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No 161 - March 1, 2007
Beat the Heat

The recent (and ongoing) heatwave, coupled with the distressed look on a customer’s face as he told me his cigars were being given the “Freezer treatment”, made me think that I should remind you about the dangers of heat to your cigars:

This time last year (and previously) I spoke of what to do to avoid a visitation of the tobacco beetle (Lacioderma or Lasioderma serricorne). Essentially, cool is paramount for storing your cigars - 19ºC to 21.5ºC. If your cigar is stored at too high a temperature for too long, the dreaded beetle, embedded deep in the cigar, may hatch and eat its way out of your lovely Robusto, leaving a neat hole that renders the cigar unsmokeable. But you don't have to run around with a thermometer. You know the cool place in your home or office, the place where you would be comfortable in a jacket, even in summer. That's where you should keep your cigars. Don’t leave them on the table after lunch, and think about the temperature when you take your cigars out with you – the cubby-hole and boot can get very warm.

But how do you know if the little thug has paid you a call – what damage does he cause, and what can you do about it?
The beetle starts out as a harmless egg, laid deep in the tobacco leaf. Under suitable conditions (humidity and excessive warmth) the egg hatches and the resultant worm eats its way out of the cigar, leaving a small round hole and a trail of fine tobacco dust. It usually seems to stick to one cigar, but occasionally it travels along other cigars, eating as it goes, and creating a trough on the surface. At some stage the worms metamorphose into tiny brown beetles which are often found in the bottom of the boxes and may even fly to other boxes continuing the damage.

In Durban in the 1960’s, before the days of air conditioning, this was a real threat in shop humidors.
My Dad used to import “Burma Cheroots”, but as he said “The shipping out of Rangoon was so slow, the weevils (beetles) got more than we did”. We visited a top cigar importer in the UK about 25 years ago. One of his agency lines was the same range of Burma Cheroots. When they arrived they were sorted in a safe place into “beetled” or “clean”. The latter were stored in what had been the butter room – the coldest room in the basement of the old school building which was the company warehouse.
An Air Force Group Captain told us how, when there were too many holes in the cigar to block with the fingers like a flute payer, they used to stick matches into the holes to seal them.
The beetle problem is common to all cigars. Many manufacturers now freeze the cigars, especially before shipping to, or through, hot regions.

But the beetle is determined, so look out for him. If you find any signs of his presence, even in just one cigar, Rick Hacker (in The Ultimate Cigar Book) suggests you remove all the cigars from your humidor or the box and search for his body. What you do if you find it is up to you, but get rid of it.
He continues “Next put all the apparently healthy cigars in a plastic zip-lock bag, gently force the air out of it, seal it, and place it in the freezer. Leave it there for at least 2 days. 3 is even better. Then, take the bag from the freezer to the refrigerator so that the cigars will thaw out slowly and will not go into shock and split. This is the only time I can recommend putting cigars in the refrigerator. Once the cigars have thawed, remove them from the refrigerator, take them out of the bag and slowly let them return to room temperature. Do not put them in the sunlight to speed up the process or they will split their wrappers. Once again I tell you this from personal experience. In the mean time, completely clean and aerate your humidor. Now you can put your cigars back. The bug is dead. The cigars can be smoked. You have made the world safe. For now.”

There is quite a bit to keeping your cigars in good condition,
but I can’t repeat too often – the primary rule is “keep your cigars cool!”

Our first cigar special of the year was the half corona. We put in quite a bit of stock, so there are still a few available. Can’t say the same for the Robusto Selection from December – but here we are with another Robusto (almost) Selection, at prices pre-budget. The true Robusto size is accepted as 124mm x Ring 50, although a number of cigars size 127mm x Ring 48 are classified as Robusto, eg Upmann Connoisseur No.1.

From March 8
Almost Robusto Selection

Only R255.00

Saint Luis Rey Regios                             127mm x Ring 48         R111.00
El Rey del Mundo Choix Supreme        127mm x Ring 48         R112.50
Trinidad Coloniales                               132mm x Ring 44         R119.00
(The last, a thicker Petit Corona, is our “almost” – does it smoke very differently?)

That should keep you going for a while, until the budget increases are implemented.
(And we all know what has happened to the price of cigars again!)

