Have I Changed?!

Mitch-Throwback-ThursdayI had a bit of a laugh this week clearing out some old archive boxes as you can see from the photo of me from around ¼ of a century ago when I first started selling cigars through the convenience stores at my petrol stations.

Found some eye opening old price lists for ‘Mitchell’s Cigar Company’  Ouch! prices have really gone up over the years! Ranges have changed but my marketing was pretty cool for a novice in the cigar trade :)

I think I changed the humidor business in the UK as much as the cigar business; I piled it all very high and sold it very cheap! Some 25 years later, I’m still doing the same except the business sells multi millions of Pounds worth of cigars, humidors and accessories now. I can’t believe how much the range has expanded over the years with some 8000 sku’s available online and helpful sales advisors working 24/7 – every day of the year. 8 shops in 5 locations and 2 warehouses (not counting our friends at Robert Graham Ltd in another 5 locations!), times have changed :)

It was great to get back into retail some years ago having gained vast experience in the C-store business and cigars and whisky are so much more fun! My project at The Albany in Liverpool will be the best retail development I have ever worked on and its steadily coming together with a planned opening after the Summer.

I visited Turmeaus – Liverpool this week as well as The Albany and as ever our two little shops were crammed with customers. I dare say all the regulars will be happy to have an all singing and dancing Turmeaus offering to enjoy. As well as regular tasting events in the sampling lounge, this new Turmeaus will feature what I believe will be the largest walk in humidor in the UK with the most extensive range of Havana and New World cigars. There will also be a whisky, spirits and tobacco room and a whisky & rum sampling bar.

ChD1y6nWYAAIaXII also popped in to the rather sexy Turmeaus – Knutsford where my assistant Andrew has completed the lovely wine room. He has a range of some 1000 bottles of all sorts of wine and champagne, from a tenner to a grand a bottle! Lovely :)

Herfed a Cohiba 1966 with my colleague Roy in the sampling lounge and chatted to Andrew’s assistant Liz. Liz tells me the shop is getting busier by the day with loads of cigar smokers from Knutsford and nearby Manchester now enjoying the sampling lounge and the fab range in the walk in humidor. We feature Havanas of course but also have a great range of Fuente, Alec Bradley, Inka- Secret Blend, Davidoff and many other premium New World cigars.

ChD60ANWMAAbsulFinal stop was at our beautiful La Casa del Habano – Chester where Roy and I sampled Partagas Salomones (La Casa exclusive)  which are outrageous smokes. Don’t be put off by the size, these cigars are remarkably smooth, full flavoured and medium strength. The draw and burn were perfect. These cigars are now on  my daily rotation.

Next week I’ll be herfing at Turmeaus – Norfolk as we host another whisky and cigar tasting event. If you haven’t booked, we have three spaces available for what promises to be an excellent event as ever.

Our house brand single malt whisky, Stalla Dhu, is so popular we can’t keep it on the shelves and my shop managers keep screaming at me that they have sold out! Fear not! I have another 1000 bottles on order and due to arrive in the next few days so all of our shops will have this amazing value Scotch available again. It’s perfect with a good cigar.

Our whisky buyers are having a lot of fun rounding off the range and we have plenty of old and rare stuff as well as just about everything else you can dream of. I see we have just released a few bottles of Speymalt Macallan 1974 and 1967, #yum.

New range of Vegueros are now available online and are a pretty decent smoke. Very different from the original range, worth a shot.

With thanks for our friends at Hunters & Frankau, I have selected a case of Bolivar Royal Coronas – Orchant Seleccion to celebrate the Queens 90th birthday. These cigars come with exceptional dark and oily wrapper leaf and are a splendid smoking experience. Read more about my Orchant Seleccion Havanas on this link.

I’m kicking back for the long weekend with  baggie crammmmed full of:

Bolivar Royal Coronas – Orchant Seleccion (whilst they are available!)
Partagas Salomones (big enough for a big mouth like me!)
Orchant Seleccion by Oliva Chubby (a bit like me!)
Inka – Secret Blend Bombaso Azul (I love my Peruvian blend)
Davidoff Winston Churchill Commander Toro (because I am the Commander!)

And I will be pairing them up with a bottle of Robert Graham Auchroisk my kinda bank hol weekend :)

Have a smokey weekend,

Peaceful puffing,

Mitchell

cgarswhiskymatchdotcom

London is the Mecca for Cigar Smokers!

Herfing at the LanesboroughLondon really is the mecca for cigars smokers and I’m so lucky to live and work in this super city. Not only a few excellent cigar merchants but some of the best cigar terraces and sampling rooms and all in a very small area so it’s very easy to do a bit of a cigar crawl and herf as one does from time to time :)

Over the last week I have visited The Wellesley for a smoke with Giuseppe, The Bulgari for a smoke with Mike and the Lanesborough to catch up with my old friends Neil and Luca. I sampled the food, wine, scotch and cigars. All in the interests of research of course. I wanted to pop in and say hi to Manu at The Corinthia but our diaries didn’t work so that’s on the agenda in a few weeks’ time.

My other local terrace is at Ten Manchester Street, close to Baker street. Very chilled location and a lovely cigar friendly hotel too, hence I recommend all my clients to stay there (plus its only ten mins from C.Gars London office!).

My Girl Friday (C.Gars G.M.) Michelle is back from vacation thank goodness!… and just in time as I think we were melting down without her in her usual ‘total control’ of the C.Gars Empire mode! Mish was only away for a week but gosh did I miss her (call me high maintenance!)

The Albany - Coming Soon!I can happily confirm that Phase One of Turmeaus at The Albany has actually commenced! #woohoo A tad later than expected but all good things come to those who wait. The building contractors are in the strip out phase and I can’t wait to see it next week when I head up North. Slight structural glitch when some bits and bobs were knocked down and a chimney and supporting column were found, hey ho – we have great architects and they have already found a solution so my huge walk in humidor plans will not be affected. I’ll take some photos next week and pop them up on the blog.

The first phase of the project is a specialist cigar/tobacco/whisky store and sampling lounge. The second phase is a late night specialist cigar store and sampling lounge as well as a whisky and champagne bar and tapas lounge. I may have to spend a little more time up North later this year :)

Summer auction time is fast approaching and I’m aiming to close the catalogue at the end of next week which is a lot earlier than usual but I have to as the catalogue is already full with some 300 Lots of cigars. This sale will have a wonderful selection of mature & aged Havanas, Davidoff & Dunhill, Pre Embargo and Limited Editions. It’s our second auction sale of the year and this one is being held at The Bulgari as well as simultaneously online for our overseas bidders.

We have some simply incredible and unique Havana cigars on offer and I’m really enjoying all the cataloguing as I learn so much each time I have to research a cigar I have never seen before. If all goes to plan the catalogue will be in print and online a few weeks before the sale.

One of my overseas clients popped in the office on Wednesday (with a rather magnificent bottle of old Dom Perignon!) and as he’s a bit of a vintage cigar buff we herfed our way through some Davidoff Chateau Margaux from the 1970’s which were quite delicious followed by Partagas Coronas from the 1960’s which were absolutely sublime. Aged to perfection in my humidor for many years, the Partagas were still very full flavoured, rich and balanced. What a treat :)

Next week I’m zooming up to Turmeaus Liverpool/Chester/Knutsford and will be making sure our humidors are super fully stocked up for the bank holiday weekend coming up. Plenty of choice in cigars whether Cuban or New World and a ridiculously huge choice of single malt whisky in all our locations.

I’ve always been rather fond of Regius cigars. Great value, excellent sizes and just enough ‘Nic Kick’ in the blend to tease the taste buds. I’ve blended small batch limited edition Orchant Seleccion by Regius cigars for the last few years together with Akhil (owner of the brand) and we’ve had a ton of fun testing loads and loads of blending samples over some very long days… and evenings. Somehow we always come up with absolutely winners.

This year we have 3 new Orchant Seleccion by Regius and we will be launching them in the coming weeks. Only 200 boxes of 10 cigars for each size so I don’t think they will be around for too long.

Orchant Seleccion by Oliva remain very high on the best seller list and of course my Inka – Secret Blend brand from Peru sales continue to scale new highs. My Partner Ron is in Tarapoto in Peru at this time doing quality control for the new Inca – Secret Blend Roca (robusto) due out in the USA next month. This joins the Tambo and Imperio in the US market.

Righto, that’s me done for another week so I’m kicking back this weekend with my baggie stuffed full of:

Cohiba Robusto Supremo (total gob stopper but so delicious)
Bolivar Belgravia (this puppy is smoking like a treat now)
Torano Exodus 1959 ( my change of pace smoke)
Inka – Secret Blend Robusto Rojo (delicious, sweet smoke)
H. Upmann Half Coronas (a return to form for this cheeky little smoke)

No Scotch for me for the next week as its Passover festival! But thanks to those lovely folks at The Grapevine I’ll be enjoying some tasty La Graviere 2004 which will do very nicely :)

And finally… Happy 90th birthday to Queen Elizabeth. I think I will, release an Orchant Seleccion Havana in her honour. I’ll think of something suitable and let you know on my next blog.

Have a smokey weekend and a Chag Kasher v’ Sameach!

Peaceful puffing,

Mitchell

Macanudo are Baaacccckkkk!

This week has been a bit of a Macanudo week with the launch of Macanudo Inspirado at a rather swish C.Gars event held at The Bulgari Hotel on Monday afternoon/evening.

We tested out the three sizes of Inspirado which were all rather dee – lish, especially the robusto which we should have available next month. Until then we have the Mareva :) to get you started as well as a load of other Macanudo cigars back in stock.

Copious quantities of Stalla Dhu single malt whisky (Islay and Speyside) were enjoyed with splendid canapes from the Bulgari and rather a few smokes. My kinda cigar launch!

Top cigar merchants including Edward and Eddie Sahakian from Davidoff London, Paresh Patel from the fabulous Havana House and Paul Futcher from Cigar Club joined C.Gars and friends for this lovely event.

My partner in the cigar distribution business, Guy Hancock, and I are very proud to be the exclusive distributor for all STG handmade cigars in the UK and we have also made a select range of Torano and Don Tomas cigars available this week.

My thanks to Mike and Attila from the Bulgari for taking such good care of us and my thanks to Stephan from STG for all the support with this launch.

To say it’s been a busy week would be an understatement! The new ranges have been flying off the shelves and I reckon the Inspirado is going to be a very successful line for us. Long filler and Handmade in Honduras, the wrapper and binder are from Honduras and the filler is a blend from Honduras, Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. Excellent combo!

Bit of a disaster for the last 48 hours as my office computer finally melted down and the hard drive died. I think it waited till my assistant Michelle went on vacation and then decided to check out!

So, I’m pretty good with computers and can work on just about anything and of course we have back-ups for back-ups for just about everything but working on my Mac laptop was just not the same and the last few weeks work were stuck on my pc.

Thanks goodness the drive is now fully recovered and I’m just about getting back to ‘normal’, if my business life can ever be described as normal! I think the smoke in the office killed off the PC lol.

Cf73InWUMAA58U1I popped in to Turmeaus – Mayfair on Wednesday for a pre herf Monte 2 before going to see Motown the Musical with Karyn in the evening. Great show to say the least but what’s with the seats at the Shaftesbury? They seem to be made for people who are very short or have no legs!… bloody uncomfortable.

Raspberry of the week goes to the idiot that called me offering 40% investment returns for some fictional share no doubt. I actually left the phone on the desk for 5 minutes whilst he babbled on with his pitch and then said could you hold on as I was just about to reply. I then put on Guantanamera at full volume down the phone. I think that was a suitable reply/punishment :)

I’m chilling out this weekend and looking forward to seeing my old friend Michael Lington and The Pizza Express jazz club in Soho on Sunday. I remember the old days when you could smoke at the Pizza Express Jazz Club in Park Lane! Jazz, pizza and cigars!… Perfect.

In the baggie this weekend I have…

Cohiba 1966 – Before all our stocks are gone!

Torano Exodus – Bit of Nic kick going on there.

Regius Orchant Seleccion – Well why not, I love these smokes.

Davidoff Winston Churchill Toro – A BIG smoke :)

.. and a pack of Inka – Secret Blend Half Coronas… Perfect car smokes.

I’ve grabbed a bottle of Pom as well… One of my faves :)

Have a smokey weekend,

Peaceful puffing,

Mitchell

And here is the news…

Another busy week in my Empire ☺ kicking off with a trip to Turmeaus – Liverpool on Monday where I had various meetings wrapping up some last minute details on our planned expansion at The Albany. CGARS Ltd bought the commercial part of this beautiful building last year and we have an ambitious two phase project to build the best cigar and whisky specialist store and sampling lounge in the North West, if not the UK.

It’s took us longer than planned to get the project to construction stage as two other projects queue jumped, namely our gorgeous whisky shop in Chester (adjoining La Casa del Habano and Turmeaus – Chester) followed by our rather sexy Turmeaus – Knutsford. But alas the time is now upon us ☺ and we expect construction to commence very soon. If all goes to plan we will open the rather large doors on a new all singing and dancing Turmeaus in Old Hall Street late Summer. Our existing two shops in Fenwick street will of course remain open.

Moving on to Turmeaus – Knutsford where our wine room is more or less complete and rapidly getting to the target stock of 1000 bottles. We are steadily putting the wine range online so our clients can order by mail order as well. Andrew, our resident wine expert at Turmeaus Knutsford is delighted to advise and has sampling stock in abundance!

Wines are a natural follow on after the success of our whisky business. Our own brand single malt Stalla Dhu has now hit the top ten in popularity and sales. It’s magic with a good Havana!

The cigar sampling lounge is super comfortable at Turmeaus – Knutsford and we have a splendid whisky and rum menu (available by the dram) as well as a huge range of premium spirits. The walk in humidor is super stocked with a massive range of Havanas and New World cigars so all in all… my kinda Turmeaus ☺

Next stop was to the supercharged Turmeaus Chester New World cigar and pipe tobacco store, La Casa del Habano. Two whisky & rum sampling bars and magnificent whisky shop. Need I say more? Late night herfing at Bar Lounge http://www.barlounge.co.uk/ as usual (best and friendliest I have ever had in the UK.)

Back to the office for a day or two and finalizing the launch of Macanudo, Torano and Don Tomas as we are now the exclusive Distributor of STG hand made products in the UK with a launch event at the delightful Sahakian cigar shop at The Bulgari in Knightsbridge on Monday afternoon/evening. A comprehensive range of these cigars will be in store and online from Monday. Great smokes and of course great value. (did I mention we are the importer?… oh yes we are ☺)

I went to see the ‘Adios Tour’ of the Buena Vista Social at the O2 on Wednesday evening which was absolutely brilliant. The venue was jam packed I can’t believe how good Omara Portuondo sang (considering she is 85!) Eliades Ochoa was the star of the show though – awesome guitar playing and vocals. I have seen them quite a few times over the years, hopefully it will just be ‘adios and not goodbye’.

I’m staying put in my London office next week as my Man Friday (also known as Michelle) is on vacation so it’s going to be a busy week for me!

Thanks for all the emails about the Cohiba 50th anniversary humidors. I can do no better than reiterate that we have little idea when these will be released and I would be very surprised if it will be this year. We also have no idea of the prices until they are released. In the meantime feast your eyes on the Cohiba 40th anniversary humidor :)

And if you want to treat yourself, we have just released another 100 boxes of Cohiba 1966 Limited Edition 2011.

So I’m wrapping up the week with a herfette at Turmeaus Mayfair with a few friends that want to sample some of our rare Cuban Davidoffs and we’ll be cracking open a bottle of Dalmore 21 to see how it pairs up.

weekend_smokesIn the baggie for this weekend I have:

My favourite Bolivar Belicosos Orchant Seleccion
A good few Oliva Orchant Seleccion
Some Inka Half Coronas
And a couple of Davidoff Winston Churchill Aristocrat (expensive but soooo good!)

