UK Regional Edition… Finally!

The Regional Edition Havana program has been fascinating since its inception in 2005, or was it in 2004 as I’m sure we had the rather amazing Ramon Allones Belicosos in the UK as a first release in 2004. (There was even an Orchant Seleccion Ramon Allones Belicosos!). No matter, some of the regional cigars worldwide have been iconic including the Ramon Allones Phoenicios for Lebanon and Dante 109 for Mexico.

Some of the later regionals were a tad on the ‘average’ side with many saying that there was little in terms of blend differentiation or integrity. The UK has had its fair share of absolute winners including the incredible Por Larranaga Magnificos, Punch Serie D’Oro No. 1  and Flor de Cano Short Robustos to name a few.

Last year’s regional… didn’t arrive, in fact we are still waiting for the 2017 La Gloria Cubana Britanicas Extra but we are still hoping it will arrive this year so it’s only 2 years late 🙂 The good news is we will actually receive the El Rey del Mundo La Reina 2018 UK Regional Edition next month! I’m looking forward to the launch event on the 1st July and stock available at our La Casa del Habano Chester on the 2nd of July with stocks on C.Gars websites and Turmeaus shops a few days later.

The Lancero sized cigars will be presented in numbered cabinets of 24 cigars and availability is expected to be fairly limited initially as our importers H&F wait for deliveries from Cuba. I was one of the lucky cigar specialists to be on the tasting panel at Hunters & Frankau and have also tried out the finished product a few weeks ago at our London offices. The cigars I understand were roiled at El Laguito and they are as good as we hoped they would be, well worth the wait!

We have a full schedule of tasting events across Turmeaus shops. Check them out on this link. I’m looking forward to the Drew Estate event on the 16th July at Turmeaus- Liverpool as it will be the pre–release of the Drew Estate Orchant Seleccion range with Johnathan Drew as our guest of honour! Book up fast as this will be a very popular event.

It’s been a London office week for me so far (though I’m off to Turmeaus Knutsford tomorrow) and the schedule included an excellent event in the Long Room at Lords for the Tobacco Trade Charity lunch. Guest speaker was Henry Blofield OBE. I know less than zero about any sport, but I’m sure it was very interesting for cricket fans though, the Belgian chap sitting next to me seemed a bit confused about what it was all about! Retailer of the year award went to Gauntleys of Nottingham… well done chaps 🙂 Paresh Patel of Havana House did his usual excellent job as Chairman and a great time was had by all.

I bumped into just about everyone in the UK cigar trade and it was good to catch up with Steve Johnstone from Robert Graham Ltd. He has the most insane event coming up – check it out on this link should be amazing!!!

My thanks to Tor imports for the invite, we had a great table and a lot of laughs together 🙂

I moved on to Turmeaus Mayfair to sample a Quai 54 paired up with some Mulata 15yo which worked very well. On release I didn’t reckon the Quai but they are smoking like a dream now, tons of flavour and very light on strength. Just what I love as a day time smoke, Mulata 15 year old has to be the best value Cuban rum available and its perfect with this cigar. Next stop was The Garden Room at The Lanesborough for smokes and supper 🙂 Cuaba Salamones, Partagas Salamones and a Serie P No. 2 with a glass or two of Chablis and a Glendronach to finish the evening. All in a day’s work…

Our Summer Auction catalogue will be online tomorrow. I think this will be our largest auction sale with over 450 Lots being sold on the 23rd June. A very impressive catalogue to say the least. Some breath-taking Havanas from the 1960’s as well as Pre-Embargo and a fair quantity of Davidoff, Dunhill and other delightfully rare Havanas.

Peaceful puffing,

Mitchell

An Oldie But a Goldie!

I remember when I started selling Havana cigars back in the mid 1990’s like it was yesterday (time flies when you’re enjoing yourself!) and I would receive non stop requests for Partagas SD No. 4, Montecristo No. 2 and Romeo Belicosos.

Problem was that these three cigars were in very short supply and H&F didn’t want to supply a young upstart like me with too many of them, understandably so. In fairness they did give me small and regular allocation but it was never enough to satisfy the demand. As fast as they came in my clients ordered them. I even imported them from all over Europe in an attempt to satisfy demand and build the business.

Things of course changed over the years and  allocations grew as C.Gars grew into the giant in the UK cigar trade that it is today. Fortunately we don’t have supply issues on these three cigars anymore and their quality is generally very consistent. The one that is interesting to me is the Romeo Belicosos because it was insanely in demand in the 1990’s but seems to have fallen out of favour thereafter. I’m not quite sure why… It could be that the blend went a bit ‘off’ from 2000 – 2005, but then so many others were also off during the same time period. It could be that so many new sizes were introduced and it just wasn’t sexy anymore; (although Bolivar Belicosos remain ever popular).

