Click to go to the Homepage
Navigation1 Find your nearest Franchise Contact us by email Search for items on our Webshop
  Site Navigation
Site Navigation
Across the Counter
Fortnightly Articles
"Conversations with Customers"

Back to:
Aspects of Pipe Smoking
Aspects of Cigar Smoking
Commentary Articles
Complete Archives Index

No 375  March 3-16, 2016

10 Minute Pipes

The similarities between pipe- and cigar-smoking are well accepted.
Neither of them is “fast food”.
You need to make a conscious decision when you feel you would like to enjoy either.
The first part of the decision is usually “How much time is available”.
Once this has been decided, the choice falls into place.

So it is this initial decision I want to focus on today.

Traditionally a pipe smoker would, and could, allow himself at least half- if not a full hour to relax with a pipeful.
But traditions and conditions have changed.
Today with busy, busy lifestyles, and the strict smoking restrictions, you may have to limit yourself to a 10-15 minute break to re-charge during the day.

Do you have the appropriate pipe?

For the “10 minute” smoke, a pipe with a small bowl is the answer - trying to finish a normal pipeful in a hurry is a recipe for disaster.
While it is not impossible to half-fill and smoke a normal size pipe, a few grams of tobacco in the bottom of a large bowl will not be easy to light, and the relatively wide surface area will probably encourage it to burn so fast that it will be burnt out before you have had time to enjoy it.

A good 10 minute pipe will be tailor-made so that the ratio between the diameter and depth of the bowl will be such that your tobacco will burn comfortably down to the last few grains.
Naturally, the size of the shank does not allow room for a filter option (even 6mm).

We were fortunate on our visit to the Lorenzo warehouse in January, to find several such pipes:

Lorenzo Ten minute pipes

A new addition to our range is the “Ruby”, one shape in 2 polished finishes
54-LRuby R295.00


Lorenzo Ten minute pipes

Remember the “Club”? One shape, now in 3 polished finishes, and a rugged rustic
54-LClub R295.00

Two Tone finish with natural rustic embossing
And, of course, the long-stemmed “Lula” in rich brown (matt or polished R350.00), or carved rustic (R295.00). New this time is the Two Tone finish with natural rustic embossing
54-LorLulaTTR R395.00  Shape LLU5


Lorenzo Ten minute pipes

Lorenzo Small Meerschaum-lined
The bowl is a 10 minute size - 5 shapes in Two Tone finish
54-LorMLS R550.00   


Back in stock:

Mini 54-LMini R225.00 TwoTone, Burgundy, Rustic - One shape
Dinky 54-LDinkyTT R260.00 2 shapes in TwoTone finish
54-LBamTT R295.00 One shape - TwoTone finish

We are now headed towards the cooler seasons, so having one or more of these 10 minute pipes on hand might be a good idea for a short smoke – indoors or outdoors.

An even better idea for the next fortnight, because ….

From March 10 to 23, 2016
We offer 25 % off the normal prices of featured 10 minute non-filter pipes:
Bamby, Club, Dinky, Lula, Mini, Ruby, & Lorenzo small Meerschaum-lined

Think about it!
Available from any Wesley’s, or online.

Colin Wesley

No.375  March 3-16, 2016

You can read previous articles from "Across the Counter" in The Library.


Across the Counter
Fortnightly Articles
"Conversations with Customers"

Back to:
Aspects of Pipe Smoking
Aspects of Cigar Smoking
Commentary Articles
Complete Archives Index

No 376  March 17-30, 2016

Value Cigars

Looking for some inspiration for this article I came across a “Reflection” we used for a previous article in 2008:
“Don’t assume that spending twice as much will be twice as satisfying”.

How appropriate is this today, considering the hefty price increases we are experiencing in so many facets of our lifestyle, including cigars.
Our busy timetable, combined with the anti-tobacco restrictions, has already caused us to choose shorter, sometimes thicker, cigars as our best option for the time available to relax with a Cuban cigar.
Maybe we should now give consideration to some of the lesser brands for an “ordinary” smoke, for the less auspicious occasion.
Brands that use tobacco from areas other than the Vuelta Abajo Valley.
Brands that machine bunch a cigar, for draw consistency, before finishing it off by hand-wrapping for appearance, flavour and feel.
Brands such as:

Fonseca - Don Francisco Fonseca founded his brand in Cuba in the 1890s. A handsome man, who cared deeply for appearances, he passed his sartorial precision on to his cigars, which he dressed in silky tissue paper - a tradition that continues to this day. Fonseca is the second most popular brand in Switzerland and Spain, and is considered to be one of the lightest of all Havanas. The machine-bunched and hand finished cigars have slightly more body than the recently-introduced handmade Fonseca cigars. Easy burning.

