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No 154 -August 10, 2006
Systems - “Ugh”!

We live in a world which at times appears to be controlled by “systems” and not people.

How often have you heard these two responses  - “Sorry but the system is down, so we can’t process your request for ………………”; or “Sorry, but what you are asking for is not in/on our system, so we can’t help you”; “No, we can’t just go and look, it has to be on the system”.
Maddening isn’t it – but the world does need systems, even the world of pipe smoking.

The objective of a pipe manufacturer is to produce a pipe that will give a “cool, dry smoke”. The aesthetics, beauty of grain, feel and balance are all irrelevant if the pipe does not meet this basic objective.

How does the pipe manufacturer go about this?
First of all the briar needs to be cleaned of oils and sap by boiling. And then the block needs to be made porous by drying. These processes alone can take many months.
Then the pipe has to be properly made, technically:
Smokehole drilled perfectly into the bottom of the bowl, and of the right diameter to allow an easy draw;
Well-fitted mouthpiece with easy exit for the smoke to provide the best taste sensation for the smoker;

With the advent of the “aromatic” tobaccos many years ago, these procedures were not sufficient as the smoke carried excessive oils from the bowl. Assistance was sought in the engineering industry and the Byford, Falcon and Keyser pipes arrived on the market – and they worked. (But not if they were damaged or not kept clean, the latter an irksome task to say the least.) And in the early 1900s, Kapp & Peterson developed a System pipe.

When Savinelli wanted to introduce a specialised dry smoking pipe to their range, they looked at the original Peterson. They looked carefully - to see how and where they could improve on it.
Their research resulted in 3 important refinements –
(1) the smokehole in the mouthpiece was made rectangular allowing the smoke to fan out as it entered the mouth improving the taste experience; (2) they introduced the balsa insert to mop up excess moisture preventing an accumulation of goo in the moisture trap; (3) they changed the mouthpiece from a tapered fitting to a peg fitting which does not twist off in the pocket or pouch, causing a nasty mess.
Savinelli labelled this design the “Dry System” and we think that this is technically the best designed pipe on the market. It has only one removable part, the balsa insert, and if this is missing the system will still work with no harm to the pipe or to the quality of the smoke. It will still be clean and dry.
The system is never “down”.
(Without the balsa, the moisture which collects in the trap will need to be mopped up with a tissue or folded pipe cleaner.)

To make these improved pipes even more enticing –
from November 23 to December 6 we offer 25% off
all Savinelli “Dry System” pipes;

“Standard” (rough or smooth) and the fine quality “Premier”
A perfect pipe present for this season

Colin Wesley
No.154 November 16 to November 29, 2006

PS Good news for Keyser fans – we have been able to take advantage of a special offer on Keyser pipes – the current price while the offer lasts is R550.00 (normal price R738.50). Grab one now.

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No 155 -August 24, 2006
Cigars in Transit

Let me pose this question to you:
“If cedar wood is the best material in which to store
(original cigar boxes, cedar-lined humidors) should it not be the best medium in which to transport cigars?”

To my mind it is the obvious medium, but it has taken time to find a manufacturer of cigar accessories of the same mind (and at an acceptable price). Till now the only other safe option has been the glass tube travel case.

Well, we have now found such a manufacturer (more accurately, he found us through our website) who produces articles of cedar and leather in his range. You already know his work through the basic cigar cases (and tobacco pouches) we have offered for the last year, but the leather covered, cedar range is new.

The Travel humidors are a cut or two – no, even more – above most of the others I have seen, because both the bed and the lid have matching grooved cedar fitments which prevent the cigars rolling around.This is the main cause of damage - especially after the first one or two have been enjoyed.
6 Double Corona (pictured)
73-Ex044 R1445.00

Also 8 Churchill or Pyramid
73-Ex441 R1445.00

Keeping the best cigar for last should not be a mistake.
As a travel humidor it naturally accommodates its own humidifier, but I suggest that each time before you use the humidor on your travels you should lightly damp the cedar, just as you’d prepare your traditional humidor.
The quality of the hinges, the fine Vittori** leather embossed with horizontal lines, and the magnetic closing studs are nice final touches to these exquisite travel humidors.
Outside dimensions of the travel humidors are 290mm x 205mm; there are two choices for the inner format:
73-Ex441 holds 8 cigars 180mm x ring 54;
73-Ex044 holds 6 cigars 218mm x ring 54 or 12 half coronas (or a combination).
(**This is the leather finish created for Captain Vittori of Italy when he requested leather for his sword sheath which would prevent the hand grip from slipping.)