Over the last year I have noticed a lot more interest in this cigar. I have been sampling them on and off but they have now gone back into my daily rotation as the blend is right back to 100% form. This is truly an old style Romeo blend with a layer of sweetness and cedar throughout. They are exceptionally well constructed with an excellent draw. The wrappers are a smooth Colorado shade and for a medium strength campana format I think they are quite a stunning smoking experience.

I’ve been smoking the Romeo Belicosos during the days over the bank holiday weekend and finishing with my favourite Bolivar Belicosos in the evenings. The weather has been surprisingly good (doesn’t it always rain on bank hols?!) so it’s been a garden herfing and car herfing few days 🙂 I could get used to three day weekends…

I paired up the smokes with some Stalla Dhu Saorsa (Freedom) and a few drops of water to open it up. A perfect combo! I’m sure this single cask exclusive whisky will win some international awards this year to add the the multiple awards we have won for others in the Stalla Dhu range.

I’m heading to Turmeaus Liverpool on Tuesday and Turmeaus Late Hour Cigar Shop & Sampling Lounge in the evening for an Avo cigar and Amrut whiskey sampling event followed by dinner and jazz at Puffin’ Rooms. If you’re in town, come and join me for a memorable evening at the best venue in the North!

Back to the London office late Wednesday to close off the Summer auction catalogue. Looks like we won’t be far off 500 Lots making it the largest stock we have ever offered at auction. Lots of interesting bits and pieces, one of the reasons I love the auction business as every sale is so different… from inexpensive sample packs of a few aged cigars though to mega rare and expensive humidors and rare cabinets.

There was a great article in the Robb Report last week which featured none other than yours truly. There’s a bit of info on which cigars I enjoy and a few other tips. Check it out here.

I’m often asked what are the future classics and good investments. Realistically it’s hard to have a crystal ball and obviously we are not investment advisers. Cigars should be bought for smoking pleasure in the first instance always. I can’t help but think that Bolivar Super Coronas look like a good long term hold. A limited edition that’s already 5 years old as they are from 2014, a very decent smoke and they look like good value to me.

Businesses these days seem to live or die by review sites. I know Karyn and I use a few of them like TripAdvisor and TrustPilot for just about everything. We put TrustPilot on the website a couple of months ago and it’s good to see that we have excellent ratings and reviews. We also have around 5,000 great reviews directly on our website. If you have enjoyed our products and customer experience we are always grateful for reviews. If you have not… email me personally on sales@cgarsltd.co.uk.

Have a smokey week,

Peaceful puffing,

Mitchell

 

NYC Herfing

Just back from a herfing visit to New York City 🙂 lucky enough to have 5 very sunny days and just a couple of rather wet London style days, but fortunately NYC is very cigar friendly with no shortage of indoor smoking lounges.

My morning smoke was at Davidoff on 6th Avenue (previously De La Concha) where Kevin the manager made me feel very welcome indeed. I herfed a variety of Davidoff 702 and Winston Churchill as well as Avo cigars over the week that were all as good as they are in the UK 🙂

I also visited Grand Havana Room, Nat Sherman , Club Macanudo, Carnegie Club and Hudson Bar and Books… like I said, no shortage of great places to smoke or great pals to herf with. I herfed through Davidoff mainly as well as Padron and Fuente cigars. Splendid week and I can’t wait to visit again. Thanks to all my ‘Rat Pack’ herfing crew for such a brilliant week. More photos in the gallery below.

Back to the very sunny UK and a 300 mile round trip in the car to Turmeaus -Norfolk for a Team meeting. Perfect roof down car herfing weather with Romeo Wide Churchills (a very good return to blending form for these splendid cigars) and H. Upmann Magnum 54’s (wow… whatta smoke, the Mag 54’s have in fact really turned into super smokes now)

Apart for a couple of flags to be installed at the front of our HQ we are finally completed with this expansion with the last major job of air conditioning in the building having been completed last week. Just in time for the good weather (hopefully).

We enjoyed a whisky tasting of our Stalla Dhu Saorsa (Freedom) paired up to a cigar sampling of Juan Lopez Seleccion Superba, the 2016 UK regional edition, with Sean and Tim from Hunters & Frankau. The choice for the pairing worked very well, good timing too as the Juan Lopez are almost sold out. We hope to have our long awaited next UK regional edition in the next 6 weeks (give or take!)

Finished the week with a herf with a crowd of my London smoking chums with a BBQ herf where I treated myself to a Montecristo Gran Reserva… and it really smoked a treat!

