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No 174 -August 30, 2007
Filter Pipes

As far back as 2001 and 2002 I wrote website articles on the merits of “Filter Pipes”. Mind you,
I had been talking about them in the shop for some years before that.

However, these articles put in writing the benefits of filter pipes, amongst which are:
• Removing any unpleasant taste if young or inadequately-cured briar was used to make the pipe;
• Removing any excess moisture in the smoke – new smokers tend to generate extra saliva;
• Removing any excess oils from the smoke - especially those oils used to create the modern, flavoured tobaccos (cherry, whisky, etc) which are so popular today.

To house these filters a wider peg or tenon was necessary – and vulcanite couldn’t be turned thin enough. After much research “Teflon” or a derivative was found to be most suitable – impervious to heat and moisture, and very strong.
This produced a further, possibly unexpected, benefit:
These tenons are virtually unbreakable in normal use – no sudden snap in your pocket, or from an accidental drop on the tiles or concrete. As I was saying in the shop on Saturday, we get very few “broken pegs” whereas they used to form the bulk of the repairs we handled.

But there is a downside to these hi-tech pegs - they are inflexible, no matter what goes on around them.
According to the pipe manufacturers even after briar is turned, it remains a living piece of wood and can behave in peculiar ways. It is particularly affected by weather and altitude. A common problem is that the shank expands and the mouthpiece (the inflexible peg) no longer has a snug fit. Moisture leaks out, or air leaks in. This is why we have the warning:
Filter pipes must be smoked with either the filter or an adapter (usually supplied with the pipe). If this is not done, moisture will condense in the empty space and seep into the shank causing it to swell.
This will result in a loose mouthpiece which is almost impossible to remedy.

Of course many people have smoked their “filter” pipes without a filter and suffered no problems.
A few people have adhered conscientiously to the warning and the wood has still expanded.
(If this has happened to you contact your nearest Wesley’s, or email me. I have been able to buy from the manufacturers a magic muti which often solves the problem.)
Before the time of filters the wood used to expand, and we blamed the vulcanite peg for contracting. But then the fault could be fixed by expanding the vulcanite to fit. Teflon however can’t be expanded.

One other problem – the inflexible tenon sometimes pulls out of the vulcanite mouthpiece.
This is simple to fix with a good two-part glue. Use pliers to extract the peg from the shank; and don’t use too much glue or the overflow may prevent the mouthpiece from fitting flush.

One of the fore-runners of “filter pipes” was Stanwell of Denmark who introduced their 9mm Delrin tenon fitted into an acrylic mouthpiece which doesn’t oxidise and become bitter-tasting.
And we’ve recently received a new shipment of these classic Danish pipes. They are all there, and include some exclusive beauties such as Pipe-of-the-Year 2007, the Calabash and Rhodesian shapes, and a few rare and unique Flame Grains, so ….…..

From September 6 to 19 you will receive a 25% discount
when you buy any Stanwell pipe

Don’t forget:  A filter or an adapter!

Colin Wesley
No.174 August 30 to September 12, 2007

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No 175 September 13, 2007

- the Diameter of the cigar
- how does it affect your enjoyment.

The mathematics can be found in a previous article, but what about the manufacture?

The first obvious problem is in the selections of the tobaccos to be used.
Slimmer cigars use fewer leaves than thicker ringsizes, so great care is given to selecting the correct leaves to create the right taste and character of these very elegant cigars. On the other hand, thicker cigars can offer more complex tastes by using a wider variety of leaves.
Then comes the rolling – rollers generally learn to roll ring sizes. It’s not a case of rolling robustos in the morning and panatelas in the afternoon.
It can take years for a roller to consistently roll a 38 or 42 or 48 ring size, so they tend to stick to what they are best at. Those with the best “feel” will move towards the long, slim cigars like Montecristo Especials, or to the complicated pyramids.
And because there is only a small margin for error before rolling the smaller ringsizes too tight, only the best, specially trained rollers can be used.

