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No.385 July 21 – August 3, 2016

The long short smoke.

Is this a contradiction in terms?

Well, not really, because we are talking about two different aspects of the pipe: the bowl and the stem.

A small bowl is essential for a short smoke – a half-filled pipe just doesn’t seem to work.
Compact pocket pipes are ideal for a quick smoke between appointments, during a break on a long hike, or in the theatre interval.
And we have a good variety to offer you.

But what about when you are reading, watching television, or just chatting with friends for a short while after lunch in the garden?
Most small-bowled pipes have short stems – and the bowl can be right in your eye-line.
Not ideal for reading, watching or talking with friends.
This is where a longer stem pipe comes in – a Mini-Churchwarden in fact.
A pipe with a bowl just out of your direct eye-line, quick to fill, easy to light up, less likely to keep going out – and just right for 15-20 minutes.
In fact the Mini-Churchwardens tick all the boxes.
Our range includes Lorenzo Lula (Smooth, and TwoTone embossed), and the popular Marca Mignon – new stock just arrived: 3 finishes over 5 shapes, from a tried and tested brand.

And there is another group of pipe-smokers for whom these pipes are ideal – the ladies.
As well as all the eye-line and easy-smoking advantages listed above, the pipes are just long enough for the smoke to drift away without passing through the hair. A distinct boon.
And they are very elegant when held by a similarly elegant lady.
One of our Mini-Churchwardens seems tailor-made for a lady – the shiny black Nerina with gold ring.

Filters for narrow-stem pipes:
Such narrow-stem pipes obviously don’t take a 6mm or 9mm or even 3mm stem filter – but the Nording Keystones bowl filters are sufficiently small to be dropped in the bottom of the bowl.  They will absorb excess moisture, and stop bits of tobacco from being drawn into the shank and mouthpiece.
Marca Smoking Pipes Mignon pipes are fitted with a metal arrestor.

Grip the shank and mouthpiece close to the join, and gently twist the two apart or together.
Keep the peg and shank clean so they won’t stick.

Our “special” offer to you:

Less 25% on Mini-Churchwarden pipes:
Marca Smoking Pipes Mignon – normal prices from R390.00
Lorenzo Lula – normal prices from R350.00
From 28 July to 10 August, 2016

The Mini-Churchwarden is a really useful, all-round friendly little long pipe, for a short smoke.

Colin Wesley

No.385 July 21 – August 3, 2016

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


Across the Counter
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No.386 August 4 to 17, 2016

The taste of a cigar

Having gone through the ritual of cutting and lighting your cigar – now comes the technique of smoking the cigar.

Gently draw the smoke from your lit cigar into your mouth, swill it around, and then release it back into the air before your next draw.
The tastebuds in your mouth will detect the various degrees of Bitter, Sour, Sweet or Salty elements.
As you breathe, smoke drawn in through the nose will activate the sense of smell to complete the overall experience of the flavour of the cigar.
Together they provide what is called the “taste” of a cigar.

The experts can describe a cigar as having “notes of leather”, “coffee aromas”, “a hint of citrus”.
Sometimes one is not sure how they get them!

There is a modern school of thought that feels that the traditional way of smoking a cigar does not give the sense of smell sufficient pure smoke particles to release its full value to the smoking experience.
This school advocates the practice of a specially-coined term: “retrohaling”
This is the releasing of all or some of the pure smoke particles from the mouth up through the nasal cavity and out through the nose. This is different from “exhaling” in that the smoke doesn’t go via the lungs.

The sensors of smell detect and release a much wider range of “smelling sensations”, unaffected by any surrounding smells in the room, for example perfume, food, furniture.

Now you know how the judges identify their descriptive words.

To experience “retrohaling” requires practice.
A suggested plan is to begin by keeping a small amount of smoke in the mouth when expelling the smoke, which will then virtually drift up to the nasal cavity and out through the nose.
Or draw on your cigar, then halfway through blowing out the smoke close your mouth and let the rest of the smoke find its way out through your nostrils.

The advocates of retrohaling say you have never really appreciated a cigar until you retrohale it.

I have borrowed the following facts and suggestions on cigar smoking from http://www.cigarinspector.com/how-to-taste-a-cigar:

  • Every cigar does not taste the same to everyone.
  • The wrapper accounts for most of a cigar's flavor but can range anywhere from 20-80% of the total flavor from the smoke.
  • What you drink can change the flavors and intensity of what you are smoking. I like drink water the first time I try a cigar to get the flavors “unfiltered”.
  • If you are smoking multiple cigars, try drinking apple juice in between to cleanse your palate.
  • If you are smoking multiple cigars, smoke the mildest first.
  • A cigar's aroma (the inhale) can have different qualities than the exhale (or retro-hale).

Want to know more?
Google “retrohaling cigars” – make sure you have plenty of time!

As you smoke the cigar you may notice that the taste intensifies, developing more flavour for the sated taste buds.
But eventually it gets bitter – time to put it down in your cigar ashtray and let it extinguish itself with no bad aroma.
No cigar ashtray?
A cigar rest will turn almost any normal ashtray, or even a saucer, into a perfect place to lay down your cigar between puffs, or at the end. We now have 3 models – suitable for any cigar and almost any receptacle.
Prices R59.50, R75.00, R140.00.

Except for the two weeks from 11 August:

From 11 to 24 August, 2016, we offer
25% off Cigar Rests
3 models - normal prices R59.50, R75.00, R140.00

Remember – your cigar burns and tastes better if you rest it horizontally when it becomes necessary to put it down between puffs.

Colin Wesley

No.386 August 4 to 17, 2016

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


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No.387 August 18 - 31, 2016

Lorenzo - that little extra

An important business lesson we learned many years ago is that, if you are a relatively small business (as we are) and you want to enjoy a good relationship with your suppliers, you should visit them and get to know how their business works.
You can then tailor your orders to suit them.
Sometimes you can even do them a favour.

This certainly applies to our relationship with Lorenzo pipes.
They are a major manufacturer of good value pipes in the world, and it doesn’t work for us to dictate to them what we want.
We can take the export pricelist and place an order – and then wait for the pipes.
But we don’t hold our breath.

Much better however is that our relationship is so good that when we visit Europe in January each year, we are given a warm “Italian biscuit and coffee” welcome, and free run of their storeroom in Gallarate, Italy. 
Here the bonus of a good relationship kicks in.
Producing the large orders for America or the rest of Europe often ends up with over-runs of a few dozen here and there.
These we can pick up with the advantage of the larger quantity prices.
A thorough search through always builds up to a nice clean “done and dusted” pile of empty boxes for Lorenzo, and often a few more pipes that we had planned to buy.

Spitfire Filtro “Giada” pipesThis year, just as we thought we were done, Riccardo
opened up a box of his new Spitfire Filtro “Giada” pipes
in the higher quality, light autumn leaf colour finish; 9mm option.

Spitfire Filtro “Giada” pipesSome of the pipes had surface flaws scattered over the bowls
and were finished with his distinctive original spot-carvings.

Others had the surface flaws grouped.

Spitfire Filtro “Giada” pipesSpitfire Filtro “Giada” pipesHere the ever-innovative Riccardo designed a new “embossed”
carving over the area, leaving the larger almost-clean areas to view.

In either case, the clean areas show very clearly the quality of the grain of the bowl.

A stunning example of the truly innovative designs of Lorenzo pipes

Our pipe budget took another body blow as we ordered 144 pipes on this one-off offer.
(We actually received 145 pipes, another Lorenzo idiosyncrasy.)

We have passed our savings on to you – these eye-catching pipes sell for only R595.00.
Better savings to come:

From August 25 to September 7, 2016 you can add to your smoking pleasure with
a Lorenzo Filtro GIADA pipe
and pay 25% less than the normal retail price.

Lorenzo pipes have a feel and style all their own.
And the unsnappable Teflon pegs on the pipes with a 9mm filter option ensure a longer mouthpiece life, and a cool dry smoke.

You are looking for

  • a good working pipe,
  • that will bring a smile to your face when you light it up, inside or outside,
  • despite having damaged the rim by repeatedly knocking it out on a rock, or tree ……..

look no further than a Lorenzo Filtro.

The thorough curing process lays a good foundation for these tough pipes to deliver the goods.

The warmer weather is not far away, so when you start re-checking all the outdoor gear to plan a weekend away, consider your pipe selection.
Do you have a robust, tough pipe to take along?
One that will still give you a very good smoke?
One that won’t embarrass you if you bump into a fellow pipe smoker?
The answer is Lorenzo.

Colin Wesley

No.387 August 18 - 31, 2016

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


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No.388 September 1 - 14, 2016


The number of pages in the new FDA (Food and Drug Administration) regulations for all tobacco products (including e-cigarettes, hookahs, premium cigars) sold in the USA as of August 2016.
This effectively lumps premium cigars in with cigarettes as far as “serious health risks” are concerned.

But what do the regulations mean, and who do they really affect.
There are 2 sections:

  • The cigar itself has to be regulated / approved.
  • The presentation and conditions of sale of the product in the market are more strictly regulated, and, like cigarettes, tobacco user fees have to be paid to FDA – something like compulsory taxation / excise.

Walter Cukier, of Perdomo Cigars, said “This new regulation is the windfall the government will collect for those companies who wish to remain open. The government is expecting hundreds of millions in instant taxation.”

The cigars:

  • Any “new” cigar produced after the cut-off date of August 2018 will have to be submitted to the FDA for an authorisation process.
  • Cigars produced and sold since before February 2007, and continued to be sold thereafter, do not need to be authorised – but they must provide documentary evidence of the history.
  • Cigars introduced to the market between 2007 and August 2016 can continue to be sold, provided they have applied for authorisation. By August 2018 they will know whether they may continue to be sold or must be removed from the market.

Factories were working 18 hour days to introduce new cigars into the market before August 2016.
Family members were roped in to help.
Box makers and printers could not meet the demand.
It was panic and chaos.
1500 new cigars were presented at the major trade show in Las Vegas in July 2016 (700 more than in 2015) – the manufacturers were almost certain of 2 years sales before the next cut-off date.

