Scotch Whisky Regions

Like the fine wines of the world, the single malt whiskies of Scotland are grouped by region. This week we are going to discuss the Highland, Speyside and Islay regions of Scotland.

Highland

Everything outside of Lowland, Speyside, Campbeltown and Islay falls into the general ‘Highland’ region. This includes whiskies from the mainland and from the islands (Skye, Jura, Arran, Orkney etc.). The Highland whiskies can’t be typified. From the power of Talisker to the subtlety of Glenmorangie, there is a long journey of discovery ahead for the whisky enthusiast. The Highland region is also geographically diverse, from the rugged peaks of the Cairngorms or Grampians to the heather-covered moorlands of Perthshire, or the rich arable land in the Kingdom of Fife. There are over 30 distilleries widely spread throughout the Highlands.

Speyside

Speyside has the highest concentration of distilleries of the five regions. Over forty distilleries are clustered within the Spey valley. Four of the top five best selling single malts are from Speyside: Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Macallan and Glen Grant. Speyside has no one particular type or style of whisky, with bourbon and sherry casks both commonly used for maturation. What the vast majority of Speyside whiskies have in common, however, is the absence of strong peat flavour.

Islay

There are eight working distilleries on Islay. Most of them produce strong, peaty and smoky whiskies, which divide whisky drinkers into two camps: love or hate. There is no middle ground. These whiskies get their character from the heavily peated malt they use and from the local water which runs through thousand-year-old peat bogs. The local maltings, at Port Ellen, provide most of the malt used on the island.

However, two distilleries on the island, Bunnahabhain and Bruichladdich are exceptions to the norm and produce a lighter and less peaty product. The most heavily peated malts, Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Caol Ila, have a strong global following, as does the slightly lighter tasting Bowmore. The newest distillery on the island, Kilchoman, started production in late 2005.

Next week we will be going through the Lowlands and Campbeltown regions.

Slainte,

Craig

On the road again…

What an honour to welcome Leopoldo Cintra González  the commercial vice president of Habanos SA to our London office earlier this week. Together with Jemma and Yadira from our importers Hunters and Frankau.

A great opportunity to chat about the UK market and show off our premises, range and some of the incredible vintage Havana cigars to be auctioned on June 11th

Lovely weather in the UK, just perfect for herfing activity 🙂 Last Tuesday we enjoyed a brilliant tasting event at a rather jam packed Turmeaus Norfolk, featuring Drew Estate Undercrown cigars which went up in smoke very well indeed!

A gin bar was set up in the shop and  Scottie from Maverick Drinks treated us to an extraordinary array of combinations including Singapore Sling cocktails which worked very well with the smokes.

Norfolk is a beautiful county and we own the only specialist cigar shop for miles around, truly an oasis with a very comfortable sampling lounge, showroom crammed full of tobacco and accessories as well as a fully stocked walk in humidor. Massive range of Havanas and New World cigars including Davidoff, Inka – Secret Blend, Oliva, Alec Bradley and many others. View some photos of the shop here.

My team of staff are super friendly and welcoming and it’s a great place to chill with a fine cigar and a complimentary dram, coffee or soft drinks and snacks. Background music and news channels on the TV. Leather tub chairs and foot stools… who could ask for more?!

My colleagues James, Liam, Georgina and Cally love talking about cigars and are fine cigar sommeliers so helpful advice is always on hand. There’s also easy and free parking come visit us soon 🙂

Next week I’m hosting tasting events at the Turmeaus Northern powerhouse lol. The events are to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Turmeaus Tobacconist established in 1817. Check out the details on these links:

Tuesday 16th  – Turmeaus Chester

Wednesday 17th  – Turmeaus Knutsford

Thursday 18th  – Turmeaus Liverpool

As ever I have left all of the organising to my retail operations manager Sara who tells me there will be amazing cigars to sample, the finest libations, lots of prizes in the prize draw and most importantly… Cake 🙂 yup, I will go anywhere for cake 🙂

A few spaces left at the events but they are selling out fast, so come and join me to celebrate our 200th anniversary in one of our super cigar sampling lounges next week. (all attendees get free tickets to our 300th anniversary celebrations as well 🙂 )

Check out my beautiful twin pack anniversary cigars on this link.

Our partners at Robert Graham have just released an exclusive new range of Nicaraguan cigars. Details on this link. Buy them or my business partner Steve and I will smoke them all Yes, they are that good!

In product news this week:

Trinidad Topes Limited Edition are back in stock

H. Upmann Magnum 56 are in stock but sold out with the importer so its last call on these fabbie cigars.

Loads of discontinued lines due to the new health warning legislation coming in on the 19th May. When they’re gone…they’re gone!

For pipe smokers we have expanded our range of Peterson pipes as ever – guaranteed best prices in the UK.

