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No 216 - May 14, 2009
Value for Money

Just the other day I took a phone call asking for a quote on cigar cutters for a client, obviously a “give-away” token. The budget was limited, but the client “didn’t want rubbish”.
That comment made me think.
We offer double-blade cigar cutters for R32.95 – are these “rubbish”?
I don’t think so. Wesley’s shops always try to offer “value for money” products, items which are suitable for a particular time or occasion, and such inexpensive cutters satisfy the emergency or one-off situation.

For example, you are a cigar smoker from out of town, you arrive and feel like buying a cigar for the evening. You visit a Wesley’s, buy a cigar and then remember that you have left your favourite cutter at home. You don’t like your cigar pre-cut, so what do you do? This is when you need an inexpensive cutter which you might only use this once.
You are going to enjoy some cigars with a few fellows, you know at least 2 or 3 of the guys won’t have a cutter – do you want to risk leaving your favourite cutter behind at the venue? I doubt it.
You are off on holiday. You take 10 cigars – again do you want to risk misplacing your favourite cutter?
And again – I doubt it.

I think that I have made the point of why we offer these inexpensive cutters. They are razor-sharp to begin with, however possibly not good for more than 40 to 50 cuts.

In fact this is why we offer a comprehensive range of cutters, from R32.95 to R1100.00; double blade guillotine, scissors, cigar punch – cigar cutters that cover all tastes, all budgets and all occasions.

Family: June 21 is Father’s Day.
Doesn’t Dad deserve something really nice in a cigar cutter? (Sneak a peek to see what he’s using now.)
Why don’t you take a quick look at what’s available - so you have time to think about it.
Then visit your nearest Wesley’s or the website, and choose one that suits Dad’s style and your budget.

And we’re here to help you – from 21 May right up to 21 June 2009
we offer 25% off any of our cigar cutters.

Dad will have a “Happy Father’s Day”.

Colin Wesley
No.216; 14-27 May 2009

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No 217 - May 29, 2009
The Tailor-made Tool

There is no escaping it – being a pipe smoker will bring out the DIY in you. From the very first smoke (after which you need to clean out the remnants in the bottom of the bowl), to the time your pipe needs a good ream and clean, you will use tools to scrape out, tamp down, ream and thoroughly clean the bowl and mouthpiece.

Constant caring is vital to the ongoing enjoyment and longevity of your pipe. So why not make it as easy as possible by assembling those tools tailor-made for the art of pipe smoking, instead of gathering a hotchpotch
of nails, blades, polishes and universal cleaning fluids that will turn the tasks into chaos, and possibly damage your pipe.

We get to see the pipes when the damage has been done, for example:

A badly oxidised mouthpiece – dark green-grey in colour and very bitter in taste. (Needs a polish.)

Or a hole in the base of the bowl – maybe from twisting the pipe cleaner too enthusiastically

– or even more likely caused by using a sharp-pointed knife to clean and ream. (Can be plugged.)

And the rim of the pipe worn away from knocking on a hard surface?  (Find a softer surface.)

Worse, look at this next bowl - insufficiently reamed, possibly not reamed at all.
Briar has the densest, hardest grain of any known wood – which is why you can make a fire inside it and it won’t burn easily. Build up a carbon lining to insulate the bowl (or “cake the bowl” as they say in the States) and your pipe will last for many years. But if you don’t maintain the thickness of the carbon at about 1mm to 2mm, you can have a disaster in the making.
The carbon and wood don’t expand and contract to the same extent or at the same rate, and the carbon may crack allowing the heat of the burning tobacco to char the bowl. And not even the thickest bowl can withstand the pressure from expanding rock-hard carbon.  (Here you have the disaster.)
Extend the life of your pipe - read about the practical everyday path to preserving your pipe, and make sure you have the right tools to make this easy.

So what tools are available? Here is a checklist:
Every time you smoke – A pipe knife (from R95.00) or a simpler tool (from R6.50), pipe cleaners;
Periodically – Cleaning spray or fluid, polishes and bristle pipe cleaners;
Keeping the carbon under control – a Reamer;
Protect the rim of the bowl when knocking out - Think about a cork knocker.

Tick off what you already have and consider what’s missing.

To encourage you to complete your “tool box”, we offer 25% discount on any pipe tool – knives, gadgets, reamers – and we’ll throw in a bundle of bristle pipe cleaners for good measure

This offer runs from June 4 to June 21, 2009

(PS In case you’ve forgotten – that’s Father’s Day)

The first two problems we mentioned can be sorted out through our Repair and Cleaning Service.

Actually if you are not a DIY man what a great gift this service makes – drop a hint!

