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No 207 - January 8, 2009
The Pleasure of the Pipe

From my long association with Pipe Smokers I’ve learned that there is one thing common to them all – they love their pipes.
But where does this love stem from?

I mean, to a non-pipe-person a pipe is just a piece of wood turned into an object through which you can consume tobacco. No big deal.

To the pipesmoker, however, the pipe is the end-product of many hours of labour by many hands. By hearts that have a passion for what they are doing - creating a product which will be a thing of beauty to the eye with a delicate balance in either hand or mouth, producing a cool, dry smoke – such a pleasure!

And the true pipe man is never satisfied with just one or two pipes – he prefers to spend time fondly selecting just the right one for his mood. Often the pipe brings back memories of the occasion on which it was acquired – a keepsake from a special holiday, an inheritance, a gift. And he is always happy to add another to his collection.

As with many long-term attachments there are upsides and downsides starting from the very first
process of “breaking-in” a new pipe. A process that has many theories (honey, alcohol, fill it to the top, fill it halfway) – but one that cannot be rushed. Holding it out of the car window is a recipe for disaster – a country customer finally graduated to a Savinelli Champagne, but was so eager to try it that he jumped into his bakkie, lit the pipe and drove off with the window open. The result was a burnt-out bowl before he got home.
But as Rick Hacker says on “breaking-in” a new pipe: “It’s like meeting a new friend and getting acquainted by relaxing together.”
Over the years regular cleaning and maintenance, while essential to ongoing enjoyment, can be a drag. Another of my customers overcomes this by having all the correct equipment and then selecting an “old movie” to entertain him during the cleaning and polishing.(Warning – the tension of a sporting final is not appropriate.)

And then there is the pipe to specifically suit the individual smoker.
A pipe we sold recently was not quite perfect in the eyes of the purchaser. He felt that the mouthpiece was a little bulky and the sandblasting a bit shallow. With good machining and fine steel wool – a little DIY ensured lasting pleasure.
The “Carvit” offers the ultimate pleasure of creating your own shape and finish.
On his arrival in South Africa, an American crossbow hunter used to visit our Carlton Centre shop to buy an unpolished natural finish pipe so there’d be no reflections from his hidden position in the bush.

The choice of tobacco can be an enjoyable journey of adventure – constant trial (and error) with different flavours and aromas. And then when you’ve chosen, how do you make the most of it? Recently a pipesmoker from Spain shared in an email a practice he has of blowing on his pipe (or cigar) to create extra aroma for his enjoyment, without the aftertaste in his mouth. Sounds good to me – think of how often you are complimented on the aroma of your tobacco (or cigar) by the person next to you. And you’ve no idea how many people come into the shop “just for the smell”.

But above all, for maximum pleasure comfort is necessary – in the hand and in the mouth.
A straight-stemmed pipe suits those smokers who like to hold the bowl while smoking, but a bent pipe is generally found to be the most comfortable – exerting minimal pressure on the teeth. That’s one of the reasons I so often recommend the Savinelli Dry System pipe, especially for a new pipe smoker.
But for real “hands free” smoking, Oom Paul Kruger had the right idea – the comfortable pipe shape named for him can be a real pleasure.
And we’ve recently received from Lorenzo this “Oom Paul” shape.
The pipe is perfectly balanced in the mouth - “look no hands”, and can stand alone - “look no pipe rest”. Available in 4 sizes, there is sure to be one that suits you. Or buy, at a reduced price, the complete set of 4 - to grace your display cabinet or bookshelf.

From January 15-28, 2009 we offer a further reduction
- 25% off the individual pipes or off the set of 4.
R350.00, R495.00, R635.00, R795.00 – Full set R1800.00

Experience the comfort of a really bent bent – the Oom Paul is an ideal pipe
with which to relax.

What a pleasurable way to begin 2009.

