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No.480 October 1-14, 2020

OCD

Browsing through a favourite cigar website I came across an article which at first sight I thought should rather be in a medical journal, but it turned out to be quite pertinent where it was.
So I thought I would share it with you.

“O.C.D – obsessive compulsive disorders.”
“OCD is an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, images and engage in behaviours or mental acts in response to these thoughts or obsessions.

There was a long list such behaviour but the one that struck me, and obviously the writer of the article was “repeating the same steps to any task over and over again each time”.
Think Nadal before serving, a golfer lining up a crucial putt, Hashim Amla taking guard to face the first ball in a test, Elton Jantjies with a game winning penalty in the dying moments of a match.
Such eccentricities, or routines, are endless in many walks of life – not necessarily a sign of anxiety.

But what has this to do with cigars and cigar smoking.
Maybe more than you think, because you don’t think about them, you just do them.
We are not talking about the basic procedures of selecting the cigar, cutting and lighting it, and smoking it, but some personal, quirky action or habit you do at the same time not necessarily a “disorder”.

Here are some examples of “quirky” habits he gleaned from a cross section of cigar smoking friends he questioned. The names are my own and have no relationships to any person I actually know – but do you recognise them?

  • Fred always uses a twin blade cutter but never chops through the cap. As he applies pressure he rotates the cigar so that the cap pops off in a perfect circle. He never cuts at an angle. But he always has a sharpened match on hand which he pushes into the cigar, with a little wiggle. Eases the flow of smoke he says.
  • Joe also prefers the flat cut but always cuts as close to the capline as possible to achieve the widest diameter for the cut – to open the full flow of flavours he says.
  • Peter made an interesting point about cutting, he cuts according to the colour of the wrapper – a straight flat cut for a light, cigar and angled cut for a dark, oily wrapper – filled with more flavour he feels.
  • While smoking his cigar Fred always rotates it in the direction of the wrapper lines. He claims this prevents any unravelling and increases the flavour flow.
  • Mike always leaves the band on his cigar and keeps it facing up for as long as possible – he just feels that this is the “right” way up.
  • Kevin always “purges” – blows through his cigars after the first few puffs. Then settles down to slow, single puffs. Cleans out any burnt taste is his reason.

Removing the ash.

  • John says that by rotating the end of his cigar against the wall of the ashtray he keeps the ash in a good cone shape.
  • Errol always pushes the ash into straight lines in the ashtray –makes me feel better”.
  • Joe taps off the ash and then gently stubs the end of the cigar to flatten it. He is not a fan of the cone shaped end.

There seemed to be a general consensus that the time to lay the cigar down is when you felt it is past its peak and could only now spoil any after taste.
But there was mention in a previous blog about a man who kept the butts of his cigars, let them dry out, and then smoked them vertically in a few short pipes he had with appropriate bowl diameters. “Waste not want not” he said - he certainly had his money’s worth from his cigars.

  • Eurojet Turbo lighter Triple-Jet - Built-in Cigar Punch Black with Chrome trimMike is very particular about which lighter uses to fire up his cigar. For ringsizes of 50 or more be uses a two jet Turbo to get the full foot lit as quickly as possible, so he can enjoy the first deep draws on the cigar.
    On a slimmer cigar he uses a soft butane, or a match flame which, he says, allows him to have
    more control allowing the first tastes to develop slowly – I’m a control freak he admits.Eurojet Soft Flame Piezo Lighter

Actually some of these seem to make sense – maybe worth borrowing.
So when you set out to smoke a cigar do you always go through the same selection process the same
cutting and lighting routine, sit in the same chair, with the same glass or book, or music, or company?
Do you have a few personal “quirky” idiosyncrasies that add to your enjoyment of the event?

And do you always use the same lighter?
Possibly you’d like to try Mike’s “different flames” idea?

Here’s your opportunity:

From October 8 - 21, 2020  -  25% off
55-EJ047 or 55-EJ046 Triple-Jet Turbo - Built-in Cigar Punch R423.50
55-EJ061 or 55-EJ062 – Soft Flame Piezo lighter R205.00
Only from Wesley’s Shops and Website.

Colin Wesley

No.480 October 1-14, 2020

You can read previous articles from “Across the Counter” in The Archives Library.Top


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No.481 October 15-November 4, 2020

The alternative pipe

To borrow Zino Davidoff’s claim that “the greatest cigar to smoke is the one you are currently smoking” and applying it to Pipe smoking:  the best pipe to smoke is the one you are smoking.

In both cases this may not be quite correct.
There is the chance that something may develop which could spoil the experience. - Potholes I call them in several blogs.
- Pipesmoking Potholes: 319,321,332

Potholes, or no potholes, there is one major difference between smoking a Cigar and a Pipe.
Smoking a cigar is a one-off event. When it is finished it is finished. 
When the pipe full is finished it is only the tobacco that is finished.
There is still the pipe which could be looked after and cherished for more smokes in the future.

