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No 113 - April 21, 2005
Maintenance & Repairs

Poor maintenance leads to repairs - ask any mechanic.
Over the last few weeks we have had several pipes handed in with problems which could have been prevented. - namely filter pipes with loose mouthpieces, and bowls with holes in the bottom.
In previous articles we have covered these problems, but it seems it's time to repeat the advice.

"Filter" Pipes
The pipe is a natural filter and moisture will condense from the smoke and deposit in the shank and mouthpiece. Many smokers, especially new smokers, secrete excessive saliva or use the very popular "Aromatic" tobaccos which, due to the flavouring oils, have more moisture in the smoke than the older natural blends. This can lead to a messy pipe and the unpleasant smoke known as a "wet smoke". The function, therefore, of today's "filters" is similar to that of a sponge - to absorb moisture by mopping up excess juices, without spoiling the taste.
But …… filter pipes must be smoked with either the filter or the adapter - never empty.
Smoking without the filter (or adapter), even once, will allow moisture to condense in the empty space and seep into the shank, causing it to swell. This will result in a cracked shank, or a loose mouthpiece which is very difficult to remedy.
If this happens to you, take the pipe to your nearest Wesley's for an opinion.

The Hole in the Bowl
The old maxim "the cleaner and drier your pipe - the better it will smoke" really is true, but care must be exercised in cleaning.
1. Using the pipe cleaner: The wire in the middle of a pipe cleaner is hard and strong. If you are too enthusiastic when you clean out the shank with the pipe cleaner, you could drill a hole in the bowl. Be aware, especially with bent pipes, and don't dig and twist the pipe cleaner too hard into the base of the bowl.
2. Removing tobacco remnants (the dottle): The tool** you use to clean out the bowl must have a blunt tip. A sharp point can drill a hole in the base of the bowl, with a resultant leak or even burn out.
If this warning is too late, and you already have a leak in the base of the bowl of what was your favourite pipe - take it to your nearest Wesley's to have a plug fitted, or post it to P O Box 52466 Saxonwold 2132.

  **If you don't own a good pipe tool yet, look at our next feature.
From April 28 to May 11 we offer the Rogers Pipe Knife at less 25%.

This advice could add years to the life of your pipe - or Rands to the resale value.

Talking of which - do you have any pipes in good condition that you no longer smoke?
We may be able to buy them from you - see Refurbished Pipes.
Our next "Refurbished" collection is in the pipeline and will be available in about 7 weeks

Colin Wesley
April 21 to May 4, 2005

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No 114 - May 5, 2005
Are the Americans happy?

Cigarwise - without Cuba
Statistics say yes.
In 2004, 309 million premium cigars were imported into the USA. The first time since 1998 that this figure exceeded 300 million.
With all the anti-smoking bans, and the restrictions on places where one can smoke, this "mini-boom" is difficult to explain. Cigar Insider, the fortnightly online newsletter of Cigar Aficionado, puts it down to the quality of the products available - great cigars at great prices.
But how did this all come about?
It's a long story dating right back to the 1960's embargo on Cuban products into the USA, including cigars and tobacco. This embargo had two dramatic effects on the cigar world. The American market needed good quality cigars and in the hope of replacing the Cuban taste there was a proliferation of Cuban seed plants being grown in the Canary Islands, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, etc. This hope was doomed from the start as it is the soil that determines the taste of the leaf, and each island had different soil, distinctly different from Cuban soil.
Nevertheless, having no option, cigar manufacturers in these countries were determined to upgrade their production and produce high quality cigars in the style the Americans had enjoyed from Cuba known as AMS (American Market Selection). This was a mild light cigar with a slightly greenish wrapper. In this venture they were successful, and brands such as Macanudo Café and Davidoff became very popular.
The second effect was that, once Cuba lost the American market, their cigar production moved from the predominantly AMS blend to EMS (European Market Selection). These were cigars with a rich brown colour, and much more taste than the AMS.
And so it was that the American market dictated the mild taste of the non-Cuban premium cigars, and Cuba dominated the taste of premium cigars for the rest of the world.

