California Dreamin’

The Los Angeles office has been very busy over the last week with a series of Inca – Secret Blend cigar tasting sessions by the swimming pool of my hotel :-)

The overwhelming verdict is that this is the perfect any time smoke.It doesn’t knock you out with strength but has volumes of sweet flavours from the first to the last puff. The brand was introduced in the US a few weeks ago and I understand the first production batch is already sold out. Inca – Secret Blend will be available in select cigar specialists in California in the next few weeks.

My thanks to all the Secret Blend retailers who are working with us to make my little boutique brand successful.

We had a bit of a boat herf in Long Beach last week with Cap’n Duffy piloting the electric ‘Duffield’ boat whilst we smoked some great cigars paired up with Dalmore Cigar Malt and Glen Ord 12 year old. I used the group of guys as a focus group for the Inca special edition I am planning on for release in the UK later this year. The cigars are made entirely of pelle d’oro leaf which is a difficult leaf to successfully grow in any reasonable quantity. The leaf is resistant to blue mold disease in Peru and has an incredible sweet taste characteristic. Fair to say the taste test group enjoyed the cigars very much which makes me very happy to be plowing on with the project. 1000 boxes of 10 robusto sized cigars are planned for release early December.

Meanwhilst the Inka – Secret Blend range in the UK goes from strength to strength and continues to be our most popular New World brand of cigars. Being the maker of the brand has given me a great advantage as there is no middleman so I can pass the savings on to our clients.I keep the packaging for the UK brand simple and the cost to a bare minimum as this is all about premium tobacco at an affordable price.

Talking about affordable prices you really should check out our current pricing on Regius cigars as there is no way we can hold such low pricing for much longer. Premium cigars at budget prices. Quality Nicaraguan tobacco, great wrapper and all the popular sizes. No idea why we seem to be the only cigar specialist selling these great smokes in the UK but they are storming out of our shops with non stop repeat orders. My fave is the Robusto and I have been enjoying quite a few whilst in the US over the last month.

What ever happened to Macanudo cigars in the UK? They were sold, not sold, sold by all different people, taken off the market… Confused? Me too! I smoked a few different Macanudo range cigars at the trade show a few weeks ago and some were very impressive. I just heard STG is doing an IPO so maybe they will get some proper distribution in the UK thereafter. I certainly hope so. I think STG now own Torano cigars as well. I used to import Torano directly and they were terribly popular. Hopefully a decent UK range will re-appear as if by magic sometime soon :-)

I hear that the Upmann Magnum 56 Limited Edition came out in the UK a few days ago. From the feedback I am seeing on our Facebook account it looks like a bit of a winner. I cant wait to try one when I get back to London. I’m not sure why so many of these huge format cigars are made. I love a big cigar but reckon most people these days are in a hurry and want short and fat cigars, generally Robustos and Petit Robustos seem to be ideal for the UK. I’m working with the fabulous Nat Sherman company to import a few of their new range to add to the existing very popular range we are stocking. Sizes? – Quite perfect Robustos and Petit Robustos :-)

I’m herfing my way through loads of Davidoff Winston Churchill cigars daily. I think I have grown to love this range. Its not cheap but the quality of the cigar blend is truly outstanding.

For a change of pace I’m still smoking plenty of Orchant Seleccion by Oliva Chubby’s! How good is this cigar?! Judging by the incredible sales… Very good indeed. what a pleasure to work with Oliva on the blend of this cigar as well as the Shorty and Skinny in the Orchant Seleccion range.

If all goes to plan we will be making an Orchant Seleccion Havana cigar in the very near future to add to the range we have enjoyed over the last few years.

Busy week coming up with quite a few friends coming over to visit from the East Coast and planned herfs already organised non stop from Sunday to Thursday next week. I will need a holiday!

Have a smokey weekend,

Peaceful puffing wishes from Cali,

Mitchell

New Orleans!

I reckon this was something like the 16th or 17th IPCPR (previously RTDA) trade show I have attended in the USA and this is the second time I have been to the show in New Orleans. The show was HUGE!!! and I love seeing all the manufacturers of cigars and accessories, as well as trade colleagues not to mention learn about all the new cigars and other products coming to the market. In fact the show is so huge, despite being there for 5 days I still didn’t manage to meet up with everyone I had planned (sorree).
!cid_0C95A01C59AB432D92C9353D3D9FF4E6@HOMELAPTOP

There used to be a trade association in the UK that put on a rather miserable looking annual trade show. I’m not sure if they do it any more as I gave up going out of sheer boredom some years ago and prefer to attend International trade shows instead.

I only spotted two other cigar specialists at the show from the UK- Paresh Patel from Regal Cigars and Simon Jackson from My Smoking Shop, both thoroughly professional merchants and top chaps!  No one else from the UK?! Excellent, that leaves it pretty clear for me to keep importing new stock lines and passing all the savings over to our customers – job done :)

There were many new brands of cigars that I have to wonder will they actually be around in a years’ time? they look like branding exercises rather than actually cigar making businesses. We shall see.

The first stand I stopped at was Daniel Marshall humidors. I think I made Daniel’s day as I gave him his first order of the show! Awesome boxes, store in style :)
Click here to see our full range of Daniel Marshall humidors! More designs coming soon.

Great to see the Xikar range growing year on year and looking forward to an even larger range online very soon – see our Xikar range here!!cid_A8244EDBC5A0419A9F79F9F9FCE0F1CC@HOMELAPTOP

We’re excited about the possibility of introducing La Palina cigars to the UK market and we plan to add to our existing Nat Sherman range, as I found a cracker of a smoke that I will be importing to the UK very soon. I love Nat Sherman and it’s my favourite shop to visit when I’m in NYC.

I bumped into Daniel who used to work at Turmeaus Mayfair and was very happy to see how well he’s doing at Mombacho Cigars. I even found a cracking little cigar in their range that I fancy bringing in to the UK in the next few weeks.

Turmeaus shops and customers  will be very happy to hear I bought zillions of new pipes that can’t normally be found in the UK so their ranges are about to have some delightful quality and value additions. Our pipe tobacco business has been going ballistic over the last two years. Best value in the UK guaranteed- if I’m wrong I will gladly price match.

As most of C.Gars blog readers know, I love Alec Bradley Cigars! We have started a project to have a special release for the UK market only which is very cool and will be very exclusive to two or three cigar specialist only :) Oh and thanks to the Boys at A.B. (George, Alan, Mike, Ralph et al) for the delightful dinner in New Orleans.
Check out our current Alec Bradley range here

I’m equally fond of the Oliva cigars who had a beautiful exhibition stand and we voted ‘the most comfortable armchairs’! Orchant Seleccion by Oliva remain our best-selling new cigar this year:

Shorty

Chubby

Skinny

I was working hard for Regius cigars at the show being a sort of brand ambassador for the limited edition Orchant seleccion cigars that Akhil and I have blended. Seemed to go well as I think we sold them all out on the first day. Check out my UK Regius range here – ridiculous good value, no wonder we sell zillions of them all year round :)

!cid_EF1BA4500F934297A6CCE98CEAA80D12@HOMELAPTOP

Inca Secret Blend – Robusto

I probably don’t need to bang on about the success of the Inka – Secret Blend cigars I created for the UK market but I can now confirm that our Inca- Secret Blend created for the US and International market seem to be selling out faster than we could ever have dreamed. I’m now finalizing the blend on my Inca Robusto, which will roll out in a few months’ time. We are adding retailers daily and some are listed on our Inca website.

The Davidoff stand was as breath taking as usual and it was good to see Avo holding court as usual. The Davidoff range is stunning and I love this brand, especially the new Winston Churchill cigars.

My business partners; Ron Morrison and Guy Hancock celebrated the successful business with colleagues including Chris Morrison , Gennaro Lettieri , Gary Hyams and Clay Wilson with a fabulous dinner at the Commanders Place in New Orleans! Highly recommended.

So all in all another successful trade show and now I’m looking forward to doing it all over again at the Dortmund trade show in September and then back to Las Vegas next Summer :)

Righto – 1 day off before I get back to my serious cigar dinner talking routine… tough life but clearly I’m the man for the job.

 

Peaceful puffing and long ashes from sunny L.A.

 

Mitchell

New York Cigar Humidor Cartoon

West Coast Herfing!