Colin Wesley
No.207 January 8 - 21, 2009

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No 208 - January 22, 2009
Checklist for 2009

Relaxing with a cigar on New Year’s Day I reflected on some of the questions I’d answered in the course of 2008 – many about care of cigars.
Here is a little checklist that could be of help to you in this endeavour in the coming year.

1. Where do I keep my cigars?  
a. In a humidor?
Is it the right one for my needs?

Was it properly prepared before I filled it? (Note – most Hygrometers are now pre-regulated. So
ignore steps 1-6, setting the hygrometer. Step 7 is all that is necessary.)
How will I maintain and check it regularly?  

b. In a cupboard?   
Are the conditions favourable, can I generate enough humidity, and maintain it? Is it a cool cupboard – what is cool enough?

c. What can I do to prevent damage to my cigars, especially through excessive handling?
I’ve spoken so often about the pleasure of Choice, and particularly selecting the right size cigar for the occasion. To my mind this is even more important than brand or leaf/flavour. In fact in choosing a humidor I’ve sometimes suggested that 2 small ones might be better than one large one. Cigars don’t really liked to be disturbed – akin to “sleeping dogs” it is better to let them lie. It isn’t a good idea to have to rummage to the bottom of your humidor to find the exact cigar you want. A few cigars of different sizes close to your favourite smoking place would offer you the choice without the rummage. But they should be in a well-humidified container – a relatively small humidor that will hold your cigars safe if it is moved around. We found these stunning leather covered desk models tailor-made for this purpose. The upper and lower grooved cedar wood inner holds the cigars gently in place, even in the event that you transport the humidor to the patio or the Berg. The humidifier fits neatly into any slot. A magnetic closure is a bonus for the forgetful.

2. January is halfway through summer, maybe I’d better check for the dreaded tobacco beetle?
(I could have a problem if my humidor is too warm) What do I look for? Can I fix it?
Note: Since 2006, once the cigars are boxed, and before shipping out of Cuba, they are put through a freezing process over a 5 day period. The temperature is gradually reduced to -23°C, maintained at this temperature for 3 days, and then gradually restored to a normal temperature over a final 24 hours. This effectively annihilates the tobacco beetle and even the eggs.
I can vouch for the success of this exercise as we have had almost no beetle-mania over the last 18 months or more.

But I still wouldn’t take a chance by allowing my cigars to get warm. (When I take my cigars in the car, I’d better be careful of leaving the cigars in the cubby hole. It can become a real hot box.)   

3. Those white specks on my cigars – are they dust, bloom or mould? (The last could be serious.)
How can I tell?          

4. Winter will be here before I know it – will I be in a dry or a wet climate?
What extra precautions will I take to look after my cigars?

If “1c” has grabbed your attention, this fortnight’s Special Offer will grab you even more!
25% off the stylish and practical, leather-covered Desk Humidor
……. which goes anywhere.

Price to you R746.25 - for 14 days only. Offer finishes 11 February 2009

A little “T L C” will go a long way towards ensuring long life for your cigars – and improving your smoking enjoyment.

Colin Wesley
January 22 to February 4, 2009

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No 209 - February 5, 2009
Sent: 07 January 2009
To: cg@wesleys.co.za
Subject: New Pipe Smoker

My name is Ben and I am an American student interested in pipe smoking, Being a student I do not have a lot of money but I wish to start this hobby. I was wondering if you could possibly give me information on which pipe I should purchase, the first tobacco, and other helpful hints. I have read many of your articles but before I purchase from you I would like a little bit of a guide to help me out. I have looked at the Sport Rustic LSR5 pipe with the mocca, black cherry, and mellow cavendish tobaccos. Is there any advice you can give me on things I should purchase such as filters or different pipes? Thank you for your help.
Good day Ben,
Thank you for your email. You sound like a diligent student. You’ve done your homework. You are on the right track but I suggest you put aside a little more money for the pipe and buy an entry level “Filter” pipe such as the Filtro Sandtype. This will give you a pipe with a virtually unbreakable peg and the option to use 9mm “filters”. The tobaccos you are looking at will probably smoke better with a 9mm filter (Balsa are the most economical). As part of your reading did you find the section “The Complete Pipesmoker” with special reference to the new pipe smoker? 
Hope this is ok for starters. Keep in touch and if we can be of service it will be a pleasure.
Regards, Colin Wesley
**PS Did your homework reveal that we operate in South Africa, so shipping charges would be a factor with any order?