Colin Wesley   
No.217; 29 May – 10 June 2009

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No 218 - 11 June, 2009
Blending “outside-the-box”

This could be the credo for CAO International, the “boutique” cigar manufacturer with creative blends and innovative marketing.In 2006 James Suckling met with Tim Ozgener (President of CAO) to find out more about the company philosophy, and wrote the following for Cigar Aficionado. (Read the full article – it’s really interesting.)

He was greeted on arrival at the factory in Danli, Honduras with the sight of “dozens of petit corona cigars in open cedar trays” each with a tiny international flag. “Welcome to the United Nations of cigars” says Tim Osgener. James Suckling continues “then I discovered that I also was expected to smoke each cigar and give my comments”.
His thoughts were that good tobacco can come from most countries selling cigar leaf, assuming the tobacco is properly harvested, processed and rolled. And just like good wines, leaf from each area has its distinct characteristics – “the provenance of the tobacco is fundamental to its character”.
These were some of his opinions:
Dominican Republic: Fresh, clean and spicy with a light decadent flavour; the most refined;
Honduras: Earthy and strong by comparison, with a slight bite on the finish;
Nicaragua (three areas - Estelí, Condega and Jalapa): Smooth and more balanced;
Mexico: Almost salty, with lots of meat, coffee and spice flavor;
Colombia: Green-pepper, grilled-meat, earthy character – bitter;
Peru: Delicate, elegant and almost fruity;
Costa Rica: Round-textured with an almost buttery character;
Brazil: Rich, smoky and spicy;
Panama: Astringent and earthy.
With all these choices (not available to Cuban blenders) no wonder the blenders at CAO can “think outside-the-box”. No one-variety “Puros” for them.
James Suckling quotes Tim’s philosophy from Tim’s stand-up comedy days: “you just got to throw it out there” and “if-it-sticks-to-the-wall-it’s-good”. “Why don’t we try a Maduro, with the Connecticut broadleaf and a Brazilian binder? I mean, why not? If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”

Amongst their really good ranges are CAO Brazilia (Nicaraguan and Brazil leaf), CAO America (Nicaraguan, Connecticut, Brazil) and CAO Italia – described on the CAO website as “made with tobacco from 4 countries, a full bodied smoke wrapped and bound in dark smooth Honduran leaves and filled with Peruvian and Nicaraguan tobaccos as well as Cubano seed tobacco grown exclusively for CAO in the Benevento region of Italy. Bold earthy and sweet.” Find out for yourself – try next week’s 3-pack.

Philip Gregory Wynne is another cigar manufacturer who thinks outside the box.
“Felipe Gregorio”, the Latinised version of his name, is well known in the cigar world.
In 2006 he spoke with David Savona for Cigar Aficionado and told how he grew up in Europe (his dad was US Diplomat) and became accustomed to rich cigars, so his first venture into cigars in 1990 was with a full bodied blend. It was successful in Europe, but too early for the US market – it wasn’t until 1993 that the American taste started moving to his type of Cuba-style, “Cubanesque” cigars. Macanudo "Robust" was only introduced in 1998.
To pay the bills during the lean period he made cigars for a mail-order house – specialising in well constructed cigars which offered value for money - Sumatra wrapper – nothing very exciting.
Now he keeps these cigars down to under 30% of his business and can explore “blending outside-the-box”.
In a radio interview he said “I’m always trying new blends, new combinations. It’s a challenge to make an excellent cigar.”

He speaks about choosing the leaf for his cigars: “A typical plantation sits in a small valley, called hoyos. These valley locations protect the plants from too much sun and wind. The basic formula for the best crop is a sheltered valley, good altitude to maintain temperature (not too hot or cold), and great draining soil.
At Felipe Gregorio we bring our tobacco from selected farms in the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and Ecuador. In the Dominican Republic we get the best binder and filler from different locations in the Cibao Valley, always selecting just the best tobacco. In Nicaragua we emphasize the concentration on the growing process in the fields. We have several plantations in Jalapa and Condega, where we grow our filler, binder. Both sun and shade wrappers are grown in our Nicaraguan fields. We have carefully chosen the Havana 92 variety because our experience has shown us that it blends best with the heavily volcanic soils in the territory. This seed was brought over to Nicaragua by Cuban agronomists in 1980, when the Sandinistas were in power and Cuba was the most important trading partner of the country. An important percentage of the wrapper tobacco we use for our cigars is grown in the coastal region of Ecuador, near Quevedo (250 km south from Quito). The climate conditions there are some of the best in the world for wrapper tobacco. The tobacco fields are located on the side of Los Andes highlands. What make this zone special are its soil, temperature and cloudiness.
The soil, which is rich in minerals and natural components, helps the plant develop and produce the best leaves in terms of quality, a fact that will be later reflected in a cigar with an excellent taste and aroma. Cloudiness is also a very important factor; it gives a natural cover that helps to produce bright, soft and elastic leaves, which are extremely important characteristics to make a good premium cigar.

