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No.435 August 16, 2018

Dust on your cigars?

A cigar question we haven’t discussed for some time is that of the “white spots” on your cigars.

The last blog I wrote on this subject was in 2001.
But the question arose on 2 occasions in the shop recently – time to talk again.

These “white spots” are probably the sign of approval that the cigars have been well made and are ageing nicely. They are the resultant phenomenon of the chemical reaction of the natural oils in the wrapper of the cigar being released through the pores of the leaf into the air, where they dry out into very light spots.
They are tasteless and odourless.
They have no effect on the cigar other than their visibility.
They are Bloom (or Plume) and can be left on, or wiped off with a soft cloth or brush before smoking.
Shine a light on them and they sometimes shimmer, which is why they are also called crystals.
The white spots may indicate that this is the right time to smoke the cigar.

Mould (mold)
Bloom must not be confused with mould (mold) which is a fungal growth resulting from the cigar being stored in excessive warmth and humidity.
Mould is detectable by its “fuzzy” appearance, which can be grey, blue grey or blue green in colour.
When removed it leaves a stain and a mouldy smell.
It can appear on the wrapper or on the filler, showing on the foot of the cigar.

Should you find a case of mould in your cigars you need to take action and treat it seriously.
Isolate the cigars with mould and, to be absolutely safe, destroy them.
There are a multiplicity of moulds, some of which can be harmful to human beings.
Even if dried out they will still taste and smell mouldy.
Why take the chance?

Put the clean cigars in an airtight container without any humidification as they will already be over humidified.
Clean out your humidor with isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol, surgical spirits, etc.) to destroy any mould spores left in the humidor.
Let the humidor air for a day or two then re-humidify it.
Reload the cigars, leaving spaces for air to circulate.

To virtually guarantee a non-recurrence of mould convert your humidification to a Nano bead system, and keep the humidor in a cool place.

You may have missed last month’s offer, so we’re repeating it:

From 23 August to 5 September, 2018
25% off the normal price of  CIGAR brand humidifier brand Humidifiers
Normal prices from R186.60

In 2001 there was no Nano technology!
An innovator in humidification products Cigarmony LLC was formed in the United States in 2005, and was granted a patent for this humidification technology only in 2012.

You and your cigars are living in a fortunate era!

Colin Wesley

No.435 August 16-29, 2018

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No.436 August 30, 2018

Estate pipes – next collection

How and why?
Here is the quote I have used before, because it says it all, plain and simple:
A Refurbished Estate Pipe is just a pre-smoked pipe.
Because they’re used, all these pipes are likely to sport a few small dings, a few teeth marks, bowl edges slightly out of round, etc. – but in most cases their condition is the same as a new pipe would be after a few smokes.
The beauty of these pipes is that you can buy a gorgeous, brand name pipe with history, for much less than a new pipe! And the pipe is ready for you to smoke straight away.

Pricing - where possible, and practical, this is how we go about it:
Unsmoked pipes. which have just needed to be buffed and refreshed, up to between 50% and 60% of the current retail price.
Lightly smoked, in very good condition with original mouthpieces, which have been sterilised, buffed and cleaned up, at between 40% and 50% of the current price.
Well smoked, in good condition, possibly with replacement mouthpieces, given the full refurbishment treatment, are priced at between anything up to 40% of the current price.
Pipes from brands which are unknown to us or which have not been in production for some years, we estimate prices from what we can see and judge by comparative pipes.

A point to bear in mind is that very few of these pipes are fitted with Teflon pegs to hold 6mm or 9mm “filters”. But they can all use Keystone Lava bowl pellets (or other bowl filters), to absorb extra moisture and not leave a soggy dottle (saving you tobacco at the same time).

Here are a few highlights from this latest collection of refurbished pipes.

The youngest of them was produced in 2014, the oldest in 1945.
Imagine how many smokes this craggy old Shell briar has delivered – and is still ready to offer more.
In between these dates the two faded Bruyere pipes are outstanding. The only reason to have originally concealed these attractive grains by the colour must have been that from a distance the distinctive Dunhill burgundy colour would be more noticeable than the grains.
All the others, as usual, warrant serious consideration.

The Loewe is another beautiful example of English pipe craftsmanship of the 1950s. Hall marked silver bands were only fitted to the best briar.
You can ignore the hairline crack on the rim of the bowl, there are many smokes left in this pipe

From Savinelli, the Dry System, which is in pristine condition, makes an imaginative use of the popular 320 shape. The other pipes are all fine examples of the Italian style in pipe manufacture – little tweaks to classic shapes and finishes.

