And Here is the News…

Good afternoon from C.Gars London where the herfing never stops 🙂 I mean the ‘sampling’ of course. This week was declared a Partagas week! And a very good one it was too as I tested my way through just about everything in the range over the last 5 days.

In terms of the good bad and ugly I would say the greatest disappointment was the Lusitania which was not only a bit tight on the draw but the blend just seemed to go nowhere interesting, that said I also smoked the Grand Reserva which was magnificent and a complete contrast to the regular Lusi. The Shorts were a great little smoke and one that I enjoy daily with my morning espresso, The P.2 was an outstanding piramides if not my favourite of all the brands.

Moving on to the Serie D range, the SD4 was first rate but the blend on the SD5 was sweeter and generally better. The surprise was the SD6 which was so good in terms of appearance, construction and blend I ended up smoking 4 cigars one after another. This short fat 20 minute smoke is just outstanding and now joining my regular daily rotation.

The other surprise for me was the 2012 Limited edition Partagas Serie C No. 3. I’m not usually a fan of maduro but this puppy was the bomb! A complete kaleidoscope of flavours, earthy with sweetness and very well balanced, old style Partagas blend crafted to perfection and wrapped up in a gorgeous smooth maduro wrapper. I think this will become one of the best Limited editions and will continue to age and improve for many years.

Can’t believe we are almost in June, the last 5 months have flown by and June is going to be a very exciting month to say the least:

Firstly we have our Summer Cigar Auction at the Bulgari Hotel on the 15th June and have now completed the mouth-watering catalogue. Our auctioneer, Jonathan Humbert will be knocking down over 300 Lots of aged and rare Havana cigars. The catalogue will be online early next week and prospective bidders will be able to download a PDF on the website: http://www.onlinecigarauctions.com/index.php

The catalogue includes an incredible Pre Embargo section of rare cigars, the likes of which I have never seen before and doubt many of them will ever be seen again. Literally ‘pieces of history’.

Interesting cigars from the last 7 decades and something for everyone’s budget from part boxes of vintage cigars to Davidoff and Dunhill cigars. Limited Editions, Reserva and Gran Reserva, aged and mature cigars. Whether smoking or collecting be sure to take a look as you may see a cigar you have always dreamt of!

The format of the auction is different to all previous sales which were either physical auctions or online auctions. This is both! The actual auction takes place at 2 pm in the cinema room at the Bulgari in Knightsbridge but our rather clever IT department have further developed our online auction platform for absentee bidders to be able to bid online right into the auction room should they wish. We tested out the system thoroughly over the last few weeks and I must say its super impressive. So, if technology doesn’t let us down, bidders will be able to register online early next week and bid online or join us at the Bulgari and bid in person.

My assistant Michelle and her team are delighted to show Lots at our London offices by prior appointment – just drop us an email sales@cgarsltd.co.uk and if you can’t make it to view simply email us Lot numbers of interest and we will gladly email a condition report.

On the 19th June Hunters & Frankau are holding their Summer party and introducing the 225th Anniversary Ramon Allones Humidor and cigars. Demand has been so high for both the humidor and the cabinets of cigars I would not be surprised if they are all sold out before they actually arrive with us on the 22nd June. No need to ask – yes , I have smoked the cigars and they are, as one would expect from H&F, first rate well matured Havanas.

Recommended retail price for the cabinet of 25 cigar is £674 but we are still offering pre-release orders at just £569.

Next week I’m heading up to Scotland to see our fabulous Robert Graham whisky and cigar shops in Glasgow and Edinburgh. We just won yet another award for one of our Dancing Stag range of single malt whisky! Looking forward to testing out some of the water of Life with managing Director Steve Johnstone in bonnie Scotland.

CGGnX_5VEAA9LsC (1)Looks like Summer is over for now so no smoking on the deck likely this weekend so I’ll be herfing in my lounge with a baggie filled with P2’s D6’s and some of my favourite BBF’s from ’07 🙂

And finally huge congratulations to Edward Sahakian who is celebrating the 35th anniversary of his iconic Davidoff shop. Truly my favourite cigar merchant in the world.

Have a smokey weekend.

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

Happy Bank Hols!

11255395_10153279006032270_1262813878050723472_nAnother 3 day weekend… Marvellous, and I need it to recover from the last weeks’ worth of very hard work and herfing which kicked off in Turmeaus – Norfolk and a team meeting in the sampling lounge that went on for hours and hours and hours…

I was happy to chill out in the Oliva lounge after the two hour + drive from London in the C7GAR car and thankful the weather was lovely on the drive there although the hail and rain was a bit freaky on the drive back!

Thankfully I was more of an observer as the marketing team headed by C.Gars Director Laura Graham and her assistant James presented me with reams of stats to study whilst they discussed the next 3 months sales and marketing plans as well as new product initiatives.

