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 No.530. March 16-April 5, 2023


Recent blogs have looked at the background to cigars and to smoking them.
I thought it time we touched on some more practical aspects.
Hints Colin shared 5 years back are still valid and possibly forgotten (or never considered).

These are some less common “do and don’t” considerations that may influence your enjoyment of your cigars.
These might be “old hat to the cognoscenti” (quote from way back), but are especially important for newer cigar smokers.
I hope you find at least one or two of these of interest or, more important, of help to you.

1. Don’t cut a cigar in half to share, or even prune it down to the size you want for the time you have to smoke it.
In the first instance the wrapper on the headless half will almost certainly unravel in an untidy unsatisfactory smoke. (Same as if you cut beyond the cap line on your cigar.)
In the second instance you will ruin the overall balance of the cigar. The blender places specific leaves in different positions in the cigar to allow for the taste to develop fully over the whole length of the cigar.
By cutting off the foot of the cigar you will be eliminating the cool, mild, introductory puffs on the fresh cigar.
Rather make sure that the sizes in your cigar selection cover several smoking times. No need to buy full boxes, top up any missing sizes with single cigars or packs of 3 or 5.
We offer cigars in packs of 3 at the same individual price as in the original box.

2. Don’t put a half-smoked cigar in your humidor.
Not even if you have trimmed it and blown through it to expel any smoke.
The cigars in the humidor will be tainted and, worse still, probably the whole inside of your humidor will take on a “smoky” aroma, difficult to remove.
Rather have available a few glass tubes with stoppers, or zip seal packets with a small Humidipack.

3. Over-humidification - what to do.
If, for whatever reason, your cigars have become soggy through over-humidification there is a simple, practical remedy. Insert several strips, or sheets, of cedar into your humidor. Cover the bottom and then depending on how many cigars you have in the humidor and the severity of the problem, distribute more strips strategically among the cigars.
Keep an eye, and a finger, on the cigars as you may be surprised how quickly the cedar will absorb the excess humidity. Don’t overdo this exercise.
You may like to use a Digital Hygrometer/Thermometer to keep a check on the overall condition in your humidor. The correct Humidity is important, but the Temperature is very important too.

4. Storing cigars in their cellophane or branded tubes?
Both coverings will prevent any humidification reaching the cigar. This may be needed.
However, keep the old tube handy to use if you want to carry a cigar in your pocket or briefcase.
If you are storing cigars from different countries all in one humidor try not to have them touching – use separate trays, or dividers to keep them apart, preserving their identity.

5. Fermentation –how and why?
The “why” is easy – fermentation of tobacco is necessary because it makes tobacco taste better. It improves the taste and the aroma by reducing the sharpness and bitterness to leave a nutty, less acid, mellow flavour. Fermentation continues to a certain extent when you store your cigars for some time in the correct conditions of temperature and humidity.
The “how” is very exacting, needing constant regulation of temperature and moisture content over the whole fermentation time period. The concern of any top cigar manufacturer!
Each pile of tobacco must be made up of leaves of a similar size or style, not a jumble of mixed leaves which won’t respond to the process all at the same rate.
The process cannot be slipshod or underdone. It is critical for the development of premium cigars.

6. The binder – The unsung leaf in the construction of a cigar. 
Sometimes described as the wrapper that just didn’t make it, possibly because it was a little too coarse and not eye catching.
However, besides being sturdy enough to hold the filler leaves in place, the binder is crucial to the combustion rate of the cigar, allowing for a smooth draw, especially if the filler includes flavourful, oily leaves that are not easy burning.
The binder can be summed up as the catalyst between the filler and the wrapper - it can make or break the smoking quality of the cigar.

Nano Bead Technology or the Boveda packs are good at preserving the humidity in your humidor, but always remember that temperature is very important too.
You need to know exactly what is happening in your humidor - is the Temperature as well as the Relative Humidity right for your cigars?
You can keep a check on both with the Slim black Digital Hygrometer/Thermometer ~ °C or °F

From 16 to 31 March, 2023, we offer
25% off 73-J6501 Slim black Digital Hygrometer/Thermometer ~ °C or °F
Normal price R795.00 (incl.15% Vat)

Why leave it to chance when, for the cost of less than 3 cigars, you can be certain.

Gillian & Colin Wesley
No.530 March 16-April 5, 2023

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 No.531.April 6 to May 3, 2023

The Next Steps to Perfect Pipesmoking

You have your new pipe - medium bowl size.
And the pipe tool and cleaners.