Packings of premium cigars will now have to carry health warning labels – covering 30% of the front / top.
(South Africa 15% front, 25% back)
Authorisation must be obtained for each different packaging of a given cigar.
No more free promotional cigars.
Any advertising must carry the health warnings, and advertising plans will have to be submitted. (South Africa no advertising.)

Foreign cigars into the US market
The companies will need to register the products they wish to sell in the U.S.  

How will this affect South Africa?
I don’t see any real downside for our cigar smokers.
There might even be a benefit: Cigar producers having to put labels on the boxes for the USA might be more willing to do the same for exports to South Africa, thus expanding our supply of more great cigars from outside Cuba.

Cuban cigars: A reprieve for South Africa?
Every Cuban cigar destined for the USA will have to be regulated by the FDA. This could take a while.
When the brand registration problems are added into the equation, plus the fact that the trade embargo between US and Cuba requires an act of Congress to be repealed, I don’t think that the new links between Cuba and the US will cause any immediate supply problems for South Africa.
But don’t discount other factors within Cuba!

After all that, take a deep breath, and choose the cigar you would like to relax with - some things are still ok.
Light up and enjoy the experience.

To add to your “lighting-up” enjoyment, we have a different cigar lighter for you – one that won’t hurt you too much to forget somewhere.

More so from 8 September, because:

From 8 to 21 September, 2016, we offer
20% off Maxim Veronese Triple Jet lighter (55-EJ015) - 3 colours
Normal price R215.00

The heat may be off our supply of Cuban cigars for the moment, but that doesn’t mean you can be careless with the heat when lighting up.
Keep the triple jet flame well away from the foot of the cigar: a charred cigar will ruin the taste of the first few puffs.

Take care and enjoy one of the most affordable luxuries in today’s world – a premium cigar.

Colin Wesley

No.388 September 1 to 14, 2016

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


Across the Counter
Fortnightly Articles
"Conversations with Customers"

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Aspects of Pipe Smoking
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No.389 September 15–28, 2016

What is the use of a tobacco pouch?

Well, let’s look at tobacco pouches - what we offer, and why?

Today, a tobacco pouch or pipe bag is almost an essential.
You can’t always smoke in the most convenient place – you may have to trek a bit!
You need something to carry your tobacco - and maybe a pipe, a pipe tool, a pipe lighter, some cleaners, a pipe rest - when you go to settle down, relax and enjoy a pipeful of your chosen blend.

If you don’t have a tobacco pouch, what do you look for, and what are your choices?
We’ve said it all before – but it bears repeating:

First, what do you want to transport?
Just tobaccoeasy, a simple one-zip or 2-button pouch will do the job
A pipe, pipe tool, tobacco and cleaners – exactly what the 2-zip companion pouch was made for.
A pipe, tobacco, pipe tool, cleaners and lighter  – add an extra zip compartment to the companion pouch, and there you have it.
So what do you look for in a pouch?
• Most important, a pouch needs to have a lining that will keep your tobacco fresh – one that won’t absorb the moisture from your tobacco. In the “old days” this meant a rubber lining, but with the progress in technology, a soft synthetic lining is less expensive, has no aroma and is very effective – especially if you introduce a “Humydrole” if you live or travel on the Highveld or any arid area.
• Is there a double set of ridges under the zip to make the closure airtight? Important in dry areas.
• Does the companion pouch have a zip long enough to take a big pipe – like a Savinelli 1616?
• A single zip pouch – a curved zip opening will open wider.
• A stud pouch won’t be airtight if it doesn’t have the extra inside flap.
• A foldover pouch combines the flap and companion pouch, with compartments to carry pipe, tool, etc.
Magnetic studs? Not essential, but handy.
• Are the zips sturdy, and do they flow easily?
Hint – the experts say that a zip should be “pushed” not pulled!

You need to carry more - an extra one or two pipes, tobacco, pipe tool, cleaners, lighter and fold-up pipe rest?
No problem, the compact pipe bag / carry case is fitted to handle all these, your pouch, and more; maybe your car keys, wallet and even your cell phone / mobile.

It’s the little things that make the difference.

You can see all these on our website (just click the links, and when you’re there, click on DETAIL) and then visit a Wesley’s to feel them before deciding to choose leather or synthetic. With eyes closed it may be difficult to tell which is which, over time though the leather will prove its worth. 

Much as we love it, shop keeping is not an easy way to make a living, especially for a specialist retailer.
Keeping the right stock to maximise sales can be a nightmare: it’s not an exact science and it’s not a thumbsuck.
As one of my lecturers said many years ago, before the advent of computers, you can go extinct by instinct (out of stock or over stocked), or have paralysis by analysis – takes too much time.
Right now we have the last 50 odd of the style 71-HK3499 in both leather and synthetic – and our new order will be here soon.


From next week we offer less 25% on Black foldover companion pouches
Normal Prices: 71-HK3499 Synthetic R145.00; 71-HK3499L Leather R299.50
But only for 2 weeks – from 22 September to 5 October 2016.

Buy one now – sooner or later you are going to need it.

Colin Wesley

No.389 September 15–28, 2016

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