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No.450 April 11, 2019

Cohiba – The Best of the Best from Cuba.

The facts and some hype – it’s a lovely story.

After the Revolution Fidel Castro, who had reneged on his promise to establish a Democratic Government, had a personal bodyguard/driver who smoked long, slim cigars made by a friend.
These cigars caught Castro’s attention so he asked for one, smoked it, enjoyed it, and asked for more.
He started dishing these out to his fellow militia creating the image that long, slim cigars were part and parcel of the Revolution.
The cigars were not for sale.
Fidel sent the cigars as free gifts to cigar smoking leaders in Mexico, Panama, Egypt and Yugoslavia, and gave them to distinguished visiting personalities.
One had to know Fidel Castro personally to receive these cigars.

The bodyguard’s friend, Rivera, was soon instructed to start an elite, small factory to produce these special, nameless cigars, with the distinctive pigtail head.
To speed up this special project, the story goes that Riviera moved his production to the small El Laguito factory, where the long slim Montecristo Especial cigars were being made, also with pigtail heads.
The rollers, all women, were sworn to secrecy about this move, with severe consequences if the secret became common knowledge. This led to the mistaken rumours that the cigars to be rolled were nothing more the Montecristo Especials with different bands.
This was definitely not the case, revealed people in the know at that time.
Rivera and Avelino Lara, a Government-appointed great cigar maker, had scoured the best tobacco farms in Cuba looking for the tobaccos they needed to create this new blend, to be named “Cohiba”.
The best of the best”.

(Incidentally the word Cohiba is literally the word for tobacco in Taino, the language of the indigenous people of Cuba)

Riviera and Lara ended up with tobaccos from 10 undisclosed farms, which to this day are still secret.
They also experimented with, and introduced, a third fermentation to the process of manufacture.
This time-consuming exercise improved the smooth taste and further reduced nicotine and impurities from the cigars.

The mystery and mystique attached to Cohiba brand cigars had begun: “the best of the best”

By the time the cigars came onto the world market in 1982, at Duty Free shops and in Spain, the demand was overwhelming.
However as cigar smoking was developing worldwide, the demand was dropping for long slim cigars, which are not easy to smoke.
In 1989 when Cohiba went worldwide they added 3 new vitolas; Robusto, Exquisitos and Esplendido.
The market wanted still more Cohibas, and in 1992 the opportunity came with the collapse of the Cuban agreement with the Swiss company Davidoff.
This left a gap in Cuban production.
But 1992 also marked 500 years of Cuban cigars. What better way to celebrate this milestone than with a new range of Cohiba cigars?
The Linea 1492, commonly called the Siglo series was the answer. (Siglo is the Spanish word for century.)
The Siglo I, II, III, IV replaced the four Davidoff Vitolas and Siglo V was added.

In 2002 the new century required a new Siglo.
Siglo VI joined the series with its majestic dimensions of 150mm x Ring 52, a great big cigar with great success.
The Cohiba momentum was still going strong.

In 2007 the Maduro 5 was launched with Secretos (110mm x Ring 40), Magicos (115mm x Ring52) and Genios (140mm x Ring 52).
Usually Maduro leaf is achieved by curing at a higher temperature.
The Cohiba sports a 5 year matured Maduro wrapper.
(Maduro is the Spanish word for “ripe” most appropriate)
These were followed by several Special Editions and Edition Limitadas to spice up the brand.
And more – to follow in 4 weeks.

All premium cigars, whether they are Cohibas or not, deserve to be carried in appropriate style when you venture out.

From 18 April to 1 May, 2019
25% off cigar cases from Spain or India
15% off Dunhill “The White Spot” cigar cases.
Normal Prices from R604.76

As with most true luxury goods Cohiba is a target to be counterfeited.
And it is, more so than any other cigar brand.

Don’t be tempted – if the price of that Esplendido or Robusto looks too good to be true it probably is.
Settle for a genuine Siglo I and enjoy “the best of the best”.

Colin Wesley

No.450 April 11-24, 2019

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No.451 April 25, 2019

2019 - the year so far

Here we are in the last few days of April – the 4th month of the year.
So what have we, at Wesley’s, done in these 4 months to make pipe smoking more interesting and enjoyable for our customers?