If we look at a short history of Pipe making we can see a new set of potholes for the pipe smokers.

  • Ceramic, Clay and Meerschaum may smoke well, but they are accident prone.
  • Metal or silver pipes were sturdy, but heavy and very quickly became too hot to handle.
  • Wood with the characteristics of being light and porous, but sturdy and comfortably warm in the hand, looked like a good prospect. But most soft wood tended to char on the inside of the bowl, spoiling the taste of the burning tobaccos.
  • Cherrywood was popular because the char actually released a sweet taste, but it wouldn’t carbonise which would offer some protection from burning out; also the soft texture of the wood did not make it possible for a machine to deliver an acceptable, sophisticated, polished finish. Cherrywood pipes always looked rather rough and ready.
  • Much the same could be said with Beech, Olive, Maple and even Oak woods.

The situation was at a stalemate until, by coincidence, a French pipe maker on a pilgrimage to Napoleon’s birthplace in Corsica, broke/lost his meerschaum pipe.
For a modest fee a peasant carved for him a replacement out of the root of Bruyere, a local heath tree.
This was so successful that for a further small fee the peasant parted with another block of the same wood.
It found its way to a wooden pipe stem factory in St.Claude, nestled in the forests of the Jura mountains.
This was the birth of the Briar pipe which dominates the pipe making industry today.

That is not to say that there is no room, or need, for pipes of lesser woods.
One must not let “perfect” prevent one from enjoying the “alternative”.

  • The humble Corncob is a good choice for a beginner’s first pipe, or as the pipe to be taken away for a weekend in the bush.
  • A Cherrywood or a Clay can add a little variety for the taste buds, without changing from a favourite tobacco blend.

A bonus to note with these alternative pipes is that because they often come at a modest cost, it is worth buying the best of its kind to enjoy the fruits.

Now we have a new alternative wood for you to try/test – a pipe from the wood of the Jujube tree (Ziziphus jujuba Mill).
A pipe from the wood of the Jujube treeThe pipe is made in Southern China where the Jujube tree is part of the local habitat.
It is stamped “Mr Pipe” and offers a 9mm filter option.
We supply the pipe fitted with a 9mm adapter and 3 x 9mm filters.
It also comes boxed, and includes a soft drawstring bag and a portable folding pipe rest.
The dark colour makes it difficult to see much of the grain but from the weight and the smooth finish we can assume that the wood is indeed very hard.
This is not a pretentious pipe, however at R350.00 it could be good to have around for an emergency or as an appropriate pipe for a grubby hands smoke.

Better still:

From October 22 – November 11, 2020
25% off Jujube Mr Pipe

The Jujube Mr Pipe has its place in a collection:

  • Trips away
  • The workshop or gardening
  • Sailing, hunting, hiking.

Colin Wesley

No.481 October 15-November 4, 2020

You can read previous articles from “Across the Counter” in The Archives Library.Top


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No.482 November 5 -19, 2020

Selections – Trial without Error

One of the joys of a pleasurable hobby is finding out more…..
And the hobby of cigars is no different: is the “very best” that much better than the “best”?
What other cigars might I enjoy?

When I started these “Selections” many years ago, my thinking was to make it easy for cigar smokers to try a bigger variety of brands and sizes at affordable prices and in manageable quantities.
Because when you want to experiment, it is helpful to have some idea of what you’re doing!

Our selections mix up different brands in the same sizes, or different sizes in the same brand; they traverse the whole gamut of premium cigars: Cuban, Nicaraguan, Dominican, long and short filler. They introduce new brands, new sizes, some Limited Editions when available. On occasion we create a “Blind Tasting Selection” by covering the bands. (Of course you can simply uncover the bands – and enjoy the cigars without the mystery.)
Enclosed in each Selection is an informative leaflet which may include ratings from Cigar Aficionado and other tasting panels, and you can download a Tasting Score Sheet to help you with your assessment.
Two or three friends together, each with the same selection, discussing the cigars and comparing notes, can have a lot of fun and increase their appreciation and enjoyment of their cigar hobby.

Our selections are a great starting point from which to build and improve your humidor stock, and a great opportunity to break from your normal choice. You can try new cigars without being afraid of expensive errors.
All in all our cigar selections are always well worth looking at – very seldom does a browser leave without finding a selection to try, confident he’ll enjoy the experiment.

Currently we have 5 Selections to offer, and more will  be arriving soon.
Click here to read more.

Arrived already are 2 new blends from Taylors Of Old Bond Street - makers of superb shaving creams. You have to try them to experience sheer luxury.
You’ll be surprised how little you need to generate a great, smooth, creamy lather. It washes off easily, and really does leave your skin feeling fresh and clean.
If you haven’t tried these before, take advantage now.

