smell the other Houseblend tobaccos in the jars – smell is so much a part of taste. In time you should try the other types of tobacco – you’ll never understand how good Latakia can be in a blend for example, without trying it. For this reason we have our “Sampler Pack” which would be the easiest way for you. But that’s not to begin with – each different tobacco will have different burning properties as well as a different taste and smell, and it is much easier to enjoy the pipe and to concentrate on keeping the tobacco alight if you only have one type.
If there is no stockist of Wesley’s Houseblends near you, then I suggest something easy burning and not too heavily flavoured e.g. imported MacBaren Modern Mixture, Holland House Regular, Borkum Riff Original. The local blend Jock would also be good.
Follow the instructions in “The Complete Pipesmoker” for filling and packing, and in “The Perfect Blend” for assessing each tobacco.
Pipe Tool: Basic Gadget 74-Sav421 will do the job. A knife is good, but it MUST have a rounded tip or you’ll drill a hole in the bottom of the bowl.
Pipe Cleaners: The “Clean 110” bag is the most economical and includes 10 bristle cleaners which you will need to give the inside of your pipe a really good scrub about every 10th smoke. Instructions are enclosed.
Filters: You’ve read about Filter Pipes and are no doubt aware of the Watchpoints - that the pipes must be smoked with a filter or an adapter. The pipe would be supplied with an adapter but you should buy a pack of filters to see if you prefer smoking with one. I suggest the 9mm Balsa filter (or 6mm for Marca) which is very effective and the most economical.
Lighting: Matches to start with – if necessary use 2 at a time for a bigger flame. Thicker longer matches are now also available. A good butane gas lighter with flint ignition and a directional flame (if available at an affordable price) is good to aim for, but never a “Turbo” lighter – the flame is too strong.
Tobacco pouch: Companion pouch that carries tobacco plus pipe tools and cleaners is optional and useful. But look at the others too (above and below that link).
Pipe Rest (optional): Fold-up type is useful especially if you go outdoors to smoke. It can rest on anything - the floor, a wall, a rock, a branch….. anything

Not just yet (but in a couple of weeks):
Cleaning: The cleaner and drier you keep your pipe, the more enjoyable is the smoke. Polishes and cleaning fluid – CGA Pressurised Pipe Cleaner Spray comes with a pack of bristle cleaners.
Reamer: In time a reamer is necessary to keep the carbon layer under control.

I hope all this is of help and if we can be of service, and further assistance to you it will be a pleasure
PS  There are many more suggestions for articles to read when you are settled in #275 Relax in the Library

Now you can do your research / homework to see what will suit your budget best.

Then wait a few days ……

From July 4 we offer less 25% on “Starter” pipes:
Lorenzo Pavia, Lorenzo Filtro, Marca 6, Marca Parma – from R215.00
Then don’t delay, offer lasts only until 17 July 2013.

A very good time to start!

Colin Wesley
No.313;  27 June – 10 July, 2013

You can read previous articles from "Across the Counter" in The Library.


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No 314 - July 11, 2013

Limited Edition Cubans

I was a little surprised when a new cigar customer came up with this question:
“Is there anything really special about these Limited Edition cigars, or are they just another marketing gimmick?”

I was surprised because, with all the information on almost any subject one can think of available on the Internet, he might have tried the modern font of knowledge and Googled his question.
Mind you, I have subsequently done some googling, and most sites seem to offer write-ups of individual editions but little on their nature and manufacture.
However, loving the intricacies of the cigar business, I was quite happy to assure him that the integrity and passion of the Cuban manufacturers are beyond question. They would not compromise on the standards required for these cigars.

