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No 261 -June 2, 2011
The Calabash Pipe

Our first parcel of 21 Calabash  pipes for 2011 has just arrived – more to follow, I hope.                      

As usual the pipes are quite stunning – each one unique, thanks to nature and the skills of the farmer pipe maker.
Calabash pipes are made from passion and the pride of history rather than sound business sense. So although the price is up, considering the vagaries of nature and the time and effort required to produce each pipe, it is obvious that very little of the real cost has been included.

The Calabash had its origins in South Africa in the early 1900’s. The pipes are produced in the Little Karoo and the area still provides the basic gourds for those few left in the “outside world” who manufacture finished calabash pipes.

The Calitzdorp label on the parcel reminded me of an American pipe collector living in the UK who had acquired a pipe stamped “Karoo”. He was unable to understand the relevance of this until through Google   he found our website and saw the “Across the Counter” article of October 2001: “Born of the Little Karoo” which, as he wrote, solved the mystery for him.
We introduced him to the Pipe Club of London (PCoL) which he joined and now serves as its webmaster.   
As an aside you may find their website worth a visit. Of special interest is the Collectors’ Corner – with its
dedication These pages are dedicated to all those afflicted with P.A.D.  (Pipe Acquisition Disorder)”
and warning Caution! Pipe collecting can be dangerous to your wealth”
As well as pipes dating back as far as 1850 from all parts of the world, you will find a wide variety of Calabashes.

Have you thought about the Calabash pipe of  Sherlock Holmes?

Then there is Gary B.Schrier, another American, who spent 5 years researching the Calabash pipe before publishing his chronicle in 2006 “A History of the Calabash Pipe”. I was involved to a small extent in the preparation, and these are my comments on the finished product:
Congratulations! I never expected that the fruits of those first few e-mails would be so abundant. You dug deep and I’m sure you have in some way surprised everyone who has been associated with the calabash in any way. More than just a book, it’s a biography of this pipe—its origin and development, people involved with it, and the life and times of the country that is its home. Beautiful book, beautifully written and illustrated, about a beautiful, unique pipe.”
The first edition has sold out, but you should be able to buy the second edition in December 2011.

In the mean time – maybe your interest in the calabash is aroused?

From June 9 – 22, 2011
You can take advantage of this offer:
Calabash pipes less 25% and / or Leather Beanbag Pipe Rests** less 25%

A leather "bean bag" is the ideal pipe rest
** The Beanbag – the perfect rest to hold your
Calabash or any “odd shape” pipe.

At this time, only the first 21 Respondents to our offer will be able to become the possessor of a unique Calabash!

Colin Wesley
No.261 June 2 - 15, 2011

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No 262 - June 30, 2011
Who Was Davidoff?

Davidoff was the man who had the integrity to destroy over a hundred thousand Davidoff cigars from Cuba, because he judged them sub-standard and not worthy
of his name.
Davidoff, the man, died in 1994.

But Davidoff, the legend, lives on in the spirit of his company – the pursuit of excellence.

The Cuban Davidoffs were rich and aromatic – but above all they were prized and appreciated because the excellence of their quality ensured that they consistently offered an exceptionally smooth smoke.
In 1991 Davidoff moved production to the Dominican Republic under the care of master blender Hendrik Kelner. The Santo Domingo tobaccos used in the cigars were naturally lighter than Cuban leaf, but the requirement for consistent, excellent quality was unchanged, and the same smooth, mild, creamy smoke was achieved. The trend at the time was to lighter smoking, and the Dominican cigar appealed particularly to the United States market (in which the strong Cuban cigars had not been available since the 1960’s) and to new cigar smokers who often found Cuban cigars too heavy.
But then tastes in the US started to change, and there was a demand for richer “Cubanesque” cigars. Davidoff already marketed a full-bodied Honduran “Zino” but it was felt that the time was right to launch a new richer “Davidoff” – the Millenium Blend with a wrapper from Ecuador. Typical of the attention to excellent quality – this wrapper comes from a hybrid plant which Davidoff developed with the local farmers over some years. Once again the Davidoff skill is apparent in the harmony of the blend and the excellence of the cigar.

