Herfin’ USA!

SoCal cigar herf C.Gars LtdWith apologies to the Beach Boys but I really am ‘Herfin USA’ at least till mid August that is :)  I always look forward to Summer in Los Angeles except by the time I arrived last week it was sunny and hot in London and cloudy and raining in Los Angeles! No matter, it was temporary and has not curtailed the serious planned herfing schedule.

Possibly the most famous and continuous annual organized herf ever is the SoCal herf, this year being the 14th year that Kelly (Poker) and friends have hosted the event. Its grown to a monster 4 days of pre pre herf, pre herf, mega herf and post herf and features the now legendary Dollar Auction that raises a shed load of money for a different charity every year.

I’ve had the pleasure of attending some of the SoCal herfs in the early years and it’s good to be able to attend this one too. Meeting up with old Pals (going back to the mid 90’s) and making a load of new herfing chums too.

SoCal cigar herf C.Gars LtdThe pre pre herf was at Casa Rodondo courtesy of Larry last Thursday, an afternoon and evening of solid herfing with attendees coming, staying, going throughout the day/evening. I smoked loads of well matured Fuente Opus X that I had been saving for this herf and they were quite delightful. We matched up the smokes with a load of different single malts including Robert Graham Ltd Ailein Mor, Mac 12, Glen Ord 12 and Dalmore 15 to name a few (TY VV and Lee!)

Saturday evening I’m planning to be at Kelly’s Patio and I’ll pop some photos on my next blog. My thanks to Larry, Barry, Kelly and the SoCal crew for always making me so welcome.

I’m off to Vegas on Sunday to attend the IPCPR annual trade show. Staying at the lovely Venetian hotel (which I don’t expect to step out of for a few days which could be just as well as its 110F predicted temperature!) and as ever accompanied by smoking chum George who assists me in selecting the finest products for our clients.

I’m looking forward to seeing what’s new with the companies that we distribute for such as Fuente, Palio, Cigar Oasis as well as the companies that supply us fabulous products such as Davidoff, Daniel Marshall. Elie Bleu, Xikar and others.

This is the suppliers showcase to the International audience of retailers in the cigar trade and most exhibitors have great new products and great offers. I love taking the opportunity to do a complete seasons buying all in one place (I think many of my suppliers like it too!) Maybe that’s what made me the largest specialist cigar merchant in the UK? Most of the competition sell the same old crap at the same old high prices, year in and year out – we, on the other hand, have the largest range that includes the latest products that we import and guarantee the best prices in the UK.

My promise has always been the same – I won’t be knowingly undersold on cigars or cigar accessories in the UK. I also promise the best service imaginable.

If you’re following the Inka – Secret Blend story you will know that I am also in the USA getting a little closer to the US launch of Inca – secret Blend :)  I’ll tweet some photos of the prototypes this week if all goes to plan.

What a pleasant surprise I had reading on Twitter that the ridiculous ‘Plain Packaging’ was not going to proceed any further. More details on this link and well done to everyone who took part in the consolation, at last some common sense has prevailed in the UK.

As well as the aforementioned fabulous result, the UK is definitely going through a feel good Summer, with continued low interest rates, the fab weather, The Royal baby due and Andy Murray winning Wimbledon… Lots of reasons to celebrate with some fine smokes!

Talking of fine smokes I decided to reduce prices on my Saint Luis Rey Regios boxes of 25 last week which as a consequence sold out in around 2 hours (I had a lot of stock set aside for my clients!) at a give-away £199 I shouldn’t be surprised  at the popularity of this very very good handmade Havana cigar. If you subscribe to my newsletter you will of course be notified of price reductions and other special offers on accessories and humidors.

I always liked the Saint Luis Rey brand (as does my Father and did my Grandfather) I remember Regios being given out  and smoking these at my first wedding. Would have been better off grabbing all the cigars and running out the door!

On that note… I’m off to have a smoke with my fabulous cigar friendly co Director Karyn (v.2 as we refer to Mrs O!)

