19 - July 26,
Smoking Out -
The law is in place.
The period of grace has expired.
You may be prosecuted if you smoke anywhere that is not a designated
smoking area which conforms to the law.
is the watchdog, and it is determined and aggressive.
I can vouch for this from my experience on a recent TV Panel supposedly
assembled to discuss the implications of this new law.
"Discussion" hardly came into it.
If this all
sounds drastic and even threatening - it is. News items about
prosecutions and convictions have already appeared in the papers,
and more will no doubt follow. We need to heed these warning signals
and show that smokers are law-abiding citizens who want to enjoy
a smoke, with their rights respected too.
there are establishments that have made the effort to comply with
the law, and have created smoking areas. These establishments
deserve our support, and we should give it to them.
We are often asked "Where
are these establishments?" "Where can we smoke?"
We know of some, and we are starting a list on our website.
We would like this list to be as comprehensive as possible, so
if you have had a good experience at a restaurant, pub, coffee
bar, or wherever, let us know the name and telephone number. We'll
make contact and confirm that the establishment does comply with
the law and would like to be listed.
we can compile a nation-wide list of sympathetic venues in which
you can enjoy your smoke after a meal, or with a drink or a cup
of coffee, and not feel threatened.
in a smaller establishment, you may prefer not to take out
a big cigar or your pipe. Try one of the smaller blended
cigars - very smooth and gentle.
From August 2 we feature a Swiss Villiger Twinpack: No 1
and No 3 - R125.00.
5 Panatellas and 5 Slim Coronas - foil wrapped for freshness.
Look at all the new options for choosing a cigar "Inside
20 - August 9,
- what's in a good brand name?
of the fundamental processes in pipe
manufacture is the curing and drying process - the wood needs
to be hard, clean and dry.
influence of this process on the final smoking quality of the
pipe is significant.
But it is a time-consuming process and is really only cost-effective
for top quality pipes. So it will only be carried out properly
by a manufacturer who makes a range of pipes right up to the highest
- flawless bowls with plenty of hard wood and fine grain.
most grading decisions are made only after the curing and drying
process, once the bowls have been turned and the wood can be properly
examined. So each pipe at each price
point from a given manufacturer has had the same basic treatment
as the top-of-the-range.
flawless bowls or bowls with lots of hard wood and close grain
will receive progressively more attention in the finishing processes
than those with a majority of soft wood,
that it pays to buy a pipe from companies such as Savinelli and
a "vague" grain or obvious surface flaws.
The pipes at each higher price point will be successively higher
grade - more hard wood, less surface flaws, more beautiful and closer
grain - but they will nearly all provide good smoking quality right
across the price range.
21 - August 23,
on your cigars?
Good / Bad?
"Bloom" or "Plume" (an extruded oil substance on a cigar)
is the obvious result of a chemical reaction going on in a dark,
moist atmosphere such as inside your humidor, causing the oils
in the cigar leaf to come to the surface.
This fine whitish dust does no harm to the cigars. On the contrary
it indicates that the cigar is ageing nicely and may improve in
taste. There is no need for alarm - it is both tasteless and odourless.
the sake of appearance the bloom can easily be removed with a
soft cloth, tissue or baby brush.
"Mould" or "Mold" depending on whether you use the English
or American spelling, is a signal for action.
It is evidence that the cigars are being stored in conditions
that are too damp and/or too hot. Mould is distinguishable from
Bloom by its bluish tint, musty aroma, and (if you smoke them)
the mouldy taste. You'll recognise the "damp cellar" smell. If
you try to brush it off, it leaves marks on the wrapper.
action is to separate and remove all the cigars from the humidor.
This will allow the humidor to aerate and dry out. You can even
wipe the inside with a dry cloth. Once it is clean and dry (check
the smell) you may replace the unaffected cigars.
You may be able to rehabilitate and save the mouldy cigars
but if not, discard them.
Do not put them in with the clean cigars. They can have
a seriously detrimental affect on them, ruining your smoking enjoyment.
1. It could be residue of chemical dust (like the "fur" in a kettle)
after the evaporation of the water you have been using to create
humidity. You could use distilled (or boiled) water which would
contain less salts. See "Humidification".
2. Or it could be disintegration of the "oasis" material in your
humidifier. It may be necessary to replace it with fresh "oasis"
obtainable from a florist.
In either case remove the dust regularly or it might affect
the taste of the cigar.
we are not going to offer you cigars covered with bloom next
week - nor even a baby brush at a special price. Instead we
are offering you the opportunity to try one of the newer Cuban
brands - Vegas Robaina
- in 3 sizes.
Complete Pocket Guide (4th
edition) has this to say:
Launched in Spain in 1997.
Filler comes from San Luis region in famed Vuelta Abajo. Wrapper
comes from the famous Vega Robaina (after which the brand is named).
