April Fools!

First quarter of the year gone already! If ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ I must be having a marvellous life as it seems that Christmas was a few minutes ago and we are already making business plans for Christmas 2013!

Mitchell Apprentice - CigarOne of my marketing Team at our Norfolk office decided to do an April Fools on our Facebook site claiming that I have been invited to appear as a judge in the next series of the Apprentice! Needless to say… I am not! Thanks for all the emails congratulating me lol

I spent the long Easter weekend herfing through a good variety of superb smokes including:

Juan Lopez Orchant Seleccion no.1
Helluva smoke, rich and sweet, cool and easy draw.

Davidoff Puro D’Oro Sublimes
This small format cigar packs quite a punch, I’m becoming fond of Davidoff smokes (Oh and Year of the Snake cigars coming out next week! Which will fit nicely into the Elie Bleu Year of the Snake humidors :))

Punch Serie D’Oro no.1
Still may favourite regional edition of all time.

Cohiba Magicos 2007 vintage
Outrageously good cigar with the benefit of 6 years in the humidor now.

Trinidad Fundadores 2002
13 years age on this cheeky smoke has made it a firm favourite.

Our ‘new’ Cambridge shop doesn’t feel new anymore and has been well integrated into our Group. The cigar and whisky sampling lounge has proved very popular indeed as has our specialist range of whisky and tobacco. Cambridge was crying out for a cigar specialist and we are very happy to have expanded to this location.

We have a cigar and whisky tasting planned for June 12th at Cambridge, drop me a line for details. sales@cgarsltd.co.uk

I’ll be at Robert Graham Cambridge this Sunday from noon – Pop in for a coffee sampling session with me :)

Glasgow is our smallest whisky and cigar shop but one of our most successful. After quite a few year in West Nile street we are planning to relocate in the Summer to a flagship store for the Group. In fact if all goes to plan this will be the largest cigar shop in the UK with a walk in humidor breath taking in design and astonishing in range as well as our full offering of Robert Graham Dancing Stag award winning single malts of course and a very comfortable whisky sampling lounge. More details to follow…. And then coming to a location near you ☺

Our latest release is this first rate single malt in Robert Grahams’ Dancing Stag range: Miltonduff 1998 Limited edition of 420 bottles and great value at £46.50 a bottle. I love a good Speyside with my cigars and this one is the perfect complement especially with the delicious Cohiba Maduro Genios that I’m smoking now from 2007 vintage.

Inka Robustos in blue and red as well as more Poderosos and petit coronas are due to arrive in the next few days. I am somewhat staggered by the success and popularity of the Secret Blend range. I plan to release the premium line of Aztec Secret Blend later this year which I believe will become the most popular premium brand of non-Cuban cigars in the UK.

A few places still available for June 10th Cigar Auction on this link.

Last few days to stock up before our online prices increase, we’ll be keeping the increase as small as possible and as always guarantee the best prices in the UK (Don’t blame me… blame the Chancellor!)

Have a smokey weekend

Best from snowy London

Mitchell

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter – Happy Passover, as long as you are enjoying it with a cigar or two…. It’s all good :)

Clocks have gone forward, Its very sunny and bloody freezing. Splendid. British Summer Time has begun! So if we could now just have a huge increase in temperature we would be able to enjoy some al fresco herfing. But I reckon it won’t be too long, until then you can always sample indoors at some of the fabulous cigar terraces in London or at my cigar stores in Mayfair, West Hampstead, Chester and Cambridge which all have small comfortable smoking areas. Liverpool is a tad small though you are still welcome to sample in store.

The exception is the barmy laws in Scotland where no sampling exemption exists for cigar shops. And to make matters worse I read this fairly mental article in the Scotsman a few days ago, well I hope common sense prevails and the brilliant law makers don’t tar cigar smokers with the same brush as cigarette smokers but that remains to be seen.

I can’t remember ever seeing a child in any of my cigar shops asking ‘Gimme a Monte 2 mate’ or I’m desperate for a pufAuction Previewf of a Partagas P2 Boss’! in fact we don’t allow ‘minors’ into our shops in the first place and I can’t remember seeing any kids smoking a premium cigar in my life (Except me when I had a puff of my Dads cigar a long, long time ago!)

I’m not pro cigarette smoking for sure, but I am pro ‘freedom to choose’ especially if the product is legal. I am anti ‘legislation for legislations sake’ as its generally a complete waste of time and public money, perhaps the SMP’s are trying to justify their existence by trying to ruin some other peoples existence. What next? Fizzy drinks? Chocolates? Sweets? They should all come with health warnings and plain packaging surely lol. I actually saw a packet of nuts in the supermarket the other day with a label ‘This product may contain nuts.’ Seriously… You couldn’t make it up.

