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No 320 - October 3, 2013

Make it go right!
From the start and then onwards…

This is the third article in the series on some of the “things” that can go wrong as you continue to enjoy your hobby of cigar smoking.
Here are a few more:

“The draw is too hard – feels like I’ll get a hernia.”   
Take another quick look at the cigar:
If you have selected a more slender cigar (ring 36 – 40) you can’t expect the same volume of smoke you will get from a robusto (ring 50). Relax and sip the cigar, possibly draw in a little air at the same time. Cigars like the Cohiba Lanceros or Montecristo Especials are great smokes, but require attention to be fully enjoyed.
If you are smoking a thicker cigar – did you cut a large enough hole? Beware, however not to take off more than the cap or the wrapper may peel off.
The cigar may be have been compressed too much in the box. Persist - the cigar may relax and expand after a few puffs.
Oh no, it could be “plugged” – the result of poor leaf arrangement when the bunch is formed. Feel for the hard spot and massage it gently by rotating it between your fingers. This could take some minutes, but if you’re lucky the hard spot should break up and allow the free passage of air. If not – well, life is too short to tolerate a poor cigar – just discard it.

“Holes in my cigars!!”
Cigar leaf provides a happy feeding and breeding ground for the tobacco beetle  - and if you have laid down stock of Cuban cigars manufactured pre-2006, the beetle may hatch and eat its way out of your cigar.
The good news is that since 2006 once the cigars are boxed, and before shipping out of Cuba, they are put through a freezing process over a 5 day period. The temperature is gradually reduced to -23°C, maintained at this temperature for 3 days, and then gradually restored to a normal temperature over a final 24 hours. I can vouch for the success of this exercise as we have had almost no beetle-mania over the last 5 years, or more.
But I still wouldn’t take a chance by allowing my cigars to get warm.

 “My cigars look as if they are covered in white powder” –
Don’t be too alarmed – give it a sniff:
If you can’t smell anything except cigar leaf, relax! It is probably bloom (maybe plume in the US) which is a sign that the cigar is aging nicely. The powder may be likened to the soft coating on a plum on the tree when it is just ripe, and can easily be removed with a soft cloth or brush (a baby brush is ideal).
However, if it smells mouldy – then it is. This is often the result of storing the cigar in excessively damp surroundings. Have you been over-compensating for your fear of the cigars drying out – especially on the Highveld in winter (Cape in summer)? Remove the mouldy cigars and let them air – maybe the mould hasn’t permeated the cigar. If it has – write them off to experience.
BUT clean out your humidor, allow it to air, then check: both temperature and humidity must be attended to.

“I’m really careful when I cut and light my cigars, but about halfway through they start to burn unevenly”
I often hear this – and I find that a common cause is due to the type of ashtray being used.
If the cigar is rested at a steep angle in a deep ashtray, it will naturally start burning at the highest point of the foot – at an angle. It will help if the cigar is rotated before the next draw, but it isn’t easy to get the rotation correct.
It is far easier to invest in a good cigar ashtray.
A related complaint – usually from the home:
“Cigars are so messy – ash everywhere”
Make sure the ashtray is deep enough. When available use one that can close up.

Talking of “things” cigars, if you live in or near Johannesburg ……… Diarise now:

Monday, 4 November – next Cigar Dinner at Katzy’s (The Grillhouse, Rosebank)

But back to the cigar ashtrays, because our next offer is an encouraging saving on these useful items:

From 10 – 23 October, 2013
25% off all Cigar Ashtrays

Correctly designed to enhance your enjoyment!

Colin Wesley
No.320 October 3 - 16, 2013

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No 321 - October 17, 2013

Pipesmoking Potholes II

More potholes??

Only a few that you may never come across if you have been careful in filling your pipe, lighting it up, cleaning it out, and generally looking after it.

“I can’t draw on my pipe, I think it’s blocked. Even when I try to blow through, I can’t.”
This is often caused by a build-up of residue from fluffy pipe cleaners or small bits of tobacco mixing with the juices filtering out of the smoke as it passes through. This solidifies as the pipe cools down when rested.
So what do I do?

First, try a burst of Pipe Spray into each end of the mouthpiece, leave for a few minutes, then try to pass a pipe cleaner through.
Didn’t work? Gently warm the mouthpiece over (not in) an open flame, then spray (away from the flame) and try again.
Still no good? Re-warm the mouthpiece, apply another burst of pipe spray and try to push through a thin wire. A straightened paper clip often does the job.
Watchpoint: For a bent mouthpiece, first warm it until it is easy to straighten. Re-bend once it is clear.
Regular use of Pipe Spray and bristle cleaners should prevent this type of blockage.
If DIY fails (or is too much hassle) send the pipe to us on a regular basis for a thorough clean.

“The filter is stuck in my pipe mouthpiece!”
Relax, it can’t have gone far.

You can probably reach it with a thin screw. Rotate the screw until it catches, then pull it out (pliers may give a firmer grip). It doesn’t matter if the filter disintegrates; you can remove the remnants with Pipe Spray and a pipe cleaner (as above).
If the inside of the mouthpiece is clean, the filter is less likely to jam.
If DIY fails (or is too much hassle) send the pipe to us on a regular basis for a thorough clean.

“I think the inside of the bowl is burning.”
The first question is “where is it burning?”
Just above the smoke hole

Possibly you aren’t packing the tobacco firmly enough. As you draw on the pipe the air races straight down on the inside, into the smoke hole, creating a hot stream.
Try firming up the packing so that a protective coating of carbon can hopefully repair the fault.

On the side of the bowl
• A slow-burning (flake) tobacco in a tall, narrow bowl can cause a hot spot about halfway down.
• Check how you re-light the pipe once it has gone out. You may be directing the flame straight onto the wall of the bowl rather than onto the tobacco.
• Do you smoke the pipe in the car with the window open? Any strong draught can cause a hot burn on the side of the bowl – a disaster in the making.
You’re not using a Turbo lighter are you?

“There’s juice coming out of the bottom of my pipe!”
Oh dear – this could be the start of a hole.
How can there be a hole in my pipe?

Usually one of two reasons:
• A sharp pointed instrument being used to clean out the bowl. That Swiss Army knife on your belt may have many uses, but cleaning out the bowl of your pipe is not one of them. Invest in a pipe knife or gadget with a rounded tip.
• Over-enthusiastic cleaning with the pipe cleaner. Twisting and pushing too hard, especially through the shank of a bent pipe, can drill a hole in the bottom of the bowl.
This can be repaired, but it needs to be done properly – plugged with a piece of briar; wood putty is not really a long-term answer.
And don’t leave it too long. Eventually the hole will get bigger and may even burn around the edges.

Well, you can sort out the burning problem; we can help with the tools you use………..

From October 24, 2013
Less 15% off Dunhill pipe gadgets
Less 25% off all other pipe knives and gadgets and off Pipe Spray

But only until 6 November, 2013

Look at it this way: the cleaner you keep your pipe, the fewer potholes you will encounter.

Colin Wesley
No.321   October 17 - 30, 2013

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No 322 - November 7, 2013

The Puro

By definition, to produce a “puro” cigar, the tobacco for the filler, binder and wrapper, all have to come from the same country.

This may sound simple, but the reality is that it is not!

Each component of a cigar – filler, binder, wrapper - requires different characteristics in the tobacco used for that segment.
For the Binder, leaves are required that have the elasticity and strength to hold the filler together. In addition it must have a flavour complementary to the wrapper and filler.
The Wrapper leaf should be smooth and silky in appearance with no heavy veins; it should appeal to all the senses except hearing. More important for the smoker, it should have good flavour and steady burning qualities.
A good wrapper is expensive – maybe as much as 70% of the value of the cigar. Some of the best wrappers are Connecticut shade grown; fine leaf from Ecuador with its natural cloud cover; the spicy leaf from Cameroon, Africa.
Filler – this is the guts of the cigar where much of the flavour of the cigar is found. And this is where the blender plays the biggest role – selecting leaf relative to, for example: the area in which it is grown, the part of the plant from which it is picked, the maturity of the leaf, and other criteria.
This is all much easier when you can choose the tobacco from different soil types in different parts of the world as we discussed in 2009.

Much more difficult when you are limited to selecting all the leaf from a particular country.
It took Hendrik Kelner of Davidoff over10 years to find a district in the Dominican Republic suitable to develop a wrapper leaf of the quality he demanded for the Dominican Davidoff Puro d’Oro range of cigars.
(Incidentally – this is the first puro to come from the Dominican Republic.)
However, in Spain they have produced purosfor generations. In fact, according to the late Theo Rudman, the 3-part cigar construction originated in Spain.

Now transfer this situation to Cuba where all the cigars are, strictly speaking, puros.
(Although in Cuba the term is normally applied to export quality cigars.)
Such cigars are a tribute to the passion and skills of the planters, the growers, and the blenders in Cuba.
Between them they are able to produce the myriad tastes, strengths and burning qualities for the brands and sizes they deliver, year after year, in quantities sufficient for the millions sought after by the world of cigar smokers.
This is probably partly achieved by the fact that the total cigar production in Cuba is government-controlled. They specify the quantities of each leaf – wrapper, binder, filler – to be grown, and where. Quantities of each tobacco can be allocated by need to the respective factories, as required to produce the complete cigar.

Still, how do the Cuban blenders manage, restricted as they are to cigar leaves grown only in Cuba?
Tobacco plants from different regions, even of the same plantation (Vega), will have quite different characteristics. Cuban blenders can choose from many different vegas, choose between shade- and sun-grown plants and leaves picked at different times from different levels on the plant. For them the realm of choice becomes very wide indeed. So the skill of the blender comes in judging the proportions of the various leaves, type, origin and age, to create the desired blend – and then maintaining the integrity of the blend over the years.

And then there are the Limited Editions – where the blenders can really enjoy themselves using very special, aged leaves, to create unique blends in limited quantities. One-off blends – no need to concern themselves with continuity.

In July we talked about the three Limited Editions for 2013, and two of them have arrived:
Hoyo de Monterrey Gran Epicure (130mm x Ring 55)
Punch Serie d’Oro No.2,  Pyramid (140mm x Ring 52)
The links are to the descriptions on the Habanos website.

Along with further supplies (at last) of the delightful
H.Upmann Half Corona (90mm x Ring 44)
which debuted earlier this year, and just flew off the shelves.
This is at least partly due to the ringsize – 10% thicker than the normal half corona (Ring 40).
This gives an easier draw, and allows the blenders to create a more complex flavour.

You’ll have noticed that many of the newer cigars coming onto the market are larger ring-sizes.
Ring 60           El Credito Serie R #6;
Ring 58           La Aurora 1495 Sumo Short Robusto (smoked at the May 2013 dinner);
Ring 56           Cohiba Behike 56;
Ring 55           Hoyo de Monterrey Gran Epicure; Montecristo 520, and Open Eagle; R&J Wide Churchill;
Ring 54           El Credito Serie R #5; Cohiba Behike 54; Partagas Serie E;

Ring 52           This was normally the girth of a Piramide at its widest point (example Montecristo No.2).
But now there are several non-pyramids with this ringsize:
Cohiba Behike 52; Cohiba Maduro 5 Magicos; Montecristo Edmundo, and Petit Edmundo;

These require cigar cutters capable of handling the larger ringsize.
In our selection we have 6 such cutters (including the cigar scissors), and also including the new Credo cutter which will handle up to Ring 70.

These 6 will be our next special:

From 7 – 20 November, 2013
25% off all large ringsize cigar cutters 23mm diameter and more (see list)

Peace of mind is having the right tool for the job!

Colin Wesley
No.322  October 31 - November 13, 2013

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No 323 - November 14, 2013

Houseblends: The Modern Trend

Houseblend tobaccos have always been an important part of Wesley’s business.

They allow us to continue to offer a comprehensive range of both natural and aromatic blends (and combinations) while the branded counterparts have been disappearing from our market – especially the English-type blends.

Not long ago the Department of Health decided, in their wisdom, that adhesive health warnings which can be removed from the containers (with no matter how much difficulty), are no longer acceptable. Normally that applies to tins and plastic pouches or containers.
This could be the end for even more tobacco brands, where the warning is not actually printed on the container.

Wesley’s Houseblend tobaccos are now even more important.
They cover:
The main English types - all pure natural tobacco with no additives. They rely on tobaccos like Virginias lightly matured or as fully matured flakes; with Latakia or Perique for additional flavour, and Turkish to smooth the blend. (Wesley’s Nos. 13, 15, 50, 52, 55, 58)
Traditional Dutch type – light, relatively fine cut mixture; easy-burning and smooth on the tongue. Wesley’s No.1 was our very first houseblend and is still very popular today. (No.2 fell by the wayside)
Danish/American “Cavendish” tobaccos – most of these have been pressed and steamed (to increase natural flavour) and flavoured for the aroma. The American types rely on burley tobacco which is smooth to smoke and will readily absorb flavours. (Wesley’s Nos. 23, 24, 25, 41, 43, 44)
No.43 is our best-selling blend in this group, in fact overall.

More recently the “Modern” mixtures arrived in the world of pipe tobaccos.
Combinations of natural and aromatic tobaccos: think mixtures of Cavendish / English blends
They are smooth, easy-burning with great room aroma, but with more “body” to create a more satisfying smoking experience.
So we introduced the successful No.46 “Full Gold” - muted burley (with attendant flavourings), lightly matured Virginia for natural flavour, smooth Turkish, and a dash of spicy Perique.
The newest addition to the group is No.47 “Vanilla Gold” – lightly matured Virginia, smooth Turkish for natural sweetness, and a delicate Vanilla aroma.
As with any new blend, we test it on the market, focussing on smokers who like the particular type of tobacco. Currently, that is most of the new younger smokers – and those looking for adventure.
Here is one of the reports, it expresses all we were trying to achieve:

Blend No.47 is just exceptional. I took it straight from the pouch. The pouch aroma is sweet vanilla custard. I half loaded up a large bowl and sat back.
The flavour is old fashioned, like something your grandfather or his friends might have smoked. This blend must be sipped to release a flavour profile that although present, never dominates the tobacco. And the blend is quite satisfying - something I love. No tongue bite. Almost a milky smoke.
Because my initial bowl was 6cm deep and 22mm across – but only half filled – I had to put it down and re-light it a few times. Each time there was no bitterness, just quality, sublime tobacco expertly and deliciously flavoured.
Don't rush Blend No.47 because it needs to be savoured slowly and meditatively. It's just that great! Leaves a delicate and insubstantial white to light grey ash.
I then tried Blend No.47 in the Lorenzo Oom Paul I got from you. Gravity fed, gently pushed down with about a 1cm space at the top of the bowl. Again, just wonderful. This tobacco blend could go head to head with some of the very best smokes I've ever had!
I'm hugely impressed. If your price for this is in line with your established House Blends then out of ten I'd give it twelve, owing to its value.

If you are ready to look for an alternative to what you are smoking at present, you could do well to look at the Wesley’s Houseblends.
Unfortunately, the law does not allow us to post you a tobacco product. Contact us for a stockist near to your area.
Give it thought, and we will see if we can be of service to you – helping to make your Pipesmoking pastime even more enjoyable.

The law also says that we may not have special offers on tobacco products.

So instead we’ll make an offer on something to store / carry your Wesley’s Houseblends.

Less 15% off Dunhill Pouches
Less 25% off all other pipe tobacco pouches and tobacco jars

But only from 21 November to 11 December, 2013

Choosing the correct tobacco for you, can make or break the enjoyment of your Pipesmoking hobby.

Colin Wesley
No.323   November 14 - 27, 2013

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


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No 324 - November 28, 2013

Which is the BEST Cigar?

A common and understandable question, especially from new cigar smokers.

My answer has to be carefully worded, because it is both objective and subjective.

The objective part is technical: the quality of the tobacco used, the skills of the rollers, and the quality-control of the all the manufacturing processes.
Most of the cigar-manufacturing countries (Cuba, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, etc.) produce high quality cigars – good looking, well-constructed, even-burning. These are the standards on which we can judge the cigars objectively.

The subjective element comes in when judging taste and aroma.
What is the “best” taste for other people may not be the “best” taste for you.
It is the soil in the different countries, and even in different areas of each country, that determines the taste and burning qualities of the tobacco produced.
It was once thought that Cuban seeds planted in the Dominican Republic would produce Cuban-tasting tobacco.
After all Dominican Republic / Haiti and Cuba are neighbouring islands. You could almost swim across.
But this is not so. The taste of the tobacco is essentially a function of the soil in which it is grown.

