Herfing Inca Cigars in Chicago!

Inca Secret Blend Cigar TastingJust back from (yet another) rather long trip to the USA and this time Chicago was the destination. I’ve been to Chicago and hosted a few events there over the last 20 years but this was without a doubt the best visit yet.

The weather was glorious, hot and sunny and we stayed at the fabulous Langham Hotel which was in the perfect location for me as I hosted a series of Inca – Secret Blend cigar events at The Clayton which is a ten minute walk away.

I’m not even sure how to start to describe The Clayton other than CtE7IfLW8AA1IoI‘The best place in the world to smoke cigars!’ Have a read about it on this link. I have my locker there of course crammed with Inca Secret Blend and other fine new world cigars and I’m delighted that the cigar store is selling Inca like crazy 🙂

We had an eclectic crowd herfing at The Clayton and it was great fun watching the Clinton/Trump debate on big screens in super comfort.

Walk in Humidor at the ClaytonThe cigar store has the most incredibly designed glass cube walk in humidor with central display and state of the art humidification system. If it’s worth smoking… it’s in the humidor. Just breath taking. Dennis and Israel professionally run the store and are super knowledgeable and helpful.

Friends flew in from San Diego, Los Angeles, New York and Ohio to join Chicagoans – regulars and newbies for the Clayton Inca Tasting events. We blasted through tons of Inca Tambo cigars which were quite splendid and clearly all the attendees agreed as the cigar store just about sold out of every stick.

We paired the cigars up with Orchant Seleccion cigar single malt Highland whisky which worked a treat. Great food, scotch, cigars and the best of company in a wonderful venue. Couldn’t ask for more. Thanks to my partner Guy Hancock for hosting us in Chicago and at The Clayton.

Whilst I was away we finally got a new release from Havana. The Romeo Capuletos is a limited edition measuring in at 6” length and 53 ring gauge and early indications are that this cigar is super popular with our clients. No sign of the UK regional edition yet but we are ever hopeful. I gather that the recent shortages are easing up a bit as we are seeing all sizes of Cohiba BHK’s trickling back to our shops at last.

Our new Liverpool store is getting busier by the day and I reckon it’s the best cigar store in the UK, massive range of cigars and a super range of whisky. Fully licenced bar and a very cool, sampling room. Our first tasting events (2 sessions) sold out online extremely quickly!

If you can’t get into the Turmeaus  -Liverpool tasting we have a few tickets left for our next tasting at our beautiful La Casa del Habano in Chester in November and we will also shortly be selling tickets for the November tasting at Turmeaus – Norfolk. If all goes to plan I will be attending all of these great events.

All Turmeaus cigar shops have sampling lounges including our beautiful Turmeaus – Knutsford and there is even a comfortable sampling area at Turmeaus – Mayfair. All of our shops are licenced and offer a fine range of single malt whisky and rum

We should start building the second phase of the Turmeaus – Liverpool development in the next week or so and when complete this will feature another cigar shop and cigar sampling lounge open till 11 pm as well as a whisky/cocktail/tapas lounge and the largest whisky bar in the North.

Our London C.Gars headquarters expansion is going very well and the new vintage Havana cigar humidor is already constructed and looking great. We expect to have the project completed by the end of this month. That will be great timing as we have our Winter cigar auction scheduled for the 28th November and I am totally out of space in my regular humidor (even though its huge!) I believe we will be the only cigar merchant in the UK with a dedicated walk in humidor for aged and rare Havanas.

Our auction catalogue is pretty full and this could well be my best selection of auction Lots ever which is saying something considering we have held auctions since 2009. We have an incredible range of Pre Embargo cigars, vintage 1960’s and 1970’s cigars, Davidoff and other super rare boxes in superb condition (many still sealed). Estimates are always as sensible as we can possibly persuade sellers to give buyers the best opportunity to snap up some hyper rare Havanas.

CttrpyGWEAEXhE6If you read the FT you will have seen an excellent article on rare cigars in the How To Spend It magazine on Saturday. Journalist Nick Foulkes wrote the article and it is very good indeed. You can read the article on our website here. We also had a good mention on a BBC article online a couple of weeks ago.

There are a few other cigar merchants that mess around with limited/vintage Havanas but none that I am aware of with the depth of product range that we deal with on a daily basis year in year out.

C.Gars is experiencing unprecedented sales growth this year and considering that last year was by far the best year we have had in our history even I am staggered at the sales leap that seems to be never ending. We’re a pretty mature business but clearly the growth is continuing and I hope it’s due to our huge range, great pricing and legendary customer service. Thanks to all of the C.Gars Team for the mammoth effort. Thanks to all of our C.Gars and Turmeaus customers for keeping us busy 24/7!