A Dominican Puro
A Puro?
This is a cigar made entirely of leaf from one country – in Cuba it also intimates export quality cigars.
Naturally the Cuban Davidoff was “a Puro”
But a Dominican Puro?
The common opinion was that this was not possible because good quality wrapper leaf could not be grown in the Dominican Republic. (Davidoff Millenium blend, for example, uses wrapper leaf from Ecuador.)

Hendrik Kelner was determined to achieve a Davidoff Puro from the Dominican Republic. In 1996 he started experimenting with Criollo seeds for the wrapper. It was a failure, at least by Davidoff standards. Then the red clay-like soil of the Yamasa Valley gave him the idea that it would produce a wrapper leaf  with a unique, rich flavour.
Davidoff Puro d’OroAfter nearly 15 years the Davidoff Puro d’Oro was released – well-aged, with filler and binder of medium-bodied Dominican leaf, and the rich, full-bodied wrapper leaf from the Yamasa Valley.
All it needed was determination, science and a love of the cigar.
I quote “ pure Dominican, pure Gold, pure Davidoff”.
My first cigar at a private tasting burnt a little unevenly, but the replacement satisfied all the criteria on our tasting sheet:
The eye-appeal was stunning - a glossy appearance with no heavy veins, a pig-tail cap, and a gold foot band embossed with the size name.
I checked - it felt firm and even. 
The flavour was all that had been promised, and the cigar held its ash and burnt evenly to the finish.

Wouldn’t you like to taste and compare the three Davidoff blends?
At Wesley’s you can find a 3-pack selection of the three cigars – Davidoff Grand Cru No.4, Davidoff Millenium Petit Corona, Puro d’Oro Deliciosos. (Descriptive leaflet and Tasting Sheet included.) All three cigars have Dominican binder and filler – the differences are in the wrappers: Connecticut Shade, Ecuadorian, Yamasa (Dominican).
Ric Hacker says the wrapper is the most important part of the cigar, it provides 30% – 60% of the flavour and is the embodiment of the cigar’s total character.

Colin Wesley

June 16 - 29, 2011

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No 263 - June 30, 2011
Winter Watch-out

While doing a little “refreshing” for our current article on looking after your pipe tobacco in winter, I came across a note in the June 19 article of 2003:
“The morning temperature in Johannesburg this week hit sub-zero”
Pretty apt for the weather we had last week!
In fact this weather is probably what struck a chord in my memory bank, prompting me to think about the need for you to consider the storage of your pipe tobacco in winter.

For much of South Africa winter means drier air.
This is not good news for your pipe tobacco. You may need to take a look at how you store your tobacco and, as important, how you carry it around with you.

Storage can be quite simple. Any airtight container will do - with a moisturising agent (such as a piece of damp sponge or cotton wool) attached to the lid. Better still drop in one or two Humydroles®.
Our glass Tobacco Jars are designed for the purpose.           
Such a container is obviously necessary if you buy Houseblend tobaccos; but it is useful for prepack tobaccos too. Once you have broken the seal of the original packet, it never really closes airtight again. Drop in the whole packet and take, in your tobacco pouch, only what you need to carry with you.

You don’t have a tobacco pouch? Maybe now is the time to re-consider.

What do you need to look for in a tobacco pouch or carry case?
First and foremost it needs to have a lining that will keep your tobacco fresh – one that won’t absorb the moisture from your tobacco. In the “old days” this meant a rubber lining, but with the progress in technology, a soft synthetic lining is less expensive, has no aroma and is very effective – especially if you introduce a “Humydrole”, if you live or travel on the Highveld or any arid area.

