Trains, Planes and Automobiles!

I hope everyone enjoyed the Easter/Passover break… I know I did 🙂 Armed with a rather large baggie of smokes to top up my home humidor the scene was set for some serious herfing! To name a few cigars:

Bolivar Belicosos 2007 – the best  vintage since the early 1990’s , think sweet, sweet, sweet and complex tobacco flavours.

Ramon Allones Petit Belicosos – UK regional edition – this cigar has matured to perfection with rich, bold full spicy flavours.

Punch Serie D’Oro No. 1 – UK regional edition – truly my favourite of all the regional editions I have tried ( and that’s a lot!) one for the connoisseur.

Partagas SD No. 4 2013 – darkest maduro wrapper leaf, aesthetically perfect with a return to form for this cigar in terms of a true Partagas blend.

Saint Luis Rey Serie A cabinet selection 2001 – not a good vintage in general but 13 years age on this puppy has done it a power of good and they are smoking like a dream.

Davidoff Puro D’Oro Gorditos – for a change of pace. I love this range of cigars. Unique in character, strong yet smooth and satisfying.

Inka – Secret Blend Robustos (rojo red) – handmade long filler Peruvian puros, perfect from the first to the last puff. Part of my best selling range of New World cigars.

Alec Bradley Prensado – I rarely smoke a Churchill size cigar but this one is the bomb. Full spicy flavoured and beautifully crafted, no wonder it’s so highly rated.

The weather held out thankfully and friends and I enjoyed the new smoking deck at chez Orchant to the max.

Back to work last week and I was on the road again zooming up to Liverpool by Virgin train from Euston. Well done to Virgin for redeveloping the previous awful first class lounge to an excellent standard but a big raspberry to them for blocking my website on their free wifi! What the hell is that all about? Cigars are still legal in the UK the last time I looked!

Turmeaus Liverpool Cigar Tasting EventTurmeaus Liverpool is always such a pleasure to visit and my manager Christine and her Team offer the friendliest of customer service. We enjoyed a delightful cigar tasting evening with friends of Turmeaus from Liverpool at the pub smoking terrace next door to the shop and our thanks go to Scott from Tor Imports for providing such excellent cigars to sample.

Cigars that were sampled:
La Flor de Antillas Robusto (Cigar Aficionado No. 1 Cigar of the Year 2012)
Smooth, medium bodied, handmade Nicaraguan cigar.
La Flor Dominicana Chisel Gorda (Best Dominican Republic Cigar 2013 – Cigar Journal)
Amazing cigars using a blend of Dominican tobaccos for the filler and binder.

The cigars were excellent, the company was just brilliant, we all had a great laugh from start to finish. I really should spend more time up North as the crowd are an absolute riot to herf with. The pub should be pleased with the evening as I drank all of their Macallan and Glenrothes!Turmeaus Liverpool is always such a pleasure to visit and my manager Christine and her Team offer the friendliest of customer service. We enjoyed a delightful cigar tasting evening with friends of Turmeaus from Liverpool at the pub smoking terrace next door to the shop and our thanks go to Scott from Tor Imports for providing such excellent cigars to sample.

Next morning and I was driven over to Turmeaus Chester by Alfie (as in ‘Alfie Turmeaus’) who helped create our new exclusive range of pipe tobacco. Checkout Alfie’s tasting notes on the product notes:

Turmeaus Blend Pipe Tobacco Tins

1817 Blend (named after the year Turmeaus was established)

Alfie’s Blend

Orchant Blend

Morrison’s Blend

Long Ashes Competition at Turmeaus Chester Cigar Tasting EveningI wasn’t able to stay for the tasting event in the evening at Chester but I understand the cigars were a great success and the long ash contest a lot of fun! Thanks again to Scott from Tor for his support and Bar Lounge for hosting the evening on their delightful cigar friendly terrace.

Cigars that were sampled:
Nub Sun Grown 466

Soft spicy tones, rich, full-bodied Nicaraguan cigar.
Cain Daytona Robusto
Ultra smooth, medium-bodied Nicaraguan cigar.

Friday and it was back to the airport to shoot up to Robert Graham Edinburgh for the day. Canongate, Robert Graham is quirkier than ever as we have put a huge range of one off vintage single malt and blended scotch whisky bottles and miniatures and Rose street is looking very cool now that the walk in humidor has been completed.

