109 - February
24 , 2005
just a pretty blend!
in the early 1970's we became aware of the importance of developing
a range of really top quality Houseblend tobaccos. As J Tennison
Burrows in Durban we had always stocked a range made for us by
the Glick family in Pretoria North - but they were almost entirely
South African in origin without much finesse in the blending.
Mind you, one of them - No.1 Rhodesian
Blend - is still very popular to-day.
to offer a range comparable to the imported tobaccos from Dunhill,
Four Square, Sobranie, Gallaher, McConnell - the English-type
tobaccos which depend on blending natural, and naturally-rich,
tobaccos to create a smooth, flavourful smoke.
So for these classic Latakia / Virginia / Turkish / Perique blends,
we consulted with a private blender in London (a supplier to the
trade). By 1975 the consultations had proved successful and we
had our tobaccos similar to Sobranie Mixture, St Bruno, Three
Nuns and Gold Block (Nos. 50 or 55, 15, 58 or 13/58, 13) - offering
real price savings too. Tried and tested over the years these
blends have always appealed to the "traditional" pipe
smoker. Now even more so as many of the original blends have disappeared
from our shelves, indeed from the market.
At that time
few artificially flavoured blends of any quality were available
- and those that were tended to burn hot. MacBaren tobaccos were
the exception - but even when we visited the factory in Denmark
we weren't allowed so much as a glimpse of the manufacturing process.
Manufacture of these lighter, more aromatic "Cavendish"
tobaccos was not allowed under English law (to do with artificial
additives), so we had to seek help from other experts.
Again we were successful, and in late 1981 we wrote in our print
newsletter (posted to over a thousand customers - postage was
much cheaper then):
"A new range of Cavendishes has been added to Wesley's Houseblend
tobaccos. We have been developing them since our return from Europe
in March, and now they are ready. They are all cut in the typical
American "cube cut", and have plenty of artificial flavouring,
but have been adjusted to suit the South African demand for natural
flavour and body as well."
No.43 Old Gold was the
last addition and today is our top seller in this category.
In 2010, in response to a change in tastes from the plain aromatics towards blends with more natural flavour and body, we created a new blend: No.46 Full Gold– a popular aromatic Burley combined with Matured Virginias, Turkish and a hint of Perique.
This was followed by No.47 Vanilla Gold -
lightly matured Virginia, smooth Turkish for natural sweetness, and a delicate Vanilla aroma
new blends is another story in itself. We start with the theory
of the type of ingredients that would provide the tobacco we want.
(Here my wife's training comes in useful, but whether it is the
chemistry degree or the cooking experience that is of most use
we haven't quite worked out.) Then we need to test the theory
in practice. I don't smoke a pipe, and even if I did, my opinion
on its own would not be sufficient. A cross-section of "tasters"
is necessary - and sometimes the results are not what we hoped.
When we wanted to develop a new smoother Latakia blend (and at
a lower price) we asked several of our customers (Latakia devotees)
to test the first draft. It was so unacceptable that not even
one volunteered an opinion. So we went back to the drawing board
- and developed Latakia A, which was passed with distinction and
is now a popular part of our range (No.55).
Houseblends have been developed to smoke "as is" we
are very aware that individual tastes vary and that the blends
(or indeed branded tobaccos off the shelf) may need a little "tweaking".
Maybe to correct "It bites my tongue" or "Burns
too fast/slow" or "Not enough flavour" or "Unacceptable
aroma (my wife says it smells awful)". All these and more
are addressed in "The Perfect
Blend" - or you can email
me with your particular (smoking) problem.
try a Wesley Houseblend?
If you've read this far you can appreciate the care that has gone
into developing interesting quality blends. In addition we know
our Houseblends very well, and from your comments we can usually
tailor a blend which really suits and satisfies you as an individual.
This applies to the new Pipesmoker who can determine his own particular
likes and dislikes by trying a variety of strengths, cuts and
flavours; and to the experienced Pipesmoker who can generally
find a blend similar to the one he is smoking (at a lower price),
replace his favourite which is no longer available, or entertain
his spirit of adventure while staying within the parameters of
his preferred tastes. Maybe try a Tasting
March 3 to March 16 we will be rewarding all our regular
Houseblend customers, and our new Recruits, with a gift
when they buy a Houseblend - one tobacco purchase per
Buy a total of 50g to 249g of a single Houseblend
or several different Houseblends and choose one of
2. Buy 250g to 499g - choose 2 of the free gifts
3. Buy 500g or more - 3 free gifts are yours.
I keep telling our cigar devotees - many smokers need and like
to experience variety.
Enjoy the taste from Wesley's!
February 24 to March 9, 2005
can read previous articles from "Across the Counter"
in The Library.