Virgin DreamlinerI would have thought that after 18 years of non-stop travelling the world on business trips I would be immune to jet lag by now but not so! The 8 hour time difference between London and California is pretty brutal and it’s taken me the best part of a week to feel ‘normal’ again.

That said I was super impressed with the Virgin Dreamliner that flew me over here. Huge comfortable seats and the air circulation seemed to be so much cleaner. Please please change those awful old 747’s on the London – Havana route Mr Branson! Super friendly flight attendants and a very nice First Officer who I spent ages chatting to (there are 3 pilots on the Dreamliner!)

I love the Virgin Airlines experience, from booking to checking in, Upper Class lounge through to the flight. All very slick, friendly, modern and cool. I like to think of C.Gars as the Virgin Airlines of the cigar industry :)

And so started my annual rather long annual Summer trip to the US :) I got out of the airport in record time and grabbed a taxi just missing the rush hour which was just as well as it really was time to have the first smoke after a long days travelling. Of course I’m a Havana cigar smoker but there won’t be any of those for the next month or so! Despite President Obama’s watering down of the embargo I will have to wait a good while longer before I can smoke a good Cuban over here.

Oliva Orchant Seleccion Chubby CigarsHappily I had some Inca Secret Blend with me so I smoked a Tambo with a good shot of Mac 12 which hit the spot perfectly! I have a few firm favourites that I’ve been herfing my way through over the last week including our fabulous Oliva Orchant Selection range (particularly the Chubby – bit of a bargain at £9.99 a pop which is probably why they are one of our fastest selling cigars!)

I’ve also been herfing my way through huge quantities of Regius Robustos. I like this brand of cigars, in fact I think I may be the only cigar specialist in the UK to stock the full range as well as sell them for the most ridiculously low prices. The fact is they are good smokes. Not for the novice as they have a bit of that full power thing going on in the blend but the experienced New World cigar smoker will enjoy this well-crafted completely handmade premium cigar. I know I’m right as well are literally selling mountains of them.

To add a little sophistication to my daily cigar rotation I have been enjoying the Davidoff Winston Churchill Toro immensely. Rich, bold and complex from start to finish. Highly recommended.

The weather is quite perfect in Los Angeles and it’s great to have a change of pace and work from the pool side! Friends keep stopping by for a smoke with me so it’s not much different to the London office but it is much sunnier :)

Socal boys herfing at GHR Beverly HillsThanks to my dear friend Peter for hosting me and a load of chums at GHR earlier this week. We had a wonderful full on herf! Dinner, drinks, smokes with a load of cigar smoking pals that I have known for many many years. I expect to be herfing with them for many more years to come.

I’m heading over to New Orleans for the annual IPCPR tobacco trade show and in fact I think this is the 16th trade show I have been to (it used to be called RTDA). I love to come to this trade show, not only to herf (though there is quite a bit of herfing going on!) but to see what’s going on in terms of new products whether New World cigars or Cigar accessories. My trick over the years was to cut out the middle man, buy products that were not in the UK, buy huge quantities to import and… Give my clients the best products and best value possible. By the sheer size C.Gars has grown to, I would say I have accomplished that :)

I’m looking forward to seeing my business Partner Ron Morrison as well as Gennaro Lettieri and Gary Hyams from Inca Cigars USA at the show as well as Guy Hancock from Decent Cigar Emporium Dublin. Guy and I own a company called Decent C.Gars Ltd and is the importer of the fabulous Arturo Fuente cigars to the UK.

A few days ago I heard that once again the EU is dictating their mental laws to the UK and next year we will have yet more awful health warnings ruining our beautiful cigar boxes. Apparently there is also some bonkers requirements for me to register the ingredients of Inka Secret Blend cigars. Umm ok then: Secret Blend cigar ingredients: Tobacco. Honestly, you couldn’t make it up, it’s so stupid.

Pretty exciting news that I can share in so far as we have just put another retail shop under offer and in solicitors hands so we are doing another little unexpected additional expansion this year. More details when the contract is signed in a few weeks’ time (call me superstitious!)

Okay that’s me heading back to the poolside office for a few more rays of sun before I head to the airport and New Orleans :)

Have a smokey weekend,

Peaceful puffing and… ‘have a great day’!

Mitchell

cgarla1

RA 225’s Now or Never!

My week of herfing started off with Sunday tea at The Ritz with Karyn and Tasha, a most decadent affair to say the least (back on the diet thereafter!) this was a lovely birthday present from friends that I have only just got round to using, just as well as yet another birthday is fast approaching.

Tea was followed by a relaxing smoke and drink in the cigar lounge, well actually the outside part of the cigar lounge as the weather was so beautiful. The Ritz has an excellent cigar lounge and a great range of Havana cigars if anyone can actually find it as you have to go through the casino club. I consoled myself with a large single malt as lady luck was not with me at the tables buy hey ho, that’s this year’s gambling budget done with :)

I zoomed up to Turmeaus – Liverpool on a rather comfortable and air conditioned first class carriage with Virgin and had a few meetings at The Albany. Plans are coming along well and we are all very excited about the opening of this flagship cigar and whisky paradise later this year.

The highlight of my week was our cigar and whisky tasting at La Casa del Habano – Chester. To say this was a sold out event would be an understatement. The bar and the lounge was crammed full with the launch of the Wednesday Whisky Club and sadly we had to turn away many people who had not pre booked. Even with two sessions we were still totally over booked.

I think Wednesday was the hottest day in the UK since 2006 with temperatures soaring into the 90’s. Thankfully the air con in La Casa worked very well in keeping everyone cool and chilled out :)

Clearly our tasting evenings are more popular than we could ever have imagined. Any why not? Three fabulous Robert Graham single malt whiskies ( Caerban, Ailein Mor and Hoebeg) Montecristo Media Coronas and Bolivar Royal Coronas as well as fabulous food from Bar Lounge.

The Wednesday Whisky Club is limited to 50 founder members and I understand its more or less fully subscribed already (email Sara for more details sara@cgarsltd.co.uk ) and has some wonderful membership benefits including priority and special prices to our events and 15% off our range of smokers accessories.

Best of all is that members can use the bar and sampling lounge till 11 p.m. on Wednesday evenings and enjoy our rather lovely hospitality. The bar has a super menu of single malt whisky and Cuban rum available by the dram and the lounge has Bloomberg TV, newspapers, music, soft drinks, coffee and snacks. Needless to say the walk in humidor is filled to the ceiling with every Havana you could dream of as well as some super rare Havana’s too. And, if you prefer New World cigars you can always go next door to Turmeaus as we have a dedicated New World walk in humidor and sampling area too :)

We had a fabulous crowd, lots of regulars and lots of new faces, some even traveled 2 hours or more for the event and one friend even came over from Norway! Our next whisky and cigar tasting is set for the 10th September but you may want to book up early…

Well, its official – the RA 225’s are our fastest selling new release Havana cigar in history and it really is now or never as we are at the end of the line with stock levels perilously low. Allocations were cut to ribbons due to high demand. Well done to all of our friends who pre –ordered. What a fabulous smoke it is. Well done to H&F for such a wonderful cigar.

I’m a bit of a Monte 2 and BBF smoker and have been for as long as I can remember but I am utterly smitten by the Partagas SD No.6 not my usual vitola for sure but the blend is just incredible, sweet and full flavoured, smooth, balanced and complex. I just can’t get enough of these cheeky little smokes. Perhaps it’s the 50 ring gauge and short length of the cigar that’s producing volumes of sweet flavours but I actually prefer these to the current D4 blend which is another one of my daily rotation.

Happy to announce that we have just imported a huge quantity of Inka – Secret Blend and the full range is available again online and in store. The success of the brand takes my breath away. Our best-selling New World cigar.

Oliva Orchant Seleccion have been another super surprise and we can’t seem to get these in fast enough. I love the Chubby (no comments please!) though the Skinny and Shorty ain’t too shabby either :) Superb value for a premium cigar if not unbeatable value.

The mountain of Regius cigars is slowly disappearing. No surprise there then! Robustos for £6.99, what a bargain. Get them while you can.

davidoff_winston_churchill

If you haven’t tried the new Davidoff Winston Churchill range, I can highly recommend these cigars. They ain’t cheap but they are really delicious smokes. My favourite is the Robusto.

Quick word on humidors – I don’t think anything compares to the quality and value of Dunhill humidors they are just perfect and highly recommended.

If the weather forecasters have it right (do they ever get it right?) it should be a hot and sunny weekend so I’m ready with a full weekend baggie of PSD6’s, RA 225’s,Monte 2’s and BBF’s and will be herfing on the deck for the next 48 hours doing nothing but thinking about what a great week I just had :)

Have a sunny weekend,

Peaceful puffing,

Mitchell

Ramon’s in and… Out!

See all of the photos from the night HERE

The last week was probably one of the most exciting weeks I can ever remember since being in the cigar trade! The launch of the Ramon Allones H&F 225th anniversary cigars went ahead as planned with an incredible party that was clearly enjoyed by all.

The cigars rolled into our shops and warehouses and rolled out faster than any new cigar I can ever remember. The Limited Edition Humidors are breathtakingly beautiful, the rum is delicious and the cigars are outstanding. Allocations have been horribly tight due to overwhelming demand particularly for the humidors and regrettably some friends who would have liked a humidor will be disappointed. At least they can still enjoy the cigars.

Well done to all the clients that pre-ordered cabinets at the reduced pre-release offer price. We are clearing all pre-orders as fast as Hunters & Frankau can deliver the cigars to us. This outstanding cigar is destined to become a classic. Its rich and complex with excellent construction and a beautiful colorado maduro wrapper. I haven’t stopped smoking them this week!

The Bolivar Belgravia – UK Regional Edition was also introduced at the party although we have no clue as to when they will actually be released. Here’s hoping that it may be before the end of the year. Measuring in at 5 ¼” length and a hefty 55 ring gauge this is sure to be another resounding success in a long line of magnificent UK Regional Editions.

I enjoyed a splendid lunch with my business partner Guy Hancock at our favourite Boisdale restaurant in Belgravia yesterday. Could this delightful restaurant be any busier or any better?! The cigar terrace was crammed full of cigar smokers enjoying the fabulous weather in London. Great food and service and the Gran Cru St. Emilion went down very well with our Cohiba Behike 54’s.

I keep hearing about countries that have no Cohiba BHK’s available but thankfully our importers keep us well stocked up. There are a few Havana cigar lines that are out of stock including Por Larranaga Sobresalientes but we are hoping that there are more on the way over to the UK from Havana.

It’s been a crazy busy week in the London office with our auction clients collecting their Lots following the Summer auction and quite a few sampling sessions have been thoroughly enjoyed :) We managed to go through half dozen bottles of the delicious Dancing Stag Clynelish together with copious amounts of Bolivar Belicosos (still my favourite Havana)

Gennaro Lettieri from Tabalacalera del Oriente in Peru also stopped in to go through more blending samples for a planned UK Limited Edition of a new Inca – Secret Blend planned cigar that will be released before Christmas. The ‘Reserva d’Oro’ will be a super-premium 100% Peruvian cigar made with the finest aged tobacco with a sweet, rich and bold flavour. As you would expect from C.Gars, the price will be exceptionally attractive

We have also had another new Havana released this week. The Montecristo Media Corona measures in at 3/12” length and 44 ring gauge. I smoked a few as soon as they arrived and think this could become the perfect breakfast cigar. Classic Montecristo flavour and very well crafted. I’m going to add this to my daily morning rotation together with the Partagas SD No. 6 which I just can’t seem to get enough of. These cigars are like candy for me :)

IMG_20150624_204528My thanks to my old ASC cigar newsgroup pal Jeremy Goodwin (and his wife Jill!) for hooking me up with best seats in the house for Fleetwood Mac on Wednesday evening. I’ve been to their concerts over the last 30 years but I actually think they are better than ever now.

Looking forward to kicking back this weekend with a baggie stuffed full of BBF’s and Ramon 225’s :) and can’t wait to head up North next week to Turmeaus Liverpool and Chester. We have a whisky and cigar tasting on the 1st July at La Casa del Habano Chester together with the launch of the Wednesday Whisky Club. Manageress Sara assures me that the hospitality will not be spared! So attendees are in for a great evening. One or two places available if you hurry to book up.

Finally, congrats to my daughter Tasha for graduating from school today, big celebrations this afternoon :)

Have a smokey weekend,

Peaceful puffing,

Mitchell

IMG_20150624_194939