Partagas Festival – Cigar Auction – Cigar Awards Event

Just back from Havana having enjoyed a splendid few days at the annual Partagas Festival. I’ve attended all of the festivals bar one over the last 18 years and it’s one of the high points on my travel calendar every year.

Rainbow over VinalesThis was the first trip to Havana for Karyn (wife/co – Director) and she enjoyed it immensely and can’t wait to come back for another Festival next year :) We stayed at Parque Central (the new part) and the location was perfect for showing her around Old Havana. Our trip included visiting Indian caves, Las Terrazes and Pinar del Rio. We saw the most beautiful rainbow over Vinales from Los Jazmines. Heaven for a cigar merchant like me!

The November Partagas Festival has a very different vibe to the February/March Havana Festival as it’s a different crowd, mainly ‘Friends of Partagas’ connoisseurs and aficionados from all over the world as opposed to many cigar industry folk at the February Festival. A lot of the crowd know each other for many years but this is our annual opportunity to meet up and herf our favourite cigars together.

Partagas-festival-blog1It was great to see a lot of new faces too this year and the gala dinner was one of the best I have ever attended. It was held at El Laguito and the room was decadent to say the least. The entertainment was great and in fact this was the first time it was not ‘Cuban too loud‘!

We were spoiled with an insane amount of 170th anniversary double banded cigars including Montecristo and Romeo Anejados, Bolivar Belicosos, H. Upmann Connoisseur A, Hoyo Epicure No. 2 and Partagas Serie P No. 2, as well as some pretty decent wine and excellent Santiago rum (my current favourite!)

Partagas festival gala dinnerAs usual I had a fabulous table at the front thanks to my old friend Amir and we were in pole position for the charity auction. The auction Lots were truly outstanding this year in terms of the humidors as well as the cigars. All proceeds go to the Cuban National Health Service and C.Gars Ltd proudly made a substantial donation to this most worthy cause. Whilst Cuba is still punished by the US Embargo all other means of support are needed.

I had my first experience of the Cuban National health Service as Karyn was bitten by something (not me!) and her arm blew up so we zoomed her over to the International hospital and were seen within minutes by a very nice doctor, prescribed and dispensed the relevant drugs immediately and all for 30 quid… Can’t do that in the UK even if you go private! 24 hours later thankfully Karyn was better.

I managed to arrange a private factory tour at La Corona thanks to Nestor Valera (Director of LDCH franchise division) and my thanks to his assistant Victor and la Corona Director Osmar Hernandez Fuentes for a comprehensive and interesting tour.

La Corona is a huge factory with over 250 rollers in the Galera and we were introduced and welcomed with their chavetas being banged on the rolling tables which was very cool.

IMG_4951Whilst there is something of a shortage of large wrapper leaf in Cuba at this time, the factory was definitely at full production with many different brands and vitola including Romeo Gran Reserva and Hoyo Hermosos No. 4 Anejados which looked good enough to eat!

Osmar assured us that quality control is undertaken at every stage of production and it was great to see a room full of Drawmaster machines being used.

The tour ended with a tasting of the Romeo Wide Churchill Gran Reserva. This cigar was one of the finest I have smoked in years. Truly a perfect expression of the Havana cigar. I can’t wait for them to be released.

We zoomed round a few cigar shops as usual including Melia Habana, Partagas and Palacio and whilst they were all pretty well stocked up the range itself was fairly thin i.e. nothing terribly interesting. No sign of any BHK’s which I now understand are just about sold out everywhere.

In other news this week…

Our new Turmeaus shop in Knutsford is almost complete and we are planning a soft opening at the end of first week December. Charming location for this beautifully designed shop if I do say so myself. The planned extensive range of premium cigars, tobacco, accessories, whisky and rum as well as a comfortable sampling lounge should please my clients in the North West immensely. I can’t wait to get over there in a few weeks’ time :)

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 22.49.02Our Winter Cigar Auction is being held this Monday from 2pm at the Bulgari Hotel and is now more or less sold out. 359 splendid cigar Lots including magnificent Pre Embargo, Davidoff, Dunhill. Limited edition aged and rare Havanas will be sold. Lovely article in Cigar Aficionado about our auctions.

If you can’t make the auction event there is still time to register to bid online. Online bidder registration closes Friday at midnight. Last viewings will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Sunday by appointment at our London offices. Very best of luck to all of our bidders and sellers.

We will be enjoying a whisky tasting (thanks to Robert Grahams Ltd single malt whiskies) and a cigar tasting featuring Montecristo Media Coronas and Bolivar Belgravia UK Regional Edition following the auction sale (for pre booked guests) together with canapes at the delightful Sahakian Cigar lounge ably managed by our friend Mike Choi.

If that’s not enough action for me ☺ next Tuesday we will be co – sponsoring and enjoying the Snow Queen Cigar Smoker of the year dinner at the beautiful Boisdale Canary Wharf. A star studded guest list is expected and we will be treated to the best of entertainment drinks and smokes as well as the cigars awards for the following categories:

The Snow Queen Cigar Smoker of the Year
The Snow Queen Cigar Lifetime Achievement Award
The Cigar Writer of the Year
The Cigar Terrace or Cigar Lounge of the Year
The Cigar Retailer of the Year
The Cigar Producer of the Year
The Cigar of the Year

Needless to say this was a sold out event as soon as the tickets were released. I have a wonderful and rather huge table of C.Gars guest and can’t wait for this event!

Peaceful puffing



Bolivar Belgravia… Oh yes !

Greetings from London – C.Gars Empire offices, nice to be back in the office for a few hours after a rather typical manic week in the life of a cigar merchant!

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 22.45.32Monday was Cigar Auction lotting up day. It took the best part of the day to check through and lot up the 359 Lots entered into the 30th November cigar auction and I still can’t believe the quality of the cigars as well as the rarity of many of them in this sale.

Last few tickets available for the event online. If you can’t make it you can always bid live online on the auction website.

On Tuesday evening I attended the launch of the 2015 UK regional edition Bolivar Belgravia at the Churchill.


Montecristo Media Corona and Pol Roger champagne on arrival , splendid (my favourite champagne and the perfect quickie Havana) followed by the Bolivar Belgravia which is an awesome smoke. Volumes and volumes of flavour and light to medium strength. Same size as a Wide Churchill so it’s big enough for even a big mouth like me :)

There were speeches from Sean and Jemma from hosts Hunters & Frankau and the Silver Chaveta Award went to Lawrence Davis (well done LD!) delicious canapes and cocktails and the best of company in the UK cigar trade made this a wonderful event. My thanks to our wonderful importers H&F.

After the launch Michelle and I zoomed over to the Lanesborough to herf another couple of Belgravia’s till very late. Sort of a senior management meeting!


On Wednesday I started out on a marathon 3 days Turmeaus tour starting with Turmeaus – Liverpool (Bolivar Belicosos), moving on to Turmeaus – Knutsford (Romeo Wide churchill) to review building progress at the new shop and finishing at Turmeaus – Chester (and La Casa del Habano of course) where I spent the rest of the day/evening herfing Ramon 225’s. My kinda day!

Wednesday whisky club members were coming and going, both bars were full and I heard many compliments on the extensive whisky sampling menu at the new shop’s bar. The new shop is quite breath-taking in design, comfortable and has a super range that my clients are clearly enjoying. Well done to Sara, Chris, Calum and the Chester Team for running such a huge and classy operation.

As if that wasn’t enough racing around for a week, I then zoomed over to Turmeaus – Norfolk (Cohiba Robusto Supremo’s on a long road trip!) for an open tasting event that ran from 2pm till 8pm on Thursday. Tim from Hunters & Frankau spoke about the Partagas SD No. 6 and Ramon Allones Club Allones LE 2015, canapes, whisky and a great crowd made this a memorable tasting event. Thanks to all the Turmeaus Team for a fun filled few days.


I’m off to see the Steve Jobs movie tomorrow and chilling for the rest of the weekend with a baggie full of Bolivar Belgravia and nothing else!

Next week… Partagas festival in Havana :)

Have a smokey weekend,

Peaceful puffing,



Chester Turmeaus – Part 3!

turmeaus_whisky_shop_single_maltsAnd finally… Turmeaus – Chester expansion into our 3rd shop is complete and we opened the doors this week on our fabulous additional whisky and cigar shop. From the initial feedback from our customers, the additional range and sampling areas are very welcome.

Every time I design and fit out a new shop we seem to improve the overall effect and I think this is one of my best efforts so far! Comfortable, chic and spacious :)

turmeaus_chester_whisky_sampling_barWe have a huge range of single malt whisky as well as unique and rare spirits, wine and champagne. We also have a comfortable sampling bar where you can enjoy a dram or a glass of champagne.

The shop also features Oliva Orchant Seleccion cigars and a range of Havana cigars. But of course you can always walk a few steps through to our La Casa del Habano humidor or our New World walk in cigar humidor to check out the full and rather huge range.

Sara, Chris and the Team at Chester look forward to welcoming old and new clients and showing them around.

But we’re not stopping there as we are now fitting out our new Turmeaus cigar and whisky shop in Knutsford and expect to open the doors very early in December. This premises will have our usual, fabulous Turmeaus offerings including a cigar sampling lounge.

davidoff_dinner_blogThis week’s travels took me to Basel in Switzerland for the Davidoff Retailer Panel meeting. The finest cigar retailers in Europe meet at least twice a year to discuss the cigar trade and have various top secret briefings from Davidoff :)

Davidoff-MO-blogWe sampled a very nice new box pressed Avo as well as various other fine Davidoff cigars over the course of the two days and as ever were treated splendidly by Davidoff.

Davidoff cigar ranges are becoming more popular all the time as many of my clients ‘smoke less but smoke the best’.

Great to catch up with so many friends including Eddie, Jurg, Per, Mirko, Marius, Nancy and Thomas as well as meet new friends Fabien, Magali and Jesus. Truly ‘Time Beautifully Filled

nic_wing_blogNic Wing, publisher of UK Cigar Scene popped into the office and we enjoyed the new Bolivar Belgravia whilst chatting about his fabulous online mag.

Next Tuesday evening the Bolivar Belgravia will be introduced to the cigar trade at the Churchill bar and our La Casa del Habano will be the first retailer to receive stocks of these fine UK regional edition cigars.

Next week’s travels take me up North to Liverpool, Knutsford and Chester on Wednesday followed by Norfolk Turmeaus for a cigar tasting evening on Thursday featuring some of the finest Havana cigars and the best of company.

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 22.45.32Winter Cigar Auction catalogue will be online and catalogues will be posted to clients early next week. This promises to be our finest auction yet with over 350 Lots of aged and rare Havana cigars being offered by auctioneer Jonathan Humbert at The Bulgari Hotel on the 30th November.

Pheww!… That’s it for another week and I’m looking forward to kicking back this weekend with a baggie filed with Ramon Allones Orchant Seleccion and a few drams of Glendronach :)

Have a smokey weekend.

Peaceful puffing,


New York and New Turmeaus!

Just back from a superb trip to sunny New York City, yes I did say sunny! Despite being late October it was blue skies and 70F :)

I hit the ground running with a herf at Grand Havana Room immediately on arrival (I was ready for a smoke after an 8 hour flight I can tell you!) I met up with some of my best friends and we caught up over a few drams of Mac12 and Oliva Orchant Seleccion Chubby and Alec Bradley Prensado.

CR5BIPhWsAASTIoMy friend Jeff had organized an outrageous stretch limo (think disco lights and champagne!) to transport us in style over to Philippe Chow for a splendid dinner with a great bunch of friends including Brian Shapiro (and his lovely wife Gail) of Oliva Cigars. After dinner we hopped back into the limo for a post herf at Bar and Books on Lexington which is a great place for a late night herf.

We smoked some magnificent Oliva cigars and it was great to catch up with Brian especially as the Oliva brand is fast becoming one of our best-selling ranges of New-World cigars. No surprise as they are exceptional quality and very good value to say the least.

I love NYC as it’s so cigar friendly… If you know where to go, and I do :) I smoked the new Davidoff Escurio robusto at Davidoff on 6th Avenue (the old De La Concha shop) and spend an afternoon at my favourite NYC cigar shop Nat Sherman where I enjoyed the Nat Sherman 95th anniversary cigars kindly gifted to me by my friend Michael Herklots.

I bumped into Paul Green, cigar specialist from Greens of Leeds and we had a quick smoke and a chat and then chilled out smoking Inca Secret Blend (available at Nat Sherman of course) with my friend George U. perfect afternoon!

Saturday evening was my usual Carnegie Club herf with my closest friends, great drinks, smokes and Sinatra tribute show. I think we closed the place down at 2 a.m!

CSfT6KrWsAA9c_YBack to London for a day to catch up and I was on the road again, well actually on the Virgin train up North to visit Turmeaus shops in Liverpool followed by a visit to our latest new acquisition for Turmeaus which is in Knutsford, Cheshire. This beautiful shop is located in the center of Town and will feature a comprehensive range of premium cigars, splendid pipe tobaccos, Cuban rum and single malt whisky as well as the finest cigars accessories. It will also have an exceptionally comfortable and spacious cigar and whisky sampling lounge on the first floor. We are very excited about this expansion which is due to open early December.

12049172_860974407356200_5893243042216895103_n (1)On to Turmeaus Chester for a double session/sold out whisky and cigar tasting evening that ran from 6 p.m. till 1 a.m. at our beautiful La Casa del Habano. Our Wednesday Whisky Club members packed out the VIP bar area and our lounge was filled to capacity whilst Manageress Sara talked to clients about the Montecristo Regatta and Ramon Allones Orchant Seleccion (just released) that we were sampling and Chris Morrison who has recently joined C.Gars (previously with our partners, Robert Graham Ltd) gave a talk about the 4 whiskies that we were to enjoy which included Corriemhor Single Malt and Dalmore Cigar Malt as well as an Arran 10 year old and a Robert Graham Cearban. My thanks to the wonderful Bar Lounge for the excellent catering.

I was delighted to see that our expansion to our new Turmeaus whisky and cigar shop at 28 Watergate Street, Chester is almost complete and we expect to open the doors next Tuesday. We have additional seating for cigar and whisky sampling, another bar that will be serving a delicious menu of whisky, rum and other libations and a delicious premium chocolate and snacks range. I think our Cheshire clients will love it! All three Chester shops fully intercommunicate and sampling of premium cigars and pipe tobacco is of course allowed and encouraged.

Next week I’m off to Switzerland to attend the Davidoff Retail Panel for Europe meeting of which I have been a member since it was started. A great opportunity to find out all the latest news and views about the cigar industry from this great company as well as chat to the finest cigars specialist in Europe.

Have a smokey weekend,

Peaceful puffing,


6 Days – 6 Flights!

Just back from a fabulous trip to Peru visiting the birthplace of Inka – Secret Blend cigars.

It was a bit of a crazy travel schedule as it’s not possible to fly directly to Lima from the UK so I enjoyed a very comfortable flight on Virgin to sunny Florida as the first part of the journey. My business partner, Ron, collected me from the airport with a fair selection of cigars to choose from for the herfing drive over to my hotel on Pompano Beach, which was most welcome after 9 ½ hours without a smoke!

CRNpb4vWsAE2Cv1A few smokes and drinks by the pool bar later and we had just about caught up on all the Orchant & Morrison business world domination plans :) and a few hours later we were on an American Airlines flight to Lima. Without any doubt one of the busiest airports I have ever been to but fortunately we weren’t there too long before boarding our flight to Tarapoto.

Tarapoto is in the San Martin province in the North of Peru. It reminds me of Pinar del Rio but far larger and 20 years more advanced. Hot, humid and noisy but a very vibrant city.

Arriving at Tarapoto we were collected by our partner Gennaro from Tabacalera del Oriente and taken to our hotel which was a charming little place to stay right in the centre of town, right next to a French bakery and Italian restaurant (that was me sorted then!) The owner of the hotel has her own boutique brand of coffee and treated us to a coffee tasting which helped me get over the jet lag as I could not sleep at all after that!