Did you read ”Put it in your pipe and smoke it” ?
I trust it helped you with packing and lighting the pipe.
By now that is probably second nature and very relaxing.

This link possibly gave you an idea about cleaning the pipe after each smoke.
Still the pipe is such a good natural filter that there are probably some deposits that are left behind each time – the filtering is good for you, but messy for the pipe.
You’ll have a more enjoyable clean, sweet smoke if you give your pipe a little extra attention every few weeks.
Just 20-30 minutes.
If you like rugby, you may find it convenient to spend some time on regular cleaning while watching a good game.
You can easily find a game almost any weekend.
There are so many to choose from – URC, Currie Cup, 6 nations, Super Rugby, and more.
But not “Sevens” – too fast.
And then there’s Cricket, Football, Tennis, Golf – choose one, your pipe will thank you.
A favourite television programme would also do.

Now the procedure, prepare:
A low table, so it won’t get in your eye line while watching the game;
Newspaper to cover the table;
Solvent to soften the deposits, Stem Polish, Bowl Polish, Silicone Cloth, Pipe Cleaners;
Some liquid refreshment close at hand.

Steps – not necessarily in this order:
The inside of the mouthpiece and shank – clean out the deposits.
Spray a little CG Spray into the mouthpiece from both ends. Let it sit for a short while to soften the deposits then give the inside a good scrub with a bristle cleaner. Repeat until the bristle cleaner comes out clean.
Same steps with the shank.
If there is a sump, fold the pipe cleaner in half and swivel it.
Another option for the solvent is the Savinelli Pipe Clean.

Go carefully with a bent stem. Visualise the sharp point of the cleaner hitting the apex of the bend. Very easy to cause a hole.
Don’t push the pipe cleaner too hard into the bottom of the bowl – this could also drill a hole.

Everything in one place- choose the all-in-one Savinelli Con Dit Kit Premium.

The outside of the bowl.
Remove surface dirt and nourish the briar bowl with Savinelli Bowl Polish.

The outside of the mouthpieceSavinelli Stem Polish and a good hard rub will remove the oxidation from a Vulcanite/Ebonite/Cumberland mouthpiece before it gets too bad.
If your pipe has an Acrylic mouthpiece it is more resistant to oxidation, but it can be a hard on the teeth.

Finishing touch:
An essential part of your cleaning equipment is the Dunhill Silicone Pipe Care Cloth – 100% waxed cotton.
It gently lubricates and protects the finish of the whole pipe.
Don’t forget to use it to lubricate the peg after cleaning so that it will slide smoothly in and out of the shank.
Online sales - we use the silicone cloth to treat every pipe before shipping.

Rubber Pipe Bits
Mouthpieces can be hard on the teeth. Especially Acrylic mouthpieces which are harder and more susceptible to cracking.
You can protect both – the mouthpiece and your teeth, with a rubber Pipe Bit. Suits all mouthpieces.
The Pipe Bit slides over the bite end of the mouthpiece. Makes the bite a little thicker but very comfortable on your teeth and you’re less likely to crack the end of the mouthpiece. It will help you keep a firmer hold on the pipe when you’re holding it in your mouth, leaving your hands free.
A must for smokers with tooth issues like sensitive teeth or dentures.
We used to get Softy pipe bits from the US, but shipping small parcels is expensive. Fortunately a major supplier now offers rubber Pipe Bits, so they are shipped as part of a larger shipment.

Let’s make the cleaning procedure easier on the pocket:

25% off Cleaning Polishes:
Savinelli products, CG Pipe Spray, Dunhill Silicone Cloth

Valid April 8 - 23, 2023

Last thoughts:
If you’re smoking your pipe more than once a day, it’s time to start thinking about a companion pipe. Your current pipe will need an opportunity to rest so it can dry out thoroughly and stay sweet longer.

Gillian Wesley
No.531. April 6 to May 3, 2023

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 No.532 May 11 – June 14, 2023

May 2023
Actually this was supposed to be April 2023, but the best-laid plans ….

