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No 256 - March 24, 2011
This is how it all started

Back in 1993, to complement our Dominican “CG” cigars, we imported the Honduran brand “Indian Head.” This was an instant success.
Then in 1995, at a Big Smoke in New York, Gill and I each smoked one of our most memorable cigars – a Honduran Punch Churchill.

So when a local importer offered me an assortment of odd boxes of cigars marked “MADE IN HONDURAS” my ears pricked up.
The cigars had been stored (aged) in the humidified store for some years and were in very good condition, but being a little cautious, I called “time” on the deal to do some homework on the brand.
What a revelation.

The first, and major, surprise was that while the cigars were certainly made in Honduras, no Honduran tobacco was used at all.
It just happens that Rolando Reyes Sr., the creator of the brand I was looking at and who has been called the world’s most talented cigar maker, doesn’t like Honduran tobacco. In conversation with Cigar Aficionado’s David Savona: “I just don't like it. I never worked with it. I feel that it doesn't have what I'm looking for.”

Subjective indeed! Read more about blending “Outside the box”.

So who is this Rolando Reyes Sr. who doesn’t care for Honduran tobacco?
Born in Cuba in 1924, at 9 he insisted to his father that he wanted to be a “tabacalero” – tobacconist. By the time he was 14 he had completed the basic training in cigar making and furthered his skills in making figurados and parejos in the J L Piedra and H Upmann factories.
At 21 he had his own factory “Los Aliados” in Havana, Cuba.
He was so successful that in 1968 the Communist government confiscated the Los Aliados trademark, his factory and other personal properties.

For refusing to lend his skills to a government-owned cigar factory he was banished to the rice fields for 3 years – until he emigrated to America in 1971. There, working in the textile industry by day, he rolled cigars for sale in the evenings. By 1983 he had built a small factory onto his home and launched “Cuba Aliados”.
Periods of misfortune and success followed; his movements took him to Miami and the Dominican Republic, but by 1989 he was settled in Honduras.
In the middle of the cigar boom (1995) he launched the “Puros Indios” range of cigars using his “4-country blend” – filler from Brazil, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua; and Ecuadorian binder and wrapper.

The Puros Indios has sold millions over the years and is a tribute to Rolando’s blending expertise and his dedication to quality control in the factory.
He still considers himself to be a genuine “Cuban tobacconist” from the “old school”. A full time lector reads to the workers during the day, and at night Rolando inspects every bundle of 50 cigars from the daily production, leaving little notes on any that do not please him.
Quality cannot be compromised, and no chemicals are used to fumigate, or to enhance flavour.
(The only concession to modern practices is the use of giant freezer rooms to kill the tobacco beetle.)

Such is his devotion to his life’s work that in 2009 he apologised for being unable to attend a ceremony in his honour because of political unrest in Honduras. “They took my factory from me in Cuba; they won’t take it away from me in Honduras without a fight”.

Cigar Aficionado awarded 90 - 93 to several sizes of Puros Indios, although the Maduro blend was less highly rated. Smoke Magazine was equally enthusiastic.

I bought the “Honduran package”.
The Puros Indios Piramide No.3 Colorado (aged in cedar) will be available from your nearest Wesley’s (while stocks last).

Colin Wesley
No.256 March 24 – April 6, 2011

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No 257 - April 7, 2011
By Design

Design – the how, why
and what for of many of the items offered by Wesley’s.

Savinelli Shape EvolutionThe thought for this theme came from the illustration used by Savinelli to show how some of his wonderful shapes evolved.

It made us realise the wealth of thought put into many of the items we sell.
We have looked at the Pipes, Tobacco pouches, Knives and Tools and many other items, and applied the “designed” theme to them.
I hope you will this interesting, or at least fun to read.

Designed to extend a classic shape without changing its character - the pipes in Savinelli’s illustration are an object lesson. Quite stunning!

Designed for perfection – Alfred Dunhill Ltd Dunhill Perfection

Designed for comfort - the genius of Lorenzo is typified by the Valgardena shape. To really appreciate the shape hold one in your hand. You won’t find it easy to put down and walk away from.

Designed for a cooler smoke – the long stem of the Canadian or the Lectura ensures a cooler smoke. It requires a time of relaxation – you can’t easily carry it around with you, but the sensation is worth it.

Savinelli Cross Section
Designed for a dry smoke – the ultimate is the Savinelli Dry System – but how about the range of Filtro pipes from Lorenzo with optional 9mm Filter


Designed
for sturdiness – the extra thick shank on the Marca pipes – style too.
Tobacco Jar
Designed to preserve your tobacco - Glass tobacco jars with airtight seal and Humydrole. (Rule of thumb: store your tobacco moist and cool, but allow it to dry slightly for easier smoking.)

