Going …going…..

It’s been a week of trains, planes and automobiles for me (remember the Steve Martin film “Planes, Trains and Automobiles?!”) as I visited all 10 of our retail shops around the UK and Hamburg.

Starting on Monday at our fabulous La Casa del Habano in very sunny Hamburg, where my partner Christoph and I herfed our way through an extraordinary quantity of H. Upmann Royal Robustos which paired up nicely with Cuban Legendario Rum from Cuba. We managed to get through all of our work rather rapidly and most of the afternoon was spent chilling in the cigar lounge which was packed full as usual with regular clients of LCDH.

Tuesday was an early start flying on Squeezy Jet up to Robert Graham Ltd in Glasgow. Chatting with my colleague Linda, I lit up a cigar outside the shop of course (no exemption in Scotland sadly) and completely coincidentally the fire alarm for the whole block went off! Hundreds of people left the buildings and headed to the street and within a minute I could see two fire engines coming down the road!!! so, we decided to scarper off to our new shop on West George street and see how the builders are getting on.

Well, all I can say is “WOW”! The new Robert Graham shop is going to be amazing – It’s beautiful and it’s HUGE. The walk in humidor will be quite breath-taking and have the most comprehensive range of premium cigars in the UK as well as private client lockers. The shop will also have a massive range of smokers accessories, pipe tobaccos, premium Whisky and Wine and a comfortable Whisky tasting lounge. If all goes to plan we will be relocating from West Nile street by the end of June….and holding some great opening evenings too.

After Glasgow, I headed over to Edinburgh where we have two fabulous shops. One in Rose street and the other on Canongate. I love checking round the cigar shops as I always find cigars in the walk in humidors that I thought were sold out ages ago. In Edinburgh, I spotted plenty of UK regional editions like Por Larranaga Regalias de Londres, Flor de Cano short Robusto, La Gloria Cubana Gloriosos etc…the joys of being a cigar merchant!

 My partner Ron and I had a sampling session in the tasting lounge at Canongate with some clients of Robert Graham- Cambridge who were visiting Scotland! I think the consensus was that our Ailein Mor was simply outstanding as well as great value for money.

After catching up at Robert Graham – West Hampstead and Alfie Turmeaus cigar shop in Mayfair on Wednesday, I jumped on the Virgin train to Liverpool at stupid o’clock on Thursday morning to check out our two Liverpool Turmeaus shops. I had a Siglo VI on arrival in the store and followed it with a 2008 Cohiba Robusto before heading off to Turmeaus in Chester where I herfed through a Punch Serie D’Oro no.1 and a dram of Robert Graham’s Islay malt ‘ The Hoebeg’…yup…Chester Turmeaus is now licenced and sells Robert Graham’s award winning range of Single Malt Whisky. And of course it’s legal to sample cigars in store.

Back to the office Thursday evening till midnight to catch up with all the auction action for this Monday! The event, as expected is sold out (almost 100 people attending the evening!) and I’m looking forward to a great evening, Balvenie Whisky tasting and 3 great English Market Selection Havana cigars – thanks to Hunters and Frankau and Canapés from fabulous cigars friendly Boisdale.

Preliminary ( i.e. subject to final checking) bidding results will be published on my blog as the auction happens on Monday and confirmed on the auction website on Tuesday.

Next week I’ll be at Robert Graham – Cambridge on Thursday evening for another in our series of Whisky and Cigar Tastings. Fairly sure this event with Alec Bradley cigars and Dancing Stag Single Malt is another sold out event but if you hurry, we may be able to squeeze you in.

Weathers forecast to be good this weekend so I’ll be kicking back in the garden which will make a nice change! Let’s  hope we have a few more weeks of cigar smoking Summer weather to enjoy. :)

Have a smokey weekend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

Whisky & Cigar Heaven!

Cambridge Whisky and Cigar Tasting EventHad one helluva herf at Robert Graham – Cambridge last Thursday evening. We had a  HUGE crowd of cigars and whisky aficionado’s, in fact I have never seen the lounge so full!!

Almost 40 friends joined us for a very, very smoky evening of drinks, smokes and canapés.