Let’s start with what we hope will be a false alarm.
On 27 September 2022, Hurricane Ian made landfall in the western tip of Cuba, the Pinar del Rio area. Together with Vuelta Abajo the area is considered to have the finest tobacco-growing lands in the world.
Fortunately the tobacco growing season had not yet started, but growing the plants is only the start. After harvesting, the leaves have to be cured in big barns before they can be sent to the factories. Proper curing is vital to the quality of the leaf.
During the hurricane more than 10000 curing barns were destroyed by winds in excess of 160 kilometres per hour.
It has been very difficult to rebuild them all in time for the growing season, partly due to the shortage of building materials. The anticipated reduction in numbers of available curing barns means that probably only half of the planned 10000 hectares will be planted. Priority was given to those farms which normally produce the highest quality crops.
Cigar Aficionado quotes a statement from Habanos S.A. the marketing division of Cuban cigars “Habanos S.A. and Tabacuba, as usual, are closely and effectively working to support the tobacco sector in its recovery and minimize the impacts…We can assure that Habanos S.A. will do its best to guarantee the highest quality and the excellence of all its marketed products and will never put demand above quality.” 

Some more useful information:
You’ve probably also seen some very strange burning surfaces on cigars when they are smoked – uneven burn, only the inside burning. I’ve seen the same thing on some of the cigars being smoked at our dinners, but some of the descriptive names are new to me.

Nevertheless here they are, courtesy of JR cigars - and how to fix them.
A hole down the centre of the cigar. This happens when the wrapper leaf cools (or goes out) while the filler leaves keep burning. You can prevent this by puffing regularly to keep the whole burning surface alight evenly. If it has happened to you use your lighter to gently light the outside of the cigar until it catches up. If the hole is too deep but there is plenty of cigar left, trim the end of the cigar, blow through to clear old smoke, and relight.
The reverse of tunnelling – the wrapper is burning too fast and the filler leaf is left behind forming a cone. This may happen if you are smoking too fast. Put the cigar down (level) in your ashtray and let it go out. Then relight paying special attention to the cone.
If a cigar is humidified unevenly, or lit unevenly, one side may burn faster than the other. You can prevent this by taking care to light the surface of the cigar evenly, rotating it above (not in) the flame. It would also help to rotate it while smoking, the upper part of the cigar seems to burn faster.
Fix it by lighting the side that is burning slower, or apply a little moisture to the faster burning side.
The wrapper is peeling:
Maybe the wrapper was damaged during storage. If you have some Lip Ice with you when you are out this may help. Or if you’re serious about your cigar hobby, buy some pectin which dissolves in water and can be used like a glue. I remembered the name from school domestic science so I quickly googled it. It has a number of uses, but strangely, fixing cigar wrapper wasn’t mentioned.
Now this I’ve never seen. The burn runs away from the end, possibly along a small vein in the wrapper.
To fix, moisten the anticipated path of the runner – it should stop it in its tracks.

It doesn’t seem such a long time ago that we visited JR cigars in the 1980s, in the search for cigars other than Cuban, when Cuban cigars were in short supply - again! 

The Cigar Punch
A cigar lighter is often fitted with a quality cigar punch, like the one we have on special for the next 3 weeks.
These are particularly useful for the extra thick cigars so popular today – almost anything over ring 50 (Classic Robusto)
Many years ago in a blog about cutting cigars, Colin wrote
The Punch has its place in cigar cutting:
• For thinner cigars it is easier than trying to open the head without removing the whole cap;
• Some cigars have a very flat head – again it can be difficult to cut off less than the whole cap;
• And the surgical steel on a cigar punch gives an exceptionally neat hole – no ragged edges.
New addition: The short thick “nub” cigars smoke more easily when cut with two or three punched holes.
Note: Turn the punch, not the cigar.
Idea: If you moisten the head of the cigar you may get a smoother cut – try it.

Turning the punch when it is attached to a lighter is not easy.
His second tip might be more useful: damp the top of the cigar slightly.
Try it to see if it works for you.

Talking of cigar lighters, 4 months ago we offered a triple jet lighter with cigar punch attached.
The lighter has a great feel, an easy slide striking action, and the triple jets are strong. The gas level indicator, and a 12 month guarantee are added benefits.
We have managed to get a few more to offer at the special price …

From May 13 to June 4, 2023 – or until stocks run out,
55-EJ063 R640.00 less 25%
We have only a few Triple Jet Cigar Lighters at this price.
Only from Wesley’s Shops and Online

Just a thought – Father’s Day is not that far off.

Gillian Wesley
No.532 May 11 – June 14, 2023

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 No.533 June 15 to July 19, 2023

The White Spot

This small white dot was first imbedded in the mouthpiece of each Dunhill pipe, to show which was the right way up.

But it has meant so much more to us – a symbol of perfection, of a briar pipe that gives pleasure to its owner for many years, and then continues to give pleasure to the next pipe smokers long after the first owner has passed on.

That small white dot became the symbol of Dunhill pipes, in fact of most Dunhill products, and on Wednesday May 27, 2009 a EU Trademark Application was filed by Alfred Dunhill Ltd.
It was registered December 2009, and the “White Spot” became the smallest registered brand.
More important it was still acknowledged as a symbol of products conforming to the doctrine of Alfred Dunhill:
“Must be useful; Must work dependably; Must be beautiful; Must last; Must be the best of its kind.”

As Wesley’s we have had a long, direct association with Alfred Dunhill Ltd.
Articles in our archived print Newsletters show that Wesley’s was a direct importer in 1968, a sole importer in 1978, a Dunhill Principal Pipe Dealer in 1982 – and still visiting the factory to select pipes in 1992. For the following few years the Dunhill agency in South Africa was handled through the lighter distributor, but in 2010 we were pleased to find ourselves back as the sole South African importer and distributor of the “White Spot” range of Pipes and Smokers’ Accessories.
We visited the factory again in 2014. I can still see the high shelves of stock from which John brought down the various boxes so we could select our pipes.

More recently, on our September visits to the InterTabac Trade Fair in Dortmund, we met up with the Dunhill group with their accompanying cases of Alfred Dunhill’s “The White Spot” pipes.
What a pleasure, how exciting, to be able to again select from hundreds of pipes (literally) those that we think would be enjoyed by our pipe smokers back home.
2022 was no different – I could admire the shape and finish of each pipe, feel each pipe for weight and balance, and choose those I loved - 28 assorted shapes and finishes.

Of course that isn’t the end of the story.
The pipes took a couple of months to arrive, and they had to be costed. The devaluation of our currency pushed the prices so high that I averaged the prices with all the pipes we had in stock.
I compared the resulting South African prices with those of retailers in the Euro area, and in the UK, and we were in the same ballpark, maybe slightly less.
Then the pipes had to be individually photographed and the pictures processed ready to load onto our websites.
The final step would have been Colin writing a short note about each pipe, indicating the features that attracted us in the first place.
I just haven’t had time to do this, but the pictures are good, the pipes come alive on the screen.

So let me highlight here just a few pipes of this exceptional range we have received.
(If you are interested, you can click here for a shape chart, the last 2 digits of the code stamped on the pipe.)
First, instead of the 28 pipes I had chosen we received 32.
Three of the extra pipes are unique:
Two White Spot Churchwarden pipes with curved stems:
C4605 Group 4 Cumberland Dublin Bowl; N3603 Group 3 Chestnut Billiard bowl.
The third is a style we’ve met before, and it’s lovely – a Group 3 “Dress” pipe, D3202, a high polished black finish bent pipe with a hallmarked silver band and saddle mouthpiece. It just asks to be held.

Included in the selection are some 9mm filter pipes – in this case the shank must be thicker to house the filter, so these are all Group 4 sizes where a thicker shank suits the bowl style and size. Previously, more often than not, this meant a stocky billiard.
This time we have a much better variation:
Shell S4108F a stunning bent Rhodesian; Shell S4103F a beautiful taper bent; Shell S4102F stocky billiard; County Z4102F stocky billiard, and I found one with a larger bowl than the normal Group 4 size.

Occasionally the craftsman is allowed some latitude when shaping a pipe. Such pipe shapes are called “Quaint” and they aren’t stamped with a shape number, just the Group size number:
Cumberland C4 (Standing) – a very elegant saddle bent with a flattened base. It stands even when the bowl is empty. You can see the fine grain on the smooth rim of the bowl.
County Z5 (Brandy, with half bent oval stem) – the craftsman was really inspired with this one. The large Brandy bowl fits the hand beautifully. It is usually paired with a straight roundish stem, but in this case he felt the oval stem blended better with the bowl shape (I agree, just look at it as you would see it when smoking) and the quarter bend added some lightness to the overall shape.

I was able to fill in the gaps in our current stock of shapes and finishes:
Some Chestnut bents and billiards, two beautiful Amber Roots, Shell and County pipes including half-bent Dublin and Horn shapes.
All well=proportioned and perfectly finished – and of course having had, over several months, the unseen 90 processes which are the hallmark of Dunhill White Spot pipes.
One of the advantages of being able to personally select the pipes is that we are able choose in any Group size the biggest of a given shape, and, because there are slight variations in many of the shapes, a slightly taller or shorter bowl, a slightly longer or shorter shank, we can choose those that look the best.
We now have a good range of shapes and finishes.

As you can see, I’m very pleased with the pipes that have arrived.

You’ll probably be pleased too – especially with the special offer:

From Friday June 16 to Sunday July 2, 2023
25% off all Dunhill pipes

Each pipe is perfectly cured, perfectly finished and presented in a true classic shape (usually).
Each pipe is unique.
A stunning addition to your collection – even if only one.

Gillian Wesley
No.533 June 15 to July 19, 2023

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 No.534 July 27 to August 16, 2023

Enjoying your cigar hobby

Keep it slow!
Keep it cool!
Enjoy all the flavours the blender intended!

The flavour of a cigar comes from the natural oils released from the leaf as it gradually warms up.
Think about it - drawing too fast will increase the burning rate, the cigar may overheat and destroy the natural oils - all you will taste is carbonised tobacco.

Try a more gentle approach:

  1. When you light up, you need to draw a little harder, but don’t overdo it.Just enough strength to ensure the whole surface area is burning evenly. Long slow even draws. You want to taste the combination of the flavours of all the leaves. (see The Cigar Blender)
  2. Once alight draw slowly, allow the whole cigar to warm up and offer flavours from all the leaves for your enjoyment.
  3. Keep at least 6mm ash on the cigar, it will slow down the burning rate.
  4. Don’t rush. Every now and then hold the smoke in your mouth a little while longer, so you can appreciate the flavours.
  5. For a true appreciation of your cigar you need to smoke it to the end. Each of the first, second and third sections may give you a very different experience.
  6. If the burning tip forms a cone you are possibly smoking too fast.
  7. The blender chooses the combination of leaves that will give the flavour he is aiming for. He may not use the same filler leaves all the way through the cigar. Maybe lighter to begin with progressing to stronger towards the finish of the cigar. Or maybe the other way around. Or maybe the same leaves all the way through the cigar, relying on the gradual built-up/release of flavour as the oils warm up along the length of the cigar.
  8. Occasionally put the cigar down, or hold it (level), and let it rest for 30-40 seconds. Long enough to allow your mouth to enjoy the tastes and then refresh, but not so long that the cigar goes out. This will give the natural oils time to release further along the cigar.
  9. If your cigar does go out, it’s not a train smash. Read about purging and relighting.
  10. Or maybe you aren’t able to finish your cigar. Called away, or it was simply too big for the time available. Put it down in a level position to keep it burning evenly while it gradually goes out. No need to stub it out. Stubbing often means it will die with an unpleasant smell.

Why Level?

Cigar being rested badlyCigar being rested badly

Look at these pictures of cigars being rested badly. You can see the angle of the burning surface is being changed.
That affects the leaves being burned, maybe mostly the wrapper, messing up the careful plans of the blender.


Clear Glass Cigar Ashtray; 8.5cm diameter

How much better to use a good ashtray with plenty of support for the cigar

Black Ceramic Cigar Ashtray with sliding Bridge


Better still if the length of support changes with the length of the cigar.


Portable Cigar Ashtray

But what if there is no appropriate ashtray?

You could carry a travel ashtray with you.


Portable Cigar StandTurns any ashtray (or saucer) into a cigar ashtray


Or, smaller and neater, a cigar rest will give your cigar all the balance it needs.
The cigar will be held steady over any dish – an ashtray with no rest, a saucer


Sometimes a cigar is just pleasant to smoke while connecting with friends on an occasion.
Sometimes you want to relax and enjoy all the flavours in peace, giving your cigar the attention it deserves.
Don’t try to name the flavours, unless one springs to mind.
Just enjoy the flavours – do you like them? If not, take the cigar off your shopping list.

Does this sound worth a try, especially when you are judging a new cigar?

Let’s offer some encouragement.

From July 30 to August 13, 2023 – or until stocks run out,
You can invest in a Cigar ashtray or Cigar Rest
at 25% off the normal price.

Only from Wesley’s Shops and Online

Carlos Fuente Jr in an interview with Cigar Aficionado philosophically praises a fine cigar for the peace it brings:
 "You exhale and let the smoke out, and there is great peace in the silence."

You can enjoy this peace too.

Gillian Wesley
No.534 July 27 to August 16, 2023

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