Designed to rest your pipe safely – pipe rests so the pipe won’t fall over and spill burning ash; pipe ashtray with cork knocker to prevent damage to pipe and ashtray; pipe rack to store the pipe bowl down, best for drying out.  

Designed for convenience – A range of tobacco pouches or pipe bags to carry your tobacco – and everything else you need.

Designed to ensure that you can keep your pipe sweet for a long time -
Knives, Gadgets, Reamers 
Cleaners: extra thick, extra thin, extra long, bristle for extra scrubbing power
Cleaning materials – Polishes for outside, Pipe Spray for inside
Cleaning materials

Pipe Lighter with an 	angled flame
Designed
for easy lighting, while saving the rim of the bowl – Pipe Lighters with an angled flame.


Cigarette caseDesigned to be elegantly stylish – yet practical and protective with it. All sizes, shapes and prices of cigarette cases: for 85mm, 100mm even 120mm; Lightweight or extra-sturdy; Flat for your pocket, or to take a box.

Designed for “hands-free” pipe smoking –  the full bent “Oom Paul The full bent Oom Paul
10 minute pipesDesigned for a short smoke (a half-full pipe just isn’t the same) – 10 minute pipes

Flat-bottomed or well-balanced pipeDesigned to stand aloneDesigned to stand alone - won’t fall over when you put it down –
flat-bottomed or well-balanced pipes 

But, NOT by Design
An over-run of two shapes in this range of stable, “don’t fall over” pipes
– shapes we already stock (above).
Only 56 pipes scrounged from Lorenzo – to sell at the special price of R185.00
From 14 April – while stocks last

The design is rugged and practical, with the unsnappable Teflon peg – an excellent pipe for your workshop, or to take on holiday.

Colin Wesley

No.257 April 7 – 20, 2011

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No 258 - April 21, 2011
Short Filler Cigars

These are what I’d like to focus on now.

Often maligned or ignored by many cigar smokers, these cigars have a very definite role to play in the world of cigar smoking.

Consistency is the keyword.
Since the bunch (filler enclosed by its binder) is machine made, the consistency of construction is very high. Machines can be set to weigh out exact amounts of tobacco, roll them into an exact diameter and cut to an exact length, with no margin for human error. So a good, even, easy draw is virtually assured.
The filler is composed of small slices of tobacco leaf (hence the term "short filler") which have had the coarse veins removed. The composition can be a Blender's dream. Up to as many as 15 to 20 different tobaccos may be used to fine-tune the blend, and again the degree of consistency will be very high. Here the skill of the tobacco buyer comes into play - to ensure consistency of flavour and quality from year to year.
For my taste I look for a cigar made of 100% tobacco, and I choose a size to complement the time I will have to smoke it. I find, and this has been borne out by various discussions and at functions, that such a short filler cigar is a good "first cigar" of the day or evening.
• Activating the taste buds, not hammering them.
• Leaving them ready for something more substantial later.
They are also ideal for a coffee break smoke or just a light smoke at any time.
My suggestion is that you consider them to see where they can fit into your cigar smoking portfolio.

Three brands showcase the best in short filler cigars available in South Africa

P G C Hajenius, is probably the most famous of these brands.
The history of Hajenius cigars and cigar store extends 180 years into the past. It began as far back as 1826, when Pantaleon Gerhard Coenraad Hajenius started his first cigar store. The store, which quickly became successful, was moved in 1914 to its current address in central Amsterdam. The company has always concentrated on quality in the selection of tobaccos from Sumatra, Brazil and Havana for their blends, and the best machinery to make their cigars. Their extensive range of sizes offers cigars for all occasions and customers' preferences.
The packaging is quality too - a fitting presentation for these superior cigars.
Read more about Hajenius and the cigar store on the website www.hajenius.com (especially interesting is the FAQ section)

We first imported La Paz  in 1989, when by train, ferry and bus we visited the factory in Holland.
“La Paz” in Spanish means peace. To the connoisseur it also means peace and real smoking pleasure and has done so for nearly 200years. Every La Paz cigar is made entirely of natural leaf, undusted, and 100% pure tobacco. Proud of these natural cigars, they refuse to compromise where quality of taste is concerned, and each cigar is made with care and personal commitment: the way cigars should be made and nothing less.
La Paz were the first to introduce the “Wilde” range in smaller cheroots. The typical feather at the end of each cigar ensures that the full aroma of the tobacco blend is released immediately the cigar is lit. So say those who love them – those (in the minority) who don’t, say bits of leaf fall off and burn their shirt.

