39 - May
2001 I wrote the following about filter pipes:
Many years ago there was a common pipe expression "the cheaper
the pipe the more elaborate
the filter". This was because the wood used for cheaper pipes was
not as carefully cured as it might have been. Good pipes were made
from well-cured, hard, dry, porous briar and needed no filter.
Besides, in order to create a 6mm bore in a vulcanite peg, the peg
would have to be very thick to be sufficiently strong, resulting
in an overly thick shank. The technical problems have now been overcome
by the introduction of flexible Teflon inserts capable of holding
6mm and 9mm filters.
that is not the only reason that there is a demand is for more and
more filter pipes.
The pipe is a natural filter and moisture will condense from the
smoke and deposit in the shank and mouthpiece. Many smokers, especially
new smokers, secrete excessive saliva or use the very popular "Aromatic"
tobaccos which, due to the flavouring oils, have more moisture in
the smoke than the older natural blends. This can lead to a messy
pipe and the unpleasant smoke known as a "wet smoke".
The function, therefore, of today's "filters" is similar to that
of a sponge - to absorb moisture by mopping up excess juices, without
spoiling the taste.
filters may be 6mm or 9mm diameter - made of Balsa wood, or Paper
rolls, or capsules containing Meerschaum granules, Crystal pieces,
Charcoal pellets - all serving the same purpose, to remove moisture
and provide a cool dry smoke.
Stanwell; Savinelli; Lorenzo all offer filter pipes.
March this year we travelled to Italy specifically to visit the
House of Lorenzo. The quality of their range of value
pipes has been improving every year and we wanted to secure
regular supplies of the "Filtro" range (optional 9mm filter).
The first shipment has arrived and we are pleased and impressed
with the pipes.
Nothing fancy - just good-looking, well made, everyday pipes.
shapes: bents, half bents and straights, all with optional 9mm
received the following e-mail from a website customer:
first acquaintance the value pipes I ordered were not exactly
what I had expected ... mainly relating to size. I was under
the impression that they would be full length (15 cms) and feel
more substantial in the hand. However, with childlike enthusiasm
and curiosity I immediately lit up one of the spot carved briars
and was delighted with the ease of the smoke, the lightness
of the pipe, and the generosity of the bowl size ... and judged
it, at R 189.50, by today's prices, to be good value for money.
I have, since then, tried all four pipes and found them not
wanting in the least."
If you need
a good "working" pipe that you can smoke anywhere, at any time,
You will be pleasantly surprised.
May 16 - May 29, 2002
For a fortnight from May 23, we offer some of these Filtro
pipes from the House of Lorenzo at less 25%
Filter pipes must be smoked with either the filter or an
adaptor (usually supplied with the pipe). If this is not
done, moisture will condense in the empty space and seep
into the shank causing it to swell.
This will result in a loose mouthpiece which is almost impossible
40 - May
they worth the extra money?
would you buy a Cuban cigar in an aluminium tube?
should be factory fresh, provided the tubes have not been opened
and closed too often and the cigars have been kept in a cool place.
If you're buying from a shop or restaurant with dubious humidification
facilities, it may be safer to buy cigars in aluminium tubes.
Because the tubes are unbreakable (although not uncrushable) they
protect your cigars when out and about. When travelling the cigars
can be packed in with your clothing without transferring any aroma.
An unexpected benefit: many tubes have a cedar lining -
ideal to split into spills to light the cigars.
there is only a limited size selection in aluminium tubed cigars
(no robustos for example) and pure handmade cigars are seldom
used - some exceptions being Montecristo, and Romeo y Julieta's
de Luxe range and Churchill.
The cigars are not visible, and may be mixed in colour and quality
of leaf. (But if you want to check the cigars individually, do
so in humidified surroundings or you will trap dry air in the
tube when you replace the lid.)
More important, the tubes add cost to the cigars.
A single Romeo y Julieta Churchill normally retails for about
R171.00; in an aluminium tube it is R199.50 - a whopping R28.50
extra. (In a glass tube the price would be R177.00.) You may be
able to buy better value for your money - consider the next Wesley's
From June 6 - Three H.Upmann cigars for R99.50:
Singulares - a slim machined corona in an aluminium tube
- normal retail R44.00
Regalias - a slightly longer and thicker, hand finished
almost the same price - R47.00
Kings - a slightly longer cigar than the Singulares,
cellophaned, for only R38.50
So how do you decide?
For example, you are considering Romeo y Julieta Churchills -
should you buy plain or tubed? **You want a box of cigars for
travelling or for a holiday cottage with no humidor - aluminium
tubed cigars will give you peace of mind. (Don't forget to keep
**You need a few cigars for a weekend away - consider buying them
in glass tubes.
**You want cigars to add to your stock, they're going straight
to your humidor - don't spend the extra money.
