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No.445 February 12, 2019



The first Stanwell article on our blog was in June 2006. (No 140)
I can’t think why it took so long for these great pipes to be featured.

We started our blog in 2001 and had been associated with Stanwell for many years before then.
Read previous articles on Stanwell in our Library, Subject Index.

Over the years the management of the Stanwell brand has changed, and today it is, and has been for a few years, a member of the Scandinavian Tobacco Group based in Denmark.
The pipes are now made in Italy, but the shapes and quality are no different from the original Danish models.

Throughout all these management changes the original ethos of the company founded by Poul Stanwell (original name Nielson) back in the early 1940s, has not been lost.
They have always produced quality pipes with a touch of Danish flair in the shapes.
By being innovative and introducing new machinery and products pertaining to the world of pipe smoking they have been able to keep their prices competitive and within the range affordable to most pipe smokers;
both new and older hands in the fraternity, who enjoy the overall comfort and fellowship of pipe smoking.

Since becoming part of the Scandinavia tobaccos Group some rationalisation of the whole range of Stanwell pipes has taken place. This has made it more manageable to offer a consistent selection of “best sellers” to their retail customers while still leaving the opportunity for them to buy something different every now and then.
It also means though, that we are not always able to fill in the missing shapes from the ranges we like to offer.

We have to put up with the situation because it is worth it to be able to offer the interesting, comfortable shapes, and excellent quality pipes to you.

Every September, at the InterTabac Trade show in Dortmund, the Stanwell stand showcases new releases for the following years.

Stanwell de Luxe - Light black satin finish
Stanwell Black & White black SatinWe’ve taken advantage in the past to introduce

the Black & White (left)

and the Army Mount (right)

Fortunately we have been able to replace the sold shapes from our chosen range.

Stanwell pipe ashtrayAnd this year we were sent six free branded Stanwell pipe ashtrays, with a built-in pipe rest.


So here is an offer…….

February 6 -19, 2019
25% off the normal price of Stanwell pipes.
Normal prices from  R1495.00
The first 6 pipes sold will include a free Stanwell branded pipe ashtray

Danish design pipes are special.
They are different.
They look great and are a delight to handle.

And, most important, Stanwell pipes offer a really cool dry smoke.

Don’t you think it’s time you added a Stanwell pipe to your collection?

Colin Wesley

No.445 January 30 – February 12, 2019

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


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No.446 February 14-27, 2019

Montecristo – The Iconic Cuban Cigar.

Surprisingly so because it is one of the younger Cuban brands.

Debuted in 1935 soon after Alonso Menendez bought the H.Upmann factory, the name was said to have been taken from the title of the book The Count of Monte Cristo which had been read to the rollers. This had fascinated Alonso – he just put the two words together creating the name Montecristo.
It was established as a “super-premium” brand of 5 sizes by the Menéndez and González families. "Apparently everybody had an opinion on what to call the vitolas of Montecristo, and Señor Menendez got tired of it,” says Angel Pereira, a historian who is researching a book on the various Cuban cigar brands, “So he decided just to call them 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5”.

Montecristo Logo
Two independent sources claim that the logo (6 crossed rapiers around the name and a Fleur-de-lis) was designed by a director of Hunters, the English cigar merchant in London, when they acquired the brand for the UK.

It is said that one of the secrets of the brand’s success is the way the Ligero leaf, used in the filler, is stored for a period in selected cedar wood boxes.
This, combined with a special technique of putting the filler together, creates the famous tangy taste.

Within a few years the factory, employing 1.100 people became the largest factory in Cuba, and Montecristo No.4 became, and remained until recently, Cuban’s biggest selling single cigar in the world.
It has now been surpassed by Partagas Serie D No.4, not really surprising given the growing popularity of the Robusto size over the last 25 years.
What has been surprising has been the reluctance of Montecristo to follow this trend with its own true Robusto (124mm x Ring 50). This was only offered in two Limited Editions: the 1998 Millennium glass jar and again in 2000 as an Edition Limitada.

But having no classic Robusto does not mean Montecristo is short on size selection.
The classic Coronas Nos. 1, 3, 4, 5 are supported by the two Pyramids: No.2 and Petit No.2.
The three large ringsize vitolas Edmundo (135mm x Ring 52), Double Edmundo (155mm x Ring 50) and the “nub” Petit Edmundo (110mm x Ring 52) are almost considered a brand on their own.
All these sizes are headed up by the largest cigar made on a regular basis in Cuba, the Montecristo A (235mm x Ring 47). At the other end we have the stocky Media Corona (90mm x Ring 44).

Nor were the Montecristo blenders blind to the fact that with the increasing number of younger people joining the mature cigar fraternity, along with the indoor smoking restrictions becoming more restrictive, a new lighter blend ideally suited for outdoor smoking was needed.
To meet this need Montecristo Open was launched at the Habana’s Festival in 2006.
The naming of the individual cigars is highlighted with golf terminology such as a Master or an Eagle, and the brand was launched with an “Open” Golf tournament, played on the Island, with Ernie Els as the guest of honour.
Today we have:
Open Eagle – 149mm x Ring 54 – a bit larger than the Montecristo Edmundo
Open Regata – 135mm x Ring 49 – the Pyramid shape, the smallest we know of, even smaller than a Bolivar Belicosos.
Open Junior – 110mm x Ring 38 – a variation on the Half Corona size
Open Master – 124mm x Ring 50 – the first true Robusto made by Montecristo – at last!

What more can you ask for from the famous, highly-respected brand from Cuba?
Non-Cuban Montecristos are another story, for another time.

An article I read recently advised that it may be counter-productive to put fresh cigars directly into your humidor. The stored cigars should be in perfect 70/70 condition, and it is best to condition the new cigars independently before adding them to the humidor.
Maybe you need another humidor to supplement your present one?

Talking of humidors we have 3 very interesting items:

High polish Palisander and Ebony Humidor73-J3411 R5950.00  less 25%                     
High polish Palisander and Ebony Humidor with lock for 80 cigars.    25x37,5x18cm; Domed lid with bevelled glass, Brass handgrips, Tray, 3 divisions, Humidifier in lower division, Visible Hygrometer.    
We have waited nearly 4 years for a replacement hygrometer for this humidor. We took the original hygrometer for a customer who had damaged the hygrometer in his humidor. The price of R5950.00 dates back to April 2013 when the Euro was R11.90, and Vat was 14%!

HumidorIn October 2018 we imported 2 stunning black humidors, for 100 cigars, with tray, lock, glass top, and hand grips. 38 x 27 x 18cm                      73-J3153 R4650.00 less 40%
Unfortunately the factory packed the humidors before the finish was completely dry.
The result is several blemishes on the surface of the frame of the lid, see details.
The blemishes are visible when the light catches them, and will hopefully wear away with use.
We offer an inviting 40% discount on these two humidors.

I was amazed when a customer looking at the Dunhill White Spot Humidors in the shop commented that one did not close as easily as the others. But he was right. The lid overlaps the front edge by barely 0.5mm, inside and out. See the detail for a closer look

Dunhill White Spot Amboya Humidor73-DHHS7523 R18000.00 – one only, now R6000.00Dunhill White Spot Amboya Humidor

From the outside you can barely notice it.
From the inside you become aware that the lid needs to be gently nudged into place.
We received a substantial discount, and a suggestion that we use the humidor for functions.
But we thought we would rather offer it to you - at the special price of R6000.00. Obviously one only!

As our normal offer – you might like to include one of these walnut humidors for your cigar storage or pre-storage conditioning:

From 21 February to 6 March, 2019
25% off Humidor 73-J1273
Walnut Tactile-Deco Humidor; 25-30 cigars, 105x260x220mm
Normal Price R1910.00

When next you smoke a Montecristo, reflect on the story behind it, and appreciate it all the more.
And maybe one of these humidors will be a perfect resting place for your cigars.

Colin Wesley

No.446 February 14-27, 2019

You can read previous articles from “Across the Counter” in the Library of Archived Articles.Top

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No.447 February 28 – March 13, 2019

Pipes deserve responsibility

The first responsibility lies with the manufacturers.
The main objective of any pipe manufacturer is to produce a pipe that will give a cool, dry, smoke. That’s it, nothing more, nothing less.
If however he wishes to embellish the pipe with an attractive mouthpiece with all the trimmings of bright shiny rings or inlaid logos that’s fine – but not at the expense of cleaning and curing the briar.
They may influence a prospective buyer to choose such a pipe over other plainer models.