Short filler cigars are not confined to European manufacturers.
Two major Cuban cigar players, outside of Cuba, SEITA in France and Tabacalera of Spain, formed a company called Altadis which bought 50% of Habanos - the marketing arm of Cuba Tobacco. This gave financial stability to Cuba Tobacco, and access to new equipment, packaging and even new factories.
Coming out of a new factory, with all bright new machinery is the brand "Guantanamera". It is named after the song written in 1928 by the Cuban singer and songwriter, Joseito Fernandez - which became internationally popular in the 1960s.
These are by no means large cigars, ring sizes range from 29 to 42 and length from 106mm to 150mm - but they do offer a good introduction to the distinctive Cuban taste. At these ring sizes the short filler, which comes from the Vuelta Arriba region better known for supplying tobacco for European cigars, is ideal as it gives an easy, mostly consistent draw. The wrapper is finer than that on some of the older machine-made cigars - no lumps and bruises or thick veins. To top it all, each cigar is pre-cut - ready to light and smoke.
Read how the Cuban blender achieves a specific blend restricted as he is to cigar leaves grown only in Cuba

Storage. Short filler cigars are normally rolled slightly dry, and should be stored at about 55 to 60% relative humidity.
Smoking a short filler cigar is really simple.
They are usually clipped, ready to light. Since they are “dry cigars” they light easily – take care not to char the foot.
Then draw slowly, savouring the complex blend of flavours.
When the taste turns bitter, that’s it. Lay it down in the ashtray and it will go out gracefully with no bad odour.

Pipe smokers have a saying: “the only way to test a pipe tobacco is to put it in your pipe and smoke it”.
Here we go, cigarwise – from April 28 any Wesley’s will have a selection pack of the 3 brands for you to try.

I find them really well-suited for a casual in-between smoke.
In the old Carlton Centre days this is the undemanding type of cigar I used to smoke to keep me sane driving home in the traffic.

Colin Wesley

No.258 April 21- May 4, 2011

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No 259 - May 5, 2011
Appeal of  the Bent Pipe

We have just looked at the practical benefit of a flat-bottomed or well-balanced straight pipe “It won’t fall over and spill ash when you put it down”.
While this is true, and the shape and size of the bowl can vary, a straight pipe is still a straight pipe.
But a “bent pipe”?

Well this is where the skilled craftsman and the pipe artist can have a field day - provided the basic construction of the air-flow passage through the pipe offers an easy draw and there is some means of extracting moisture from the smoke.

Beyond this, it’s up to the pipe maker to decide on the degree of bend, the shape, finish and colour of the bowl, and the style of mouthpiece (saddle or taper).

It is the flair with which the pipe is put together that creates the differences between the “classic” bent billiard (synonymous with “English bent”) and the variations created, mostly in Europe.

Savinelli Siena classic bent billiard Just look at this Savinelli Siena classic bent billiard shape 606,

Stanwell
the stunning shape 15
from Stanwell,

and the artistic Lorenzo Valgardena Lorenzo Valgardena

 

 


As I said in the article on the straight pipe, over the years the ratio of sales of straight pipes to bent pipes has changed around. In my young days it was almost 70/30 straight to bent; today it is the opposite or even lower.

The first reason I can think of for this change was the development of the System briars pioneered by Kapp & Peterson, and improved upon by Savinelli. These designs gave bents an edge over the classic straight pipes.
Then today, with our more relaxed lifestyles, bent pipes have a strong eye-appeal, especially to new, younger pipesmokers,

Apart from this, a practical benefit of a bent pipe is that it is well-suited to handle the modern blends. These are created with volatile oils, which generate more moisture in the smoke. This needs to be trapped before it runs back into the bottom of the bowl. It can be done by either building in a moisture trap in the shank (for which you need the bent shape), or with the use of disposable filters fitted in the Teflon pegs or in the base of the bowl.

When we discussed the advantages to you, the smoker, of the bent pipe, I mentioned all of the above and Gill just looked at me. “I never even thought of those advantages – I just thought of the benefits to the pipe smoker of the excellent balance which allows him to have his hands free without too much strain on his teeth, and of the bowl of the pipe being out of his line of vision. A perfect work pipe.”

Whichever of the advantages apply to you - a well balanced bent pipe would be an asset to your collection.
And it needn’t cost you “an arm and a leg”. We have a variety of well-priced bent pipes such as the Lorenzo Filtro or Oom Paul Rustic, the Savinelli Capitol, the Marca.

In fact for our next offer we’ll make the Marca even more well-priced than usual:

From May 12 – 25, 2011
You will pay 25% less for your Marca pipe;
a bent pipe (optional 6mm filter) for as little as R281.25!

Because very few bent pipes can stand alone, you might find it useful to invest R32.95 of your saving in a neat portable folding pipe rest.
Very handy when smoking outdoors – it can sit on a rock, a branch or the nearest table or stool.

Colin Wesley

No.259 May 5 - 18, 2011

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No 260 - May 19, 2011
The Kindest Cut - for you

A year ago I wrote:   “I was chatting with a customer in the shop a few days ago as he was trying to decide which cigar cutter was best for him, and for his cigars.”
Nothing has changed – so I thought it time to repeat the advice.

