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No 141 -May 18, 2006
Is ½ a cigar still a cigar?

Well this certainly is the case if we are talking about a Half Corona – the classic 30 minute smoke.

The classification “Half Corona” is a bit of a misnomer as anyone with any sense of arithmetic (mathematics is not needed) can see from the dimensions:
Classic Corona             142mm x Ring 42
Classic Half Corona . . . .. .102mm x Ring 40
So one must assume that the classification arises from other aspects of the two cigars.
How about assuming that it must relate to the smoking time – more-or-less 60 minutes to more-or-less 30 minutes. Agreed?
I would also venture to say that there must be a difference in the blending as the full flavour of the cigar has to develop sooner in the shorter cigar – otherwise it would be a non-smoke, which it isn’t.

Technicalities aside, when I am asked across the counter to recommend cigars, my first question in reply is “what time do you normally have to enjoy a cigar?” Often the time is relatively brief, certainly under an hour – and my suggestion equally often is a classic half corona. The perfect proportions of this size (ringsize to length) offer a satisfying smoke in a suitably short time. It is the most versatile of sizes and can be smoked any time of day, in any situation.

Whether or not you are familiar with this size cigar, we have put together 3 little beauties for you to enjoy from 25 May 2006 at the inviting price of R135.00.
Bolivar Corona Junior            (Normal price R65.50)
Diplomaticos No.5                . . (Normal price R53.00)
Cohiba Siglo I             . . . . . . . . . . . . (Normal price R77.00)

Read about these cigars (from May 25).

This makes a perfect gift for Father’s day – 18 June.

You don’t need a major celebration or unlimited time to enjoy a good cigar. In this case find just 30 minutes out of your ordinary routine. Who knows - it might become a regular event.

Colin Wesley
May 18 to May 31, 2006

PS There could be another answer to the question “Is half a cigar still a cigar?”
A cigar can be “doggy-bagged”. Allow it to go out, then cut off the ash end
(about 1cm, for cleanliness) and store in a glass tube until you are ready for it.
Blow through before re-lighting to expel stale smoke.

Bear in mind – the second half of a cigar is usually stronger than the first half.

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No 142 - June 1, 2006
Dingler’s Dream 1904

. .We grew up with Dingler’s. .tobaccos – No.9 Brown and No.6 Green, and of. .course Boxer –

but how the company has changed.

In the same few years as John Tennison Burrows opened his tobacconist in Durban, South Africa (1905) and Alfred Dunhill founded his empire with his retail shop in Duke Street, London, England (1907), Leonard Dingler arrived in South Africa from Holland (1904). He brought with him a small hand-cutting machine, a little knowledge of the tobacco business and the dream of producing tobacco products that would be sold throughout South Africa.

The first factory and shop were located in Standerton – in the heart of the Piet Retief tobacco district.
Piet Retief is a plain medium-strong “Transvaal” tobacco – typically South African, and favoured by the “Boers”.

It was here that the first Dingler’s No.9 (Full) and No.6 (Medium) were developed. The success of these led to more brands, and in 1908, when Leonard Dingler saw the potential of tobacco sales to the mines, he re-located the factory to Railway Ave. in Benoni.

In the 1920’s (when the first Wesley joined the tobacconist shop of J.Tennison Burrows) Leonard Dingler’s two sons brought new energy to his business – and “Boxer” made its mark as their brand leader.
I can remember two ladies in my father’s shop spending all day weighing up loose tobacco – most of which was Boxer. Boxer (for strength) mixed with Rum & Maple (for aroma) was a “national” blend (now we have Wesley’s Houseblend No.24 Black Cavendish) – and Boxer rolled in brown paper was the staple “cigarette” for the railway workers near the Tennison Burrows shop.

Dingler’s factory also branched out into Shag (Roll-Your-Own), Snuff (Magnet; Gwayi, later called Taxi; and others). In my Dad’s shop amongst the Zulu customers, Gwayi was the generic word for all tobaccos.

In 1999, taking advantage of a unique and rewarding business opportunity, Dingler’s was sold to Swedish Match – a global company manufacturing in 15 countries, and sales for its leading brands and niche products in more than 140 countries. They brought their marketing expertise and experience in the field of tobaccos to Leonard Dingler’s established brands – upgrading and streamlining the factory, and fine-tuning the products.

In 2004 to celebrate the centenary of the business Dingler’s introduced “Nineteen 0’Four” tobacco – later called Nineteen 0’Four Original when it was joined by Nineteen 0’Four Cherry and Nineteen 0’Four Vanilla. Good quality tobaccos and good value.

