Cigar Auction… Cigar Shortage

Greetings from London, amid a heatwave. So perfect, cigar-herfing weather that we expect to continue all week, which I’m especially delighted to say as my new office is relaxing outside the C.Gars shop at 23a St James’s Street. With four shops, including us, now from Piccadilly down to Pall Mall, you might call this stretch Cigar Land. 

From the news of late, you have probably registered that the situation in Cuba is not good at all. I understand that there are quite a lot of fake updates, but also any number of accurate reports about demonstrations on the streets of various cities.

I believe the protests are largely driven by the chronic food shortages on the island as well as the slow vaccination programme.  The economy is facing horrendous difficulties for a multitude of reasons, including the ongoing US Embargo. I don’t recall ever seeing anti-government demonstrations of this nature while the Castro brothers were leading the country, so this is a very serious concern.  It’s a sorry situation for the people of Cuba,  who have my utmost sympathy.

The cigar industry has inevitably been affected by Covid and related issues – logistics and transportation – as well as slowdowns at the factories. We have had to manage stock carefully for the last 18 months. These supply problems are now getting worse by the day. As a benchmark, Montecristo No.4’s are out of stock with our importer.

Tubed cigars are in short supply and the available Cohiba range is pitiful with Siglo IV being the latest casualty of a shortfall. The Cohiba Lanceros, Esplendidos and Coronas Especiales became scarce ages ago, and all sizes of BHK’s and Siglo VI are rarely available at present. The entire Cohiba Maduro range is also incredibly thin on the ground. Last week’s casualties in supply included El Rey del Mundo Demi Tasse and Choix Supreme so I am very sorry to say that there is practically nothing available from the El Rey de Mundo house for now.

There is an excellent article on the Cuban cigar shortage here by Laurent Mimouni. I am very apprehensive about how bad the situation could become with supplies likely to worsen further over the weeks and months ahead. We will, of course, be doing everything we can to ensure that we have the widest possible range for you. At the same time, be assured this is not an effort to bolster sales by suggesting a shortage.  I strongly advise you to top up with your favourites while they are available as we cannot guarantee that stocks will hold up.

The issues we are trying our best to manage are not limited to Cuba. We also face supply concerns of various sizes in brands of cigars from Nicaragua. Honduras and the Dominican Republic, too. Padron cigars are a good example of the struggle we have faced with New World stocks for 18 months, now.

I am glad that we can at least offer you a chance to secure some cigars that would otherwise be in only the shallowest of volumes. By this, I mean our Summer cigar auction, which will be live to bid on our designated auction website hopefully by Tuesday evening and at the latest by Wednesday. For this sale, we have almost 600 lots of aged, rare, mature and unusual cigars as well as single-malt whisky on offer. In all, I hope a welcome opportunity to pick up some of the cigars that are currently unavailable.

The auction will conclude on July 27. Bidders have to register to bid and confirm their credit limit before the sale. My helpful auction team are always available to advise every day, around the clock, at  sales@onlinecigarauctions.com

Some of the Havana highlights include:

–       The rarest of Davidoff 80th anniversary presentation boxes, with 20 cigars and a cigar tube signed by Zino Davidoff.

–       A Davidoff Dom Perignon box of  25 cigars of impeccable condition and appearance.

–       A Cohiba Majestuosos 1966 humidors.

–       An H. Upmann 160th anniversary humidor.

–       A cabinet of 50 Dunhill H. Upmann No.205 that are pre-embargo and in pristine condition.

On Wednesday evening, by which time the auction should, as said, be up and running, I am looking forward to our next virtual tasting event featuring Bolivar Belicosos and Glenfiddich single-malt whisky. The brand ambassadors will take us through the event and share their considerable and compelling knowledge with us.

Bolivar Belicoso Finos has long been one of my favourite Havana cigars and we have selected certain vintages of merit over the years to brand ‘ Orchant Seleccion’  that have been terribly popular. It will be interesting how well current-production BBF’s compare.  Please do join me for what is sure to be a memorable tasting. If you, unfortunately, cannot be part of this, please email me and let me know if you are enjoying the blend on the current production cigars.

As well as virtual offerings, I am delighted to say that we have opened all of our sampling lounges at our choice shop locations. With the news about the Covid infection rates, can we, respectfully, please ask all of our valued customers to continue wearing masks when entering our shops and maintain social distancing with a view to everyone staying as safe as possible. Our staff will continue to wear masks, regardless of changes to national guidelines.

Have a sunny, smokey and above all safe week. My personal highlight is a visit to Boisdale Belgravia on Thursday. I have a table outside booked at a place that has long been one of my favourite, cigar-friendly venues and the menu looks better than ever. I dare say I will pop into C.Gars – St James’s for a pre-lunch cocktail before heading across the park to Eccleston Street.

Wherever you are, peaceful puffing…

Mitchell

Summer herfing!

I can hardly believe it is July. That is half the year gone already. What a crazy six months. I do sense that we are returning to something like normality with the lifting of Lockdown, in three weeks.

I hope you have made the best of 2021 to date. Personally, I am settling into a nice routine of herfing with friends at C.Gars – St James’s during the week. With some of the recent, good weather, the outside-seating area has been a delight and will continue to be so in the weeks ahead when the sun hopefully shines on us.

My St James’s premises showcases the finest of our cigar and spirits range. The fabulous team on hand there (Sam, Dante and Viktoria) mix some very tasty cocktails. You are assured the warmest of welcomes, as well as helpful, friendly advice.

Not far from St. James’s in Shepherd’s Market, Turmeaus – Mayfair is, finally, fully open again for cigar and whisky sampling. You do have to book a slot as this ever-popular location is jammed full, morning till night. Christian, the store manager and our resident pipe expert, is delighted at the return to normal, and being fully open again.

I’m happy to report from the north west that the Puffin Rooms there and Late Hour Turmeaus – Liverpool have finally re-opened, as well. Like Mayfair, bookings are essential as both the cigar-sampling lounge and the jazz/tapas venue are jam-packed, booked-out, every night of the week. There is no experience quite like the Puffin Rooms. The widest whisky range in that part of the country, delicious, tapas-style food, signature cocktails, and the best of live jazz music, seven nights a week. We refurbished the venue during Lockdown to maintain the Five-Star standards. I am very pleased with the results and look forward to you enjoying some of the comforts we have added.

Now it feels safe to do so, our other sampling lounges, in Liverpool, Chester and Knutsford, are slowly re-opening. We look forward to welcoming back friends at all our venues.

As always, we are striving to ensure that all your favourites are to hand when you do join us. Guaranteeing this is currently a challenge. Maintaining Havana stocks of the most popular lines remains a test, not least the Cohiba range. To offset this, as needs be in the weeks and months ahead, we will be releasing our reserve holdings. Please be aware that we have just released small quantities of:

Ramon Alones No.2 Limited Edition 2019

Montecristo Supremos Limited Edition 2019 

H Upmann Sir Winston

Cohiba Esplendidos

Juan Lopez Seleccion Superba UK Regional Edition 2016

Supplies of the Mitchellero brand of Nicaraguan cigars should be in abundance by the middle of this month. The success of this release took us by surprise. A great range of value smokes that have proved popular beyond belief. If all goes to plan, we have a huge shipment of another 100,000 cigars arriving around the middle of July.

If you are seeking something with added heritage, our Summer Vintage cigar auction will be held on July 27th. The catalogue will be online a week before then (July 20th) after which we will be taking bids. The sale is HUGE!  Around 500 Lots of cigars and 100 Lots of rare whisky and spirits. Sections include Vintage, Pre Embargo, Mature, Limited Edition, and Davidoff, as well as Limited-Edition Humidors. Please be aware, you have to register to bid. My Auction Team are online, round the clock, to assist and advise.

As for our whiskies, the Stalla Dhu single malt whisky continues to collect International awards. We recently bottled a stunning cask of Glen Elgin Port Wood that is a sublime tasting experience, especially with a good, premium cigar. My partner, Ron, suggested trying the Glen Elgin with a large block of ice, which changes the flavour characteristic diametrically. I highly recommended that you give this a go.

If you enjoy a rum with your cigar you simply have to try Aged Key West Raw and Key West Bad Bitch.  This is a small-batch production of the highest quality that pairs to perfection.

Looking a little further ahead, this quarter we are planning to release the new UK regional edition Havana as well as the next Davidoff – Orchant Seleccion, which is a Toro. All this is exciting stuff.

At the same time, a last call for my splendid Plasencia – Orchant Seleccion Telica.  This incredible blend from Nestor Plasencia that provides volumes of sweet flavour, balanced with medium strength is almost sold out now. If you do sadly miss out, I’m looking forward to introducing our next Plasencia-Orchant Seleccion – a Lanceros – later this year.

Though we are inching back to normality, we are still running our virtual-tasting events. That will be the case until we can switch back to all our sampling lounges. Do please join me for some memorable evenings ahead with some of the best brand ambassadors there are.

My current favourite smokes include:

Hoyo de Monterrey Escogidos (exclusive La Casa del Habano line)

Hoyo de Monterrey Elegantes (exclusive La Casa del Habano line)

Alec Bradley – Orchant Seleccion Shorty

Regius Gran Toro

Inca – Secret Blend Reserva D’Oro robusto

For you, different flavours and sizes for all occasions.

Have a smokey weekend.

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

GBD Pipes

Welcome back.

I hope you are ready because today we are going back to France. The history of these brands is long, but I will try to make it short and straightforward.

It’s the 1850s, and three gentlemen decided to establish a new business dedicated to Meerschaum Pipes. Gannieval, Bondier, and Donninger founded “GBD.” All three had experience making pipes, Ganneval with wooden pipes, Bondier clay and china pipes, and Donninger Meerschaum pipes. Even if the company owners frequently changed, the GBD name remained well-established in the market. August Marechal and Ferdinand Ruchon led the firm into the 20th century. They were in charge of the company for more than 50 years. Not much is known about their first production, but we know that GBD offered Meerschaum pipes in many different shapes that reminded of bent pipes derived from clay pipes such as Dublins and and early variations of Bulldog.

The company was founded around the same time that briarwood properties were discovered. After the briar pipe-making production started in Saint-Claude, GBD established a supply contract for Briarwood. Meerschaum quickly became outdated, and briar was the material that everyone wanted. In the following 40 years, GBD was honoured with 15 medals of achievement on international fairs worldwide, introducing the brand to the global market and establishing its name.

In the beginning, GBD offered only one grade of briar and a limited selection in finishes, but once the company approached the 20th century, its selection changed. A wide variety of finishes and briar grades were available to fit the increased demand by the market, specifically the British request. The company’s catalogue would count up to 1500 models.
The reason behind the company’s focus on the British market is quite simple: GBD became a British company in 1902 when A. Oppenheimer & Co. (London) bought it.
A. Oppenheimer & Co., founded by Charles Oppenheimer, then led by Adolphe, started trading in tobacco pipes from the beginning. In 1870 Adolphe and GBD began trading. Quickly Adolphe became the most important customer from the English market and was designed as the sole distributor for Great Britain, the USA, and Canada in 1897. When the negotiations between GBD and Oppenheimer started, Adolphe acquired two pipe factories in Saint-Claude: Sina & Cie. and C.J. Verguet Freres. This merge led to the creation of a colossal pipe-making centre in Saint Claude that Lucien Verguet managed and focused on making prefabricated bowls. In the 1910s, over 18k dozen bowls were made for GBD London out of the 27k produced. GBD London in the 1920s became the most important location for the company, especially after the construction of a new factory in London.

GBD London focused on the USA and British market, GBD Paris for France and EU. Oppenheimer continued to expand their company and purchased BBB (Blumfeld’s Best Briar, formerly A. Frankau) and later Loewe & Co. and large shares of Comoy’s of London.
As we know, in the 1920s, the economic crisis started to affect the pipe business, which led to the creation of Cadogan Investments Ltd., named after its primary quarter’s location at Cadogan Square in London. We have to keep in mind that Cadogan (Oppenheimer) was owned by business people with no direct experience in pipe making. Hence why each brand under their umbrella kept extensive independence.

The demand for GBD kept growing, which encouraged the management to introduce sub-brands. One of them was Dr. Plumb’s.
When GBD France needed an affordable line, Dr. Plumb was developed by the Parisian sales manager J.B. Rubinovich in 1925. After his secretary Leslie W. Plumb, he named it, whose most important business was “to doctor figure” of the ledgers. Dr. Plumb’s is produced in Saint-Claude. 

To this day, GBD and DR plumb keep their name strong in the market by offering an incredible selection of pipes styles and finishes that are still loved worldwide. If you are looking for classic and stylish pipes made out of excellent briar, look no further because GBD will give you what you are looking for! Their pipes (and accessories) are true to what GBD stands for: top-notch briar quality and a constant look to innovate and elevate the pipe-smoking art.

Head over to our GBD and Dr. Plumb online selection and get ready to fall in love.

As you can see, each tobacco pipe brand has a long history, and most of the time, it is intertwined with other brands. Who knows what we are going to discover next time!

See you in the next post.

Chris

Glenfiddich 26 Year Old Grande Couronne

Glenfiddich is always producing those perfect drams to accompany those elegant times in your life…or maybe just those times you are feeling fancy! This Grande Couronne is no different!

This bottling is the distillery’s newest edition to their Grand Series, and quite literally the “crowning glory” to that series. Seeing as the name means “Big Crown” in French. The Grand Series was created as an opulent line-up to accompany significant moments that are cause for celebration. But like I said, you can crack this open if you are feeling fancy and want to sit out on your back deck in a tuxedo!

With the Glenfiddich Gran Cru having been finished in French cuvée oak casks and the Gran Reserva finishing in Caribbean rum casks, it is no surprise they had something special for this one. After having spent most of its life in American and European oak casks, the whisky is then transferred into carefully chosen rare French Cognac casks. The Cognac adding that much more elegance to the whisky.

Glenfiddich’s own Malt Master, Brian Kinsman had this to say:

“The Grand Series perfectly encapsulates Glenfiddich’s spirit of innovation and our ability to experiment with aged liquid and intriguing finishes. Grande Couronne is the latest to exemplify that approach.

It is the only Glenfiddich single malt that has matured in American and European oak casks and finished in rare French Cognac casks. The length of the finish, two years, is highly unusual and adds extra layers of sweet toasted oak and velvety aromas of café crème, brown sugar and soft spice.”

As with any of Glenfiddich’s limited release, the Grande Couronne comes in a beautiful display box with a rotating stage for the bottle! Masterfully designed with gold leafing and inside the box is like an itsy bitsy Louvre with renaissance inspired paintings.

So if you are looking for a very special gift or a whisky for that next big occasion, this might be for you!

Elijah

Let me introduce you to Big Ben Pipes.

It goes back to the end of the 19th century when Elbert Gubbels Sr. opened a shop focused on tobacco pipes and other smoker accessories. The smoking business grew to the point that in 1924 the company was transformed into a wholesale trade business. Because of the lack of tobacco pipe manufacturers in the Netherlands, Gubbels imported pipes from Europe, primarily France and England.


During the German Invasion that occurred in 1940, the Gubbels family had difficulties importing products from Europe. Mr. Gubbel wanted to cut ties with his suppliers and have his tobacco pipe production. With the ending of World War II, his dream came alive.

In 1946 the Gubbels Family opened their first factory. After a successful expansion, Mr. Gubbels quickly realized that his brand needed an international name to appeal to the European market. He bought a small trade company in Amsterdam, which owned the rights to the brand Big Ben that was well established in the international market.
From that point, Big Ben pipes and the Gubbels family became a recognized brand that everybody knew.

With the opening of the new factory in Roermond in 1974, Her Majesty Queen Juliana of the Netherlands granted the title “Royal” to the Gubbels Company. Hence, its official name became Elbert Gubbels & Zonen – Koninklijke Fabriek van Tabakspijpen (Elbert Gubbels & Sons – Royal Dutch Pipe Factory). Following the new title, the company went through a new rebranding to negate the belief that the company’s origins were English becoming Royal Dutch.

To this day, the Big Ben Pipes are made in Holland. Most of them are fitted with 9mm Filters. It stands for innovative designs and outstanding quality. Because of their reliability and intriguing styles, Big Ben is the first pipe for many new pipe smokers and the favourite of many.
As you can see from the pictures, these pipes are classic and somehow future forward with their style and palette colour.

Head over to our Big Ben page and browse our collection.

Christian