So, what are these Edicion Limitada (Limited Edition) cigars?
Every year, since 2001, Habanos releases two or three Edicion Limitada cigars.
In the Habanos 2007 Newsletter these cigars are described: “The Limited Edition distinguishes itself for the inclusion of sizes which are not part of the usual range of the brand, and is characterised by a special manufacture. The careful selection of the two-year aged wrapper from the upper level of the plant grants it a darker color and turns this product into something unique. Binder and filler leaves used for the making of the Limited Edition cigars have been aged for two years as well, turning these smokes into something far more great.”
James Suckling in an August 2007 article for Cigar Aficionado talks of a conversation he had with Hilda Baró, head of the Partagas factory, when she said: “These cigars are not maduro. They are simply made with aged wrappers which have been coming from the upper parts of the plant, particularly the top ones or coronas.”
Because wrapper leafs come from the top of the plant, they are richer and slightly thicker, which gives them a slightly darker color brown after processing. In fact, for many years, numerous tobacco growers in the Vuelta Abajo didn’t even bother picking their coronas because they took too much time to cure and process.

While we’re about it – what then is a Maduro cigar?
After curing, suspended in barns for about 7 weeks, cigar leaf is placed in piles to undergo a fermentation process during which the temperature rises, the leaf becomes more mellow, the colour deepens, and nicotine, tar, ammonia and other impurities are reduced. The temperature is carefully monitored, and the process is halted before 160°F for normal leaf; possibly only 90°F for delicate wrapper leaf. To achieve a Maduro requires a fermentation temperature in excess of 165°F, and the result is a rich deep brown wrapper with intensified flavour, and a cigar that is often incredibly slow burning, mellow and mild.

Limited Edition cigars are, by definition, made in limited quantities, and not repeated.
Limited Editions pre-2010 are, in South Africa at least, cigars of the past – collector’s items.
But there are still some around from 2010, 2011 and 2012:

Trinidad Short Robustos 2010 (102mm x Ring 50)                  R2844.50 (Box of 12)
Punch Petit Piramides (127mm x Ring 50)                                R3310.00 (Box of 25)
(Regional Limited Edition South Africa 2010)

Hoyo Short Piramides 2011 (135mm x Ring 46)                      R1163.50 (Box of 10)
Cohiba 1966 - 2011 (166mm x Ring 52),                                  R4582.00 (Box of 10)

H.Upmann Robustos (124mm x Ring 50)                                 R5011.50 (Box of 25)         
Montecristo 520 - 2012 (150mm x Ring 55),                            R2937.50 (Box of 10)
Partagas Serie C No.3 2012 (140mm x Ring 48)                       R2100.50 (Box of 10)
Romeo y Julieta Churchill Reserva 2012 (178mm x Ring 47) R8615.00 (Box of 20)

2013 offerings are yet to arrive, though they may not all reach our shores.
Romeo y Julieta Romeo de Luxe 2013 (162mm x Ring 52) 
Hoyo de Monterrey Gran Epicure (130mm x Ring 55)
Punch Serie d’Oro No.2,  Pyramid (140mm x Ring 52)

One of the 2012 Limited Editions is the H.Upmann Robusto (124mm x Ring 50)
We have reserved 25 of these to be part of a trio we have assembled as a presentation of 3 different quality Cuban cigars, for you to compare and evaluate:
H.Upmann Robusto Limited Edition 2012 (124mm x Ring 50)does it have the expected richness?
H.Upmann Connoisseur No.1 (127mm x Ring 48) - slightly slimmer and longer than the classic Robusto, how does the blend compare with the Limited Edition? Do you think that 2/64th inch off the thickness makes a difference?
Quintero Favoritos (115mm x Ring 50)classic robusto ringsize, but 9mm shorter. This is a budget cigar – totally handmade with long filler. How does it compare in flavour and smoothness? Does it finish too soon? Does the 9mm make a difference to the development of the flavour?
Trio of Qualities R495.00 - Available from 18 July

Do you like the richness of the Edicion Limitada? Maybe for a special occasion?
Visit your nearest Wesley’s to try them while they’re still available.

Colin Wesley   

No.314 July 11-24, 2013

You can read previous articles from "Across the Counter" in The Library.