And now the smoking experience:
The Draw:
The larger the ringsize the easier the draw, and the more smoke you will receive with each draw.
A large ringsize suits some people, but not all. If you prefer to really “sip” your cigar you may not draw sufficient air to keep the burning end alight. You may find a slimmer ringsize (32 to 42) more suitable.
But draw softly, slowly.  If you draw too hard in order to get a full mouthful of smoke you may cause the cigar to burn hot, which will ruin the delicate flavour. If you need a larger volume of smoke, take a slightly longer draw and/or draw a little air alongside the smoke. Make the cut as wide as possible – but DON’T cut off the whole cap or the cigar will unravel. The most versatile cutters are cigar scissors.
Now try a thicker cigar – can you feel the easier draw?
Too much smoke for you? Make a much smaller cut next time – try using a cigar punch.
Intensity of taste:
The larger the ringsize, the fuller the taste.
If you find the taste of your cigar too strong, next time try a smaller ringsize in the same brand. Chances are that the combination of filler, binder and wrapper will give a similar flavour
– just less of it.

At our last Cigar Dinner – ringsize was the theme. Rings 30, 36, 44 – all well-proportioned,
but all very different to smoke, and each cigar received its own rave response. Cigar Aficionado was equally complimentary.
Here’s the 3-pack so you can experience this for yourself.
Hoyo de Monterrey Le Hoyo du Maire (Demitasse, 100mm x Ring 30) (Rating 88 – excellent)
Cohiba Exquisitos (Panatella, 125mm x Ring 36)  (Rating 88 – excellent)
Bolivar Corona Extra (Corona, thick, 143mm x Ring 44)  (Rating 89 – excellent)

(Total value of this pack is R307.00 - Normal retail price of 3 single cigars in glass tubes).

This “Ring” selection will run from Sept. 20. Well worth the experience, because it’s only R210.00!
If you were at the June dinner, you’ll remember the enthusiasm –
why not re-create the evening with a few friends.

Colin Wesley
September 13 to September 26, 2007

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No 176 - September 27, 2007
'n Boer maak 'n Plan

“A farmer makes a plan”
- the Afrikaner farmer can always find a way around any problem; or, literally translated into Italian (by Google), “Un coltivatore fa un programma”.
At least that’s what Ricardo did when he found himself with a boxful of assorted metal bands (brass and nickel) left over from the days of Lorenzo Tagliabue.

We were shown this box in the warehouse earlier this year – Ricardo’s face was alight. He has a marvellous mischievous smile when he knows he has an idea which we will like (or fall for).
“We are going to use these on odd pipes – would you like to make me an offer?”
Gillian and I looked at each other, and I could see the same thoughts as mine flashing through her mind. “Odd pipes, what odd pipes?” Then the penny dropped. Ricardo was going to fit them on leftovers or overruns that cropped up, maybe a few rejects. We know that the Lorenzo policy does not include purpose-manufactured “reject pipes” so these should be very good value.
But how low would he accept? The cut off point to our mind was a retail of around R200.00 – so we worked the arithmetic backwards, and made the offer (holding our breath).
Ricardo and his son backed off and burst into animated Italian, complete with hand-waving.
Then: “OK” – but would we take all the pipes with no pre-conditions regarding the shapes or the finishes?
Knowing these fine people as we do, we had no hesitation in agreeing.
Would we wait for them?
How long? A shrug of the shoulders with hands in the air (I can just see him now). Will it be this year?

We shook hands – and that was the end of our shopping.

Now the plan has come together – and we love it.
The “Ring” pipes have arrived (243 in all), and we couldn’t have done better had we put in the pre-conditions.
Shapes and finishes are all traditional Lorenzo; all optional 9mm (with the virtually unbreakable Teflon peg).
The bands are very neatly fitted and will prevent the shank from swelling or splitting – the pipe can be smoked with or without a filter or adapter.
And the pipes are Lorenzo-cured briar – what more can you ask of a pipe for R195.00.

You needn’t ask –we will give you more!
From October 4 to 17 we offer these pipes at less 25%
That’s R146.25 – can you believe it?

Because this is an ingenious plan which has worked to your benefit – don’t ignore it.
The pipes are ideal for everyday smoking, as well as when you are roughing it.
Sturdy construction, 9mm option, but filters or adapters aren’t essential.

Colin Wesley
No.176 September 27 to October 10, 2007

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No 177 - October 11, 2007
Test the Team

If something unusual works well, is it worth repeating?
I think so – especially if you’re asked to (again).

A few weeks ago we offered you the opportunity to put your senses of sight, smell, touch and taste to the test of rating and/or identifying a team of three Petit Coronas in a blind tasting of Cuban cigars.
(For those not familiar with how the blind tasting works, click here.)
Around this time last year we tasted Robustos, and at your request we’re repeating it – but this time the twist is that we’re throwing in an “odd man” – there is a excellent Honduran cigar in with the two Cuban cigars.
Can you spot the odd man out? And can you distinguish between the other two?