Well, we were in Germany by the end of January visiting one of our suppliers in Augsburg.
The countryside was covered in deep snow making the field look clean and tidy.
In the villages all the rooftops were blanketed with white duvets of snow neatly tucked in around the edges, all very picturesque.
Not much for our traditional pipe smokers from this source except for a 4 piece reamer in two qualities:
Good: Pipeclean “S” – 4 reaming heads with steel blades, 
and Very Good Swiss Pipnet – 4 reaming heads each with 4 carbon steel blades.
Either of these would make the necessary reaming less of a chore, so that it might be done more regularly avoiding a bowl-threatening crack. (And see what we found from Savinelli, below)
Keep this in mind when you next look at your pipes.

Most of the other products we bought there were accessories for our new cannabis market – Grinders, Bongs and Water pipes. All bright and trendy, making a visible difference in Wesley’s Rosebank and many other Tobacconists in South Africa.

From Augsburg, by train, to Milan, where Savinelli would be our main port of call.
We had been informed by Lorenzo that our usual “scrounge-around” visit would not be possible as they
are winding down their factory operation in Albania.
We have been offered more supplies of Lorenzo Dinky and Mini – let’s see what materialises.

Savinelli showed us several new pipes for 2019. We chose three series, which will come later this year, together with the 2019 Collection pipes in both Smooth and Sandblast.
We repeated the Joker and Siena pipes, which have arrived and look stunning – 2 new shapes for you.

Savinelli’s key-shaped stainless steel reamerIn the accessories we liked their new, up-market, very useful, Con Dit Kit packed in a strong, shiny tin, and including the Savinelli reamer. All the cleaning equipment in one place – not scattered and difficult to find. All the cleaning items replaceable.
Also, after many years absence, Savinelli’s key-shaped, calibrated, fully adjustable, sturdy
stainless steel reamer has returned – and only R175.00.

When all the pipes and accessories arrived recently we were delighted to find that our Smooth Capitol Dry System pipes had been supplied in both chestnut brown satin finish and darker brown matt finish.
Together with the Rustic Black finish and the “see it all” light Chiara finish, we have 4 offerings in our Dry System pipes.
Technically the best designed pipes in the market, for a cool dry smoke.
For economic reasons we had to trim the shape availability in some finishes. All the shapes are available but not in all 4 finishes.
With Savinelli settled and Lorenzo not available, we moved into new ground. We visited another pipe factory, not far from Savinelli, that manufactures moderately priced pipes. We liked what we saw but are not yet ready to place orders.

We still have the Lorenzo Giada, Pavia and Filtro pipes for which we have received replacement mouthpieces.
These pipes are selling at discounted prices as in some cases the outer diameters of both the shank and the new mouthpiece are not a perfect match; hardly visible to the eye but sensitive to the touch. These pipes are ideal for rugged outdoor or casual smoking conditions – another scratch won’t matter.
It will be so sad to see them finish.
We also still have Lorenzo Churchwarden, semi-Churchwarden 18cm “Lady” pipes, along with Club, Mini, Dinky pipes which, because they are not filter pipes, don’t have the cracking problem of the 9mm tenon mouthpieces.

Back home on a visit to Cape Town we were very pleasantly surprised to find out that Peterson pipe tobaccos should be available in May: five blends in 50g tins at under R180.00 per tin.
The great reduction in the retail price stems from the fact that the new importer is the agent for the company who manufactures the tobacco, and buys direct from them – eliminating the Peterson link in the chain.

I do hear interesting things “across the counter”
For example we first imported “Snus” as a substitute/alternative for cigarettes when they were not allowed (e-cigs too). It is the most unrestricted alternative to smoking – can be used anywhere, any time.
But I had a lawyer in the shop the other day who said he used snus to keep him alert when working late.
And I see so many cyclists, footballers and other sports people who buy snus in order to maintain their energy levels and focus for longer.

We’d like to continue with the thememake pipesmoking more interesting and enjoyable”.
So we’re offering less 25% on the interesting Savinelli items – Siena, Joker, Dry Systems, Premium Con Dit Kit, and the straightforward, sturdy Savinelli Reamer.