Then, what do you want to transport?
Just tobaccoeasy, a simple roll-up, one-zip or drawstring pouch will do the job. (And the yellow roll-up is now fitted with a sieve dust trap in the bottom. An old Dunhill design.)
A pipe, tobacco and pipe tool – exactly what the 2-zip companion pouch was made for.
A pipe, tobacco, pipe tool, cleaners and lighter  – add an extra zip compartment to the companion pouch, and there you have it.
An extra one or two pipes, tobacco, pipe tool, cleaners, lighter and fold-up pipe rest – no problem, the compact pipe bag / carry case is fitted to handle all these and more; maybe your car keys, wallet and even your cell phone (“mobile” for overseas readers).

You can see all these on our website (just click the links) and then visit a Wesley’s to feel them before deciding to choose leather or synthetic. With eyes closed it is difficult to tell which is which; over time though the leather will prove its worth.

If you can’t visit a Wesley’s Bricks and Mortar, use our website, and remember that if you’re not completely happy with your mailsale choice, you can always return it unused, in original condition and packaging) for a full refund.

But don’t buy just yet, because from next week we offer
less 25% on any pouch or carry bag.

(15% on the beautiful Dunhill leather pouches and case)
But only for 2 weeks – from 7 July to 20 July, 2011.

Now that’s worth considering!                 

Colin Wesley                                               
June 30 to July 13, 2011

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No 264 - July 1, 2011
"Let’s ask in here."

It’s Saturday morning about 11.30
I’m standing in my shop looking out the door as a small group of youngish people walk up.
Two fellows stop and look in the window, the others pause and then move on.
The one fellow says “come on, let’s ask in here”.

In they come: “What’s all this with cigar smoking?”
“We’ve tried a few puffs, but what’s it all about. We’ve seen cherry cigars, Cuban cigars, big cigars, little cigars. Do you have to cut them, how do you light and smoke them?”
“What’s it all about?”  (This is pretty well verbatim)

I’m glad the shop is empty just then, and I am going to enjoy the next 5 to 10 minutes – which is all I think they have time for.

I talk about the differences between flavoured and natural cigars; why natural cigars don’t carry nicotine ratings; why you have to cut them, how to light and then smoke them; the common misconception about the difference between size and strength.
I can see that while they are nodding and appreciating what I am saying, they must move on and catch up with their friends.
I give them each one of the Wesley leaflets “Cigars – Smoking for Pleasure” which covers (briefly) these important points.
“This is what you need – read it, and then visit the “Library” on our website and go to “Aspects of Cigar Smoking” – there are more than 100 articles, with an index to the different subjects.”
“This is just what we need – thank you”
They leave – still smiling and nodding their heads.

They are on their way into the world of cigars.
Are you?
Once you have mastered the basics by reading our leaflet, talking to friends, browsing the Internet, how do you continue to grow and expand your enjoyment?
Do you know the difference in taste between a Dominican cigar, a Cuban and a Nicaraguan?
More important, do you know which you prefer?
Have you considered an easy-burning complex flavoured short filler cigar? You may find it is perfect for your in-between time smoke.
What do you smoke round the braai, on the golf course? Something at a reasonable price because you won’t be concentrating on the cigar.
And the size: what would you smoke when time is relatively short? What would you smoke when you have a long relaxed evening ahead of you? When it is too cold to stay outside for long to smoke your cigar?
Is there really a difference between different brands of Cuba cigars?
What actually makes a “good” cigar? Check your cigar using a Tasting Score Sheet.

Have a look at our range of Selections.
Each pack consists of three cigars carefully chosen for you to find out your answers to these questions.
Each pack has a leaflet describing the origin and character of the cigars.
Each pack will offer you an experience which will help increase your knowledge and pleasure.

A long-standing customer of ours has just discovered the pleasure of cigar smoking.
He chose the International Selection to start with – a bit of everything, presented in a carry case.
A good basis for further forays into the world of cigars.

You can enjoy the Selections too – available from any Wesley’s.

Colin Wesley                                               
July 1 - 27, 2011

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No 265 - July 28, 2011
Being Prepared

It’s Friday afternoon.
I return to my shop from a short break and find two of my staff in conversation with a customer.
There are two pipes on the counter: a Savinelli Dry System 2622, and a Savinelli Capitol 101.