Our Davidoff representative Andrew gave a short talk about the two excellent cigars that we enjoyed, the Davidoff Entreacto and Puro D’oro Deliciosos cigars and we enjoyed a DVD of Henki Kelner from Davidoff in the Dominican Republic explaining the long and hard  years that it took to develop the fantastic Puro D’Oro. I remember meeting Henki in the DR 9 years ago on a Davidoff trip and learned a great deal from him.

We matched up the Entreacto with our exclusive Robert Graham Dancing Stag Benrinnes 23 year old  and the full bodied Puro D’Oro with our exclusive Robert Graham Dancing Stag ( and rather peaty/smoky) Bowmore 22 year old which made an excellent match. Our new Team member Julian introduced the two Robert Graham single malts to the crowd – welcome to the team Julian :)

Davidoff cigars are available online at C.Gars Ltd and Robert Graham Ltd as well as a limited range in all of our retail cigar shops across the country. We expect to expand the range substantially in store over the coming months. The quality of Davidoff cigars is impeccable, it’s a large range with something sure to please every smoker.

Thanks to Andrew and to Davidoff for all their help in organizing a fabulous evening.

Alec Bradley Cigar Tasting at Robert Graham CambridgeOur next tasting is selling out fast and scheduled for the 13th June, again at our Cambridge store. Our guest of honour is George Sosa from Alec Bradley cigars and we will be featuring 2 fabulous premium handmade cigars:

- Alec Bradley Black Market Robusto
- Alec Bradley Prensado Robusto

And… Additional SURPRISE CIGARS to sample that are not yet on the market!

As usual we will  be matching up the cigars with some exclusive Dancing Stag single malt whisky from our steadily growing award winning range.

Cigars, whisky and canapés and no doubt another evening to remember. If all goes to plan I’ll be there too and look forward to seeing our regulars and some new faces too. Book soonest to avoid disappointment.

I can’t believe we have already been at our Cambridge location for almost 6 months, the store has a fabulous range of premium cigars in two walk in humidors and a select range of single malts including our full range of Independent bottled Robert Graham whisky. Kick back in the tasting lounge with complimentary drinks and some chillin’ jazz music… We made it as comfortable as possible for our clients.

Auction time is upon us – June 10th at the fabulous Boisdale Canary Wharf.
Full details on the auction website.

Almost 350 Lots of Vintage, aged, rare, mature, Davidoff, Dunhill, Limited edition and pre-embargo cigars will be sold and no doubt some bargains will be scored !

Join us for the whisky and cigars tastings before and after the auction and join in the auction action too :)

Custom Blend Fresh Robusto Cigars Mas FuerteWe were hoping to have a Cuban cigar roller at the event but regrettably her dates clashed with another event. We do have some of her fabulous custom blends (Mas Fuerte) available for anyone that would like to try a freshly rolled Havana

For our clients in Glasgow who frequent our charming little shop on West Nile street managed by the lovely Linda, the sad news is that we will be closing down in the next month or so… BUT!… We have listened to your comments and wishes for a larger cigar and whisky shop and Ron and I are very proud to announce that as soon as we close West Nile street we will be opening what we believe will be the biggest and best cigar store in the UK, very close to our West Nile street location :)  The deal is signed and the shop fitters are already working. We will have a huge range of whisky and cigars (As well as pipe tobaccos, wine. Champagne and delicious chocolate) over two floors of pure decadence! More details to follow.

I spent the weekend in Biarritz, I’d like to say it was sunny Biarritz but I think the weather was about the same as London. Surprised to say that I couldn’t find a single cigar shop! Not a problem as I had my baggie of smokes with me (UK regional Ramon Petit Belicosos and Punch Serie D’Oro no.1) which kept me well satisfied.

I can honestly say though, that I can’t remember any other location where I have seen so many cigar or cigarette smokers. The same stupid smoking ban exists in France as in the UK but clearly it does not deter. When the weather was reasonable, loads of people were smoking outside of just about every bar and restaurant that I saw. I even saw one bar that looked like it was ‘inside/out’ so there was no one inside and everyone was drinking and smoking outside!

The smoking ban is so funny, it has simply forced everyone to seek out places where they can smoke sort of outdoors or semi outdoors (Covered areas) it really is quite ludicrous.

That’s about all the news for this week, I’m off to Boisdale Canary Wharf for dinner this evening… And a few smokes. Bravo Boisdale – fabulous cigar friendly restaurants.

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

C.Gars Funny Cartoon Gone Herfing Fishing

Peru report – Inka Secret Blend!

I created the cigar brand Inka Secret Blend last November to fill a gap in our UK range of cigars. I wanted them to appeal across the spectrum of our cigar smoking clients and not clash with existing ranges of excellent New World cigars. New World cigars are gaining in popularity all the time as the cigar smoker market expands and new smokers are willing to try new brands from new regions.

Secret Blend are different as they are a Puros made in Peru i.e. filler, binder and wrapper – 100% all from Peru. I played around with the blend for many months till I was happy with a range of sizes in natural and maduro wrappers that would deliver a sweet and spicy full flavour but medium strength cigar. My aim was to have a blend that would not display any bitterness or aggression and the blend integrity from one box to the next had to be consistent. Construction and draw was of paramount importance to me as well of course but knowing that every cigar is draw tested made me very confident.

We managed to achieve what we set out to do and released the Inka – Secret Blend range to our clients as soon as we had successfully registered the trade mark. To say that we were happy with the initial sell out is an understatement but after all we do have a huge database of clients stretching back to the mid 1990’s and many of our clients will try anything we recommend. The acid test was our clients reactions and whether they would reorder. We were not disappointed! Repeat orders and regular orders rolled in at an alarming rate and we have been struggling to import Inka – Secret Blend fast enough to keep up with the demand. In fact it’s fast becoming our best selling non-Cuban cigar.

I kept the packaging simple to keep the prices down on the range but don’t think this isn’t a premium cigar because it most certainly is. The Rojo (Red band) range are 100% handmade long filler and the Azul (Blue band) range are handmade medium filler.

Mitchell Peru Tobacco FieldThe test market was the UK as we are of course the largest specialist cigar merchant in the UK with many cigar stores and a huge mail order and internet business but our plans are to further develop the brand Internationally. With that in mind I decided that it was high time that I headed over to Peru to check out the Tabacalera del Oriente tobacco fields and cigar factory thoroughly and that’s what I did last week! 

My Partner Ron Morrison from Robert Graham Ltd who is developing the branding Internationally met up with me in his beautiful Florida home – A perfect way to spend the first nights herfing, overlooking the beach. We smoked Inka Bombaso cigars accompanied by our award winning Highland malt whisky, Ailein Mor until… Very late :)

The next day we headed from Miami to Lima and spent a day touring round the Inka pyramid archaeological sites which was very interesting. Lunch smokes and drinks at a delightful restaurant overlooking the water. El Salto del Fraile is highly recommended (And cigar friendly!) and afternoon drinks at the Gran Hotel Bolivar in Plaza San Martin.

Ron and Mitchell at Tobacalera Del OrienteWe then took the flight over to Tarapoto which is where our partner Gennaro Lettieri of Tabacalera del Oriente collected us from the airport with a big baggie of new sizes of Secret Blend for us to try. After a long evening sampling session we agreed that the blend on the new sizes was better than ever.

The two seeds (Some call them the Mother and father) of Nicotiana species originally came from the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes and thereafter were, I understand grown in other regions.

Cigar Roller in PeruThe next few days were spent in the fields and the factory where we observed and learnt about every step in the production process from seed to cigar. The operation was impressively HUGE to say the least, I was amazed at the many hectares of tobacco plants growing as well as the amount of prime Peruvian tobacco being aged and matured to perfection. I was also impressed that Gennaro had already rolled enough Secret Blend cigars to speed up our imports and avoid us running out of stock as has happened all too frequently due to the popularity of the brand. 

We have now developed 3 additional sizes of Secret Blend for the UK and they will be rolling out in the next 2 months if all goes to plan. The packaging is a step up but the prices will be keener than ever as we are purchasing such huge volume now. To say this is an exciting project is an understatement.

We will also be launching a range of Secret Blend Internationally with a different set of vitolas as well as super premium packaging, all at a value for money prices. More details to follow.

Many people have asked me what can you compare these cigars with – Cubans, Dominicans? Hondurans? Nicaraguans? The answer is that I can’t compare them. The reason is that the other regions mentioned all make superb cigars and our Peruvian Puros are quite simply different. They may not suit all,  but they will suit most cigar smokers, novice and experienced alike.

The people we met in Lima and Tarapoto were super friendly and Tarapoto is a great city. The fauna and flora are breath-taking.

My thanks to Gennaro and his team for giving us such a warm welcome. We are looking forward to our next visit later this year.

Deco Drive CigarsBack to Miami to relax for a day before flying home and I enjoyed herfing at Deco Drive cigars on Lincoln. South Beach is buzzier than ever and I love Deco Drive cigars – Always great service.

Back to London and back in the thick of the action! the June 10th cigar auction Lots are now live and bids are already rolling in. It’s a huge 340 + Lot auction and our events are always great fun.

Auction catalogue is on this link, Bids can of course be placed online or by email always happy to advise regarding any specific Lots and a reminder to be careful to bid on Lots that can be shipped to where you are located (See notes on each Lot)

You can also join us and bid at the auction at Boisdale as well enjoy a whisky and cigar tasting.   

Next week we have a Cuban cigar roller at our offices rolling ‘ freshies!’ Juramys Valdés Alguezabal began her career at the Romeo y Julieta factory in Havana and quickly demonstrated the skill and understanding required to achieve the highest ranking within the categories defined by the Cuban Cigar industry before transferring across to the Partagás factory where she has been for the last 9 years. We are looking forward to welcoming her.

May 23rd cigar and whisky tasting at Cambridge Robert Graham is now fully booked but we still have a few places available at the June 13th tasting event and I look forward to seeing friends for an evening of fine single malt and cigars at both.

That’s all the news for now,

Peaceful puffing,

Mitchell

 

Project X!!

Tasting Cigars Project X C.Gars LtdWhat is project X?? Well I’m afraid I can’t tell you dear blog reader or I would have to shoot you :)  But if you look at the photo you will see that I have had a hard day’s work testing out sample blends for a new, very exciting and exclusive cigar being made for Turmeaus Tobacconist.

Not easy smoking my way through a dozen blends but with my trusty palate cleansing sherbet dib dab I managed to make it through the day! That said, my office was in a complete cloud and the smoker filters could hardly cope!

The cigars are from one of the finest tobacco growing regions in the world and the final blend is light to medium strength but very full sweet  and smooth flavoured. The type of cigar that leaves you wanting to spark up another one as soon as you have finished the first one.

We expect to launch later this year and it will be available in all Turmeaus tobacconist shops as well as Robert Graham shops and C.Gars Ltd online – More details on Project X soon!

I had a terribly busy Tuesday with lunch at the magnificent Wellesley. Blow the diet! I went for an ‘Old Fashioned’ (best I have had anywhere in the world) and pasta followed by a Cohiba 1966. You can order from the full menu or the bar menu and enjoy it on the terrace by an open fire. Friendliest service and a magnificent selection of vintage, rare and recent production Havanas in the breathtaking walk in humidor. Can’t recommend this cigar venue highly enough.

Ailein Mor Robert Graham Ltd Single Malt WhiskyI continued herfing at the Bulgari Hotel in the evening with  friends from overseas (Well… Texas and Essex… Does Essex count as overseas?!) The manager, Mike Choi, took excellent care of us as usual and recommended delicious Trinidad Havanas cigars for my friends who were novice smokers but I think may be hooked now. We whammed through a bottle of Ailen Mor our award winning single malt whisky followed by a few bottles of Champagne.

Great article in Cigar Journals latest issue. After years of selling vintage cigars we seem to be getting more recognition than ever in the press lol. Seriously we love this real cigar magazine. Loads of news and reviews and great photography too.

If you haven’t booked up already we have 2 great cigar and whisky tasting events coming up at Robert Graham – Cambridge. Nominal priced tickets, drinks, smokes and canapés included… Yes I will be at both events and happy to do a Q&A as usual :)

23rd May
13th June

Auction Catalogue is closed and at the printers! It will also be online next week. Almost 350 Lots of Vintage, Aged, Rare, Mature, Davidoff, Dunhill and Pre Embargo cigars will be sold on June 10th at Boisdale Canary Wharf. Come and join us for an evening to remember cigar and whisky tasting as well as canapés and auction.