The cedar-lined telescopic cigar cases carrying 2 or 3 cigars with a ringsize of up to 52 will extend to 180mm – from a Robusto to a Torpedo (Montecristo No.2) or a Churchill. A half corona will be a little dwarfed but still be protected, and the flavour enhanced, by the cedar insert. (Again you could damp the cedar before use.)
73-Ex246 R475.00 2 Robustos
73-Ex243 R535.00 3 Robustos

The cedar case is covered in elegant Vittori leather, and embellished with a silver-like plate which can easily be engraved with 3 or 4 initials or a significant date.
Take in the more subtle details of these items - you will appreciate the symmetry of the cigar holes, the delicate precision of the stitching and the sleek sliding and opening of each item.

Gillian pointed out to me that we don’t usually talk about product as much as about learning in the “Across the Counter” articles – but these products deserve a hearing and you deserve to hear about them.

Not only that – you deserve a chance to buy these products at a special price.
So from December 7 to December 31 we offer 25% off these humidors and cases
Your opportunity to gain a treasure or give a gift of real quality and value.

Colin Wesley
No.155 November 30 to December 24, 2006

PS On the website soon – a new range of 3-pack selections for the holidays – Churchill, Robusto, Corona Plus and Petit Corona. All in glass tubes – another option for travelling.

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No 156 - September 7, 2006
Italian Ingenuity

The name “Lorenzo” still conjures up images of strange-shaped pipes, with imaginative names such as Ascona, Angera, Stelvio, Stresa, Cervo, etc., from Italian towns, villages or suburbs.

These innovative shapes filled the niche market of the pipe smoker who wanted a pipe that smoked well, fitted his hand comfortably, but looked different. He wouldn’t mind if it were noticed and commented on. He made a statement of his pipe smoking.

Lorenzo Tagliabue has been gone for some years now, and it is his former production manager (and the manager’s son) who now own and run the brand.
They have targeted additional and different areas of the pipe market.

One such area is the “Entry” pipe market – that first pipe which must smoke well, feel good, but be invisible. A medium to small size pipe in a classic straight or bent shape – at a modest price.
Pipes such as the “Walnut” and “Two Tone” ranges.

Then there is the “filter pipe” market. Pipes, for those who smoke the modern blends, which can offer the option of using a 6mm or 9mm filter to mop up excess moisture in the smoke. With the introduction of the Teflon peg, as I have said before, these pipes can now be produced at moderate prices. Pipes in the “Walnut Large” and “Two Tone Large” ranges. Classic shapes in classic finishes.

But what about something a little different? Different, but not avant-garde.
And bowls which have those one or two pit marks just too obvious to fill or be covered over, but are too good to throw away. What can be done with them?

A flash of Italian inspiration: colour the pit marked spots with a dark stain, making them quite obvious.
Then carve out a few more “spots” to give the wood character and feel. Colour these spots with the same dark stain, leaving the overall bowl a light colour (either matt or polished), making all the markings very obvious.
And there you have it – the “Spot-Carved” range – the entry level pipe for the filter pipe market!
And each pipe is unique.
You must admire the ingenuity of the man -
create something rather than waste something.

Unfortunately, about 2 months ago our range of “Spot-Carved” pipes all but sold out (again).
Fortunately, we managed to wheedle some from Lorenzo at short notice.
We were lucky to find them in stock – and here they are – R199.95.

And we’ll make them our current “special” to run for 3 weeks.
From December 21 to January 10, pick one up at the special price of R149.95

A fine pipe to start the New Year!

Colin Wesley
No.156 December 14, 2006 to January 3, 2007

PS On the website NOW – a new range of 3-pack cigar selections for the holidays – Churchill, Robusto and Corona Plus. All in glass tubes – a good option for travelling.

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No 157 - January 4, 2007
A New Humidor

For more than 30 years, New Year’s Day at our home has been a day of entertaining family andfriends with an Eggs Benedict brunch, and all that goes with it.
And now the next two generations are included – children and grandchildren and their friends.

This year was no exception, and during the afternoon the wife of one of the younger men approached me with a question: for Christmas he had received a humidor, but no instructions as to how to prepare it to receive his cigars and to preserve them – could I help?
I didn’t ask where it was bought, but I didn’t think it was from Wesley’s Rosebank because we include such a leaflet with each humidor sold. (My daughter, whose friend the family is, had no such reservations and established that it wasn’t bought from Wesley’s.)
I suggested that her husband access our website and read our article from April 2004 on the “New Humidor” and an earlier article on “How to keep your cigars in good condition”.
She replied that maybe that would get him to use the Internet!
J – if you managed it, this is for you.

It strikes me that there may be many more young (and older) cigar smokers out there with the same difficulty. Go ahead and read the articles, and then if you have any questions please just email me and I shall do my best to set your mind at rest.

