C.Gars – Bigger than ever!

Happy Easter! …and it really is a very happy time for C.Gars Ltd as we recently announced our merger with La Casa del Tabaco in Belgium to form a new Group Company: Dominique London. More details on our new website. We can proudly boast to be one of the largest cigars and spirits merchants in Europe and the expansion march will go on over the course of this year and beyond.

No change to my position as Managing Director of C.Gars but I’m also the Chief Commercial Officer for the DL group which is a terribly exciting challenge for me for the future, that I relish. Over the last 24 years I have built C.Gars into a pretty huge business with the help of an incredible team but we can now take the business to higher heights than ever with the added expertise of Dominique and Frederic from our Belgian merger partners La Casa del Tabaco. When travel restrictions are lifted, I can’t wait to visit our shops in Belgium and host some fantastic whisky and cigar sampling events.

The merger took well over a year to complete and what a crazy year it was with a Pandemic, stock shortages, a new mail order warehouse and opening a flagship store in St James’s! Imagine what we can do in a normal year! Congratulations to all of my team as well as our Belgian partners on this monumental merger.

Cohiba stock shortages continue as well as a few other lines, though bits and pieces do go in and out of stock but not in the quantity we need as yet. We are hoping this will improve as the year goes on but huge kudos to our supplier Hunters & Frankau for keeping us at around 95% stock availability which is a lot better than many countries over the last few years.

And what of the quality of Havana cigars at this time? Well, let’s face it, there will always be the odd stick with a construction issue. that’s the nature of the game (you can always try a Perfec Draw  but the tobacco quality and blending recently is definitely in the superior category. I have been smoking through some incredible Punch Double Coronas from 1999 like a fiend! Amazing smokes, almost 22 years old and smoking like a dream.

H. Upmann Sir Winston have been steadily coming into stock over the last few months after a long absence and are also first class as are El Rey del Mundo Choix Supreme  which have recently come back into stock, albeit in small quantity.

We have great stock availability of most La Casa del Habano lines and are expecting the long awaited Hoyo Year of The Ox this week.

I can’t wait for the Lockdowns to be over and things to get back to normal. I’m so looking forward to hosting some sampling events at our new St James’s store as well as our other stores around the country. Hopefully it won’t be too long but, in the meantime, join me at our virtual events which are a lot of fun as well as educational (and great value!)

Checkout Nick Hammonds Audiobook… Around the World in Eighty Cigars its great fun and his book is also available online.

Looking for a really special dram? Try our Stalla Dhu Glen Elgin Port Wood. Its delicious. My business partner Ron and I sampled some on the rocks last week paired up with Trinidad Vigia. Truly a sublime combination and highly recommended.

For a change of pace check out Y Bet Rose Vodka.  Vodka isn’t my regular tipple but this really is something special…

Look out! I’m launching a new range of incredible value Nicaraguan cigars later this month. They will truly be the best value smoke in the UK. We still have a UK regional Havana sometime this year as well as a Davidoff-Orchant Seleccion and a Plasencia – Orchant Seleccion to release so it’s going to be a very exciting year of new releases.

I’m putting the finishing touches on our next cigar auction which will conclude on the 20th April, we expect around 350+ Lots of aged, rare and unusual cigars as well as some splendid single malt whisky Lots. The Lots will be online and bidding open 7 days before the auction concludes. Registration is easy and bidding very straightforward. Condition reports are available by email from the auction team who are always happy to assist and advise sales@onlinecigarauctions.com

Looking forward to see you soon at our virtual herfs and soon after at our cigar sampling lounge events.

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

New store …New auction

I can finally and very proudly announce the opening of C.Gars – St James’s. Well overdue as we should have opened last Summer buy hey ho, who would have known the disruption that Corona Virus would cause?

And who would be mad enough to open a specialist cigar and whisky store in the middle of the third Lockdown? Answers on a postcard…

But open we are and the premises looks great, more like a Chanel store than a traditional cigar store and with a mouth-watering range of the best of the best cigars and single malt whisky money can buy.

We have a comfortable sampling area that will be available when it’s safe to open fully but, in the meantime, if you are in the West End pop in and feast your eyes and treat yourself to a great cigar or splendid bottle.

My staff will assure you a warm welcome, Sam used to work with us at Puffin Rooms – Liverpool, and Viktoria is well known by all the regular customers at Turmeaus – Mayfair so they bring a wealth of experience and offer the best in customer service.