The next responsibility is that of the retailer. His responsibility is to keep the pipe in pristine condition and to be able to explain the benefits of each pipe to his customers. This is not always easy especially when justifying price differences. Pointing out good hard wood and soft wood or surface flaws is often enough to satisfy most people.
A sound knowledge of the whole pipe making process, and how the finishes are created, will convince a prospective buyer that he is in the right shop.

The next and final responsibility comes with you when you buy the pipe.
To really enjoy your pipes for a long time, you need to keep the pipe clean and dry from smoke number one, and every smoke thereafter.
That’s your only responsibility!
Yes, after every smoke you will need to remove any ash and tobacco left in the bottom of the bowl, insert a pipe cleaner into the mouthpiece while everything cools down, then remove the mouthpiece and wipe the peg.
As the life of the pipe matures you will need the tools to ream and clean the bowl thoroughly, control any oxidisation in the mouthpiece, and loosen up and remove any residue that tends to build up in the shank and smoke channel through the mouthpiece.

You don’t want to have this happen to any of your pipes:
A badly oxidised mouthpiece – dark green-grey in colour and very bitter in taste. (Needs a polish.)

Or a hole in the base of the bowl – maybe from twisting the pipe cleaner too enthusiastically
Pipe damage - hole in the base of the bowl

– or even more likely caused by using a sharp-pointed knife to clean and ream. (Can be plugged.)

And the rim of the pipe worn away from knocking on a hard surface?  (Find a softer surface.)

Pipe damageWorse, look at this next bowl
- insufficiently reamed, possibly not reamed at all.
Briar has the densest, hardest grain of any known wood – which is why you can make a fire inside it and it won’t burn easily. Build up a carbon lining to insulate the bowl (or “cake the bowl” as they say in the States) and your pipe will last for many years. But if you don’t maintain the thickness of the carbon at about 1mm to 2mm, you can have a disaster in the making.
The carbon and wood don’t expand and contract to the same extent or at the same rate, and the carbon may crack allowing the heat of the burning tobacco to char the bowl. And not even the thickest bowl can withstand the pressure from expanding rock-hard carbon.  (Here you have the disaster.)

To convert these chores into a pleasant habit you need the correct tools.

So what tools are available?

Every time you smoke:
A pipe knife or gadget with a rounded tip, a sharp edge is a bonus.
Pipe cleaners - all shapes and sizes: Extra thick, Extra thin, Extra long, Extra scrubbing power (Bristle);

Periodically – Clean the inside of the whole stem with Pipe Spray or Fluid (and bristle cleaners), wipe the peg.

  • A clean bowl (in fact the whole inside of the stem too) will give you a true, clean smoke.
  • A clean peg will slide easily in and out of the shank, preventing a broken peg or cracked shank.
  • A clean mouthpiece will prevent the bitter taste which comes through natural oxidation.

Keeping the carbon under control – a Reamer;
The Buttner-type is fine for regular light reaming;
For normal maintenance choose from
Senior Reamer – adjustable blades for most bowl sizes;
Swiss Pipnet – 4 reaming heads each with 4 carbon steel blades
Pipeclean “S” – 4 reaming heads with steel blades

Protect the rim of the bowl when knocking out – think about a cork knocker.

To encourage you to complete your “tool box” we offer 25% discount on any pipe tool – Knives,
Gadgets, Reamers, Pipe Spray, Cork Knocker – and we’ll throw in a bundle of bristle pipe cleaners for good measure;

Be responsible, tick off which you have and then consider the rest.

So here is an offer…….

March 7 - 20, 2019
25% off the normal price of Pipe Tools.
Knives, Gadgets, Reamers, Pipe Spray, Cork Knocker
15% off Dunhill Pipe Tools
AND a free pack of 10 bristle pipe cleaners

Be serious and take care of your pipes so that you will enjoy a long association.