Happy to say the stats don’t lie and C.Gars – Turmeaus, Group are growing at a faster rate than I can ever remember. Clearly the largest range and the best prices in the UK together with new shops and sampling lounges seem to be hitting the spot! My thanks to our customers, my brilliant sales and marketing team, warehouse teams and Turmeaus retail team.

I’m still intrigued with the Cohiba Robusto Supremo and that’s what James and I were smoking in Turmeaus Norfolk. It’s really quite a light to medium strength cigar but so full and sweet flavoured, I just can’t get enough of them. Beautiful dark and oily wrappers and considering they are a 58 ring gauge they have a perfect burn and draw.

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Wednesday evening I herfed with a few chums at Ten Manchester Street. One of my favourite cigar terraces in London, comfortable, warm and very friendly service. We had quite a crowd, I think around 13 of us in total herfing till the terrace closed and then some of the boys moved over to the sampling room. I was enjoying a piramides day starting with Monte 2’s, Diplo 2’s and ending with a Robaina Unicos and a Partagas P2. My kinda day 🙂

Thursdays herf was at a lovely local gastropub http://www.thethreecompassesaldenham.co.uk/ which has a pretty decent smoking area. Super friendly service and great food. Sara from Turmeaus Chester was in London so we herfed our way through Partagas Shorts, Petit Corona Especiales and a D4 to finish the evening . My kinda gal 🙂

Fridays herf was at Turmeaus Mayfair, In fact I’m typing the blog from the sampling room. Yes, yes – it’s a small sampling room but it’s comfortable, well ventilated, has great drinks, WIFI and a ridiculous large range of premium cigars in the walk in humidor. Perfect place to pit stop in Town.

I’m revisiting the Cohiba 1966 Limited Edition which is smoking better than ever. I always said the cigar was perfectly balanced and would age, mature and improve for many years and so far it looks like I’m right. This is a sophisticated blend for the experienced Havana cigar smoker.

Turmeaus Mayfair has a super range of discontinued Havana cigars by the box as well as singles and its not unusual to find a few gems in the humidor. I grabbed some La Flor de Cano Short Robustos for the weekend as well as some Por Larranaga Sobresalientes as they are getting a bit scarce now although we expect another shipment to arrive in the near future.

Inka – Secret Blend are more popular than ever in the UK and I’m still struggling to import them fast enough. The robustos may well be one of the best value premium smokes around and the Bombaso sales are crazy! I have two more huge imports arriving over the next 4 weeks with around another 40,000 cigars so if your favourite size is not available just check back or drop us an email as they will be back in stock pretty soon.

Well, that’s me for another week and a few clients have popped in to the sampling room for a smoke and a chat so I had better get off the IPad!

Have a smokey Bank hol weekend.

Peaceful puffing

Mitchell

Nica Puro Herfing…

It’s been one of those non-stop sort of herfing weeks for me yet again. Not complaining too much though as I smoked some great cigars and herfed with a great bunch of guys (and girls!)

CE_Me--XIAAxWq5Office herfs on Monday and Tuesday with some good mature  Regius Robustos from 2013  (tobacco already well matured when we had the cigars made for us) paired up with Dalmore Cigar Malt (the perfect partner to any cigar!) and Turmeaus Tasting Evenings in Chester and Liverpool on Wednesday and Thursday with Alec Bradley Nica Puro and Prensado cigars.

girls_herfing_cigarsSold out tastings as usual and this time held at the delightful Bar Lounge in Chester and the Cornmarket in Liverpool. Guest of honour was George Sosa from Alec Bradley who we were delighted to welcome. George gave his usual informative and witty talk about cigars and is a brilliant chap to herf with!

My thanks to Christine and her Team at Turmeaus Liverpool‎ and Sara at Turmeaus Chester for organising excellent tasting events. And thanks to Scott from Tor Imports and Alec Bradley cigars for all their support.

Sara, our lovely Manageress at La Casa del Habano – Chester has organized a ‘Wednesday Whisky Club’ limited to 50 founder members and with some excellent benefits and planned whisky and cigar tasting events. Drop Sara a line for a Membership application form and further detail (sara@cgarsltd.co.uk)

A few email complaints this week regarding bad construction on cigars and one customer terribly upset that we had not ‘checked before shipping’ so here’s what I explained which I thought was worthy of blogging by way of some general advice: Premium cigars are a totally handmade product and very occasionally can be subject to draw/construction issues. Draw issues are commonly due to twists of tobacco in the filler part of the blend which cause a constriction in the smoke passage through the cigar (though they can also be caused by overfills and underfills).

Whilst we do have a stringent quality control procedure which includes checking wrapper colour and cigar condition I’m afraid it’s impossible for us to check the draw without cutting the cap of the cigar which obviously is not practical. Now many may think that we can check by feeling if the cigar is hard (totally or in parts) but the reality is that a cigar that feels hard may draw perfectly and in fact a cigar that feels soft may not draw at all.