I think that Turmeaus – Mayfair and C.Gars – St James’s may be the only cigar specialist shops remaining open in the West End at this time. Every time I pass any other cigar shops, they all seem to be closed. Let’s hope everyone can re-open soon and our industry can get back to normal.

So this lovely premises joins the C.Gars Group and makes it a nice round number of 10 including our other businesses in London, Liverpool, Chester, Knutsford and Norfolk. Add to that our two huge fulfilment warehouses and I’ve got to say this sure turned into a huge business that Laura and I could never have dreamed about so many years ago when we started the business from our bedrooms!

C.Gars Auctions are holding the first auction of the year on Tuesday 26th January.

Over 430 Lots of Vintage, Mature, Pre-Embargo, Davidoff, Dunhill, Limited Edition Havana cigars as well as aged Havanas from the 1960’s through to the 1990’s will be on offer on behalf of estates, investors and collectors. There will also be 100 Lots of rare single malt whisky.

Lots are now live and bidding open online until the auction concludes on the 26th January on the Cigar Auction website.

This will be the 36th cigar auction by C.Gars since the auction department was established in 2009.

Auction Lots can be viewed and bid on online.

Featured Lots include:

Dunhill Estupendos, Mojito and Don Candido 502

Habanos 1994 humidor

Cohiba Seleccion Reserva, Lanceros Presidencia and Coronas Especiales Presidencia

Davidoff No. 1,2, Dom Perignon, 1000, 3000, Margaux and Ambassadrice

Montecristo, Partagas and Romeo Gran Reserva

For any questions don’t hesitate to email Laura Graham and the auction team at auctions@cgarsltd.co.uk

Substantial interest is expected from overseas buyers due to the continued weakness of the Pound Sterling currently as well as the continuing increased demand from the Far East…

Have a smokey week.

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

Happy New Year!

It’s been quite an astonishing year in our world of whisky and cigars, kicking off back in January with an astonishing increase in sales that continued through to February. All of our trading divisions and product categories were firing on all cylinders. Mail order and retail were up in double digit growth and our uber cool Puffin Rooms venue was packed seven nights a week with a waiting list that seemed to get longer every week.

I was surprised by the sales growth so early in the year. After all – this was our 23rd year in the business. So, off I went to the Festival in Havana not feeling terribly well for what reason I couldn’t fathom, still managed to enjoy myself but as many know, soon after I got back to the UK, I was desperately unwell with CV-19.

Thankfully, I made a good recovery after a very, very long recuperation period and in the meantime, we had to close down Puffin Rooms due to Government restrictions, but we were allowed to keep our retail shops open as alcohol shops are classed as ‘essential’.  The only flaw to the plan being that the shops were open, but few people ventured out on the streets during the lockdowns.

So, it was C.Gars Mail order divisions in London and Norfolk to the rescue, ably supported by our colleagues in the retail division fulfilling more than double the normal amount of orders we are used to (and that’s a lot!). We have been operating 24 hours a day 7 days a week to ensure on time shipping. I wish I could say that we had 100% on time delivery but Royal Mail and courier services have been stretched beyond their limits and a few orders were or are late or lost. Easy to criticize Royal Mail, but no one could have envisaged the amount of shipping that the crazy Corona situation would create, so I choose to applaud all of their hard work.

I’m grateful to our customers old and new for their patience when there were delivery issues or when we got their orders wrong (it’s rare but yep – we are only human and do occasionally get it wrong!) and a huge thanks to all of our suppliers for keeping the supply lines running so smoothly throughout the year.

During all this year’s madness we still managed to release new cigars including the fabulous Ramon No.2 with its exclusive world launch in the UK, Quai D’Orsay Senadores and Montecristo Supremos.  We released new casks of Stalla Dhu- single malt whisky, introduced Key West Rums and partnered with Snowdonia distillery and its fabulous Foragers gin and Y Bet Vodka.

Despite ongoing shortages of Havanas, our amazing UK exclusive distributor, Hunters & Frankau kept us well supplied and our huge stock levels ensured that disruption was kept to a minimum.

We expected to open our new C.Gars store on St James’s Street late Summer but constant delays due to Corona has set the opening back and now we expect to open early January. The store will be a true expression of the essence of C.Gars Ltd. Our finest ranges of premium spirits and premium cigars in the most comfortable of surroundings and of course, the best location in the UK.

