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No.485 17 December 2020 – 13 January 2021

Spring cleaning - it pays to visit

A Savinelli surprise.
Those of you who have been reading my blogs will be aware of how often I have repeated the phrase in connection with our suppliers: “it pays to visit”.
Especially since we are really a minnow in their pond of big fish customers!
This year is a case in point.

As usual we arrive at the station closest to the Savinelli headquarters, which is pretty close. We are picked up by one of their export team and enjoy the 10 minute drive admiring the winter scenery, and exchanging pleasantries with our young driver.
Arriving at the headquarters we are ushered in, and up the stairs to the showroom.
The rest of the export team join us and coffee is offered, during which more pleasantries about both our countries are shared.
Then the game is on - “what’s new” is the starting point.

They know that we visit in February to tag on to any special offers they might be presenting at the Ambiente Fair in mid-February, just after we visit.
We look, we see what we feel will suit our market, and we buy accordingly.
In the past we have chosen the Gaius, the Otello the Fuoco and many others.

Towards the conclusion of our meeting this year, a person from their storeroom is invited in.

Savinelli Dry System pipes – “old gems” – higher than premier quality

She arrives in her neat dustcoat, carrying a sizeable box.
The team leader beckons to her to take the pipes out of box and put them on the table
As she lays them out we are astonished to see that they are all Dry System pipes.

These pipes, the team leader tells us, are a sampling of shapes and finishes they no longer use for Dry system pipes.
“If we clean and polish them up would you be interested to buy them?”

Savinelli Dry System pipes – “old gems” – higher than premier quality

My wife and I look at them in amazement.
We visualise the difference.

These are high grade pipes, possibly too high a grade to be part of the current ranges of Dry System pipes.
Smooth finish, and also rustic finish following the grain, mostly brown colour.  
In the current ranges the premier quality is only available in smooth, and the standard finish in rusticated and smooth.
The clever rustication of the “Old” pipes allows one to appreciate the grain.
And just think of the quality of the briar from that era– 25 to 30 years ago.

It appears that the pipes had been uncovered in a general “spring cleaning” and they had thought of us as a prospective buyer.
The asking price is better than we could have hoped for, and the quantity would not give us financial indigestion.
We accepted!

The pipes should have started coming in May/June, but of course this couldn’t happen.
The first parcel of some of these unique pipes should be here just before Christmas.
6 shapes : 2 rusticated and 4 smooth.
And they will be our next Pipe Special, which will run on into mid-January 2021.

An email will, of course, be sent out as soon as we can with all the details and prices.

On offer until 20 January, 2021 : Less 25%
Savinelli Dry System pipes – “old gems” – higher than premier quality,
in shapes and finishes no longer available.

This really is an opportunity to go back in time and take advantage of the quality pipes available from those days.
By now I’m sure you are looking forward to the arrival of the pipes as much as we are.

Colin Wesley

No.485 17 December 2020 – 13 January 2021

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No.486 January 14 -27, 2021

Lighting Up

Welcome to 2021 – what lies ahead is anybody’s guess.

But what I can say is that those of us/you who enjoy the company of a good cigar should have plenty of opportunities to do just that – enjoy a good cigar.
Even if you have to do it on your own, in your own home.
At least you will be able to remove your facemask.

Another “welcome back” goes to Swedish Match for their Cigar and Pipe matches being available. Perfect for the true traditionalists in both fields of tobacco enjoyment, to use to fire up their tobacco hobby.
Since many of our new cigar smokers may not have had the opportunity to try a cigar match to light up a smoke,
now’s the time.
The following is roughly taken from a previous blog on the subject.

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.

So much for the theory – what are the options?
Matches – they should be longer and thicker than those used for a cigarette. You may even need more than one.
Watchpoint: Before lighting, allow the flash on lighting the match to finish, and so avoid a “sulphurous”
first puff.
Wooden Spill – or break a strip from the cedar sheet inside the cigar box. Light it – it provides a good flame with
the right aroma. You could light it from the dinner table candle. (It’s not a great idea to light your cigar
directly from the candle, traces of wax could affect the flavour of your cigar.)
Butane gas lighter – That’s a good choice: the gas is odourless and tasteless. The size of the flame is easy to
control, it should be large enough to cover about half the foot of the cigar.
Turbo flame butane gas lighter – This is almost mandatory in windy conditions, acting like a miniature
blowtorch. The flame is very strong and hot, and more care is required when lighting to ensure you
don’t char the foot of the cigar, causing a “burnt” taste.
Liquid fuel lighters - 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 your cigar is completely alight, sit back, draw regularly, concentrate on the flavour and aroma, and relax.

You’ll be glad to know that Cigar matches are available again.

Eurojet Single-jet Turbo Lighter with flame

And for the special offer this time we have a new Single-jet Turbo lighter – R190.00
Lovely looking, and comfortable ergonomic design. Made to fit into the hand so that when you light it, it is less likely to slip and possibly drop.


25% off the price of  the Single-jet Turbo lighter - Model 55-EJ059
Normal price R190.00
January 21 – February 3, 2021

Only from Wesley’s Shops and Online

Let’s start 2021 in the right way – cigar wise.
Enjoy your cigars.

Colin Wesley

No.486 January 14-27, 2021

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

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No.487 28 January – 10 February 2021

Filling that “Spare time” in 2020/2021.

For many people the year 2020 will be remembered as the year they had more “Spare time” on their hands than since they left school.

Smokers were dealt a double blow as they had the same amount of “Spare Time” but were denied the pleasure or relief from their tobacco because of the ban on the sale of all Tobacco related products.
Black market prices became prohibitive, driving people into desperate short term decisions which might hurt them later. Others not so desperate decided to look at different options for enjoying tobacco.
We started receiving emails enquiring after how to start pipe smoking.

Although under the ban we could not supply the wherewithal to start pipe smoking we could advise on this, and we did as thoroughly and as sympathetically as we could.
Since the ban was lifted in August, we have had a steady flow of new Pipesmokers, and a revival of previous Pipesmokers, trusting us for information and product.

We made the point that since they had time on their hands some background reading on starting to smoke a pipe would be helpful before they started buying random items.
We directed them to several blogs in our archives on the subject.
These blogs would cover pipe selection, in style and price.
Caring for the new pipe from the first pipe full, and what items they would need to do the job properly.
We finished by listing these item and where to find them on our website.
Pipe Tools / Knives – from R34.50
Pipe Cleaners
Pipe Spray and other Cleaning materials
Pipe Rest 

Now to follow up with the practical side of pipe smoking.
So, you have bought the Jujub Mr Pipe (R350.00) or the Marca Dry (R695.00) or the Savinelli Dry System pipe (from R1595.00) whichever suited your budget.
Now you are going to put some tobacco into the pipe, light it up and smoke it.

First, notes about smoking a new pipe:
Stork delivering a New PipeWood burns, and although briar is one of the hardest woods to be found, it is a little unreasonable to put a fire inside the bowl and expect the wood to resist the flame. However, the pipe will build, naturally, a carbon layer to line and protect the inside of the bowl – but it does need some help.

The practical side - two parts:

  • Filling the bowl and lighting up;
  • Ongoing practices and potholes in the journey. (Later blog)

Some things don’t change – how to “Put it in your pipe and smoke it
We’ve talked about this in several blogs over the years, summarised in The Complete Pipe Smoker:

Here are the essentials:
How do I “put” the tobacco into my pipe?
Pack the tobacco to suit your puffing rate, it should feel easy but firm.
Blow through the stem to make sure it is clear. If it isn't, use a pipe cleaner or the pick of your pipe tool to clear it. Feed the tobacco into the bowl, pinch at a time. Press down and check the draw - it must be firm but not too tight. To start with you may have to test the draw with each pinch, but in time it will be second nature to pack it just right for you.
If you have filled the pipe, but the draw doesn't feel right for you, empty it out and start again.
It won't smoke well if it doesn’t suit your comfortable strength of draw.

Watchpoint: Don’t chop and change your tobacco unnecessarily – stick to one tobacco if possible, or you’ll just confuse yourself with different burning rates. You can experiment later when you’ve got it right.

Lighting: This is a two-part process. Loosen the top of the tobacco slightly so that it will accept the charring flame readily. Apply the flame (from a slow burning match or a pipe lighter) moving it from side to side over the whole surface so that all the tobacco at the top of the bowl is charred. After a puff or two the tobacco usually goes out. Tamp down, tease the surface, relight - and this time it should burn steadily.

Now you’ve put it in your pipe and lit up, and you’re ready to “smoke it”:
Don't rush it, puffing furiously. Smoking should be an extension of breathing, gentle and rhythmical giving a cool smoke, good for the pipe and for the tongue. The majority of pipe smokers do not inhale, the taste is all in the mouth. Of course you will also enjoy the fine aroma of the smoke.
If the pipe goes out, gently tap off the loose ash and relight; but don't refill a warm pipe, use another pipe and let the old one rest and dry out.
It isn't necessary to smoke solidly for hours.
Stop when you're satisfied, put the pipe down, and it will go out naturally. When you're ready for another smoke, relight the pipe; or start another pipeful if you prefer.

“How can I smoke it when it keeps going out???”
First – pipe tobaccos don’t contain additives to keep them burning, so they are likely to “go out”.
But you can start right, and will develop a feel for how often you need to draw to keep the “fire” burning.