Orchant Selection Cigar Malt has just won the silver medal award at this year’s International Spirits challenge!

Stalla Dhu Islay has just won the silver medal award at this year’s International Spirits challenge!

This years Limited Editions include the Cohiba Talisman. Measuring in at a whopping 6 1/8” and 54 ring gauge. I am reliably informed that the launch of these cigars will be in the UK around October time. Another first for the UK market 🙂

Righto, that’s another great week all but over and I’m kicking back on the deck this weekend with a baggie crammed full of smokes including…

Davidoff Royal Robustos (bit of a treat!)

Orchant Seleccion Oliva Chubby

Inca Secret Blend Reserva D’Oro

Montecristo Dantes Limited Edition

Trinidad Topes Limited Edition

All cut with my razor sharp X4 cutter and paired up with an award winning bottle of Orchant Selection Cigar Malt.

Have a smokey weekend

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

Davidoff Re-Launched In The UK

No time for blogging recently due to herfing overload 🙂 so a few highlights in no particular order of importance…

Davidoff relaunch party last week at The Royal Overseas League in St James’s where the top brass of Davidoff including Hans Kristian Hoesjgaard hosted a rather swanky event with top shelf libations and copious amounts of Davidoff cigars including the remarkably splendid 702 range.

We were lucky to have a mild and dry evening out in the gardens and the event was very well attended by cigar specialists including Edward and Eddie Sahakian (Davidoff of London), Adrian Lesley (Cigars Unlimited), Steve Johnstone (Robert Graham Ltd), Paresh Patel (Havana House) and others. The Press were there as well as some cigar club members. Writer Nick Foulkes was also at the event and I just can’t wait for his new cigar book to be published.

We have been selling Davidoff ranges of cigars for 20 years and they have become more and more popular as the breadth of the range increased from Dominican Republic to other regions, notably Nicaragua. The quality of Davidoff cigars is unquestionable. I can’t ever remember having a single complaint about a construction/draw issue. The full range is available on my website at guaranteed best prices in the UK.

I also have Davidoff to thank for meeting my business partner Ron Morison on a Davidoff training trip to The D.R. many years ago. Following that trip Ron and I became inseparable in business and together we built both the Robert Graham retail cigar and whisky business as well as the award winning Dancing Stag single malt whisky brand. We sold the majority of our shares in that business two years ago and have left the business in the capable hands of managing director Steve Johnstone. Steve has recently launched his highly successful whisky auction website.

Ron has been enjoying his time herfing back in his home and his boat in Florida for the last couple of years but he’s on his way back to the UK in a couple of weeks’ time to oversee the continued expansion of C.Gars Ltd with the launch of our latest venture ‘The Puffin Rooms’ in Liverpool next month.

It’s a very exciting project for my team as we marry together all the finer things in life – a late night cigar shop and sampling lounge with state of the art smoke extraction, a huge whisky and cocktail bar and a tapas lounge with live music. Uber cool will indeed be an understatement. More details to follow as the project completes its construction and fit out phase in the next week or two.

Last week I relaxed at The Cigar Terrace at The Lanesborough Hotel, truly one of the best herfing spots in London with the best of service and an incredible range of top shelf cigars (think super aged and super rare!) a rather late post herf was held at Chez Orchant featuring Orchant Selection Cigar Malt (which has just won the silver medal award at the International Sprits Challenge) paired up with 2007 Bolivar Belicosos Finos and Montecristo Dantes Limited edition cigars.

This week I’m putting the finishing touched to our June 11th cigar auction catalogue. It looks like a rather huge 350 Lot sale with a variety of mature, aged and rare Havana cigars in singles , boxes and cabinets. As ever there are some quite stunning and very unique Pre Embargo Lots. The Lots will be listed on the auction website and open for bidding around 10 days before the sale. If you haven’t bid before it’s all pretty easy as you just need to register and then bid more or less in the same way as eBay. This of it as cBay!

This week I’m off to Turmeaus Norfolk for a cigar and whisky tasting event on Tuesday evening and looking forward to my regular marketing meeting where we discuss new products and promotions. My marketing team are brilliant but sometimes they get pricing wrong. Here’s an example Gentili humidor samplers. They look like they forgot to price the cigars with the humidor! Buy them while you can, I gather they are almost sold out!

The following week I will be hosting 200th anniversary of Turmeaus events at Turmeaus Liverpool, Chester and Knutsford 🙂

To celebrate this milestone in the cigar business I have released a numbered limited edition of 220 Orchant Seleccion twin cases of my favourite Havanas. Cigars kindly supplied by Hunters & Frankau (EMS) and presentation boxes made by Gentili of Italy. I made 220 as we are also celebrating the 20th anniversary of C.Gars Ltd online this year.

We’ve just launched a new range of CAO Flathead in the UK. Check them out on this link. Big cigars and big value!

Also new in: CAO Pilon and Macanudo Inspirado Black.

Our beautiful La Casa del Habano has recently released the rather dee-lish Hoyo Elegantes a must try for the serious Havana cigar smoker.

Looking forward to seeing clients and friends of C.Gars at the tasting events over the next few weeks.

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

KENTUCKYS BOURBON NECTAR!

I have always enjoyed bourbon. There’s something unique and comforting about having a glass or two of the ultra-smooth and supple elixir that reigns from Kentucky. I have picked out my favourites here, not only are they outstanding quality but also fantastic value too!

So, what exactly is bourbon you may ask?

Bourbon whiskey must be made from a grain mixture which is at least 51% corn. The fermentation process for this mixture is often started by mixing in some mash from an older already fermenting batch, a process known as sour mash. Much like how Scotch must be made in Scotland, Bourbon can only be labelled as Bourbon if it was made in the United States. While the rules are slightly looser with Bourbon than with Scotch it still has to conform to a few requirements.

The spirit must be distilled to no more than 80% alcohol (160 proof) and be no more than 62.5% when put into casks for aging in new charred oak barrels. Finally, Bourbon has no minimum aging period, but to call your product Straight Bourbon it must be aged for no less than two years (and can have no added colouring, flavour or other spirits added).

Blended bourbon is permitted to contain colouring, flavouring and other spirits, as long as 51% of the mix is straight bourbon. The age on the bottle of blended bourbon must be the age of the youngest whiskey in the mix.

The first two in the running are the incredible BLANTONS Original Barrel and the BLANTONS Gold Edition!

Blantons Original Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey – 70cl 46.5%
Taken from the centre-cut or middle sections of the famous Warehouse H, Blanton’s Original was once designated for ambassadors, dignitaries, and Colonel Blanton’s family and friends. Today, everyone has access to the world’s first single barrel bourbon.

The taste profile is sweet with citrus and oak. A creamy vanilla nose features hints of nuts, caramel, orange and light chocolate. Blanton’s Original set the standard for single barrel bourbons. Best served neat or on the rocks. 46.5% alcohol by volume.

Tasting Notes

Nose: A spicy aroma of Dried Citrus and Orange Peels with a hint of Caramel and Vanilla.
Palate: Full and soft, marked by a mix of Burnt Sugar, Caramel, Orange, and Cloves.
Finish: A muted finish but also well balanced with vanilla, honey and citrus.
Best Served: Straight, on ice, or used in a premium cocktail.

Blantons Gold Edition Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey – 70cl 51.5%

Undoubtedly one of the greatest bourbons around, Blanton’s Gold Edition was created for discerning connoisseurs who appreciate an exceptional bourbon.

Hand-bottled from the best casks at the distillery, this bourbon whisky is profoundly full-flavoured. Best served neat or with a splash of water. Bottled at 51.5% alcohol by volume.

Tasting Notes

Colour: Dark amber.
Nose: An oaky dry nose yet powerful. There is noticeably plenty of fruit although mainly dried with chewy peels and floral notes with a kick of spice. Honey, rye, vanilla and chocolate.
Palate: Fairly complex but enjoyable with top notes and chewy oak. Dark stone fruits, honey, butter, oak, deep spices, peppy and rich.
Finish: A long finish with toffee and apple which develops on pecan and caramel.
Best Served: Straight

Another top favourite of mine is this rich and intense nectar from BAKERS!

Bakers Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey – 70cl 53.5%

A powerful Small-Batch Bourbon Whiskey which utilises a special kind of yeast for extra smoothness. Named after the grandnephew of Jim Beam, Baker Beam, this is a well-aged Small-Batch Bourbon which makes use of a special strain of yeast which the Beam family have made use of for over 60 years. Described as rich and intense, this Bourbon makes for the perfect substitute for an after-dinner Cognac.

Tasting Notes

Nose: A full and fruity nose with rich hints of caramel and toffee as warning spices rounds the nose off.
Palate: Nutty with plenty of tangy citrus fruits with more spice and a gentle vanilla, rounded off by char.
Finish: Rounded and of good length – warming with a delicious sweetness with coffee.

Now this is a bourbon definitely worth trying! Silky smooth, complex and a true masterpiece of great Kentucky elixir and such a cool bottle too!

Willets Pot Still Bourbon Whisky – 70cl, 47%

Smartly packaged in an unusual yet smart potstill-shaped bottle, this small batch Willet’s Pot Still Reserve single barrel bourbon is made by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, home of Noah’s Mill, Rowan’s Creek, Johnny Drum & Old Bardstown.

Tasting Notes

Firstly, there is a noticeable floral element with a rich nose of corn, leather, tobacco with just a hint of tobacco. Warm rye and a dab of oak also feature.

A subtle heat and lack of an after-bite on the finish combine to make this Willet Pot Still reserve, one of the smoothest bourbons around.

Smartly packaged in an unusual yet smart potstill-shaped bottle, this small batch Willet’s Pot Still Reserve single barrel bourbon is made by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, home of Noah’s Mill, Rowan’s Creek, Johnny Drum & Old Bardstown.

I hope these great Bourbons have inspired you to try something really special and to appreciate what the true taste of the Wild West has to offer. 🇺🇸

 

Slainte

Pete

Dantes available in the UK… at last!

C8-pMwMXUAAiAvIGood morning from sunny London! Well at least it was perfect cigar herfing weather over the weekend with London getting up to 24C. That may explain the mad uplift in cigar sales last week 🙂 (Thank you lovely C.Gars and Turmeaus clients). Nothing wrong with a little al fresco herfing that’s for sure.

My crazy travel schedule ended (for a few months at least) last week and I was back to driving to the office topless on Thursday and Friday 🙂

My travels took me to Pennsylvania to visit our friends at Cigars International in Bethlehem where we are having a lot of fun working on some very cool projects together and then on to beautiful Chicago (unseasonable but very nice weather too) where I enjoyed hosting a few Pre Embargo Havana cigar tasting events at The Clayton.

We had a fine crowd of cigar aficionados at the sold out events and enjoyed some rather incredible 1930‘s Partagas and Romeo y Julieta cigars . Amazing how perfect storage can ensure that cigars of this age are still a ‘smoke’. The cigar shop at The Clayton really is cool, the design of the humidor is very modern and the range of premium cigars is just perfect. Knowledgeable staff (Dennis and Israel) make this an all-round perfect experience for the novice or experienced cigar smoker.

New York was the last stop on the US trip and some serious herfing activity was enjoyed at GHR, Carnegie Club and Bar & Books. Again, we had rather lovely weather so it was a perfect finish to the trip.

I was back just about long enough to sign off our new mobile friendly website (all comments welcomed) and then head off to France/Spain for a few days. It’s great to be home again and have no flights till the Summer time as I now focus on putting the finishing touches on the second phase of our Liverpool expansion due to open next month. More details to follow later this month.

The 2016 (yes, I know its 2017 now!) Limited Edition Montecristo Dantes was finally released a few days ago, measuring in at 6 5/8” Length and 48 ring gauge and presented in boxes of 10 cigars.

This cigar looks like a winner to me. It’s a great blend and well-constructed. The wrappers are a beauty to behold and I reckon this may become a super popular cigar for smoking and investment, much like the Montecristo Sublimes Limited Edition was/is.

The new packaging laws I believe come into effect on May 20th so if you like your tobacco packaging as it is now, you may want to stock up as its all changing. As a result of the new legislation a lot of tobacco products will no longer be made for the UK market as its not cost effective for the manufacturers to do so.

discontinued_products_banner-april-2017

 

We have tried to make this easier for our clients to understand by showing products as ‘(discontinued)’ on our website and genuinely , I’m afraid, when they’re gone… they are indeed gone. Find them all here.

Premium cigars will all have different health warnings to now and the new packaging is already coming through. Not too massive a change except for small boutique brands such as Inka- Secret Blend and others where the costs of new packaging become a bit of a pain but hey ho, it is what it is. Our best-selling New World range of Secret Blend will survive the changes and continue no doubt to be the most popular New World cigar in our vast range.

The recent Budget and manufacturers price increases (in a part due to the weakness of Sterling) ensured the cigar smoker was whacked with a pretty hefty price increase on all tobacco products. I reckon around 8% as a mean average. We kept our price increases as tight as possible and as ever guarantee best value in the UK. With over 8000 products in our range we may get it wrong once in a while! But… we will always price match 🙂

I popped out for a spot of al fresco lunch last Thursday to Boisdale Mayfair (it’s the closest Boisdale to my office!) I have been here a few times since its opened and I can’t praise it enough. Great food, wine service and a comfortable smoking terrace.

Our pipe and pipe tobacco department seem to be busier than ever and adding more products by the day. There is a huge range of Peterson Pipes and I am reliably assured by my team that our prices are the best in the UK.

I reckon we also have one of the largest snuff ranges in the UK just a massive choice. I’m not a regular snuff user though I do enjoy it when I’m on a plane.

In the booze department, we have just added the rather magnificent Louis XIII which is available at Turmeaus Liverpool, Chester and Knutsford and added quite a few rare whiskies as well. All available for next day delivery 🙂

I’m working on our next cigar auction for the next few weeks and as ever putting together a fine catalogue of aged and rare Havana cigars to be knocked down online on the 11th June.

Have a smokey week.

Peaceful puffing.

Mitchell

cgarseaster2017a