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

Inka Cigar Summer BBQ Cartoon

 

GALLERY

SoCal Summer Cigar Herf C.Gars Ltd SoCal Summer Cigar Herf C.Gars Ltd
SoCal Summer Cigar Herf C.Gars Ltd SoCal Summer Cigar Herf C.Gars Ltd

Online Cigar Auction!

Our Summer and Winter Cigar Auction events have outgrown themselves! We’ve been holding twice yearly Cigar Auctions since 2009 and literally knocked down millions of Pounds worth of great cigars. Davidoff, Dunhill, Pre embargo, Aged, Rare and Mature – you name it and we have sold it at our auctions in substantial quantity.

Our problem is that our auction catalogues are bursting at the seams when we get to 300 Lots, we have even auctioned up to 400 Lots and still have more sellers asking us to include their late entries which just becomes impossible.

So… The only solution to keep the sellers happy was to start our very own Online Cigar Auction website. That will also keep the regular bidders happy as well no doubt as we are frequently asked if we can do more regular auctions.

… And of course we will still be holding our regular Summer and Winter Auctions at the fabulous Boisdale Canary Wharf.

Laura, my Managing Director of C.Gars Ltd – Norfolk and her team have been hard at work creating an online cigar auction platform as we didn’t want to use any off the shelf auction software and wanted it to function very specifically for our cigar auctions. Now, if all goes to plan it should function fairly easily if not similar to eBay. In fact I wanted to call the website cBay but was dissuaded as we didn’t want to upset eBay!

Online Cigar Auctions - Brought to You by C.Gars Ltd

Delighted to confirm that our first Online Cigar Auction is now live and active on our new Auction website OnlioneCigarAuctions.com. We have listed a small quantity of Lots initially to make sure everything is working as it should :)  but from late next week we will be listing new Lots every day Monday – Friday with 7 days to get your bids in.

We have quite a backlog of Lots to enter (probably a month or so backlog!) but sellers are welcomed to email us should they wish to enter Lots for next available listings. I’ve kept bidders and sellers fees at the same low rate as our regular auctions which is roughly 40% cheaper than most other auction houses.

As ever happy to assist in shipping of Lots but advise bidders to read descriptions very carefully as certain Lots cannot be shipped to the UK/EU as we have tried to clearly describe. I hope you enjoy bidding and win some bargains :)  and best of luck to our sellers too of course.

If you need any advice or guidance shoot me an email sales@cgarsltd.co.uk, always happy to help.

…And in other news this week :)  Hunters & Frankau have announced that their ‘Summer Party’ will be held on the 15th October on HQS Wellington which looks like a jolly good venue to me. The star of the evening will be the long anticipated launch of the UK regional edition La Flor de Cano Gran Cano which measures in at 5 ½” length and 50 ring gauge which is a Gordito though I like to think of it as a Long Robusto :) If the blend is anywhere near as popular as the outrageously superb LFDC short robustos, we are in for a treat. These cigars will be presented in SBN boxes of 10 cigars. Needless to say I’m counting down the days in excitement and anticipation.

Partagas Serie D No. 4 Box of 10 from C.Gars LtdHad an impromptu herf with Mr Orchant Snr.  last night and enjoyed some D4’s on the balcony together with some rather smoky and peaty Hoebeg exclusive to Robert Graham Ltd. My dad moaned on and on and on about how ‘Partagas Serie D4’s just don’t taste the same as they used to’ but had to admit that whilst they are not as earthy and powerful as he remembers a quarter of a century ago! They were a delicious smooth and sweet smoke that worked well with the whisky.

Dinner was at the scrummy White Fish restaurant with a bottle of Petit Castel followed by a Davidoff Chateau Haut Brion 1988 back at home snagged out of my Dads humidor. Splendid evening… Now back to the diet.

Last couple of days in the office and then I’m off to the USA for just over a month. No Cubans for a month but plenty of Davidoff, Fuente, Torano and Inka – Secret Blend… Not too shabby. Looking forward to the magnificent IPCPR tobacconist trade show in Las Vegas from the 14th July where I will be seeking out the best accessories and cigars to import into the UK exclusively for C.Gars Ltd, Turmeaus Tobacconist  shops and Robert Graham Ltd whisky & Cigar shops.