I’m terribly sad that Nic Wing, the cigar journalist passed away recently. Nic was not only a brilliant cigar journalist but a champion of the UK cigar industry and a hell of a nice guy. Our sincerest condolences to his family.

If you’re celebrating new year this Monday and Tuesday may I wish you a Shana Tova, a happy and peaceful year ahead.

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

Turmeaus Liverpool OPEN!… Well almost.

I’d like to say that I’m delighted that our new super-duper Turmeaus Liverpool is open and it is indeed open but not fully open yet <groan>.

CrMGcpCW8AEdPHZWe did a soft opening around 10 days ago as we still don’t have our electricity on thanks to a cock up from the council in allocating our post code so we could have a meter installed (long story/wont bore you), so, we are working on a generator (bloody noisy and not crazy about the diesel aroma) until we can actually have the meter installed on Saturday and get the mechanical and engineering system (pretty serious stuff!) commissioned and up and running.

In hopeful anticipation of this I’m planning to be in Liverpool on Tuesday to sort of officially cut the ribbon and open the cigar sampling lounge and officially declare the new Turmeaus fully open.

Karyn and I spent a rather back breaking week together with our fine Liverpool team and the ever energetic Sara from Turmeaus Chester moving from our old Fenwick street shops to our new premises at The Albany Building in Old Hall street.

I can only say that the architect designed results have exceeded my expectations by far. I may well be wrong but I believe that this is the largest walk in cigar humidor in the UK and the range of premium cigars is endless and rather impressive to say the least. There are quite a few lines that you won’t find anywhere else in the UK.

Turmeaus Liverpool Walk-In HumidorThe humidor has an unrivaled range of Havanas as well as an enormous range of new world cigars, if it’s worth smoking… we have it: Fuente, Inka, Oliva, Padron, Macanudo, Torano, Dunhill, Joya. I could go on and on and on…

I’ll pop a load of photos up over the next week.

The shop has a huge range of humidors, cutters, lighters and all manner of cigar accessories. I can best describe this as a dream for the cigar aficionado. Fabulous choice and of course the best pricing in the UK.

The premises is fully licenced so drams can be enjoyed at the bar and our opening range includes some 24 single malt whiskies on optics and far more in rare bottles behind the bar.

CrMF338WcAA-fQGThe whisky room has a magnificent range of single malt Scotch whisky as well as other premium spirits and champagne. Whisky from 30 quid a bottle into the £thousands a bottle for the rare stuff, something for everyone 🙂

I think I can also boast that we have the biggest range of pipe tobacco in the UK as well as a massive range of pipes and all accouterments for the pipe smoker.

And then there’s the sampling lounge 🙂 state of the art ventilation, air conditioning (actually we have this throughout the premises) and smoke eating equipment. Armchairs and coffee tables that were custom made for us, espresso, soft drink, snacks and newspapers with our compliments whilst you sample a cigar from our vast range.

My Turmeaus Liverpool team (Christine, Ian and Veronica) are assisted by new members Matt and Raluca as well as David who will be a familiar face from our Turmeaus Mayfair shop. David is extremely enthusiastic about cigars and no doubt enjoying the super big humidor after taking care of Turmeaus Mayfair for the last year.

Our first tasting event which I am delighted to be hosting will be held on the 19th October and will feature 6 whiskies from the Dalmore and Jura stable as well as two fine Havana cigars. Tickets available here.

It’s been a long journey for Turmeaus which celebrates its 200th anniversary next year. I understand it had some financial wobbles over the years before C.Gars bought the last remaining shop (which was on its knees) in Watergate Street. I persevered year in year out and am very proud that our flagship Turmeaus is in the fabulous city of Liverpool where the business first started. I don’t think there are many 200 year old cigar merchants in the world 🙂

But we are not stopping there, in fact this is only the first phase of the Liverpool Turmeaus development and we expect to start building the second phase very soon. This will provide an ‘evening Turmeaus’ featuring another cigar shop and sampling lounge, the largest whisky bar in the North and a whisky/cocktail/tapas lounge that will be open until 11 pm. More details to follow…

Whilst I’m in the expansion mood, the builders have now started on our new premises at Kingsgate so we can better cope with the huge increase in mail order. I’m very happy to say that I’m being thrown out of No. 18 and moving my aged and rare stocks to a gorgeous new  and rather large walk in humidor in No. 14 by mid-October.

In other cigars news this week: no sign of any new releases from Havana I’m afraid and plenty of lines going short or out of stock. We are plugging the gaps by drawing on our vast cigar reserves as best we can. We have heard a whisper that the Romeo Capuletos Limited Edition may be out soon but no word on the UK Regional Edition… or any others.