He wanted something easy to use - but fairly sturdy, so we ruled out the budget models which are basically for short-term use.

The cigar scissors didn’t appeal (possibly because he’d never seen anybody use one properly) so they were out; also out were the punch and V-cut models – his normal preference was for the thicker cigars.

That brought us to the range of metal “flat-cut” cutters.
These have steel blades of varying qualities; the choice of single- or twin-blades; other differences being in the smoothness of the sliding action (try it out), the comfort of the finger holes, and the finish.
The finish – his choice of appearance – matt, shiny, gilt, gun-metal.
The finger holes – he finds the two-finger type easiest to use; for added comfort, all except the R130.00 basic model have milled edges.
And, most important, the blades - for the cleanest cut and longest life a short, steep bevel is best. Look at the blades of the Donatus or Dunhill cutters and you’ll see what I mean. For this you need the hardest steel.
Where the steel is less hard (as on the mid-price cutters) the bevel on the blade must be longer (shallower) since, as it wears away, the edge will thicken, and become blunt too quickly.

The prices of the cutters extend from R130.00 for the basic model, through the R200 range, to around R600.00 for a Donatus cutter, and R1005.00 to R3345.00 for Dunhill models.

In the course of the conversation, we covered methods of cutting cigars and a few thoughts on how to cut.
For your benefit - here they are.

Watchpoint when cutting:
The cap must not be completely removed or the cigar may unravel making it difficult and unpleasant to smoke (unless you really want a mouthful of leaves). As Rick Hacker says – “the best guideline is to make the cut slightly above the horizontal line where the cap connects with the wrapper”.

 “Cutting” can be done in four ways depending on the size and shape of the cigar. (I exclude biting off the end as in old Western movies.)

Cigar cutting - the V cut1. “V” cut – a v-shaped segment is removed from the rounded cap allowing a free passage of air. This is particularly desirable on the narrower ring gauges (up to ring 40/42) where the draw can be tight and the opening should be as large as possible. The v-cut can be used on cigars up to Churchill size (ring 47). The shape of the cutter prevents too much of the head being cut off. However, it does not work on the broad, flat head of the thicker robusto cigars so popular today.

2. “Flat” cut – this removes a portion of the cap to give the exact size aperture that suits you.
The instrument may be a single blade guillotine which cuts across the head from one side to the other, or a double blade, 2-finger cutter which cuts from both sides to the centre (almost 360°) and may be easier to control. Better quality double blade cutters are self-sharpening.

Cigar cutting - Cigar scissors for a flat cut
For us, Cigar Scissors offer one of the best options for cutting a cigar – they will cut any size, with an opening of your choice, and can be sharpened like any other scissors, prolonging their life indefinitely. As you apply the pressure rotate the cigar against the blades, to slice through the cap and establish the cut-line before making a clean cut. (This way you will be able to remove only the cap, leaving the underlying leaves undisturbed.)


Cigar cutting - A variation on the flat cut A variation on the flat cut is to cut off a “corner” of the head, and smoke the cigar with the open part uppermost in the mouth and the smooth section on the tongue. This was told to me some years ago. My informant called this the “Cuban cut” (and he seemed to know what he was talking about). Whatever it is called, I like it and I use it often.

Punch Cutter for Cigars
3.
The Punch” cut – a pre-determined size hole taken out of the end
Cigar cutting - A Hole made by a “Drill” or “Piercer”
usually by an exceptionally sharp, surgical steel round blade. It’s drawback is that it is inflexible as to size, and one would need several different sizes in any collection.


4.
A Hole – made by a “Drill” or “Piercer”.
The hole is generally too small to allow an easy draw, and as the smoke is rushed through the narrow aperture juices tend to deposit, changing the flavour of the cigar.

A thought: A good quality knife (like the Swiss Army Victorinox)
can be used in most of these ways.

So – choosing a cutter, what it boils down to is this:

Are you likely to lose it almost before you use it? Look at the budget range.

Does the mid-range suit your pocket better? There are several models to choose from including a cigar punch and scissors.

What about a finely-engineered piece of equipment that performs its function efficiently, maybe forever? Choose one that does justice to your cigars - the Dunhill, or from the Donatus range. Such a cutter costs only as much as 4 to 6 really good cigars. You have a choice of V-cut, guillotine; and remember, the cigar scissors which can be sharpened, extending their cutting life to many years.
May be kept at home or in the office (for safety), and it feels so good every time you use it or just pick it up.

Because it’s good to spoil yourself, and because a good cigar deserves a good cutter,
from May 26 to June 8, 2011 we offer
25% off most cutters (15% off Dunhill Cutters)
(Maybe this is a good “hint” for Father’s Day!).

Colin Wesley
May 19 – June 1, 2011

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