For the period May 2 – 15,  2019 we offer:
25% off the normal prices of our special Savinelli products.
Joker, Siena and Dry System pipes • Premium Con Dit KitSavinelli Reamer

Enjoy your smoking pleasure!

Colin Wesley

No.451 April 25 – to May 8, 2019

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No.452 May 9, 2019

Behike The Best of the Best gets better.

In the world of sport, records are regularly broken.
Sometimes with the benefit of innovation, or by just doing better with what is available and seizing the right moment to put everything together.

Here is the story behind the challenge that faced Habanos in 2006 to make a better, more expensive cigar.

In 2006 Jorge Luis Fernandez (Maique), an official of the Cuban cigar industry for many years was in discussion Carlos Fuente Jr in Paris.
During their discussion Maique was astonished to find out that the most expensive cigar in the world was Fuente Fuente Opus X, from the Dominican Republic.
This was unacceptable to Maique, it had to be a Cuban.

Back home he put the question to Habanos of what to do about this unacceptable situation, and how.
The basic problem was how to break through the reputation created around Cohiba having been created as the best cigar in the world, from “the best of the best” tobaccos available;
and now to develop a better blend from the same 10 farms supplying the tobaccos for Cohiba!
The breakthrough came when, by chance, Maique came across a note regarding a leaf called “Medio Tiempo”. This small leaf which appears at the top of some plants as they reach maturity, is full of flavour and strength.
Most importantly it had never been used, as a separate leaf, in any blend since the Revolution.
The board agreed that the Medio Tiempo leaf could be used as a fourth leaf adding its unique flavour and strength to the usual blend of Seco, Volado and Ligero leaves.
This was a Eureka moment.

But it came with a new problem.
Adding this extra strength to the blend made it necessary to work with larger ringsize cigars in order to even out the balancing of the strength and flavours.
This took time and patience and after 20 attempts the final results were presented to Fidel Castro who had been the heart and soul of the whole Cohiba brand.
To much relief “full approval” was given. (Whether Castro would have smoked such a large ringsize cigar was never confirmed, or denied – it was irrelevant.)
The Behike had arrived and the market loves them.
(The Behike was the name given to the leader in spiritual rituals involving tobacco.)

In 2010 the full line of the Behike was presented: BHK52, BHK54 and BHK56, the names refer to the ringsize.
Since then they have been produced annually in very limited productions, sold in De Luxe boxes of 10.
The thinking behind the creation of the Behike brand bears testimony to the saying in the Cigar World that “the Capitalists in Europe make cigars for the people, while the Communists in Cuba make cigars for the rich Capitalists of the world”.

It was a real win/win situation.
The Cohiba had been a revolutionary design 50 years earlier, the Behike was only an amendment to that design.
This summarises the statement from the Habanos board, as if they needed to justify their decision to produce a cigar that was more expensive than any other Cohiba.
The Behike is the most expensive, regularly produced trio of cigars in the world.
Smiles all round in the Habanos boardroom.

Another thought - to bring a smile to your face, we offer:

From 16 - 29 May, 2019
25% off two special humidors for 25/30 cigars:
73-J2121 Beautiful Burl finish; Normal price R2012.50
73-J1273 Stunning ripple finish; Normal price R1910.00

Two very specially finished cigar humidors to store your precious investment.
Fitted with nano-bead technology humidification systems.

Enjoy them – and the cigars.

Colin Wesley

No.452 May 9-22, 2019

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No.453 May 23, 2019

Spice up your Tobacco

Because he is on our database, and entered the free Sweepstakes, Mr. C from Port Elizabeth was the lucky winner of a free Marca Dry Pipe.
After presenting his winner letter in the Wesley’s shop in Greenacres and selecting his Marca Dry pipe he decided to treat himself to some Wesley’s Houseblend tobaccos.
This time he chose a tobacco different from his regular Full Gold No 46.

Here is his unsolicited, but permission granted, experience with his choice:

I just wanted to thank you and your team for my special prize. I received my letter yesterday morning, and popped in to my Wesley's branch to choose my pipe. I managed to get a pipe different to any within my small collection, and I am grateful for being able to add yet another beautiful pipe to my rotation.
Also, a special thank you to the staff at the Greenacres branch. One always receives friendly service, and it's a pleasurable experience to shop there. 

