Record breaking auction…

Another record-breaking auction last week with Cigar Aficionado Magazine reporting on the £1,100 paid for the sale’s show-stopping Cuban Dunhill Estupendos, with the price well over the expected £700. Other highlights from a monumental few days of bidding also feature in the summary just published here.

I’ve no doubt that, on the auction’s close, there were a lot of very happy and successful bidders, as well as sellers, from this sale, not to mention a few bargains bagged amid the incredible ‘unicorns‘ on offer, ultimately selling for eye-watering prices.

I’m often asked, how someone can smoke a cigar for £100 or even £200? I think the best answer is that it’s like treating yourself to a splendid bottle of wine or a meal out. In fact, the cigar may last as long, if not longer. It’s all relative, I suppose.

Our auctions are not only about the most expensive Havana cigars. We always offer a wide variety of aged, mature and interesting smokes, including singles and part-boxes, so there really are opportunities for most smokers’ budgets.

We did have a staggering number of registered bidders this time and the highest level of website visits – and visitors –  we have ever seen at auction. We certainly have come a long way since our first sale, now way back in 2009.

You can see all of the results of what was sold and for how much in this link.

Over and above the Cuban Dunhill Estupendos that featured in Cigar Aficionado Magazine, my personal highlights include:

box of 20 Davidoff 80th Aniversario including one cigar tube signed by Zino Davidoff that made £25,200.

A box of five Dunhill Havana Club that was sold for £3,880.

Cohiba Sublimes Extra Coleccion Habanos that made £15,300.

A cabinet of 50 H Upmann Dunhill Seleccion Suprema no.205, which went for £21,600.

I’m already putting together our next auction catalogue. We plan to hold the sale in late October.

In parallel with this, my – I am very glad to say – highly-popular Orchant Seleccion cigar range goes from strength to strength. I’m very proud to introduce the next in our Davidoff – Orchant Seleccion series.

Our first release was the Davidoff – Orchant Seleccion London Edition which was a Lancero. We have followed this up with the Davidoff – Orchant Seleccion Liverpool edition, which is a Toro.

Our new offering measures an extended 6” length and 54 ring gauge, so is one for the experienced cigar smoker. As well as offering a marvellous smoke for today, I’m also very proud to pay homage to our Liverpool roots  as the city is where Turmeaus Tobacconist started way back in 1817. Celebrating this history, we have what is a full-flavour, medium-strength cigar blended with filler from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, binder from Mexico and wrapper from Ecuador. In all, an exceptional smoke for now, and the blend will age very well over the next few years.

So you are fully aware, only 300 individually-numbered boxes of this exclusive Orchant Seleccion will ever be produced, so it’s likely to end up a collector’s item in the same way that the Davidoff – Orchant Seleccion Lancero became.

I enjoyed a herfette at  C.Gars – St James’s as usual this week and had my now-traditional Stalla Dhu Glen Elgin over ice – don’t knock it, until you try it! –  paired up with a couple of Cohiba Medio Siglo. This is perhaps not a cigar on my usual rotation but I just love this size, and the blend is right on at the moment. In all, huge volumes of flavour that complement the Scotch perfectly. I love herfing on the terrace at St James’s and watching the world go by. Right now, it’s like a never-ending “super cars” show!

Some more good news; Mitchellero  – are expect back in stock in the next week or so. The popularity of this super-value, best-selling range has taken us by surprise in the very best way.

I was interviewed by Cigar Journal Light ‘em Up on Wednesday, which was a lot of fun, especially as Jose Blanco and Joshua Meerapfel joined the Zoom. If you have an hour to kick back with a good cigar you can share the session. You can read the full interview here.

Whether you do or not, have a smokey weekend.

Peaceful puffing,

Mitchell

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

Mitchellero cigars are in…and out!

I’ve been on a mission to give quality, service and value since I started in the cigar trade in the early 1990s. I think that ethos came from my previous experience as a petrol retailer and C. Store operator.

I set out originally in the trade with a very different perspective to the existing and established cigar merchants, as I tried to look at everything from the customer’s perspective. With that in mind, I have been trying for some years to create and introduce value brands of mid-range cigars to the market. I have been quite successful in doing so –  especially with our own brand of Peruvian cigars, Inka – Secret Blend as well as co-branded Orchant Seleccion cigars such as Alec Bradley and Drew Estate which have been tremendously popular and successful since launch.