We are trying to convince this gentleman to buy the Dry System pipe rather than the Capitol – Can you help?
Savinelli Dry System pipes are favourites of mine: I admire the theory of the System – and it works. I always get such good feedback when a customer has bought one.

I go through the benefits of the pipe – the built-in moisture trap, the balsa filter, the metal band, the peg-fitting mouthpiece with the rectangular smokehole on the top. To show off the balance, I let the pipe hang from my finger.
My customer looks at me, smiles “I accept everything you say, but I still like this straight, solid-feeling pipe”.

We start talking about pipes. He appreciates the Teflon peg and the optional 6mm balsa of the Capitol pipe.
It turns out he is basically a cigar smoker, bought a Humidor from me some years back. But quite recently he and a friend were enjoying a smoke together, he with his cigar and the friend with his pipe.
“I was impressed with the routine of the filling and lighting up of the pipe, and my friend’s relaxed attitude. So much so that the next day I pulled out an old pipe and tobacco and lit up. But the taste was rough and bitter. That’s why I’m here today – to buy a new pipe. But before coming here I visited your website, and these are the things I think I need.”                       

He takes out an A4 size page with neatly written notes. He really had done his homework.
1. The pipe: settled
2. The pipe knife: code 74-J0324                               
3. The pouch: code 71-Ex1005. This would not hold his pipe (a RYO pouch) but he happily accepted my suggestion of a 71-PCompL
4. Humydrole: 78-AtHumy
5. Tobacco: To be discussed

We discuss the tobacco, especially the new trend of combining aromatic Burley with natural Virginias and/or Perique. He settles on 100g of  Houseblend No.46, and taster packets of Nos.1, 55, 15.

When he has left the shop we all agree what a pleasure to deal with such a well-prepared customer, who is still open to discussion and suggestions.
A pretty good, text book example of what we are trying to achieve with the Wesley’s website.

Are you thinking about a new pipe? Because we’d like to make you an attractive “less 25%” offer.

The Capitol range has been discontinued by Savinelli; but what about a Marca 6 – the optional 6mm filter pipe with the thick-walled shank to prevent cracking?
Or what about my favourite – a Savinelli Dry System pipe?

From next week we offer less 25% on Marca 6 and/or Savinelli Dry System pipes
But only for 2 weeks: from August 4 - 17, 2011.

Give it a thought and visit your nearest Wesley’s to make your selection.
If you can’t visit a Wesley’s Bricks and Mortar, use our website, and remember that if you’re not completely happy with your mailsale choice, you can always return it (unused, in original condition and packaging) for a full refund.

Here’s another thought: You could use the discount to replace your lost pipe knife or tired-looking pouch.
Mailsale customers - the discount will more than cover normal shipping.

Now that’s a thought worth having!

Colin Wesley                                               
July 28 – August 10, 2011

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No 266 - August 11, 2011
Your Humidor:
To maintain ~ To prepare

Wesleys’ office is usually closed on Saturday, but last week Gillian was in catching up on a bit of work, and received a phone call: “How do I prepare my husband’s new humidor? There is a piece of paper saying set-up completed to Step 6”.
They agreed that the piece of paper would be faxed to Gillian who would then phone back to talk about the steps following– and in the meantime the website would have all the answers.

But it made us think, this is a question that we are asked so often.
Time to put it in writing again – so here we go, the theory and practice to set up and maintain your humidor.

To keep your cigars in good condition, the air in your humidor must be slightly damp, and cool.
70% Relative Humidity at 70°F (21°C)
In fact, although this is a nice pair of numbers to remember, the humidity will be fine 5% either way.
And the temperature should be steady somewhere around 20/22°C

The Temperature is relatively easy – just keep your humidor in a coolish place in your home or office.

The Relative Humidity (RH) is measured on a Hygrometer.
There are two kinds:
Analogue (Analog) Hygrometer: Most humidors are sold with a little round analog hygrometer. Often these are not very exact. For example, the dial may say 65% when the humidity is actually 60% or 70% - no problem as long as you know which it is. You will need to check / set the hygrometer – here are the instructions.
Digital Hygrometer: This usually shows Temperature as well as Relative Humidity. Pull out the piece of plastic that isolates the battery, and the digital hygrometer is ready to start work.