Later in the afternoon when our guests had left, I sat down with a nice, well-aged Churchill reflecting on 2006 past, and on the year ahead.
It was lovely in the garden – there was time aplenty and I felt at peace with the world.
I hope that you enjoyed a similar experience, or two, over the festive season.

But we are now back into the busy world, and there may not be “time aplenty” to enjoy a big cigar.

So from January 11 we offer you a great “Petit Corona Selection”
at only R190.00

(Normal price of three single cigars in glass tubes is R245.50)

Find the necessary 40 minutes to re-kindle your cigar smoking for 2007 – it will be worth it!

Colin Wesley
No.157 January 4 to January 17, 2007

PS While you are about it – did you make a New Year’s resolution to really look after your cigars this year?
Read our Checklist for 2006 and use it for 2007 – it’s never too late!

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No 158 - January 18, 2006

If someone mentions the word “aged” - what comes to mind?
Something “decrepit and doddering” – or “mature and mellow” (Oxford Thesaurus)

If the conversation has anything to do with pipe tobaccos, pipes or cigars, I trust that mature or mellow will beat the other two choices.

In the mysterious, closely-guarded world of tobacco blending, much emphasis is placed on the preparation of the raw ingredients. I quote “In simple terms, the goal is to cure the tobacco to remove undesirable bad-tasting compounds such as ammonia, convert bland starches into tasty sugars, and allow the leaf to mellow and ripen in flavour”. (Pipes & Tobaccos magazine, Winter 2007)
Experts agree that the results of experiments with pipe tobaccos, started 3 to 5 years ago, show that certain natural pipe tobacco blends continue to evolve in their packaging whether vacuum-packed or not – mostly for the better.
Cigar manufacturers too never stop telling us about the importance of aging at all stages – but that’s for another time.

I think that this concept of pipe tobaccos and cigars continuing to age is quite easy to accept – but what about pipes?

In the manufacture of pipes, much emphasis is placed on the curing and drying of the raw blocks (ebauchons), up to 12 months or more, before they go to the factory to be turned into the objects of utility and beauty that emerge at the other end, suitably clad in a cloth sleeve or elegant chamois glove.
But then what?
Do you think that any appreciable aging continues while the pipe sits in the shop? I doubt it.

The next major change in the life of the pipe comes the day after it is purchased.
If the pipe is treated with lots of TLC, it will behave accordingly and become a friend providing hours of enjoyment and companionship – mellowing gently as it ages.
(If not, it will probably end up discarded at the back of a drawer – or in the fireplace or refuse bin.)
But even a friendship may not last forever – the pipe smoker may have to give up his pleasure and say goodbye to his companion. Nice as the pipe is, it may no longer suit his lifestyle.
With any luck the pipe will come to us in search of a new home – and join our group of Refurbished pipes.

These refurbished pipes come from many sources – an estate, a smoker who has had to give up, a pipe that just didn’t suit the smoker. But they have some things in common: they are all quality pipes from leading brands - Dunhill, Savinelli, Stanwell, Peterson, BBB, Lorenzo, etc; they haven’t been battered and mostly have their original mouthpieces.
We have the pipe sterilised, cleaned and polished to restore its mature, dignified appearance – like a fine piece of antique furniture. The briar in some cases must be well over a century old.
If you have any reservations about smoking a pipe that has been smoked by somebody else – consider the response given to this concern by a sensible shopkeeper: “You don’t take your own knife and fork to a restaurant, do you?”

You’ll find these pipes on our website from 25 January – until “SOLD OUT”.

If you haven’t tried a refurbished pipe before – try one now.
You could just find and immediate new Friend.
No breaking in – just “Welcome”.

Colin Wesley
No.158 January 18, 2006 to January 31, 2007

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No 159 - February 1, 2007
Aging Cigars ~ Aged Cigars ~ Old Cigars

The only common word in these descriptions is “cigars” – and quite rightly so.
The other words – “Aging”, “Aged” and “Old” – give three very different meanings
to the state of the cigars.

Thinking about these different meanings only increases my admiration of the skills of the people who produce cigars. They are working with an agricultural product that will change its character several times from when it is harvested until it arrives in your possession for you to enjoy at your leisure.
And consider the level of consistency they attain in one single box, never mind the brand consistency over the years. Quite amazing.