However, we were always missing a range in our brand portfolio which I have finally filled with the launch of Mitchellero cigars from Nicaragua. These single estate 100% Nicaraguan handmade, long-filler cigars are really something special. The prices are unbeatable in the UK market. The blend is medium-full sweet and spicy flavour and medium strength. A truly a well-balanced blend constructed to perfection and dressed in a beautiful smooth Colorado Maduro wrapper colour.


Available in a range of the most popular sizes – it is now our fastest selling New World cigar since it was launched a week ago. I think it’s fair to say we have created another winner for our clients. My initial order from the factory was pretty huge and I thought it would be enough to last 6 months but forecasts show it won’t likely last 2 months, so we have already made a follow-up order of double the size so we can assure continuity of supply.

Ordering the right quantity of cigars from all regions is proving to be quite the challenge. The industry is still suffering from a host of problems from lack of raw materials, decreased production, and logistical slowdowns due to the pandemic. Certain brands are just not available  anymore.

We have around 10,000 products on our website, which is probably 10 times more than our competitors, so we have quite a task keeping the products in the right quantities in our warehouses to meet the demand. Since the global pandemic and Brexit, demand has gone ballistic and it seems that it’s more or less impossible to order from outside of the UK without being stung with hefty duty, tax, and vat bill from Customs that negate any cost-benefit for the consumer.

We’re still managing to keep around 95% availability on Havanas generally but we do expect out-of-stock lines to get worse this year. We have a dramatically reduced range of Cohiba with no availability on Lanceros, Coronas Especiales, Piramides Extra, and Behike still. If you’re a Cohiba smoker, stock up on your favourite size while you can.

The La Casa del Habanos exclusive range is also not without issues with the highly popular Bolivar Libertador the latest on the out-of-stock casualty list although I am happy to report that Partagas Salomones and Trinidad La Trova have come back into stock in reasonable quantity.

A lot of beautiful new and limited edition Havanas were introduced at the recent virtual Habanos Festival but realistically I would not be expecting to see any of these actually arrive any time soon. Late 2022 would probably be more likely.

It’s good to be finally getting out of lockdown and have life returning to something resembling normal. I’m popping into our flagship C.Gars – St James’s store every week for a few hours and have been enjoying sampling outside the shop when the weather has allowed  – though I’m looking forward to indoor sampling starting again this Friday.

We are planning to re-open our amazing Puffin Rooms in early June all being well. The premises has been spruced up and are in fact plusher than ever. The best of live jazz, dining, cocktails, and the largest whisky bar on the North West.

We are finally doing our refurb at our super popular and busy Mayfair store this month so it will be closed for a week from the May 24th . I’m looking forward to reopening the comfortable sampling room thereafter though I understand booking will be essential as our regulars have missed the sampling room and will be happy to get back in there.

Sampling events will restart in the shops next month but we are still enjoying the Virtual Herfs every other week. Great value sampler packs, educational, and a lot of fun.  Join us this Thursday when I will be hosting Ricardo Carioni, the deputy ambassador to the UK from Nicaragua, and featuring Oliva cigars.

Last week’s virtual tasting event featured Flor de Cana rum (I love it!) and Plasencia cigars (I’m a huge fan!). I’m down to my last few boxes of Plasencia – Orchant Seleccion Telico, a splendid Toro-sized cigar that has been super popular. I’m looking forward to the release of the Plasencia – Orchant Seleccion Lancero in a couple of months’ time. It will be interesting to contrast the blends of the Toro and Lancero. The Toro gives volumes of flavour due to the larger format and the Lancero more intensity due to the slender format.

The last few boxes of Davidoff Intenso ( 2020 Limited edition) are now released. Great size, great smoke, Davidoff continues to release the finest quality premium cigars, they really can’t do a thing wrong these days!

I’m starting work on our Summer auction catalogue which takes place on July 27th  – lots of interesting vintage Havanas are coming in already. The April auction yielded some incredible results once again driven by insatiable bidder interest from the Far East.

 

Have a smokey week.

Peaceful puffing,

Mitchell

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