“I’ve done all that – but it still won’t stay alight!”
• Check the texture of the tobacco. Are there a lot of big pieces? Is it a flake tobacco?
“Rub out” the bigger “flake” pieces. A finer tobacco will burn more easily.
Actually – DON’T RUB!    You’ll end up with a lot of tiny bits of tobacco that come through with the smoke and may block the smoke passage, or even reach your mouth.
Rather separate the strands: Place a small amount of tobacco between the palms of your hands and roll it into a ball. Then gently tease out the individual strands. Now you can feed the tobacco evenly into the bowl.

• Is the tobacco too wet?
Tobacco keeps better when it is slightly damp (and teases better), but burns better when it has dried out a little. Store your tobacco damp, but dry your daily ration a little (naturally) and put it into your pouch.
Watchpoint: If you dry it in the sun it may lose the natural oils; drying in a microwave will probably change the taste.

“The pipe burns so hot – my tongue is sore!”
The most common reason for a “hot smoke” is that the tobacco is burning too fast – due to excessive puffing.
But why?
• You’re over-concerned that the pipe will go out, and are drawing too hard to keep the fire going. Relax, and slow down. Rather re-light than overheat the bowl.
• Your tobacco blend may be too “mild” – not satisfying enough (like very weak tea). Try a more full-bodied, or maybe a richer blend.
• The draw may be too tight. Loosen the tobacco in the bowl, and be more careful with packing next time.
Read about some of the modern thinking on “tongue-bite”.

Keep it clean: When you’re finished, empty the bowl, remove the filter, and run a pipe cleaner through the stem. (Have a deep ashtray or bowl ready for the discarded ash and to hold the filter between smokes.)
If you’re using a filter, remove it between smokes (makes it easier to clean the pipe) - replace it once it is too moist.
Don’t oversmoke the pipe – let it dry out between smokes by resting it bowl down in a pipe rack or pipe rest.

Back to lighting:“a slow-burning match or a pipe lighter”
We offer both:
Slow burning matches
And pipe lighters


Eurojet Flint Pipe Lighter Satin Chrome or Matt BlackFrom February 4-17, 2021
25% off the pipe lighters model 55-EJ033
Chrome lines or matt Black – Normal price R172.50 

You CAN enjoy the most relaxing form of smoking.

Colin Wesley

No.487 28 January – 10 February 2021

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

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No.488 February 11 - 24, 2021

Smoking your Cigar

In my previous blog, 4 weeks ago, we covered the routine of lighting up your cigar.
Now you are ready to enjoy the company of your cigar for the next 30-40-60 minutes.
But only if you treat it properly.
It has been said that “if you hurt your cigar it will bite you back”.

  • Puffing should be like an extension of your breathing - slow, even and regular.
  • One or two puffs per minutes is a good yardstick to follow.
  • Just draw the smoke into your mouth, let it sit for a few seconds for the palate and taste buds to start picking up the flavours (Sweet, Spicy, Nutty, Earthy, etc), before expelling it back into the air and you catch the aroma.

Here is an interesting exercise to try three or four times during a cigar smoke:
Draw in a mouthful of smoke, close your mouth and roll your tongue around covering your whole palate with smoke. You may be surprised at how many more flavours you will experience.
This exercise is evidently even more dramatic if you close your eyes at the same time.

Hints and Watchpoints.

Puffing too much or too fast.
This will cause the cigar to burn too hot changing the taste from mellow to harsh and bitter – worse still it may cause a little nicotine sickness.

Don’t inhale.
Inhaling cigar smoke will almost definitely cause you to cough which will prevent you from enjoying the flavours and aromas of the cigar.

Rotate your cigar during the time you are smoking it.
By rotating your cigar in the direction of the wrapper you will help maintain an even burn and prevent the wrapper from peeling off.

Put the cigar down – not out.
When the smoke from the cigar starts to turn sour or bitter that is the time to put it down.
Note down, not out - don’t stub it out, just leave it resting in an ashtray. It will go out without leaving nasty smell or an unsightly stub.

Palate Cleansing.
Combining some palate-cleaning liquid will always enhance the tasting experience of a cigar - be it coffee, spirits, wine, or plain water.

When to smoke.
Smoking a cigar is a recipe for relaxation.
When someone is uptight, or agitated, the advice often given is “take a few deep breaths and relax”. This is exactly what one does when smoking a cigar. But try and find an accommodating quiet place to do this.

Time for a cigar.
Premium cigars are not “fast food”. Learn to gauge the time it takes for you to smoke the different sizes and shapes of cigars. This is very subjective – there is no right or wrong time.
Then when you feel like a smoke, select the appropriate cigar for the time you have available – you can’t have a “quick” Robusto.

Resting your cigar
Many cigars prefer to be smoked all at one time, but sometimes it is necessary to put your cigar down for a short while during the course of the smoke.
Maybe when you don’t have a proper cigar ashtray handy - a portable cigar stand becomes necessary.

Portable Cigar Stand

We have been fortunate to buy
some very elegant
Lubinski cigar rests,
at a very special

Even more special ……

25% off  the price of the Lubinski cigar rest
73-LubRest Normal price R295.00
February 18 – March 3, 2021

Only from Wesley’s Shops and Online

Maximise your enjoyment when smoking your cigar.

Colin Wesley

No.488 February 11 - 24, 2021

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

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No.489 25 February – 10 March, 2021

Tongue Bite

Following on from my last blog you are now probably feeling more at home with your Pipesmoking.

You might even be telling some of your closest friends about this new hobby.
Depending on your age group you might be surprised at how many of them could let on that at some stage of their lives they too smoked a pipe, or they are thinking about doing the same.
Those who had smoked a pipe will tell why they stopped, and those who are thinking about starting will ask your opinion and advice.

From both angles the term “Tongue Bite” may crop up, either as the cause of giving up, or as an anticipated unpleasant experience to be avoided.

Up until a few years ago the theory of the only cause of this problem was simple.
The cause was hot smoke coming straight on to the tongue.
The hot smoke was created by the smoker puffing too much and too fast on the pipe.

The remedies:

First – do you smoke too fast because you are anxious? Consciously slow down and relax. Smoking should be an extension of breathing, gentle and rhythmical.

Another reason could be because the tobacco blend is too mild and unsatisfying, like a cup of hot weak tea.
The remedy is to strengthen the flavour of the blend with more Virginia tobacco filled with natural flavours, like putting another tea bag into the teapot.
This would automatically be more satisfying, the puffing would slow down, the smoke would be cool.
No problem.

These often worked, but there was no scientific investigation until some research in the Chilli food business was applied to analyse the various tobaccos usually used in compiling a blend for Pipe smokers. I’ve said the following before, but it bears repeating.
Scientific investigation indicated that the sensitivity of one’s taste buds (taste receptors) may be a factor.
It seems that different people have quite different degrees of taste – based on the number of taste buds on their tongues. And when the taste buds are clogged one gets this burning sensation. The more taste buds you have, the worse the clogging effect (this can be a big disadvantage for a “super taster”.)
It is not necessarily a high temperature that causes a “burning tongue” - chillies seems just as “hot” no matter what the temperature of the food. However a higher temperature opens up the taste buds so that the effect of the chilli or the tobacco is increased.
Further, for many smokers (though not all) alkaline tobacco (with a high pH) causes more of this “burn” than acidic tobaccos. Burley falls into the former group and Virginia into the latter.
Matured Virginia has far more natural taste; most of our blends include matured Virginia which adds to the flavour (more satisfaction with less effort) and incidentally neutralises the possible alkalinity of the Burley.

It also helps if you have a drink between puffs – green tea or other gentle drinks. However this is very personal. Whether you’re a Super Taster or not, experiment to see which of your favourite drinks relieves the clogging and stops the acidity.

A possible factor is the amount of moisture in the smoke.
Dry tobacco burns more easily, but it can also burn too fast, with a resultant higher temperature – leading to the opening of the taste buds.
On the other hand, tobacco needs to be slightly damp to carry the flavour – but it it’s too wet the smoke will be a higher temperature – and there you go again.
Pinch the tobacco in your fingers – it should not crumble or stick together:  just compact and then slowly expand as you release it.

Finally what about the way you pack the pipe?
We can’t say often enough: “Smoking should be an extension of breathing, gentle and rhythmical.”
But this can only be achieved if your pipe is packed just right for you.
Try out different ways of packing your pipe and find the method with which you are most comfortable.
You may need to adjust for different sizes and shapes of your pipes.

The pipe is a natural filter – build-up of sediment may narrow the smoke channel so that you have to draw harder. Hotter smoke and a bitter taste could result. Thorough cleaning is the remedy.

Thorough Cleaning:
If you made a New Year’s resolution to keep your pipes clean and polished, you will like our Pipe Smokers’ Special.
If you didn’t, you can still take advantage of the special and add that resolution to your list.

The Pipe Smokers’ Special:

From March 4 - 17, 2021 : 25% off Cleaning Care Kits

Savinelli Premium Cleaning Kit 78-Sav750P R850.00
Savinelli Basic Cleaning Kit 78-SavD750 R366.50
Dunhill Pipe Care Kit 78-DHPA3316 R795.00

Plus - vital for the inner health of your pipe:
25% off CGA Pressurised Pipe Cleaner Spray 78-CGSpray R77.50

If you follow these suggestions, you might be able to avoid the dreaded “Tongue Bite” and maintain your enjoyment of your pipe smoking hobby.

I like to think so!

Colin Wesley

No.489 25 February – 10 March, 2021

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