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No.465  November 7-20, 2019

Nording | Nording Pipes Denmark | Eriksen Keystone Smoking pipes | Danish Smoling pipes | Erik Nording
Nording - personally selected

September – Dortmund Intertabac Trade Show.

Late September is a good time to be in Germany.
The weather is cooling down, and the walk from our Dortmund hotel to the Messe Halls is a comfortable 15-20 minutes - along a path shaded by large trees starting to show their autumn colours.

The Trade Show covers Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Friday is often our busiest day because most local European traders do not arrive until Saturday, and then stay over for Sunday morning.
One appointment that over the last 3 years has become important to make on the Friday, or at worst early on Saturday, is the visit to the Nording pipe stand.
There is always a buzz around their stand, because this is one where you select the exact pipes you want to buy.
As pipes are chosen they are noted and signed for by the buyer, then placed in boxes with the buyer’s name and other details, then hidden behind curtained shelves or under the table. To be invoiced and delivered/despatched at a later date. No orders may be taken directly from the show.

This blog has covered the legend of Eric Nording on several earlier dates, and he still lives up to it.
The business side of his stand is managed by his son Knud and other members of his family.
Eric presides over the stand with his big laugh and cheerful manner, greeting each customer with either a hug or a firm handshake.
“What’s new?” is an irrelevant question.
The tables are laden with new pipes in different shapes, colours, finishes and prices. It didn’t take us long to select more pipes than our target number of eleven pipes. But determined not to let our emotions run riot we trimmed the 25 we had laid out back down to our target level.
Nording Harmony Freehand PipeJust look at the 11 pipes we decided on:

One Harmony pipe – A unique finish! This year it features a “hunt scene” – horses, hounds, fences – the lot.

Nording “Grain” Series Pipe

Four pipes from the “
Grain” series: For this series, Erik Nording has chosen the most beautiful, almost flawless bowls from his briar plateaus. A deep base stain highlights
the grain, and the bowls are then hand carved with ridges and valleys following the natural grain.

Nording Briar Line Style B


Two “Briar Line Rustic” pipesSome of the plateaux have large almost flawless areas: Keep these areas as smooth panels, with some rustication where necessary, and create an interesting contrast.


Nording Smooth Natural pipe from the Signature Series

Two “
Signature” pipesPlain natural briar – as the pipe is smoked the softer briar will darken exposing the amazing grains. Erik knows what he is doing; wetting the bowl before carving shows him where to go.

Inspiration for Nording's Spruce Cone Freehand pipe



One only “Spruce Cone finish pipe (some of the bowl capacities were a bit smaller than we like.)
Only Erik can see the beauty in a pine cone and convert it into a pipe.

2019 annual pipe from Nørding honours the White Rhino

The annual “Hunting” series from Erik honours in briar a different wild animal each year.
For 2019 he has chosen the White Rhino.
The light grey skin of an adult white rhino will sometimes fold in panel-like areas, and the body shape is broad and fairly short, giving it a sturdy appearance. The pipe takes its inspiration from this description.


However we were not finished.
The Keystone pipe has gained appeal as the no nonsense, virtually unbreakable, practical pipe to enjoy at home, or take away on a trip – a winner from Erik Nording.
Not even Eric Nording can stop a pipe from being “lost” or left behind somewhere too far away to turn back and look for it. Fortunately in the case of the Keystone pipe the loss won’t be a train smash.
We topped up our stock of complete Keystone pipes, spare bowls, and pellets; also a few Shorty, Compass and Sailor pipes.

Sunday morning gave us enough time to say warm goodbyes  ………………

Back at our hotel we parted with promises to return in 2020, and enjoyed a comfortable direct train trip to Frankfurt Airport. Then an evening flight back to O.R Tambo.
Home: to make the best of what we had bought, seen, and heard of at this focal event in our business year.

From 14 - 27 November 2019
25% off the normal price of allNordingPipes

You know, every time I think or talk about Nording I am filled with admiration
– and here is your chance to admire the finished products.

Take this opportunity to find out for yourself why our other customers are enjoying the Nording pipes.

Colin Wesley

No.465  November 7-20, 2019

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No.466 November 21 – December 4, 2019

My Cigars are too dry!

This was a cry for help from a cigar smoker who lives in one of the drier parts of the country.

He had been given a humidor as a gift, and bought some cigars to enjoy over a period.
He filled the humidifier, and placed the cigars in the humidor.
Two weeks later he took out a cigar to smoke and found it very dry – it stuck to his lips, and when lit it tasted “horrible”. When he pressed the cigar it was very hard.
“Why did it happen?”
“What can be done?”

“Why did it happen?”
I asked two questions:
1. Had he prepared the humidor before putting the cigars in?
2. Had he kept the humidor in a cool place, or had it been allowed to get warm?

1. Why prepare?
Because if the wood in the humidor is bone dry, it will soon absorb the moisture generated by the humidifier, and if this is not sufficient will draw moisture from the cigars.
Preparation is pretty straightforward – just a case of getting the wood damp so that the overall Relative Humidity inside the humidor is 70%. The time this takes depends on how dry the air in the humidor was – Durban is different from Kimberly for example.
Read the complete instructions here.

2. Where was the Humidor kept?
If the cigars dried out under warm conditions, then as well as losing moisture, they might have lost natural oils which would affect the taste of the cigar.
If the cigars had dried out in cool conditions then maybe they had lost only moisture – not so bad.

“What can be done?”
First, how dry are they?
Subject the dry cigars to the “pinch” test. Hold the cigar in one hand, and run it through the thumb and a finger of the other hand, pinching it gently down the length from head to foot.
The ideal feel should release a little spring in the pinch test.
If the feel is rock-hard all the way down it will need a gradual and longer timespan for the cigars to be restored to a condition where they can comfortably be smoked. If the humidity is raised too suddenly the wrapper will absorb it too quickly and may burst. Slower absorption will allow the moisture to penetrate through the binder and into the filler. This can take a few weeks, or even months.

How to restore very dry cigars:
Place the cigars in a prepared humidor, or any airtight container, with a 62% humidipack or partially filled bead humidifier. The humidifier should be as far away from the cigars as possible.
Close and leave for a week. Open up, move the humidifier a little closer to the cigars and close up.
Repeat this.
Then as the cigars respond (pinch test) raise the humidity level (a 72% humidipack or filled bead humidifier) until the cigars feel slightly springy..
An alternative:
Place the cigars in the cedar cigar box in which they were bought.
Damp the outside of the box, place it in a plastic bag, seal the bag and leave it for 1-2 weeks.
Test the cigars (pinch test).
Repeat as often as necessary, damping the box each time, until the cigars have responded sufficiently.

Patience is of the essence with this restoration but it should be rewarded at the end.
If the cigars had not lost too much of the natural oils they should give an acceptable smoke.
If they had been allowed to get too warm, they may be acceptable – maybe not.
But nobody likes to throw away what was a good cigar if it can now be comfortably smoked again.

It should now be safe to return the cigars to the humidor, close the lid, and leave it closed for 24 hours to stabilise.

Restoring only slightly dry cigars:
The process is the same – but less time-consuming!
A week of lower humidity might be enough (pinch test), followed by a period of rest in a 70% humidity atmosphere.
Again the temperature at which they dried will affect the taste of the cigar.

Restoring doesn’t only apply to cigars put in a new humidor. Perhaps you left the cigar in the car or briefcase and it dried out, or perhaps you forgot to fill the humidifier.
The procedure is the same.

Note: Take care, don’t overdo it - if a cigar is over-humidified it will be difficult to smoke.

The humidor should now be kept in a cool place. Not on a desk or table which might be subjected direct sunlight or a warm lamp.
A wine cellar or storage cupboard is good.
And remember to rotate the position of the cigars in the humidor!

Now you’re ready to prepare your new Humidor.
In fact you’re possibly ready to invest in a new humidor to protect your valued cigars.
Now is a good time, because we bought a humidor on special at the recent Dortmund InterTabac trade show.
Only R995.00 for a 20-cigar humidor with an eye-catching walnut veneer, and fitted with a nano bead humidifier.

Even better …..

Humidor 73-J1015 Less 25%
From 28 November to December 11, 2019
Normal special price R995.00

Thought: If you keep a lot of cigars, this is a good size to keep a selection on hand and leave the rest undisturbed.

A premium cigar is still considered to be the world’s most affordable luxury product.
 It deserves to be carefully cared for.

Colin Wesley

No.466 November 21 – December 4, 2019

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No.467  December 5, 2019 to January 8, 2020

Question: Which is the best pipe for a new Pipesmoker?

Pipes like many other utility items, have evolved as adaptations and new ideas have come forward to overcome any negatives aspects of their use, making them easier, more enjoyable and satisfying, for those who use them.

With pipe smoking, a problem from day one has been what to do about the moisture which accumulates in the bowl as it is “filtered” out from the burning tobacco, especially with Briar pipes.
Some will be absorbed by the briar itself which is why clean dry Briar is the most chosen wood from which to make pipes.
Some moisture will settle in the tobacco at the bottom of the bowl – forming the “dottle”, which is difficult/impossible to smoke.
This “dottle” needs to be gently cleaned out between smokes to allow the bowl to dry out before it can be put to use again.
Some moisture, increased by the flavouring used in the Modern blends, will flow through the pipe up into the mouth (especially if you are smoking a straight pipe) – distasteful and unpleasant.
There is a theory that this problem motivated pipe makers to produce bent pipes, which make it more difficult to draw the excess moisture up into the mouth.
This was probably successful but it increased the mess in the bottom of the bowl, and increased the wastage of good tobacco - which was expensive.
The term “a smelly pipe” could have originated here, since absorbent pipe cleaners and aerosol sprays were still to join the pipe paraphernalia. Feathers were used to clean out what they could, which wasn’t much.

Cross section of the Marca Dry pipe showing 'sump'Then came the big Game Changer when in 1865 the Irish firm Kapp and Peterson introduced their “System” pipes. The “sump” collects any moisture condensing from the smoke in the shank. Likewise any excess moisture entering the pipe from the mouth will end up in the sump, not in the bottom of the bowl.
This is a common problem with new pipe smokers until the salivary glands become accustomed to the fact that a pipe mouthpiece is not eatable.
The ingenious system pipe minimised this problem by releasing the smoke into the mouth through the smoke hole on the top of the mouthpiece, not at the tip.
The Peterson system was patented in 1894 and went on to be a top selling pipe, worldwide.

In 1981, after 4 years of research and development Savinelli introduced the “Dry System” pipes, based on the Peterson design,
but with improvements
Savinelli Dry System pipes: autumn-gold Chiara finish

  • The small round smokehole on top of the mouthpiece was changed into a rectangle across the width of the mouthpiece. This releases the smoke in a fanlike fashion as opposed to the thin jet from the Peterson lip.
  • They changed the connection between the shank of the bowl and the end of the mouthpiece from a tapered type (prone to coming apart when twisted even a little) to a parallel peg fitting, which is firm and steady.
  • They introduced the option of fitting a 6mm balsa “filter” into the peg to mop up moisture. This made moisture trapped in the sump less likely to spill (or gurgle).

Combined with the pipemaking experience of Savinelli, and the skills of their artisans, in the Dry System pipe you have the makings of the best pipe for any Pipesmoker - new or old.

So there you have it, our answer to the question - choose the pipe with technically the best design.

Is the Savinelli a little beyond your budget?Marca Dry pipes Shape 120, Smooth or Sandblast, Saddle or Taper

Consider the Marca Dry pipe:
With new pipesmokers in mind, after two years of discussion and development with the manufacturers, we introduced the Marca Dry to South African pipesmokers in 2015. This excellent value pipe offers all the benefits of the Dry System pipe other than the smokehole on the top of the mouthpiece.
And the price should suit most budgets.

You don’t fancy a bent pipe?

The Nording Eriksen Keystone pipe has plenty to offer including


  • its rugged construction and easy maintenance;
  • No dottle - juice won’t stay in the bowl, or reach the bowl from the mouth;
  • Lava Pellets in the “sump” chamber under the bowl will trap the moisture and clean up the smoke.

Nording Pipe cross section

Are you new to pipe smoking, or about to start?   Here is some advice to help you on your way.

And here is a good introduction to your new hobby:

From 12 December 2019 to January 15, 2020
25% off the normal price of all System Pipes:
Savinelli LogoSavinelliDry SystemMarca Smoking Pipes DRY  • Nording | Nording Pipes Denmark | Eriksen Keystone Smoking pipes | Danish Smoling pipes | Erik Nording Keystone

You are an old hand on our database?
Take this opportunity to expand your pipe selection to include a System pipe, or to add another to your collection - at a great price.

Colin Wesley

No.467  December 5, 2019 to January 8, 2020

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No.468 December 12, 2019 to January 8, 2020

Enjoying your cigar – the ash

Once a cigar has been carefully cut and baptised with fire, as Rick Hacker so neatly put it, the anticipation of the expected enjoyment of what is to come arises in the subconscious.

How good is this cigar going to smoke?

From an article I recently found, here are some pointers to look out for as you smoke through the cigar.

The first puffs:
any bitter taste of charred tobacco may spoil these, but this should not last long. Blow gently through the cigar and then continue puffing.
Up to first 2 cm:
if you have been puffing slowly (2 puffs per minute is good), and rotating the cigar with gentle hand movements, the ash should be firm. It is a bad sign if the ash had already started to flake and fall off. This could be from poor quality leaves being used, or poor quality rolling; even a combination of both. Close your eyes and hope things will improve. Make a mental note to avoid this cigar in the future.(Exception, short filler cigars will obviously not hold the ash as long as long filler cigars.)
The ash is firm and stable: good! After a few more puffs, if it doesn’t drop off by itself, gently tap it off.

Note the shape of the hot point of the cigar. The more
cone-shaped, covered with a thin layer of ash, the better.
Because the Ligero leaf, which contributes most of the taste to the cigar, is normally placed in the very middle of the bunch, and due to its density it burns more slowly than the other leaves in the bunch. The more Ligero in the bunch, the sharper the point of the cone, and the stronger the cigar.
A good cone-shaped ash is considered to be a tribute to the skill of the roller, and to the smoker for the care he has taken to smoke it correctly.

The ash: the colour of the ash is a signpost of the soil in which the cigar leaf was grown. It is not testing the quality of the leaves themselves; it is revealing the natural chemical and mineral combinations of the soil in which the plants were grown.
Potassium and magnesium, which on their own produce white ash, are vital components of the soil for growing tobacco plants. Other minerals in various percentages, which produce grey ash, are needed to balance the composition of the soil for tobacco growing.
Cigars rolled from tobacco grown in central Cuba
(Remedios) produce almost pure white ash.
Cigars rolled from tobacco grown next door in the Vuelta Abajo valley produce grey ash.
The soil in the Vuelta Abajo valley has multiple minerals in almost equal quantities.

Black ash is not a good sign. It may indicate that the soil was rather more suitable for other plants, probably confirmed by the poor smoking quality of the cigar in hand.

Incidentally every tobacco plantation in Cuba is registered, with the soil being regularly monitored to check the soil composition and condition before planting each year.

The ash, like the cigar band, on or off?
Up to a length of 15 to 20 mm the ash will cool the smoke down, making the smoking process pleasantly milder. When it is removed, either by gravity or a gentle tap, there is an evident increase in the taste and strength of the smoke. This subsides as the ash builds up again.
There will be a lot of ash – what to do with it?

Black Ceramic Cigar Ashtray with sliding BridgeWhat to do with the cigar if you need to stop smoking it for a short while?
Lay it down, but keep it horizontal to prevent it burning unevenly.

The bitter end - when should you stop smoking a cigar?
To paraphrase Davidoff – stop smoking it when you stop enjoying it.
At the stage when the taste goes from mellow to bitter.

What to do with the cigar when you’ve finished with it?
What not to do: unlike a cigarette it does not need to be stubbed out.
Lay it down and it will extinguish itself after a short while, without any unpleasant smell.

To hold all the ash, and the remnants of the finished cigar, a special receptacle is required:
The receptacle should have a big enough bowl to hold all the ash.
The design should include a support so that the cigar will rest horizontally.

In fact a specialised Cigar Ashtray!
It can be of any material, any price, open or with a lid.
We offer a wide range of Cigar Ashtrays in a wide range of finishes at a wide range of prices.

And right now:

25%  off all Cigar Ashtrays (and rests)
From December 12, 2019 to January 8, 2020
Normal prices from R175.00 to R1175.00
Cigar Rests from R65.55

Turns any ashtray (or saucer) into a cigar ashtrayThought:
You already have a favourite ordinary ashtray?
No suitable ashtray for your cigar?
Convert it to a cigar ashtray with a Cigar Rest – also less 25% for the period.

Out and about? You can carry a Cigar Rest with you!

Colin Wesley

No.468 December 12, 2019 to January 8, 2020

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

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No.469 January 9 - 22, 2020

Cigar for a new smoker

Always on the lookout for a subject for one of my blogs, this heading on an email caught my eye “how to choose your first cigar.”

Written by an American author, valid points were made about looking for a cigar that was described as mild, or mellow. Being an American he mentioned the original Macanudo “Café” range. This was the biggest selling brand in America in the mid 1900’s, way before the boom of the 1990’s which introduced the more flavourful range of cigars we all enjoy now. The brand Macanudo still exists but the “Café” blend is only a small component.
Amongst modern blends he suggested looking for Connecticut wrapper which, being beautifully smooth and mild is often found covering mellow blends.

On the whole the article was interesting, although he closed with several suggestions none of which is available in South Africa. Of course there was no mention of Cuban cigars at all.
This didn’t surprise me, but some of the sizes he suggested for a first cigar did.
The first suggestion was a Grand Corona 6 inches x 47 ringsize …… a bit much for a first cigar!

So what would we suggest for a first cigar?

fIf you are looking for a gift for a cigar smoker, or if you are of age to fully understandthe effect of smoking on you and your life, we offer you

15% off Dunhill Cigar Cutters
25% off all other Cigar Cutters
From January 16-29, 2020
Normal prices from R65.00 to R3990.00

Colin Wesley

No.469 January 9 - 22, 2020

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