Turmeaus Tobacconist Norfolk – Open!

cutting_the_ribbon_turmeaus_norfolk_partyWell overdue! But I can confirm that we finally opened the doors to Turmeaus Norfolk with a delightful opening event on Tuesday evening.

Our guest of honour was Brian Shapiro from Oliva Cigars who very kindly provided some delicious Orchant Seleccion Oliva and Serie V cigars for sampling purposes.

Radio Norfolk and the two local newspapers interviewed me about the new shop and it was great to hear almost immediately after the radio interview from new potential customers in Norfolk who seemed very pleased that there is now a specialist tobacconist in the county. (listen to the interview here)

cigar_lounge_turmeaus_norfolk_partyOur sampling lounge and showroom area were crammed to capacity and we managed to set the smoke detector off twice(!) note to self: change to heat detector!

The walk in humidor is now crammed with premium New World and Havana cigars and Laura, James and their Norfolk team look forward to welcoming both old and new clients. It was a pleasure to welcome a representative of the Norfolk Pipe Club who seemed very impressed with our range of pipes and tobaccos :)

turmeaus_cigar_pipe_shop_norfolk_partyThe cigars were accompanied by canapés, Cuba Libre cocktails and 10 year old Cubay rum our friend Luke from Chester made an incredibly long journey over to provide some late night music and a wonderful opening event was enjoyed by all.

As part of the opening celebrations we are offering a very specially priced Cain Serie F Perfecto to all of our clients for a very limited time whilst stocks last. Great value for a rather special smoke.

The Orchant Seleccion range of Oliva cigars has been our fastest selling New World release this year and there seems to be no end of smokers converting to these fine handmade Nicaraguan cigars.

orchant_seleccion_oliva_cigars_turmeaus_norfolk_partyOrchant Seleccion by Oliva Shorty

Orchant Seleccion by Oliva Chubby

Orchant Seleccion by Oliva Skinny

Perfect sizes – perfect blend!

Full flavour and medium strength they appeal to the experienced smoker as well as the novice. Constructed perfectly to give a cool easy draw and a delightful aroma. Priced exceptionally competitively and exclusive to C.Gars, Turmeaus and Robert Graham shops.

If you want to do an interesting taste test comparison try the Orchant Seleccion Regius Robusto fuller in strength than the Oliva with an earthy and spicy flavour character that my clients enjoy immensely.

We created our own range of pipe tobaccos which have proved to be extremely popular. Available by the tin as well as loose. My favourite is the Orchant blend of course :) I’m amazed how fast our pipe tobacco sales continue to grow. I remember when I started in the business just about everyone said to me ‘stick to cigars as pipes and pipe tobacco was a doomed to death trade’ well I didn’t and they were very wrong!

Not trying to wish the year away but can’t wait for the Hunters & Frankau 225th anniversary Ramon Allones which will be the UK regional edition. Available after the launch party on the 19th of June in cabinets of 25 cigars and the very special (and rather breath taking) presentation cabinets containing 4 cabinets of 25 cigars (limited edition of 225 cabinets) more details to follow…

Next week I am heading back up North to Turmeaus in Liverpool and Chester (as well as La Casa del Habano in Chester of course) and doing a little more work on ‘The Albany’ Turmeaus development. A little sneak preview of the architects visual of one of the walk in humidors is below :)

albany_humidor_mock_up

Our Chester and Liverpool Turmeaus shops now have a massive range of single malt whisky and Cuban rum. All regions covered and everything interesting and unusual from £30 – £2000 bottle. We have also just received Robert Graham Ltd independent bottlings to complete the range.

I’ll be kicking back this weekend with some Dalmore Cigar Malt perfect with my baggie of smokes which this weekend includes:

Inka – Secret Blend Robustos

Orchant Seleccion by Oliva Shorty

Bolivar Belicosos 2007

Cohiba Robusto Supremo

Have a smokey weekend.

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

P.S Don’t forget to come visit the new Turmeaus Norfolk Cigar and Pipe Shop in Rollesby!

outside_the_cigar_shop_turmeaus_norfolk

Whisky and Cigars – Party on Dude!

Marvelous budget Mr Osborne, not sure what I will spend my 1 penny a pint saving on but I’m relieved that there’s no increase on whisky (other than the suppliers increase) and whilst many thought there was no increase on tobacco that’s not strictly speaking correct as the realty is there is no additional increase other than the annual 2% above inflation which I am guessing will equate to around 6% by the time suppliers have whacked their annual increase on cost prices.

So I’m going to try and be a little contrary (as ever, I hear you thinking) at least for our 50,000 newsletter subscribers and I’m going to cut prices on a load of premium cigars next week… Whilst stocks last. I’ll hold other prices at pre-Budget levels as long as possible too of course.

cutting the ribbon LCDHAfter a few months of ‘running in’ our new La Casa del Habano in Chester and having a lot of fun with tasting evenings we finally held our official launch party last Tuesday evening. We had a fabulous evening and crammed almost 70 customer in over various time slots over the course of the evening which was pretty impressive for our little premises!

Sean Croley (sales and Marketing Director) from Hunters & Frankau cut the ribbon on the humidor and provided us with some delicious Por Larranaga Sobresalientes to sample and enjoy which we matched up with The Dalmore Cigar Malt… Whatta combo :)

lcdh chester party 2The cake was made by our retail sales assistant Karen’s sister (there goes my diet) and was pretty cool to say the least, catering with thanks to Bar Lounge (open late and cigar friendly) and chocolate by Rococo and a very successful event was enjoyed by all.

The local newspaper very kindly covered the event but seemed to get their investigative journalism wrong by reporting that La Casa del Habanos had replaced Turmeaus Tobacconist in Chester which of course it has not as we are still very merrily trading in the shop next door as Turmeaus with a massive selection of every type of tobacco you could dream of and a huge selection of New World cigars including Padron, Alec Bradley, Fuente, Inka – Secret Blend and of course Oliva to name a few in the walk in humidor.

lcdh chester party 3My thanks to my Turmeaus Team (Christine, Sara, Rosie, Karen, Calum and Annie) for putting together such a great evening. Thanks to our sponsors and most of all thanks to our customers.

Next week we open the doors to Turmeaus Norfolk and the Oliva sampling lounge on Tuesday evening, pretty sure the event is fully booked but may be able to squish in one or two more if you book up fast. We are featuring some superb Oliva cigar sampling and Cuban rum on what promises to be a memorable evening.

The Norfolk project took months longer than expected but it’s been worth the wait to get the results we required. Its unique in so far as it’s a cashless business, credit card ordering/purchasing only on your phone or on our tablets and of course our helpful staff are at hand to assist if clients want us to do the ordering for them. So what’s that all about? Well, it ensures our lowest current internet prices in store every day of the week. Focus groups that we held thought the concept was very cool and so do I!

The Norfolk Turmeaus adjoins our main warehouse premises so as you can imagine the range of cigars, pipe tobacco, humidors and accessories is quite huge. As part of the opening event we are offering a very specially priced Cain Serie F Perfecto to all of our clients for a very limited time whilst stocks last.

After the Chester and Norfolk opening events it’s time for me to knuckle down with The Albany project in Liverpool and here’s a sneak peak of one half of the exterior plan! We have to have very sensible signage as The Albany is a beautiful Listed building but I don’t think anyone will be able to mistake it for anything but a Turmeaus :) We recently found out that there was a Turmeaus shop in The Albany around 60 years ago! Nice to be returning…

the_albany_plan
On a terribly sad note I lost one of my dearest, closest and best friends two days ago. David Hammond http://www.cgarsltd.co.uk/cigarblog/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/15th_habano_cigar_festival_7.jpg was a cigar aficionado who was cruelly taken too soon. David had been very unwell and was the kindest and bravest man I ever had the pleasure of knowing. A dear friend who enjoyed herfing in London and Havana with me over the last 18 years. I shall miss him terribly and my condolences go to his family. I’ll be smoking one of my finest cigars in his honour.

david_hammond
Times to kick back for the weekend with a baggie full of Cohiba Robusto Supremo and Bolivar Belicosos Orchant Seleccion which I will be thoroughly enjoying with a dram or two of our exclusive Robert Graham Ben Nevis 18 year old single malt.

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

Budget!

As the subject suggests The Budget is fast approaching on the 18th March and I have little doubt that whilst it should be a pre-election giveaway Budget, smokers will get bashed with yet another hefty increase. Importers, manufacturers and distributors also use this opportunity to do annual price reviews and increases so it could be quite a price hike overall.

Fortunately we hold substantial stocks and we also guarantee best prices in the UK but it would be advisable to lock in to current low prices whilst stocks are available.

The Standardized packaging for cigarettes has now been finalized with change happening in 2016 and that’s the end of cigarette branding I’m afraid. I don’t care much for cigarettes ( I don’t smoke them – ever) but I do care when we are dictated to by government at every twist and turn of our lives . ‘Legislation for legislation sake’. Complete dream law for smugglers I would say. Perhaps the law makers will move on to alcohol and fizzy drinks next?

And the next barmy law to come into effect is the display ban on the 6th of April. This law forces cigar shops to completely cover our windows so no tobacco product can be seen from the pavement outside of our shops as such. I have no idea what this law will achieve and I have yet to meet a human being that can tell/persuade me there is any benefit to anyone other than armed robbers.

On to more pleasant topics…..

IMG_2499I spent all day Tuesday at our Norfolk  C.Gars headquarters and am very happy with the progress of our Turmeaus that is due to open with our Opening Event on the 24th March. Book up soon! Not many tickets left now :)

The walk in humidor is almost stocked up now and looks fab. The ‘Oliva’ sampling lounge is super cosy and the showroom area looks awesome. I look forward to meeting friends and clients at the opening which will feature some of the finest Oliva cigars paired up with some excellent cocktails and Ron Cubay.

My thanks to Scott from Tor Imports and the boys from Oliva for all their support and especially for the Orchant Seleccion by Oliva series of cigars which are now our fastest selling Nicaraguan cigar. Great smokes at a great price. Can’t go wrong.

Our official opening party for La Casa del Habano Chester is next Tuesday evening. I think the event is more or less sold out now so if you are planning to join us for a completely over the top opening event – book up fast!

I first met Henke Kelner many years ago when Davidoff were kind enough to invite me on their training trip to the Dominican Republic. It’s a pleasure to finally be welcoming him to our Robert Graham whisky and cigar shop in Cambridge next month:

Cigar and Whisky Tasting Event
Wednesday April 22nd

Robert Graham – Cambridge

6.30 pm – 9.00 pm

Guest of honour : Henke Kelner of Davidoff

Introducing the new range of Winston Churchill cigars

Paired up with Drams of:

Dancing Stag Glen Grant 1992  20yo
Dancing Stag Ben Nevis 1995 18yo
Hoebeg ISC Gold Medal Award

Steve Johnstone and Mitchell Orchant look forward to welcoming you for a memorable evening.

Tickets in advance only £20. Strictly limited availability.
Tickets available here – Book early to avoid disappointment

I’m still herfing my way through stacks of Cohiba Robusto Supremo. Not my usual smoke as I generally smoke robustos and piramides but I just can’t seem to leave these CRS’s alone. The construction is so perfect for the crazy ring gauge and the blend is so sweet, I’m like a kid with a bag of candy! Not sure how many of these were made so I have stashed a load away to smoke over the next 5-10 years as I would guess they will age very well indeed.

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

cgarsmars

XVII Festival Habano

By my reckoning this was the 16th out of 17 of the February Festivals I have attended. I was in Havana for the first one but too poor to buy a ticket to the gala dinner! It’s been quite amazing to see the Festival develop, change and for the most part improve over the years and this year was no let down.

So I went through my usual routine with plenty of pre-flight pampering in the Virgin lounge at Gatwick followed by a few glasses of Champagne to get me in the Festival mood. Sat myself down on the plane next to a Cuban young lady who seemed to be dancing to iPod music throughout the flight (very entertaining – maybe she was happy to get out of London’s cold weather?!)

Service on Virgin Atlantic was excellent as ever and I should probably take this opportunity to apologise for snagging a load of extra Fab lollies that were sort of left in the galley looking lonely and needing to be eaten (apologies Mr Branson – I was indeed the ice lolly thief.)

Cohiba Behike BHK 54 Cigar - Box of 10Arriving at Jose Marti was at least as entertaining as usual with a 2 hour wait for our suitcases but we gave up stressing about the slow pace of service in Cuba many years ago :) Fortunately our friends that met us at the airport were well prepared with a bottle of Santiago 11 year old rum and a few Cohiba BHK 54’s left over from our November trip so we livened up fairly fast. Lucky I had a few BHK’s in Havana as there was no sign of them in any of the cigar shops.

In our usual ‘let’s hit the ground running’ style we headed straight over to a cocktail reception at the Habana Libre Hotel which was delightful as I bumped into a zillion friends and clients from all over the world whilst knocking back a Mojito or two and herfing a Piramides that was one of the smokes being handed out.

I changed hotels this year from the Nacional where I usually stay to the Saratoga and it was in fact a very welcome change. Best service I can remember in Cuba and super comfortable suite. The bar was comfortable and smoker friendly of course and the Wi-Fi worked pretty well. Good thing it did work as I had no data on my phone for the whole trip (note to Cuba: – please settle data bill with EE so I can work on my next trip – thank you.)

The top floor pool area rapidly became a firm favourite herfing location as we watched the smoke pollution billowing out of the local power plant and looked over the streets and buildings of Havana. An amazing array of new buildings, old buildings and collapsing buildings. Capitolio Building and the National ballet still closed for renovations.

cohiba_cigar_factoryWe herfed our way round all the usual places including the Melia Habana, Partagas, Habana Libre, Melia Cohiba, 5th and 16th in Miramar and Palacio and whilst all humidors seemed pretty well stocked there was no sign of Cohiba Behike anywhere so I smoked through my stash of 54’s from last November. Lots of talk about lack of wrapper leaf and likely shortages until at least this April but when I visited El Laguito there was no sign of any shortage and the quality and size of the leaf was quite superb. There was also plenty of rolling of Behikes! (Maybe they are all coming to the UK market as we have great supply! – TY Hunters & Frankau)

We are lucky in the UK as our importer Hunters & Frankau keep huge stocks, as do we. That way we can usually iron out most stock shortage situations.

Nice to bump in to Naomi Campbell and Paris Hilton at the Habana Libre. Paris is super pretty in real life (more so than in mags/on TV!) I wonder if she knew that the hotel was originally the Havana Hilton?!

I managed to find a few decent antiques and magazines to add the collection and enjoyed mooching round the Convention Centre bumping into many old friends. Not sure why they don’t put the air conditioning on though? – it was pretty darn hot and humid!

The Gala Dinner was the usual incredible event at Pabexpo, apparently attended by some 1400 people! This year was a mega Montecristo 80th anniversary celebration and we were treated lots of Monte’s including: Petit No. 2, Media Corona (surprisingly good), Edmundo, Churchill Anejados and 80th Aniversario (outstanding).

Montecristo_80th_anniversary_cigarWe understand that the 80th Aniversario Montecristo will be with us at some stage which is very exciting. I will try to keep calm though as we are still waiting for the Upmann No. 2 Reserva that was introduced to us at last year’s Festival!

Great and rather non-stop entertainment (too loud as usual) and some pretty decent Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros rum and a very warm welcome from Jorge Luís Fernández Maique, the commercial vice president of Habanos S.A.

The Habanos Man of the Year award for communications  was an interesting one as two of my friends were nominated with Gary Heathcott winning and Colin Ganley being the runner up as such. Well done to both of them.

IMG_4517The Auction was successfully and very well handled by Simon Chase and as you can see from the image, the 6 Lots were quite breath-taking. Simon reminded bidders that the Embargo was still firmly in place and punishing the economy and all proceeds were donated to the Cuban National Health Service.  The auction total raised was 662,500 Euros… Well done Simon.

The rest of the trip consisted of a lot of cigar herfing, rum drinking and finally catching the flu… Marvellous.

So, another great trip to Havana and I’m already looking forward to the November Partagas Festival. My thanks as ever to Hunters & Frankau as well as the Cuba C.Gars Team (Arturo, Zaffie, Mike and Hector) for 5 days of non-stop herfing and laughing.

Back to Blighty and a very hectic schedule ahead including the official opening event at our La Casa del Habano – Chester on the 17th March. The tickets are more or less sold out now and this will be a very special evening for C.Gars Ltd. Sean Croley from Hunters & Frankau will be cutting the ribbon as our guest of honour. Canapés from our favourite restaurant Bar – Lounge (thank you Neil), Chocolates from Rococo, Fabulous Ron Mulata and cigars from our humidor :)

norfolk_cigar_shop_grand_openingI’m also looking forward to the opening of our Norfolk Turmeaus premises on the 24th of March (tickets available here). The Norfolk opening is a particularly sentimental one for me and co-Director Laura as C.Gars Ltd was ‘officially’ founded in Norfolk way back in the mid 1990’s but it was mail order cigar business only at that time. So to finally be opening a Turmeaus there is pretty cool for us. We are looking forward to welcoming Brian Shapiro of Oliva cigars as our guest of honour and will be sampling some ridiculously good Oliva cigars complimented by Mulata rum and Mojitos. Norfolk is such a beautiful county and I could never understand why there wasn’t a specialist but now there is! Our premises adjoins our main warehouse and offices so you can imagine how comprehensive the range of cigars, tobacco accessories and humidors are.

Our next Vintage Cigar Auction will be held at the delightful Bulgari Hotel in Knightsbridge on the 15th June. We are accepting entries at this time and all enquiries can be emailed to Laura and her auction team at Auctions@cgarsltd.co.uk

Peaceful puffing,

Mitchell

‘The Hammer’!

I’ve been attending the IPCPR tobacconist trade show in the USA for the last 17 years. It has always been a brilliant opportunity for me to meet suppliers and chat with other retailers as well as clients of ours. From exceptionally humble beginnings 2 decades ago Laura and I have managed to create a colossus of a cigar and smokers accessory business and the US trade show has been a monumental factor helping in that growth as it always gave us the opportunity to bring in ranges of humidors and accessories that no one else would have in the UK. Better still as importers we passed the savings on to our customers and ensured best value as well as best range in the UK.

As the business grew and grew we expanded our cigars range from Havanas only, steadily into New World cigars and introduced some incredible ranges to our clients such as Fuente, Padron, Oliva, Dunhill and Davidoff to name a few.  As the popularity of New World cigars grew we started to add boutique and other high quality brands such as Regius, Inka, Nat Sherman, Tatuaje and many others to bring our clients a huge choice of cigars from all the different tobacco growing regions.

At last year’s show I was ‘wowed’ at the Padron exhibition stand by the Padron 50th anniversary humidor – I think this is possibly the single most beautiful humidor I have ever seen. The cigars

Padron 50th Anniversary Humidorare called ‘ The Hammer’ and measure in at 6 ½” length and 52 ring gauge.

50 perfectly crafted cigars per humidor made with the finest tobacco aged for 10 years. Available in natural or maduro wrapper and a unique bold full flavoured blend make this possibly the finest cigar I have ever smoked from Nicaragua. Demand was high as we expected but Padron kindly allocated a small number of humidors to C.Gars.  We are keeping number 321 humidor for display in a flagship store we are planning to open later this year.

What a lot of fun I’ve had opening specialist cigar stores over the last 15 years. C.Gars started out as a mail order- internet cigar merchant and I remember when we bought the first cigar shop in Liverpool that everyone told me I was mad to do so! Well that store was on its knees thanks to the previous owner and pathetic management but we turned it around and Turmeaus Liverpool will celebrate its 200th anniversary in style in 2017. :)

I then moved on to open a Turmeaus in Chester, followed by Turmeaus Mayfair. Last year we opened our beautiful La Casa del Habano in Chester and we are soon to open a rather swish Turmeaus Tobacconist in Norfolk.

Whilst all this has been going on I was also the owner and Managing Director of Robert Graham Ltd, another business that was on its knees and hanging on with its last very sad looking whisky and cigar store in Glasgow. Well, long story short, we turned that one around as well, opening additional specialist whisky and cigar stores in Edinburgh Rose street, Edinburgh Canongate, London West Hampstead, Cambridge and of course our incredible flagship in the heart of Glasgow.

Robert Graham Ltd has also won a raft of awards for many of the incredible range of Independent bottled single malt whiskies we created so I’m very proud of that achievement. I am still involved with this fabulous business but have taken a back seat to concentrate on Turmeaus tobacconist expansion and handed the reins over to new managing director Steve Johnstone who will no doubt continue the solid growth and family run ethos of the business for the future.

The tobacco industry is extraordinary in terms of crazy legislation that seems to be never ending (despite being targeted at cigarette smokers but affecting cigar and pipe smokers) and products that are introduced but arrive late in the market, in tiny quantity or not at all ! We are still waiting for the Upmann No.2 Reserva introduced at last year’s Festival in Havana but absolutely no sign of them surfacing as yet ! I wish they would do as they were an outrageously good smoke when I tried them.

Some very good news though insofar as the Hunters and Frankau 225th anniversary Ramon Allones humidor will be released on time and is expected 3rd week of June. Tons of interest in this magnificent humidor and no doubt splendid cigars. I’ll be tucking a few of these away in my retirement fund !

A few events for your calendars :) :

Monday 23rd February – Single Malt Whisky and Havana cigar tasting evening at La Casa del Habano –Chester

Tuesday 17th March – Opening party and Cuban rum tasting evening at La Casa del Habano – Chester. Guest of honour is Sean Croley, Sales Director of Hunters & Frankau

Tuesday 24th March – Launch evening for Turmeaus Tobacconist – Norfolk. Guest of honour is Brian Shapiro of Oliva Cigars

Wednesday 13th May – Cigar tasting evening at Turmeaus Chester featuring Alec Bradley Cigars. Guest of honour is George Sosa

Thursday 14th May Cigar tasting evening at Turmeaus Liverpool featuring Alec Bradley Cigars. Guest of honour is George Sosa

15th June Vintage Cigar Auction 2pm at The Bulgari Hotel Knightsbridge

Lots are already arriving for the next cigar auction and we expect to have a good range of Pre Embargo, Davidoff, Dunhill, Limited Edition, Aged and Rare Havanas knocked down my resident C.Gars auctioneer Jonathan Humbert. If all goes to plan the format of the next auction will be completely different to all previous auctions as this will be a live auction but we are adding additional technology so internet bidders can bid online right up till the hammer falls. More details to follow.

Okay so I am constantly asked what is my favourite cigar and what am I smoking now ? well I can do no better than tell you that I don’t have a favourite ! Yes, I have regular smokes on rotation such as Bolivar Belicosos and Montecristo No.2 but it’s all down to vintage (much like fine wines) when it comes to Havana cigars. I love just about anything from 2007 but I also love trying out some of the great new Havanas such as the incredible Cohiba Robusto Supremo Limited Edition, Partagas Serie D No.6 ( great breakfast smoke) and Trinidad Vigia ( never had a Trini I didn’t like !)

Oliva Shorty Orchant SeleccionThat said I also mix it up a bit these days with New World cigars for a change of pace. My exclusive Orchant Seleccion range by Oliva are on the daily rotation and are selling like mad so it looks like I got that blend just about right. Perfect sizes and unbelievable value for a premium cigar. I honestly don’t think you can find a better value premium cigar in the UK

 

Oliva Cigars Orchant Seleccion

Orchant Seleccion By Oliva Chubby  £99

Orchant Seleccion By Oliva Skinny  £69

Orchant Seleccion By Oliva Shorty  £89

I’m also enjoying Inka – Secret Blend, the brand and blend I created from 100% Peruvian tobacco. Nothing else like it on the market and a huge success story for C.Gars Ltd.

Not long to go before this year’s Festival del Habanos in Havana. I reckon this is the 16th Festival ( out of 17 held ) that I will attend. This year the featured brands are Romeo y Julieta and Montecristo ( celebrating the 80th anniversary of good old Monte !) and I can’t wait. I think around 2000+ attend the Festival and it’s always good to catch up with friends from all over the world at the Mecca for cigars.

That’s me wrapped up for another week, I’m kicking back this weekend with a box of 2011 Cohiba 1966 Limited Edition and a bottle of Glendullan ( The Ghost!) 1999 …. What a combo :)

Have a smokey valentines weekend

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

CGars Valentines Day