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 380  May 12-25, 2016

The current Premium Cigar situation
in South Africa

“Turmoil” is the word that springs to mind at this time.
Two major robberies have virtually wiped out the legal, authorised supply of Cuban cigars.

Be careful!
You may be accosted by a friendly-looking fellow offering you Cuban cigars from a suitcase or the back of his car.
I repeat, be careful.
If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is, and could be a red flag indicator that they are stolen property.
Some arrests have already been made, I am told.
Or worse, they may have been sourced via dubious routes, from strange countries, without full taxes being paid. And no guarantee that they are genuine.
Be patient.
Authorised genuine supplies will soon be available again.
But the prices?
With our currency being held in such low esteem on the international markets, the prices may bring an unpleasant taste to the mouth.
Not surprising – consider some of our dollar purchases for the last few years; we paid per dollar:
November 2011 R8.50; August 2015 R13.33; January 2016 R16.50; April 2016 R15.10
Higher prices for Cuban and other top name premium cigars are inevitable.

So what are your options?
How to prevent the “unpleasant taste” of these higher prices.

Let’s look at Quorum bundled cigars:
 From J.C. Newman Cigar Co.
Quorum bundled cigarsFounded in 1895 this company also manufactures such quality cigars as Diamond Crown and Cuesta Ray.
Their Quorum brand is a quality cigar packed in bundles at an extremely affordable price. Manufactured in Nicaragua, the filler is a blend of Nicaraguan, Dominican Republic and Honduran leaf, with a wrapper from Ecuador.
The coastal region of Ecuador has one of the best climates in the world for wrapper leaf. The soil is rich in minerals and natural components; the temperature is mild; and cloudiness gives a natural cover that helps to grow bright, soft and elastic leaves. This wrapper helps to produce a smooth, medium-bodied cigar. Smoke Magazine gave Quorum cigars a remarkable 9.2 out of 10 in the Spring, 2007 issue.
Quorum cigars are said to be “the number one selling handmade imported bundled cigar in the world”; they have been, and are still, a firm favourite with our customers. (Click here for range and prices.)

In 1992 we introduced bundled “CG” cigars from Altadis USA.
They were rolled in the Dominican Republic with a wrapper from Java (Indonesia). Our older customers might remember how popular they were for their flavour, quality and price.

So how about Casa de Garcia - manufactured by Altadis USA?

Casa de Garcia cigars 10Casa de Garcia cigarsCasa de Garcia cigarsAltadis website: Casa de Garcia cigars are crafted in the Dominican Republic with an aged blend of Honduran and Dominican long filler tobaccos, a smooth Connecticut broadleaf binder – it is the wrappers that determine the end flavour. The result – very consistent cigars that are mild, sweet and flavorful from beginning to end, and some of the most economical smokes around.”

Sumatra (20’s): With a Sumatra (Indonesia) wrapper
Subtle notes of spice, wood and nuts delivered through a well-rounded medium body.

Connecticut (10’s): With a light brown Connecticut shade wrapper
Light, smooth, creamy nuances accompany a mild body.

Maduro (20’s): With a dark Maduro Connecticut broadleaf wrapper.
Hearty, backed by notes of espresso and natural sweetness. Medium-bodied.

Other comments
Altadis is responsible for crafting some of the most well-known and respected cigars on the market today, including Romeo y Julieta, Montecristo, and H. Upmann. But, in addition to these legendary brands, they also craft the highly-affordable Casa de Garcia brand. Made on the same rolling tables by the same top-notch rollers, just a heckova lot cheaper. “
(Click here for range and prices.)

And now for something completely different. except in quality and price:

De Hertogh Premium short filler cigars from Belgium.
De Hertogh Premium short filler cigars from BelgiumDe Hertogh” cigars are rolled in a traditional factory with traditional care and attention in respect of the excellence of the leaf, the consistency of the finished cigar, the refinement and sophistication of the flavour. 
100% tobacco - filler, binder and wrapper – ensure the quality of these premium short filler cigars.
One can tell from the stable ash formation which develops as the cigar is smoked.
Not mass-produced – the limited production has ensured that these are a cut above the big European brands. From the feel you will know that there has been no “puffing” in their production – just pure, completely natural, perfectly matured tobaccos.
These cigars ARE for you if:
• You find that the heavy Cubans are just too much for you (price and strength), but you love the Cuban flavour;
• You need a fine quality lighter cigar to smoke earlier in the day or evening;
• You are sharing the smoking experience with a mixed group of friends some of whom are casual smokers;
• You are hosting a function and want to offer cigars, but not everybody is a serious smoker;
• You are a new cigar smoker – wanting to ease into the experience;
These cigars ARE NOT for you if:
• You can’t visualise any form of cigar other than a Cuban Robusto. 
(Click here for range and prices.)

