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No 191 - May 22, 2008
Tobacco Storage

About this time nearly every year, we send a winter “Watch-out” regarding storing your tobacco. Both in your pouch, and in larger quantities if you live more than a pouchful away from your nearest supply point.

Forget about the small piece of potato or apple in your pouch. If left too long these will rot and the tobacco will be good only for compost. Rather buy yourself a Humydrole® or two and rest peacefully
at night.

If you like to “stock up” some of your favourite blend, whether it be one of our Houseblends or a packaged brand, you may have the storage problem I discussed with a far distant customer who bought from us a case of Sobranie Smoking Mixture (100 packets). He wrote:
I have been researching how to store tobacco -- in tins and in pouches. Other than keeping it in a cool, dark place like a wine cellar, what are your recommendations? How long will the Sobranie pouches, for example, remain airtight?
My reply:
Sometime within the last 12 months I read an article about testing the effect of storing a tobacco blend over 3, 5 & 7 years in both airtight packets and tins. The tobacco in the tins became richer and smoother. The tobacco in the packets hardly changed at all - the packets kept the tobacco in good condition and didn't deteriorate.Does this help? The only problem that I can think of with the pouches is that if they are allowed to get too dry the "plastic" may crack. I'd make sure the room is slightly humid - not wet, just not desert dry.
The other factor that he mentioned is very important – keep the tobacco cool, store it away from heaters and fireplaces.

His solution was to buy some large glass jars with an airtight lid in which he could keep up to 10 packets of tobacco without “squishing” them together. On opening a packet, he immediately transferred the tobacco into a smaller airtight jar with, I assume, a Humydrole®. I assume too that he kept them in his cool wine cellar. To date the plan seems to have worked perfectly for him – no current correspondence.
Well, as luck would have it, to replace our pottery tobacco jars we have finally sourced an ideal glass jar in 3 sizes with airtight lids. The jars have the same wide opening in each size - big enough to slip a hand through and fill your pipe.

Now in the colder areas – what if your tobacco gets too hot?
If you live in that well known part of South Africa where it is cold and wet in winter, you may not immediately need a Humydrole®, but do be careful not to store your tobacco near a heater or the fireplace, because if the tobacco gets too warm in a closed container (including your pouch), mould may start to develop, and the tobacco will have to be consigned to the compost heap.
And in the hot, dry summer the Humydrole® will prove its worth.

Winter or Summer, the general rule for preserving tobacco is: keep it cool and slightly moist.

So here are the specials for this fortnight – in fact with Dad in mind we have extended the closing date to run right up to Father’s Day.

From 29 May to 14 June 2008 we offer:
20% discount off any tobacco pouch - PLUS a free Humydrole®.
25% off the glass tobacco jars (any size) INCLUDING a free Humydrole®

Colin Wesley
May 22 to June 4, 2008

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No 192 - June 5, 2008

Our last cigar article covered all the aspects of cutting a cigar, and the pros and cons of the various cutters available. Now having chosen your cigar (maybe from one of our very well-priced
selections), and cut it accordingly, it is ready to be lit up, or as Rick Hacker so nicely puts it “It is ready for its baptism of fire”.

Back in 2001 I wrote the following about lighting up your cigars:
You want to get the cigar alight so that you can smoke it, but why the rush? Anticipation is a major part in the fulfilment of your enjoyment. Just watching the foot of the cigar start to glow is exciting - “Will this cigar really taste as good as I expect?”
The first few puffs will answer the question, but these can be influenced by the way you have lit the cigar.

Normal Gas lighter: Butane gas burns with a controlled, odourless flame. The flame should be large enough to cover about half of the foot of the cigar. Rotate the cigar with the foot at an angle just above the flame (or above an angled flame) until it ignites spontaneously and starts to glow. Occasionally blow gently on the foot to see if it is evenly lit, or where some attention is needed. Act accordingly, then start to draw gently and enjoy the beginning of one of life’s great luxuries.
Wooden spill or match: A spill should preferably be cedar, or a match thicker than normal (maybe use two). Light your cigar as you would using a normal gas lighter, but allow the first flash on lighting the match to finish before applying the flame to the foot of the cigar to avoid a sulphurous first puff.
Turbo - the “miniature blow torch”: The flame is very strong and hot – perfect for the golf course or outside in any sort of bad weather, but it should be used very carefully or the foot will be charred in seconds with no chance of the natural oils gently evaporating away. The oils will simply be burnt up, and the cigar may reflect this burnt taste. Hold the foot of the cigar even further away from the flame, then light as with a normal flame. (And in the quiet of your home or favourite smoking restaurant use a gentler flame.)
Liquid fuel lighter: Liquid fuel may impart a possibly unacceptable taste to the smoke. Light as normal, but blow gently though the cigar before the first puff to remove any residual taste. As with the Turbo, it is a perfect lighter to defeat the elements.
Whichever you prefer – relax, take your time.