In 2 years time, small shops I understand have to cover up their tobacco display and specialist shops will not be able to have any visible tobacco from the shop windows. Awful for security of staff working at my shops – That’s an obvious one. Is it an attempt to make our shops seedy like 1970’s sex shops in Soho?! It won’t work and any fool can see that. Not for cigars anyway (I know nothing about cigarettes nor do I care for them) The more the Government tells people ‘You can’t do something’ the more they will want to do it.

Case in point is the 2007 Smoking in public places ban. What difference did it make? To cigars smokers I dare say it made no difference at all and if the growth of C.Gars Ltd is anything to go by it probably fuelled our expansion.

Perhaps our brilliant MP’s should kick back with a cigar and a dram of the water of life and contemplate the more important issues that they should justify their miserable existences by working on such as the dire state of the economy, the homeless problems and law and order. No one will thank them for making trade more difficult for the last few cigar specialist in the UK. They are not doing anyone any favours.

If you read Russian there’s a great article in Hecho a Mano – cigar magazine You can always use Google translator if your Russian language skills are not up to par but I think that a lot gets lost in the translation :)

Auction time approaches on the 10th June at the fabulous Boisdale Canary Wharf. Checkout the photos… Just a little tease :) Some very interesting Lots to be knocked down on what will be a memorable herf and sale. You can book tickets for the evening on this link Catalogue will be out around 4-5 weeks before the auction online and in print as usual.

Inka Secret Blend cigars remain our biggest success sorry of the year so far with HUGE popularity for the new small chubby Poderoso size maduro wrapper cigar. Can’t go far wrong for just over six quid a pop I guess. Lots of sweet full rich flavours in this Puros from Peru.

In fact the whole range has been so popular we are now literally organizing import over import so as one import is flying in the next order is already placed. I expect robustos to be available again in the next week or two :) Oh.. and the whole brand and range is exclusive to C.Gars Ltd (Turmeaus Tobacconist and Robert Graham Ltd shops) as I created it. :)

We now have our new prices of Havana and other premium cigars from all of our importers and our website prices sadly will increase in the next few days. We will as always keep increases to a minimum but you can still top up at pre Budget prices (Not for long!) we will always guarantee to offer the lowest prices in the UK and if we are wrong we will gladly price match… Can’t be fairer than that :)

Oh and finally for all the people emailing asking what are the best cigars to invest in now? Here is my definitive answer. We are not investment advisors and we are only cigar specialist but these are the cigars that I have stashed away for the future :)

Cohiba 1966
Cohiba Maduro Genios and Magicos from 2007
Romeo Escudos 2007
Romeo Hermosos No.2 2004
Punch Serie D’Oro No.1
Montecristo 520

Get’em while you can and don’t forget, in the collectors market English Market Selection (EMS) cigars always have greater cache than any others as provenance is better established.

I’m offline from tonight till Tuesday night but our phone lines are on 24/7 and our sales Team reply to emails sales@cgarsltd.co.uk 24/7 if you need any advice.

Happy days :)

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

Prices going up!

Looks like a hefty increase in tax on tobacco compliments of our Chancellor (Has anyone else noticed how he looks a bit like the Joker from Batman?!) I am guessing that by the time ‘Inflation +5% +VAT Etc goes through it could be almost a 10% hike in prices.

I’m not sure what the point of a 1p decrease in tax on beer is? Seems pretty stupid to a simple cigar merchant like me. Prices on whisky will be increasing. I read that tax on spirits has increased by 44% since 2008.

I’m going to hold prices on our own Dancing Stag and Robert Graham single malt whisky as long as possible but you may want to stock up the bar sooner rather than later!

Fortunately 1000’s of my clients have been stocking up like crazy (Double the usual daily orders!) over the last 2 weeks in expectation and the blow is softened at least in the short term. We will hold our prices for as long as we can but price increase is sadly inevitable.

I had a great day at Robert Graham Cambridge on Sunday with our sampling lounge packed from the minute we opened till closing time. It may have been the power of Twitter! Sampled a few drams of my favourite award winning Highland Ailein Mor and smoked my way through a couple of Cohiba Piramides Extra… My kinda Sunday :)

Had a lunch herf at the Wellesley Hotel on Tuesday. Cold day but you wouldn’t know it on the beautiful carpeted heated terrace (Not just heated but even a fireplace on each terrace!) delicious food as usual and the finest service in London.

Smoked my way through a Cohiba Maduro Magicos and Genios from 2007. Highly recommended. In fact I love the Wellesley so much, I’m heading back there on Thursday evening :)

I was invited to a fabulous dinner at Boisdale Canary Wharf on Tuesday evening with Andrew Neil as guest speaker. I always admired him but after last night I think he may well be the best journalist/political commentator I have ever heard speak in my life. Absolutely brilliant.

The dinner was held in the Gallery Room and I reckon there were around 40 attendees and I met a great bunch of guys at the table.

Barclays Wealth Management Team also gave talks about the economy which were very interesting indeed. My thanks to Ranald for the kind invitation.

Boisdale Canary Wharf has a comprehensive menu (Even for fussy veggies like me!) a great wine list, a huge whisky bar first rate service and a superb cigar terrace. It also has a super ‘Cigar Library’ with a huge range of premium cigars and a comfortable sampling room. Who could ask for more?

Boisdale Canary Wharf is of course the home of our Vintage Cigar Auctions and the next Auction will be held on the 10th June. Our first auction was back in 2009 at Boisdale Belgravia (One of my regular haunts!) but we outgrew the cigar terrace there and moved to BCW.

Cigar Auction update will be on the Auction website and the catalogue will be online and in print around 4 weeks before the event. An evening of great smokes, eats and drinks is assured as usual and no doubt some bargains may be bagged at the auction. Tickets for the event on sale in in the next day or two. Book early to avoid disappointment.

Our first allocation of Romeo Reserva has more or less sold out now but we are hopeful that another allocation will be on its way fairly soon.

We are now taking pre orders for my friend Amir Saarony’s book Hoping to start shipping in April. It’s a must read for every serious cigar aficionado. Truly magnificent with mouth-watering photographs.

My latest Orchant Seleccion Juan Lopez Havana cigars were a massive hit last week. Matured from 2008, this sweet flavour and medium strength corona gorda is quite delicious. Last few cabs available now.

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

In and… Out!

This blog comes to you from the smokey world headquarters of C.Gars Ltd :) In cloudy Kilburn lol! Not that I’m complaining about the weather today (For a change) as I have just returned from a meeting in bloody freezing Basel, Switzerland.

Even with my best gangster hat and coat on (Think Enzo the baker from Godfather film) I was freezing and struggling to hold my cigar with my gloves on!

So dear blog reader what on earth was I doing in Basel (Or ‘Basil’ as the British Airways lady kept announcing, as in Basil Fawlty!) Well, those jolly nice people at Davidoff kindly invited me to join the Retailer Panel for Europe together with 9 other cigar specialists from Germany, Holland, Belgium and Austria. Fortunately the whole group spoke perfect English and we all got on very well indeed.

Meeting up at the hotel with our friends from Davidoff of London, Eddie and Edward Sahakian on Wednesday evening and introducing myself to the other retailers at the hotel we promptly headed off to Acqua for dinner. If you are ever in Basel, you have to visit this restaurant as it was absolutely splendid. Ambience, menu – First class. Service – Absolutely brilliant. Highly recommended.

Dinner was followed by smokes at Puros y Mas which is a delightful cigar shop with a fabulous walk in humidor as well as a superb smoking lounge upstairs. So we sipped single malt and smoked Davidoff cigars till rather late in the evening or should I say early in the morning.

Thursday morning was an early 8 a.m. start (Good grief – These Swiss boys know how to get up early in the morning, bit of a struggle for me as I usually work a late shift!) and off we went for a series of confidential presentations at the Davidoff offices. More details to follow when the info is declassified :) Save to say we are big fans of Davidoff cigars and sell them online and in all of our stores. Here’s the huge range available by the box and in singles.

I smoked my way through a variety of regular and limited edition Davidoff cigars over a long day and every cigar was quite… Perfect.

Blends were full and sweet, construction was without any doubt as good as it gets, wrappers were silky smooth. All in all 100 pointer smokes that we are happy to recommend to our clients. We plan to increase our in store range over the coming months and will also hold a few tastings in our Cambridge flagship store.

My thanks to Albert and the Davidoff Team for the hospitality and a wonderful 24 hours in Basel.

Headed to the airport with the Sahakian chaps and tried to check in, only to be told that the B.A flight was overbooked and I should spend another night in Basel and take the morning flight! After I stopped laughing (as I thought it was a joke) and went suitably bonkers, fortunately they managed to ‘find’ me a seat on the flight that I had booked some months ago. Excellent for the blood pressure I’m sure.

Headed back home to decompress with a Romeo Reserva and a wee dram of Ailein Mor clearing up over 2000 emails from the previous 24 hours. Good grief, we are one busy little cigar merchant.

I think we may well be madly busy currently due to the expected HUGE tax increase on tobacco due in next week’s Budget. Its sensible to stock up. Cigars have never gone down in price in a Budget! We have enormous stocks of premium cigars in our 2 warehouses and 10 retail cigar shops and will hold prices as long as possible but inevitably they will be increasing very soon after the Budget.

The new import of Inka - Secret Blend cigars from Peru (Very proud to boast that I created this brand!) arrived last week including the new size Poderoso maduro and as predicted the cigars are literally flying off the shelves. In fact I think we have now sold out of the robustos! Fear not, we have another huge import on the way :)

So , they came in and they went out!… Finally we received first allocation of  Romeo y Julieta Churchill Reserva which were first introduced to the cigar trade at the 2012 festival over a year ago. Well done to all the clients who pre ordered at the silly low introductory price and apologies to all the clients who are on back order. We hope to have more stock in the next week or so. These cigars are very tasty indeed possibly the best of the Reserva series though the others aren’t too shabby. I’ve put a sampler pack together of all of the Reserva cigars (Cohiba, Montecristo, Partagas and Romeo) which will likely be very popular. These really are Havana cigars at their best. View the Reserva Sampler here.

I’m very happy to introduce my latest Orchant Seleccion Havana cigar, selected by yours truly from Hunters and Frankau finest EMS stocks. Just 27 cabinets of 25 Juan Lopez Seleccion no.1 cigars from 2008 vintage will be made and double banded and branded Orchant Seleccion. Selected for their excellent blend integrity and condition, these delightful corona gordas have smooth colorado wrapper, a good draw, medium strength and an array of sweet flavours from the first to the last puff. Available in singles and cabinets whilst stocks last which won’t be for long. My thanks to Sean Croley at Hunters & Frankau for all his kind assistance with our Orchant Seleccion cigars.

Well that’s another week done and I’ll be in Cambridge this Sunday at our fabulous Robert Graham cigar lounge sampling some Dancing Stag single malt and sampling some fine smokes from one of the two huge walk in humidors. Open from noon – Come and join me for a sampling session with pleasure.

Have a smokey weekend

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

 

15th Habano Festival

15th Habano Cigar FestivalJust back from the 15th Habano Festival and if my memory serves me correctly, this is the 13th that I have been privileged to attend. I reckon it is also my 60th trip to Havana since 1997!

The Festival celebrates different brands every year, sometimes because a new brand is being launched or re-launched (As in Vegueros) or the brand is celebrating an anniversary. New cigars are also introduced (Though not usually released immediately) to the cigar trade.

It’s also the perfect opportunity to meet up with friends every year (Suppliers, retailers, aficionados, connoisseurs and the Press) from all over the world to enjoy the best cigars and rum in the world.

After a glass of Champagne in the Virgin lounge at Gatwick we boarded a jam packed flight to Jose Marti airport. The passengers were all tourists as I travelled last Thursday whilst most Festival attendees leave a few days earlier. Cuba has become a huge holiday destination no doubt due to the good weather (Generally), music (Everywhere!), cigars, rum and friendly people.

I’m frequently asked what I have noticed has changed over the years and I usually struggle to notice any significant difference (Except the drinks are more expensive!). This time though I did notice that customer service seemed to be far better than ever at most places I visited. I was also staggered by the increased amount of vintage American cars on the roads which I  believe is due to the government allowing private taxis to operate.

I stayed at the Hotel Nacional as usual. Perhaps not the most luxurious hotel in Havana but the perfect meeting place. I can herf on the Terrace day and night and keep bumping into friends that I know. When the embargo finally ends and an International hotel chain stamps its mark on the Nacional I believe it will be the finest hotel in Cuba.

Cigar Roller in Cuba - 15th Habano Cigar FestivalI visited (Read that as “Smoked my way round!”) a few of the cigar shops including Partagas, Melia Habana. Nacional. Melia Cohiba, 5th y 16th, Habana Libre and Palacio and was surprised that they were not bursting full of cigars in the humidors although they all had a reasonable selection of regular stocks. It’s a shame there is rarely anything… Rare, in the shops for the Festival as they have such a captive audience for the Festival week. Not sure I understand why.

My favourite remains ‘The Robaina shop’ at the Melia Habana Hotel. The cigar storage is quite perfect and the staff take great care of clients and clients cigars. The lounge is comfortable with a well-stocked bar and there’s a great range of rums as well as Yolanda rolling fresh custom blends. The Italian restaurant ‘La Bella Scala’ is very close to the shop and the food was pretty good with the best service I can ever remember in Havana.

Hoyo de Monterrey Humidor - 15th Habano Cigar Festival AuctionI went to the cocktail party at the Melia Cohiba which was a packed event – Cocktails/canapés/very loud music and a good crowd of cigar aficionado’s. Somebody bid 6000 Pesos at their auction for I believe a Hoyo humidor which was an astonishing price!

Montecristo brand introduced the new Petit no.2 and Double Edmundo with their new distinctive bands (Vast improvement). I have tried both of these cigars and look forward to them being released into the market. The Double Edmundo is sure to be very popular (6 1/8” length and 50 ring gauge) and was quite delicious. The Petit no.2 measures in at 4 3/4″ length and 52 ring gauge and will be a welcome addition to the range.

Vegueros are being re-launched in tins and I understand will be in the UK market at some stage.

My friend Amir introduced his new book on Partagas at the trade fair and I can’t wait till we have them available in the UK. A huge amount of work has gone into this incredible 270 page book which is a must for every cigar aficionado.

The trade show at the convention centre was the busiest that I can ever remember it and the Habanos stand was showcasing the specialities in the range current and future. I mooched around all the antiques stands but only managed to find a couple of photos, few Ramon jars, a Siboney Tronquito and a Romeo Barelito.

I did manage to find a fabulous humidor manufacturer based in Pinar del Rio who we have commissioned to make some special humidors for upcoming anniversaries of C.Gars Ltd and Turmeaus Tobacconist. I’ll be inspecting the prototypes when I head to the Partagas Festival in November.

The factories tour was a bit too crazy for me and I gave up after visiting the Upmann factory. Partagas factory seems to be an art gallery at this time and operations have been move to the ‘Pollack’ building.

I did manage to have a splendid tour of El Laguito where I bumped into Ana Lopez (Previously Cuban Director of Hunters and Frankau) who kindly introduced me to Jorge Luis Fernandez Maique from Habanos S.A. as well as Danny Glover who was one of the guests of honour at the Festival. (The other was Boris Becker)

Production was just getting rolling (Pardon the pun) at this time of year and most of the rollers seemed to be making BHK 52/54 and 56. Plenty of draw testing and quality control going on and the production manager told me that tobacco quality was quite excellent so I have high hopes for this year’s box codes. Tour ended with a complimentary cigar and coffee in the smoking lounge which was delightful.

The Gala dinner on Saturday evening was, I have to say the most ‘slick’ event I think I have ever attended at any Festival. I had a lovely crown on my table including my smoking buddy David, Danny who worked for C.Gars Ltd Mayfair but is travelling now for a few months, Simon Chase and Chris from the fabulous Cuban Cigar Club in Newcastle

The evening was dedicated to the Partagas brand and we enjoyed smoking Serie D no.5, Serie D no.4, Serie E no.2 and Partagas Gran Reserva throughout the evening. Our Hunters & Frankau table was in pole position at the front so we had a great view of the stage and the nonstop singing and dancing entertainment which was about as good as it gets.

The star of the evening was the Partagas Gran Reserva. This could well be one of the richest, smoothest creamiest cigars I have ever smoked. I can’t wait for it to be released (5000 cabinets of 15 cigars)

Simon Chase did his usual splendid job as auctioneer and raised some £900,000 for the Cuban National health service knocking down some fantastic and breath-taking one off humidors.

Sunday evening I was invited to Club Fumadores at LCDH Miramar (5th and 16th) for dinner dinks and smokes. Excellent crowd, Partagas P2’s and a great way to spend the last night in Havana.

The Virgin lounge at Jose Marti has a smoking room so I managed to herf a BHK 54 pre-flight… How civilized! Upper class cabin on the flight was filled with H&F people! David, Simon, Jemma and Sean. Back to London and the traffic was pretty awful from the airport so I relaxed with another BHK 54 :)

Unfortunately the weather left a lot to be desired as it was fairly windy with the odd spot of rain now and again. Hopefully better weather in November for the Partagas Festival. Our travel partners at Cuba Welcome will be putting together a program for the Festival and you can email Mike Mirecki or C.Gars Ltd for more details

Back to sunny London and it’s good to be back in the office, I smoked another of my Partagas Gran Reserva this afternoon and my impression had not changed since Havana. Truly a 100% rating from me.

Next week I’m off to Basel for retailers meeting with Davidoff which I’m looking forward to.

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

Cuban Cigar cartoon - Whisky and cigars