Great timing as we arrived at the start of a heatwave which kicked off at 97°F and seemed to stay around that temperature for the next few days!

CRCsV9VW8AAr__TWe spent the next few days in the fields and the factory going through every stage of production from seed to cigar. We are making huge efforts to ensure consistency of blending and quality control generally as we are truly a crop to shop business.

Our Inka Secret Blend project started in the UK some 3 years ago and rapidly turned into our most successful best-selling New World cigar. Recently launched in the USA as Inca – Secret Blend and rolling out to Europe next year as we start to introduce additional vitolas and scale up the production.

The new blends we were working on included a 20 count box of robustos with a Pinar del Rio wrapper and a 10 count limited release of robustos with a Pele D’Oro wrapper (and some of the filler as well) It’s a genuine Limited Edition, not a sort of  limited to as many as we can sell as many seem to be these days. We only have enough of this low yield/high quality leaf to make 10,000 sticks and they are super premium quality. A sweet zing on the palate, dark colorado maduro wrapper. Medium strength and perfect construction. I’m very excited about this project.

Tabacalera del Oriente is going through some major expansion and building works to cope with the demand for this superior quality Peruvian tobacco that is used I believe as filler in some of the big brand new world cigars as well as the Secret Blend Puros range. The work should be finished in around 8 weeks’ time and will feature a new visitor centre including scotch whisky bar and cigar sampling area. We are looking forward to our new C.Gars – Peru premises being completed :)

CQ6OiUNWEAAVouLWe managed a little time off during the trip, herfing at bars, restaurants and friends’ homes. Super friendly people and very laid back ambience. Tarapoto is a cool place to visit. We toured round waterfalls and relaxed at a friend’s house in the jungle close to the water. Perfect herfing spot.

Heading home via Miami , I popped in to our friends at Alec Bradley, had a dram of Jura 1984 and a Prensado and chatted about a new exclusive cigar project that we are working on together for early next year. All exciting stuff :)

Back in London and one day to catch up in the office until I was back on the road again to head up North on Friday for a mammoth 3 stop trip starting with architects meetings in Liverpool (and a quick smoke at Turmeaus Liverpool) and finishing with a visit to Turmeaus and LCDH – Chester.

The expansion to Turmeaus Chester is almost complete and with the three intercommunicating shops we now have all the space we need for our complete retail range of tobacco and alcohol. The builders are almost finished and if I do say so myself the results are pretty stunning. I reckon the additional premises will be integrated and open in around a weeks’ time and I’m looking forward to showing clients around at our next tasting evening on the 29th October.

If all goes to plan next week we will complete the acquisition of another specialist cigar shop/lounge up North and Turmeaus will be expanding again. I’ll keep the location secret till my next blog :)

Our Winter Cigar Auction catalogue is now closed and very full. In fact I am fairly certain this is the largest catalogue we have ever offered and will likely be the largest cigar auction in history. We have a breath taking range of Davidoff, Pre Embargo, Limited Edition humidors and other vintage cigars in the auction which we are selling on behalf of many collectors, aficionados and connoisseurs.

The sale will be held at The Bulgari on the 30th November. Catalogue will be online and in print 3 weeks before the sale. I’m fairly sure the Bulgari event is more or less sold out already.

In Havana cigar news this week, the H. Upmann No.2 Reserva has been released in tiny allocated quantities, excellent cigar but what a shame more aren’t available at this time. The UK regional Bolivar Belgravia is due out in November and I still have no idea when we will received the Montecristo 80th anniversary.

We are releasing the Orchant Seleccion Ramon Allones Specially Selected next week. Just 64 boxes selected personally for their beautiful condition, appearance, quality and blend. I’m grateful for Hunters & Frankau’s continued support with the Orchant Seleccion Havana cigar range, Read more about them on this link.

It’s a ‘2 day week’ for me this week as I head overseas again on Wednesday… Although it won’t be as hot as last week in Peru!

Have a smokey week,

Peaceful puffing,