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"If you kiss a cigar, it will kiss you back. If you treat it like a dog, it will turn around and bite you."

George Brightman
From 17 – 30 May, 25% off the normal price of Lorenzo “Carvit” – carve-your-own pipe


Discussing Cigars

The American way.

My impression is that Americans seem to love rules and statistics, leaving little to chance or instinct.
Their business and sports are classic examples of this, though with sport they do allow for that degree of natural talent or flair a person may have for a particular sport.

So when I came across a blog where two “newbies” were being introduced to premium cigars, I decided to watch and listen.
In this particular episode, part of a series, the presenter was describing how to choose a cigar, differentiating one from another, and then how to cut it and light up.

The first point the presenter made was that, until the cigar was paid for, the customer could not handle the cigar. This also applies in South Africa but is not strongly enforced. We use glass tubes to bypass this obstacle and to minimise damage.
He then went through the 5 senses of man, Sight, Touch, Hearing, Taste and Smell, and how each one can be applied to the selection of a cigar.

  • Sight: the cigar should look alive. The wrapper should virtually glow, be relatively blemish free, with no strong veins or creases.
  • Touch: over the length of the cigar there should be no hard or soft spots which indicate poor construction or rolling. The feel should be firm but supple.
  • Hearing: if you can hear a crackle it could indicate poor humidification which will cause a dry, harsh, smoke.
  • Smell: he made the good point that this sense is used on the wrapper and on the foot. The wrapper should be fresh and possibly a little spicy. The foot should be more flavourful, but with no ammonia. Ammonia could mean poor, or insufficient, fermentation.

If the cigar fails any of these criteria it should be rejected.

  • Taste: this can obviously only be tested once the cigar has been cut and put to the flame. But the presenter made the point that if the blend of the cigar is known, the customer should have an idea of what to expect.

I don’t think we emphasise this enough as so many of our premium cigar smokers only smoke Cuban cigars. It would be good to encourage the cigar smoker to try to expand their experience to include more non-Cuban tastes. Download a Tasting Score Sheet
The presenter also made the distinction between taste and strength. Taste being the flavour and strength being the nicotine content. The higher the nicotine content the stronger the cigar.

Next came the cutting of the cigar.
The presenter demonstrated the punch, the two finger cutter, the V-cut and using cigar scissors.
Like me, his preference was for the scissors.
I use them because if the cigar is rotated as the pressure is applied, the cap will invariably pop off. The edges can be tidied up leaving a nice opening.

His suggestion was that the scissors made it easier to measure how much was being taken off with a clean snap.
He emphasised not to cut below the shoulder of the cigar (we talk of the cap line) to prevent the cigar from unravelling.

Before lighting up he suggested a dry puff on the cigar to test the draw. It should be easy and gentle.
To do this he suggested that the cigar should be held by the teeth, behind closed lips – not just wrapped up in the lips or pushed up against the lips. Interesting!

Lighting up – which one?  
Matches, Spill, Zippo, Butane Standard, Butane Turbo.

Matches: let the Sulphur burn off before applying the flame to the foot of the cigar.
Spill: good but not always available. If the cigars you bought have a cedar wrap or layer, break off a strip.
Zippo: not favoured because of the fuel taste. Zippo say let the flame burn for a while before lighting.
Butane Standard: good under calm conditions.
Butane Turbo: his choice unreservedly; my choice, especially in windy conditions, taking great care not to burn the foot of the cigar.

Here we had a difference of opinion, or theory.
His practice is to char the foot as quickly as possible. Then blow through the cigar and continue to light the foot thoroughly, puffing at the same time to expose any small areas that might need attention.
This is a quick, sure fire, method of getting the job done – American style.

The method we propose is a more gentle, slower one.
Hold the cigar at an angle of 45˚ above the flame with the foot facing down.
Gently rotate the cigar, watching for the oils to evaporate. The outer rim of the cigar usually lights up first followed by the rest of the foot area. Move the cigar away from the flame, blow or draw on the cigar to highlight problem areas, remedy them gently, then draw steadily and relax.
Should the cigar inadvertently go out, no problem, just blow through it gently and relight.

WALNUT DECOR HUMIDORSWe both agreed that when the time came to say goodbye, the cigar should be put down
to self-extinguish itself – no stubbing out please.

We also agreed that the cigars should be stored under certain conditions:
70% relative humidity at 70°F (21.1°C)
Almost any airtight container would do, but there is something really special
about a cedar-lined box with a fine wood finish.


Here’s your opportunity:

From 31 May – 13 June, 2018
25% off the normal price of
Walnut finish humidors, cedar-lined, with Nano bead humidifiers
73-J1276 for 30 cigars, normal price R1407.24
73-J1015 for 20 cigars, normal price R1205.48

The programme ended up with the three of them puffing away with smiles all round - nice.
I’m sure that you will too.

Colin Wesley

No.429 May 24 – June 8, 2018

- Two new ranges of cigars.

New range is called "Linea 1935" - 1935 being the year in which Montecristo was first introduced.
It has a dark Carmelita wrapper, almost Maduro. Tastings have found a faint sweetness.
(Carmelita is the Spanish word for the leaf colour Colorado)
The range was first introduced at the Habanos Festival 2017, but only recently released.

Montecristo Maltese
   153mm  x  ring 53

Montecristo Leyenda
  165mm  x  ring 55

We now have 3 strengths of flavour in Montecristo.
The original medium-full bodied Montecristo cigars.
The  medium bodied  "Open" range.
The new full bodied Linea 1935 range.

MORE ......

H Upmann Sir Winston Gran Reserva 2011
H Upmann Sir Winston Gran Reserva 2011

Gran Reserva cigars are rolled from leaf that has been aged for 5 years, and are only produced when there is sufficient tobacco.
The H Upmann Sir Winston Gran Reserva is rolled from leaf grown in 2011 and was released in 2017.
Only the best rollers are used, and normally the classic shapes of the brand are rolled.
Only 5000 boxes of 15 cigars were produced.
Classic Churchill 178mm x ring 47

By law, no South African citizen, living in South Africa can buy a tobacco product via the internet or postal system.  In fact, you may not receive a tobacco product through the post.
In addition we may not receive payment through the internet for tobacco products.
We may only supply tobacco products within the trade – not to private individuals. The fine is substantial
Contact us for help in getting tobacco to your area.

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

PS If you can’t visit a Wesley’s Bricks and Mortar, remember that if you’re not completely happy with your mailsale choice, you can always return it for a full refund.

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Refund Policy (Website customers - you’ll like this!)
Because we always guarantee our products – anything that isn’t completely to your satisfaction can be returned (in original condition and packaging) for a full refund.

NB. All prices on this site are in South African Rand (ZAR)
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New Tobacco Control Legislation
       Prohibitions in respect of tobacco products
(5) (a)  No person shall sell, offer to sell, supply, distribute or buy any tobacco product through the postal services, the internet or any other electronic media.
(b) The prohibition contained in paragraph (a) does not apply to any commercial communication between a tobacco manufacturer or importer and its trade partners, business partners, employees and shareholders.

ALL IMAGES AND CONTENT © Colin Wesley 2018