Could be your last chance to stash Cohiba 1966 Limited edition. Great smokes and potentially a great investment if past Cohiba LE’s are anything to go by. When they are gone they are gone so stash ‘em while you can.

Stocked humidor full shelves C.Gars Ltd

We retrofitted our London office walk in humidor so we can fit another 300 boxes of cigars and I must say it looks pretty impressive. We were so choc a block I couldn’t even see the stocks we have and had a few nice surprises when I finally managed to rearrange all of our stocks including:

Montecristo Sublimes
Cohiba Gran Reserva
Romeo Duke
La Gloria Cubana Gloriosos
Por Larranaga Magnificos
Montecristo D
Cohiba Sublimes
Cohiba Seleccion Reserva

I even found  a Bolivar Centenary humidor (EMS of course) and a Cohiba Millennium jar :)

… And it really went on and on :)

Ok well its May and that’s another week done so I am the hell outta here and heading to sunny Peru this weekend to check out the fields and factory where my Inka – Secret Blend cigars are being made. Sorry for the delay in availability of the robustos and petit coronas. They are now imported into the UK and should clear customs and be on the shelves and online store next week,

Full Peru report on my next blog

Have a very Happy May bank holiday weekend

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

Inka Bombaso Cartoon C.Gars Ltd

Herfing in the Big Apple

Packed up my Palio cutter and lighter and headed to New York City last Thursday for a solid week of serious herfing :) with Guy Hancock from the Decent Cigar Emporium Dublin.

As always I flew on fabulous Virgin Atlantic and chilled out at the Upper Class lounge in Heathrow before the flight. After a few drinks and a massage I was in good shape to sleep on the way over the Pond. The cabin was half empty so I was uber comfortable but ready for a smoke on arrival!

Smoking a Davidoff Puro D'Oro at De La ConchaMorning smokes at De La Concha on 6th Avenue. I smoked a huge 60 ring gauge Davidoff Puro D’Oro – Total gob stopper!! DLC is comfortable and well located and the staff always offer a warm welcome.

Afternoon smokes at Cigar Inn on 2nd Avenue accompanied with a bottle of Signatory Clynlish 1998 from Ambassador wines next door. Great liquor store with very good prices. Cigar Inn is a great place to relax, super friendly service – Highly recommended.

Saturday evening I headed to the Sinatra tribute show at Carnegie Club actually it was so good I stayed for 2 shows. Herfed my way through a baggie of Regius cigars paired with my ‘go to’ Mac 12.

SuMitchell and Guy at Club Macanudonday was a Fuente herfing afternoon at Club Macanudo with loads of friends who joined us for a bottle of wine or two or three  :) We then moved on to Bar and Books on Lexington. Now this place is very cool, bit like a speakeasy! You have to ring the bell to get in and find a comfortable cigar bar/lounge, splendid service and comprehensive drinks menu. I’ll definitely be adding this as one of my regular herfing spots.

Monday afternoon we chilled out at my favourite cigar store in the USA! Nat Sherman, thanks to Mickael Herklots for the hospitality. (I think my friends and I took over his office to herf in for most of the afternoon!) Amazing humidor, fabulous range of accessories and plenty of comfortable armchairs to relax and smoke in. Smoked my way through a few of the Nat Sherman Timeless range of cigars and was rather impressed with them.

Smoking at the Grand Havana RoomMonday evening we threw a herf at Grand Havana Room for 50 friends. This venue has the most breath taking views of NYC. First rate service, canapés and drinks and too many Fuente cigars to count over a long evening that went on till the wee small hours. Our friends were presented with specially engraved Orchant Seleccion 2013 Palio lighters as a parting gift. A great herf was had by all :)

Finally back to London and happy to get back to my Havana cigar routine… As soon as I arrived with a delicious vintage Romeo Romeo from the 1960’s a monster of a cigars that has aged to perfection.

Back in the office tomorrow and have just found out that its the end of the line for Cohiba 1966… get them while you can!

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

New York Cigar Humidor Cartoon