Next blog from sunny Los Angeles… Hasta luego!

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

C.Gars Ltd Gone Herfing Cigar Cartoon

London Cigar Capital!

Yup – it’s true, London is indeed the cigar capital of the world ☺ Checkout this piece by Charlotte Metcalf in Spears.

Can’t disagree as we have so many great places to buy and to enjoy cigars these days. To name a few:

Boisdale Canary WharfBoisdale - 3 great locations in London, great food, drinks and entertainment (in BCW) super service and super cigar friendly at all locations.

The Wellesley - Uber luxury, incredible service, amazing cigar terrace, great menu, humidor and bar, first rate cigar knowledge and advice always readily available from Giuseppe.

The Lanesborough - One of the finest terraces for a smoke/drink/dinner in the UK. Top notch cigar and hospitality advice from Neil and Davide.

Ten Manchester street – Quiet, cosy and comfortable, great place for meetings.

The May Fair - Very chic smoking area, recommended after a meal at Langans :)

The Ritz - Great indoor sampling lounge.

The Bulgari - Super comfortable and classy, professional and attentive service from Mike Choi.

Alfie Turmeaus London Mayfair TobacconistWell that’s just a few of my favourite places to herf, there are loads of other spots ,especially in summer when the weather is good. You can also smoke in our sampling room at Alfie Turmeaus Mayfair (I was herfing there yesterday in fact!) or dine al fresco in one of the lovely Shepherd Market restaurants.

Then there’s Robert Graham whisky and cigars in West Hampstead, small but cool, with a hugely stocked walk in humidor and a comfortable armchair inside the shop for sampling as well as seating outside the shop.

The smoking ban really is a joke when it comes to cigar smokers, it makes no difference at all with the exception of the damage that it has done to the economy with pubs and bars going out of business and loss of jobs. So many politicians = So many fools. You couldn’t make it up. 

People keep emailing me to say ‘nice mention in Cigar Aficionado magazine wish I could say I’ve seen it but I don’t think it’s out in the UK yet! Anyway, thank you CA.

Herfing with Akhil from Regius cigars and Callum at Turmeaus Mayfair

Herfing with Akhil from Regius cigars and Callum at Turmeaus Mayfair

Herfed at the lovely Lanesbourgh  this week with smoking chums Mike, Zaffie, Nick and Dov. New addition to the terrace was a large flatscreen showing Wimbledon – how civilized! Smoked our way through copious quantity of UK regionals including some of the 2008 La Gloria Cubana Gloriosos which is now quite outstanding. James in our Norfolk office has been putting together some info on Limited editions and regionals (still a work in progress but a decent reference) Check it out on this link.

Chilled out herf on my Dads balcony after dinner last night, bottle of Boisdale pink champagne (bloody marvellous – well done Ranald) Dad smoking Monte 2’s as ever and me back to backing Inka – Secret blend robustos, splendid.

Kicking back this weekend with a couple of dinner parties at Chez Orchant and yes smoking is of course allowed! I’ll be cracking open a bottle of our very own 21 year old Dancing Stag Glen Grant which should pair up very well indeed with some 2004 Ramon Belicosos… Good times.

Have a smokey weekend

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

Back to ‘Normal’

May as well face it, we are never quite ‘back to normal’ at C.Gars Ltd! And no sooner than we catch up with the Summer Auction work (invoicing/customer collections/shipping – bear of a task) it’s back to the regular madness that we know and love at our London and Norfolk offices.