Latest on the market are neat 20g vacuum-packed tins of Original, Cherry, Vanilla
and the new additions: Coffee, Peach, Rum & Raisin, Whisky.

Try one when you have the opportunity. 

Conveniently – 1904 will form part of the package in our next feature (what a surprise):

Father’s Day Feature – Foldover** Pouch Package (with 1904)
** Foldover pouch is designed to hold 2 pipes, tobacco,
humydrole, lighter, tools, cleaners.

71-Ex795 Leather R243.75 (normal price of pouch alone R325.00)
71-P2217 Synthetic R48.70 (normal price of pouch alone R64.95)
From June 8 to June 21, 2006, while stocks last.

Colin Wesley
June 1 to June 14, 2006

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No 143 - June 15, 2006
The Ooooh’s and Aaaah’s

No we haven’t just been to see the current production of My Fair Lady at the State Theatre.

To start with. .– it’s such a hassle. To arrive in time for a light meal before the show, one needs to leave Johannesburg not later than 4.00pm (to negotiate the traffic) and one arrives home after midnight.
Do you think that the Gautrain will help?
In the mean time we settled for Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison on video.

In addition, we’ve been busy organising last week’s cigar dinner – sold out again.

The Ooooh’s and Aaaah’s we’re talking about come from the guests at the dinner as they discovered the true wonder of the Hoyo de Monterrey Le Hoyo du Prince, our first serious cigar
of the evening. The draw was free and comfortable, and the taste was the smooth spicy flavour of a classic Cuban – developing in richness as the cigar progressed, but without a trace of bitterness even at the death (ask Gill, who seldom enjoys the second half). Theo was right – “Skilfully crafted blend of peppery and spicy taste and aroma.”
The Cuaba Distinguidos was equally good, but that wasn’t surprising. It was a fitting complement
to the Hoyo – its greater size and the perfecto shape gave it more flavour and body which was exactly what was needed. (A few of the dinner cigar packs are available at R150.00 – a very good price.)
Everybody went home happy – especially those who won prizes!
(Next dinner is probably late September / early October.)

One of the questions I was asked at the dinner was “What new, exciting cigars can you tell us about?”
I had to answer “none at the moment” – and quote a comment in the current issue of Cigar Insider:
“It’s been nearly 4 months since Habanos S.A. showed off its new cigars at the Habanos Fest, yet few shops have seen much more than the new San Cristobals. Sizes like the Romeo y Julieta Short Churchill, a tubed Cohiba Siglo II and the Cohiba Behike, as well as the 2006 Edicion Limitadas, are still held up in Havana. Retailers in Mexico and the United Kingdom say the Edicion Limitadas will arrive soon, with the exception of the Cohiba Piramide. “This year, things are sticky,” said Simon Chase of Hunters & Frankau in the U.K., who doesn’t expect the Cohiba Behike before September.”

On the same page of Cigar Insider was the list of “Best Cigars this Issue”
The top with 94 points was Sancho Panza “Sancho” – a magnificent “Long Churchill”, individually boxed. It is the same size as the Montecristo A (235mm x Ring47) and should take close to 2 hours to smoke.
This size is particularly difficult to produce because it requires exceptionally long and perfect leaves.
There are just a few in South Africa – a snip at R200.00 per cigar or R877.50 per pack of 5 boxed cigars. Honestly - if you consider the length of time you will be able to enjoy the cigar (this is paramount) – the price is really good, less than an Esplendido or a Montecristo A. We rarely smoke the very large cigars, but thoroughly enjoyed our “Long Churchill” on a cigar weekend some time ago – a whole rugby match worth.

And then just look at some of the other top ratings – Bolivar Royal Corona 93 points, Juan Lopez Petit Corona 91 points.
Wouldn’t you just love to try them?
Well we have chosen them to make up a threesome with the Le Hoyo du Prince for
our next special**.
The Hoyo I can vouch for as it comes from the same shipment as those used at our dinner. The other two may not be from the same batches tasted by the Cigar Insider panel – you smoke them and tell us how you would rate them.

** From June 22 (while stocks last) the three Top Rated cigars in glass tubes - just R175.00
Hoyo de Monterrey Le Hoyo du Prince R72.50
Juan Lopez Petit Corona R72.00
Bolivar Royal Corona R90.00

I’m sure you’ll enjoy them, but whether or not - I’d value your opinion.