Taking it easy this week at the London C.Gars office putting the finishing touches on to our Summer Aged, Rare & Vintage Cigar Auction. This will be a huge sale with over 400 Lots of aged, rare, mature, limited edition, Davidoff, Dunhill and Pre embargo cigars. All brands, sizes, vintage going back to the 1950’s and price ranges for all collectors pockets.

Have a smokey week

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

 

Havanas Back on Form?

Per the subject line, my feeling is that Havanas are really and truly… and finally, back on form, after a few years where blending and tobacco quality was something of a hit and miss affair, or should I just say; when they are good, they are great. And when they are not…

I sample quite a few cigars over the course of a day, so I’m in a fairly unique position to get a good handle on quality in general. Whilst my favourite cigars have always been, and still are, Bolivar Belicosos and Montecristo No. 2, I do sample just about everything. As an example over the last week I have tested out (multiple quantity as you can’t tell from one cigar in isolation) the following regular production Havanas:

Romeo Short Churchills
Bolivar Royal Coronas
Ramon Allones Specially Selected
H. Upmann Majestics
Por Larranaga Petit Coronas
Partagas SD No. 4, 5 and 6
Romeo Petit Royales
Cohiba Siglo VI

In terms of tobacco quality and blending they were all quite excellent. The only two cigars that I find consistently disappointing in terms of construction are the Partagas SD No. 6 and Romeo Petit Royales.  I don’t know why but these cigars always seem to burn down the side in the case of the D6 or be utterly over packed with no draw in the case of the Royales. I use my DuPont lighter to correct the D6 constantly (frustrating) and my PerfecDraw to sort out the Royales. I can’t understand what the issue with these cigars is and it’s been ongoing. It’s a shame as I love these smaller smokes. The size is great for a quick 20 minute herfette, so I’m hoping that QC improves on these in the near future.

The other cigars, without exception, were just about perfect in terms of blend integrity, construction and appearance, so it looks like we are back into good times for Havanas generally. We do still get quite a few cigars with very fragile wrapper leaf and it’s easy to get a minor foot split but that disappears fast when the foot is lit, so I’m not overly bothered. All part of the game.

I’ve also been sampling my way through the new Montecristo Coleccion Habanos Book. Just as well as our first allocation has already sold out. These really are something special. Bit of a time commitment though!

Havanas still the best smokes? Well it’s subjective realistically as there is so much first rate choice in the New World cigar ranges these days. It’s a bit like asking yourself do you prefer a Diet Coke of Diet Sprite? Sometimes you want one, or the other, or a variety. I think variety is best and perhaps sharpens up the palate too.

I visited Turmeaus Late Hour Cigar Shop & Sampling Lounge last week and sampled the Davidoff 2019 Limited Edition. I had smoked this 2 weeks prior and thought the blend was quite stunning so I wanted to try another one to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. It wasn’t! This is one very specially blended cigar. Truly one of the best New World cigars I have ever enjoyed and the presentation is outstanding, it’s literally a travel humidor, and a very classy one at that.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get much better from Davidoff they bring out another winner!!! The Davidoff Robusto Real Especiales. This cigar does what was thought to be impossible before; it uses 7 different leaves in the blend! I highly recommend trying one of these just to see the level of complexity they create. Unheard of and previously unimaginable. Superb quality and flavour, flawless every single time.

The next morning I started the day with a Davidoff Orchant Seleccion Lancero… now that was something special 🙂

I’m working on extending the Alec Bradley Orchant Seleccion range of cigars which will include new sizes and small pack packaging. These cigars are specially made for me at the Raices factory in Honduras and I absolutely love them. They are full flavoured, sweet but light to medium strength. Construction is first rate and they are so popular I can’t seem to import them fast enough! They’re a super good value cigar that is consistently first rate quality.

Our whisky department goes from strength to strength and as the range increases week in and week out, the prices just keep getting better. In fact we guarantee best prices in the UK. Check out some of the specials here.

If you haven’t tried my Cigar Malt yet, grab a bottle of this international award winner and try a dram or two with your favourite premium cigar, the pairing combination is stunning. We also recently introduced it in a 20cl presentation.

Our  multi-award winning Stalla Dhu range of single malt whisky is as popular as ever and we will be bottling another 2 or 3 incredible casks before the Summer. My favourite is the Ben Nevis, but i think this will be sold out very soon! ( as I’m drinking too much of it!)

I can honestly say we are finally at the end of the C.Gars HQ and Turmeaus Norfolk project with the imaging completed and air conditioning being installed in the building this week. (JIT for Summer!) The finishing touches always seem to take forever but it’s worth the wait. The shop and sampling lounge are magnificent and our Norfolk and Suffolk customers seem to be enjoying the experience of visiting this Mecca for cigar/whisky/pipe aficionados. Can’t wait for my next visit.

I’m heading off to New York to visit some of the great cigar shops and lounges and herf with friends. Full report on my return!

Peaceful puffing,

Mitchell

Easter Herfing!

Happy Easter / Chag Sameach… whatever you are celebrating, I hope you had a smokey weekend 🙂 I certainly did, whilst enjoying the glorious sunshine which makes a change for a bank holiday weekend! It’s usually an utter washout on BH Monday but I just car herfed a D5 with the temperature gauge showing 25c!

It’s been a busy few weeks (as ever) at the world of C.Gars with a few trips round the empire including La Casa del Habano Chester, Turmeaus Norfolk and Liverpool and Puffin’ Rooms Liverpool. Judging by the huge increase in sales last week everyone had a smokey Easter weekend planned.

Our La Casa del Habano is crammed with Havanas including all the LCDH specials and latest releases including the magnificent El Rey del Mundo Imperio Antique Replica Series Humidor and Montecristo Coleccion Habanos Book. We also have stocks of many of the older releases. Quite a treasure trove of goodies for the Havana cigar aficionado. No fear if you’re into New World cigars as we have a gigantic range in the walk in humidor just next door at Turmeaus… and for the whisky fan we have a magnificent range in the Turmeaus Whisky Shop.

I relaxed (I mean worked!) in the La Casa lounge for a few hours with a couple of drams of Stalla Dhu whilst sampling my current favourite: Hoyo Elegantes. This has to be the best blended Hoyo in years, truly a sweet complex blend that leaves you wanting a second one as soon as the first is finished.

Over to Puffin’ Rooms for some dinner and jazz featuring Matt Shaw who was brilliant… as was supper (there goes my diet) and finishing the evening off with a sampling of Davidoff 2019 Limited Edition paired up with Stalla Dhu Ben Nevis. I reckon this is one of the top 5 cigars I have ever smoked. It was simply sublime from the start to the finish. The flavour development was incredible. A real experience.

Still awfully sad about Simon Chase passing it was good to see Jemma and Sean from H&F at the office to talk about some of our memories of this great man. We sampled the El Rey del Mundo La Reina with a bottle of 2009 Dom Perignon in his honour. We hope to have the new UK RE on our shelves in June.

Davidoff invited me on their table for a splendid evening at Boisdale Canary Wharf featuring Nick Ferrari of LBC interviewing Charlie Sheen. Super cocktails and smokes on the terrace, first rate dinner as always and the best of company. Who could ask for more.

Our sampling event program is crammed full. If you would like to experience the C.Gars life, it’s worth making the trek to our events. The best of cigar sampling paired up with the finest libations. Checkout what’s going at our cigar and spirits tasting events here.

In between herfing around the country I’ve been busy listing Lots for our Summer Online Cigar Auction. Looks like another huge auction with over 250 Lots already listed at this early stage so I reckon it could go well beyond our target 350 Lots. A good selection of mature, aged and rare. Something for everyone and no doubt a few bargains to be found.

I also decided to release some of our Directors reserve including some first rate aged Cohiba Behike, Partagas Lusitanias Gran Reserva and Montecristo No. 2 Gran Reserva. Truly the best from Havana. For more details drop me an email at sales@cgarsltd.co.uk. C.Gars has always maintained a rather breath taking Directors Reserva where we lay down interesting Havanas every year for later release. So much so, that we have actually run out of space! It’s great to be able to make cigars available that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Havana supply has improved somewhat with stocks of Cohiba Lancero, Coronas Especiales and Siglo VI making a meaningful reappearance. The absence of Siglo VI for so long seems to have created so much demand for Piramides Extra that these cigars are now out of stock! I expect everyone is now returning to Siglo VI which thankfully are superior quality from the cigars I have tested recently.

This week I’m heading to Turmeaus Norfolk for a board meeting and Marketing Team presentation. I understand we have some very exciting new promotions this quarter. It looks like our Cigar Subscription Service is fast becoming madly popular too. I’ll post up some photos of the latest improvements at Norfolk on Facebook. The premises are really amazing and quite beautiful. I reckon my customers in Norfolk are very happy to say the least!

The success of our Inka Secret Blend brand of cigars from Peru seems to be never ending and remains our best-selling New World cigar. I’m looking forward to meeting Gennaro, from Tabacalera del Oriente who make the cigars for me, at the office for a smoke on Thursday. Popular sizes, easy going blend at unbeatable prices.

For our pipe clients, we reckon we now have the largest range of pipes and pipe tobacco in the UK and of course we have the best prices in the UK. We are literally adding pipes to the online range every day.

Righto… heading back to my deckchair in the garden to chill with another Hoyo Elegantes 🙂

Have a smokey week,

Peaceful puffing,

Mitchell