This is all still relevant today, but there is an exciting addition to the lighting game:
The “Dual Flame” lighter from Silver Match. An ingenious design and some clever engineering allow you to choose the appropriate lighting method for the environment you’re in – normal flame or turbo jet.
In the right order I feel, the first option as you strike is the normal flame from which at the touch of a button you can change to the turbo jet – both are adjustable. The initial flame is ignited with a Zippo-type “flint and roller wheel” action – very dependable. And the fully guaranteed Silver Match lighters have proved themselves in the South African market over the last few years.
For my money, this is the best designed cigar lighter on the market!
(I like to feel that it emanates from an engineering-minded cigar smoker, frustrated from battling the elements with a gentle flame or charring his cigar on his quiet patio with a turbo jet, or having to carry 2 lighters.)

Because the Dual Flame offers one cigar lighter for all seasons,
from June 6 until June 25 we offer this

R563.00 lighter for only R450.00 – Happy Father’s Day!

So you have a lighter, and it’s perfect for you.
Let’s offer something a little different for the winter weather – “Combo Cigar Casea solid stainless steel tubular flask ( with finely engineered screw top) partnered with a Montecristo Tubos cigar in an elegant German “Echte Leder” carry case. After you’ve smoked the Montecristo, re-use the tube for future cigars.

Would you believe itonly R295.00 from June 6 until June 25.
(Normal price R350.00, and the Montecristo cigar alone retails at R193.00)

Fishing, Hiking, Skiing, Golfing, Hunting, Stargazing, Relaxing:
A favourite tipple in your flask, a superb cigar, a protective fine leather case
– what more can you ask?

Colin Wesley
June 5 to June 18, 2008

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No 193 - June 19, 2008
The New Pipe

An email from a customer who had just bought a new pipe from our website made me think that maybe this is an appropriate time to repeat (more-or-less) what we say in “The Complete Pipe Smoker

Dear Colin
I received your parcel on Friday. Thank you :-)
I have a few questions though:
Smoking in the new pipe, I know of 2 methods. One is to fill the bowl completely and smoke only a bit of the tobacco until after a few sessions, you have smoked the complete pipe.
The other method is to stuff it a bit and smoke it, after cleaning you stuff it some more until you come to the point where the bowl is completely filled.
It is best to form the protective carbon layer inside the bowl from the base up, by smoking as close to the bottom of the bowl as possible each time. So the second method is probably the better.
The mouthpiece polish is not to be used on the Bowls, correct ?  Yes
There I use beeswax ? Yes, or better still Pipe Bowl polish, which is specially formulated to take the heat.
Furthermore I see the mouthpiece has a plastic filter replacement installed. I have similar pipes I have smoked for years without a filter and no problem. If it was in the stem, I would understand your cautionary note. Maybe you would care to enlighten me ?
The teflon filter replacement fills the gap in the shank and mouthpiece where the filter would be. If there is an empty space, any moisture could collect there and seep into the wood, and maybe cause it to swell. The wood seems to swell outwards, away from the tenon, and eventually the bore of the wooden shank can become too large, so that the mouthpiece is loose.
If this hasn’t happened to you that’s good – maybe you don’t create too much moisture – but we see it often enough that we include the warning.

To read more about • Filling • Lighting • Smoking • Helping to build the carbon layer
• Ongoing Care
, click here.
If you’re an experienced pipe smoker you probably do all this with your eyes closed (at least metaphorically) – but what about the Rookie. He/she has to learn to keep the thing alight and build the carbon layer and not burn the tongue - all at the same time.
Well I’ve said it often enough, so you probably know what’s coming next: technically the best pipe for the beginner is the Savinelli Dry System – the full bent shapes are easy on the jaw, the metal band means you don’t have to use an adapter if you run out of filters, and the bowl is even partly pre-carboned!
But NB – as with all bent pipes, don’t get too enthusiastic running the pipe cleaner through the shank,
you could drill a hole in the bottom of the bowl.