This situation lasted until the cigar boom of the 1990s when Cuban cigars infiltrated the US market and started heading many cigar rating lists in magazines such as Cigar Aficionado. Suddenly the American taste for cigars changed. They wanted more full-bodied, flavourful cigars. Cuban cigars were still appreciated by many, who came by them by hook or by crook. But the manufacturers wanted to impress their own brands before the inevitable day when Cuban cigars were again freely available in the US.
Macanudo introduced its "Robust" range and later still its "Maduro" range. Other brands responded similarly, producing what became known as "Cubanesque" cigars. Even Davidoff created the Millenium "Cubanesque" blend. And cigars from Nicaragua or Honduras, where the soil produces leaf far more like the Cuban leaf, are topping the ratings lists.
Which is where we are now.

No wonder American cigar smokers are happy - they have the choice of some of the technically best quality cigars ever rolled, using exceptionally high grade leaf, in a variety of tastes and strengths.

And now we can find out why for ourselves.

Non-Cuban cigars have been available in South Africa, but often at higher prices than the
run-of-the-mill Cuban cigars. Now some of the really good brands have been reduced in price, and we have been offered a further 30% discount on certain lines from Davidoff, Zino, Avo and Griffin.
This offer is for special orders only and applies only to existing stock, which is limited.
Look at the list and email your choice to check whether stock is still available.

  And if you want to test and compare some of these cigars,
look at our special:
. . . . . . . . . . . A 3-pack of premium cigars for only R199.50
Cubanesque Davidoff Millenium Petit Corona 129mm x Ring 42 R153.00
Honduran Zino Mouton-Cadet No.5 127mm x Ring 44 R 86.00
Traditional AMS The Griffin No.300 160mm x Ring 44 R100.00
They are all manufactured to the exacting specifications of Davidoff.

Colin Wesley
May 5 to May 18, 2005

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No 115 - May 19, 2005
Filling the Gaps

The normal way we buy pipes in the trade is to collect pricelists from the manufacturers (or visit the factory or showroom or stand at a trade fair) and select what we feel will give us the best value for money spread over a range of prices. But since most manufacturers have very similar cost structures (with the exception of Lorenzo who has the Albanian advantage) the gaps between the various qualities in each pricelist are reflected in the retail prices - R495, R595, R695, etc.

This year we met with the family who own a pipe factory which specialises in producing private label pipes with comparable qualities to slot into such price gaps. This innovation, combined with a real enthusiasm and love for the trade, has been so successful that in 2005 (having completed university studies) the fourth generation is coming into the business.
In fact, a considerable percentage of the Private Label pipes we see in the USA come from this Italian business enterprise.
The buyer chooses a shape or shapes from the large (and I mean large) stockholding of prepared (cured and turned) bowls, specifies the price range and colour, and the bowls are selected and the pipes finished accordingly.
(This is very similar to the service offered by Parker Hardcastle in the 1980s, when we introduced the "Wesley" pipe.)

We placed a trial order, and are more than satisfied with what has arrived. The pipes are even better than we expected. At the time of placing the order we had no private label name in mind, so these first arrivals are stamped only with the country of origin "Italy" and "Real Briar" (since they are).

However, we are now delighted to offer to you our new range of pipes:

4 models, in four striking finishes.

I am quite confident that the MARCA name will become very significant in the South African pipe world.

Introductory Offer
For the period May 26 to June 8 you can buy the exceptional value

at 25% off the normal retail price.

Take this opportunity to own one at a great price.

Colin Wesley
May 19 to June 1, 2005

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No 116 - June 2, 2005
What makes a 'good' cigar?

Just last week I was again asked how to assess a cigar:
"What makes a good cigar?"

The answer is of course that apart from the technical side it is pretty much subjective, and to find out what is "good" for you, you need to experiment.
I wrote this in November 2000, have repeated it frequently since, and I say it again:
• Try different cigars - different sizes, different tastes, different methods of construction.
• Keep the bands, make a list and start your own personal evaluation notes.
• Start a cigar discussion group with friends.

The most commonly used criteria are:
• Aesthetics
- How does it look? How does it feel? How does it smell? Does it make your mouth water?
Now you've lit the cigar, and savoured the first few puffs:
• Flavour
- Do you like the taste? Is it right for this occasion? Too light? Too rich?
• Aroma - Part of the sensation of taste.
• Construction - Does it burn evenly? Is the draw right for you - neither too tight nor too easy?
. .Have you chosen the correct form of packing for the occasion - indoors/outdoors?
• Aftertaste - When you've finished the cigar, does the good taste continue?
• Value for money - On this occasion was the total experience worth the price of the cigar?