So if you believe that the Cuban taste is the epitome of taste in cigars, then you must buy a Cuban cigar.

The analogy I use in the shop:
If you want the taste of French Champagne then that is what you must buy.
But if you are happy to buy a technically good sparkling wine, made in the method of champagne, these are available from many other countries, and you can broaden your appreciation of sparkling wines.

In the same way, if you are prepared to accept that your cigar-smoking allows for a diverse range of tastes, then the whole world of premium cigars is open to you.

Grupo León Jimenes, C.porA is the oldest cigar manufacturing company in the Dominican Republic, founded by Don Eduardo Leon Jimenes in 1903. Four generations of the Jimenes family have run the company, whose brands includePreferidos robusto cigars La Aurora and León Jimenes, and whose CEO is currently Guillermo Leon.
We have just received a range of La Aurora cigars, in different price brackets:
premium, standard and budget.
I thought it would be interesting to compare the blends of cigars of the same size
in each group.
(Download a Tasting Score Sheet)
The two blends I have chosen are designated Natural and Maduro.

La Aurora Preferidos Robusto

Natural (Emerald) R298.00 single

Maduro (Ruby)   R298.00 single



8 year Brazilian Matafino


Dominican Corojo / Brazil /Peru

Bahía (Brazil), Cameroon, Dominican




La Aurora 107  Robusto

Natural  R150.00 single

Maduro   R150.00 single



Connecticut Broadleaf


Dominican Rep / Nicaragua

Dominican Rep / Nicaragua


Dominican Rep

Dominican Rep

La Aurora Principes Short Robusto (102mm x Ring 54)

Natural  R107.00 single

Maduro  R107.00 single



Brazilian Maduro


Dominican Rep

Dominican Rep


Dominican Rep

Dominican Rep

107 robusto cigarsLa Aurora Principes Short RobustoNote: The major cost levied by customs in South Africa is on the weight of the cigar, not its value.

In the US the prices are
$6.00 for the 107, and $2.00 for the Principes.
Unfortunately, because of our duty structure,
this differential does not translate.

Also available:
La Aurora 1495 Sumo Short RobustoLa Aurora 1495 Sumo Short Robusto 102mm x Ring 58 (a very thick half corona) R136.00 single
The 1495 series was developed to recognise the founding by Christopher Columbus in 1495 of the Dominican city of Santiago (de los Caballeros). The filler is a blend of tobaccos from the Dominican Republic, Peru and Nicaragua, bound with Dominican Corojo leaf, and finished with an Ecuadorian wrapper. The combination gives a cigar that is medium- to full-bodied with satisfying flavour from beginning to end. The care and skill of the blender and rollers ensures a comfortable, consistent draw and even burn.
Well-appreciated at the May 2013 Cigar Dinner

La Aurora 1495 “15 minute break” 89mm x Ring 42  R63.00 singleLa Aurora 1495 “15 minute break”
Brand new, and specially created for that short 15 minute premium smoke. Just the format we have been looking for, a slightly shorter, slightly thicker half corona, totally handmade. The half corona shape has been singularly lacking in non-Cuban cigars.
The Dominican, Peru and Nicaraguan filler, held together with a Dominican binder and finished with Ecuadorian wrapper leaf, ensure a smooth-smoking cigar with plenty of flavour.

Select a couple and do your own comparisons.
Is the Preferidos worth 3 times the price of the Principes?
I think that the 1495 series offers exceptional value – try one and see if you agree.

Unfortunately, the law does not allow us to post you a tobacco product. But if you know a friendly shopkeeper in your area who normally sells any tobacco products, we could use him as a means of getting cigars to you – and he will make a profit.
Give it thought, and we will see if we can be of service to you – helping to make your cigar smoking pastime even more enjoyable.

The law also says that we may not have special offers on tobacco products.

So instead we’ll make an offer on something simple to light your cigars.
Just a year ago I was finally registered as an importer of “explosives”. Now we can offer you the longer, thicker matches to light up your cigars (and braais).
And for the next fortnight only:

From December 5 - 18, 2013
15% off 10cm and 28cm matches while stocks last.

Variety is the spice of life – and is great for your cigar smoking too!
Experiment to find YOUR best cigar.

(Download a Tasting Score Sheet)

Colin Wesley
No.324 November 28 - December 11, 2013

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