Mr. Wesley,
Thank you for your useful information. I did in fact know that you are located in South Africa but because of how well your site is constructed and the ample amount of information that is contained within I knew that I had found the right place to learn more about this wonderful hobby. With a little research I found that with the exchange rates and even including shipping that your shop has comparable if not less expensive prices than other online tobacconist shops. I did read "The Complete Pipesmoker" but I also wanted a direct conversation with someone as knowledgeable as yourself so that I can be started off right. I basically am asking for some advice of the tools and items that I will need to have a good base to which I am able to build off of once I find a suitable dealer around here. Ben
Good day Ben
On the logistical side, whatever you buy from us will be exempt from our tax (VAT = 14%). This will contribute towards the shipping cost, which is the only charge added to the actual price of the goods.
Now as far as basics go, you will need:
A pipe: As I suggested, 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, between lectures maybe. For that you would first have to find a smoking area which allows pipe smoking (they don’t all). And this may not be where you actually study.
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 tobacco which is easiest for a new smoker is No.43 Old Gold; comparatively easy-burning, very smooth and with a delightful aroma. 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. 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 10 smokes. 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 which is very effective and the most economical.
Lighting: Matches to start with – use 2 at a time for a bigger flame. A good gas lighter with flint ignition and a directional flame is (if available at an affordable price) good to aim for, but never a “Turbo” lighter.
Zippo make a pipe insert for their standard lighters, unless you aren’t happy with the smell of the fuel.
Not just yet (but in a couple of weeks):
Cleaning: Polishes and cleaning fluid. You may be able to buy substitutes locally - any form of alcohol (surgical spirits from a pharmacy is good) will do as the cleaning fluid; Jeweller’s Rouge for the stem and a good wax polish to polish the wood. The cleaner and drier you keep your pipe, the more enjoyable is the smoke.
Reamer: In time a reamer is necessary to keep the carbon layer under control. The 78-Sav444 is calibrated so you can determine exactly how much carbon you remove.

Re-reading this recent correspondence made me feel that it should be shared with those other newcomers who can’t visit a Wesley’s. We hope we can track Ben’s further journey into the “briar and baccy” world.

And especially for the newcomers, we will offer 25% off the Lorenzo Filtro range of pipes.
Normal prices from R210.00
Because this offer is only from 12 to 25 February, 2009 – you can’t afford to delay

If you are an experienced pipesmoker much of this may be “old hat”, but you shouldn’t let that deter you from taking advantage of this Filtro pipe special – well-seasoned briar, virtually unbreakable Teflon peg, comfortable shapes, very good prices – how can you resist?

Colin Wesley
5 to18 February 2009

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

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No 210 - February 19, 2009
Sent: 07 January 2009
Cuban cigars – which to buy and smoke.

More interesting correspondence – this time from a part of the world where Cuban cigars are not readily available. It made me think that although we in South Africa are more fortunate in having access to a wide range of Cuban cigars, we still have to make the decision – which to buy and smoke.

-----Original Message-----
 Subject: Johannesburg Visit
I'm in SA for the next two weeks, and found you in CigarCyclopedia.com's Week In Review email. In fact,
you're the only SA cigar shop IN the list!
Anyway, I would love to try a Cuban cigar. I've never had one before, so not sure what to expect. Some say "strong", others say "creamy smooth", so looking forward to learning. Knowing my preference for mild to medium cigars, some friends of mind recommended the following, in order of mild to strong cigars, for my first Cuban cigar:
Montecristo #2; Partagas Series D #4; Partagas Lusitania; Bolivar Corona Extra; Bolivar Belicoso Fino.
I'd be interested in your thoughts.
I noticed your Tasting Form as well! What a great idea! I don't have access to a printer while traveling, but will be trying this out when I return home.