How do you begin?
Well, you could of course just go and buy a few cigars. But you may not choose a balanced assortment, so for next week we've put together an interesting 3-pack of Petit/Slim Coronas.
Our last special (May 5) offered you the opportunity to compare 3 premium non-Cuban cigars (Dominican, Cubanesque, Honduran) - they should all have offered a "good" smoke.

Now you can compare a fine quality Dominican Quisqueya No.4, with two Cubans
- machine-made Romeo y Julieta Belvedere and handmade Montecristo No.4.

From 9 June 2005 we offer this 3-pack at just R150.00
Which is the "good" cigar for you?

• How do the two Cubans compare - do you find a difference - is one better than the other, for you?
• The "fine quality" Dominican Quisqueya No.4 is about the same price as the machine-made Cuban Romeo y Julieta Belvedere. They probably taste different and certainly the Quisqueya should give a smoother smoke. How do you find them?
• And what about the Dominican Quisqueya No.4 and handmade Cuban Montecristo No.4? They should be the same quality - both are considered "good" cigars. Check them against the criteria above.
• And now you can check the taste. Do you have a preference? Maybe for different times of the day?

There are so many cigars on the market at present that experimenting, besides being fun, can help you to avoid choosing the wrong cigar. Just look at some of the other selections
we have available.

Colin Wesley
June 2 to June 15, 2005

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No 117 - June 16, 2005
Tobacco in Winter

Some things never change - the seasons come and go, and winter is upon us (albeit a little late) and it will be the same next year and the year after.
A previous article on care of your pipe tobacco in the winter months bears repeating.

Winter is not good news for your pipe tobacco. You may need to take a look at how you store your tobacco and, as important, how you carry it around with you.

Storage can be quite simple. Any airtight container will do - with a moisturising agent (such as a piece of damp sponge or cotton wool) attached to the lid. Better still drop in one or two Humydroles®.

When you are travelling around, even short distances, your tobacco is more vulnerable to the dry air. Once you have broken the seal on the original packet it never really closes airtight again. Also, after a few days, the packet will start to look shabby - which is not part of the pipesmoking ethos.

You'll appreciate the advantages of a tobacco pouch.
The feel of it - even our synthetic pouches are soft and supple;
The Companion pouch - you can carry everything you need in one compact case;
The Roll-up, Drawstring or neat Vest Pocket - wide opening gussets for easy filling;
A Pipe Bag - for travelling with 2 or more pipes.

And they all have rubber type linings which can't absorb moisture from your tobacco.

Naturally, some moisture will evaporate when the pouch is open while you're filling your pipe.
The ideal product to use to replace this moisture is a Humydrole®. This little item has the ability to absorb an amazing amount of water, which it releases as moisture over a fairly lengthy period of time, keeping your tobacco fresh, and enjoyable to smoke.
A regular Houseblend tobacco customer was delighted with the free humydrole he received through our special offer in March - he tossed out the piece of carrot he'd been using to keep the tobacco moist. It worked adequately, but there was always the danger of the carrot going bad - then goodbye to a pouch full of tobacco.

But in the colder areas - what if your tobacco gets too hot?
If you live in that well known part of South Africa where it is cold and wet in winter, you may not need a Humydrole®, but do be careful not to store your tobacco near a heater or the fireplace.
If the tobacco gets too warm in a closed container (including your pouch), mould may start to develop. This could render the whole batch suitable only for compost.

Winter or Summer, the general rule for preserving tobacco is: keep it cool and slightly moist.
And so we repeat the helpful special offer of last winter - if you missed it, grab it now:

From June 23 to July 6 we offer -

20% discount off any tobacco pouch or pipe bag
PLUS a free Humydrole®.

You already have a pouch??
Then buy a Humydrole® and we'll give you a bundle of bristle pipe cleaners - FREE!

Colin Wesley
June 16 to June 29, 2005

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No 118 - June 30, 2005
"The Very Best"

That is how the late Theo Rudman described the brand "Trinidad" in the 4th edition of his "Complete Pocket Guide to Cigars" published in 2001 - and this description still applies today.

Originally consisting of only two long, slim cigars the Trinidad range now consists of four sizes - all great smokes.
Reyes Ring 40 x 110mm - A slightly longer Half Corona

Coloniales Ring 44 x 132mm - A slightly thicker Petit Corona

Robusto Extra Ring 50 x 155mm - An extended Robusto.