C.Gars has grown so much since its humble beginnings 23 years ago that it would take all day to thank all of the Team (I think we employ almost 100 people these days!) for all their hard work and dedication. We have become a pretty big business, but Laura and I have tried to stay true to our founding ethos of treating every customer how we would like to be treated as a customer. We set the standards for service in our industry, guaranteeing quality and value and giving the best customer experience possible.

I’m looking forward to 2021 as we have more exciting expansion plans that I hope to share with everyone in January.

We may not be able to go out and celebrate the New Year this year due to the Covid restrictions but I hope C.Gars has bought a bit of happiness into your New Year celebrations with our fine cigars and splendid premium spirits.

Wishing all of our customers, staff and suppliers a very happy, safe and above all healthy New Year.

Peaceful puffing,

Mitchell

And here is the news…

Greetings from Pre- Lockdown No.2 London where we are still trying to work out what’s actually going on and how to adjust business accordingly from this Thursday.

We were able to keep all of our stores open during the first Lockdown as our stores all sell alcohol and we are considered ‘essential’, it’s not clear if that still applies in the 2nd Lockdown at this stage though we hope it will.

After all, if you can buy a bottle of scotch from a supermarket, surely you should be able to buy the same bottle of scotch from an independent spirits specialist shop. We strictly enforce social distancing in our shops, we have hand sanitizer stations and customers and all staff have to wear face masks.

So, for now we plan to operate business as usual in our retail chain whilst our mail order division will continue operating 24-7 as always. We can already see demand has increased substantially with order numbers last week at almost double normal expectations. I think people were anticipating Lockdown restrictions (sensibly) and getting in orders earlier rather than later.

Hopefully Royal Mail and courier services will be able to cope well and maintain good service levels. We are releasing yet more of our reserve stocks of premium cigars as the shortages continue to get worse so we expect to maintain around 97% range availability. And what a range it is… now over 11,000 products. truly the largest range in the UK by a long stretch.

We remain positive that the Corona nightmare will be over at some stage in the future. So much so that I’m happy to announce we have started to fit out a new cigar and whisky flag ship store in the heart of St James’s . This will be the first ‘C.Gars’ shop’ (our other cigars and whisky stores are under our Turmeaus brand)

The building contractors are bashing away with the super modern design that will feature a beautiful walk in humidor, whisky showroom and comfortable sampling area. We’re very excited about this expansion in the Mecca of cigar land of London :).

No change planned for our lovely Turmeaus shop in Mayfair (many customers have asked) this small but exceptionally busy shop will continue to trade as always.

The long awaited second batch of Ramon Allones No.2 Limited edition finally arrived last week and all back orders are being fulfilled over the next few days or so.  I smoked one yesterday and it was truly a sublime smoking experience.

We expect the Quai D’Orsay Senadores Limited edition to be released next week (assuming no delays due to the Lockdown)  I love this brand as the blend is quite unique and nothing like any other brand. The range expansion a few years ago was very welcome and very popular with our clients.

I have just released 64 boxes of Quai d’ Orsay No.50 – Orchant Seleccion that are smoking exceptionally well. Individually numbered, double banded, matured and ready to smoke. I paired up with a Foragers G&T from the fabulous Snowdonia Distillery for a perfect palate tingling experience.

We recently bottled a cask of Stalla Dhu Caol Ila 11 year old at a whopping 60.4%. This is a serious single malt! Goes well with a full bodied Partagas or Bolivar. Only 287 bottles from this beautiful cask of exceptional character from our multi award winning brand.

Our Winter auction  was a resounding success with well over £1M in Lots sold a few weeks ago. Prices were startling (high) with much interest from the Far East. We are shipping auction Lots over the coming weeks. I’m not certain when we will hold the next auction. it could be as early as December or as late as January next year.

Havana cigar shortages continue with Cohiba continuing to be the worst affected brand.  Little sign of BHK’s, Siglo VI and Piramides Extra sadly. Even Siglo IV and Robustos seem to be sporadically going out of stock. My advice is stock up while you can as we don’t see the supply situation improving any time soon.

But what of Christmas this year? Will we be able to return to any semblance of normality? Who knows? the best advice is to stock your bar and humidor sooner rather than later.

Have a smokey week and stay safe,

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

THE LARGEST VINTAGE HAVANA CIGAR AUCTION IN HISTORY

No sooner than we have wrapped up the shipping from the July auction, which I can tell you was some task during this crazy Corona period of time we are just about ready to roll with the next sale.