I’m afraid it’s all ‘part of the game’ or perhaps the ‘charm and nature of the product’. we are the merchant, not the cigar roller so if you receive a cigar that has a construction issue, relax, drop us an email and we’ll replace it. No big deal. Pull out another cigar and it will likely have a perfect draw 🙂

Just putting the finishing touches on our Summer Auction catalogue  which looks like another splendid offering of Vintage Havana cigars. Some of the pre embargo cigars are breathtakingly beautiful to say the least. Over 300 Lots in this sale which will be held at the Bulgari Hotel at 2pm on the 15th June. Pre booking essential due to limited capacity in the Cinema room. Order your ticket here.

Next week, I’m off to Turmeaus – Norfolk for a Team meeting which is always fun, I mean hard work 🙂 Our Norfolk premises is also our main warehouse. 1000’s and 1000’s of square feet of space crammed with just about every humidor and accessory you could dream of.

I get loads of emails asking me about humidors and what’s the difference between them all? Well it’s fairly straightforward: All humidors basically function the same i.e. they are ‘fit for purpose’ the price difference relates to the brand and size of the humidor as well as the finish of the humidor both internally and externally. So the more precious the wood, the more expensive the humidor. The better the quality and precision of the hygrometer the higher the price BUT – the basic function is the same and they all work pretty well regardless of price.

Regarding hygrometers one needs to bear in mind that unless you are spending quite a lot on a precision analogue hygrometer you should only rely on the reading as an indication as there is a margin of error of up to +/-3% or more. Salt tests are always essential. For a smaller margin of error digital hygrometers are recommended. They are not perfect but are a useful tool . Our best seller is the  Caliber which also gives a pretty accurate temperature reading as well which is a fairly essential thing to monitor when storing cigars.

Finally, I get tons of emails about ‘seasoning’ humidors. I must admit I don’t really subscribe to this as most people unfortunately get it wrong and end up drowning the humidor lining. Storing cigars correct in a humidor is not an exact science and really is not rocket science!…

Step 1: Locate humidor where temperature range is 66F – 70F (sort of room temperature in the UK)

Step 2: Fill humidifier and put in humidor.

Step 3: Put cigars in humidor, RH will settle down to around 66 – 69% fairly fast.

Final Step: Step back and admire, smoke and enjoy. It really is that simple.

Cigars do like a bit of fresh air and it’s good to rotate them in the humidor every week or so for even humidity. Get to know how your cigars look, feel, smell and smoke. (Far better than obsessing with hygrometer readings) Press with the pad of your thumb just under the band of the cigars and if the cigar is in good condition it will feel firm with a bit of spring.

And please please don’t over humidify so the cigar feels soft and spongy as it will likely be hard to keep it lit and taste bitter, after all you want to taste tobacco, not water!

We are now taking pre orders at a very special pre-release price for cabinets of the eagerly anticipated Ramon Allones 225th H&F anniversary cigars, snag them while you can as they won’t be around for too long!

This weekend will be a robusto weekend for me! And the weekend’s baggie includes Ramon Allones Specially Selected, Bolivar Royal Coronas and Hoyo Epicure No.2. Now if we just have some decent weather…

Have a smokey weekend,

Peaceful puffing,

Mitchell

Election!

No idea who is going to win the bloody election but was wondering if my Blue or Red banded Inka – Secret Blend sales were an indication? Blue of course being Conservatives colour and Red being Labours colour!

Sadly when analysing sales it looks like a 50/50 split so we are probably heading for a hung Parliament <groan>.

Still, it’s a very exciting election and I’m hoping that the polls are all wrong (won’t be the first time).

What the hell, good excuse to have an election night herf I reckon so I’m pulling an all-nighter till I see who wins and I’m am heading home well equipped with a large baggie of cigars to keep me awake (may have to go steady on the Scotch!).

The baggie includes a few of my standards and faves:

Bolivar Belicosos Orchant Seleccion 2010

Diplomaticos No. 2 (Smoking exceptionally well at this time, in fact I have switched from my beloved Monte No. 2’s)

Cohiba Behike 56 (Well I need some big smokes for a long night)

…and some Davidoff Chateau Margaux to celebrate if my party wins ☺ (I have a feeling I may be putting them back in the humidor!)

In other news this week…

At last we have the pricing and confirmed release date for the eagerly awaited Ramon Allones Hunters & Frankau Aniversario 225 Cigar & Commemorative Humidor.

22nd June is the release date and I can’t wait!

See the full story here: Humidor of 100 cigars (and a bottle of very special rum!) and Cabinets of 25.