Aging cigars: The whole process of successfully handmaking premium cigars is dependant on a timetable that cannot be precisely set by numbers.
The aging process starts once the leaf has been harvested, drying until it is brown. The time taken depends on the weather (and type of leaf).
The next step occurs when the leaf is stacked in piles 1 to 2 m high and allowed to ferment until it is “just ready”. The leaves darken, the starch converts to sugar, undesirable bad-tasting compounds disappear, and the leaf gains character and delicacy. When are the leaves ready? It depends on the rainfall and the temperature inside the pile. 90° to 160°F for normal leaf (a minimum of 165°F for Maduro).
Each leaf type is then packed in bales and allowed to sleep for one to three years – more aging, and further mild fermentation. “At the precise time” says Rick Hacker – the bales are opened and the leaves are moisturised for working. (He doesn’t explain “the precise time” – I guess it’s when the leaf is ready!)
At last the leaf is ready to be rolled into cigars.
At every stage there must be a human judge to decide whether the leaf is sufficiently aged to be “ready”. And if he/she gets it wrong or cuts corners – quality will be the loser.
On completion, the cigars are bundled and then placed in the aging room for various lengths of time to allow the flavours to marry and settle down.
Once boxed, most blends will continue to age and develop – store them under optimum conditions for the best results.
You get the idea?

Aged (vintage) cigars: These are cigars which have received special treatment in the handmaking process. Certain component tobaccos, often the wrapper, will have been identified as having exceptional quality – often from an exceptionally good year. They are subject to specials treatments which may extend the whole process of manufacture by two or three years. Production of these very special aged cigars is obviously limited and they will be marketed as such with special bands and sometimes special numbered boxes and are usually more expensive.   For example, the Montecristo"C" Edición Limitada 2003 (which was smoked at the October 2005 Cigar Dinner in Johannesburg) the Montecristo Robusto or the Montecristo “D”)
(At present we have small quantities of some of these aged cigars mostly available singly.)

Old cigars: Most of these are just that – old and past it. The fact that the box may indicate that the cigars are 10, 20 or 30 years old does not necessarily mean that they are well-aged cigars. The original blend may not have been one that could live that long, and even if it had been, the box would have needed (either by care or chance) to have been stored in the right conditions to allow the aging process to continue and develop.
If you are bidding on an old box of cigars – don’t be tempted to go too high. If the cigars are old and dry (especially if they have been allowed to get hot) they may be restorable, but only partly.

A special treat – cigars at very special prices until 28 February (unless they sell out first).

In addition, we offer you two half corona selections as our next cigar special.
If you’re starting a collection, invest in some of our 3-pack specials, the most economical was to assemble a variety of shapes and sizes

From 8 February 2007, while stocks last,
Selection 1: Cuaba Divinos (Perfecto); Romeo y Julieta Petit Princess; Hoyo du Deputé   R169.50
Selection 2: El Rey del Mundo Lunch Club; Partagas Shorts; Cohiba Siglo I 

And these prices are all before the Minister of Finance presents his next budget!
I wonder what will happen to the price of cigars this time?

Colin Wesley
No.159 February 1 to February 13, 2007

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No 160 -February 15, 2007
A Danish Classic

Not to be confused with a classic Danish-shaped pipe.

In my mind the 2 titles conjure up different pipe images.

“Danish” pipes in general really came onto the world pipe market in the 1950s and early 1960s.
The big brand names as I remember were Kriswill, Georg Jensen, W O Larsen and Stanwell.
The shapes offered ranged from classic English, to modified English, to original unique Danish.
Let’s take the bent billiard as an example:

Shape 246
Stanwell (Danish) Classic English
(Can’t you just see the Pinstripe/Bowler?) 
Shape 85
Stanwell modified English
(Slightly more relaxed)
Shape 185
Stanwell Classic Danish
(Expansive / Avante Garde)

As the popularity of these brands grew, more and more modified English and classic Danish shapes were produced, at the expense of the classic English.
As mentioned in our June’06 article, Stanwell commissioned 2 top Danish pipe artists to assist them with their range of shapes – which they then registered in the name of Stanwell. Being astute business people, they included in their range at least 2 almost classic English shapes – the billiard and the bent billiard.

Early in 2006 Stanwell introduced a new bent shape (246) which was definitely classic English (as opposed to English modified). It’s a lovely classic bent and we wanted to present it to the South African market, so to keep the size of our range viable we decided to remove the modified-English bent (85).
But, as we say on our website, the shape was not initially available in the Vario finish.
We put it on back order, and expected it to arrive in our November order.
Instead we received 12 more of the Danish bent 85.
Lovely as it is, it doesn’t fit in with our selected range – and we still want the new 246 bent.
What to do?

We always have in mind our offer of something special for the pipesmoker each month – and here we have the obvious answer:
We’ll offer these 12 pipes only at R374.50?  That’s less 30%!
We’ll make it the “special” from 22 February to 7 March – that’s if they last that long.

Only 12 pipes!! You’d better not delay.

Colin Wesley
No.160 February 15, 2007 to February 28, 2007

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