Colin Wesley

No.447 February 28 – March 13, 2019

You can read previous articles from “Across the Counter” in the Library of Archived Articles.


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No.448 March 14 - 27, 2019

Cigars for all Tastes

Some small, some large and some NEW.

This was my overall impression when I skimmed through the latest list of Cuban cigars available to you all – spoilt for choice one might say. Let’s take a look at some offerings.

Some small – hand rolled, long filler cigars for when time is short.

Le Hoyo De Député (110x38)
The smallest of the 3 Le Hoyo cigars launched in the 1940s, in slide top cabinets of 25.
This cigar is not to be taken lightly, it punches way above its size. Probably brought back to fill a gap in the demand for a powerful smaller size cigar, but not with a 50 plus ringsize.

Rafael Gonzales Perlas (102x40)
Perla is the Vitola de Galera (factory name) for the size and shape commonly known as Half Corona.
Reputed to have been launched as a new Cuban Vitola in 1992.
Names aside, under the R.G.brand this is bound to be of a good quality but may need to be laid down for a while before smoking.
Probably worth more than its price – you decide.

Romeo y Julieta Petit Julieta (102x30)
We haven’t seen these for some time. They will surely be welcomed back by the Romeos and some Julietas in need of a gentle, handmade, senorita-size smoke in their favourite brand.
The late Theo Rudman described it as possibly the best made cigar of this size.
Good reviews all round.

Cuaba Divinos (101x43)
Launched in 1996 the Cuaba range of Perfecto Figurado cigars heralded the revival of one of Cubas original shapes, pointed at both ends. This shape was so complicated to roll that it had virtually become extinct by the 1940’s
The relaunch in 1996 was limited to the UK market, then, as the production increased, the cigars were offered worldwide.
The smoking experience is quite unique. Starting as very mild through the combination at first of only the binders and wrappers, the taste blossoms as the filler comes into play, and as it it burns up to the thickest point and then on down to the end. An extraordinary cigar.

Jose L Piedra Petit Cazadores (105x43)
Always known as a budget, value brand – the cigars are100% hand-made, with short filler tobaccos from the Remedios area. Over the years the quality has steadily improved to be accepted for what it is.
Nothing pretentious - ideal for casual smoking, especially outdoors.

Some large when you have time to settle down and really appreciate the cigar.  

Partagas Lusitania (194x49)
Revived - this classic Double Corona is making a comeback following the demand for a bigger cigar in this popular brand.
Schedule a good 2 hours to enjoy it; don’t short change yourself by rushing it.

Some new – always something different to try.

Armorosos is the factory name of a new large vitola in the Habanos formal range, a robusto extra.
It was launched during the 20th annual Festival del Habanos in Lebanon, September 2018, in the Le Hoyo range as:
Le Hoyo Rio Seco (140x56)
Its size allows for a very complex blend – the blender’s dream, and the smoker’s appreciation.
Now available worldwide it should appeal to those who enjoy the Epicure No 2, but would like a little more.

Quai D’ Orsay – two new vitolas
No.50 (110x50) Vitola de Galera (factory name) Alma
No.54 (133x54) Vitola de Galera (factory name) Gourmet
Named after the famous bridge in the City of Bridges, Quai d’Orsay was launched in Paris in 1970 (at the request of the French President), for France only.
The call was for a light, mild blend ideally suited, for an “anytime” smoke. Now only the Corona Claro remains.
However the cigars in the 2017 launch (appropriately in Paris) have a darker leaf and, especially the two larger vitolas, are likely to have more body.
It is said that the brand smokes better with a clean palate, not after a hearty full meal.
These criteria and comments might well apply to the original, smaller ringsize cigars in the brand, but the new blend and sizes are likely to be different.
The pricing may tempt you to find out for yourself.

As well as these highlights there are many favourites available,
Click here for a pricelist.

I repeat “spoilt for choice”

Whichever cigar you choose, remember the rule about lighting – hold the cigar at an angle above (not in) the flame, taking care not to char (braai) the foot of the cigar.
Although a Turbo is useful outdoors in inclement weather, a normal gas flame is best, and easiest to control.
Relatively new to the market is a neat, slim, metal flint gas lighter from Clipper – the angled flame makes it easy to “hold the cigar at an angle”.
Suitable for cigars and pipe (good for those who enjoy the pleasures of both).
No troubles with the lighters at all so far, and the price won’t trouble you either.

From 21 March to 3 April, 2019
25% off Clipper lighter: 55-CLPipe
Slim  metal flint lighter with angled flame – for cigars or pipes
Normal Price R165.00

We’re always looking to add to your smoking pleasure

Colin Wesley

No.448 March 14 - 27, 2019

You can read previous articles from “Across the Counter” in The Archives Library.Top

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No.449 March 28 to April 10, 2019

Meerschaum – what’s that?          

The mere word “Meerschaum”, literal translation “sea foam” (which it isn’t), has a ring of mystery and romance to it, which the words “hydrous magnesium silicate” (which it is) do not have.
Add to this the fact that the best and largest deposits of meerschaum are found in Turkey, where mystery and intrigue have been a part of the country’s history, has added to the acceptance of this false romantic identification.

Identification aside, the allure of meerschaum would not still be prevalent in today’s “scientific” age, if meerschaum did not provide the opportunity for craftsmen to produce smoking pipes with the highest standards for a cool, dry, smoke: the ultimate aim of all pipe makers.

Meerschaum does this and more.
Not only is it light in weight and porous, it is considered to be the most neutral when considering the influence the bowl of a pipe can have on the taste of burning tobacco. The taste in a meerschaum pipe is the taste the tobacco blender conceived.
Meerschaum pipes require very little “breaking in”, are easy to keep clean, never  need to be reamed, and with care can outlast most briar pipes: the total benefits for a pipe smoker become obvious.

Meerschaum comes out of the ground in large lumps, similar to the briar burls. As with the briar burls the lumps are cleaned and then divided up into rough pipe shaped blocks.
The blocks are graded by size, colour and the uniformity of the porous density of the block.
These criteria have scales of excellence, and a block with overall high marks will produce a pipe which will sell for the same price as the highest graded briar pipe.

The lower scoring blocks may be used for other pipes depending on where their lowest scores were.
A light, porous block with surface imperfections will be used for hand carving heads or lattice work.
On overweight block will be used for bent or half bent shapes.
Small blocks may be turned into thimble like cones and fitted into briar bowls – meerschaum-lined pipes.

The final finishing of a meerschaum is a dipping into a mixture of molten beeswax and oils, but only on the outside of the pipe. After drying out a gentle polishing brings out the glowing finish and soft feel of the pipe.
A pleasure to both hand and eye.

The Lucite mouthpieces are usefully fitted with a Teflon peg that slides into a sheath which is screw-fitted into the shank.
Points of caution – when you push in, or pull out, the mouthpiece do this with a clockwise twisting action.
This will ensure that the screw fitting of the sheath in the shank will remain steadfast, not loosening up and wearing away the thread of the shank.

We offer meerschaum pipes from Turkey via our German distributer, pipes direct from the Austrian meerschaum producer, and the last of our Meerschaum-lined pipes from Lorenzo.
For more about smoking and cleaning click here, or visit the list of articles in the Archives subject index.

There are many reasons for having a meerschaum pipe in your collection.
Lightness – no strain on your teeth;
Power of absorption – a dry smoke and no soggy dottle;
Length of life – indefinite, provided you don’t drop it on concrete or tiles;
The purity of tobacco flavours achieved by this rare mineral – meerschaum has a neutral taste;
Cleaning is simple - just scrape out the bowl with a blunt tool or the back of your pipe knife blade.
Since there is no build-up of carbon in the bowl, you can smoke a size smaller than usual.

We would like to give you another good reason right now.

For the period April 4 - 17, 2019 we offer:
25% off the normal prices of our Meerschaum range.
Turkish Meerschaums; Austrian Meerschaums; Meerschaum-lined pipes
Prices from R595.00

The numbers in each group are limited so your decision of yes or no should not be delayed, or you may be disappointed if yours was a “yes” answer.

Colin Wesley

No.449 March 28 to April 10, 2019

You can read previous articles from “Across the Counter” in The Archives Library.Top