From November 12-25, 2020  -  15% off
Taylors Shaving Creams, 150g tub

94-JBTay1012 Cedarwood R450.00
94-JBTay1001 Sandalwood R450.00
94-JBTay1019 Organic R515.00

Only from Wesley’s Shops and Online


Enjoy “finding out more” about your cigar likes and dislikes.
And incidentally, I’m sure you’ll enjoy using Taylors Shaving Creams as much as I do.

Colin Wesley

No.482 November 5 -19, 2020

You can read previous articles from “Across the Counter” in The Archives Library.Top


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No.483 October 15-November 4, 2020

Lorenzo pipes logo– Pipe Couturier par Excellence

We first met Lorenzo Tagliabue at a Trade show in Frankfurt, and in 1970 visited the factory in Gallarate. A tall, elegant man with a big smile and an infectious laugh.
He was described as a “Pipe Couturier par Excellence”.
His pipes were recognised from afar by pipe smokers on all five continents, but they were unknown to us, and to South Africa.
In some countries Lorenzo pipes were distributed by the powerful English company “Oppenheimer Pipes”. This company at that time owned the English brands GBD, Dr Plumb and BBB (which we distributed in South Africa), and they later absorbed Loewe, Comoy of London, and Orlik pipes of Bond Street.
They distributed these pipes worldwide, including South Africa.
For our small market they were quite happy for us to buy directly from Lorenzo.
Little did we all know what a fruitful journey this would be.

Within two years we were offering 12 ranges of Lorenzo pipes through our shops in Durban, and through “Mail Order”, via our Wesleys print catalogue and newsletter. The Catalogue had been launched in 1968 in black and white, and by 1974 it was in full colour – a major achievement in those days. Our 1970 Newsletter “The Pipesmoker” was distributed to over 6500 addresses.

Lorenzo pipes were now very important to us and we regularly visited their stand at the Frankfurt Ambiente Messe each February.
When Lorenzo Tagliabue died in 1987, his factory manager Riccardo Aliverti and his wife bought the Lorenzo trademarks. Riccardo had been brought up in the business – his father was the previous technical manager. He continued the Lorenzo tradition of making fine pipes at reasonable prices.
Somewhere along the line the Alivertis were contracted to run a pipe factory in Albania which they eventually bought. This gave them a firm footing in Albania to access local, less expensive, raw briar and enjoy lower labour production costs. The pipes were still well-cured – very light for their size.
They revived the old Lorenzo name “Spitfire” for these pipes.
The pipes became, as frequently stated, “the best value-for-money basic, good smoking pipes”.
They also introduced new finishes such as the very popular “Spot Carved” and several varieties of rusticated styles.
In parallel they produced higher quality pipes in Italy.
In time we started to visit the Alivertis in Gallarate, Italy, as part of our February visit to the Frankfurt Messe.
These visits gave us the opportunity to pick up “odd” lots of pipes, in quantities suited for our market.
And because they were often leftovers or overruns from large orders (American), the prices were better than we could have negotiated on our own. A real win/win situation for both of us!
As the work force in Albania became more proficient, production increasingly moved to Albania which led to the eventual closing down of Gallarate production, although the company was still run from the office and storage facility in Gallarate.
Then very good pipes became available from the Albanian factory – and we could pick up some gems on our annual forays into the Gallarate stockroom.
When the Teflon Tenon arrived on the filter pipe scene offering both 6mm and 9mm filters options, Lorenzo very quickly introduced the Spitfire “Filtro”  ranges, choosing the 9 mm option.
Somewhere around this time they followed another trend.
They moved from vulcanite to ebonite for their mouthpieces. The benefit of ebonite was that it was less prone to oxidising – which discoloured the mouthpieces, causing a bitter taste. And the teflon tenons were virtually unbreakable, a major benefit for the pipe smoker and the pipe trade.
These innovations and changes were trouble free for several years but the demand for ebonite was pushing the price up, which was a real problem for the Lorenzo production of their “basic” value-for-money pipes.
They looked for another source of supply of ebonite to reduce costs.
For us Giada Filtro pipes were the first to use these new mouthpieces. The differences were not visible, but a short while after Giada pipes were on the market, we had a few complaints of the mouthpieces cracking down the path of the Tenon fitting into the mouthpiece.
Reports of this problem from Germany, the UK, and I am sure the USA, spread through Social Media and the formal pipe trade.
It was a real blow to the Filtro pipe range.
Around 2019 the Albanian Government decided that they needed the property on which the factory stood. The Alivertis had to close the business down.
Riccardo Aliverti decided to retire.
A very sad end to the long, close business and personal relationship we enjoyed with Lorenzo pipes and the Aliverti family.