These wrappers were previously used exclusively for the Cohiba
brand. Produced in the Jose Marti (H Upmann) factory. The cigars
are ideal for aging.
Robaina Classico - Lonsdale (Royal Corona)
Robaina Famosos - Robusto
Robaina Familiar - Corona
of 3 in glass tubes: R195.00
22 - September 6,
the restrictive Anti-smoking laws are in place, smokers are often
"invited" to smoke outdoors. Occasionally you may choose to smoke
outdoors, as we did when a group of cigar enthusiasts visited
a Game Lodge. We sat on the deck with our cigars and watched the
Waterhole parade. Marvellous! The game drives were non-smoking
- but a short leg-stretching, smoke break was included.
the circumstances that lead to smoking outdoors here are a few
cautionary comments that may prevent you from spoiling the experience.
If there is any breeze or movement of air (and when isn't there)
it will accelerate the burning rate of your cigar. If you have
the option it might be a good idea to choose a slightly smaller
ring size than your normal choice. This will naturally burn a
little slower and you won't need to change your smoking rhythm.
You will probably find that a loosely packed or short filler cigar
will burn too fast. In any case, try to smoke with the breeze
behind you, and draw more gently allowing the cigar to burn as
slowly as possible. In all circumstances keep a watch on the burning
pattern and try to keep it even. (On our non-smoking game drives,
we enjoyed a quality small Cuban
Mini during the short break.)
with cigars the elements can play havoc with your normal smoking
pattern. A breeze across the top of the bowl will accelerate the
burning rate of your tobacco, affecting the taste, and may generate
so much heat that the bowl becomes too hot to handle. An uneven
burn can cause a "burnout" from the inside of the bowl. The answer
is to use a thick wooded pipe and a slow burning tobacco. Try
to smoke with the breeze behind you, and smoke gently. A pre-filled,
half or one-third bowl might be most welcome for a short break.
This may not be easy.
Seek cover and use cigar
matches (try two together), or an Imco
gas lighter with its angled flame.
"liquid fuel" lighters are very good at defeating the elements
- and the breeze will blow away the fumes. Read about lighting
your pipe or cigar in "Lighting
Up" (March 8, 2001) and in "Liquid
Fuel Lighters" (May 17, 2001).
Featured is the practical, inexpensive, outdoor Imco
Liquid Fuel lighter in 2 models.
the case of cigars, a major plus for the "Turbo" type lighter
is its ability to combat the elements. The strong, hot flame lights
the cigar very quickly. Capetonians swear by these lighters -
they are almost essential.
(A Turbo is not suitable for a pipe, as it acts like a blow torch
and can burn the inside of the bowl.)
let the elements spoil your smoking pleasure.
If it is raining just find an umbrella.
23 - September 20,
for the "Lift-off"?
"lift off" of the embargo on Cuban cigars to the USA, that is.
years the American premium cigar market has been dominated by
the very light cigars made mainly in the Dominican Republic, many
with Connecticut shade grown wrapper. Names such as Davidoff,
Don Diego, Montecristo and Macanudo have been brand leaders.
But tastes are changing, and probably through more and more Americans
smoking the more full bodied Cuban cigars. Whether legally or
not is irrelevant. The taste has taken on.
Macanudo was the first brand to recognise this change when in
1998 they introduced Macanudo "Robust" in which the darkest
aged Connecticut leaf is used for the wrapper. The "Robust" range
was an instant success, and sales are still growing.
is working on stronger blends for both Don Diego and Montecristo.
Something more of a "Cubanesque" flavour. Don Diego
will have an Ecuadorian wrapper and the Montecristo a Cameroon
wrapper. It is my opinion that these changes have been made at
least partially in preparation for the influx of Cuban cigars
into the USA when the embargo is lifted.
the cigar manufacturers want to nurture this change in the taste
of their consumers so that when the day comes to compete, the
competition will be on quality and price, not simply on flavour.
In both these areas they may win.
"Feature" will offer you the opportunity to taste this development
and make your own judgement. We will be offering a classic light
Dominican, a Macanudo Robust and a Cuban, all of approximately
the same Petit Corona size.
be an interesting experience for you.
According to Cigar Aficionado (Dec.2000) there are signs that
the richer Maduro cigars may be in vogue again. A search for "Maduro"
on the Cigar Aficionado website shows 174 matches. Don Mateo Maduro
Robusto is one of the few Maduros available in South Africa.
No 24 - October
On our return from a recent business trip to Cape Town we drove
by way of the Pont at Malgas (still operating), and the whales
at Witsand, and then turned off the N2 at Riversdale over Garcia's
pass into the serene valleys of the Little Karoo en route for
Oudtshoorn - through 19th Century Ladismith and Calitzdorp (with
their rich architectural heritage) via the spectacular Huisrivierpas.