Then there is the Larsen – this pipe has to be one of the best examples I have come across of man using his instinctive imagination to take a phenomenon of nature and create such a beautiful, practical piece of art as this. The more you look at it, and handle it, the more you will appreciate it.

The Mattner pipes - still remembered by older pipesmokers, and now appreciated by the younger group.
Mr Willie Mattner’s pipes were always under-priced, and so they still are, even the Calabash.

The Riseagle – made in France, really intrigued me.
Its immediate impact was its overall elegance and balance in the hand.
The quality of the wood in the bowl was good, some nice Birdseye and cross grain, with no apparent flaws.  I liked the neat trim to the rim of the bowl, and the very gentle taper to the longish mouthpiece.
Then the final touch that convinced me that this pipe was not just a run of the mill pipe, the sliced aluminium tube in the shank.
I googled the name – the pipe was indeed made in France. The factory was founded in the 19th Century and joined the English Oppenheimer group in 1906. This allowed it to blossom, producing 4.8 million pipes and bowls in 1917.  The factory continued to supply bowls to the Oppenheimer group until it stopped production in 1945.

Amongst the rest of the pipes you will find a few Peterson, Keyser, Byford pipes.

The pipes are all in Johannesburg Head Office, available through any Wesley’s shop via an email request direct to head office (cg@wesleys.co.za).
Or buy online through the website.
An email, or online order, (for delivery or collection) may be the quickest and most certain way to secure your choice.

Collection Preview:

The collection will be on our website from September 7, 2018.
Make sure you are on our database – go now to Sweepstakes Entry to submit your details.
Because if you are, we will email you a link for a special preview on 5 and 6 September.

You are not in the market for any additional pipes!
What about indulging in some DIY on your old favourites. Here’s how: step-by-step instructions.

 Colin Wesley

No.436 August 30 to September 12, 2018

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No.437 September 13, 2018

Creating in harmony

In the world of, and in the making of, a premium cigar much emphasis is made of nature and natural products.
But it is more than just this.
It is the working in harmony, with respect to the elements and the products involved, that makes a good cigar.
From the beginning the best, appropriate* seeds are planted in the trays in the hot houses.
*The seed must be right for the terroir – soil and climate.
The best, strongest seedlings are transplanted into the fields.
The plants grow quickly under the watchful eyes of the farmers.
If wrapper leaf is to be produced, artificial shade may be created by covering the whole field with shade cloth.
In due course, the primed (hand-picked) leaves are hung on rails to dry in natural conditions.
(Except in instances where air conditioning has been installed to optimise and regulate this process.)
During the natural fermentation period, the rotation of the leaves in the burros, or bulks, and the temperature are carefully monitored.
The stripping and sorting of the leaves is only done by experienced hands, and then passed onto the blenders.
Again great care is taken in the selection of leaves to create the taste, physical construction, combustion and draw of the cigar.
These criteria then apply to the roller who puts them all together in harmony with each other.
Consistency in this department can take years, as rollers specialise in rolling specific diameters.
Rollers do not normally chop and change from slim to large and back again to slim ringsizes.
They concentrate on one or the other.

Quick fingers and sharp eyes sort the cigars into colours before they are passed on to have the appropriate band fitted. They make sure it is not glued to the wrapper which could then be damaged when the band is removed.
The packers see that the bands are all neatly lined up against each other, and that all the cigars in each layer are the same colour.
The boxes are then date stamped, sealed with a certificate of authenticity for country of origin, and sent to be stored for the required time before being released into cigar shops and then into your hands.

So when next you are looking at cigars, either the ones in your humidor or those in your favourite cigar shop, give thanks to those people who have worked tirelessly and diligently, to create them.
It is said that more than 300 hands have been involved in the production of a single cigar.
No wonder they are still considered the world’s most affordable true luxury product.
Select carefully and enjoy them.

Walnut finish 50-cigar humidor
Now it is up to you to store them under optimum conditions.                                  
Start with a good-looking wooden humidor, well-constructed from the appropriate natural products.
Prepare it – most important is to raise the internal relatively humidity to 70% (at about 70°F/21.1°C)

Top quality cigar humidors like Alfred Dunhill The White Spot or Savinelli are completely handmade from carefully selected woods. The high standard of craftmanship required in this task defines their cost. They should be judged against their objective performance, to preserve perfectly one of the world's most affordable luxuries - fine cigars.
Budget Humidors - from the Far East, are lower priced and they have achieved an acceptable standard.

With the development of the Nano bead humidification system one can set up a technically perfect humidor for around R2000.
Now even less, because we have Walnut finish 50-cigar humidors on offer: 6 only!