In 1996 he was approached by Frank Sinatra to make a “Sinatra” cigar. It had to be the best of the best, and made by a Sicilian (Philip is part Sicilian). They agreed on the blend and the robusto format, and as he was about to leave Sinatra said: "Kid, by the way, I want a Dominican cigar. This Central American stuff don't sell for sh--. Everyone wants Dominican." I said, "I don't have a Dominican factory." He said, "Now you do." So I threw out a number, and he said, "Do you want a check, or do you want it wired?"

The Dominican cigar is smooth and refined – and so is the Felipe Gregorio “Sinatra”.
And you can taste it from next week.

Try these “blended outside-the-box” cigars, and compare them with a classic Cuban
From June 18 we offer a pack of 3 Robusto cigars in glass tubes for R325.00:

CAO Italia Ciao (R151.00*) Honduras / Nicaragua / Peru / Italy
Felipe Gregorio Sinatra (R150.00*) Dominican Republic / Nicaragua / Ecuador
Romeo y Julieta Exhibicion No.4 (R184.00*) Cuba

Because we only have 50 packs, you’ll have to move quickly. No more Sinatra cigars, ever.
(*Normal price for 3 single cigars in glass tubes)

Colin Wesley
No.218 June 11 – 24, 2009

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No 219 - 25 June, 2009
“Tongue Bite” – the Dreaded Demon!

Over many years behind the Pipe Counter I have been frequently confronted with this demon.There have been standard answers to combating the demon, but no real explanation of how and why. And just recently, a mail order customer from far away wrote:
As I understand, this is very much like the “tongue bite” many pipe smokers experience until they sort out their tobacco and way of smoking.

New scientific investigation has indicated that the sensitivity of one’s taste buds (taste receptors) may be a factor - as Dale Harrison’s article in a trade magazine (Pipes & Tobacco) explains.
It seems that different people have quite different tasting abilities – based on the number of taste buds on their tongues. And when the taste buds are clogged one gets this burning sensation. The more taste buds you have, the worse the clogging effect. (This can be a big disadvantage for a “Super Taster”.)
It is not necessarily a high temperature that causes a “burning tongue” - chillies seem just as “hot” no matter what the temperature of the food. However a higher temperature opens up the taste buds so that the effect of the chilli or the tobacco is increased.
Further, for many smokers (though not all) alkaline tobaccos (with a high pH) cause more of this “burn” than acidic tobaccos. Burley falls into the former group and Virginia into the latter. Matured Virginia has far more natural taste and most of our blends include matured Virginia which adds to the flavour (more satisfaction with less effort) and incidentally neutralises the possible alkalinity of the Burley.
We weren’t aware of this – we just knew from years of experience that the combination achieved our most successful Houseblends – others simply fell by the wayside.
The author of the article suggests that while you’re smoking, you have a drink between puffs - green tea or other gentle drinks. However this is very personal. Whether you’re a Super Taster or not, experiment to see which of your favourite drinks relieves the clogging and stops the acidity.

Another factor is the amount of moisture in the smoke.
Dry tobacco burns more easily. But it can also burn too fast, with a resultant higher temperature – leading to the opening of the taste buds as above.
On the other hand, tobacco needs to be slightly damp to carry the flavour – but too wet and the smoke will be a higher temperature – and there you go again.
Pinch the tobacco in your fingers – it should not crumble or stick together. Just compact and slowly expand.

Finally what about the way you pack the pipe? We say “Smoking should be an extension of breathing, gentle and rhythmical.” But this can only be achieved if your pipe is packed just right for you.
Try out different ways of packing your pipe and find the method with which you are most comfortable.
You may need to adjust for the different sizes and shapes of your pipes.

All of this leads to one inescapable conclusion:
Finding the Perfect Blend is a completely subjective decision - one needs to experiment.
Try different tobaccos of different strengths, different burning rates, in different combinations;
Smoke each one slightly dry or more on the moist side;
Try them in different pipes;
Have fun while you’re about it!
(And then you may find that you like different tobaccos on different occasions in different pipes; or maybe you’ll be lucky and there is one perfect match for any time or place.)

We’ve decided to make it easier for you.
Now every Wesley’s offers “Small Packs” (approximately 7g – a couple of pipefuls depending on your pipe) – at the bulk price: R4.00, R5.00, R6.00 – depending on the blend.

And while you’re there we have a special offer on pipes: The last 24 Marca PortoFino pipes must give way for the new range of Marca pipes expected in a few weeks.

From July 2-15, 2009 we offer these excellent value pipes for only R135.00, that’s more than 25% off.
Try one and just see how beautifully it changes colour to a golden honey-brown.

Take advantage of both – sort out your tobacco, and enjoy it in a neat bent pipe.

Colin Wesley   
No.219; 25 June – 8 July, 2009

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