On a sidenote, I also treated myself to some tobacco within the Wesley's houseblends that I haven't tried before. Amongst others, I got myself some Wesley's Latakia "A" blend.
I have been a regular user of the Wesley's Full Gold blend, and thoroughly enjoy it. After 10 odd years of pipe smoking, it remains a favourite.
However, a short while back I was gifted some Samuel Gawith Commonwealth mixture, and was looking to experiment a little more with Latakia, having really enjoyed the Commonwealth, and not being able to get any Samuel Gawith within PE.
I am happy to say that I find the Wesley's blend to be super enjoyable. I find it to be a little lighter than Commonwealth, and I suspect it would be a blend one would be able to happily smoke throughout the day, which I believe to be an advantage over Commonwealth!
It retains that flavourful and unique Latakia taste, while in my opinion it is very far from being overwhelming, as I suspected might be common within Latakia blends.
Also, I am sure that one could push up its strength a notch by just adding a couple of grams of pure Latakia if one feels the need for something with a little more punch, of which I have also purchased some yesterday.

Latakia A, No 55, is a refined version of our original Latakia blend No 50. The addition of American Burley, Turkish and a little extra Latakia, converted No 50 to a full-flavoured, smoother smoking blend.
Which, as Mr C says, can be happily smoked throughout the day.
Our No 46 Full Gold has a base of aromatic Burley bolstered by dark and light Virginia flakes for natural flavour, Turkish for smoothness, and spiced up with Perique.

Latakia, Turkish and Perique are what are known as Condimental tobaccos.
Click to read more about these and other “Condimental” tobaccos.
And about the history and manufacture of Latakia and Perique;   and how to fine tune your blend.

If you feel like a change you could spice up your usual tobacco with Latakia (pure or in a blend) and Perique (use no.58 Perique Navy Cut; pure Perique does not mix easily).
If you are not familiar with our Wesley’s blends you might like to try one of the “taster” packs:
5 blends (50g) R88.00 or 9 blends (110g) R190.00.

Also available again– Peterson pipe tobacco at R137.50 per 50g tin. Best described as “modern mixtures” – a break from the traditional - mixing natural tobaccos with interesting flavourings for aroma (and taste).

Peterson Blends Tobaccos Flavourings
Connoisseur’s Choice Black Cavendish, Virginia Coffee, Citrus, Rum, Vanilla, Whisky
Irish Cask (was Irish Oak) Burley, Cavendish, Perique, Virginia Citronella, Sherry
Luxury Blend Black Cavendish, Burley, Virginia Honey, Vanilla
Sweet Killarney Black Cavendish, Virginia Caramel, Cream
University Flake Burley, Virginia Plum

No Latakia?? Add some yourself!

Returning to the traditional, how would you like to smoke your favourite tobacco, or try out a new blend, in a long-stemmed Churchwarden pipe?

For the period May 30 – June 12,  2019 we offer:
25% off the normal prices of
Marca Duo (with long and short mouthpiece) Lorenzo Lettura Lipari
Normal Prices Marca Duo from R799.50; Lettura Lipari R998.60

Make the most of your smoking pleasure!

Colin Wesley

No.453 May 23 – June 5, 2019

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No.454 June 6, 2019

“The American”

No not Donald Trump - the Cigar
– a product in recognition of the president’s command to his people to make America great.

The brainchild of the people from Drew Estate and the J.C Neman factory “The American”, a true Puro, was launched on May 31 in Florida USA
Four Vitolas: Churchill, Toro, Robusto and Torpedo, with Wrapper from Florida, Binder from Connecticut Broadleaf and Filler a mixture of Connecticut and Pennsylvania leaves.
For those who don’t know, a Puro cigar must be completely constructed with tobaccos from the same one country. This is quite rare for cigars from outside Cuba, where all their cigars are Puros.
On the other hand there aren’t many countries with terroirs as diverse as the United States.
Every aspect of the cigar is American, the tobaccos, the rolling, the boxes, the labels and the printing.
They are priced at between $16.00 to $19.50.
We will wait to see the reviews regarding to its smoking qualities and whether it gives value for the money.
I’m sure we won’t have to wait long for the critics to have their say.

Another Puro – from France this time – the Hedon Reveur
Hedon ReveurFiller, binder and wrapper all from Beam in the South West of France, originally part of the Kingdom of Navarre. Hedon cigars first started in 1999 with Cuban seeds planted in the area and tended to by Cuban farm workers.
This first attempt failed but the second attempt has been successful.
The new Hedon brand was launched in 2016 with the intent of being a small-scale, high quality cigar with the unique French taste, aroma and flair.
“Rare, exceptional, utterly French.”

If a cigar is not a Puro what is it?
According to the late Theo Rudman, a South African who in the 1990s was considered a world authority on Premium cigars, the three part formula of Filler, Binder and Wrapper originated in Spain and was passed on to Cuba in the 1740s.
This formula is still the standard method of cigar manufacturing today, and with the wide variety of choices from the various tobacco fields of the world, the blenders can have a real field day in what they come up with.
Working from the outside the Wrapper leaf is the most glamorous leaf in the blend. It is the leaf that catches the eye, provides the soft feel to the touch, and the enticing aroma.
Actually to get the full aroma of the cigar, one should sniff the open foot.
In cigars with ringsizes up to 50 the wrapper contributes up to 40% of the taste.

The Filler is the heart and soul of the cigar being put together with carefully selected leaves chosen for their taste, flavour and strength.

The Binder plays a meaningful role of support in the cigar.  It holds the filler together, helping to keep the shape of the cigar; it must be slightly thicker and elastic. With its good combustion it encourages an even burning rate.
Binders usually come from the lower part of the plant which gets less sun, and the resulting underdeveloped veins create a smoother surface for the wrapper., otherwise the cigar will appear lumpy.
The binder is in fact, much underrated.

“Every leaf is important to the overall blend, but most importantly, the binder has to blend well with the wrapper,” said Ernesto. “To me it is a key tobacco in the overall profile of the blend. If the wrapper and binder don’t blend well there is no way you’re going to get a blend that is going to be enjoyable. For me, it can be the difference between an ‘OK’ cigar and a memorable cigar.” Ernesto Perez-Carrillo

As Gary Korb says in his article on https://www.famous-smoke.com/cigaradvisor
The Loneliest, Yet Hardest Working Leaf in the Bunch.” “Poor little Binder”

From the array of non-puro blends two of our “Selections’ will give you an idea of what you can experience in this vast arena.
The Wrapper Selection: 3 cigars with the same filler and binder, but different wrappers.
The Robusto Varies Selection: 3 different blends in the Robusto format.

As interesting as all this cigar talk may be, what you should be thinking of right now is “climate change”.
Not the obviously parlous state of our planet, but the state of the climate around your cigars.
Right now we are moving from our warm summer/autumn weather to our cold winter, which for most of the country is cold dry air. If this is allowed to affect the climate in your humidor it can be disastrous for your cigars.

Cigars should be stored at 65% to 70% relative humidity, at a temperature of around 70° Fahrenheit (about 21° Centigrade). Dale Scott postulates that the cigars need the same amount of water vapour all the time, so if the cigars are stored at 20ºC (68ºF) the Relative Humidity reading on the hygrometer should be 75%. If the cigars are stored at 21.5ºC (72.5ºF) the Relative Humidity reading should be 68%.
Depending on how often the humidor is opened, the air may dry out – insufficient water vapour at lower temperatures.
Conversely, in winter if the heaters are on, there may be too much water vapour at the higher temperature.
The safest way to control the climate around your cigars is to check both temperature and relative humidity in the humidor. A digital hygrometer will show you both readings, allowing you to adjust the humidity as necessary.
On special:

From 13 - 26 June, 2019
25% off 73-J6501 Slim black Digital Hygrometer/Thermometer ~ °C or °F
Normal price R770.00 (incl.15% Vat)

The price of less than 2 good cigars - don’t take a chance on the condition of your cigars.

Colin Wesley

No.454 June 6 - 19, 2019

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