Already this year we missed our visit to the Lorenzo stockrooms being plied with Italian coffee and biscuits; spending time searching through the numerous large boxes of the better quality leftover pipes looking for some bargains.
However, we always bought substantial quantities of the Filtro ranges, and we are in the process of having new mouthpieces made for the Filtro pipes. Some good value pipes to look forward to.

And we didn’t necessarily release all of the higher quality bargains as we found them.

Today we are releasing over 40 of the gems we purchased over the last few years.

  • VIP Summa Cum Laude – the original amazing Lorenzo shape, in 2 finishes. Only 12 of each.
  • VIP Valsesia in the unique brown Sandpebble finish. Only 12 pipes in 3 shapes.
  • VIP Natural – 8 individual almost flawless pipes shaped according to the grain. 5 with Superior Grain (you have to see them) and 3 Select Grain less striking, but as beautiful.

 Plus 9 Spitfire branded pipes in the long shank Canadian shape – non-filter.

These pipes are limited quantities of Lorenzo pipes personally selected before the advent of the Giada mouthpieces.
As usual the pipes will be offered with our unconditional full guarantee.
If something goes wrong we fix it or make a refund – your choice.

If you are a fan of Lorenzo pipes here is a great opportunity to add to your collection.
If you have not had a Lorenzo pipe before here is a chance to experience one at an extraordinary price, and find out what you have been missing – there will be no more.

The extraordinary prices:

From November 26 – December 9, 2020
25% off personally selected Lorenzo pipes
Lorenzo VIP Summa Cum Laude Cabernet R1295.00
Lorenzo VIP Summa Cum Laude Spot Carved R1050.00
Lorenzo VIP Valsesia Sandpebble R1050.00
Lorenzo VIP Natural Superior Grain R1950.00
Lorenzo VIP Natural Select Grain R1500.00
Lorenzo Spitfire Canadian Large R850.00
Lorenzo Spitfire Canadian Medium R750.00

Only from Wesley’s shops and website


Don’t miss this opportunity to enjoy the last of the Lorenzo pipes.

Colin Wesley

No.483 November 19 – December 2, 2020

You can read previous articles from “Across the Counter” in The Archives Library.Top


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No.484 December 3, 2020 - January 16, 2021

The Habanos Festivals

The Island of Cuba may look small and insignificant on a map of the world. But it has been blessed by nature with rich soil and a warm, humid atmosphere –ideal for growing tobacco plants.

They have been doing this for more than 400 years.

Two outside events occurred during the 1700s which had an important effect on the Cuban cigar industry:
In 1740, when Cuba was a Spanish colony, Spain introduced to Cuba the 3-part cigar arrangement of Filler, Binder and Wrapper.
In 1763, when Havana was controlled by England for 1 year, the Cuban cigars were popularised in England, and from there to the Empire.  In 1764 Cuba was returned to Spain but the demand for Cuban cigars, with their unique taste and aroma, and the 3-part format, continued to grow.

The next two twists in the tale of the Cuban cigar were the 1961 embargo on Cuban products to the USA. This throttled the Cuban cigar industry, and incidentally boosted the cigar industries of the neighbouring countries – Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras, Ecuador, etc.
Then came the extraordinary cigar boom of the 1990s, where the demand for Cuban cigars outstripped their normal production capability. Tobacco plants took over sugarcane fields, any person with nimble fingers became a torcedor (roller), aging the tobacco became less important = with a consequent drop in quality.

What, the Cubans may have thought, if smokers think this is all there is to a Cuban cigar?

In 1997 plans emerged to create a Habanos Cigar Festival – to showcase to the outside world what a true Cuban cigar should look like, feel like, smell like and taste like.
The best in the world.
And they have featured the Cohiba (their flagship cigar) in every Festival. 

In February 1999 the first Habano Festival opened to great applause, and the Festivals have continued to do so every year since then.
That is until the Covid 19 pandemic has caused the cancellation of the 2021 Habanos Festival.

We have tracked the Festivals from I in 1999 to XXII in 2020.
Following are some snippets which we found of interest on the way.
Some of the cigars released at the Festivals are now available in South Africa.

The 2021 Festival may be cancelled, but the enjoyment of Cuban cigars continues.
And what every smoker of a hand-rolled cigar needs is a sharp cutter to open the head of the cigar.
Cutters that may be lost, broken, blunted or left behind!

So a cigar cutter will always make an ideal Christmas present – a simple cutter as a stocking filler, or a top quality precision instrument when appropriate.

To encourage this thought, we offer our full range of cigar cutters for your choice.

From December 10 - 31, 2020
All Cigar Cutters less 25%
Prices from R69.00
Excluding Sale items.

Only from Wesley’s Shops and Online


The Habano Festivals are unique functions for cigar smokers – if you have attended one, let us have your opinion.

Colin Wesley

No.484 December 3, 2020 - January 16, 2021

You can read previous articles from “Across the Counter” in The Archives Library.Top