Happy birthday (this week) to my assistant James at C.Gars/Turmeaus Norfolk and happy birthday (next week) to my Co-Director and girlfriend Karyn 🙂

I’m off home to enjoy the weekend with a bottle of my very own Orchant Seleccion Cigar Malt and a few Davidoff Château Latour. A perfect way to toast the continued success of Turmeaus I reckon.

Have a smokey weekend,

Peaceful puffing,

Mitchell

I’m baaaack…

Back at last after almost 6 weeks in sunny Los Angeles and suffering from the jet lag from hell. My body just doesn’t want to reset its time clock back to the UK despite getting back to my early morning espresso and BBF routine, I’m still whammed tired!

Herfing at the SunsetI had such a great time herfing with friends from all over California and of course at the trade show in Las Vegas. Despite all the crazy FDA laws which I still can’t quite get my head around, I dare say the cigar industry in the US will continue to survive and thrive. That’s good news for Inca Secret Blend cigars sold in the USA of course . I smoked my way through the range (repeatedly) during my LA trip and I think I love this cigar more than ever. Sweet taste characteristics throughout, light on strength and medium to full on flavour. I can just smoke them back to back. I’m looking forward to doing an Inca Secret Blend tasting evening in Chicago in a few weeks’ time (oh-oh… more jet lag).

Whilst in LA I was terribly sad to hear of the passing of Carlos Fuente Snr. C.A. mag published a very comprehensive article, our thoughts are with the Fuente family at this sad time.

albanyPlans for my new super duper architect designed Turmeaus shop in Old Hall street were going exceptionally well until I heard that we are waiting for someone at Liverpool council to confirm our new post code for the address so we could get our new electricity supply turned on. Conventional wisdom would dictate that this should be simple two minute job and indeed my understanding is that it is. However, that assumes that the person at the council actually replies to phone calls, letters and email… which he does not. Even funnier is that there is only one person in the council who can do this monumental task and he has been on holiday. When he got back over a week ago, he has still not been able to fathom out how to reply to us.

So, the raspberry of the week goes to Zika at Liverpool council. The man allegedly responsible for not doing a tiny job that would enable us to open our new cigar and whisky shop on time. In fact, this chap is responsible for holding up 10 new local jobs as well as rather substantial business rates being paid on what was a derelict grade 2 listed building. There is another chap at the council called George, but he also doesn’t believe in replying to emails. As we say ‘you couldn’t make it up’.

Not to worry useless people in Liverpool council, we will somehow get our business open on time on the 30th August regardless of your rubbish non-existent service. I’ll be coming to Liverpool on Tuesday and will sit outside your office until you sort this out.

Thereafter I can get back to work at finishing off our latest flagship store which so many of our clients are looking forward to enjoying.

Useless council aside, Liverpool is such a cool city, beautiful architecture, great bars, restaurants, hotels and shopping. Super friendly people and of course Turmeaus was established in Liverpool almost 200 years ago. I can’t wait to be up North again.

Following on from my last blog and my advice about minor wrapper foot nicks may I offer a word of advice regarding shipping? If you place an order and it has not arrived in the allotted time schedule ( i.e if you ordered overnight or 2-4 day delivery) please let us know straight away and my shipping team will always be delighted to assist 24 hours a day. If you enquire a month later we are still happy to help but no need to send a screaming email because before you contact us and let us know the order has not arrived, we would have no idea. We are good cigar merchants but our mind reading skills are not up to scratch these days 🙂

Lots and lots of emails over the last week (some rather irate too!) questioning ‘why have I received a box of Havanas that is not sealed?’ So, for those who do not know, there are no sealed boxes of Havanas in the UK and have not been for the last 40 odd years. All boxes of Havanas are opened and thoroughly quality controlled by Hunters & Frankau the sole importers of Havanas to the UK. One of the reasons why we have such high quality Havanas and why EMS (English Market Selection) Havanas are so desirable in the collectors market. On arrival in C.Gars walk in humidors my team do an additional quality control check as well. Yes, we are terribly professional cigar merchants.

No sign of any more Montecristo 80th at this time but we are still ever hopeful and we are utterly sold out of all sizes of Cohiba Behike, still though I may release a few more of our reserved boxes in a week or two. As the supply situation worsens I understand that El Rey Demi Tasse and Choix Supreme are not available and I understand that a lot of Continental cigars are being discontinued in the next few weeks (I am guessing perhaps due to range rationalisation or the new health warnings that come into play next May.)

To combat the stock outs expected we have increased our stocks to fullest capacity which should iron out a few rough spots. Regrettably there is a price increase on Havana cigars of up to 7% from the 1st of September. I think this is probably due to the decline in the value of Sterling since Brexit. I will hold my prices at current levels for as long as possible but be advised to top up at current prices while you can.

I’m hopeful that the 1966 edition of Cohiba 50th anniversary humidors will be out sometime soon though nothing has been confirmed yet. In the meantime we have released a few more boxes of the delightful 1966 and a couple of Orchant Seleccion jars crammed full of them too 🙂

Righto, I’m off to celebrate Team GB being 2nd in the Olympic medals table after the US with a Bolivar Belgravia. What an amazing achievement.

Have a smokey week and hope to see lots of friends of Turmeaus up North when I visit next week 🙂

Peaceful puffing.

Mitchell

Complaints!

Herfing in LAGreetings from my deckchair in the sun where I’m continuing to herf for a little while longer before returning to Blighty, just in time to move Liverpool Turmeaus to its fabulous new premises on Old Hall street at the end of August.

I’m having a superb Summer herfing with friends and clients in and around Los Angeles and enjoying a wonderful selection of new world cigars including Oliva, Alec Bradley, Fuente, Davidoff, Inca – Secret Blend and Nat Sherman to mention a few. I think what strikes me most about these cigars is the consistency of blending and quality of construction as well as the fine and uniform appearance.

I’m having such a good time watching the US Presidential election on TV, if I would not have know better I would have thought it was one of those reality shows! What will I do after November 8th?!

Working with an 8 hour time difference is actually very interesting as by the time I wake up in the morning I’m around 800 emails behind (we receive 2500 emails on an average week day!) so I actually see a pretty clear sales perspective of the day in one session. The volume of sales this year is growing at a staggering rate. I’d like to think that’s down to customer service but I’m sure our vast range and super pricing play a big part.

We receive something like 1 complaint a day which considering the 1000’s of orders a week is not too bad I guess. Occasionally we make a pick error although that’s fairly rare, thankfully. The main complaints are always about construction and more frequently minor foot nicks.

So let me share some basic thoughts and advice if I may:

 

minor_foot_damageIf you receive a cigar that you plan to smoke and it has a minor nick in the foot, forget about it as it will disappear when you light the cigar! Of course, If its anything more substantial in damage and/or it’s for a gift, simply drop us an email and our client care team will take care of the issue rapido. No quibble guarantee as I have always offered.

 

If you receive a cigar that has a construction issue when you try to smoke it i.e over filled, under filled, plugged, twisted etc. don’t stress… just trash it and drop us an email. Again, our client team will rapidly resolve the issue. We never make a big deal about anything. After all, cigars are for relaxation and not worth stressing about!

 

My favourite vitola for Havana cigars used to be a lonsdale (cervantes) but tightly rolled cigars were becoming too frequent and even though cutting them in half solved a lot of issues if the construction problem was a twist, there are only so many 1/2 lonsdales I wanted to smoke! These days I stick to robustos, campanas and piramides, generally. They’re less likely to have a draw issue although… anything’s possible though!

Havana cigars are very delicate by nature and the wrappers are more so over the last couple of years. All hand made premium cigars can potentially have construction flaws. It’s the nature of the game and not worth stressing about . Simply let your cigar merchant know so the issue is resolved to clients satisfaction. Over the years I can’t remember ever getting a Davidoff, Padron or Fuente with a construction flaw. Their quality control is legendary but even with these super premium cigars its still a vague possibility.

Montecristo 80th anniversary cigar I understand came into stock and sold out the same day (small allocation) but we are hopeful for some more availability in the next few weeks. Cohiba BHK’s remain illusive but we have managed to release some of our reserved stocks over the last month. Clearly there’s no way of satisfying demand for this range of cigars currently and we don’t expect the situation to improve any time soon.

In fact from everything I hear and see, supply is going to be an ongoing issue for the foreseeable future especially with large format Cohiba cigars (think Cohiba Siglo IV and larger) so its best to top up your humidors whilst you can.

If you’re one of our cigar auction clients, we are taking entries for our winter sale (28th November) email us soonest to check eligibility and ensure inclusion in the catalogue, which we expect to close mid October.

If you’re one of my overseas clients, no doubt you will be very happy at the weakness of Sterling since Brexit… I know I am  🙂

Righto… back to my deckchair, Mojito and a rather tasty Fuente Opus X 🙂

Peaceful puffing,

Mitchell

GREAT SUMMER NEW RELEASES!

The arrival of August means that we are in the height of summer and we have some more great whiskies, gin and vodka to offer you! Two fabulous whiskies from Paul John, Shetland Reel Gin and a Penderyn vodka.