Fundadores Ring 40 x 192mm - Slightly thicker than the traditional "Especial"
And they are all finished with little twisted pigtail caps.
(Do you think all these slight variations are to make it more difficult to fake them?)
Another variation is in the packings - varnished boxes of 12, 15, 24, 48.
Supplies are difficult (to put it mildly) but at present we have very limited stocks of
Reyes (R1836.00/24), Coloniales (R2335.00/24), Robusto Extra (R3181.50/15).
Fundadores (R8150.00/48) can be obtained on special order.

To spread the good smoke a little further we have made up 3-packs of glass tubes in sleeves:
Reyes (R270.00/3), Coloniales (R340.00/3), Robusto Extra (R720.00/3).
Singles in glass tubes:
Reyes (R93.00), Coloniales (R116.00), Robusto Extra (R247.50).

The world's "most wanted" cigar
- the Montecristo conception of the Robusto format. The actual size is Ring 52 x 135mm, making it the largest Robusto around, and well worth waiting for. We first saw these cigars in December 2004 (see the article) and the stock allocated to South Africa (3 packs and boxes of 25) didn't last 2 months. By all accounts (including mine) the Edmundo offers a rare smoking experience, but availability is tight. (Prices: R3300.00/box of 25; R450.00/3-pack of glass tubes; R156.00 per single in glass tube)

Take this opportunity to try "The Very Best".

"The Very Best" does not apply only to the larger cigars.
Theo Rudman awarded 4 stars to the Dutch-made cigarillos, and we feature these two excellent examples of how good a small machine-made cigarillo can be if the blending and quality control are right.
These are the last boxes available at the reduced price of R88.50 (normally R127.50)

Red Mini Cigarillo - deliciously mild.
(7.5mm x 81mm)
The filler is a blend of natural Brazil, Java and French Burley leaf, with a Java binder and natural Brazil wrapper.
Cigarillo Sumatra - excitingly spicy.
(7.9mm x 87mm)
Leaf from Java, Brazil, Sumatra and Cameroon make up the filler, the binder is from Java, and a fine Sumatran wrapper completes the harmonious whole.

A really special price:
From 7 July to 20 July 2005 we offer
an extra 10% off
(if stocks last)

Colin Wesley
June 30 to July 13, 2005

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No 119 - July 14, 2005
A long, long time ago….

30 years to be exact, we travelled through parts of the United States in search of new items for our business - amongst them wooden pipe racks and stands, and humidors.

One destination was the little town of Decatur, Indiana where we were to meet with the president of the aptly named Decatur Industries. (The company virtually was the town.) We had been buying their products through an ineffective agent in South Africa, and with the US Dollar costing us 75c (South African) we felt that we could do a better job for them if we had the agency.
Bear in mind that back in 1975 there were no emails or even faxes. One could make do with letters, but face to face was the best way to do business.
We acquired the agency and for many years we imported their wonderful range of wooden smokers' furniture. We had our doubts about sales when a dollar started costing more than a rand, but we needn't have worried - they still sold well.

Then as the exchange rate really crashed (in the mid-eighties), and production and shipping costs increased, the goods became out-priced.
We had to look elsewhere.
We tried Denmark, Italy, India and even two local producers - but with no success.
We did find a crystal glass stand for 5 pipes - (really beautiful), but well-priced wooden pipe furniture just disappeared from the South African shelves.

Now for the good news: we have bought a close-out range of wooden pipe racks from a company which imported a substantial shipment from the Far East, some time ago.
Four models only - two for 6 pipes and two for 12 pipes - and the prices are great!
At last you can display your pipes neatly and correctly (bowl down with room to breathe) on the shelves in your study, or out of the way on your desk - and at a reasonable cost.
No more "bumper-bashing" damage caused by them rattling around in a drawer or empty box.

And for the period 21 July to 3 August 2005, we offer an extra 25% off the already unbelievable prices:

70-WXFL2676 6 pipe rack straight
70-WXFL 785 6 pipe rack round
70-WXFL l765 12 pipe rack two tier
70-WXFL l763 12 pipe rack back to back

In addition, because it is so beautiful, we'll include the stunning crystal glass stand for 5 pipes:

70-CGA611 5 pipe stand back to back

Take advantage!

Colin Wesley
July 14 to July 28, 2005

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