My Partner Ron and I sampled our award winning Treasurer Littlemill 1985 which was outstanding with a Trinidad Robusto Extra cigars.

Back to London office for a few hours to meet with colleague Gennaro Lettieri of Tabacalera del Oriente (the factory in Tarapoto, Peru that makes Inka – Secret Blend cigars) we chatted about our plans for International roll out over the next few months of our cigars over a bottle of Dalmore cigar malt and Secret Blend cigars that had been matured for a year since rolling. They were bloody excellent (that’s my official tasting notes!)

So, to our dedicated followers of Inka – Secret Blend cigars from Peru, I find myself once again apologizing that some of the sizes within the range have sold out yet again. We just cannot keep up with the demand for these cigars that I created almost two years ago now. We do have another large shipment flying over as I’m writing this blog so our range will be complete and available again very soon.

Secret Blend will no doubt continue to grow in popularity due to the quality of the tobacco and the rich, sweet, pure taste characteristic of the blend I created. You can only buy Inka cigars from us as we cut out any middle man margin to bring the best possible value to our customers.

Now thinking back to  when I was briefly in secondary school and how useless I was at Geography (as well as most other subjects) it greatly amuses me to award raspberry of the week to HSBC, the bank that continually asks us if our payments to Tabacalera del Oriente in Peru have anything to do with Cuba! Even I know that Peru is nowhere near Cuba lol. Too funny. Actually seems to be a lot of paranoia out there about Cuba at this time which seems a shame. Still nice to know that the UK has a good trading relationship with Cuba.

I’m almost out of breath thinking about what a busy week I had! And I’m doing it all over again this week with trips to Italy and France. Tough life and all that…

Cigar Auction time is getting close with catalogue due to be online and in print on the 19th May and auction finishing on the 1st June. We have just about finished cataloguing almost 350 Lots of aged, rare, mature, limited edition , books, humidors, Davidoff, Dunhill and pre embargo cigars. Something for everyone’s taste and a few outstanding gems. No doubt a few bargains to be won as always.

Plain Packaging! 

Hands off our packsYou may remember the success of the Hands Off Our Packs campaign which generated a huge response at the time of the original Plain Packaging Consultation.

In advance of the imminent publication of the Consultation with draft Plain Packaging Regulations, and given the Parliamentary process which will follow it, FOREST have now launched another campaign which targets No. 10 directly.

The link you need is and it is very straightforward and can be completed in about a minute.

It would be very helpful if you could send this information on to your employees, friends and family on the basis that the more signatures are generated the better.

Have a smokey week,

Peaceful puffing,


NYC herfing :)

Following my last blog and rant about the ‘Chantler report’ on standardized packaging for tobacco in the UK, the results sort of came back like this:

The Minister announced the findings of the Chantler Review and declared the Government’s intention to take the policy of standardised packaging forward.

plain_packagingThe Minister said that she is ‘minded’ to proceed with introducing regulations to provide for standardised packaging. However, before reaching a final decision, and in order to ensure that that decision is properly and fully informed, she intends to publish the draft Regulations, so that it is crystal clear what is intended, alongside a final short Consultation in which she will ask, in particular, for views on anything new since the last full public Consultation that is relevant to a final decision on this policy.

Under questioning she said that she will publish the draft regulations and the Consultation document, together with an Impact Assessment, this month and expects that the policy will be introduced during this Parliament. She did however say that there needs to be a sensible transition period and would not be drawn on when Standardised Packaging would actually appear on the shelves.

As ever, none of this make much sense to a simple cigar merchant like me as standardized packaging has already failed abysmally in Australia where tobacco sales have increased. The reality is the UK will just have more illicit trade of tobacco robbing the exchequer of much needed tobacco tax revenue and no doubt many more businesses will go to the wall and many more jobs lost.

Could be a repeat of the UK smoking ban in 2007 which murdered the pub trade just as the recession started to take grip. Pubs closed and continue to do so, jobs were lost, tax revenue was lost. Bravo politicians… Another genius piece of work that has failed. Did the nanny state smoking ban make any difference to the smoker? Not a jot… You couldn’t make it up.

