Trains, Planes and Automobiles!

I actually manage to amuse myself by how much work I can do over the course of a week, in fact I can still tear around like I did 20 years ago and more important – I still enjoy every minute of every day. ‘Not bad for an old boy’ I hear some of my friends saying 🙂

walk-in_davidoff_humidor_cambridgeSo, my week started on Sunday with a visit to our gorgeous Robert Graham shop in Cambridge where Davidoff have just installed a sooper dooper new walk in humidor adjacent to the sampling lounge.

I spent half a day merchandising the humidor with a delightful range of premium cigars, hopefully our customers will agree it’s a step up from the last version of the walk in humidor. Needless to say, I was sampling Davidoff Nicaraguan Toro’s whilst merchandizing the humidor 🙂 We will be stocking an extensive range of our favourite Davidoff cigars over the next week or so. In fact outside of the lovely Davidoff shop in central London, this will be the best range in the UK.

Our Cambridge shop has a mouth-watering range of premium cigars, pipe tobaccos, single malt whisky wine and champagne and chocolates as well as a super helpful retail Team headed up by Cailin Morrison (my Partner Ron’s son) I’m looking forward to organizing some great Davidoff cigars tastings in March.

Monday and I zoomed off to Italy for the day. I searched for a particular restaurant that I had heard has a comfortable outdoor smoking area but the taxi couldn’t find it! So I stopped at another restaurant with an outside seating area but after 4 attempts at lighting the patio heaters, the staff gave up as they realised all the gas bottles were empty!

They then very kindly invited us to enjoy lunch with our cigars inside the restaurant. I reckon that was very nice of them as well as super illegal/breaking the smoking ban so I won’t mention the name of the restaurant… But I will go there again in future! We smoked our way through some 1986 Davidoff Dom Perignon paired up with a couple of bottles of Ruinart Rose to celebrate a very successful business transaction.

Wednesday and it was time to head up North by Virgin trains to visit Turmeaus cigar shops in Liverpool and Chester. First class is rather civilized on the train and there’s Wi-Fi on-board which is pretty fast so I thought great opportunity to do some site testing on the new iPad… Only to find that my website is blocked for inappropriate content by Virgin! Shock! Horror! Don’t they know that cigars are a legal product?!?! How ridiculous.

I decided it would be a ‘Cohiba day’ and smoked a robusto, Siglo IV and Genios whilst visiting the Turmeaus shops. I love the contrast between the modern Liverpool Turmeaus shop and the very traditional Turmeaus Chester shop. Both have a comprehensive range of premium cigars, pipe tobaccos and plenty of accessories.

And yes… You are welcome to sample in store and chat to the very knowledgeable staff including my lovely Liverpool Manageress who started in cigar retail with me many years ago and Calum in Chester who is one of the few cigar specialist in the UK who has passed his Master of Cigars exam! Calum’s a very bright chap and terribly enthusiastic about cigars so we are sending him on some additional training to Havana next month with kind assistance of UK importers Hunters & Frankau.

I also bumped in to another Calum in Chester – the young Gentleman who sprung for the £40,000 Regius cigar. Calum has just returned from Nicaragua where special Regius cigars were blended and made to his own taste and specification. I really should plan on a trip to Nicaragua sometime soon.

Herfing in HamburgThursday and I was heading back to the airport for a long day at our Hamburg La Casa del Habano. I smoked Bolivar 109’s with Christoph and bumped into one of my earliest herfing chums Keith (Cap’n Keith) who was also in Town for a few hours. We managed to squish in a bottle of Champagne whilst chatting about business so it’s fair to say a rather good day was had by all 🙂

This week’s raspberry goes to the stupid politicians who are wasting their time and no doubt our money by trying to legislate to ban smoking in cars where children are passengers. A law that would not be possible to govern and manage and are people really so thick as to smoke with children in the car?!

We are very busy planning of our next auction which will be a huge online auction with over 250 Lots expected to be listed and sold on the Online Auction website… Think of it as a sort of cBay instead of eBay! We have a wonderful variety of Lots entered including Davidoff, Dunhill, Pre embargo, aged, rare, mature and limited edition. We also have some interesting singles selections and part boxes so there’s something for everyone’s budget that you won’t find in your local cigar shop!

Time to chill out for a quiet weekend and kick back with some decent Ailein Mor single malt and a box of La Flor de Cano Gran Cano UK regional edition smokes 🙂

Have a great weekend,

Peaceful puffing,

Mitchell

C.Gars Car Smoking Ban Cartoon

Te Quiero Davidoff!