From 20 September to 3 October, 2018
25% off the normal price of humidor 73-J2055
Normal price R1608.99

Prepare your budget for one and take advantage.
You, and your cigars, deserve it.

Colin Wesley

No.437 September 13-26, 2018

PS – the next size in Hedon cigars has arrived: The Savant Grand Robusto (150mm x Ring 52)
The strongest cigar in the Hedon range, with a light aromatic aftertaste that comes from our specific French terroir.

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No.438 September 27, 2018

Small and neat

Sounds good, but why have I chosen these words as a heading to this blog?
Because alternative synonymous words, could be “compact and uncluttered”.

These words precisely describe the Roley, Rollkiss or Vest Pocket pipe.
The pipes are small enough to fit into any jacket, trouser or shirt pocket, especially since the mouthpiece swivels around to form a link continuing the roundness of the pipe.
No jutting extension from the bowl, to snap off or dig you in the rump or ribs.

The shape was originally designed to fit the waistcoat or jacket pocket, without forming an unsightly bulge.
They were part of the range of such manufacturers as Comoy, Butz Choquin, Brebbia, and H.Simmons (Burlington Arcade). They have a relatively small bowl capacity, suitable for a short “interval” smoke.
Dunhill designed a very neat oval pipe called “Evening Dress” or “Dress” pipe – black with an “ivory” ring.
The Dunhill White Spot Opera pipe was a similar shape.
See the Root Briar Shape 327 in the Refurbished (Estate Pipes) Selection.

A less obvious attribute of this unique pipe is that some of them have a built-in, efficient, moisture trap below where the peg fits into the bowl. This collects excess moisture in the same way as the Marca Dry or the Savinelli Dry System pipes.

Savinelli Roley Pocket pipe For many years we have been buying the “Roley” version of this pipe
which comes from Savinelli

“Rollkiss” pipesRecently, from a different Italian manufacturer,
we were offered a mixed box of 12 similar “Rollkiss” pipes.

Eight of these are classic Roley-type shapes in different finishes,
the other four have extended mouthpieces creating a pendulum look to the pipe.
While the four with extended mouthpieces are definitely not pocket pipes, they are nevertheless quaintly elegant.


Just think, when you’re out and about, how comforting it would be to have a compact little Rollkiss tucked away in your pocket.
Surely worth a place in any pipe collection.

Here’s some help:

From 4 - 17 October, 2018
25% off the normal price of Rollkiss pipes, and the Savinelli Roley
Normal prices from R695.00

If you feel you could use a real “slip-in-the-pocket” pipe move quickly, they won’t last long on sale.

Colin Wesley

PS  If the Roley/Rollkiss shape doesn’t really appeal to you but you would like a compact, uncluttered pipe, take a look at the Marca Snug pipe. It is the smallest “pocket” pipe with 6mm Teflon Tenon filter option.

No.438 September 27 to October 10, 2018

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No.439 October 11, 2018

Lighting Up

What a pleasure – to sit outside in the cool of the evening and enjoy a cigar or a bowlful of a favourite pipe tobacco – without being wrapped up like a mummy.

You are eager 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.

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.If the cigar is not burning evenly, it could be a fault in the rolling but, more likely, lighting up was not thorough, or maybe you were in a draughty place. Try rotating the cigar while gently re-lighting the non-burning area. You may even need to cut off a centimetre or so – better than struggling for the rest of the cigar

What do you use to put this into practice - lighting options:

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 begin to enjoy one of life’s great luxuries.
Wooden spill or match: Preferably a cedar spill, or a match thicker than normal (maybe use two). Light your cigar as you would using a normal gas lighter, but to avoid a sulphurous first puff allow the initial flash on lighting the match to finish before applying the flame to the foot of the cigar.
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: - 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.

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

With the smoking regulations as they are, you may prefer a Turbo lighter ……..

From 18 to 31 October, 2018
25% off the Turbo, 3-jet lighters with built-in punch:  55-EJ046, 55-EJ047
Normal price R423.88

The earliest Turbo lighters were just like a modified blow torch.
I remember watching a cigar salesman in a Swiss cigar shop waving around a large canister (the lighter) firing an amazing jet flame in front of the cigar as if he were welding the foot together.
As usual, things have been refined.

We have chosen the 3-jet flame models for this special – 2 colour options.
The 3 jets form a triangle offering a broad area for easy lighting, thus avoiding the danger of a single jet piercing through the foot up into the body of the cigar.
The built-in punch in the lid is a bonus.

Prepare your budget for one and take advantage.
You, and your cigars, deserve it.

Colin Wesley

No.439 October 11-24, 2018

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