Similar evaluations are valid for other brands and sizes in aluminium
tubes serve a purpose where you can justify the extra cost.
Think about it!
May 30 - June 12, 2002.................................................................................
41 - June
What is Meerschaum?
The literal translation of "meerschaum"
is "sea foam". Because it is found in rounded lumps
which float, meerschaum was originally thought to be fossilised
Actually it is a rare mineral - magnesium silicate.
The best, pure block meerschaum is found in Turkey, in the area
surrounding the village of Eskisehir. Some mines are open cast,
and others may be as deep as 120 metres. Lesser quality meerschaum
is found in other parts of the world including Tanzania (Tanganyikan
are the pipes made?
The raw lumps of meerschaum that come from the mines are chemically
cleaned. All foreign matter is removed, and the lumps emerge soft,
dry and white. They are then sawn into rough, pipe-shaped blocks,
very like briar ebauchons. Classic shapes are made in a similar
way to briar pipes, by hand and by machine.
The carved models are created by hand, working on moistened blocks.
Finishing: The surface is smoothed using a fine abrasive compound,
and the pipe is then dipped in a boiling mixture of Beeswax and
oils. Since the meerschaum is very porous the liquid is absorbed,
and it is this that gives the pipe the ability to colour as it
does it colour?
The inside of the bowl is not waxed, so it absorbs the moisture
from the burning tobacco, and the beeswax picks up the colour
from the residue. The colour varies according to the tobacco smoked,
but the final colour will nearly always be a rich, deep reddish-brown.
For perfect colouring, take care not to handle the warm pipe excessively
(you could leave the impression of fingerprints) or to smoke it
too fast (the hot beeswax could run). Maybe for the first 10 smokes
hold it only by the mouthpiece; some purists even advocate using
a soft glove.
No matter what you do, it will colour.
grandfather had a meerschaum in the shape of a lady's head
(You can view it right. Point at the box
to open, click to see different views.)
It had obviously been smoked too fast so that the majority
of the colour was around the lady's shoulders - however if
it had been coloured perfectly there would have been a graduation
of colour, giving the impression of a beard!
colouring process takes time, maybe years, and will not necessarily
be even. Thicker parts will usually colour more slowly than the
thinner parts, and "Beauty Spots" may appear - adding to the character
of the pipe.
does a Meerschaum smoke?
This is one of its major attractions - Meerschaum smokes clean,
cool and dry. The material is neutral so that the real, original
taste of the tobacco is unaffected. You experience the taste the
do I clean a Meerschaum?
On the inside, much the same as a briar, with pipe cleaners and
a blunt instrument to clean out the bowl. There should be no carbon
build-up. Be careful not to scrape away the meerschaum.
For the outside, try not to handle the pipe with dirty hands -
the dirt will be picked up by the beeswax and is almost impossible
to remove. But if the bowl does become too soiled or unacceptably
scratched, it may be partly restored by rubbing with a mild abrasive
compound, and then re-applying a coat of beeswax. But this is
not easy. Rather try to prevent the problem.
are Meerschaums priced?
Size is the first consideration - larger blocks are more difficult
Flawless bowls are relatively rare - a carved meerschaum may be
less expensive than a similar size plain meerschaum (though some
of the more skilled carvers now sign their work and the pipes
are much in demand).
Meerschaum from sources other than Turkish blocks may be less
porous, heavier and don't colour as well. Many are pre-coloured.
This includes those made from blocks reconstituted from meerschaum
Check the weight of the pipe - top quality block meerschaum is
very light, the bowl of the pipe is sometimes lighter than the
of a Meerschaum has been the dream
of many a pipe smoker for more than
250 years. The Meerschaum pipe provides a cool smoke, enhances
the taste of most tobaccos and improves with smoking - mellowing
slowly to perfection.
From June 20 to July 3 you can fulfil this dream - a
meerschaum can be yours for 25% less than the normal retail
A new selection has just arrived
and is on the website now.
13 June - 26 June, 2002
42 - June
consistency are not easy bedfellows and this was apparent with many
cigar brands during the boom. In their desire to produce more and
more cigars some
brands (Cuban and non-Cuban) cut corners in the production of their
tobacco or in its preparation for cigar making. Others employed
inexperienced, or almost untrained, rollers who produced substandard
cigars. Through these reckless actions the whole industry was tainted.
rode out the storm and never wavered from their high standards
even though at times this meant their names would be missing from
the shelves - Davidoff, Macanudo, Dunhill, Arturo Fuente, Don
Diego, Cuban Cohiba to name a few. Such brands improved their
quality controls in leaf selection and curing, and in production.
For example, the Dominican factory making Dunhill and Don Diego
cigars was the first to apply ratio testing between length, ringsize
and weight for each cigar.