When a customer comes into my shop with this sort of request, my first question is “What do you normally smoke?”
More explicitly -
1. What size of cigar, do you vary the size according to the occasion?
2. Country of origin – Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua or European-type blends?
3. When (what time of day) – only after a meal, as an aperitif, after lunch?
4. How many a day – or maybe special occasions only?
This gives me a much better idea of what to recommend.
For example, if you don’t smoke large cigars very often I might suggest a Trinidad Reyes as a first-time Cuban cigar – a slightly longer “Half Corona” (4⅓ inches x Ring 40), very smooth yet with plenty of flavour. And it
won’t last too long, so that you won’t be finished before the cigar is.
Alternatively if your favourite is a Nicaraguan Churchill, I might point you towards a Cuban Robusto or Pyramid.
Please let me know.

Wonderful!  A pleasure to connect with you directly, sir!
Ok, here's my answers.
1. I tend to smoke 5"x50 and 6"x48(?) cigars, but smoke larger for special occasions.
2. I am still relatively new to cigars (2-3 years), so still experimenting. I got started with Drew Estates' Kuba Kuba and Rocky Patel's Java. I do enjoy CAO, Graycliff (expensive but very nice), Gurkha, Nub, Onyx, Zino, and others.  I tend to like mild to medium cigars, as darker cigars tend to be too strong and make me dizzy. That said, I do enjoy CAO Sopranos (my "treat" cigar), CAO Brazilia, and Onyx Reserve.
3. I generally smoke after dinner, but also with a drink on weekends. I tend to drink beer, but while here in SA I'm drinking alcohol - red wines mostly.
4. I generally have 1-2 per day, after dinner. But on special occasions I will smoke 2-3 cigars.
I hope this helps!!!  I will give you a call when I am heading toward Jo'burg so we can try and coordinate our schedules.

Thank you for your helpful email. Since you prefer larger cigars I suggest you consider the following:
Robusto Extra
Trinidad Robusto Extra  (6 1/8” x Ring 50); Montecristo Edmundo (5 1/3” x Ring 52); Cohiba Siglo Vl
(6” x Ring 52)
Robusto Size  (approx.5” x Ring 50)
Cohiba; Hoyo Epicure No.2; Partagas Serie D No.4.
Piramides (6 1/8” x Ring 52)
Cuaba (Ltd Edition); Montecristo No.2

If the reply had been for the smaller sizes I’d have suggested the Petit Coronas (approx.5” x Ring 42) from Montecristo, Cohiba or Trinidad

But in any case I think a Trinidad should be amongst those that you try. My experience and feedback is that these cigars are so smooth that they give the impression of being light.
I look forward to your call, and visit.

Well, due to pressure of work he didn’t make the visit, but I’ve put together a 3-pack selection of medium-large Cuban cigars that he could have tried: from Budget to 5-Star.

Naturally a Trinidad Coloniales (132mm x Ring 44), a classic Bolivar Corona Extra
(143mm x Ring 44)
 and a Jose L Piedra Conservas (140mm x Ring 44) for the budget conscious.
Only R295.00

What do you think of the selection – how do the cigars compare?
Is the Trinidad as good for you as it is reputed to be?
All three cigars have the same “Corona Extra” ringsize – does the length make such a difference?
Use the Tasting Form to record your impressions.
Which would you have suggested for a “first Cuban”?

If you prefer smaller cigars, do as I suggested above and test a Trinidad Reyes, Montecristo No.5
and a JLP Petit Cazadores (excellent value). All available in packs of 5.

Colin Wesley
No.210 February 19 – March 4, 2009

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