The phones never stop ringing, the orders are flying in almost faster than we can cope with them, the doorbell doesn’t stop ringing, the cigars and whisky are sampled all day  (a bit like Mad Men if you watch the series!) and thankfully we have a 99.9% customer satisfaction rate according to my Customer Services Manager (Michael Pearn.) If you’re happy with C.Gars Ltd, please let Michael know michael@cgarsltd.co.uk and if you’re not happy about anything we do let me know! sales@cgarsltd.co.uk

Fairly certain that we are by a long way the largest specialist cigar merchant in the UK, more mail order, more websites. more cigars and more retail cigar shops than anyone in the UK. It’s a ridiculously huge and growing Group but I like to think that Laura and I still know the names of all of our staff (over 50!) as well as all of the names of our regular clients, many of whom we have known since 1994. We still take huge pride in our exceptional customer service ethos and try and think and act like a Mom & Pop cigar store.

Don’t take my word for it – you can see 1000’s of customer testimonials here. 

So I should probably now say thank you to all of our clients who have kept us ridiculously busy since the mid 1990’s when we became the first cigar merchant on the internet!… Thank you :)

New cigar venue in Chelsea opening up and our events co-ordinator Lalla is organizing an opening evening that looks like a lot of fun. Check out details here.

Inka Secret Blend Peruvian Cigars Exclusive to C.Gars Ltd LogoFor those of you following the incredible success story of my Inka – Secret Blend cigars from Peru, here’s the latest update: Buy them while you can! They are flying off our shelves at such an alarming rate, I would like to say I’m astonished but the reality is I shouldn’t be because they are such a great smoke and ridiculously good value. I mean case in point the Secret Blend long filler, handmade robusto at £6.49 you would have to pay double for a similar quality cigar!

We are struggling to bring them in fast enough to cope with demand, we were bringing in imports of 8000 sticks at a time but our latest order which will arrive next month is over 25,000 sticks. I have redesigned the packaging which may I say is uber cool as well as created 3 new size cigars which are going to be exceptionally popular.

Secret Blend cigars are all made with aged tobacco, you won’t get any harshness, aggression or bitterness from the first to the last puff, you will get a deep, rich, smooth and complex full flavour smoke from very well fermented premium Peruvian tobacco. These cigars are a ‘Puros’ that means that all the leaf- filler/binder/wrapper are all from Peru. Our Partners at Tabacalera Oriente make these cigars to my design and my blend, the consistency and quality control are quite excellent. These are not just picked off the shelves and packaged, they are unique for my brand.

I’ve been a cigar merchant for many years and the business has grown and is growing and fortunately I have been very successful. I can’t help but think that Secret Blend is however fast becoming my biggest success – all very exciting stuff for an old boy in the game like me!

I visited our Norfolk warehouse/office on Wednesday – a hub of humidor and accessory shipping and the powerhouse of IT and marketing behind C.Gars Ltd Group. Under the watchful supervision of my co-Director Laura who started/created C.Gars Ltd, this office is buzzing with creativity with James, Michael and Amy covering 18 hours a day on IT and marketing projects. They are currently working on a huge new website redesign with better and faster functionality for IPhone and Tablets. Norfolk is such a beautiful county, peaceful and quiet in comparison to London (and London’s traffic!) I’m looking forward to my next Norfolk Team meeting in September.

Alfie Turmeaus Mayfair Cigar Shop Indoor Sampling LoungeOur Mayfair shop (Alfie Turmeaus cigars) in Shepherd Market is another incredible success story for C.Gars Group, the shop is tiny but has a massive range of premium  cigars in the walk in humidor as well as a comprehensive range of everything else you would want to find in a specialist tobacconist. It also has a sampling area in the basement that is a comfortable oasis when the weather is bad (frequently in London!) My assistant Tereza has been managing the store for the last 3 months and sales are up over 60%!! But why??? Do our customers prefer to be served by a pretty young lady? Suggestions please!

I think we have one of the largest ranges online of any cigar website in the world, almost 5000 product lines in fact. Michelle and I attended our various suppliers trade show in London this week and made sure that we have all the new products on the market ordered. Essentially if you can’t find it on my website… It’s probably not worth buying!

Finally RIP James Gandolfini aka Tony Soprano (smoker of CAO cigars on screen!) who tragically died this week. Great actor and a sad loss.

Well, from the look of the rain outside my office window Summer has already been and gone! I’m out of here for the weekend and plan to chill out with a bottle of our award winning Ailein Mor and a  baggie with a variety of Inka- Secret Blend as well as some of my favourite Havana cigars (Boli Beli’s, Monte 2’s and PSD4’s)

Have a smokey weekend

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

C.Gars Rain Weather Cigar Cartoon

Going… Going… GONE!

Our Vintage Cigar Auction was held at Boisdale Canary Wharf on Monday evening. Not only was it a huge success with almost 96% of the Lots entered being sold but it was also a great herf for all of the attendees.

Almost 80 people attended the event and there were 100’s of absentee bidders from all over the globe.

The results were posted live on my last blog and updated with after auction sales on the auction website.

Highest priced Lot was the Partagas 160th anniversary humidor - Highly desirable now and fabulous smokes but there was something for every price range and many bidders left the room very happy indeed.

I’m often asked ‘Who are the bidders?’ smoker or collectors? ‘ I think the most accurate answer is both. Although many are a combination of smoker and collector.

I am amazed at the amount of interest in Cohiba limited editions which seem to continue to climb in value with every auction. Pre Embargo Havanas are also definitely on the up. Davidoff and Dunhill ever popular and more than steady in value.

Hunters and Frankau kindly supplied us with Rafael Gonzales Perlas, Romeo Petit Churchill and Montecristo Edmundo to smoke before and after the auction, Balvenie did two fabulous whisky tastings with their Caribbean Cask and 17 year old, Boisdale supplied fabulous canapés and as did White House of Hendon.  My thanks to all of our sponsors for their generous support.

Fair to say a great evening was had by all. Looking forward to our Winter Auction and accepting entries from now. Bear in mind our Auctions are a very small part of our year round vintage Havana cigar sales and we are happy to value/buy/sell for and on behalf of clients every day of the year.

Thursday was cigar  and whisky tasting night at Robert Graham Ltd – Cambridge, another fabulous and packed event with over 30 attendees sampling some fabulous cigars introduced by the equally fabulous and very knowledgeable (As well as entertaining) George Sosa of Alec Bradley Cigars. The cigars we sampled were :

Alec Bradley Black Market Robusto
Tempus Terra Novo Robusto Natural
Tempus Terra Novo Robusto Maduro

The Tempus was an exclusive opportunity to smoke a cigar that has not been released to the UK market yet – They will arrive in Sept/Early Oct.  Someone wanted to buy a box on the night!

The ‘take home’ cigar at the end of the night was the Prensado Robusto (Churchill was No. 1 rated cigar of 2011)

The whiskies sampled were Robert Graham Ltd independent award winning bottlings:

Cearban
Clynelish 1995
Hoebeg

We had an eclectic mix of chaps from the UK, US and even Australia and all enjoyed a great evening.

If you haven’t tried Alec Bradley cigars yet, you really should do, they are very rich, full flavoured and smooth. Well-crafted with very attractive wrappers and excellent presentation.

My thanks to the Robert Graham Team for putting together such a splendid evening, George Sosa for coming over to our little Island and Scott from Tor for providing the great cigars.

View all the pictures from this event at the end of this post.

We are already planning our next Cambridge tasting event which will be in conjunction with our friends at Hunters & Frankau and will feature some of the finest Havana cigars. Email and join our events mailing list sales@cgarsltd.co.uk

Next week I’m looking forward to a long overdue visit to our Norfolk offices where I understand we are setting up a website to sell empty cigar boxes! (I probably smoked all of the cigars already!) My sales team tell me that we sell so many boxes that are made into guitars and handbags as well as restaurants that use them to serve the bill in, they are quite stunned! So we have a huge collection (Around 10,000 boxes!) from long gone brands (All shapes and sizes) that we will have the first empty box website in the world (Allegedly!) too funny.

OK well that’s the end of a very looooong week for me so I’m off home to kick back for the weekend, armed with a bottle of Ailein Mor and a box of Cohiba Behike 56 (Smoking quite beautifully at this time)

Have a great weekend

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell