Happy Bank Hols!

11255395_10153279006032270_1262813878050723472_nAnother 3 day weekend… Marvellous, and I need it to recover from the last weeks’ worth of very hard work and herfing which kicked off in Turmeaus – Norfolk and a team meeting in the sampling lounge that went on for hours and hours and hours…

I was happy to chill out in the Oliva lounge after the two hour + drive from London in the C7GAR car and thankful the weather was lovely on the drive there although the hail and rain was a bit freaky on the drive back!

Thankfully I was more of an observer as the marketing team headed by C.Gars Director Laura Graham and her assistant James presented me with reams of stats to study whilst they discussed the next 3 months sales and marketing plans as well as new product initiatives.

Happy to say the stats don’t lie and C.Gars – Turmeaus, Group are growing at a faster rate than I can ever remember. Clearly the largest range and the best prices in the UK together with new shops and sampling lounges seem to be hitting the spot! My thanks to our customers, my brilliant sales and marketing team, warehouse teams and Turmeaus retail team.

I’m still intrigued with the Cohiba Robusto Supremo and that’s what James and I were smoking in Turmeaus Norfolk. It’s really quite a light to medium strength cigar but so full and sweet flavoured, I just can’t get enough of them. Beautiful dark and oily wrappers and considering they are a 58 ring gauge they have a perfect burn and draw.

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Wednesday evening I herfed with a few chums at Ten Manchester Street. One of my favourite cigar terraces in London, comfortable, warm and very friendly service. We had quite a crowd, I think around 13 of us in total herfing till the terrace closed and then some of the boys moved over to the sampling room. I was enjoying a piramides day starting with Monte 2’s, Diplo 2’s and ending with a Robaina Unicos and a Partagas P2. My kinda day :)

Thursdays herf was at a lovely local gastropub http://www.thethreecompassesaldenham.co.uk/ which has a pretty decent smoking area. Super friendly service and great food. Sara from Turmeaus Chester was in London so we herfed our way through Partagas Shorts, Petit Corona Especiales and a D4 to finish the evening . My kinda gal :)

Fridays herf was at Turmeaus Mayfair, In fact I’m typing the blog from the sampling room. Yes, yes – it’s a small sampling room but it’s comfortable, well ventilated, has great drinks, WIFI and a ridiculous large range of premium cigars in the walk in humidor. Perfect place to pit stop in Town.

I’m revisiting the Cohiba 1966 Limited Edition which is smoking better than ever. I always said the cigar was perfectly balanced and would age, mature and improve for many years and so far it looks like I’m right. This is a sophisticated blend for the experienced Havana cigar smoker.

Turmeaus Mayfair has a super range of discontinued Havana cigars by the box as well as singles and its not unusual to find a few gems in the humidor. I grabbed some La Flor de Cano Short Robustos for the weekend as well as some Por Larranaga Sobresalientes as they are getting a bit scarce now although we expect another shipment to arrive in the near future.

Inka – Secret Blend are more popular than ever in the UK and I’m still struggling to import them fast enough. The robustos may well be one of the best value premium smokes around and the Bombaso sales are crazy! I have two more huge imports arriving over the next 4 weeks with around another 40,000 cigars so if your favourite size is not available just check back or drop us an email as they will be back in stock pretty soon.

Well, that’s me for another week and a few clients have popped in to the sampling room for a smoke and a chat so I had better get off the IPad!

Have a smokey Bank hol weekend.

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

Nica Puro Herfing…

It’s been one of those non-stop sort of herfing weeks for me yet again. Not complaining too much though as I smoked some great cigars and herfed with a great bunch of guys (and girls!)