I commend the brilliant politicians that want to reduce underage smoking but I repeat; children don’t smoke cigars or pipes. At least I have never come across a child coming into one of our specialist cigars stores asking for a Monte 4! Under 25’s (we use Challenge 25 scheme) are not even allowed into our shops!

So legislate as much as they want but leave cigars and pipe tobacco exempt and the hell out of this madness.

Michelle, my “Man Friday” returned from a fabulous vacation in Czech Republic with the obligatory cold caught on the plane back just in time for me to head off to New York on Thursday for a long weekends herfing activity. I relaxed in the Virgin lounge and had the usual facial and massage (hey – I’m metrosexual!) and a glass or two of Champagne before hopping on to my Upper Class seat. Now either the seats are getting smaller or I am getting bigger but considering my diet (the 5 + 2) is working very well, I reckon the seats are smaller. Good luck to anyone much taller than me on the flat beds!

Herfing at the Grand Havana Rooms New YorkI love NYC – so civilized and cigar friendly. I checked into my hotel on the Avenue of the Americas, changed into my smartest suit to look like a toff and headed to Grand Havana Room to meet with a few friends. Well, more than a few friends actually as I reckon there must have been around 15 or so of us doing some serious herfing.

GHR was crammed full, I was amazed at how busy this huge cigar lounge was. Armed with a baggie full of Inka – Secret Blend and Davidoff cigars and having a constant refilled glass of Mac 12 and Balvenie 12, it’s fair to say that a bloody good and late herf was thoroughly enjoyed by all ☺

Friday morning and I settled into my usual routine of herfing at De La Concha cigar shop/lounge. DLC is an “Olde Worlde” cigar shop and a very charming one indeed. Plenty of seating and I always enjoy sitting at the front by the window so I can watch the world go by. It’s so funny as numerous people walk by and look in with either looks of disgust at people smoking, smiles or in the case of a number of Asians; smiles and waves!

I herfed my way through a load of Davidoff Puro D’Oro sizes that we don’t seem to have in the UK (probably due to the barmy taxes that would be applicable on the size/weight of the cigars) such as the Notables and Gigantes. I love the blend of Puro D’ Oro, here are our notes:

Puro d’Oro features 100% Dominican tobaccos to make up its wrapper, binder and fillers. Inside, you’ll find a smooth, elegant blend of Dominican long leaves all bound by a Dominican binder. Davidoff’s exclusive Yamasa wrapper creates a unique flavour of coffee and spicy notes as the oily wrapper leaves a heavy feel on your palate.

Smooth, earthy flavours – medium bodied cigars.

The small range in the UK can be found here.

Saturday and I headed for Carnegie Club for the late show which is a tribute to Frank Sinatra, a couple of friends joined me and we had fun doing a bit of a blind tasting on the planned USA release of Inca – Secret Blend (not to be confused with the UK Inka – Secret Blend cigars) followed by Davidoff Perfectos.  Sinatra music, smokes and Scotch… My kinda evening.

Sunday was time for a chilled out afternoon at Club Macanudo and time to herf some serious Fuente cigars 🙂 In fact I was back to backing Opus X Perfect for a Sunday afternoon.

Headed back on Monday evening after another herfette at De La Concha and then off to the Virgin lounge at JFK for a bit of pre-flight pampering. Fortunately the aircraft was different for the return flight and the seats/beds more comfortable.

So thanks to my bunch of smoking chums that took very good care of me in NYC – Peter, Jay, Jeff, Leo, Rodney, David, Ricky, Howard to name a few. I can’t wait for my next trip.

Back to Blighty and straight to the C.Gars London office for coffee and a Montecristo No. 2 … it tasted sooo good after 4 days of New World cigars 🙂 Sweet and creamy, medium strength and a perfect draw. Still one of my favourite Havanas… After all these years.

Inka Cristales are now re-launched with an even sweeter Peruvian blend that is outrageously good and very cool new packaging – check them out on this link.

Can’t believe it’s Easter/Passover next week! The year is flying by. Looking forward to a little time off and if the weather holds up (it’s beautiful in London now) some herfing on the deck.

Have a smokey weekend,

Peaceful puffing,