From 18 October try the Blind Robusto Selection for only R265.00 (Normal price R380.)
As usual the bands have been covered with plain labels A, B, C – these are the cigars underneath:
H.Upmann Connoisseur No.1 Cabinet box
Herman Upmann, a German banker with a branch in Cuba sent gifts of cigars to his clients with the bank’s name stamped on the box. Thus in 1844, the H.Upmann brand was established.
Rudman: “The handmade range is of superior quality – smooth, medium flavoured, subtle.”
Cigar Aficionado: “Toasty wood notes come through as well as earth. There are light ginger spice notes on the finish. (Sept’06 89 – excellent)

Helix Tubular (normally in Aluminium Tubes)
Manufactured in Honduras with a Connecticut Shade wrapper and Honduras binder and filler.
Rudman: Not smoked
Cigar Aficionado: Oily, and very firm to the touch. The cigar has wood, licorice and vegetal notes with a medium body. (Feb’05 86 – excellent)

Romeo y Julieta Exhibicion No.4 Cabinet box
Probably the best known Havana brand, the balanced and aromatic blend makes it the classic medium-bodied Cuban cigar.
Rudman: “A well made, elegant cigar, with unusual tropical fruit aroma – rich and subtle.”
Cigar Aficionado: This cigar is beautiful to behold. It smacks of earth, leather and pepper spice, finishing with grassy, wheaty notes. A strong, balanced and complex cigar. (Aug’05 91 - outstanding)

A score sheet is included for you to rate each of the 4 senses that come into play on a scale of 1 to 10.
When you have smoked and rated all three, try to name them.
You can of course smoke them and name them without scoring them, or even remove the covering labels and smoke them (with or without rating them) in the comfort of knowing which cigar you have in your hand.
BUT because you enjoy your cigar smoking, I think that you’ll benefit most by testing your senses:
Appreciate the appearance, the construction, the aroma;
Savour the anticipation while you light the cigar;
Close your eyes and concentrate on the quality and mellow smoothness of the smoke;
Use the score sheet to evaluate each aspect of the cigar;
(Try to smoke them under similar conditions, and preferably after having had something to eat/drink.)

Colin Wesley
No.177 October 11 to October 24, 2007

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No 178 - October 25, 2007
Wet Smoking

This time the question was received across the “e”- counter”:

To: cg@wesleys.co.za
Subject: Inquire
How can I keep wet tobacco burning?
How do I keep it from going out?
Tobacco burns unevenly...

Because this is a fairly common problem, we decided to share the reply with you:

“Hello C – and thank you for your email.

The answer to your first question is - you can’t keep wet tobacco burning – the aim is to get it drier to start with.
If the tobacco is wet when you open the packet, allow it to dry out a little. Spread it on some newspaper and allow it to dry naturally – but not in the sun or in the microwave.

If the tobacco is getting wet while you’re smoking it, then the moisture is either coming from the casings on the tobacco (if it is very aromatic) or from moisture formed in the shank, possibly from your mouth. This “Wet Smoking” is a fairly common problem – and some of the solutions are:
A “Dry System” pipe - http://www.wesleys.co.za/archives24.htm
A “filter” in the shank of the pipe - www.wesleys.co.za/archives2.htm#archive11
Bowl filters - www.wesleys.co.za/smokingquality.htm#bowlfilters

And we talk more about finding your “Perfect Blend” of tobacco - www.wesleys.co.za/perfecttobacco.htm

Finally, you may like to rub out the (dry) tobacco a little finer so that it will burn more easily, and as you’re packing the bowl test the draw to ensure that it is evenly packed so that it should burn evenly.”

As we said, there are several solutions to the “wet smoking” problem. These include filter pipes or bowl filters, and we have just received a shipment from Denicotea – old masters in the “filter” industry.
This year they celebrate 75 years in business!
Traditionally their market has been cigarette holders, and pipes are relatively new to their range. At the Dortmund Trade Fair which we attended in September we were introduced, amongst other pipes, to the Denicotea “Adsorba” pipe with an optional 9mm filter. Fine looking pipes in a satin-russet finish and 12 really comfortable shapes. Their lightness indicates the quality of the briar – and they’re very well-priced at R395.00. They’ve just arrived, and we‘re delighted to add them to our range of pipes.
Back in stock again are Denicotea’s bowl filters “Denicool Filter Crystals”. These can be used for extra absorption (for the modern highly cased tobaccos) and are especially useful for those pipes which don’t take a filter in the shank.

Because we’d like to introduce the Denicotea Adsorba pipes to you,
we feature them as our next Special:

Less 25% for the period November 1 to November 14, 2007 – only R296.25,

and we’ll include a pack of Denicool crystals for you to try
in your 9mm Denicotea Adsorba pipe,
or in any of your “non-filter” pipes.

I trust you’ll like this new addition to our pipe range as much as we do.

Colin Wesley

No.178 October 25 to November 7, 2007

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No 179 - November 8, 2007
What is a Cigar Dinner?

We recently hosted another very pleasant cigar dinner attended by 45 enthusiasts. (Some regulars opted rather to go to Paris, France, for South Africa’s great triumph– who can blame them.)

A few days after the dinner a regular cigar customer of mine was in the Rosebank shop and asked “I received your invitation, but what is a cigar dinner? How does it work?”
The first part - it’s a dinner where we enjoy good food and cigars in good company.

How does it work? Our formula is simple, but carefully put together:
We use 3 smokes during the evening – on arrival a cigarillo or two (with sherry) to liven up the tastebuds, a smallish cigar between courses to build up the palate, and a third larger cigar to complete the evening.
In discussions with our co-sponsors, the cigar suppliers, we try for at least one great, well-known cigar, plus one lesser-known, but often equally good second cigar.
Gillian and I welcome the guests, give them their name tags (including their number for the free draw – always well received) and direct them to their places. During the meal we visit the individual tables to offer the cigars, talk about them and why we chose them; and to sell tickets for a very worthwhile optional raffle.

For example, at the October dinner we started with a fine quality small Vasco da Gama Maduro cigarillo (100mm x Ring22) - an exceptional blend of fine cigar tobaccos with a homogenized tobacco leaf binder, and a Maduro Brazil wrapper - which adds a faintly sweet, rich taste, mouthwatering but not overwhelming.
One of the guests declined (he wasn’t keen on the idea of a small non-Cuban cigar) until he savoured the aroma of one or two being smoked around him. He decided to try one, enjoyed it, and finished two.

The second cigar was the well-known Cohiba Siglo I (Half Corona, 102mm x Ring 40) – the unique third fermentation process gives a very special aroma and flavour – everybody enjoyed them.

After the main course we presented Romeo y Julieta Cazadores (Lonsdale, 162mm x Ring 43)
None of the guests had ever smoked this cigar – or even seen it. Only slightly thicker than a Montecristo 1, it nevertheless produces a really rich and rewarding smoke – ideal for after dinner. Theo Rudman gave it 5 stars and it achieved 91 points (outstanding) from Cigar Aficionado. Even those guests who normally prefer thicker cigars were impressed, and the importers have now sold out (we have a couple of boxes left.)
Now that’s the sort of response we aim for!
Email me if you’d like to try a set at R200, normal price R280. 8 left - maybe for a small private dinner?)

The venue is another part of the planning – I well remember the early cigar dinners, when you couldn’t see across the room at the end of the evening! We use The Grillhouse in Rosebank – central and with an amazing extraction system ensuring that the air stays fresh for the entire dinner: you can see the individual spirals of smoke from each cigar. And the food is good – an important factor. Theoretically the smoking section at The Grillhouse seats a maximum of 70, but we usually manage to squeeze in a few extra.

I mentioned pre-seating. The tables seat 10, 12 or 14 – the common denominator at each table being that we all enjoy good cigars with good food. Within 10 to 15 minutes of being seated we are enjoying good company too, as strangers become friends interacting in this special atmosphere. By the end of the dinner, cards are exchanged – and “see you at the next dinner”.
The raffle is always an exciting part of the evening – and, would you believe it, a longtime cigar smoking customer, at his first dinner, drew the winning raffle ticket from the box - and it was his!
(Can’t always promise this.)
The formal finish comes next, at about 10.30, but guests stay on to relax as long as they wish.
Because one of the things we learn at the dinners is that it is worthwhile having a variety of sizes and brands of cigars for different occasions, we feature this fortnight 2 humidors which are just the right size for a selection of cigars ready to hand (with the back-up stock stored elsewhere) – cutter and matching ashtray are included.

From 15 to 28 November, 2007
25% off
Humidor sets: Matt Black R1050.00 and 2-tone Cherry R1095.00

Colin Wesley
No.179 November 8 to 21, 2007

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No 180 - November 22, 2007
Holiday Time

Because you at last have a little time to yourself (?), maybe you have time to think about your pipe or cigar pastime.

Spend a little of this time reading about pipes and cigars – dip in to the Library archives when you want to relax, it’s sure to increase your enjoyment. Some articles apply to both pipes and cigars.
Maybe print the articles that interest you so you can read them at your leisure (not all at once) sitting back with your favourite pipe, or an appropriate cigar.

(Your next article on cigars will be 17 January 2008.)

Care of my Cigars:
1. Storage – cool room or humidor (recent gift?)                              
Is it the right one for my needs?  Answer
Did I prepare it properly before I loaded it?  Answer
Are the conditions favourable, can I generate enough humidity, and maintain it? If it is a cool cupboard – what is cool enough?  Answer

2. We’ll soon be in the hottest part of the summer - better check for the dreaded tobacco beetle?
(I could have a problem if my humidor is too warm) What do I look for? Can I fix it?  Answer
(When I take my cigars in the car, I’d better beware of leaving them in the cubby hole. It can become a real hot box.)
Those white specks on my cigars – are they dust, bloom or mould? (The last could be serious.)  Answer

3. If I go away over these holidays -
     a. which cigars will I take? Answer
     b. how will I carry them?  Answer
(If you need more cigars than will fit in a carry case, take the extras in glass tubes so that you don’t have to worry about humidification – remember to keep them cool.)

Cigar smokers, especially new recruits to the brotherhood (sisterhood?), need or like to experience a variety of cigars - different lengths, ringsizes, strengths and tastes (flavours).
This is where our carefully assembled selections can help. Each package comes with a leaflet describing the cigars - and better still, the prices are good. Visit your nearest Wesley's, or click on “Selections” and see the choice and the prices; buy what appeals to you.
The Selections make great gifts – as do the Handy Packs of Cuban cigars in 3’s or 5’s.

And just look at the leather travel case with three cigars at a real holiday price of R995.00
The special runs from 29 November 2007 to 9 January 2008

Care of my Pipes:

1. So you bought, or were given, that beautiful new briar pipe – how can you make sure it smokes well and serves you for many years?
Read the articles on Longevity and Day-to-Day care, heed the warnings about Reckless Cleaning and allowing the protective carbon layer to get too thick.
If the words of warning are too late – read about Maintenance and Repairs
(Meerschaum pipes - on the inside, clean much the same as a briar, with pipe cleaners and a blunt instrument to clean out the bowl. There should be no carbon build-up. Be careful not to scrape away the meerschaum.)

2. If I go away over these holidays -
    a. how will I carry my pipes and paraphernalia?   Answer
    b. and where will I rest the pipe I am smoking?  Answer
    c. which pipes will I take? Answer: Smooth-smoking pipes that are not too expensive,
    so that it’s not a train smash if they fall in the sea, are lost in the snow, or get trodden by an     elephant – Value pipes; Corncobs;   
(When I take my pipes and tobacco in the car, I’d better beware of leaving them in the cubby hole. It can become a real hot box: the stems will oxidise and bent stems may straighten, the tobacco may go mouldy. Use a pipe bag which can hold everything, and is easy to transport.)

We are taking care of the traveller this holiday time
– 25% off all Pipe Bags, 29 Nov-9 Jan’08

Special Prices range from R108.75 to R596.25
– gifts to suit all pockets (size and price)

Pipe and Cigar Smoking:

With our wonderful weather (if it’s not raining) you’re sure to spend time smoking outdoors
get it right!

Lighting up has evolved in the last few years - Turbo lighters for cigars have improved in reliability (although the altitude in Gauteng can still affect this), and the range available is much wider – Zippo Blu Turbo is the newest addition, and the Silver Match range now includes single and twin jet lighters.
(Turbo lighters are not suitable for pipes – too strong and too hot.)

Pipe lighters:  We have a very elegant Silver Match model or the trusty Zippo.   IMCO lighters are not available at present – we simply haven’t been able to get the correct documentation – but we keep trying,

(Your next article on pipesmoking will be 3 January 2008.)

Relax this holiday – make the best use of your time

Colin Wesley
November 22, 2007 to January 2, 2008

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  . . . . .