Colin Wesley
No.161 March 1 to March 14, 2007

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No 162 - March 15, 2007
Business as usual

For us, our annual February business trip to Europe is still most enjoyable, although it does become a bit of a “whistle-stop” flitting from meetings to trade shows (and social weekends).

We don’t spend much time sitting around in our hotels watching foreign TV or looking for an English-language newspaper, and we find the usual cold weather invigorating. And if it is damp - well we don’t live there so we accept it with a wry smile. It won’t hurt.

As usual, our first port of call was the Lorenzo offices and warehouse. The family always greet us with warm smiles, strong coffee and biscuits. (More of that visit in a future article.)

Another morning, with some very fine snow in the air, we visited the Savinelli offices. Just a stone’s throw away from the Duomo - which is amazingly beautiful, even when it is partly draped with scaffolding and workmen.
The Savinelli people are really very imaginative and resourceful – introducing new lines and items each year. We discussed some of these, and one that appealed to me is the Leonardo range – to be an annual, numbered, collectible pipe featuring a handmade silver plaque, commemorating a different masterpiece of Leonardo da Vinci. “A very famous inventor as well as artist” we were told by a straight-faced Italian over the table. I thanked him for that enlightenment. When the first pipe - “Giaconda” is ready, I’ll tell you about it. Not now.

Just when we thought we were finished, the name “Rossi” was raised. “Did I remember that name?” I admitted that I did, but had not seen any Rossi pipes for some years. Well it turns out that Signor Rossi and Signor Achille Savinelli were competitive friends, and the brand is being revived under the supervision of Savinelli

Doubly good – the first range features pipes with a Twinbore mouthpiece – something that has been missing from the pipe world for some time.  
This ingenious style spreads the smoke more widely in the mouth, accelerating and accentuating the sense of taste while reducing the direct impact on the tongue.
Ideal for most of the modern blends of pipe tobaccos with their subtle flavours.

But that’s not all!
Between the two exit holes (at the bite point) the mouthpiece is solid making it exceptionally bite resistant – one weak point eliminated from the hazards of pipesmoking.
And there is still more!
At the other end of the mouthpiece the peg is the Teflon insert which is virtually unsnappable and can hold a 6mm balsa filter.
The result of the combination of these features is that you have a pipe that will ensure a cool dry smoke, with a pretty-well unbreakable mouthpiece.
We were impressed, so we selected 6 shapes and placed our first order – and went to lunch.

Later in the week we travelled by train to Frankfurt for the Ambiente Fair – more of that later.

To make way for the Rossi Twinbore, we are selling out the Duca di Milano range – offering it to you at an unbelievable price.

From March 22 Savinelli Duca di Milano with optional filter
Normal price R390.00

Now that truly sounds like an Italian offer you can’t refuse!

Colin Wesley

No.162 March 15, 2007 to March 28, 2007

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No 163 - March 29, 2007
The Big Three
Cohiba • Davidoff  • Montecristo

No doubt about it – these three are the brand names immediately associated with superior premium cigars – the best of the best!

Each has its own origin and reason for being, along with its unique flavour.

Cohiba originated in 1968 for the personal consumption of Fidel Castro, his chosen friends and foreign diplomats, in one shape only, a panatella, in two sizes. The secret of the unique flavour of Cohiba is the third, extra, period of fermentation and the further aging given to the specially selected tobacco leaves used for the brand.
In 1992 Cohiba went “public” with a range of shapes to suit the most particular cigar smoker. No corners are cut in the production line, and the quality and unique flavour continues today.

Davidoff – well, Davidoff cigars were, and still are, unique.
After Zino Davidoff cut ties with Cuba in 1992 and moved the production of his cigars to the Dominican Republic, he was his own master.
Using his vast personal knowledge of tobaccos, and working closely with the planters, growers, blenders and rollers, Davidoff created blends hitherto unknown in the cigar world, and for which he became justly famous.
The original Davidoff Dominican cigar is a blend of subtle, smooth but light tobaccos. The demand for more full-bodied “Cubanesque” cigars, led to the addition of the Millennium Blend, made from a selection of stronger tobaccos which give a new meaning to the Davidoff Experience.
The fastidious attention to detail in all aspects of producing the finished product throughout the range has achieved a degree of excellence which sets an extremely high standard that other brands can only try to emulate.

Montecristo was born in 1934 in the H.Upmann factory, the brainchild of the Menendez and Garcia families, with a striking, avante garde livery designed by Jack Benham then director of the UK distributor, Hunters & Frankau. The cigar has a unique, tangy flavour developed by storing the ligero leaves in special cedarwod boxes before being assembled in a special format exclusive to Montecristo. It has made the brand the biggest in Cuba in terms of sales – and the benchmark of Cuban cigars for size and flavour. It is generally slightly milder than Cohiba with less ligero leaf in the blend.

Now, when these brands each release a limited edition “Edición Limitadas” it must be something especially special.
Montecristo – celebrated in 2005 the 5th anniversary of Habanos Edición Limitadas with a Robusto (124mm x Ring50), with wrappers aged for 2 years. The cigars were available from 2006, and we received them at the end of the year, so they had aged a further 16/18 months.
Cohiba – in February 2006 celebrated the 5th Anniversary of its “Piramides” with an Edición Limitadas – wrappers also aged for 2 years. We received these in 2007, so the cigars had been boxed for about 10 months, getting to know each other. (156mm x Ring52)
Davidoff – To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Zino Davidoff’s birth a Robusto (124mm x Ring50) was produced in very limited numbers (unbanded) from the same rare tobacco as the Diademas Finos issued to much acclaim at the beginning of the anniversary year. South Africa’s allocation was 15 boxes of 8.

We have put together one each of these three memorable cigars for our next rather exclusive “special”.
Exclusive because we only have 23 units to offer – could have been 24, but I couldn’t resist enjoying at least one of the 24 Davidoff Robustos I received.

From April 5, 2007 for only R499.50 you can enjoy:
Cohiba Piramides V Aniversario Edición Limitada 2006 R196.00
Montecristo Robustos V Aniversario Edición Limitada 2006 R195.00
Davidoff “Robusto 100” 100th Anniversary 1906-2006 R207.00
While stocks last – only 23 selections available.

And because we only have 23 it will be only one selection per customer for the first 23 people to respond, and only from 5 April, 2007. Please diarise this and wait.

Colin Wesley
No.163 March 29 to April 11, 2007

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No 164 - April 12, 2007
Overseen by Savinelli

This reads like the pedigree of a racehorse.

Well this could be a good analogy since the families of both Rossi and Savinelli have been thoroughbreds in the pipe world, and the “TWIN BORE”, heralding the return of the ROSSI
name, is a sure winner.
I’m not really a horse racing man, but I assume that in any instances of controlled breeding, the objective is to produce an offspring that is superior to either of the participating “producers”.
(This is not genetic modification.)

I’m not sure whether the ROSSI name was linked to the original twinbore design, but Savinelli did pioneer the dry-smoking balsafiltersystem. Mating the two together produces a pipe that will ensure a cool, dry smoke with a pretty well biteproof, unsnappable mouthpiece.
What more can you ask of a pipe?

Style, feel and balance?
Just look at the shapes, the finish
– and the lightness and balance is also there.
The “biteproof” benefit comes from the twinbore design - a design that makes a very welcome return to the world of pipes. 
Between the two exit holes (at the bite point) the mouthpiece is solid making it exceptionally
bite resistant.

The “unsnappable” benefit comes from the use of the Teflon insert to hold the balsa “filter” (or an adapter), replacing the comparatively brittle peg of a traditional mouthpiece.

Now you know why I think that the ROSSI TWIN BORE is a winner!

Now that stock has finally arrived, I have naturally made this pipe our next “special”.

From April 19 to May 2
25% off

Put the breeding to the test and see for yourself.

Colin Wesley
No.164 April 12, 2007 to April 25, 2007

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No 165 - April 26, 2007
- the ultimate Humidification System

Their slogan: “from this moment on, all other humidifiers are obsolete!”

We all lead busy lives - whether building a business career or in a retirement seemingly more active than our working life (going from Golf course to Golf course, to holiday homes on the coast or in the mountains, or enjoying the extended travel we always looked forward to).
All this busyness may not leave time for that rather essential weekly check on the humidity situation in your humidor – with possible disastrous effects on your smoking enjoyment. Neither very dry nor soggy cigars can give the quality smoke they were very carefully made to offer.

During the cigar boom of the 1990’s, this frustration triggered the imagination of an unnamed space-age scientist who decided to remedy the matter.
The story is that it took 12 to 18 (or a few more) months and in 1993 he was able to develop and patent his solution – the Paradigm System.
The secret of the Paradigm System lies in the use of surgical foam – a medium developed for the aerospace industry that just happens to be ideal for cigar preservation in that:

  1. It stretches refill time to once every 3 months by holding more than 1½ times the water per unit volume as conventional foam or clay. (Distilled water to prevent clogging by salt deposits.)
  2. It releases humidity at a constant rate over time because it doesn’t dry from the surface inward.
  3. Its “robust release rate” maintains humidity even in semi-arid conditions.
  4. It needs no special conditioning fluids or chemicals.
  5. It resists the growth of odour-causing mould and bacteria.
  6. The humidification vents are located on the sides*, moisture cannot drip onto the cigars.
  7. At normal room temperature the vent size precisely meters the flow to maintain 70% humidity in widely varying climates.

      All this in a sturdy, aluminium casing – light and rustproof.

We first bought and sold these humidifiers successfully in 1999, then our supplier disappeared - you’ve seen the “Out of Stock” sign on the website. Ever hopeful, we left the description on, and late last year we were contacted by the new manufacturer.

Stock has now arrived – and we are delighted to be able to offer the range again – in 4 sizes this time. *

What’s more, to re-introduce the Paradigm System –

for the period 3 May to 16 May
you can choose between the two larger sizes
and receive a 25% discount

If you have experienced any problem monitoring or controlling the humidity in your
humidor, I strongly suggest that you consider upgrading to the Paradigm System.
A few cigars saved will easily offset the cost of the upgrade, and you can go about your busy life relaxed in the thought that your smoking enjoyment is assured.

Colin Wesley

No.165 April 26 to May 9, 2007

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No 166 - May 10, 2007
Personally Selected

Just 6 months ago I wrote the article “Italian Ingenuity” with reference to the pipes made by Lorenzo, and especially the

spot-carved range which has been very well received by our pipe-smoking customers.
Since then we have made our annual visit to the Lorenzo offices and warehouse in Italy, and as usual we left extremely exhilarated with all the treasures we had found. The pipes have just arrived, and I’m still feeling rather chuffed about them. The individual shapes we selected are distinctly “Lorenzo” and I know you’ll agree that the prices are particularly good.

We really enjoyed selecting some top quality individual pieces. We looked for clean bowls (well, as near clean as dammit - surface spots at the most), light for their size with plenty of hard wood, and good feel and balance. We were delighted to find the amazing-to-hold Valgardena / Valsesia (flat-base) shape. The finger just wraps itself around the perfectly-positioned ridge. The most stunning, well-designed shape Lorenzo ever created.
Being individual pieces you will get what you see on the screen, although the colour may be slightly different through Internet distortion.
Moscato – The pick of the bunch: Light, Honey-blonde finish; you can appreciate the beautiful grain. Only 5 pipes – including 3 Valsesias and a Valgardena – R1250.00
Cabernet – One pipe only - “Classic” Lorenzo Valsesia in a matt autumn-brown finish. R995.00
Cabernet Massimo – 6 deep russet pipes, 6 different shapes (including a Valsesia). R695.00

Then some interesting shapes:
Titano – 2 real giants. From a boxful we handpicked the lightest pieces, 5 Oom Paul and 6 Classic Bent shapes. The deep rusticated finish is something special, and the balance is amazing. R595.00
Natural – One shape only, a medium standing bent – so elegant and well-balanced, in a light matt-brown finish. Here we chose 12 pieces concentrating on grain quality and a minimum of surface flaws. R550.00

Big – And when Lorenzo says “big” he means “big”. The brand “Lorenzo” also means they are very light for their size and beautifully balanced in both hand and bite, with ample bowl space (even the  thick-wooded shape LB2).The pipes were pre-selected, and we are very happy with the value for money. You can buy with confidence – you won’t be disappointed. R495.00
Stand-Up Bents – Not new, but down to the last few. We bought these at a very special price because they were an over-run from somebody else’s order. R425.00 Great value!

For the period 17 May to 30 May, we feature at
less 25%
the “Big 4” - that is only R371.25 for a real quality “big smoke”, and
the “Stand-Up Bents” – R318.75  for those who prefer something a little smaller.

Colin Wesley

No.166 May 10, 2007 to May 23, 2007

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