CE_Me--XIAAxWq5Office herfs on Monday and Tuesday with some good mature  Regius Robustos from 2013  (tobacco already well matured when we had the cigars made for us) paired up with Dalmore Cigar Malt (the perfect partner to any cigar!) and Turmeaus Tasting Evenings in Chester and Liverpool on Wednesday and Thursday with Alec Bradley Nica Puro and Prensado cigars.

girls_herfing_cigarsSold out tastings as usual and this time held at the delightful Bar Lounge in Chester and the Cornmarket in Liverpool. Guest of honour was George Sosa from Alec Bradley who we were delighted to welcome. George gave his usual informative and witty talk about cigars and is a brilliant chap to herf with!

My thanks to Christine and her Team at Turmeaus Liverpool‎ and Sara at Turmeaus Chester for organising excellent tasting events. And thanks to Scott from Tor Imports and Alec Bradley cigars for all their support.

Sara, our lovely Manageress at La Casa del Habano – Chester has organized a ‘Wednesday Whisky Club’ limited to 50 founder members and with some excellent benefits and planned whisky and cigar tasting events. Drop Sara a line for a Membership application form and further detail (sara@cgarsltd.co.uk)

A few email complaints this week regarding bad construction on cigars and one customer terribly upset that we had not ‘checked before shipping’ so here’s what I explained which I thought was worthy of blogging by way of some general advice: Premium cigars are a totally handmade product and very occasionally can be subject to draw/construction issues. Draw issues are commonly due to twists of tobacco in the filler part of the blend which cause a constriction in the smoke passage through the cigar (though they can also be caused by overfills and underfills).

Whilst we do have a stringent quality control procedure which includes checking wrapper colour and cigar condition I’m afraid it’s impossible for us to check the draw without cutting the cap of the cigar which obviously is not practical. Now many may think that we can check by feeling if the cigar is hard (totally or in parts) but the reality is that a cigar that feels hard may draw perfectly and in fact a cigar that feels soft may not draw at all.

I’m afraid it’s all ‘part of the game’ or perhaps the ‘charm and nature of the product’. we are the merchant, not the cigar roller so if you receive a cigar that has a construction issue, relax, drop us an email and we’ll replace it. No big deal. Pull out another cigar and it will likely have a perfect draw :)

Just putting the finishing touches on our Summer Auction catalogue  which looks like another splendid offering of Vintage Havana cigars. Some of the pre embargo cigars are breathtakingly beautiful to say the least. Over 300 Lots in this sale which will be held at the Bulgari Hotel at 2pm on the 15th June. Pre booking essential due to limited capacity in the Cinema room. Order your ticket here.

Next week, I’m off to Turmeaus – Norfolk for a Team meeting which is always fun, I mean hard work :) Our Norfolk premises is also our main warehouse. 1000’s and 1000’s of square feet of space crammed with just about every humidor and accessory you could dream of.

I get loads of emails asking me about humidors and what’s the difference between them all? Well it’s fairly straightforward: All humidors basically function the same i.e. they are ‘fit for purpose’ the price difference relates to the brand and size of the humidor as well as the finish of the humidor both internally and externally. So the more precious the wood, the more expensive the humidor. The better the quality and precision of the hygrometer the higher the price BUT – the basic function is the same and they all work pretty well regardless of price.

Regarding hygrometers one needs to bear in mind that unless you are spending quite a lot on a precision analogue hygrometer you should only rely on the reading as an indication as there is a margin of error of up to +/-3% or more. Salt tests are always essential. For a smaller margin of error digital hygrometers are recommended. They are not perfect but are a useful tool . Our best seller is the  Caliber which also gives a pretty accurate temperature reading as well which is a fairly essential thing to monitor when storing cigars.

Finally, I get tons of emails about ‘seasoning’ humidors. I must admit I don’t really subscribe to this as most people unfortunately get it wrong and end up drowning the humidor lining. Storing cigars correct in a humidor is not an exact science and really is not rocket science!…

Step 1: Locate humidor where temperature range is 66F – 70F (sort of room temperature in the UK)

Step 2: Fill humidifier and put in humidor.