Usually winning bidders collect their Lots from the auction office but with Corona just about everyone wanted shipping service. That was all fine and dandy except our friends at Royal Mail are overwhelmed to say the least and shipping is slower than ever and clearly continues to be challenging. But, Hey-Ho, looks like we just about got there in the end.

The auction calendar has been somewhat screwed up this year again due to Corona pushing forward the auction dates so I’m not sure if we are doing a Winter sale in December as usual at this time and it may well be pushed forward to January.

I can confirm that our October 13th sale is going ahead and will in fact be a mega sale with well over 800 Lots which by my memory makes it the largest vintage cigar auction in history.

We will be offering and selling on behalf of collectors, estates and aficionados a MASSIVE range of aged, mature Cuban Davidoff, Cuban Dunhill, Pre Embargo and by popular demand single malt Scotch Whisky. It’s quite a breath taking catalogue that will have Lots that appeal to both the cigar smoker and collector.

The catalogue and Lots will be online late on Tuesday and that’s when bidding opens. Bidding closes and the auction ends on the 13th October. It’s all very simple and works a bit like EBay, think of it as CBay 🙂

New bidders need to register and establish their credit limit in order to participate. We are happy to provide condition reports by email and strongly urge any prospective bidders to email the auction Team with any questions as we are online 24/7 and always happy to help

The auction department was established in 2009 and C.Gars Auctions are the only specialist cigar auctioneer in the world. It’s such a privilege to be able to deal with such rare Havanas throughout the year. I’m sort of the curator of the collection, I look after them and love them and then find a new home for them 🙂

In other news …

The Ramon Allones No.2 Limited Edition proved to be a resounding success but of course nothing goes smoothly in the cigar business and the first allocation that arrived for the launch was very small with the main delivery expected a few weeks later. Well, you guessed it – that didn’t happen as the shipment was caught up and delayed. The good news is that we finally do expect them in the next 10 days or so and will of course be fulfilling all back orders as well as releasing more availability as soon as they arrive. My apologies to our clients for this unavoidable and unexpected delay. It will be worth the wait for sure …

 

In the mean time we have released some more of our reserve stocks of La Gloria Cubana Britanicas Extra, El Rey del Mundo La Reina and Juan Lopez Seleccion Superba on the website.

 

We don’t yet have a reopening date for our cigar sampling lounges , again –due to Corona. We were hoping it would be this month but it’s now pushed back to November. Hopefully we will get back to normal soon. You can join us on our virtual herfs though which are a lot of fun. We feature cigars and premium spirits and have some great brand ambassadors to talk about the products. Join me on the next one HERE

 

I guess that’s the end of Summer looking at the torrential rain outside my window but clearly the increase in our clients enjoying a smoke and a drink is here to stay. Happy to say that we have acquired two additional C.Gars mail order warehouse buildings that will be state of the art ( Think of us as Amazon for cigars !) and should be fully operational and integrated in the next month.

The Royal Welsh Gin Connection
We have recently partnered with a fantastic gin distillery that has blown us away with their amazing boutique gin. Check out the website here https://foragers.co.uk/ the gin available online and at all Turmeaus shops.

Foragers Yellow Label Gin - 46% 70clForagers Black Label Gin - 46% 70cl

Starting with soft juniper tones, Foragers gently takes you to fresh, semi-sweetness of apple and elderberry, before giving way to incredible, subtle, unmistakable floral notes from gorse and heather flowers. BUY NOW

Forager’s Black Label delivers intense, smooth juniper notes followed by beautifully mellow warmth and richness stemming from Sea Buckthorn. BUY NOW

 

Our Stalla Dhu range of single malt whisky continues to win multiple international awards and we have just released and bottled a very rather delicious single cask of Caol Ila at cask strength BUY NOW !

In the wonderful world of New World cigars we have the largest selection in the UK, something for everyone but my current favourite is the ‘sweet as sugar’ Plasencia Orchant Seleccion Toro. The best cigar in its class and if you don’t love it I will give your money back.

And … in the incredible world of Havanas I’m enjoying Partagas Lusitanias more than ever ( I have a lot of time to sample !) if you have the time …

Finally big congratulations to our friends ( Jonny , Pavel and Dominica ) at Havana Cigar Exchange who have just opened their second shop at 1A St James’s street. We wish them every success.

 

Have a smokey weekend

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell