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No 50 - October 17, 2002
Wesley's Cigar Dinner
The Grillhouse, Rosebank,
October 10, 2002

The guests started arriving well before 7:00pm, in fact before we had finished preparing the tables. Fortunately we were able to steer them into Katzy's Cigar Bar, opposite The Grillhouse.
By 6:55pm we were ready for the 72 guests - 8 tables all laid out with shining cutlery, crockery, glassware, ice buckets and tantalising bottles of wine. At each setting we placed an invitation to the November Cuban evening, a pricelist of extra cigars available at special prices for the evening, plus a complimentary bottle of "Aqua Excellence" humidity regulating fluid (compliments of a local cigar aficionado and businessman). Menus rolled into glass tubes, cigar matches and cutters were spread out between the waiting ashtrays.
"We were ready" - on the stroke of 7, we let them in - 2, 3, 4 at a time.
Each guest was name-tagged (with their free draw number), advised of their seating, and offered a San Luis Rey Club cigarillo, a light and a sherry.
By 7:30pm all but a few latecomers had been ushered to their seats - the dinner was on.

While some folk finished their spicy little San Luis Rey Club, I welcomed everybody and thanked our two main sponsors (The Cigar Company and representatives of Glenfiddich Grants Whisky). I talked about the relatively new small size machined cigars now made in Cuba - the Cigarillo (Club), the Mini Cigarillo and the Demitasse (Purito) - you can read more about them.

The second cigar which was about to be handed out, was the Juan Lopez Corona - light and easy-burning, and considered to be an ideal daytime or early evening cigar - and it was.

The first course was paraded in - and what a sight it was. The platters of Meze and fresh salads were bright, colourful, beautifully arranged and plentiful. And they tasted great too.

Orders for the main course were taken and we had approximately 40 minutes to enjoy the first course, wine and Juan Lopez. I took advantage of the last five minutes of this time to draw the winner of the crystal cigar ashtray.
I announced further draws - R20 raffles for a 3-pack of Limited Edition maduro cigars (value R490) and for a bottle of Glenfiddich 18 year old whisky (value R1000). Tickets would be sold towards the end of the main course.

The main courses were carried in high above heads, and deftly placed before each guest. The 500g of spare ribs was awesome. Gillian, fitted out with the necessary bib style apron had no qualms about calling it quits halfway and asking for a "doggie bag" (which was supplied with a smile).

The response to the raffles was spontaneous and very good - so good that we drew 2 winners for the 3-packs of Limited Edition cigars. (Click to read about them and a 3-pack offer.)

We had now reached the high point of the evening - the Romeo y Julieta Belicosos and the whisky presentation. By this stage the verbal volume made it impossible to address the company en masse, so, partnered by one of the excellent waiters, I visited each table in turn to extoll the merits of this fine cigar.

The Belicosos is a slightly shorter version of the classic Torpedo.
It takes a little less time to smoke than a Pyramid, costs less, and yet gives ample satisfaction. The hand rollers at the R & J factory take great pride in their expertise and strive for utter perfection in the complex cigars they create. It was R & J that produced the first Churchill size cigar in honour of the great man.
From my own experience, and the exclamations of guests, the Belicosos lived up to the best expectations.

The Glenfiddich whisky presentation was very professional with Jason Duganzich courageously quietening the tables to a muted murmur and holding their attention with aplomb. (The fine cigars also helped.)
A novel twist to his presentation: at the end he asked 2 questions relating to the presentation, and the first correct answers in each case were rewarded with a bottle of Glenfiddich single malt whisky. In fact the contest for one of the questions was adjudged a draw and the sponsors graciously handed over a second bottle.

It was now 10:30pm.

I delivered the packets of cigars purchased to their owners, and the first guests started to leave - others stayed happily chatting and smoking, or moved over to the vibrant atmosphere of Katzy's Cigar Bar.

The party had ended on a high note.