These brands did not sacrifice quality for quantity.
They emerged stronger than ever - a tribute to the quest for excellence.
in the matter of cigar tobacco as in life, one ought always to
be ready to revise ideas and judgement" (Zino Davidoff.
The Connoisseur Book of the Cigar 1967.)
Davidoff became disenchanted with his cigars from Cuba in the
80's and moved production of cigars bearing his name to a Dominican
factory. It was not solely for sales to the great US market -
Davidoff could have run both Cuban and Dominican Davidoff (as
Dunhill did with their Cuban and non-Cuban blends for a while).
Davidoff did not want to sacrifice his reputation for excellence.
A few years
ago we attended a "Big Smoke" at the Marriott Marquis in New York.
The ambience was incredible, literally hundreds of people redeeming
their vouchers and filling their bags with a variety of cigars
- none of them Cuban, of course.
During the evening my wife and I each smoked a box-pressed Honduran
Churchill. They were full of flavour, extremely well constructed
and mellow, lasted all evening and could be smoked almost past
the band position.
These are exactly the criteria
considered by cigar smokers in order to pronounce a cigar "excellent".
Africa we are sometimes blinded by the free availability and charisma
of Cuban cigars. They have a very rich, distinctive flavour, many
have incredibly good smoking qualities and smoothness, but not
all of them are necessarily "excellent".
One of the
non-Cuban brands that did not compromise its standards is Macanudo,
which originated in Jamaica. Their policy is a direct tribute
to the name Macanudo, which in Spanish is a synonym for "excellente".
Not only have they maintained their standards, but they have read
the market well, correctly anticipating the demand for more full
flavoured, but still very smooth smoking cigars. While the mild
Macanudo Cafe range introduced in the USA in 1971 had by
1998 grown into the biggest selling premium cigar in the USA with
imports exceeding 20 million, that year General Cigar launched
the Macanudo Robust range with the biggest launch in the
modern history of the cigar business.
The brand had taken 4 years to develop and was an instant success
- partly due to the smoothness which is the result of the darkest
and most thoroughly cured of all Connecticut wrappers, and also
due to a unique Havana-seed binder, a variety grown in Connecticut
especially for this project.
The Robust range was followed in 1999 by the Macanudo Maduro
range, again anticipating the call for this rare taste. These
cigars require a broadleaf Connecticut wrapper grown only on two
farms in the valley, so volumes are small but worth looking for.
(Don Mateo also offers a Maduro cigar.)
Our current cigar feature is a pack of three cigars from
Macanudo: Cafe, Robust and Maduro; "Hyde Park" Size - 140mm
x Ring 49 (extended Robusto).
in every aspect of a cigar is important to you and you haven't
smoked a Macanudo, or have found the original Cafe range wanting
in flavour, you might take note of the quote from Zino Davidoff
and give Macanudo a try, noting the quality and comparing the
the appearance, the construction, the aroma.
Savour the anticipation while you light the cigar.
Then close your eyes and concentrate on the quality and mellow
smoothness of the smoke.
Does such excellence have a place in your smoking pleasure?
June 27 - July 10, 2002
Hyde Park CAFE
Filler: . . . . . .
Dominican Republic, Jamaica
Binder: . . . ...
Wrapper: . . .
U.S.A. Connecticut Shade
Rudman Rating: . . . . .
. . . . ***
Cigar Aficionado Rating: . . 85
Cigar Aficionado Comment: Silky and a bit veiny,
this cigar has a perfect burn, with a white ash. It's creamy
and a bit woody, with some tang, and a hint of marshmallow.
Macanudo Hyde Park ROBUST.
. . ...
Filler:. . . . .
. .. . Dominican
Binder: . . .
.. Unique Havana seed binder grown in Connecticut
Wrapper:. . . .
Darkest, aged U.S.A. Connecticut Shade
Rudman Rating:. . .
.. . . . . .
Cigar Aficionado Rating: .
Cigar Aficionado Comment: A rustic cigar that draws
and burns well. It's woody and sour, with sharp notes on
Macanudo Hyde Park MADURO.
. . ...
Filler:. . . ....
. . ... Dominican Republic, Mexico
Binder:. . ......
Wrapper: . ....
. ...U.S.A Connecticut Broadleaf
Rudman Rating:. . .
. . ... ...
Cigar Aficionado Rating:. .
Cigar Aficionado Comment: Very black; looks cooked.
It has a firm draw, with steely, peppery notes and a hint
of cream. Mild to medium bodied.
drawn from www.cigarworld.com,
and Rudman's Complete Pocket Guide
43 - July
News through the Trade
is that Three
and Ogden's Walnut Flake are to be discontinued in South Africa.
Imperial Tobacco is no longer supplying countries where the "tonnage"
is too low, especially where there are special health warnings
This leaves only Erinmore Mixture and Flake, plus the 2 Condors
and Balkan Sobranie Mixture representing UK tobaccos - and supplies
of these can be erratic.
many years ago we worked with an old English Tobacco Blending
(C E McConnell Ltd.) to develop our Wesley versions of the classic
English Blends. They guided us through the mystique attached to
the flavourful exotic tobaccos - Latakia,
Perique, Turkish and matured Virginias.
The result was our range of "English"
Blends: 13, 15, 50, 52, 55, 58.
So all is not lost for those of you who have a taste for
the unique flavours of these traditional Flakes and Mixtures.
There is a Wesley Houseblend that
will satisfy your need - as it is, or with personal adjustments.
English-type Houseblends are basically Southern African tobaccos
blended with imported tobaccos to improve the flavour and smoothness.
In common with English blends there is no artificial flavouring
added to this range, with the exception of a little top dressing
on No.55. (Unfortunately the local process of manufacture still
leaves a few too many stalks, but these can be removed by hand
when packing the pipe.)
Wesley Houseblend alternatives with the objective of establishing
whether you can find an acceptable alternative
to your English favourite - not necessarily an exact substitute.
The success rate is high since we use the same natural flavouring
tobaccos, maybe just in different proportions or combinations.
Read the basic rules of blending in The
Perfect Blend and experiment for yourself. We can always discuss
fine tuning your results and all have some fun on the way. We
are at your service.
You can take your first steps with 40g of Houseblend
tobacco of your choice packed in a combination pouch - for
only R55.00. A great start!
July 11 - July 24, 2002
Wesley Houseblend alternatives:
Three Nuns - Formerly "curlies" now a flake, the
basic natural flavouring tobacco in this blend is Perique
- a rich matured tobacco grown only in the St. James Parish
No.58 (Perique Navy Cut) is the Wesley's Houseblend
with a fairly high percentage of Perique. Try it as it
is, or lighten it a little by mixing with No.43 or No.13.
Too light for you? Blend it with No.15 or No.8 (or even,
for the adventurous, No.24 for easier burning and an interesting
When blending with Wesley's No.58 - rub the tobaccos out
St.Bruno or Walnut Flake
- Matured flakes - two different blends, both really rich
Wesley's No.15 (Three Quarter Flake) is well-named
- a rich blend of matured Virginias in rubbed flake format,
three-quarter strength, slow and cool burning.
Condor Ready Rubbed (or Long Cut) - Here is a much
darker flake, still with the unmistakeable fruitiness
of matured Virginia tobacco. Again Wesley's No.15 (Three
Quarter Flake) - this time mixed with full strength
No.8 for added body.
Block - Another Flake - but much lighter in colour,
strength and taste.
The equivalent from Wesley's is Houseblend No.13 (Golden
Flake) - gently matured Virginias, with Turkish for
natural aroma and sweetness.
You'd like a little essence for more aroma? Add our most
popular aromatic blend - No.43 (Old Gold), or try
No.43 on its own.
Balkan Sobranie Mixture - now here's something
really different - a mixture of Virginia, Turkish and
There is nothing else quite like it.
(South Africans recognise the distinctive "bushfire" aroma.)
We created Wesley's Houseblend No.55 (Latakia A)
for the Latakia lovers - and added just a little top dressing
for the passersby.
If there isn't enough Latakia for you -add about 10% No.19
In fact add 10% No.19 (well rubbed) to your favourite
aromatic tobacco and experience the difference in flavour
- you'll love it (or hate it).
When you're combining two different tobaccos, sample each
tobacco on its own so that you can identify the tastes
in the mixture.
Mix them in equal quantities to begin with, and adjust
the proportions later.
No 44 -
a short smoke can still
be tasty, fulfilling and
old adage "Time is Money" has become relevant to the pleasure of cigar
smoking. Cigars cost money, and take time to smoke.
Both time and money need to be considered when choosing a 20 minute
The first 2 centimetres
of a robusto, corona or churchill taste great, but when time is up,
Discard it ? - No way! Not at the price!
"Doggie bag" it - good idea, but unless you have as
many long smokes as short smokes you're going to end up with a lot
of 2cm shorter cigars.
An all round
better solution is available - the expanded range of Mini Cigarillo
and Club size Cuban cigars now offered from the island's unique soil
by Cohiba, Montecristo and other brands. Read more about them in "Compact
a Cuban cigar smoker, don't change or compromise taste when scaling
down in size - you can now stay Cuban.
And from August 1 you can carry six of them with you in a genuine
leather, logo-embossed telescopic case - to share with a friend
during a coffee break or after a light lunch, and still be back
at the office in good time - at a very special price.
July 25 - August 7, 2002