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Well the good news is that I have just about survived the week in the office whilst Michelle has been very busy sunning herself in Havana. 🙂

By all accounts and the nonstop photo’s she has been taunting me with, she’s had a wonderful time. Mish has visited El Laguito (the Cohiba factory) as well as Pinar del Rio, she has partied at Tropicana and herfed her way through just about every cigar shop in Havana. Throw in a Daiquiri or two at Floridita and it’s fair to say…it’s been a good trip. But oh boy…do I ever miss her as do many of her clients who were not happy speaking to me and only wanted the lovely Michelle!

The bad news is that Michelle won’t be able to see her desk for the paperwork when she returns lol.

Gloomy weather in London this week but I’ll be off to California in a couple of weeks’ time and am looking forward to some good sunshine herfing with friends.

Camden-20140122-00039Not too much time for herfing this week with Michelle out of the office but did manage to sneak in an office herf last night with my regular smoking chums, Dov, Tim and Nick (you’ll recognize Nick as he’s the ‘face of C.Gars’ and appears on just about every page of the website – handsome devil!). Yes, professional model Nick Shaw is a cigar smoker and one of our chums. 🙂

We spent the late afternoon/evening enjoying cash strength Treasurer single malts from the Robert Graham range. Including Deanston 1994 and Aucroisk 1996. Both whiskies were exceptionally good and matched up with some outrageously good and well matured Partagas SD No. 4 Reserva and Cohiba Seleccion Reserva Robustos. Both cigars have matured to perfection and were delightful smokes. Fair to say a great evening was had by all.

So the subject of this week’s blog is I love Davidoff J, not only do I love the cigars (especially the Nicaraguan range and the Puro D’Oro range) but it’s also such a pleasure working in partnership with Davidoff. Regular clients at our Robert Graham – Cambridge shop will be most impressed to see the new Davidoff walk in humidor that has just been installed as it looks quite breathtakingly beautiful.

Due to much demand we will be substantially increasing the range of Davidoff cigars available in Cambridge over the coming weeks.

Not content to strop there, the jolly nice folks at Davidoff are now in the process of installing some magnificent cigar humidor cabinets at the front of the new and rather huge Robert Graham shop in Glasgow to ensure that we can offer our clients a most comprehensive range of Davidoff cigars.

CAM00202Apologies to our Inka-Secret Blend clients who have been disappointed that some of their favourite sizes have sold out but don’t worry I have another 50,000 cigars about to land in the UK so all sizes will be back on the shelves as such very soon. We just struggle to keep up with the popularity of this range. Should I be surprised?! Unbelievable value and a superb sweet, rich blend 100% made by hand in Peru.

I’m racing through to our lovely Turmeaus cigar shops in Liverpool and Chester next week and hope to bump in to some of our regular clients whilst there. Looking forward to putting together some great cigar tasting evenings as soon as the weather turns a little milder.

Turmeaus Tobacconist - Liverpool

Can’t keep up with the Havana cigar sales these days, popularity of some of the new cigars like H Upmann Connoisseur A, Partagas Gran Reserva and Hoyo Grand Epicure to name a few have overwhelmed us and supply has been very tight. Fear not as our friends at importer Hunters and Frankau tell me they do expect some more stocks to arrive in the near future, we will keep you all posted.

More Regius – Turmeaus Limited Edition Robustos and Culebras now released. Unbeatable quality and value premium Nicaraguan cigars. Buy them while you can!

We are expecting (due to popular demand) this year’s Alec Bradley Filthy Hooligans (love the name!)…if you subscribe to the newsletter, you get priority of course. These sold out in days last year……you have been warned!

Have a smokey weekend

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

guide5

Home Alone!

Well that’s it… Michelle is off for a week to sunny Havana with her husband Harry whilst I am left to run the business or at least pretend to know what I am doing!

It’s very, very quiet in the office without Michelle, goodness knows she rarely stops talking 🙂 Oh well will have to cope as best I can, I just don’t know what I will do without Mishie fussing around me as I am sort of spoilt, well actually very spoilt! It starts off in the mornings with Michelle selecting cigars that I need to sample throughout the long days we work at the office, continues with espresso’s appearing on my desk every hour or so and of course any serious and complicated business issues – yup, she takes care of all of that too!

