Home Alone!

Well that’s it… Michelle is off for a week to sunny Havana with her husband Harry whilst I am left to run the business or at least pretend to know what I am doing!

It’s very, very quiet in the office without Michelle, goodness knows she rarely stops talking :) Oh well will have to cope as best I can, I just don’t know what I will do without Mishie fussing around me as I am sort of spoilt, well actually very spoilt! It starts off in the mornings with Michelle selecting cigars that I need to sample throughout the long days we work at the office, continues with espresso’s appearing on my desk every hour or so and of course any serious and complicated business issues – yup, she takes care of all of that too!

Michelle is staying at the Hotel Nacional, visiting Pinar del Rio and hopefully getting a factory tour as well. No doubt she’ll be herfing in all of my favourite cigar lounges and getting a bit of well-deserved sunshine as well.

Thinking about it, I can’t wait till the Festival next month. A celebration of the brands of Partagas, Hoyo, Trinidad and Upmann attended by around 2000 cigar aficionados from around the world.

new_cgars_siteWe’re still working 24 hours a day to finish off our new website which is looking rather swish may I say and by the time you read this blog it will be live :) Very Grateful for any feedback as we have been working on this website and its functionality and features for ages so the feedback will be very helpful.

Popped into the lovely Wellesley hotel cigar terrace with friends on Wednesday evening and herfed our way through a couple of BHK56’s which were perfection.

I’m on a new year’s diet (as usual) so kept off the cocktails and opted for a glass of Chablis which paired up nicely with the Cohiba cigars. I reckon I should publish my new diet ‘The Chablis and Cohiba Diet’ no fat/vegetarian/low calorie… And guaranteed to make you happy as well as slimmer! Then I’ll come out with a DVD to cash in on the concept :)

Scott from Tor popped into Turmeaus shops in Chester and Liverpool this week and I hear he’s planning some more cigars tasting evenings in March. Hopefully I’ll be able to get over there for them. Tor have some of the best-selling brands in the UK including Padron, Oliva and Alec Bradley to name a few.

It always amazes me how different countries have completely different cigar smoking culture. This week I had clients from Japan and Hong Kong visiting the office. The Japanese Gentlemen told me there’s no smoking ban in Japan (bravo) and he smokes just about everywhere including his home. The gentleman from Honk Kong told me they have a fairly similar smoking ban in Hong Kong as the UK and whilst he smokes at home, he only smokes on his balcony. An American client who popped in told me that despite having a rather large home he would not dream of smoking at home and only smokes outside (not much fun in Winter!) and even more sadly he doesn’t want to upset his kids so he has stopped smoking cigars in his car.

Not sure if I am unique but I always thought an Englishman’s home is his castle and I enjoy nothing better than a cigar and a single malt by the roaring fire in my lounge at home, I also enjoy smoking a cigar in my car as my Twitter followers no doubt know! Fortunately we have quite a few splendid cigar terraces in London and comfortable outside smoking areas around the country too, so I am never too far away from a relaxing  and tasty cigar.

I like having a cigar in the garden when weather permits so I’m building a sort of herfing area complete with summer house, fire pit and rocking chairs for when my cigar smoking chums come over to herf in the Spring and Summer. Will put some photos on the blog when it’s completed in a few weeks’ time. Should be pretty cool.

There’s some daft consultation happening about the ‘standardized packaging’ of tobacco that’s proposed for the UK. Fairly certain that none of the studies have ever concluded that plain packaging reduces smoking so it’s all a bit of a waste of time.

Obviously its aimed at cigarettes but sadly cigars and pipe tobacco get tarred with the same brush.

My MP emailed me about the consultation and I replied asking what his views were. He politely replied (this is the short version) that he really didn’t have a view but was waiting for the results in the report but pointed out the dangers of children smoking etc. etc. blah blah blah. So, much as I’m sure it’s a waste of time, I did reply to him pointing out that my concerns were for cigars and pipe tobacco and children really don’t pop in to my cigars shops and say ‘Gimme a Montecristo Guv’ in fact children aren’t even allowed in my cigar shops.

I can’t help but think that our MP’s must have more important issues to debate and legislate? Illegal drugs would be a good starter as they seem to be in the news all the time. Then perhaps the homeless issue, the economy and no doubt many other serious issues. But what do I know?

I’m starting to put together our next Online Auction catalogues which is scheduled for February. Lots entered will be live on this Online Auction website in a few weeks’ time. Seems that everyone loves the auction of the cigars whether online or offline as we are getting tons of emails from clients asking when the next sale will be… Not long to go.

Have a smokey weekend,

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

Taste Testing Week!

Nice to get back to routine (if my life is ever routine!) after the crazy holiday season :) And clearly a lot of humidors were emptied and enjoyed, judging by the order volume over the last week. So my thanks for all the orders and keeping our shops and offices busier than ever!

I am amazed at the gain in popularity of New World cigars and our clients seem to show more interest in trying out new regions and new brands/sizes all the time.

Some of the recent releases that have been hugely popular include: 

Popular Non-Cuban Cigars for 2014

Charatan 21st anniversary – 21 cigars from Nicaragua at £185. A cracking short fat full flavoured cigar

Alec Bradley Mundial – One of my favourites 20 delicious premium cigars for £189.

Regius Robusto – Limited Turmeaus Edition, 10 Nicaraguan cigars for under £80 quid a box which are tremendous value

Davidoff Nicaraguan Toro – These ain’t cheap but they are a great smoke and selling like mad.

It’s great that smokers are expanding their horizons. Quality of the above brands is quite excellent and I can’t remember a complaint about blend or draw but I do get a lot of emails (thank you) from clients who are very pleased with the quality as well as the massive range we carry.

I think we must have the largest range of premium cigars in the UK. Essentially if its imported into the UK – we have it in our warehouse for rapid mail order delivery as well as comprehensive ranges in our retail cigars stores across the UK.

My partner Ron from Robert Graham was down from Scotland this week as we had to do some serious whisky sampling from our ever changing and expanding range of whisky.Hoebeg Award Winning Single Malt Whisky

We now have award winning core range including:

Hoebeg – Our best selling Islay single malt
Ailein Mor – Our best selling Highland single malt
Caerban - A delicious vatted malt

Next we have our inspired series of single cask Dancing Stag, bottled at 46%. These casks yield around 300 numbered bottles and obviously can never be repeated when sold out.

Finally we have our Treasurer Selection range of cask strength single malts

Checkout the current range on this link.

Ron and I herfed with friends Dov and Joe at the lovely Bulgari Hotel (Edward Sahakian cigar lounge) and smoked our way through quite a few Cohiba BHK 54’s followed by Partagas P2’s until well… rather late. We paired up the cigars with a bottle of 30 year old Fettercairn which worked very well indeed.

The Bulgari is a perfect herfing venue. Perfect service, great food, very comfortable – who could ask for more?

Hard week in the office for me next week as Michelle is heading to Havana and I’m starting to put together catalogue for our next online Auction in February expecting a good range of limited edition, aged and rare, reserva and gran reserva to be entered. For more details drop me an email sales@cgarsltd.co.uk

Have a smokey weekend,

Peaceful puffing,

Mitchell

Happy New Year!

A very happy new year to all friends of C.Gars, Turmeaus and Robert Graham :)

There was a really weird  if not bizarre article in the Financial Times about cigar smoking declining in the UK and dying out by 2026 a couple of days ago. My first though was great… I can set up a retirement date as that would make me around 61 years old :) but then I thought nahhhh!… What on earth would I do with my time, it’s not as if I play golf lol.

So dear blog reader, I decided to do a little actual research as it seemed that the writer of the article had not done his research accurately (if at all!) Basic research would have suggested that he may get some more accurate feel for the industry by contacting C.Gars Ltd. As retailers both online and in our cigar stores we should have a good handle on whether the premium cigar industry is declining, surely?

I asked my marketing department for some stats relating to our business. Now you may think that the stats are only relevant to my businesses but by my reckoning we are the largest cigar specialist in the UK and whilst I think we are also the best cigar specialist, the reality is that if we are doing well and our sales are increasing, our contemporaries and competitors in the UK are also likely to be experiencing something fairly similar.