If they are good as the ones I have tried already we are all in for a treat. If sales since we started listing the R225 are anything to go by, the humidors will all be sold out well before release!

plume_or_mouldA few emails coming in from newbies over the last few weeks like this ‘my cigars have mold.’ Shock! Horror!… Don’t panic 🙂 Take a look at the photo… This is what we know as ‘plume’ a rather wonderful sign of a cigar maturing correctly and no need for concern at all. Simply wipe off with soft tissue and smoke away! We don’t take the plume off before shipping as so many of our experienced smokers prefer to see it on and wipe it off themselves.

So how do I know its plume? Well, with the benefit of 35 years of smoking premium cigars I can honestly say I have never ever seen mold on a single cigar and I have seen quite a few cigars as you can well imagine. Plume can be wiped off, mold cannot be wiped off as it permeates the wrapper (I understand it also smells rather awful.) I sometimes wish that someone would actually have a cigar with mold just so I could see one.

Another frequent email we receive is clients panicking as they see small white/green/yellow patches on the wrappers of their cigars. Again, no cause for concern, these minor wrapper imperfections are typically under fermented leaf or leaf that has been ‘touched’ by the sun shining through breaks in the muslin covering the leaf where the tobacco plants are grown. The cigar smoking experience is not affected at all.

Next week I’m off to Alec Bradley tastings at Turmeaus Chester and Liverpool. Looking forward to drinks and smokes with my friends up North. Guest of honour is George Sosa who is always a hoot. A hard weeks work next week for me… Not 🙂

Peaceful puffing,

Mitchell

 

Just Another Week…

Another first rate and sold out tasting evening at La Casa del Habano – Chester last Tuesday evening. Featured cigars were H. Upmann Half Coronas and La Flor de Cano Gran Cano, both of which were delightful smokes 🙂

We paired them up with three whiskies: Turmeaus Living Cask, Jura Superstition and Dalmore Cigar Malt. I can confirm they paired up very well indeed!

In the words of one of our attendees (by email):

Dear Mitchell,

I would like to thank you for the wonderful evening my Father and I had at Chester’s “Le Casa del Habano” tasting and sampling evening. I have visited the shop on numerous occasions but this was the first sampling evening we have attended, and I am sure it will not be the last.

Please give my sincere thanks to Calum and Sara for their excellent service and knowledge throughout the evening. In all, it was a fantastic evening with fantastic company.

Thanks again,

chester_april_tasting_event

Our Chester cigar and whisky shops are super! Huge stocks of the finest cigars, pipe tobacco and single malt whisky, whisky bar (click here to see the menu) and cigar sampling lounge – who could ask for more 🙂

Looking forward to the Alec Bradley tasting evenings with guest of honour George Sosa in a few weeks’ time in both Liverpool and Chester. Just a few tickets left if you hurry! Liverpool and Chester.

I can’t believe its May already, that was a super-fast first third of the year! If time flies when you’re enjoying yourself, I must be having a bloody good time 🙂 It’s strange running a retail business as many business owners will no doubt know. We work like crazy and finish the year with a great Christmas season but then think to ourselves ‘oh no – its January, can we really keep the sales growing’. Sort of minor panic attack feelings for a few days until we realise that there’s nothing to panic about and if the first 4 months are anything to go by we must be getting it right as our sales have done an unprecedented jump of 20% in the first 4 months of this year. So my thanks to our customers both old and new.

My thanks also to my sales, marketing and warehouse teams as I’m never really sure how they cope with the volume of orders coming in. I can only liken our shipping department to a New York deli at lunch time, crazy busy to say the least. The challenge, so my general Manager Michelle tells me is to have the right amount of staff and to train them constantly and exceptionally well. With a growing business, the amount of people on the team is constantly growing so the training program seems to be never ending

Our Inca – Secret Blend cigars for the US market are already rolling out to retailers. If you would like to find out your nearest or a shop that will give a mail order service drop me a line sales@cgarsltd.co.uk

We’re running an end of line sale on the Turmeaus Edition Regius Culebras at just £49.99 whilst stocks last. Bit of a bargain and a very cool cigar 😉

We’ve also released the last of the 2013 Orchant Seleccion Regius Robustos the additional age has rounded this cigar off to be an excellent full flavoured Nicaraguan. Highly recommended.

Save your money for the most exciting Havana cigar release of the year! 7 weeks to go until the release of the Ramon Allones 225th Hunters & Frankau anniversary cigars and humidor.

Looking forward to kicking back over the May holiday weekend and as I’m back on my diet I have selected a lovely looking box of Orchant Seleccion by Oliva ‘Skinny’ 🙂 Check out the 5 star reviews on these best sellers. I think I’ll match it up with some 15 year old Mulata Cuban rum, incredible value at £53.99!

Have a smokey weekend,

Peaceful puffing,

Mitchell

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