Ladismith, laid out in 1852 and nestling in a valley at the foot
of the Klein Swartberg Mountain Range, is the birthplace of C
J Langenhoven (Die Stem) and of The Calabash - South Africa's
From Oudtshoorn we took the Beaufort West road - we wanted to
visit again the magnificent Meiringspoort (with Langenhoven's
"Herrieklip"), 21 kilometres of winding road following the old
way along the river through the Swartberge. The experience was
worth even the 95 km of dirt road to Willowmore - and reaching
our overnight stop at Middelburg 12 hours after we left Cape Town.
timelessness of the Little Karoo is mirrored in the cultivation
and preparation of the Calabash pipe by the small group of farmers
who still care.
is planting time - December the month when the fruit must be turned
by hand in the heat of each day (when it is softest) to perfect
the bend in the neck, carefully - too much at a time and the neck
will crack. After 7 weeks those gourds that survive the wind,
the plant lice and the cutworms, are harvested and the neck is
cut off and boiled for 12 hours in a copper kettle. This process
removes the bark and gives the pipe its beautiful honey colour.
Drying is next, on racks in the sun for some days and then 3 days
in the shade - too quick and the necks will crack, too slow and
they will go mouldy.
some countries a fitted Meerschaum bowl is traditional for Calabash
pipes. Many of our calabash gourds are exported to Europe and
elsewhere especially for this purpose. The better quality bowls
are made from Turkish meerschaum. The "African" meerschaum
from Tanzania is less porous and less consistent. Occasionally
a briar bowl is fitted.
The lining of the bowl of the South African Calabash is "quick-setting
gypsum (calcium sulphate semihydrate) plaster
.. which hardens
when moistened and allowed to dry". (Exact description from
the encyclopedia.) Called Plaster of Paris because gypsum was
used early near Paris, France to make plaster. It's been used
since ancient times to make pottery vessels, to pre-cast and hold
ornamental cornices, for sculptures and medical plaster casts
amongst other things.
It's easy to work with, sets quickly, has a neutral taste and
will accept the temperature of burning tobacco - which makes it
ideal for lining the calabash pipe, especially since we don't
have any meerschaum in South Africa. We often describe it as a
"clay lining" because the smoking sensation is similar
to that of smoking a clay pipe.
It is difficult to describe the difference between meerschaum
and clay. They both taste neutral and can withstand the heat of
burning tobacco. I think that the essential difference lies in
the fact that the meerschaum is more porous and will hold the
residue of the moisture from the tobacco (which gives it its colour)
- not to mention the beauty and lightness.
The pipe is finished by attaching the vulcanite mouthpiece via
an individually turned wooden link. The air space left below the
lining ensures a cool, dry smoke, and the juices are absorbed
into the shell itself allowing it to colour as it ages to a rich
brown, like old polished leather. The top of the bowl is secured
with a chrome or brass ring.
Each gourd is different - every pipe is individual. We divide
them into full bent or half bent.
Now you can experience the pleasure of smoking a Calabash,
and watching it as it colours - at a very special price.
From October 11 to October 24 we offer the Calabash
at only R175.00 instead of the normal price of R269.50.
fine "Calabash" is a joy to smoke and beauty to behold.
- 17, 2001
25 - October 18,
cigars - who smokes them?"
Despite their quality, some cigar sizes or brands just don't sell
as well as others. But they could and should be included in your
personal selection, adding variety to both aspects.
A Vegas Robaina Don Alejandro (Double
Corona) will see you through a whole rugby test (or most
of the second half of a day / night game) building in taste as
the game progresses, leaving you quite satisfied (especially if
we win). A Bolivar Corona Gigantes
(Churchill) is nearly
subtle nuances of a Cuaba Exclusivo
(Perfecto) will demand
more attention and could be an excellent accompaniment to a reflective
45 minutes under the stars (on holiday?).
What did Fidel Castro see in those long, slim Cohibas Lanceros
and Especials (Panatella)
that were created for him? Smoke them slowly and gently and find
out for yourself.
These are some of the cigars we have on offer now at 25% off
the normal Retail price.
From October 25 to November 7, they will be 33% off - buy them
at even better prices.
you won't have so much "quiet time" or watch so much sport in
the near future?
Store the cigars properly and they'll keep for ages - or share
a box with some friends.
includes cigars rated 4 and 5 stars by Theo Rudman, 84 -91 by
Availability varies in both brand and size. Stocks are very limited
so they are being kept at a central depot. They may sell out -
so think of alternatives. Place your order either through head
office (phone 011 4402717; fax 011 4401292; firstname.lastname@example.org)
or through your nearest Wesley's. Specify from which Wesley's
you would like to collect the cigars, or whether they should be
posted (flat rate of R35.00 per parcel for overnight service).
extra special prices will be advertised in the shops from October
Following is a preview so you can decide in advance.
miss this opportunity to buy a 5 star cigar at a 3 star price.
from October 24 to November 7: