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“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it,
bearing within him the image of a cathedral.”

– Antoine de Saint-Exupery
From 7 December, 2017 to 17 January we offer you less 25% on Selected Cigar Ashtrays
Creating a Tobacco Blend!

What has happened to all the “English” pipe tobacco blends?
Balkan Sobranie - the Classic English Latakia blend; 3 Nuns - the classic Perique blend; Gold Block - the classic Turkish blend; St. Bruno - the classic Virginia Flake; and all the other exotic blends that used to fill our shelves?
Times have changed, new blending processes have evolved, and pipe smokers’ tastes have accepted these changes as the norm for a pipe tobacco blend today.

So how are these new blends created?
After a fair amount of research it comes down to the realisation that there are two parts to a pipe tobacco blend.
The basic “component” tobaccos and the “condimental” tobaccos.

Component tobaccos: There are three most commonly used component tobaccos in the wide range of these Modern blends.
“Virginia” is flue cured tobacco using indirect heat to dry out the leaf, while still preserving the most sugar possible. There are two types:
“Bright Virginia” – short period of drying under intense heat retains the highest amount of sugar in the leaf creating a sweet, tangy taste.
“Red Virginia” – the leaf undergoes a longer drying period under lower temperatures. This creates more caramelization in the leaf with toastier sweetness.

“Burley” – is air-cured tobacco dried by hanging it out in the air. White and Dark Burley are the two best known varieties.
“White Burley” – is just air-cured, losing most of its natural sugar in the process. The taste is more like unsweetened cocoa or dark chocolate.
“Dark Burley” – also air-cured but the leaves are bundled and stacked up one on top of each other. The pressure generates natural heat which creates fermentation delivering a sweet, spicy, taste similar to raisins, cloves etc.

“Black Cavendish”, the third base component is not really a tobacco leaf – it is a process combining heat, steam and pressure on Bright Virginia. Thanks to its very high sugar content, the process causes the tobacco to caramelise into a dark, almost black colour, losing most of its own flavour.  This loss of flavour leaves the tobacco open to absorb other flavours from other tobaccos, or from flavouring agents. It helps spread these flavours more evenly throughout the blend.
The Cavendish treatment of heat, steam and pressure can be done with, or without, additional flavourings being introduced. They are aptly known as sweetened or unsweetened Cavendish.
Black Cavendish invariably falls into the sweetened category.

Condimental Tobaccos
These are the tobaccos which can add natural flavour, nuttiness, sweetness or strength to a blend.
We look at five of the tobaccos most used for these purposes.

“Turkish” – a variety of sun-cured tobaccos with very aromatic aromas and flavours.
They certainly have interesting names – Izmir, Katerini, Samsun, Smyrna, Drama are just a few.

“Latakia” – An Oriental tobacco that is fire-cured over exotic hardwoods in Cyprus and other areas.
It has a cool burning quality and a low nicotine content. Its signature smokey, bushfire-like aroma often stamps a blend as “English”.

“Dark-fired Kentucky” – Burley, fire-cured over American hardwoods. Similar to Latakia but with more nicotine and a variety of flavours depending on the wood used. A little goes a long way in promoting smokiness in a blend – it is sparingly used.

“Cigar leaf” - Chopped up carefully it blends well with Virginias or dark-fired Burleys, giving them a good lift in strength.

“Perique” – a real rarity, grown only in St James Parish in Louisiana. It has small, intense leaves that are cured in oak barrels. They are pressed as full as possible, after which serious pressure is applied. The leaves simply stew in their own juices for 12 months, turning almost black with a deep fermented fig or stewed fruit flavour.
Used sparingly Perique can either bring out a sweetness in a blend, or if overloaded will dominate the blend with mushroom-like flavours.
Read more about Perique

So these are the Blenders’ toys, and they are complicated toys.
Establishing a blend is a painstaking exercise and there can be many pitfalls on the way. The characteristics of the blend must be maintained, year after year. Consistency is paramount.
Those blends with the highest percentage of natural base tobaccos are the most subject to change. It is the skill of the Chief Blender to see that any change will be introduced so slowly that it will not be noticed by regular smokers of the blend in question.

Wesley’s Houseblends  - developed over the years using local and imported tobaccos.

Back to the English blends.
In our range of Houseblend tobaccos the original English blends we introduced many years ago are still there.

Nos. 50 and 55 (Balkan Sobranie Latakia type)  A blend of broad cut, fire-cured bright Virginia, with dark tobaccos for body and the addition of Latakia and a little Turkish to balance the flavour.

Perique Navy Cut No.58 (Three Nuns Perique type) Ready-rubbed, fruity, medium strength flake, with a high percentage of Perique. It is rich and slow burning.

Golden Flake No.13 (Gold Block – Turkish type) A lighter blend of medium strength flakes and Turkish for natural aroma and smoothness. Slow-burning, not too rich, ideal for out-door smoking       

Three-quarter Flake No.15 (St. Bruno type) Ready-rubbed, of slightly more than medium strength for cool smoking, it is a blend of rich, matured flakes.               

And look at our popular “Modern” blends.

No.43 Old Gold The smoothness of Turkish and Burley, with the slight sweetness of gently matured Virginias, and a little top-dressing for a pleasant aroma gives a delightfully easy smoke, mellow as Old Gold.

No.46 Full GoldSmooth and satisfying – a popular aromatic Burley combined with Matured Virginias, Turkish and a hint of Perique.

No.47 Vanilla GoldLightly matured Virginia, smooth Turkish for natural sweetness, and a delicate Vanilla aroma.

Read more.

You can store your tobacco in an airtight jar or plastic container such as Tupperware; pop in a Humydrol.
But for everyday use you need to carry smaller quantities in a tobacco pouch.

We offer the HK range with very good latex linings and airtight closure. Roll-up, Companion Zip, Pipe bag with pouch; Leather or soft Synthetic.
They’ve been on a stock-reduction sale at Wesley’s Rosebank at less 40% - now available to you too.
ONLY from Wesley’s shops, and online from the website.

From 25 January to 7 February 2018
71-HK…..… range of tobacco pouches less 40%
Normal prices from R99.50 to R595.00

The tobaccos are worth trying - or pick up a Taster pack, to whet your appetite.
And at the same time invest in a new tobacco pouch.

Your smoking pleasure is our business.

Colin Wesley

No.420 January 18 - 31, 2018

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 2017