Have a smokey weekend,

Peaceful puffing,

Mitchell

Anejados? Yes Please!

I was a bit sceptical when the Anejados started to roll out to our humidors. I didn’t get on with the Montecristo (just not my size) I wasn’t fond of the Romeo (I prefer campanas like BBF’s) but then the program took a turn for the better, at least for me personally with the release of the Hoyo which I think is the best of them all and now the Partagas which are flying off the shelves at record speed. You can try them all with our sampler.

So what is the allure of this Partagas Anejados, could it be the popularity of the brand? Or the accessibility of the Corona Gorda size? I reckon it may well be a combination of both as well as the very bold, full strength blend which, let’s face it, is not typical in Havanas these days as most brands seem to be in the medium strength category. So, if you’re looking for a bit of a strength bomb, give these a try as they will certainly hit the spot!

I’ve been in the cigar trade for so long now it’s funny to think how many brands I have seen come and go. Macanudo seems to have been with a few distributors over the years and its now with C.Gars so we’re introducing it to the UK again with the Inspirado on the 11th May at a launch event at The Bulgari. Not many spaces left available for what will be our usual splendid event, click here for your ticket.

Another brand was Torano which we imported directly from Torano a few years ago. I really enjoyed these cigars and the prices seem to be pretty decent. In fact Torano even made our house brand Nicaraguan cigars that were extremely popular. When the company was sold that was the end of the brand for the UK. However, C.Gars are now the UK distributor and will be bringing a range of value priced Torano back onto our shelves in the next few weeks.

Another brand that we sold oodles of many years ago was Don Tomas. It was a bit of a supermarket brand at the time and then seemed to disappear completely. But now it’s back! Again, C.Gars are the exclusive UK distributor. Prices will be exceptionally keen and they are a good quality, new world smoke.

We like taking Distributor partnerships with great companies like Fuente, Inka – Secret Blend and Scandinavia Tobacco as we can cut out the middleman and deliver real value to our UK clients. Actually, that’s the essence of C.Gars Ltd, offering real value and unrivalled service… My kinda cigar merchant lol.

We have just listed a new range of Gentili humidors on the website. I love this brand. Made in Italy with great care and attention to detail. I have been selling Gentili humidors for almost 23 years and was very impressed when I visited their factory some years ago. A luxury humidor at great prices, in fact a piece of furniture that should last a lifetime and will look great in any lounge, study office or smoking room.

If you’re looking for a super value humidor I don’t think you can beat the Adorini range and of course we guarantee best prices in the UK. It’s a pretty huge range with a humidor to suit any size requirement.

I’ve had a relaxed 4 day week in the London – C.Gars office this week sorting through our stocks of aged and rare Havanas (it’s a pretty huge stock!) but next week I’m back on the road visiting Turmeaus cigar and whisky shops in Liverpool, Chester and Knutsford and doing a little sampling along the way :)

Where oh where is the Montecristo 80th anniversary cigar? It will end up the 81st anniversary cigar! Can’t wait for this puppy to be released. Samples we tasted at the Festival last year were splendid.

Cohiba BHK 52, 54 and 56 are just about sold out everywhere in Europe so I hear. We have broken out some of our reserve stocks that are over 5 years old so if you like BHK’s you are in for a treat. Wonderful smokes.

Righto, I’m outta here for a relaxed weekend hopefully with a long topless drive if the weather stays kind. I think enjoying a cigar in the car is one of my greatest smoking pleasures. My car humidor is stuffed full of:

Inka – Secret Blend Half Coronas (perfect for a quick 20 minute drive)

Bolivar Belicosos Finos (ideal for the drive to the office)

Hoyo Hermosos No. 4 Anejados (just perfect any bloody time!)

Davidoff Winston Churchill Artist (fast becoming a firm favourite)

Regius Robustos – Turmeaus Edition (when I need a little Nic kick!)

Have a smokey weekend

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

cgarsstormmitch