Michelle is staying at the Hotel Nacional, visiting Pinar del Rio and hopefully getting a factory tour as well. No doubt she’ll be herfing in all of my favourite cigar lounges and getting a bit of well-deserved sunshine as well.

Thinking about it, I can’t wait till the Festival next month. A celebration of the brands of Partagas, Hoyo, Trinidad and Upmann attended by around 2000 cigar aficionados from around the world.

new_cgars_siteWe’re still working 24 hours a day to finish off our new website which is looking rather swish may I say and by the time you read this blog it will be live 🙂 Very Grateful for any feedback as we have been working on this website and its functionality and features for ages so the feedback will be very helpful.

Popped into the lovely Wellesley hotel cigar terrace with friends on Wednesday evening and herfed our way through a couple of BHK56’s which were perfection.

I’m on a new year’s diet (as usual) so kept off the cocktails and opted for a glass of Chablis which paired up nicely with the Cohiba cigars. I reckon I should publish my new diet ‘The Chablis and Cohiba Diet’ no fat/vegetarian/low calorie… And guaranteed to make you happy as well as slimmer! Then I’ll come out with a DVD to cash in on the concept 🙂

Scott from Tor popped into Turmeaus shops in Chester and Liverpool this week and I hear he’s planning some more cigars tasting evenings in March. Hopefully I’ll be able to get over there for them. Tor have some of the best-selling brands in the UK including Padron, Oliva and Alec Bradley to name a few.

It always amazes me how different countries have completely different cigar smoking culture. This week I had clients from Japan and Hong Kong visiting the office. The Japanese Gentlemen told me there’s no smoking ban in Japan (bravo) and he smokes just about everywhere including his home. The gentleman from Honk Kong told me they have a fairly similar smoking ban in Hong Kong as the UK and whilst he smokes at home, he only smokes on his balcony. An American client who popped in told me that despite having a rather large home he would not dream of smoking at home and only smokes outside (not much fun in Winter!) and even more sadly he doesn’t want to upset his kids so he has stopped smoking cigars in his car.

Not sure if I am unique but I always thought an Englishman’s home is his castle and I enjoy nothing better than a cigar and a single malt by the roaring fire in my lounge at home, I also enjoy smoking a cigar in my car as my Twitter followers no doubt know! Fortunately we have quite a few splendid cigar terraces in London and comfortable outside smoking areas around the country too, so I am never too far away from a relaxing  and tasty cigar.

I like having a cigar in the garden when weather permits so I’m building a sort of herfing area complete with summer house, fire pit and rocking chairs for when my cigar smoking chums come over to herf in the Spring and Summer. Will put some photos on the blog when it’s completed in a few weeks’ time. Should be pretty cool.

There’s some daft consultation happening about the ‘standardized packaging’ of tobacco that’s proposed for the UK. Fairly certain that none of the studies have ever concluded that plain packaging reduces smoking so it’s all a bit of a waste of time.

Obviously its aimed at cigarettes but sadly cigars and pipe tobacco get tarred with the same brush.

My MP emailed me about the consultation and I replied asking what his views were. He politely replied (this is the short version) that he really didn’t have a view but was waiting for the results in the report but pointed out the dangers of children smoking etc. etc. blah blah blah. So, much as I’m sure it’s a waste of time, I did reply to him pointing out that my concerns were for cigars and pipe tobacco and children really don’t pop in to my cigars shops and say ‘Gimme a Montecristo Guv’ in fact children aren’t even allowed in my cigar shops.

I can’t help but think that our MP’s must have more important issues to debate and legislate? Illegal drugs would be a good starter as they seem to be in the news all the time. Then perhaps the homeless issue, the economy and no doubt many other serious issues. But what do I know?

I’m starting to put together our next Online Auction catalogues which is scheduled for February. Lots entered will be live on this Online Auction website in a few weeks’ time. Seems that everyone loves the auction of the cigars whether online or offline as we are getting tons of emails from clients asking when the next sale will be… Not long to go.

Have a smokey weekend,

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

Taste Testing Week!

Nice to get back to routine (if my life is ever routine!) after the crazy holiday season 🙂 And clearly a lot of humidors were emptied and enjoyed, judging by the order volume over the last week. So my thanks for all the orders and keeping our shops and offices busier than ever!

I am amazed at the gain in popularity of New World cigars and our clients seem to show more interest in trying out new regions and new brands/sizes all the time.

Some of the recent releases that have been hugely popular include: 

Popular Non-Cuban Cigars for 2014

Charatan 21st anniversary – 21 cigars from Nicaragua at £185. A cracking short fat full flavoured cigar

Alec Bradley Mundial – One of my favourites 20 delicious premium cigars for £189.

Regius Robusto – Limited Turmeaus Edition, 10 Nicaraguan cigars for under £80 quid a box which are tremendous value

Davidoff Nicaraguan Toro – These ain’t cheap but they are a great smoke and selling like mad.

It’s great that smokers are expanding their horizons. Quality of the above brands is quite excellent and I can’t remember a complaint about blend or draw but I do get a lot of emails (thank you) from clients who are very pleased with the quality as well as the massive range we carry.

I think we must have the largest range of premium cigars in the UK. Essentially if its imported into the UK – we have it in our warehouse for rapid mail order delivery as well as comprehensive ranges in our retail cigars stores across the UK.

My partner Ron from Robert Graham was down from Scotland this week as we had to do some serious whisky sampling from our ever changing and expanding range of whisky.Hoebeg Award Winning Single Malt Whisky

We now have award winning core range including:

Hoebeg – Our best selling Islay single malt
Ailein Mor – Our best selling Highland single malt
Caerban – A delicious vatted malt

Next we have our inspired series of single cask Dancing Stag, bottled at 46%. These casks yield around 300 numbered bottles and obviously can never be repeated when sold out.

Finally we have our Treasurer Selection range of cask strength single malts

Checkout the current range on this link.

Ron and I herfed with friends Dov and Joe at the lovely Bulgari Hotel (Edward Sahakian cigar lounge) and smoked our way through quite a few Cohiba BHK 54’s followed by Partagas P2’s until well… rather late. We paired up the cigars with a bottle of 30 year old Fettercairn which worked very well indeed.

The Bulgari is a perfect herfing venue. Perfect service, great food, very comfortable – who could ask for more?

Hard week in the office for me next week as Michelle is heading to Havana and I’m starting to put together catalogue for our next online Auction in February expecting a good range of limited edition, aged and rare, reserva and gran reserva to be entered. For more details drop me an email sales@cgarsltd.co.uk

Have a smokey weekend,

Peaceful puffing,

Mitchell

Happy New Year!

A very happy new year to all friends of C.Gars, Turmeaus and Robert Graham 🙂

There was a really weird  if not bizarre article in the Financial Times about cigar smoking declining in the UK and dying out by 2026 a couple of days ago. My first though was great… I can set up a retirement date as that would make me around 61 years old 🙂 but then I thought nahhhh!… What on earth would I do with my time, it’s not as if I play golf lol.

So dear blog reader, I decided to do a little actual research as it seemed that the writer of the article had not done his research accurately (if at all!) Basic research would have suggested that he may get some more accurate feel for the industry by contacting C.Gars Ltd. As retailers both online and in our cigar stores we should have a good handle on whether the premium cigar industry is declining, surely?

I asked my marketing department for some stats relating to our business. Now you may think that the stats are only relevant to my businesses but by my reckoning we are the largest cigar specialist in the UK and whilst I think we are also the best cigar specialist, the reality is that if we are doing well and our sales are increasing, our contemporaries and competitors in the UK are also likely to be experiencing something fairly similar.

Well… The FT article partially blamed the smoking ban for their theory that cigar smoking is declining and will die out by 2026 but my Marketing Team stats show that our sales have increased more or less 20% annually since 2007 which would rubbish the FT article completely. We have opened new specialist cigars stores in Edinburgh, London West Hampstead, London Mayfair and Cambridge as well as relocated to better premises in Liverpool and Glasgow. Hardly any sign of a declining business or industry

Perhaps the writer of the article never bothered to visit any of the fabulous cigar terraces in London or elsewhere in the UK that always seem to be exceptionally busy when I visit them for a scotch and a smoke or two on just about any evening of the week. If the demand wasn’t there why would these businesses invest so much money in providing the facility? My favourites include: Boisdale, Ten Manchester Street, The Wellesley, The Bulgari, The Ritz  and the Lanesbourogh (now closed for refurb) to name a few.

Perhaps cigarette smoking is declining? I don’t know and I couldn’t care less as it’s a different business to the cigar trade. That said perhaps cigarette smoking is declining due to the whopping UK taxes and the huge amount of smuggling that I am guessing goes on?

But let’s get back to cigars and how the industry has, and is, changing and evolving. I should know as I have been in the cigar trade longer than most in the UK. Well, when I started in the 1990’s, the main premium cigar market was always Havana cigars and in fact it still is. But, the market for New World cigars (Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Peru etc.) has steadily grown over the last decade and I would say is going through something of a mini boom. We are not selling any less Havanas, in fact we are selling more, so who on earth is buying the New World cigars? You guessed it, it’s a younger generation of cigars smokers who want to experience cigars from all different New World brands as well as try Havana cigars.

Inka Secret Blend PacksBrands like Davidoff, Alec Bradley, Inka – Secret Blend and Regius to name a few, are growing in sales for us literally month by month. Novice cigar smokers aren’t afraid to try new cigars and experienced cigars smokers are also ‘mixing it up’ with their Havanas too.

I had a phone call on New Year’s Eve from a journalist from The Times newspaper who had seen the FT article and wanted to do her own article and get some information from me. Here’s the article which seems to reflect a more accurate picture. Well done to The Times newspaper

No need to panic then! I’m not retiring any time soon and despite what barmy legislation our successive anti-smoking obsessed governments may throw at us, I can’t honestly believe it makes any difference to the cigar smoker.

I’m no expert on the planned changes in legislation (I stopped worrying about this years ago!) but understand that our lovely cigar shops have to cover up any window displays from next year so we don’t show any tobacco products… OK – c’est la vie – so we will fill window displays with whisky instead. Will it stop anyone from popping in to their favourite cigar shop to buy their usual Montecristo or Davidoff to enjoy? I think not!

Then the news goes on and on about ‘plain packaging’ yes – no – yes – maybe. Who bloody knows! No really helpful data of consequence regarding effects on cigar smokers has ever been produced nor is it likely to. Like I say I have no idea about cigarettes – that’s a different business but I dare say it’s a law that should never happen to premium cigars and heaven forbid it does it still won’t make a jot of difference to the cigar smoker

Don’t read this as a rant, I find it all very amusing that lawmakers go on and on about bans and packaging and can’t help to think that perhaps they should be worrying and applying themselves more to real problems such as drugs and homeless people. Surely they are more serious issues. Isn’t this the UK? The country of cigar chomping Winston Churchill? And a democracy last time I looked where people should still enjoy a moiety of freedom of choice for cigar smoking which is of course a very legal product.

Our most popular cigars for 2013 included:

Cubans

Montecristo No. 4 Cigar - Box of 25Montecristo No. 4 (no surprise there… heehee)
Montecristo Edmundo and Petit Edmundo
Romeo Short Churchills
Cohiba Robusto and Siglo VI as well as the new Piramides Extra which is hugely popular
Partagas SD No. 4 and Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2 – our two most popular Robustos
Ramon Allones Specially Selected and Bolivar Royal Coronas – making a strong challenge to the two robustos above
Cohiba BHK52 and 54 – more popular than we would ever have imagined
Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure Especial – a surprise newcomer in our best seller list
Bolivar Belicosos – always a firm favourite for the campana smoker and always superior quality from C.Gars ltd as our stock is all 6 years + matured

Can you see a trend? Well, a bit of a trend at the very least – short and fat smokes, big volumes of flavour from large ring gauges. 40 minute + smokes

New World

Arturo Fuente Opus X Robusto Cigars – Box of 29Fuente – fabulous range, something for everyone. Superior quality without any doubt
Inka – Secret Blend – need I say more ?!
Davidoff Nicaraguan – storming off the shelves
Alec Bradley – great value and superior quality Mundial range is a huge hit with our customers and the Fine and Rare range isn’t too shabby either
Regius – popular since the day we launched and uber popular with the addition of the Turmeaus limited edition Robustos and Culebras
Torano regular range as well as the C.Gars Seleccion robustos and petit coronas – could this be the best value premium cigar available? It’s a good contender that’s for sure.

We finished 2013 as our best year ever so my thanks to my Team at C.Gars London and Norfolk as well as our retail Teams at Robert Graham and Turmeaus shops. My thanks to our fabulous suppliers for all their support but most of all my thanks to our 40,000 regular UK customers (up from 32,000 previous year)

I’m looking forward to an even busier 2014. More range and more special release cigars, perhaps an auction or two and perhaps a new cigar & whisky shop or two. As ever, it will be an exciting year… That’s for sure 🙂

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

C.Gars New Years Cigar Cartoon