Because we understand the concerns of the new pipe smoker
we offer from 26 June to 9 July
25% off all Savinelli Dry System pipes

No filter problems, but build that carbon layer with care, go easy with the pipe cleaner and enjoy the relaxation that will be yours before long.

Colin Wesley
June 19 to July 2, 2008

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No 194 - July 3, 2008
A Fruitful Dinner

Our cigar dinners are put together so that people can enjoy the company of fellow cigar smokers, but also so that they can expand their knowledge and appreciation of cigars – still one of the world’s most affordable luxuries.
Our dinner last month (12 June) was a classic example of all this coming together.
The vibe and the buzz of 75 jam-packed aficionados was electric. Luckily Gillian and I have for some time dispensed with speeches in favour of visiting each table individually to offer and talk through the cigars. But even then it was difficult to stem the flow of conversations and to make myself heard. Brevity on my part was essential – fortunately we had printed out a full description of the cigars for each guest.
Expanding one’s knowledge?? Well these cigars were new to nearly all the guests.
Those who had attended the October 2007 dinner had experienced the Vasco da Gama cigarillo with the Maduro Brazil wrapper and were keen to try the Vasco da Gama “Capa da Cuba” cigarillo. Really fine little cigars with quality filler from Sumatra and Brazil, a homogenised tobacco leaf binder, and then different wrappers: Sumatra, Maduro Brazil and on this occasion a Cuban leaf wrapper. Light, easy to smoke, and a perfect smoke for easing into the evening.
My first “talk though” was on how to smoke the Cuaba Tradicionales – this “Perfecto” (120mm x Ring42) was a first-time experience for many guests. There was a little confusion about which end to cut – as usual it should be the closed end, mostly the end closest to the band (though some Dominican cigar houses are putting the band right down at the foot). The open end (foot) of a Perfecto tapers to a very narrow ringsize. This means that the end consists almost entirely of wrapper and binder - little, if any filler. And that gives the cigar its initial taste – light but spicy, after which the cigar widens and develops its full flavour. The narrow ringsize also means that the draw is a little more difficult at the beginning. If it is really too tight for you to enjoy you could cut a little off the foot – but you’d lose the introduction. Rather relax, draw gently and anticipate patiently the richness to come. And it does – delivering an amazing intensity on the palate.
After the Steak or Kingklip or Ribs we were off on our rounds again – this time with Cohiba’s Maduro 5 magical “Magicos” (115mm x Ring52)
Now here a point was made – it seems that in the past Cuba has never made a Maduro cigar, but the band on this cigar clearly states “Maduro 5”. “Maduro” in non-Cuban cigars normally means that during the fermentation process the temperature reached is in excess of 165°F, and the result is a rich deep brown wrapper with intensified flavour.
A similar result is achieved by Cohiba by extending the maturation time to 5 years – a long and complex process that uses no chemicals. In addition, Cohiba is the only Cuban habano brand in which two of the three types of leaves used to make them — seco and ligero — are given a third fermentation.
The resultant deep brown cigar more than satisfied the guests – providing as it was smoked a crescendo of smoothness and richness – a fitting end to an outstanding evening
Another little lesson: One of the Tradicionales had an exceptionally tight draw, and felt very hard – ie it was “plugged”. At the dinner this was simply exchanged for another, but what if this happens at home? Instead of throwing it away, do as Gill did – gently massage the cigar until the plug is released and with any luck you’ll be able to continue enjoying it.
As we sat over a final cup of coffee, I could still see delicate swirls of smoke drifting upwards. A real compliment to the efficiency of the extraction system at The Grillhouse - which is why we hold nearly all of our dinners there (not to mention the delicious Calamari).

So you missed the dinner? The good news is that we have 17 packs
of the dinner cigars at only R295.00.

Buy now before they’re finished - but you’ll have to provide your own meal

Colin Wesley
July 3 to July 16, 2008

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No 195 - July 17, 2008
To filter or not to filter?