Step 3: Put cigars in humidor, RH will settle down to around 66 – 69% fairly fast.

Final Step: Step back and admire, smoke and enjoy. It really is that simple.

Cigars do like a bit of fresh air and it’s good to rotate them in the humidor every week or so for even humidity. Get to know how your cigars look, feel, smell and smoke. (Far better than obsessing with hygrometer readings) Press with the pad of your thumb just under the band of the cigars and if the cigar is in good condition it will feel firm with a bit of spring.

And please please don’t over humidify so the cigar feels soft and spongy as it will likely be hard to keep it lit and taste bitter, after all you want to taste tobacco, not water!

We are now taking pre orders at a very special pre-release price for cabinets of the eagerly anticipated Ramon Allones 225th H&F anniversary cigars, snag them while you can as they won’t be around for too long!

This weekend will be a robusto weekend for me! And the weekend’s baggie includes Ramon Allones Specially Selected, Bolivar Royal Coronas and Hoyo Epicure No.2. Now if we just have some decent weather…

Have a smokey weekend,

Peaceful puffing,

Mitchell

Election!

No idea who is going to win the bloody election but was wondering if my Blue or Red banded Inka – Secret Blend sales were an indication? Blue of course being Conservatives colour and Red being Labours colour!

Sadly when analysing sales it looks like a 50/50 split so we are probably heading for a hung Parliament <groan>.

Still, it’s a very exciting election and I’m hoping that the polls are all wrong (won’t be the first time).

What the hell, good excuse to have an election night herf I reckon so I’m pulling an all-nighter till I see who wins and I’m am heading home well equipped with a large baggie of cigars to keep me awake (may have to go steady on the Scotch!).

The baggie includes a few of my standards and faves:

Bolivar Belicosos Orchant Seleccion 2010

Diplomaticos No. 2 (Smoking exceptionally well at this time, in fact I have switched from my beloved Monte No. 2’s)

Cohiba Behike 56 (Well I need some big smokes for a long night)

…and some Davidoff Chateau Margaux to celebrate if my party wins ☺ (I have a feeling I may be putting them back in the humidor!)

In other news this week…

At last we have the pricing and confirmed release date for the eagerly awaited Ramon Allones Hunters & Frankau Aniversario 225 Cigar & Commemorative Humidor.

22nd June is the release date and I can’t wait!

See the full story here: Humidor of 100 cigars (and a bottle of very special rum!) and Cabinets of 25.

If they are good as the ones I have tried already we are all in for a treat. If sales since we started listing the R225 are anything to go by, the humidors will all be sold out well before release!

plume_or_mouldA few emails coming in from newbies over the last few weeks like this ‘my cigars have mold.’ Shock! Horror!… Don’t panic :) Take a look at the photo… This is what we know as ‘plume’ a rather wonderful sign of a cigar maturing correctly and no need for concern at all. Simply wipe off with soft tissue and smoke away! We don’t take the plume off before shipping as so many of our experienced smokers prefer to see it on and wipe it off themselves.

So how do I know its plume? Well, with the benefit of 35 years of smoking premium cigars I can honestly say I have never ever seen mold on a single cigar and I have seen quite a few cigars as you can well imagine. Plume can be wiped off, mold cannot be wiped off as it permeates the wrapper (I understand it also smells rather awful.) I sometimes wish that someone would actually have a cigar with mold just so I could see one.

Another frequent email we receive is clients panicking as they see small white/green/yellow patches on the wrappers of their cigars. Again, no cause for concern, these minor wrapper imperfections are typically under fermented leaf or leaf that has been ‘touched’ by the sun shining through breaks in the muslin covering the leaf where the tobacco plants are grown. The cigar smoking experience is not affected at all.

Next week I’m off to Alec Bradley tastings at Turmeaus Chester and Liverpool. Looking forward to drinks and smokes with my friends up North. Guest of honour is George Sosa who is always a hoot. A hard weeks work next week for me… Not :)

Peaceful puffing,

Mitchell

 

Just Another Week…

Another first rate and sold out tasting evening at La Casa del Habano – Chester last Tuesday evening. Featured cigars were H. Upmann Half Coronas and La Flor de Cano Gran Cano, both of which were delightful smokes :)

We paired them up with three whiskies: Turmeaus Living Cask, Jura Superstition and Dalmore Cigar Malt. I can confirm they paired up very well indeed!

In the words of one of our attendees (by email):

Dear Mitchell,

I would like to thank you for the wonderful evening my Father and I had at Chester’s “Le Casa del Habano” tasting and sampling evening. I have visited the shop on numerous occasions but this was the first sampling evening we have attended, and I am sure it will not be the last.

Please give my sincere thanks to Calum and Sara for their excellent service and knowledge throughout the evening. In all, it was a fantastic evening with fantastic company.

Thanks again,

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Our Chester cigar and whisky shops are super! Huge stocks of the finest cigars, pipe tobacco and single malt whisky, whisky bar (click here to see the menu) and cigar sampling lounge – who could ask for more :)

Looking forward to the Alec Bradley tasting evenings with guest of honour George Sosa in a few weeks’ time in both Liverpool and Chester. Just a few tickets left if you hurry! Liverpool and Chester.

I can’t believe its May already, that was a super-fast first third of the year! If time flies when you’re enjoying yourself, I must be having a bloody good time :) It’s strange running a retail business as many business owners will no doubt know. We work like crazy and finish the year with a great Christmas season but then think to ourselves ‘oh no – its January, can we really keep the sales growing’. Sort of minor panic attack feelings for a few days until we realise that there’s nothing to panic about and if the first 4 months are anything to go by we must be getting it right as our sales have done an unprecedented jump of 20% in the first 4 months of this year. So my thanks to our customers both old and new.

My thanks also to my sales, marketing and warehouse teams as I’m never really sure how they cope with the volume of orders coming in. I can only liken our shipping department to a New York deli at lunch time, crazy busy to say the least. The challenge, so my general Manager Michelle tells me is to have the right amount of staff and to train them constantly and exceptionally well. With a growing business, the amount of people on the team is constantly growing so the training program seems to be never ending

Our Inca – Secret Blend cigars for the US market are already rolling out to retailers. If you would like to find out your nearest or a shop that will give a mail order service drop me a line sales@cgarsltd.co.uk

We’re running an end of line sale on the Turmeaus Edition Regius Culebras at just £49.99 whilst stocks last. Bit of a bargain and a very cool cigar ;-)

We’ve also released the last of the 2013 Orchant Seleccion Regius Robustos the additional age has rounded this cigar off to be an excellent full flavoured Nicaraguan. Highly recommended.

Save your money for the most exciting Havana cigar release of the year! 7 weeks to go until the release of the Ramon Allones 225th Hunters & Frankau anniversary cigars and humidor.

Looking forward to kicking back over the May holiday weekend and as I’m back on my diet I have selected a lovely looking box of Orchant Seleccion by Oliva ‘Skinny’ :) Check out the 5 star reviews on these best sellers. I think I’ll match it up with some 15 year old Mulata Cuban rum, incredible value at £53.99!

Have a smokey weekend,

Peaceful puffing,

Mitchell

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Davidoff Winston Churchill Tested!

davidoff_cigar_tasting_cambridgeAs the subject suggests, it’s been a bit of a Davidoff week for me :) Our whisky and cigar tasting evening at Robert Graham Ltd – Cambridge was a great success with a capacity crowd enjoying 3 single malt whiskies and the first ever tasting of the new Davidoff Winston Churchill range of cigars. Robert Graham Ltd managing Director Steve Johnstone had made the trek down South to enjoy the evening in our sampling lounge too!

Our guest of honour was Henke Kelner, Managing Director of Davidoff Dominican Republic. Henke is a bit of a legend in the cigar industry having been with Davidoff for around a quarter of a century and I understand the man responsible for the new range of Davidoff cigars in D.R. when the company left Cuba.

Henke is ‘The’ master Blender and it was a great pleasure to learn plenty from him during the evening when he made his presentation as well as took a Q&A from the event attendees.

We smoked the Petit Corona and the Toro from the new range. The Petit Corona was pretty intense due to the slender ring gauge and the Toro was a very smooth smoking experience if not an absolute pleasure, a complete kaleidoscope of complex and balanced flavours with an even burn and cool draw. There was not a hint of harshness or aggression and I really think Davidoff have nailed it with this blend.

It’s a complicated recipe to say the least! The tobaccos in this range of cigars come from Nicaragua, Mexico, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic.

The cigars are available in the following sizes:davidoff-launch3

Churchill 6 7/8” length and 47 ring gauge

Petit Corona 4 ½” length and 41 ring gauge

Robusto 5 ¼” length and 52 ring gauge

Toro 6” length and 50 ring gauge

These cigars are highly recommended for the experienced cigar smoker.

davidoff-launchWe had a further presentation from Henke and Davidoff at the splendid St James Court Hotel the next day. It was lovely to see Albert Manzone, senior VP of Davidoff Europe and my thanks to the UK Davidoff team for an excellent afternoon.

I’ve been working on creating a new and unique cigar for the last 3 years and have finally been able to release the first batch of 500 boxes of Inca Secret Blend to the US market in two sizes.

Its unique because it’s the only 100% Peruvian cigar on the market. 100% Hand made with premium long filler aged tobacco.

As 1000’s of my clients will know, I launched a similar Peruvian cigar to the UK market 3 years ago and it is now our best-selling New-World brand in the UK. The UK range is however a different blend and different sizes (different markets do have different requirements!)

As a successful cigar retailer and owner/operator of 11 specialist cigar shops in the UK believe me when I say I fully understand that humidor shelf space is at a premium and we have enough range to last us a lifetime! But Inca – Secret Blend cigars fill a range gap in the humidor because it is unique being a Puros from Peru. I would hope that with 22 years of experience in the cigar trade that I know what I am doing by now!

I’m not trying to make a zillion cigars and a load of baseball caps to sell them with! I’m not trying to compete with anyone. I’m just trying to give the consumer a different choice that during extensive market research sampling across the USA makes me confident that this boutique brand will be well received and very popular.

Inca Secret Blend cigarsTake a look at our website with more details here: Inca – Secret Blend USA

The two sizes that we are introducing are:

Inca – Secret Blend – Imperio 6 “ length and 60 ring gauge, cabinet of 20 cigars Retail price $205.

Inca – Secret Blend – Tambo 6 “ length and 50 ring gauge, cabinet of 20 cigars Retail price $190.

So, if you are in the USA and want to try something delicious and unique ask your local tobacconist for Inca – Secret Blend and if you have trouble finding them drop me an email at sales@cgarsltd.co.uk. We won’t sell them direct to consumers but we can point you in the direction of a local stockist or cigar shop that will give you a mail order service.

In other news this week… I had a great day with Marc and Hal Sinden who were directing me in my new acting role for some C.Gars promotional videos! I can honestly say I am the commensurate professional at walking three steps with a cigar (100 takes later!) thank you Marc and Hal :) If you are following me on Facebook no doubt the marketing team will be putting up some clips in the next few weeks.

Next week I’m off to La Casa del Habano – Chester for another whisky and cigar tasting the finest Havanas and single malt whisky… My kinda night :) Looking forward to seeing the Chester crowd.

That’s me done for another week and if the weather holds up, this weekend is a BBQ herf on the deck with a baggie filled with Inca Secret Blend and Davidoff Winston Churchill cigars :)

Have a smokey weekend.

Peaceful puffing,

Mitchell