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No 120 - July 28, 2005
"Cigars Away"

A recent phone call from a prestigious niche hotel requesting a selection of good cigars, in small quantities, in glass tubes, re-emphasized the fact that the demand for good cigars still exists.

The demand is actually growing. We see this in the shops, and it is feeding on some of the exotic Cuban cigars such as Trinidad, Montecristo Edmundo and the Partagas Serie P #2 and the ultra-exotic Partagas Serie D#4 Reserva 2000 (5 year matured).

Our suggested selection did not include all these exotic cigars, but rather a range to cover most tastes and price categories:
Trinidad Reyes (an "exotic" Robusto - however, unlike some exotics, ongoing supplies are possible)
Montecristo No.5 (the benchmark in half corona cigars)
Montecristo No.4 (probably the best selling premium Cuban cigar in the world)
Romeo y Julieta Mille Fleurs (Machine-bunched, hand-finished; one of the best value cigars around)
Cohiba Club (for the short, in-between smoke)
Vasco da Gama (really top quality short filler cigar - available with Cuban, Brazil or Sumatra wrapper.
Ideal for the casual smoker as it offers the true flavour of the wrapper, but is relatively light).

However, a thought came to mind - if you are going to visit a restaurant or hotel, with the intention of including cigars in the visit, you could confirm which cigars they offer and, if there is nothing exciting, enquire whether you might bring your own.
If this is acceptable, the question of portage arises - how would you carry them?

To supplement our range of top quality Spanish cigar cases, we have just received from India some excellent, firm telescopic cases for 2 or 3 Robusto to Churchill size cigars at R160.00 and R175.00 respectively. Ideal for an evening out.
For the little "minis" that so nicely complement a coffee break there are metal cases in matt black or satin nickel, holding up to 12 mini cigarillos; R199.95 and R119.95 respectively.
For a longer period you need something airtight, and we have a wooden travel cigar cabinet containing 5 glass tubes held firmly in place on scalloped ridges - only R105.00.
(I have always had my reservations about "travel humidors" that have no means of stopping the cigars from sliding around in the course of travel. The cigars must get damaged - it has happened
to me.)

So for that single visit to a restaurant, or for a week away in the bush or at the coast, you can make sure that your cigar enjoyment is complete in both selection and condition.
You can relax and study the menu.

And to add to your enjoyment - from August 4 to August 17 we offer:
Less 15% on the Travel Cigar Cabinet
Less 25% discount on all other Cigar Cases

Colin Wesley
July 28 to August 10, 2005

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No 121 - August 11, 2005
Two faces of Savinelli

We have been dealing with the Savinelli pipe company for just over 40 years - and for very good reasons.

Their Dry System pipes which we introduced to South Africa in 1981, are still considered to be the technically best designed pipes for both experienced and new pipe smokers who accept a bent pipe.
Their range of both Classic and Italian shapes are produced in a broad range of price brackets - all subject to the same intense curing process which ensures that each pipe offers a good smoke from the beginning.
So it was here that this year we looked for a polished pipe to complement their matt-finish Capitol pipe, and something of a higher quality that would retail under the price of the Champagne range.

As expected they had some very good ideas:

In answer to our first request, they suggested their new range: "Duca di Milano". (We must not have been alone in this enquiry.)The finish is a classic deep burgundy colour - nicely polished - and we have chosen 6 popular Savinelli shapes which all offer the 6mm balsa option.

It comes with a very agreeable price tag of R355.00.
The important point to remember is that the curing process would have been the same as for a Punto Oro - the reason Savinelli pipes offer such good smoking right across the price range.

The second suggestion was another newcomer to their range - a beautiful polished autumn gold "Siena" stamped "Savinelli product".

The pipe I'm holding in my hand is a truly handsome specimen, displaying a firm, close grain with a good proportion of hard wood. And it is difficult to find the specks that must be there for it to be offered at only R715.00
The range is not yet in full production but we were able to obtain a few models to start with. The four good shapes (with the 6mm balsa option) offer a foretaste of what is to come. Because of the limited supplies, all the franchises may not have all the shapes.

And now for the good news
You can buy these pipes from August 18 to 31 at 25% off the normal retail price:
Duca de Milano for only R266.25
Siena for only R536.25

Savinelli is a world class pipe manufacturer, with a tradition of service - we are proud of our association with the company.

Colin Wesley
August 11 to August 24, 2005

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No 122 - August 25, 2005
Random Cuban Selection

Many years ago, while I was on a cricket tour to the UK, I had a weekend off and went to Stratford-on-Avon to catch up on a little Shakespeare. During the day I had lunch with a stranger, a fellow tourist, who told me she was staying in the little village of Ross-on-Wye. In response to my question as to how on earth she had chosen Ross-on-Wye she said she'd taken a map of England, closed her eyes and stuck a pin in the map. Up came Ross-on-Wye which just happens to be one of the most beautiful villages in England - how lucky can you get.

I'm sure we all have stories of unplanned incidents, events or experiences which have turned out to be beautiful, or very good for us - sometimes you just strike it lucky.

While we didn't resort to the "pin and closed eyes" method for our next cigar selection "special", we did ask a cigar supplier for a list of some of the slower selling, lesser known brands of Cuban cigars available in South Africa.
Given this list, we looked carefully through it (with our Rudman on hand) and have come up with three cigars, to each of which the late Theo Rudman awarded 4 stars (his comments are included).
How lucky can you get!

Ramon Allones - Established in Cuba in 1839 by Ramon Allones, immigrant from Galacia, Spain. First person to put colourful printed labels on boxes. Favourite amongst connoisseurs of full bodied cigars.
Petit Corona - Petit Corona; 129mm x Ring 42 (Normal Price R87.00)
"Ideal for experienced smoker needing cigar with pronounced flavour."

Juan Lopez - Old Havana brand presently enjoying revival, particularly in Switzerland and Spain.
Corona - Corona; 143mm x Ring 42 (Normal price R108.00)
"Pleasant slow burning daytime cigar with some character. Consistent and reliable. Ideal for beginner or occasional smoker."

Saint Luis Rey - Created more than 50 years ago for the British market, it is rated amongst the best Havanas. Frank Sinatra and James Coburn were amongst devotees of these cigars.
Regios - Robusto; 127mm x Ring 48 (Normal Price R115.00)
"Excellent Robusto. Limited production ensures reliable quality. Enjoyable cigar outside of mealtimes."

From 1 September 2005, we will be offering for only R199.95
these cigars in a pack of 3 glass tubes in a sleeve (a useful casual cigar case).
At this price how can you lose?

Colin Wesley
August 25 to September 7, 2005

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No 123 - September 8, 2005
Mature Pipes III

Would you recognise a 1950 limited production, large size, Dunhill Shell Briar - or the original Dunhill Zulu shape?

Well they are there in our latest collection of Mature pipes - along with several other classic Dunhill pipes. With the help of a recent fortuitous article in a trade magazine on the history and intricacies of the Dunhill stamp dating system, we have been able to establish most of the pipes' years of manufacture. I think we have them right, but some of the digits are not all that legible and we could only establish a 5 year window.

It has taken us 10 months to assemble this collection of Mature pipes, and it is by far the biggest, best and most comprehensive collection to date. It includes Savinelli, Stanwell, Dunhill and a variety of other English brands, the star of which is a Charatan Cavalier stamped FH. This is a rare pipe, and its excellent condition makes it a candidate for any collector's serious attention.

To any of you reading this article who are unfamiliar with the concept of "Mature" pipes, let me explain: These pipes come from many sources - an estate, a smoker who has had to give up, a pipe that just didn't suit the smoker.
They have one thing in common, they are all quality pipes from the leading brands; they haven't been badly battered and most have their original mouthpieces.
We have the pipe sterilised, cleaned and polished to restore its mature, dignified appearance - like a nice piece of antique furniture.
If you have any reservations about smoking a pipe that has been smoked by somebody else - consider the response given to this concern by a sensible shopkeeper: "You don't take your own knife and fork to a restaurant, do you?"

If you are listed on our Pipesmokers' database you will receive a preview notice
to view the pipes before they go public.

(If you are not yet on our database, go to Sweepstakes Entry to submit your details and incidentally be entered in the draw for a free Savinelli or Stanwell pipe.)

I expect the real gems to move very quickly, but the pipes are all gems in their own right so don't delay - look, see and buy before somebody else does.
Watch for your email.

Colin Wesley
September 8 to September 21, 2005

PS And now we need to start assembling the next collection - know of any?

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No 124 - September 22, 2005
PPR Selection
Perfecto • Pyramid • Robusto

In previous articles we have discussed the relevance of length and ringsize to the draw and the taste of a cigar. Some conclusions of these articles are that
the thicker the ringsize, the easier the draw and the fuller the flavour
the longer the cigar, the milder the first few centimetres will be.

But what if we look at these conclusions more carefully, and raise questions about the exact construction of the cigars being compared.
Rick Hacker has some interesting observations to make in this regard. In his book "The Ultimate Cigar" he cites his experiences with two cigars of the same brand and blend, but in different shapes - a Robusto (127mm x Ring 50) and a Pyramid (152mm x Ring 32, flaring to Ring 50).
He noted the differences -
The Robusto started out with the full flavour which remained constant throughout the smoke.
The Pyramid, because of its extra length, started out milder in taste, but the taste strengthened as the smoke was drawn through the narrowing cigar.

My wife and I have always been very keen on the Pyramid - Torpedo as it was known BB (before boom). She enjoys the easier way the narrow end fits in her mouth while she can still enjoy the benefits of the broad burning area. I just like it.
But it is a difficult shape to roll, and as a result more expensive than a Robusto.
You can compare the two shapes in our next special.

The third cigar in the pack could be even more interesting. It is a Perfecto with a ringsize of 45 at its widest point. I say more interesting because, at the outset, the burning leaf is a combination of wrapper and binder only, with no hint of the full flavour of the filler to come. This flavour comes slowly into play and reaches fullness at the peak ringsize point, after which it should strengthen as the cigar narrows and shortens.

This selection pack of 3 cigars in glass tubes won't give you a perfect comprehension of the effect of shape on taste - none of the cigars is even of the same brand, let alone the same blend; and the ringsize for each cigar (at its widest) is not the same either.

But it does have one great plus -
each of the cigars was rated by the late Theo Rudman.

So they are excellent examples of their shapes - and each will give you a splendid smoking experience in every sense of the word.

Actually it has a second great plus -
the 3-pack will be available from 29 September for only R250.00

Bolivar Belicosos Finos (Short Pyramid or Belicoso, 140mm x Ring 52) R141.00
The brand was founded in 1901 and named after Simon Bolivar who fought to free Venezuela from Spanish rule. Totally handmade and of consistently high quality, the cigars are full flavoured - ideal either before or after a meal. A favourite of ours - we once shared a wonderful holiday with this cigar.
Rudman: Outstanding.

Cuaba Exclusivos (Perfecto, 145mm x Ring 45) R106.00
Cuaba - the only all Perfecto Cuban range - was launched in 1996. The name comes from the bush from which pieces were used by the early Indians of Cuba to light their cigars (cohibas).
The Perfecto is the original shape that made Cuba famous.
Rudman: Beautifully made. Slow, even burning. Smooth and mellow with lots of flavour.

Romeo y Julieta Exhibicion No.4 (Robusto, 127mm x Ring 48) R119.00
Romeo y Julieta is probably the best known Havana brand. This cigar is fully handmade. Very good spicy Cuban flavour.
Rudman: Well made elegant cigar. Difficult to obtain but worth the effort.

Caution: None of these cigars should be smoked in less than 50 minutes. Make sure you have the time!

Colin Wesley
September 22 to October 5, 2005

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No 125 - October 6, 2005
"Classical" My Word!

A few years ago while enjoying some Italian wine (Piemonte) with friends in a restaurant in Turin, the conversation turned to defining Classical music.
The one friend (a music graduate) declared, quite firmly, that the time period categorising music as classic was clearly defined and excluded any other genre of music.
We disagreed, citing more modern composers and offering a definition of classic as that of style - simple, harmonious, well-proportioned, and above all enduring.
The discussion became quite intense - but we didn't let it spoil the meal or the evening.

What about fields other than music - architecture, art, clothing design?
What about pipes - shapes and colours or finishes?

Are classical pipe shapes to be confined to the billiards, pots, apples, lovats, liverpools and canadians - both straight and bent (where applicable) - made originally by the French and English pipemakers of the late 1800s and early 1900s?
Or can we include some of the Danish and Italian pipe shapes from the 1950s and 1960s that have survived and are still appreciated today for their individual style - simple, harmonious, well-proportioned and enduring - and their smoking qualities.

What about colour finishes?
Must we have only the "classic" brown, black (sandblast), burgundy, chestnut or walnut?
I have certainly seen some amazing finishes come and go - several of which I was pleased to say goodbye to!
But if one or two colours endure for some time beyond their original inception - are still popular years later, and look like going on for years to come - can they be added to the "classic" pool of choice?

For our next pipe special we have chosen two ranges that fall into both these categories - pipes that we have been importing for more than 15 years.
Big Ben Barbados Atlantic - repeating the two shapes (651s, 652s, optional 9mm filter) of this really interesting range which we (or rather our customers) have found most popular over the years. The range has had some stunning finishes, and this time we have chosen the rich, high-polished "Atlantic" finish with its distinctive contrasting grain.
Big Ben Jade - once again the most popular shape from this range (302, optional 9mm filter) in which the pipes are stained a deep emerald colour with the grain clearly visible.

To whet your appetite:
From October 13 to October 26, 2005 we will offer these 3 pipes at less 25%.
Big Ben Barbados Atlantic - Normal Price R525.00; Special Price R393.75
Big Ben Jade - Normal Price R650.00; Special Price R487.50

As is said on Classic FM "Are these a hit or a miss?"
You tell us.

Colin Wesley
October 6 to October 19, 2005

PS Do you live in the Lowveld, shop in Nelspruit?
Now you can visit the newest Wesley's Franchise in Platsak Cellar

-239 Riverside Mall 013 7571206
A full range of pipes and accessories, and a stunning Humidor
with plenty of single cigars to try.

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No 126 - October 20, 2005
Cigars are not “smoking”!
just as Johnnie Walker Blue is not “drinking”!

- not at the Royal Livingstone, Zambia, in any event!
They can be a way to round off a superb meal, such as that prepared for us by the Executive Chef on Saturday, 8 October – the high point of “The Cigar & Whisky Good Life” weekend.

Friday (7 October) started as normal for us – up at 6, breakfast at 7, then to the office.
But it wasn’t to be a normal Friday – and we ended up the afternoon cruising in the African Queen on the Zambezi river, watching elephants cross the great river, and enjoying the sunset with a glass of chilled white wine.
A lovely end to the day.

We had been invited to present the position of cigars in “The Good Life” – we offered Davidoff Petit Corona, Millennium Blend, which is a fine example of a smooth smoking, flavourful luxury cigar.
Johnnie Walker provided the whiskies – Gold for an aperitif, Red and Black with courses, and Blue as the “liqueur” to match the cigars. Together they made a perfect finale to the gourmet meal.
It wasn’t a big dinner, 50 odd people had been invited. Although not all were whisky drinkers or cigar smokers, the evening was a resounding success.

The non-whisky drinkers (Gillian included) had sipped and appreciated the fine quality of the whiskies, and the non-smokers had nearly all been adventurous enough to try the cigar, several even lasting beyond the halfway mark.
Some of the guests we spoke with on Sunday morning made the point that the evening had not been spent just “drinking and smoking”. Rather it had been a very good experience, enjoying three of the ingredients that contribute to “The Good Life”.

A fourth ingredient for “The Good Life” was also present – the care and attention paid to every guest by the management and staff of the “Royal Livingstone” the whole weekend. They really went the extra mile.
And so did everyone from the companies offering the various activities - boats, helicopters and microlites, and lunch (with a swim) on Livingstone Island at the very edge of the Falls.

A fifth ingredient was the proximity of the majestic Victoria Falls - one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. (Do you know the others?)

On a warm (40ºC) Sunday morning, “life is good” was the general feeling as we dispersed to our various destinations.

Tonight we are experiencing another “life is good” function – a Wesley’s Cigar Dinner at The Grillhouse in Rosebank, Johannesburg. The “Evening with Montecristo” has been sold out for nearly a week, even though we managed to squeeze in more than 70 guests.

Missed the “Evening with Montecristo”?
You can still enjoy the cigars!
The selection of 3 cigars (safely packed in glass tubes)
will be available in Wesley’s shops

from Thursday, 27 October at only R199.50
(Normal price over R375.00)

Colin Wesley
October 20 to November 2, 2005

PS Are you familiar with the local pronunciation of Zambezi?

The Seven Natural Wonders of the World (as listed in Zambia):
The Grand Canyon
The Great Barrier Reef
Victoria Falls
The Harbour of Rio de Janeiro
Mount Everest
The Northern Lights
Paricutin Volcano

Picture gallery

However, there is no consensus on the list.
Click to see some of the other selections.

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