In respect of additional “filters” for pipes this question is rather academic because the pipe is a natural filter. Moisture and juices will condense from the smoke and deposit wherever – bottom of the bowl, in the shank, or in the mouthpiece (and possibly even in the mouth - ugh).
So why bother with filters?
Simply because the juices collecting in the pipe can be wasteful and unpleasant:
In the bottom of the bowl – the juice mixes with the tobacco (what a waste) and gives rise to the familiar soggy “dottle” which must be removed with a blunt-tipped tool to allow the bowl to dry out properly between smokes.
In the shank – if there is too much moisture and it is absorbed by the wood it may cause swelling and the loose-fitting mouthpiece problem (not always easy to fix).
The real question then is what can we do to avoid these problems?
The answer is to capture the juices before they cause a problem - a “mopper-up” or “trap” is required.
The Savinelli Dry System pipe is specially designed for this – but what of all the other wonderful pipes, shapes and finishes begging to be added to your collection.
Over the years a variety of accessories have been developed to tackle these problems.
Some of the earlier accessories were Bowl Filters such as Philtpads, Drikule Plugs, and now Denicool Crystals. They fit in the bottom of the bowl below the tobacco – very popular in the UK, for example, where tobacco is so expensive. (There were even fine paper “Smokers Circles” which enabled you to prepare a few bowl-fulls in advance, and place them with the twist in the bottom of the bowl to absorb the moisture.)
Stem filters were rare because of the narrow bore in the shank, but Dunhill offered a 2mm paper “filter”.
In 1933 Medico pipes were developed with a 6mm paper “filter” – the pipes required a special mouthpiece with a metal peg as the traditional vulcanite peg was too weak when turned thin enough to hold a “filter” (unless the shank was very thick).
Then came the introduction of the strong, virtually unsnappable Teflon peg which is inserted into the mouthpiece and can house mopper-up “filters” in 6mm or 9mm diameter. These can be made of pure, clean, absorbent balsa wood (Savinelli 6mm or 9mm), or in the form of cylindrical tubes holding fragments of charcoal or meerschaum.
(The 9mm “filters” developed by Vauen in Germany contain charcoal fragments.)
Let’s look at some of the filter pipes in the Wesley’s rangeLorenzo, Lorenzo Value; Marca, Stanwell.
Fitted with an adapter in case you don’t need a “mopper-up” – remember the “Watchpoints”!

A most important word of warning about filter pipes:
Filter pipes must be smoked with either the filter or an adapter (usually supplied with the pipe).

Smoking without the filter (or adapter), even once, will allow moisture to condense in the empty space and seep into the shank, causing it to swell. This will result in a cracked shank, or a loose mouthpiece which is very difficult to remedy. If this happens to you, take it in to your nearest Wesley’s for an opinion.
The Tenon/Peg is tougher than the wood!
Keep it clean so it won’t stick. Wipe and pencil it occasionally so it slides easily. Have a look at the Gallery

Because of the metal band, Savinelli Dry System pipes are excluded from this warning

Even better value from 24 July to 6 August 2008, because we offer
25% off – only R299.96
and FREE for you to try – a 9mm Savinelli Balsa filter and a 9mm Stanwell charcoal filter

Then sit back and relax!
Colin Wesley
July 17 to July 30, 2008

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PS Too far from a Franchise?
See the list of Authorised stockists of Wesley’s Houseblend tobaccos.

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No 196 - July 31, 2008
Churchill: The Man and The Cigar

The Man:
Acclaimed by Time magazine in 1949/50 as Man of the Half-Century, and voted by Cigar Aficionado readers in 2002 as featured Man of the Century, Sir Winston Churchill really was a big Man. A man of action, he wanted things to happen, and if they didn’t, he made them happen.
Churchill smoked his first Cuban cigars in Cuba as a journalist for the Daily Graphic newspaper in 1895 while covering the Spanish battles against Cuban guerrillas. He was 21 years old. After Cuba, Churchill’s military career took him to India, the Sudan and South Africa. Reports of his almost foolhardy bravery in the field were legendary. In writing “The Malakand Field Force” he said “nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result”.
His cigar was always a part of him, mostly in his mouth, lit or unlit.
During the First World War his fearlessness in the field, cigar held tranquilly in hand, impressed his fellow officers and subordinates. In the Second World War he and his ever-present cigar had the same calming effect on his colleagues at 10 Downing Street during the many enemy air raids over London.
When hosting King Ibn Sa'ud he was informed that smoking was not allowed. In his memoirs he says that he communicated through the interpreter that “if it was the religion of His Majesty to deprive himself of smoking and alcohol I must point out that my rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars …..”.
As Prime Minister during WWII he was to take his first high altitude flight in an unpressurised aeroplane for which he had to wear a flight suit and oxygen mask. He was granted his request for a special hole in the mask through which he could smoke his cigar.
It seems that Churchill smoked about 10 cigars a day (that would be 250 000 in his lifetime), and his appetite for fine food and wine was the stuff of legends. His favourite cigar was Romeo y Julieta Churchill.
However his political popularity had its ups and downs which he stoically accepted, spending 10 years in the late 1920s and 30s at Chartwell “in the wilderness”, writing and painting.
 “Churchill was a man of prodigious genius and accomplishment. He was one of history's greatest statesmen, and he may be the greatest orator of the twentieth century. He was a decorated soldier who saw action in four wars. He was a Nobel prize-winning writer of history, an acclaimed novelist and a skilled polo player. He was an accomplished painter as well as a licensed craftsman. He was an epicure, a connoisseur of the finest wines and cigars and a consummate gentleman.” (Peter Welch, Cigar Aficionado)
After being voted out of office at the end of the Second World War he graciously expressed to the public “I thank the British people for the many kindnesses shown to their servant”.
He died in 1965 shortly before his 91st birthday.
What a Man!
How can I tell that the soothing influence of tobacco upon my nervous system may not have enabled me to comport myself with calm and courtesy in some awkward personal encounter or negotiation, or carried me serenely through some critical hours of anxious waiting? How can I tell that my temper would have been as sweet or my companionship as agreeable if I had abjured from my youth the goddess Nicotine?
Sir Winston Churchill

The Cigar:
What in 1903, when “Pepin” Rodriguez Fernando bought the Romeo y Julieta factory and started making personalised cigar bands and styles for famous people of the time, did he see in the young Winston that inspired him to conceive the benchmark for all large cigars – the “Churchill”?
I like to think that he saw greatness in the young man – a man who would be known throughout the world, who would stamp his presence on history and leave a legacy hard to better.
The cigar would have to be like no other. It would have to be large, to be immediately recognisable. It would have to be sophisticated in taste to intrigue and satisfy the man.
It should be a cigar that says “look at me, feel me, smell me, I’m big and beautiful – smoke me”.
Just my thoughts – but whatever the thoughts of Pepin they were successful, and no man did more in his life to promote a cigar named for him than Winston Churchill.
But like Churchill’s political popularity the cigar has been in and out of favour.
Yes, it is big (178mm x Ring 47), and yes, it does take a long time to smoke (allow 90 minutes) - but it is a great cigar. The sheer volume of leaf enables the blender to create complex tastes and to make the most of the full size of the leaf and the natural flavour as it intensifies and varies over the length.
Smoke the cigar slowly and enjoy every nuance.
At a Big Smoke in New York some years ago Gill and I smoked (for the whole evening) Nicaraguan Punch Churchills – we had the time to enjoy them, and still remember the cigars very fondly.

Your turn this week – we offer a pack of three Cuban Churchill-size cigars, all of which received 5 stars from the late Theo Rudman and high ratings from Cigar Aficionado and Cigar Insider.

Only R450.00
Sancho Panza Corona Gigantes ***** (made in the Briones Montoto factory - formerly Romeo y Julieta)
Cigar Insider 89 (excellent) “This good-looking cigar has a well-made cap. It’s woody and leathery with chewy, earthy notes and a sweet finish.”
Quai d'Orsay Imperiales *****
Cigar Insider 89 (excellent) “An attractive Churchill whose firm draw delivers charred wood, leather and caramel notes before a spicy finish. It’s a slow starter, but turns complex.”
H.Upmann Monarch *****
Cigar Aficionado 91 (outstanding) “Oily and well made, with a fine draw and burn. The cigar has a rich, sweet coffee character, touches of leather and a cigar box finish. Medium bodied.”
Normally R592.00 – price of single cigars in glass tubes

 Because you shouldn’t miss the experience – make the time!

Colin Wesley
July 31 to August 13, 2008

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