Guantanamera - Launched in Europe at the end of 2002, Guantanamera is one of the newer more affordable Cuban cigars. The cigars are made with tobacco from Vuelta Arriba, the second most important tobacco-growing region in Cuba, better known for supplying tobacco for European cigars. All sizes are "mecanizado" – totally machine made with short filler at a modern factory recently created in Havana. The wrapper is in general finer than that on some of the older machine-made cigars - no lumps and bruises or thick veins. The short filler is ideal giving an easy, mostly consistent draw. It’s a comfortable smoke – very mild and light bodied, yet the taste is deliciously, spicy Cuban. Unfortunately no longer made – only Cristales available at the moment.

Jose L. Piedra -The Piedra family came to Cuba in the 1880s from the Spanish province of Asturias. They settled near the town of Santa Clara, which lies at the heart of the Vuelta Arriba region where tobacco has been grown since the 16th Century, and started to make cigars. The second generation led by José Lamadrid Piedra founded and developed the brand whose name we know today. They are mostly slim cigars – the size which Castro preferred.

Quintero - one of the few Habanos brands not born in Cuba’s capital city, Havana. Instead its founder Agustin Quintero with his four brothers set up shop in the south coast city of Cienfuegos, known as the “Pearl of the South”. Then as now all the tobaccos selected for Quintero came from the Vuelta Abajo region. The original Quintero cigars are budget cigars, totally handmade, short filler, medium bodied.
In 2012, a new vitola was launched: - totally handmade, long filler, a slightly shorter Robusto size, the Favoritos, excellent value compared with other robusto cigars.

Examples of these brands can be found in our 3-pack Selections.

Considering their quality, the newest, relatively good value, brand from Cuba – is Vegueros . It was founded in 1997, and produced in the province of Pinar del Rio, the home of the famous Vuelta Abajo valley. The name Vegueros translates into the word “farmer” and is a tribute to the generations of farmers who have cultivated tobacco in the province. Production took a break in 2012 for the brand to be transformed, with shapes and sizes more suitable for the modern cigar smokers - thicker, shorter Vitolas (models/shapes).The modern Vegueros cigars are fully handmade with tobacco from the Vuelta Abajo Valley. The Vegueros comes in 3 Vitolas, all medium-strength, and at prices that compare very favourably with the big brands.

The cigar world is not static - there’s always something new: new to try, new to learn.

And the same can be said of each successive edition of Rick Hacker’s “The Ultimate Cigar Book, 4th Edition”.
I’ve known and appreciated The Ultimate Cigar Book since its 1st Edition in 1993, it’s perfect for you to expand your knowledge of the wonderful world of cigars and cigar smoking.

It’s a truly enjoyable, informative / anecdotal read, that you can buy at a “special” price from next week:

From March 24 to April 6, 2015 we offer
15% off The Ultimate Cigar Book, 4th Edition
Normal price only R495.00
Offer only from Wesley’s Shops and Online Store

Dip into it while you’re enjoying your good value cigar!

Colin Wesley
No. 376  March 17-30, 2016

You can read previous articles from "Across the Counter" in The Library.


Across the Counter
Fortnightly Articles
"Conversations with Customers"

Back to:
Aspects of Pipe Smoking
Aspects of Cigar Smoking
Commentary Articles
Complete Archives Index

No 377  March 31 – April 13, 2016

Meerschaum re-visited

Meerschaum pipes have always been one of our stock-in-trade items, but between 2008 and 2015, we lost our reliable chain of supply.
So what’s so special about meerschaums?

Well, up to 2008, we covered all the aspects and advantages of meerschaums in 5 articles:
No.  41  2002  Manufacture, Smoking, Colouring, Cleaning, Pricing
No.105  2005  Meerschaum-lined pipes
No.132  2006  No carbon build-up – a meerschaum bowl can be smaller than your usual pipe
No.150  2006  Entry level, small meerschaums
No.181  2008  Update manufacture; Value compared with briar

In a nutshell, the merits of meerschaums are:
Lightness – no strain on your teeth;
Power of absorption – no soggy dottle;
Length of life – indefinite, provided you don’t drop it on concrete;
The purity of tobacco flavours achieved by this rare mineral – meerschaum has a neutral taste; you
experience the taste the blender intended.
Cleaning is simple - just scrape out the bowl with a blunt tool or the back of your pipe knife blade.
In addition, since there is no build-up of carbon in the bowl, you can smoke a size smaller than usual.

To comply with all these characteristics, meerschaum blocks are graded by size and colour, and uniformity of the block.
Each of these parameters must have a scale of perfection, and full marks all around will produce a pipe which will sell for approximately R4000.00 to R6000.00 – just like a perfect briar pipe.

The lesser blocks will be finished according to their limitations.
Blocks with small surface flaws may be used for hand-carving into heads, or lattice work.
Blocks with a higher density rating may limit the shapes to nothing bigger than medium to large bowls, and mainly bents and half bents.
The advantage of these blocks is that they may be less brittle than their lighter counterparts, and the smoking qualities will be equal.
However, they may not colour as quickly.

From our German supplier of smokers’ accessories we are able to buy top quality Altinay meerschaums, which he allows us to select individually from his stock.
But we are always aware of price limitations.

In January this year we visited Strambach Pipes in Vienna – the only meerschaum pipe manufacturer in the EU, still manufacturing their pipes to the formula developed by the founder in 1904.
Our first order has arrived, and we are delighted with the pipes.

STRAMBACH meerschaum pipeYes they are slightly heavier than last year’s order, but the pricing is more affordable, especially for a first-time meerschaum buyer.
(No fancy hand-fitted case to pay for.)
The peg fitment is reliable Teflon, with a push-pull action.
Two of the models have a 9mm filter option.

As usual, when we have a new type of pipe to offer, we like to introduce it on a “pipe special”:

From April 7 to 20, 2016
We offer 25 % off the normal prices of STRAMBACH meerschaum pipes.
Normal prices from R1600.00

There are only 19 pipes in all, so if a meerschaum pipe is on your “bucket list”, you could take this opportunity to possess a meerschaum pipe from as little as R1200.00.

Think about it! But don’t delay.
Available through any Wesley’s, or online.

Colin Wesley
No.377  March 31 – April 13, 2016

You can read previous articles from "Across the Counter" in The Library.


Across the Counter
Fortnightly Articles
"Conversations with Customers"

Back to:
Aspects of Pipe Smoking
Aspects of Cigar Smoking
Commentary Articles
Complete Archives Index

No 378  April 14-28, 2016


The cigar world is not static.
Following the hectic years of the cigar boom (mid-1990’s) we have seen many developments in all aspects of cigars and cigar smoking:

  • In cigars, many new blend, shapes and sizes expand the range from which we can select the right cigar for the time and occasion – better to relax and enjoy;
  • New lighters for all weather conditions;
  • New cutters to cover even the largest 60+ ring sizes;
  • New, purpose-made cigar ashtrays and humidors.

All these innovations have added to our enjoyment of cigars.

But the one area of innovation, that helps us to relax even when we are away from our cigars, is that of humidification.

I am constantly surprised that, when I mention the humidity bead phenomenon people don’t know what I am talking about.
These “nano” beads will protect your investment, by looking after your cigars.
They will control the humidity, coping with the opening and closing of your humidor, and will compensate for seasonal changes, or for a less than perfect seal on your humidor.

How they work:
The Humidifier is filled with non-toxic humidity control beads. The beads have the property of maintaining at around 70% the ambient relative humidity (RH) in your humidor (or any re-sealable container eg plastic bag, Tupperware).  

Relative Humidity is a function of temperature – it is the amount of water vapour in the air compared with the amount required to saturate the air at that temperature.
At 70°F (21°C), 70% is considered to be the ideal relative humidity in which to store your cigars.

The important attribute of the beads is that they are “bi-directional” - they will release moisture when the RH falls below 70%, and absorb moisture if the RH goes above 70%, thus maintaining a more-or-less constant relative humidity no matter how often the humidor is opened, or what the external conditions.
This attribute also prevents cigars from becoming too damp; damp cigars are difficult to draw, and don’t burn properly.
Simple to use:
1. Immerse the humidifier in water (preferably distilled, but not essential); do not use or add any other liquid;
2. Soak for 20 minutes;
3. Remove and wipe dry;
4. Now it’s ready to fit into your humidor (but see Watchpoints below);

The humidifier is re-usable, will last for many years under correct conditions and will not form mould.
The beads are white when dry and clear when activated – you can easily see when the humidifier needs to be refilled. Refill when necessary, anything from several weeks to several months depending on how often the humidor is opened, the condition of cigars going into the humidor and of the air outside the humidor:
Very dry conditions require more frequent filling (Cape in summer, Highveld in winter, Air-conditioned rooms)
Very humid conditions? You may need to experiment. Check the relative humidity inside and outside the humidor. Maybe you won’t want to damp the humidifier at all – put it into the humidor and then after a while check the relative humidity inside the humidor.

The amount of water absorbed by the humidifier (any humidifier) CANNOT completely moisturise a dry humidor. Prepare the humidor before installing the humidifier by spraying repeatedly with a fine spray of water, or wiping with a damp cloth, until the measured relative humidity inside the humidor is stable at 70%.
Remember to keep the humidor in a cool place (but normally not in the refrigerator)

We stock theCIGAR brand humidifier brand.

CIGAR brand humidifier Bead Humidifier 10-25 cigars                73-J5501 R159.50
CIGAR brand humidifier Bead Humidifier 20 cigars                     73-J5511 R170.00
CIGAR brand humidifier Bead Humidifier 25-50 cigars                73-J5521 R220.00
CIGAR brand humidifier Bead Humidifier up to 100 cigars          73-J5531 R340.00

Our offer to you:

From April 21 - May 4, 2016
Less 25% on the CIGAR brand humidifier Humidifiers with “nano” bead technology

Other alternatives are the Dunhill Humidity Control System, or the Savinelli Surface Active Liquid which can be applied to any pad-type humidifier.

Before the Highveld winter sets in and the air dries up, take this opportunity to ensure your cigars are resting comfortably.
If you are not in the Highveld re-assure yourself that you are not running the risk of over-humidification

Colin Wesley
No.378 April 14-28, 2016

You can read previous articles from "Across the Counter" in The Library.


Across the Counter
Fortnightly Articles
"Conversations with Customers"

Back to:
Aspects of Pipe Smoking
Aspects of Cigar Smoking
Commentary Articles
Complete Archives Index

No 379  April 28 – May 11, 2016

Pipe Filters

In the evolution of Pipe Smoking, pipe filters are a relatively recent innovation.
To my mind they developed alongside the changes in the blending components of Pipe Tobacco.

All the original English blends up to 1986 were completely additive-free except for a small dose of a hygroscopic moisturising ingredient to help preserve the tobaccos in their vacuum-packed tins.
The tobaccos used were mainly Virginias in which the flavour was developed through the use of pressing and steaming to mature the natural tobacco, or by combining with exotic tobaccos such as Latakia, Perique and Turkish.
Of course, since the pipe is a natural filter, moisture will condense from the smoke and deposit the shank and bowl. The tobacco in the bowl is unlikely to burn completely dry.

The Americans pioneered the addition of flavourings to the tobacco which enhanced the flavour to a certain extent, and improved the aroma, making pipe smoking more socially acceptable. But they tended to smoke wet, leaving even more of a soggy dottle in the bottom of the damp bowl.

Drikule mesh plugs, paper Smokers Circles, Philtpads were used to mop up some of the moisture, and prevent wastage of tobacco.

Then at some stage this led to the introduction of pipe mouthpieces being fitted with metal pegs holding cylindrical paper tubes, “filters”, which absorbed some of the moisture in the smoke. One of the early “filter” pipes in the USA was the Frank Medico in the 1930s. The brands Dr Macnab and Frank Medico, Dr Perl filters, are names that I remember well, from way back.

In time, the metal pegs were followed by the development of the Teflon pegs with diameters of both 6mm and 9mm, and “filter pipes” were produced by almost all manufacturers.
These pipes can hold any of the variety of the stem filters now available – paper cartridges holding charcoal or meerschaum granules, balsa wood absorbent filters, paper tubes. These are quite successful in capturing moisture from the smoke as it passes through the shank of the pipe, allowing drier smoke to travel through into the mouth by the puff-full.

But these “filters” do not solve the other half of the wet smoking problem, the damp dottle in the bottom of the bowl – so back to the basic bowl filters.
We are now seeing the development of ways and mean of tackling the wet smoking problem at the source, the condensation of moisture from the flavoured tobacco collecting in the bottom of the bowl.
We still have the clay Philtpads, the wire Drikule plugs, plus Denicotea “Denicool” granules, and now the Nording Lava Keystones. (Sorry – no RJ Smokers Circles.)

The Nording Keystones are 100% natural Volcanic Clay – very light, highly absorbent and neutral in taste; and very economical compared with other filters.
Drop a few Keystones into the bottom of a pipe bowl before loading the tobacco into the bowl.
By removing the moisture from the smoke, they will provide a drier, cooler experience. They may be discarded at the finish, leaving a clean, dry, empty bowl with no wasteful tobacco dottle – saving you money.
They can be used in any pipe, whether with a filter or with an adapter, or with a metal arrestor.

Keystone PelletsNording Pipe cross sectionNording Lava Keystone Bowl Filters in a regular pipe bowl (left) and (right) in the specially designed bowl chamber of the Nording Eriksen Keystone Pipe.

Available in a handy tin (approximately 10g) or economical 100g pack.
Try them!

In fact, try them now:

From 5 May to 18 May, 2016 we offer you less 25%
Nording Lava Keystone Bowl Filters 
100g pouch for R168.75 (Normal Price R225.00)
Small tin R30.00, about 10g (Normal Price R40.00)

Don’t hesitate.
With the rising costs of the cartridge type “stem filter” the Lava Keystones should be well worth trying.

Colin Wesley
No.379 April 28 – May 11, 2016

You can read previous articles from "Across the Counter" in The Library.