Colin Wesley
June 15 to June 28, 2006

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No 144 - June 29, 2006
Stanwell - nuff said!

Pipes with real character. .. .. .

To-day the name conjures up images of pipe shapes that are both classic and just off-classic – in fact Danish.

But the name was first chosen because it sounded English, and English made pipes were in great demand in Europe in 1942.
Stanwell, as a company, has always been inventive and innovative.
They pioneered the use of a metal template from which four bowls could be turned simultaneously. The Danish carver Sixten Ivarsson (now considered the father of modern pipemaking) was commissioned to create new shapes capturing the spirit of the “Freeform” movement, but suitable to be made in series.
Each shape was registered.
Each shape was perfect and true to the vision of its creator.
Suddenly “Freeform” pipes were affordable to a larger pool of Pipesmokers.

Stanwell was again amongst the front runners when the new acrylic mouthpieces were introduced. These do not discolour or become bitter tasting through excessive exposure to moisture, from either the mouth or a humid atmosphere. Stanwell developed their own version - fitted with Delrin tenons which are less likely to break, especially when the pipe is dropped. The tenons accommodate
optional 9mm filters – charcoal from Stanwell.
NB If you don’t use the filter – use the adapter!!

Today Stanwell is the major pipe manufacturer in Denmark, producing over 100,000 pipes per year, exported to all the corners of the earth. The company still enjoys relationships with the most talented craftsmen in Denmark to produce new shapes.

This year we introduce a new pipe range and a new shape.
The Stanwell de Luxe range is finished in a high polished rich
autumn-brown colour, shown (right) in the new shape 246
– a classic bent (Stanwell fashion).
You have to feel it!

Stanwell has also introduced a new Designer Line.
Many pipe smokers have asked Stanwell to take up production of some of the old shapes – and Stanwell have decided that from time to time they will market some of the most popular models.
This year it is S.Bang - and we have been allocated a few. I quote from the leaflet that accompanies the pipes:

Behind the name S.Bang hides two of the best, very experienced Danish pipemakers: Per Hansen and Ulf Noltensmeier. Per and Ulf have made the S.Bang pipe for more than 30 years. Each of them normally creates their own, individual shapes, but they have for many years worked together to design shapes which could be made in series for the different Stanwell line of pipes. With the help from Per and Ulf we have selected three shapes which are typical for their style.

Each pipe is embellished with a distinctive metal plaque. We chose two of the three shapes –

165/9 polished golden-brown or glowing black sandblast

188/9 polished

From July 6 to July 19, 2006
you have the opportunity of adding a fine Stanwell pipe to your collection
at 25% off the normal retail price.
This offer is includes all Stanwell pipes, including the Designer Line.
Mind you, if you miss the opportunity now you can still buy them at full price later.

Colin Wesley
June 29 to July 12, 2006

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No 145 - July 13, 2006
Starting your Collection

At our last cigar dinner, I was asked “How do I start making up a selection of cigars?”... .. .

Gill and I immediately answered: “Buy some Wesley’s Selections”.
After the dinner I had time to work out why we unanimously gave this answer.

One of the most important criteria for a personal collection is to have a range that will give you a cigar for all occasions.
You won’t always have the same length of time available to smoke your cigar - there must be a cigar for long or short periods. A rough guide (depending on your puffing rate or how often the cigar goes out) is:

15-30 min

mini cigarillo / demitasse

30-60 min

½ corona / petit corona / corona / royal corona / corona extra / robusto

1-2 hours

churchill / pyramid / double corona

If the usual time you smoke a cigar is during the World Cup or a rugby match, then you will want a pre-dominance of larger cigars.  A normal after-dinner cigar would approach 45 to 60 minutes. In either case you will probably find that one or two sizes from each end of the time scale will balance your selection.
I personally can’t envisage a selection without a half corona and a Churchill.

Let’s first look at a collection of Cuban cigars.
Experiment with cigars of the same size in different brands, or cigars of the same brands in different sizes.
Each Wesley’s offers an assortment of single cigars for you to try, and there is a wide range of “Handy Packs” – three’s and five’s.
An excellent alternative is the variety of “Wesley’s Selections”. The prices are always good, and they include a leaflet describing the cigars with a personal comment on why we put together this selection – for example, comparing flavours or brands or sizes, tasting a pack of diverse highly rated cigars.
Right now we have the following Wesley’s selections:
International Selection – 5 cigars in a wood travel case (Dominican, Honduran, Cuban and European);
Romeo y Julieta Selection (3 qualities and sizes in this well-known brand);
Petit Corona Selection, Half Corona Selection (3 different brands in each of these popular sizes);
Plus the stunning Robusto selection from Cuba (which includes the unique Montecristo Robusto).
And next week we showcase the “Corona Extra” size – a size we haven’t featured recently, almost a short Churchill and very versatile.
The choices are not limitless, but they are extensive, and over the next few months we will give you the opportunity to experience a wide variety of cigars.