The venue was exceptional (especially the air extraction system) and the service was carried out professionally by well-trained staff in a very pleasant manner.
The fare had been excellent - food, wine and cigars.
The atmosphere had buzzed with much conversation and laughter and the aroma of fine cigars. It was a night to remember, and hopefully to be repeated in the New Year.

So you missed the dinner? But you can recreate it.
A pack of the 3 cigars for only R169.50!
Offered at this special price until November 6, 2002.
You can arrange your own good food and wine, and the convivial guests.
(Sorry about the whisky!)

Colin Wesley
October 17 to October 30, 2002

PS Have you read about the Limited Edition Maduro cigars
currently available from Cuba?
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No 51 - October 31, 2002
The Art of the Pipe
Broadly speaking, each pipe is a unique work of art.

No two pieces of briar will have exactly the same grain, some will have surface blemishes, some will have patches of soft wood. The weight will vary, and so will the colour.
But the word "unique" traditionally belongs to those pipes which have been envisaged, designed and crafted by individual pipe artists. These artists give as much attention to the quality and fit of the mouthpiece as they do to the bowl of the pipe. Precious metal bands and jewels may be added, giving further value to the pipe.
In a New York pipe shop I had a handling mishap with the owner, and between us we nearly dropped a diamond studded, straight grain "Unique" pipe onto the tiled floor. This at $4500 for the pipe would have been a BIG mistake. The slightest scratch would have down priced the pipe considerably. It was a catch well taken.

The artists draw their inspiration from many sources.

Some are inspired by the grain and feel of the individual block - akin to the feeling a sculptor has for a piece of marble.

Click here to see more of the magnificent Savinelli "Autograph" pipes.
Prices range from R4000 to R20000.

The artists from Ser Jacopo Dalla Gemma have on occasion drawn their inspiration from the pipes depicted in the paintings of great artists such as van Gogh and Magritte.

Click here for some very interesting interpretations, shown with photos of the original paintings. Prices range from R3500 to R8000.
(If you'd like it studded with a sapphire or ruby, it will cost you R14000 to R17000.)

The artists who make these pipes are entitled to the prices they ask, but they leave a gap for somebody to offer unusual shapes at more affordable prices - pipes where the shape and functionality are more important than the perfection of grain and complete absence of minor surface imperfections.

Works of great artists may be made more accessible to the ordinary man in the street by making copies or lithographs - possibly numbered and signed. Some artists first sell only the copies (a limited number) for a period of time - the original waits in the wings until the copies are sold out.

A pipe artist can work in a similar fashion - carefully designing the original which is then faithfully copied for many years. And the "copies" may be in a range of qualities, not only the perfect.
For many years one of the companies that has provided such pipes is Lorenzo of Italy.
Even since the original Lorenzo Tagliabue, and he truly was original, passed away some years ago, the company has continued to produce a limited range of pipes "Styled by Lorenzo". The original unique shapes designed by the great man, offered in a variety of price categories.

For a limited period, and while stocks last, we offer you at a special price two of these shapes from his Prestigio range. Try them - the feel and smoking qualities are unique. You'll never regret owning a Lorenzo.

Colin Wesley
October 31 to November 13, 2002

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No 52 - November 14, 2002
The Role of the Roller
"Cigar rolling is a simple monotonous routine that is just duplicated as often
as possible in the working day." True or false?

Cigar Rollers are generally paid according to the number of cigars they roll, less any cigars rejected by their supervisor. The incentive is based on both quantity and quality. Depending on the size and complexity of the cigar, a good roller (Torcedor) can produce between 75 and 700 units in a 10 hour working day. The average rate in a Cuban factory is 135 per day.

Most factories have their own training programmes which they can manipulate to ensure that they have the correct replacement rollers available when needed. It can take up to 6 years to become "skilled" and as much as 20 years to become a Master Torcedor. During the height of the cigar boom (mid 1990's) this training period was often shortened and the market was flooded with poorly made cigars. By "poorly made" I mean cigars that are rolled too tightly, too lightly, or are plugged (won't draw).

Rolling: In summary, a fully handmade cigar starts with the formation of the "bunch" made up of the prescribed leaves for that blend. These need to be carefully crimped together, creating long air passages; not rolled together which would give a difficult, maybe impossible, draw.
The bunch is then placed on the binder leaf, and carefully rolled.
After this it is correctly shaped in a bunch press and held for 15 to 45 minutes. During this period the cigar roller prepares the wrapper leaf placing it so that the smooth upper surface of the leaf will be on the outside. It should also be positioned so that the base of the leaf (which is more full flavoured than the tip) will be rolled into the head of the cigar. This allows the taste to grow as the cigar is smoked.

The cap which holds the wrapper down, forming the head of the cigar, is cut from the same leaf to match the colour and is glued in place with a tasteless gum.
The finished cigars are bundled in 50's, and the roller's job is done.

It is simple - the skills come in getting it right time after time after time.

This is one of the reasons that rollers tend to concentrate on rolling specific ring sizes - they develop the feel for the hand pressure needed to achieve a 42, 44, 48 ringsize with amazing consistency. The really large ringsizes, figurados and perfectos require the most skill, and the rollers of these cigars are the highest paid - even in Cuba there is a wage differentiation.

So the role of the Roller is critical to the reputation of the cigar factory and to your enjoyment of their cigars.

You can see a Master Torcedor in action at a Wesley's on the following days and times:

Shop 170 The Mall of Rosebank, Jhb 011 7887413 Wednesday. Nov. 20 12.30 - 14.30
Shop 109 Brooklyn Mall, Pretoria 012 4607781 Thursday, Nov. 21 11.00 - 12.30
Shop 10a, Eastgate Centre, Bedfordview 011 6168837 Saturday, Nov. 23 11.00 - 12.30

Diarise it now - don't miss her

More about Maduro:

We've talked about the renewed interest
in Maduro cigars in the States and in South Africa, especially with the arrival of the Cuban Limited Editions from Romeo y Julieta, Partagas and Cohiba (almost sold out).

It's time for serious comparisons -
Maduro v. Maduro (Cuban / Honduran)
Maduro v. Natural (Cuban / Cuban)

Buy the three pack of Robustos on offer from Nov.21 for only R230.00

Romeo y Julieta Limited Edition - Maduro
Romeo y Julieta Exhibicion No.4 - Natural
Don Mateo Robusto Maduro

(Ringsize 50 x 124mm)
(Ringsize 48 x 127mm)
(Ringsize 50 x 120mm)

Normal Price: R121.00
Normal Price: R109.50
Normal Price: R60.00

And when you've discovered how good the Don Mateo is you'll be glad to know that we've been able to buy a small package of these cigars - just look at the price!

Colin Wesley
November 14 to November 27, 2002
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No 53 - November 28, 2002
The Nobility

We are closing in on the.Festive Season and the year end. A good time to reflect on the good things that are available - those events and things that add something.to our lives.If you are a pipe smoker, your thoughts may well turn to the Prestige Pipes. They are beautiful, they are the Nobility - the pipes that express the passion for briar and for perfection in production in the brand name. They are the pipes upon which the brand names hang their hats, and they don't want them to fall off!
Read more about them - click here.

Our range of Prestige Pipes is growing in line with the interest being shown. In this the third selection to be shown on our website, the pipes are "one of a kind" and are held at Head Office for specific orders. (Exceptions are the Savinelli Premier Dry System and the Stanwell Rhodesian.)

  For the period December 5 to December 18
we will be offering Prestige Pipes at less 25%.
The pipes are those shown on the website, plus others from the following groups:
Stanwell - Rhodesian and Calabash, both smooth and sandblast;
Savinelli - Punto Oro; Champagne; Straight Grain; Roma and Dry System Premier.
(Ask for the list of shapes available.)

Restored to former glory - and already "broken in":
Early in 2003 we will be presenting our first website collection of refurbished pipes. When new, many of these would have been in the Prestige Pipe class. Now that they have done service for one proud owner, they have been restored and are ready to give pleasure to their next owner at a fraction of their current new price - well worth looking at!

Colin Wesley
November 28 to December 11, 2002
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