Wesley's Logo and link to Homepage
Click to go to the Homepage
Navigation1 Search function being updated Find your nearest Franchise Contact us by email Search for items on our Webshop
navbar03 THE LIBRARY - ARCHIVED BLOG POSTS Frequently Asked Questions Trade Enquiries Sweepstakes Subscribe
Main menu line 01 Cigars Tobacco Snus & Snuff Lighters & Accessories Roll Your Own Other Smoking Gifts & Games Mens' Grooming Walking Sticks

Across the Counter
Fortnightly Articles
"Conversations with Customers"

Back to:
Aspects of Pipe Smoking
Aspects of Cigar Smoking
Commentary Articles
Complete Archives Index

No.475 April 2-15, 2020

“I enjoy a good cigar.”

I am not a gardener by any stretch of the imagination, however I appreciate a nice, neat colourful garden.
So, once a week a weeder and sweeper man arrives and does what’s necessary.
Then, once a year the pruners arrive and clip and cut their way among the roses and the fruit trees.
This is followed by the compost and watering, etc. throughout the year.
As a result of their efforts we have a peaceful garden in which to enjoy a good cigar.
All this reminds me of a poem I learned in Prep School:
"Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made
By singing:—"Oh, how beautiful!" and sitting in the shade..."

~Rudyard Kipling

Why am I saying this?
Well, much the same can relate to saying “I enjoy a good cigar”, but not doing anything to check whether the cigars are kept in the best surroundings to achieve and maintain their good condition.

Winter is around the corner, and for many parts of our country it spells out dry air.
This can be bad news for your cigars if you do not check the condition of your humidor or storage space.
And if you are at home in isolation this is a good time to do this.

The relative humidity should be around 70%, but feel the cigars. They will tell you more than the normal analogue (analog) hygrometer. If they are hardening up, losing their sponginess, and possibly cracking, they need more moisture.
Read more.
If you’re not too happy working by feel, buy yourself a digital hygrometer, which measures humidity and temperature.

If the inside of the humidor feels bone dry remove all the cigars and give it a wipe with a damp (not soaking wet) cloth. Allow the moisture to be absorbed before replacing the cigars.
Your digital hygrometer will tell you the true story.

Check the humidifier: is it filled, and are the holes clean? If you have a nano-bead humidifier, are the beads still swollen and opaque in colour? If not, submerge the humidifier in distilled water. If the beads don’t absorb the water the humidifier needs replacing.
When wet, the nano-beads will release moisture if the RH falls below 70%, and absorb moisture if the RH goes way above 70%. They should maintain a reasonably constant relative humidity no matter how often the humidor is opened. However, it always pays to check – your digital hygrometer will help.

Remember the 70:70 rule.

Once you have the humidity in the humidor under control check the general surrounding area. Winter is the time for heaters to be switched on, sunlight to be allowed in, and doors to be kept closed. Any of these, or a combination of these, can adversely affect your cigars.

If you are in that part of the country where the winters are cold and wet – you still have to worry about the temperature – make sure the cigars aren’t too warm.

Cigars don’t like heat!

Watchpoint: If you have more than twenty or thirty cigars in one humidor remember to rotate them occasionally.
Don’t suffocate those at the bottom.

Thought: The cost of a digital hygrometer is little more than the cost of 3 good cigars.

To help you possibly save more than 3 cigars we offer:

25% off 73-J6501
- the slim black Digital Hygrometer
Only from Wesley’s Shops and Website.

Due to the Lockdown situation, with no goods coming into South Africa, we are short of stock of these instruments. They are sitting in Europe waiting to be shipped!
If you email an order we will honour the discount when the stock arrives.

Ensure that the storage area is cool, and with good humidity your cigars will be a real joy to smoke throughout the winter season, and for the rest of the year.

Colin Wesley

No.475 April 2-15, 2020

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

Across the Counter
Fortnightly Articles
"Conversations with Customers"

Back to:
Aspects of Pipe Smoking
Aspects of Cigar Smoking
Commentary Articles
Complete Archives Index

No.476 June 25, 2020

“Spending the lockdown time.”

I have been surprised how little “nothing to do” time I have had during this period.
And I am not a DIY type who goes looking around the house for things to fix.

Admittedly, much time has been spent carefully explaining to emailers why we can’t supply the basic tobacco-related items they are looking for.
They  have my sympathy, but in the spirit of good citizenship we must obey the rules and regulations, much as it hurts us as well.

In contrast to these emails, I have had time to spend “working the internet” for business ideas and opportunities for when we are able to re-open to our public.

I took a virtual trip to Cuba to catch up on more cigar news from the February Festival, and I went on a walk with one of Cigar Aficionado’s editors to see what was in the cigar shops, and more importantly what was missing.
If Cuba doesn’t have it, who has!

Cohiba Behikes were non-existent – not even singles.
Likewise Cohiba Esplendidos and Siglo VIs were almost just as difficult to find, except for a few singles.
Other long, slim cigars seemed to have lost shelf space, or rather just lost out to the new 54/56 and larger ring sizes which are becoming more in demand.
It’s common sense.  The overall cigar crop is finite so if they want to make extra-large ring sizes, something has to go.

For those who really love and want to make time to enjoy a large cigar, the Quai D’Orsay 54 was freely available.
I hope we receive our fair share of this new shining star.

The other good news is that  there were plenty of good smaller cigars available: Cohiba Siglo I (102 x 40), Montecristo 4 (129 x 42, the biggest selling single cigar worldwide), Partagas Shorts (110 x 42), Rafael Gonzales Perlas (102 x 40), Hoyo du Depute (110 x 38, a small cigar but it punches above its weight), really interesting – the small piramide from Vegueros, the Mananitas (100 x 46).
Classic Robustos (124 x 50) were also freely available: Partagas Serie D No.4, Hoyo Epicure No.2, Bolivar Royal Coronas, Veguros Centrofinos and even Cohiba Robustos.

Robustos continue to be the best-selling size at retail. Toros (which are also called corona gordas), came in second with grandes (very fat cigars with 60 ring gauge or higher) landing at third. The long and stately Churchill came in at No. 4, with figurados and coronas tied at No.5.   Cigar Aficionado’s Retail poll Jul 11, 2019
Let’s hope they filter through to the smaller export markets like us.

We were very busy in the last days before the lockdown, but we still have good stock of these cigars.
Caution: Thanks to the deterioration on the exchange rate, future shipment will no doubt cost more.

Big business makes big news
Never having been involved in any “Big Business”, and never having bought or sold anything bigger than a comfortable house or motor vehicle, I am fascinated by what must go on in settling the details of these massive financial transactions.
Imperial Tobacco, the Bristol-based British tobacco giant, has just finally sold its premium cigar business to two separate investment companies. The sale was never going to be easy as Imperial’s major investment in the premium cigar business was their 50% investment in Cubatobacco – the worldwide distributor of all Cuban cigars, which made it off-limits to any US suitor.
This division was sold for £900 million to one of the anonymous investment companies.
The US division of Imperial, which included Altadis, J R Cigars, the Montecristo (non-Cuban), retail shops and the biggest cigar factory in the world, in the Dominican Republic, was sold to the other anonymous company for
£162 million.
Just look at the perceived difference in value between the two divisions.
My feeling is that the US division has been sold to non-American investors who already have an investment in the premium cigar business – possibly Scandinavian tobacco who already own General Cigar and other major tobacco companies. Alternatively to US citizens who want to have some say in the US market – which at present is on its way to becoming dominated by foreign based companies.
When I think of the many businesses in the US and worldwide that could be affected by these buy-outs, my mind boggles: different countries, different languages, different health warnings, different pricing structures, etc.
Having been a casualty in my business of several international mergers, I just hope that not too many small businesses get hurt.

Zippo has not been left behind in their desire to look after the cigar smokers.
They tried hard to say that the fuel lighter would not affect the taste of the cigar, especially the first few puffs, but it didn’t quite work.
They tried with the Zippo Blu gas turbo lighter but it wasn’t successful – and it didn’t look or click like a Zippo – the image was not there.
Now Zippo has developed a butane gas insert:

Zippo torch inserts

Zippo Single torch insert

Zippo Double torch insert


55-Z65826 Single Torch R350.00

55-Z65827 Double Torch R399.50


2 year guarantee

On the Highveld a double jet (torch) lighter seems to work better - the altitude appears to affect the release of the gas.

Even with the smoking ban, we can trade in Zippo – and so we offer

25% off Zippo butane gas inserts,  
From July 2 – 15, 2020
Only from Wesley’s Shops and Website

Zippo lovers – use the fuel insert as in the past, but replace it with the butane gas insert for enjoying your cigar.