And let’s not restrict the experiment to Cuban cigars alone.
You may enjoy a different flavour cigar on some occasions: Dominican (usually lighter), Honduran or Nicaraguan (similar strength, different flavour), Mature Brazil (naturally slightly sweeter) or European (the short filler is easy burning, and can offer interesting combinations of flavours).
Try them out in the same way.

So start today – keep your cigars in a Humidor, Tupperware or any airtight container
- but don’t mix flavours. And keep looking at the website or shop – more selections on the way.
You can read more about selecting and storing your cigars in the Library – maybe start with “Cigars – Smoking for Pleasure” and a “Checklist for 2006”.

From July 20 (while stocks last)
we offer three Corona Extra cigars in glass tubes - just R280.00

Cohiba Siglo IV R140.00 – Cuba’s flagship brand
Rafael Gonzales Corona Extra R93.00 - excellent cigars, really well matured now.
Hoyo Epicure No.1 R108.50 - lighter to the taste but with great elegance & complexity.

Colin Wesley
July 13 to July 26, 2006

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No 146- July 27, 2006
Affordable quality!

Cool smoking pipes – but still within your acceptable price range... .. .

We’re always looking for “value for money”– and especially for pipes that are priced below their competitive market value in smoking quality.
Really, though, the only way to achieve this aim is to find a range of pipes from a good brand name where the manufacturer has managed to reduce his labour costs and/or create an unbranded range from the lower gradings of the rough bowls.

Lorenzo has achieved the former through the value pipes from his Albanian production. (Albania must have the lowest labour costs outside China.)
Savinelli has created the “Capitol” and “Duca di Milano” ranges – not perfect enough for the Savinelli label but, thanks to the basic curing process, very good smoking quality. They are finished by way of cottage industry which also reduces the labour costs.
(We don’t know what happens to the unsuitable Stanwell bowls – we’ve been fishing for years to get an unbranded range, but they’re not biting.)

There is one more way – pipes that have been rejected in the final quality checks, just before being released to the market. This is possibly where you find the best value since the pipes have been finished to a much higher standard, but an unacceptable surface flaw (for example) has appeared which would ruin the brand name.
These are true “rejects” often stamped “second”.
I can’t tell you how many times I have been told by my customers that “the best pipe I have ever bought was a reject “this” or reject “that”.

(Dunhill uses such rejected pipes to sell to staff or to give to important visitors. We were considered important enough on one occasion. We watched in amazement as the lady doing the final inspection under a very bright light found a miniscule spot and put the pipe to one side.
Unfortunately this pride of our collection was nicked from the shop some years ago.)

Now what if we can put together lower labour costs and “reject” status!!

When we were offered a small crate of “rejects” from the Albanian factory of Lorenzo, we didn’t hesitate – scruffy as they looked, we just said “Thank you” and negotiated a price.
The spit and polish has been completed, and the pipes are ready for the market.
Sorting them out was “fun”, but I didn’t waste time trying to justify the “reject” grading. Grouping the pipes into shapes and finishes was enough of a job.
Where there were sufficient of the same shape and finish we have included them in the selection of Value pipes on the website. There are more in the shops – come in and have a look (before they are finished).

It was only in May this year that I commented that over the last few years Lorenzo prices have remained unchanged, and the Savinelli Capitols (and some other Savinelli ranges) have actually reduced in price.
The unfortunate decrease in the value of the Rand has put paid to that. Savinelli prices had to increase with our last shipment and so will future shipments from Lorenzo and Stanwell.
But, the double benefit of the low manufacturing cost and the “reject” grading has resulted in a retail price for the Lorenzo Rejects of only R150.00.

That’s affordable quality for you.

This group of Lorenzo Rejects was an obvious choice for a special – we couldn’t do otherwise;
from August 3 to 16, 2006 we’ll offer 25% off.
A quality smoking pipe for only 112.50!

How wrong can you go?

Colin Wesley
July 27 to August 9, 2006

PS “Affordable” is subjective – what about the pipe you want to take into the bush, onto the golf course, or on a fishing trip?

  . . . . .