We’re not talking about “budget” cigars here – factory rejects.
These three brands are made in factories by companies who have the knowledge and technical skills to make great cigars, using high quality leaf carefully blended to create a final product of which they can be proud.

Another thought:
You may like to keep the different blend cigars in separate humidors; and certainly the De Hertogh do not need to be humidified to the extent of the Quorum and Casa de Garcia.

Do you require another humidor?

From 19 May to June 1, 2016, we offer
15% off Dunhill Humidors
Less 25% on our range of Humidors
Normal prices from R1150.00

Open your mind to accept the subtle differences from different seeds and soils – and, without compromising quality, balance your budget at the same time.

Colin Wesley
No.380 May 12-25, 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 381 May 26 to June 8, 2016

Who, or what, is Marca Smoking Pipes?

Some years ago we were looking for a pipe to fill a retail price gap that we found in our range.
The Albanian Lorenzo pipes stopped at  around R350.00/R400.00.
Stanwell, Savinelli and other International brands started well above this price.
Yet, when I looked through retail trade magazines I saw pipes, especially in the US, with names I couldn’t find in the trade, retailing at the very prices I was looking for.
Somebody had to be making them.
But who?
And how could I find them?

I remembered way back in time having a discussion on the matter of “Own Brand” pipes with one of the directors of a large tobacconist franchise company in the USA. He had given me a name warning me that the minimum order quantity was 100 dozen.
At that time this was too much for us, and I subconsciously discarded the company name.
Now I couldn’t retrieve it – rather frustrating.

Then as luck would have it, early in the 2000s we were approached by the very company from Italy.
They had supplied pipes in South Africa to L.Suzman Ltd, J.Feldman, companies that no longer exist.
Older pipe people may remember the excellent value Kruger Opstaan, Oliver Bent, and others.
This company also supplies the USA market.
Couldn’t we do something together?
The search was over.

We placed a trial order in 2005: 100 dozen pipes assorted over 4 designs.
They were so well accepted, that we felt confident enough to take the next step of developing an “Own Name” brand, choosing the shapes that we wanted for the South African market, at the price we required.

But what “Own Brand” name would we use?
It should not be associated directly with Wesley’s, it should be Italian, easy to pronounce, and neutral – not personal.
We delved into the Italian dictionaries, and came up with the name “Marca” which translates loosely into the English word “Brand”.
We liked it and so did the manufacturer.
The first pipes branded “MARCA” were introduced in 2009.
We selected their standard lines and added Marca: Marca Parma, Marca Sport, Marca Mignon.

But we found that there were still some “gaps” in the pipes we offered to the pipe smokers, so we developed:
 Marca Smoking Pipes 6 - classic bents (no band) with a Teflon peg and 6mm filter option. (2009)
We chose 6mm, rather than 9mm, because, having more wood in the wall of the shank, it was stronger.
 Marca Smoking Pipes Dry – the devaluation of our currency was making the price of the international brands above an acceptable first-time pipe option. Together we designed a more affordable “dry-smoking” pipe with a built-in sump (moisture trap), a Teflon peg with 6mm option.  (2015)

Our newest project:

Marca Smoking Pipes SNUG

Marca Snug Smoking PipeMarca Snug Smoking Pipe – fitted with a Teflon peg, offering a 6mm option
– a compact, pocket pipe
– fitted with a Teflon peg, offering a 6mm option.

Pretty-well unique in today’s pipe world.


Two chubby shapes, designed to fit neatly and comfortably into hand or pocket; saddle or taper mouthpiece.
Marca Snug Smoking Pipe
Sandblast MS21t
Marca Snug Smoking Pipe
Brown MS21s
Marca Snug Smoking Pipe
Brown MS22t
Marca Snug Smoking Pipe
Natural MS22s

Marca Snug Smoking Pipes - Three finishesThree finishes:

Sepia-brown R640.00 a true brown - not too red, not too yellow, not too dark. It highlights the grain without over-emphasising any surface flaws.
Black Sandblast R590.00 - Hand-rubbing relief grain, with a beautiful,
almost black glossy finish.

Natural R690.00  – a light honey-blonde stain reveals the grain of the selected bowls. This finish can only be used on the better quality pipes – no flaw is concealed. The colour will deepen with smoking to a rich golden-brown.

The SNUG is also very suitable for “out-and-about”. The shorter mouthpiece, with Teflon peg, offers less leverage and less possibility of breaking when you’re transporting it.
And as a "10 minute" pipe anywhere, anytime.

To summarise the factory philosophy for pipe making:
“By having cost-efficient production runs, with 2 or 3 grades of finishes included, they can produce better value-for-money pipes than most other pipe manufacturers.”

Even better - with our next special offer:

From 2 – 15 June, 2016 we offer you
Less 25% on SNUG pipes
Natural R517.50 (Normal price R690.00)
Sepia-brown R480.00 (Normal price R640.00)
Black Sandblast R442.50 (Normal price R590.00)

You’re sure to need a “Snug” sometime.
You might as well take advantage and buy it now!

Colin Wesley

No.381 May 26 to June 8, 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.382 June 9 - 22, 2016

What Turmoil?

Well the Cuban cigar turmoil disclosed in my last cigar article has somewhat calmed down.
In a much shorter period of time than most of us expected, a considerable consignment of cigars arrived.
They are on our shelves, with three nice surprises.

Firstly hardly any price increases.
Most welcome, considering the slippery slope our Rand seems to be on.

Secondly, another supply of Vegueros Mananitas, the short pyramid, in packs of 4x4 (16 cigars) to a carton.
One of the few increases, R539.00 per pack of 4 - still excellent value.
These won’t last too long on the shelves – better visit, or email, us to secure a few packs for yourself.

Thirdly, totally unexpected, two new Limited Edition cigars, both aged for a minimum of5 years in the box before release;  and a new vitola from Trinidad.

The Añejados is a new linea from Habanos, available worldwide from January 2016.
After rolling, the cigars are aged in the box for a minimum of 5 years, under stable, well-ventilated conditions:
Temperature 16 - 18°C;
Relative Humidity 65 - 70%  
This process allows them to develop their flavour and smoothness without losing any of their original characteristics of taste, colour, smell, etc.
The Habanos website has a good article on aging cigars in these perfect conditions, and what happens during this process.

For your interest, here is the Cuban pronunciation of Añejados:
The “A” (as “u” in understand), the “ñe” has a “nyeh” sound, the “j” is pronounced “h” as in Spanish, and the second “a” as in army (silent “r”)
You can talk about Unyehados (Añejados) cigars with confidence.

From www.habanos.com
The Habanos Añejados are commercialized in their original boxes, which stayed as they are without any label during the aging process and only have been dressed with the corresponding labellings of each brand for their launching to the market. The presentation of these two launchings is carried out in a regular labelled box, the ring and the external stick have been added with the legend “Añejados”, besides the vitolina to explain the concept.
Through the aging process, the cigar has developed, becoming rounder and mellower to the palate with touches of delicate and sweetish taste and, above all, obtaining shades of woody taste because of being placed for all those years near the cedar from which the boxes were made.
At the bottom of each box one can check the date of the original rolling of the Habanos. An additional stamp with the legend “Revisado” (checked) has been added, because 100% of the boxes have been opened and all the Habanos have been individually checked.
Partagás Coronas Gordas and Hoyo de Monterrey Hermosos No.4 Añejados will be available at the outlets all over the world during the first quarter of 2016.

The two Añejados we have received are:
Partagás Coronas Gordas Añejados (143mm x Ring 46) – a classic corona extra.
Hoyo de Monterrey Hermosos No. 4 Añejados (127mm x Ring 48) – a slightly longer robusto (extra 3mm).

Click here for pictures and prices.

Trinidad Vigia (121mm x Ring 54) – a short Robusto, and slightly thicker!
In Cuban, the name means “look out” and refers to the watchtowers in the Cuban city of Trinidad, erected to observe the sugarcane fields.
As to quality: the Trinidad Vigia was placed #14 in Cigar Aficionado’s 25 best cigars of 2015.
Cigar Aficionado: Its heavy ring gauge offers an abundant smoke, lush with earthy truffle notes, oakiness and a warm nutty finish.
As is usual with Trinidad, the cigar is finished with a “pigtail” cap.

Click here for pictures and prices.

If you’re interested in aging your cigars, or just keeping them in good condition, you’ll realise that you need to watch the temperature and the humidity.
An important aid is an instrument that gives you both readings.

We have the very thing to offer you – 73-J6501 Slim black Digital Hygrometer/Thermometer ~ °C or °F.

From June 16 - 29, 2016, we offer
25% off
73-J6501 Digital Hygrometer / Thermometer
Normal price R640.00

Try one of the new cigars, and see whether you think that aging has made a difference.

Colin Wesley

No.382 June 9 - 22, 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.383 June 23 to July 6, 2016

Why won’t my pipe stay alight?

One of the complaints we often have from new (and experienced) pipe smokers is that “the pipe won’t stay alight”.

There are quite a few reasons for this, but one that is often overlooked is that the tobacco is too wet.
Obviously wet tobacco won’t burn easily.

In a nutshell, the fact of the matter is that all pipe tobacco blends must be moist or they will crumble to dust in the packet or pouch. Then if they reach your pipe they will burn fast, dry, and hot - most unsatisfying.
With moist tobacco the pipe works as a natural filter, and as moist smoke is generated with puffing some of the moisture will be absorbed by the wood itself.
In addition some moisture from the mouth may enter the stem adding to the problem.
This is why a smoked pipe needs to be rested between smokes to dry out.
Moisture not absorbed by the pipe will condense and settle in the bottom of the bowl, creating the soggy “dottle” which needs to be gently removed at the end of the smoke.

This was all very well with early blends which were made up of pure, natural tobaccos with a minimum of additives. But with the development of the “mass market blends”, using casings and flavours with excessive moisture content, the problem of “wet” smoking was aggravated.

That’s where stem filters came in – absorbing the moisture in the stem created by condensation from the smoke, and hopefully preventing the moisture from making the tobacco in the bowl too wet to burn.
Bowl filters can also help with any moisture formed in the base of the bowl.

Over the years many pipe designs and “filters” have been developed to counter this excessive moisture problem.
But the simplest solution is to trap the condensed moisture before it runs into the bowl: a sump in the shank of the pipe.

The most popular of the original designs was the Peterson System Briar.
This consisted of a built-in moisture trap (sump) just outside the bowl leading into the shank of the pipe to trap any moisture draining down towards the bottom of the bowl. They also placed the smoke hole on the top of the lip to minimise the amount of moisture entering from the mouth.
For this system a bent pipe is needed.

But there was nothing to mop up the moisture that did collect – no space for a “filter” in the shank.

Savinelli and Marca Smoking Pipes
their answers to “Wet Smoking”,  that is preventing the tobacco from becoming too wet:

Savinelli Dry System

Savinelli Dry Cross SectionThe original sump system was improved by Savinelli in the 1980s.
The mouthpiece is made of solid vulcanite, and has a much thicker peg than normal. This enabled the bore to be widened in order to accommodate a 6mm triangular balsa “filter”.
They also increased the size of the smoke hole on the top of the lip by changing it to be a sideways rectangle which released the smoke fanlike, not in a thin stream, spreading it quickly over the palate.
Both ingenious improvements.
Prices: Savinelli Dry System: Extraordinaire shapes R1755.00
Kingsize shapes          R1575.00
Regular size shapes     R1395.00


Until the advent of the Teflon peg, the mouthpiece had to be thicker than usual in order to be able to drill a bore wide enough for a 6mm (or 9mm) filter.

The Marca Smoking Pipes Dry

Cross section of the Marca Dry pipe showing 'sump'In 2015 we designed and introduced the “normal-looking” Marca pipe with a sump, a Teflon peg and a 6mm option - the Marca Dry.