The Humidifier: To provide the moisture
Most humidors are sold with an oasis-filled container. Just add water (preferably distilled or at least boiled).
These humidifiers should be constantly monitored so that they don’t over-deliver to start with, and then under-deliver as they start to dry out.
With modern technology one can regulate the evaporation rate of water to a set degree of Relative Humidity – in the case of cigars: 70%. Savinelli Surface Active Liquid is made for Savinelli humidifiers, andwill also regulate the rate of evaporation in these simple humidifiers.               
Alternatively, certain chemicals (tasteless and harmless) can be impregnated in the “sponge” to ensure that when the ambient Relative Humidity is about 70%, evaporation will stop. Now that means that as long as you keep your humidifier topped up the RH will stay at this optimum 70%.
Such humidifiers are available from Paradigm, Passatore, Dunhill.
Because of this, modern humidors are sometimes supplied with a humidifier only – no hygrometer.

To Prepare:
Now your instruments are ready – let’s prepare your new humidor. Or maybe you’re in doubt about your existing humidor – the procedure is the same.
Why prepare? Because if the wood in your humidor is bone dry, it will soon absorb the moisture generated by the humidifier, and if this is not sufficient will draw moisture from the cigars.
As an added indicator while preparing, leave a piece of damp cottonwool in the humidor – feel it regularly.

1. Remove all the contents from the humidor (except the tray and divider if there is one). If there are cigars in the humidor, remove them too, and keep them in an airtight container while the humidor is being brought up to the correct Relative Humidity of around 70%
2. Wipe the inside of the Humidor with a damp cloth, or spray it with a fine spray of water – preferably distilled, or at least boiled. The wood should be damp – but not dripping (it may affect the joints).
3. Leave for 12-24 Hours then check the Relative Humidity (RH) with the Hygrometer provided.
The analogue model often supplied with the humidor will give you a rough guide – but it has to be setfirst.
A digital hygrometer is more accurate (and indicates the temperature as well).
Make a note of the RH (a slip of paper, if your memory is like mine).
4. If the humidity is too low, re-spray, close the humidor and give it another 12-24 hours. Check again.
5. When the RH reaches approximately 70%, charge the humidifier(s) – leave the humidor closed!
Passatore, Dunhill: Add distilled water until the unit is saturated (instructions in the boxes)
Savinelli: The open cell filling material will hold up to 40 times its weight of liquid. First filling: set the humidity control system by adding the Surface Active Liquid (regulator fluid) (1/4 bottle for round humidifier, 1/3 bottle for rectangular). Top up with distilled water until saturated. (Future fillings require only a small amount of Surface Active Liquid each time).
This also applies to the simple “oasis” humidifiers.
In all cases allow the humidifier to stand for a short period so that any excess liquid will drain away.
6. Fit the humidifier(s) into the Humidor
7. Check the RH (write it down)
8. Repeat until the RH remains at 70% for at least 24 hours without any additional spraying. Then you’ll know your humidifier is doing its job. Check the cottonwool one last time before removing it. Make sure there are no wet patches in the humidor.AND don’t overfill the humidifier, you don’t want water dripping on your cigars.
9. Now you can put your cigars into the humidor, knowing they’ll be stored in comfort and safety.
More about Humidification how important is the exact reading on your hygrometer?
Read “The Winemaker’sexperiences.

We talk about the advantages of a digital hygrometer, and the modern humidification systems.
Now is your chance to upgrade at a discount.

From 18 August 2011 you can buy a humidifierand/or digital hygrometer at less 25%.
15% off Dunhill Humidity Control System, Savinelli Surface Active Liquid

Because the offer finishes 31 August 2011, you can’t afford to delay - do it now

It’s never too late – if you’re not sure that your humidor is functioning properly – follow the steps above.

Colin Wesley
August 11 -24, 2011

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