Colin Wesley

No.476 June 25, 2020

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

Across the Counter
Fortnightly Articles
"Conversations with Customers"

Back to:
Aspects of Pipe Smoking
Aspects of Cigar Smoking
Commentary Articles
Complete Archives Index

No.477 July 9-22, 2020

New Pipe Smoker – or Returning to your pipe!

Is Covid 19 really an ill wind that blows nobody any good?

During this lockdown period we have been flooded with emails looking for tobacco rolling products.
We have had to be sympathetic but firm, that at this time we cannot be of help or service.

We have also had several emails wanting information on starting or going back to pipe smoking.
While we have not been able to directly offer them a pipe or pipe tobacco, we have been able to throw some light on what they might need to do with that old pipe from Grandpa, or the one that helped them through those years while studying (or the one they received as a gift last year).
And the pouch of tobacco hidden at the back of the drawer.

Since they mostly had time on their hands, we start off in the Library of archived blogs with these suggestions:
Read The Complete Pipe Smoker
And a few of the blogs on Starting Pipesmoking.
Here’s one to touch the heart of any pipe smoker

We emphasize the general rule: The cleaner and drier you keep your pipe, the nicer the smoke!”
Read about caring for your pipe, from Day 1
You will need a pipe tool and some pipe cleaners.
And some Pipe Spray to keep the inside of the pipe clean and sweet.

If the pipe has been lying around for some time, here is a recipe for restoring it.

Care – every time you smoke: When you finish each pipe full, insert a cleaner into the stem and allow the pipe to cool. Scrape the remnants of the tobacco (the dottle) out of the bowl.
When cool remove the mouthpiece, holding the mouthpiece and the wooden shank close to the join and gently twisting and pulling until it comes apart. Then remove the filter and put it aside to dry. Or remove any little metal arrester generally found in older pipes, and pipes with slender shanks – wipe it clean.
Finally push the pipe cleaner through from the lip until it appears at the peg, and pull it right through. This will ensure that any tars don’t sit on the lip – tastes nasty!
For everyday cleaning you need pipe cleaners; we suggest 58-Cln 110 – R39.90 – it consists of 100 tapered cleaners and 10 bristle.
Tapered cleaners to use after every smoke. (Fold in half to clean the sump)
You would give the inside of the stem a scrub with the bristles every 5 or 10 smokes or so.
When you use the bristle cleaners (every 5-10 smokes), CG Pipe spray will help dissolve the deposits that the pipe has filtered out, and make cleaning easier. 78-CGSpray R74.50

  • Note be careful when you’re using the pipe cleaners in the shank. Don’t push and twist them too hard into the bottom of the bowl or you might eventually drill a hole.

If the pipe was heavily smoked, you may need a reamer to trim the carbon layer to the right thickness (1-2mm). The Savinelli reamer is sturdy, easy to adjust, and has calibrations.
And the mouthpiece may have started to oxidise – go dull and taste bitter.
Then you can buy some pipe mouthpiece polish.
When the mouthpiece is clean, possibly consider buying Obsidian Oil as a preventative measure. It stops the mouthpiece from oxidising - discolouring and tasting bitter. Google it and see what you think.

Resting your pipe:
It isn’t necessary to have a pipe rack yet. The useful collapsible folding pipe rest 78-J3820 will hold your pipe whenever you want to put it down. During smoking or to save it from falling over and getting scratched at any time – at home or out and about. Saves spilling ash everywhere.

The tobacco you found – is it hard and dry? You can revive it with gentle moistening. Spread the tobacco on some newspaper (or rollatowel) and cover it with a warm damp cloth. Rotate the tobacco and re-moisten the cloth over a few hours. Check whether the tobacco passes the closed hand test: Take a handful and close your hand tightly then release. The tobacco should gently expand – too quick and it is still dry; stays in a clump – let it dry out a little. It may have lost some of its artificial flavouring but the natural goodness will still be there.
If you were lucky enough to find a sealed tin of tobacco it may well be truly well-matured and in excellent condition.
One customer found a 100g tin of Dunhill Royal Yacht – this packing dated back to the 1960s. It was perfect!

We usually finished up writing out a list of the items needed with links to the range available.
Here is the list:
Pipe Tools / Knives – from R7.57
Pipe Cleaners
Pipe Spray and other Cleaning materials
Pipe Rest

We offer you the same items listed above - at a special price:

From July 16 – 29
25% off  the 4 groups (above)
(15% off Dunhill and Obsidian)

You CAN make use of that old pipe – and enjoy the most relaxing form of smoking.

Colin Wesley

No.477 July 9-22, 2020

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

Across the Counter
Fortnightly Articles
"Conversations with Customers"

Back to:
Aspects of Pipe Smoking
Aspects of Cigar Smoking
Commentary Articles
Complete Archives Index

No.478 August 6-26, 2020

Points to Ponder : Things to think about

The Lockdown period – good or bad – the experts say that it will take many years to rebuild the economy.

Well in our little way, we are surviving, and once the ban on the sale of tobacco products is lifted we will be back in business. Though there will be different rules and regulations in place especially in the retail shops.

If you intend to visit one of the Wesley’s shops, you will be most welcome as always.
However to comply with the social distancing demands, each shop will have its own customer control limits on the number of customers allowed to be in the shop at any one time.  Browsing may be discouraged if queues are forming. And the unnecessary handling of items will also be monitored.
The overriding atmosphere must be one of patience with the safety of both customers and staff being paramount.

Fortunately, just before the lockdown came into effect, the Wesley’s shop in Rosebank received a comprehensive Cuban cigar order which will be at the March 2020 prices. The cigars will be available on request from any Wesley’s shop. Or ask about a courier service.
We have been advised that due to the exchange rate there are likely to be price increases (possibly substantial).
So, once a confirmed official opening up date is announced, we suggest you check your cigar stock, which by now could be wanting, and email us your “wish for” cigar list. We shall respond with a quote for your confirmation.

In the meantime, while you are waiting for “lift-off’, here are 3 points to ponder which might contribute to your cigar smoking pleasure:
What may cause a cigar to develop a bitter taste while smoking it?

  • The worst case, about which you can do nothing, is that the cigar has been rolled from poorly fermented tobacco. An unfortunate buy – give up on it and move on.
  • Oils and tars collecting - this could come from excessive rapid puffing on the cigar. Slow down to approximately 2 puffs a minute. Also check the burning end – is it burning too red?
  • If the cigar is plugged, causing a tight draw, try to loosen up the plug with a massage or a thin needle, rather than trying to draw through it.
  • Trying to relight a cigar if the end is heavily charred – rather prune it back beyond the ash using your cutter, and then blow through the cigar to remove stale smoke. Now you can light up.
  • The filtering effect of the cigar - oils and tars in the cigar are collecting close to the head. Maybe you have reached the end, and it is time to put the cigar down and let it go out gently by itself.

What is “front loading” and what does it do?
This is a technique used by the “buncher” in the process of rolling to create an explosive spicy taste to the first few puffs on a cigar. It is done by placing some of the strongest tasting leaves (usually Ligeros) with the tips facing forward to the edge of the foot. This explosion of taste normally dissipates as the burn reaches the true leaves of the blend.
What next I wonder?

How do I keep my cutter clean and sharp?
With use, the oils in the leaves will accumulate on the edges of the blades. While they may still feel sharp to the touch, you may notice that the cut is becoming more difficult and less clean. Small shreds of tobacco appear around the perimeter of the cut.
Dip a swap of cotton wool, or an ear bud, in some alcohol based liquid and give the blades a good rub. This will remove the sticky residue leaving the blades clean, sharp and sanitised (new buzzword).
How good is that?

Maybe the cutter cleaning question was too late and you have decided that you definitely need a new cutter.
And so we offer:

25% off Cigar Cutters (excluding those on sale); 15% off Dunhill
From August 13 – September 2, 2020
Only from Wesley’s Shops and Website.

For all cigar smoking the rule is: sip the cigar, like a wine-tasting, roll the smoke around in your mouth to savour the flavour, then gently let it out. If you draw too fast the smoke becomes hot and bitter. A cigar that has gone out can simply be re-lit. Cigars do not contain additives to keep them burning so if/when your cigar goes out, gently tap off the loose ash, blow through to expel stale smoke, re-light and continue to enjoy it.
A cigar can be “doggy-bagged”. Allow it to go out, then cut off the ash end (about 1cm, for cleanliness) and store in a glass tube until you are ready for it. Blow through before re-lighting to expel stale smoke.

Colin Wesley

No.478 August 6-26, 2020

Colin Wesley

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

Across the Counter
Fortnightly Articles
"Conversations with Customers"

Back to:
Aspects of Pipe Smoking
Aspects of Cigar Smoking
Commentary Articles
Complete Archives Index

No.479 September 5-23, 2020

The Gentle Art of Smoking.

Alfred Dunhill coined the phrase, but it has been the Savinelli pipe makers who have taken this to heart, by using their skills in the art of pipe making to pay tribute to a list of great Italian artists.

We have had
the “Leonardo” collection of 8 pipes over 8 years: “La Giaconda - Mona Lisa”, “Il Cavallo -The Horse”,
“Flight - Ala Battente”  “Studi sulla Luce - Study in Light”, “La Bombarda - Cannon”, “Autoritratto – Self Portrait”, “Clavi Viola “– a form of Harpsichord and "Uomo Vitruviano" – The Man
the Venere “Birth of Venus” pipes as a tribute to Botticelli
Fuoco (Fire) – inspired by the painting “Il Fuoco” by Giuseppe Arcimboldo

Now we have the “Otello” pipes which offer you a tribute to Giuseppe Verdi who had retired after scoring “Aida” and had to be cajoled out of retirement to score the music for Otello. Even then he took several years to complete this masterpiece. Shakespeare may have penned the play Othello, but Verdi put the music to the Italian version, for us all to enjoy.

Savinelli Smoking Pipe – Otello RangeSavinelli writes about the aim of the series:

We chose a famous and strong character for this pipe with a stem specifically drawn: a single piece, with a ring high on the shank that hovers as a swift tail toward the bit. A little silver color ring separates the stem to the pipe, giving it the importance it deserves

Finishes: smooth natural, and rusticated black.

The Otello pipes all have clean lines. Like many works of art they are not cluttered up with frivolous, distracting embellishments. They are strong, elegant Italian shapes derived from the classic English originals: Bent-Billiard, half bent Pot, Prince, Cognac and Rhodesian.
The Natural honey-brown, smooth finish pipes show the clean bowls to perfection, with plenty of hard briar.
The Black Rusticated finish shows perfectly layered rings, which bring a uniform appearance to each pipe. As usual it is the quality of the briar and workmanship that makes Savinelli pipes consistently exceptional.

We really enjoyed selecting these pipes, and at the “special” prices we were offered at one of our meetings with the Savinelli people, we couldn’t resist buying them. But at these special prices stocks were limited.

Otello Natural Smooth – Normal price R2800.00, our special price R2100.00
Otello Rusticated Black – Normal price R2400.00, our special price R1800.00


Savinelli Smoking Pipe Otello Natural Smooth


Shape 315

Model 315 KS is a semi-bent model known as Prince. It has slender and elegant lines with a rounded bowl shape. A pipe with the a refined style.


Savinelli Smoking Pipe Otello Natural Smooth


Shape 645

Model 645 KS has an inner spacious burning chamber.
The conic bowl with a rounded shape gives the pipe
a very elegant aspect.


Savinelli Smoking Pipe Otello Natural Smooth

Savinelli Smoking Pipe – Otello RusticShape 321

Model 321 is an Author with regular dimension, small version of model 320 KS, half-bent. Its rounded shapes and the absence of edges make the hold extremely pleasant.



Savinelli Smoking Pipe – Otello Rustic

Shape 121

Model 121 KS is a semi-bent Pot style pipe. One of the most classical style which comes from the well-known Billiard ones. The flattened and cylindrical bowl boasts a low burning chamber with good capacity. This model ends with an elegant saddle stem which perfectly welcomes the light bend.

Savinelli Smoking Pipe – Otello Rustic


Shape 614

Model 614 belongs to the classic Billiard style. As you can see, it is surely the model with the most pronounced bend. The bend is so sharp which requires different more passages during the finishing. An extraordinarily elegant model not advised to less expert smokers.

Your discount: We offer these to you at 25% off the already reduced prices.
Too good to be true?
Nowe are fortunate to be able to visit Savinelli and take advantage of these specially reduced trade prices.

The Offer:

From September 12 – 30, 2020
25% off Savinelli Otello pipes

You can trust Savinelli – under his innovative finishes there is well-cured briar and excellent workmanship.

Colin Wesley

No.479 September 5-23, 2020

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