We chose the 6mm option, because it allows sufficient thickness of the wood of the shank to manage without a protective metal band.

An adapter is supplied with each pipe should you choose not to use the absorbent 6mm filter (mopper-up).
Price: R850.00 – 3 bowl shapes, Saddle or Taper; Satin or Sandblast: 12 options.

Keeping “sump” pipes clean:
Since the moisture runs down into the sump, there is less likelihood of it being absorbed into the shank. The “filter” may be used to mop up excess moisture, helping to keep the moisture trap (sump) relatively clean and dry.
Clean the sump regularly with a folded pipe cleaner (and a shot of Pipe Spray) – to enjoy fresh smoking for many years.

Does all this strike a chord?

This could be a deciding factor:

From 30 June to 13 July, 2016 we offer you
Less 25% on Marca Smoking Pipes DRY pipes
Less 25% on Savinelli Dry System pipes

There are other options for dealing with the “wet” smoking challenge: stem filters, bowl filters; but the sump (with or without filters) is the simplest.

Colin Wesley

No.383 June 23 to July 6, 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.384 July 7 - 20, 2016

Light up your Cigar,
and relax

I’m sure you’re aware that there can be wrong ways of lighting your cigar.
But what is the “right” way?
What are your options?

These are two questions – let’s look at the options first:

A candle at the dinner table – that’s a firm No!
Traces of wax in the candle flame can ruin the taste of your cigar.

OK – so what is “Yes”?
Matches – they should be longer and thicker than those used for a cigarette. You may even need more than one.
Watchpoint: Before lighting, allow the flash on lighting the match to finish, and so avoid a “sulphurous”
first puff.
Wooden Spill – or break a strip from the cedar sheet inside the cigar box. Light it – it provides a good flame with
the right aroma. You could light this from the dinner table candle.
Butane gas lighter – That’s a good choice: the gas is odourless and tasteless. The size of the flame is easy to
control, it should be large enough to cover about half the foot of the cigar.
Turbo flame butane gas lighter – This is almost mandatory in windy conditions, acting like a miniature
blowtorch. The flame is very strong and hot, and more care is required when lighting to ensure you
don’t char the foot of the cigar, causing a “burnt” taste.
Liquid fuel lighters - Zippo and others. You can depend on these in the wind or rain – for rugged reliability
nothing can beat them. But the fuel may impart a, possibly unacceptable, taste to your cigar. As the rim of
the foot of the cigar starts to ignite blow gently through the cigar to remove any lingering fumes.
Read what Zippo has to advise.

Now for the “right way” to light up, ensuring that whole experience of smoking your cigar is enjoyable.
Care is needed so that you don’t ruin the first few puffs.

The theory behind the process of lighting up is that, since a premium hand-rolled cigar is usually slightly moist, you need to evaporate the juices at the foot of the cigar until the cigar starts to burn on its own.

  • This should be done by holding the cigar at a slight angle, around 45°, above the flame (not in it).

Hold it as close as you can without charring the foot.

  • Steadily rotate the cigar while applying the flame so that the foot lights evenly from the perimeter inwards.
  • When it has started lighting, turn the cigar so you can see the foot, and blow gently onto it. This will enable you to identify any parts of the foot that are not yet alight and need more attention.
  • Back to lighting – again rotate the cigar above (not in) the flame, concentrating more on those parts that hadn’t lit up on the first try.
  • When you feel that the foot is fully alight, take the first draw.

Then re-check the foot, and re-apply the flame if necessary.

When it is completely alight, sit back, draw regularly, concentrate on the flavour and aroma, and relax.

If you prefer to remove the band from your cigar, smoke the cigar for a minute or two first. This will soften any excess glue from the band that may have stuck to the wrapper leaf. Softening it first will allow you to remove the band without damaging the wrapper.

Since you may often have to smoke your cigar outdoors, maybe the Turbo flame lighter is a good idea.
We agree, and so…..

From July 14 - 27, 2016, we offer
3-jet Turbo lighters, with built-in cigar punch
55-EJ046 and 55-EJ047
for only R330.00

On the golf course, outside the restaurant, in the bush – you will probably be pleased you bought this lighter now, while the offer is on.

Colin Wesley

No.384 July 7 - 20, 2016

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