Well… The FT article partially blamed the smoking ban for their theory that cigar smoking is declining and will die out by 2026 but my Marketing Team stats show that our sales have increased more or less 20% annually since 2007 which would rubbish the FT article completely. We have opened new specialist cigars stores in Edinburgh, London West Hampstead, London Mayfair and Cambridge as well as relocated to better premises in Liverpool and Glasgow. Hardly any sign of a declining business or industry

Perhaps the writer of the article never bothered to visit any of the fabulous cigar terraces in London or elsewhere in the UK that always seem to be exceptionally busy when I visit them for a scotch and a smoke or two on just about any evening of the week. If the demand wasn’t there why would these businesses invest so much money in providing the facility? My favourites include: Boisdale, Ten Manchester Street, The Wellesley, The Bulgari, The Ritz  and the Lanesbourogh (now closed for refurb) to name a few.

Perhaps cigarette smoking is declining? I don’t know and I couldn’t care less as it’s a different business to the cigar trade. That said perhaps cigarette smoking is declining due to the whopping UK taxes and the huge amount of smuggling that I am guessing goes on?

But let’s get back to cigars and how the industry has, and is, changing and evolving. I should know as I have been in the cigar trade longer than most in the UK. Well, when I started in the 1990’s, the main premium cigar market was always Havana cigars and in fact it still is. But, the market for New World cigars (Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Peru etc.) has steadily grown over the last decade and I would say is going through something of a mini boom. We are not selling any less Havanas, in fact we are selling more, so who on earth is buying the New World cigars? You guessed it, it’s a younger generation of cigars smokers who want to experience cigars from all different New World brands as well as try Havana cigars.

Inka Secret Blend PacksBrands like Davidoff, Alec Bradley, Inka – Secret Blend and Regius to name a few, are growing in sales for us literally month by month. Novice cigar smokers aren’t afraid to try new cigars and experienced cigars smokers are also ‘mixing it up’ with their Havanas too.

I had a phone call on New Year’s Eve from a journalist from The Times newspaper who had seen the FT article and wanted to do her own article and get some information from me. Here’s the article which seems to reflect a more accurate picture. Well done to The Times newspaper

No need to panic then! I’m not retiring any time soon and despite what barmy legislation our successive anti-smoking obsessed governments may throw at us, I can’t honestly believe it makes any difference to the cigar smoker.

I’m no expert on the planned changes in legislation (I stopped worrying about this years ago!) but understand that our lovely cigar shops have to cover up any window displays from next year so we don’t show any tobacco products… OK – c’est la vie – so we will fill window displays with whisky instead. Will it stop anyone from popping in to their favourite cigar shop to buy their usual Montecristo or Davidoff to enjoy? I think not!

Then the news goes on and on about ‘plain packaging’ yes – no – yes – maybe. Who bloody knows! No really helpful data of consequence regarding effects on cigar smokers has ever been produced nor is it likely to. Like I say I have no idea about cigarettes – that’s a different business but I dare say it’s a law that should never happen to premium cigars and heaven forbid it does it still won’t make a jot of difference to the cigar smoker

Don’t read this as a rant, I find it all very amusing that lawmakers go on and on about bans and packaging and can’t help to think that perhaps they should be worrying and applying themselves more to real problems such as drugs and homeless people. Surely they are more serious issues. Isn’t this the UK? The country of cigar chomping Winston Churchill? And a democracy last time I looked where people should still enjoy a moiety of freedom of choice for cigar smoking which is of course a very legal product.

Our most popular cigars for 2013 included:

Cubans

Montecristo No. 4 Cigar - Box of 25Montecristo No. 4 (no surprise there… heehee)
Montecristo Edmundo and Petit Edmundo
Romeo Short Churchills
Cohiba Robusto and Siglo VI as well as the new Piramides Extra which is hugely popular
Partagas SD No. 4 and Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2 – our two most popular Robustos
Ramon Allones Specially Selected and Bolivar Royal Coronas – making a strong challenge to the two robustos above
Cohiba BHK52 and 54 – more popular than we would ever have imagined
Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure Especial – a surprise newcomer in our best seller list
Bolivar Belicosos – always a firm favourite for the campana smoker and always superior quality from C.Gars ltd as our stock is all 6 years + matured

Can you see a trend? Well, a bit of a trend at the very least – short and fat smokes, big volumes of flavour from large ring gauges. 40 minute + smokes

New World

Arturo Fuente Opus X Robusto Cigars – Box of 29Fuente – fabulous range, something for everyone. Superior quality without any doubt
Inka – Secret Blend – need I say more ?!
Davidoff Nicaraguan – storming off the shelves
Alec Bradley – great value and superior quality Mundial range is a huge hit with our customers and the Fine and Rare range isn’t too shabby either
Regius – popular since the day we launched and uber popular with the addition of the Turmeaus limited edition Robustos and Culebras
Torano regular range as well as the C.Gars Seleccion robustos and petit coronas – could this be the best value premium cigar available? It’s a good contender that’s for sure.

We finished 2013 as our best year ever so my thanks to my Team at C.Gars London and Norfolk as well as our retail Teams at Robert Graham and Turmeaus shops. My thanks to our fabulous suppliers for all their support but most of all my thanks to our 40,000 regular UK customers (up from 32,000 previous year)

I’m looking forward to an even busier 2014. More range and more special release cigars, perhaps an auction or two and perhaps a new cigar & whisky shop or two. As ever, it will be an exciting year… That’s for sure :)

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

C.Gars New Years Cigar Cartoon

Happy Holidays!

Robert Graham Glasgow Walk in HumidorI’m back to our London office! and just in time according to the weather forecast!

I spent the last week visiting Robert Graham cigar and whisky shops in Edinburgh, Canongate, Edinburgh Rose street and West George street Glasgow where I was on duty in the walk in cigar humidor :)

We only moved a couple of months ago from West Nile street to our new flagship premises in West George street and the shop was heaving with customers morning till night. Quite a sophisticated cigar clientele as well as a lot of novice smokers that were very interested in chatting with me about Havana and new world cigars.

I can’t remember working in any of our retail cigar stores for many years so it was very interesting to see ‘what was hot and what was not’!

Without any doubt Montecristo outsold everything by a mile… No surprise there. But, brands such as Alec Bradley, Regius, Fuente and Davidoff were immensely popular particularly with new cigar smokers who like to mix it up and try Cubans and new world cigars.

Inka secret blend peruvian cigars mixed selection of cigarillos, half corona, chicos, tres petit coronaSales of Inka – Secret Blend were staggering and outsold all the non-Cubans put together. I am guessing it’s a combination of quality as well as price. I started the week with a mountain of Inka cigars and ended it more or less sold out!

It goes without saying that the popularity of our award winning range of Dancing Stag whisky was overwhelming and we were restocking the shelves by the hour! The Bowmore 1990 and Hoebeg were the most popular and I would be surprised if there is a single bottle left now.

Chatting with loads and loads of customers over the week reinforced what my Partner Ron and I have always thought… Customers love the fact that we are an independent family owned and run business. Passionate about whisky and passionate about cigars. Personal and old fashioned best service online and in store.

2013 has been our best year ever by a long stretch and we have certainly come a long way since we started C.Gars Ltd in 1997 and took over Robert Graham in 2003 from the Graham family.

We never had any doubt that we could resurrect the brand successfully and we have worked tirelessly to do so. Now operating from 5 specialist shops and our websites specialising in the finest single malt whisky and premium cigars with a fabulous experienced Team and planning to expand our range of award winning Independent bottlings of single malt as well as open more retails locations in 2014.

C.Gars mail order and Turmeaus cigar shops are also having their best ‘season’ ever. Our shops in London Mayfair, Liverpool and Chester as well as our offices in London and Norfolk report record sales of cigars and accessories, in fact we have never sold so many humidors in a year in our entire history. So much for smoking ban! Clearly cigar smokers are resilient and don’t like to be told what to do, or rather what not to do.

We have some exciting plans for 2014 including our new Norfolk premises and our new super duper C.Gars website. More whisky range and even more cigar range at the best prices in the UK… Guaranteed.

I’m heading home to chill out with a bottle of Dancing Stag Bowmore 1990 and a couple of boxes of La Flor de Cano Gran Cano cigars. But if you need any advice, we will still be online 24/7 over Christmas.

So it’s very Happy Holidays from all of the C.Gars and Robert Graham team :)

Peaceful puffing,

Mitchell

Christmas Cigar Cartoon

Gran Reserva – Oh yes!

Oh my goodness, this could be the best cigars I have enjoyed this year! Partagas Gran Reserva arrived in our humidors this week and are flying out of the humidor.

The cigar not only tastes incredible but has the most enticing oily colorado maduro wrappers I have ever seen, far better than the Montecristo or Cohiba previous Gran Reserva. We sold out in around 2 nano seconds but 

Turmeaus Book Style Cabinet

expect some more availability very soon so keep those orders rolling in :)

Here are few of the Turmeaus special editions…Still plenty of time to order Christmas prezzies and we keep adding new sexeeee products daily!

Book style cigar cabinet made specially for Turmeaus in Cuba and containing 16 beautiful robustos rolled by Arlety at our London offices in October.

 

Regius Culebras - Turmeaus Edition 2013 Cigar

Regius Culebras – Turmeaus Limited Edition – crazy low price!

Length: 5 3/4″
Ring Gauge: 39
Flavour: Medium to full
Packaging: Box of 9 cigars (3 x 3 cigars twisted together)

Rich and earthy cigars with a background of spice.


Only 400 boxes made, 200 for the USA and 200 for the UK

These cigars have been created for Alfie Turmeaus Tobacconist est. 1817 and exclusively selected by Havana Cigars Specialist Mitchell Orchant. (That’s me/the blogger!)

Handmade and long filler premium cigars.

The Culebra is a collection of 3 cigars, twisted by the Torcedors (rollers) made for factory rollers to smoke in order to distinguish them from the straight cigars intended for export.

The cigars are made with a Nicaraguan binder and filler and 3 different wrappers:

1 – Cuban seed Oscuro wrapper from Jalapa Nicaragua
2 – Cuban seed Rosado wrapper from Jalapa Nicaragua
3 – Connectict seed from Talanga Honduras

Regius Robustos – Turmeaus Limited Edition – crazy low price!

Length: 4 3/4″
Ring Gauge: 52
Flavour: Medium to full
Packaging: Box of 10 cigars

Rich and earthy cigars with a background of spice.

Only 400 boxes made, 200 for the USA and 200 for the UK.

This limited edition has been created for Alfie Turmeaus Tobacconist est. 1817 and exclusively selected by Havana Cigars Specialist Mitchell Orchant. (That’s me/the blogger!)

…and take a look at these new lines:

New range of ‘My Father’ cigars on this link yes I know, rather odd name! But regardless, they are pretty good smokes!

Alec Bradley 2012 Fine & Rare - Limited Edition Torpedo Cigar - Box of 10Alec Bradley Fine and Rare cigars… Some of the best New World smokes out there superb presentation as well as great value.

Need a stocking filler? Cigar review notepad may do the trick.

And if you need special dram for the holidays check out 30 year old Jura :)

Our offices are operating 24/7 to get your orders out on time and so far so good :) Well done London and Norfolk C.Gars Team.

Whilst hard at work I have been ‘sampling’ my way through the 2007 UK regional edition Por Larranaga Magnificos the maturing process this cigar has gone through is incredible. Its soft and refined, sweet and balanced. Quite possibly one of the best cigars ever to come out of Havana.

On the late shift I need more of a pep you up smoke and I’ve opted for the Davidoff Nicaraguan Toro… BOOM! This is one full bodied puppy!!! Try them… They are incredible.

Our shops across the UK stock comprehensive ranges of cigars and whisky and we look forward to welcoming you. Wherever you are and whatever you need… We have you covered. Largest range in the UK. Best prices in the UK and  best service in the UK. If we ever fall short the buck stops here and I’m always available to personally help my clients sales@cgarsltd.co.uk

Next week I’m off to Scotland and look forward to welcoming clients to our wonderful Robert Graham shops in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Have a smokey weekend

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

C.Gars Christmas Cigar Cartoon