Partagas Festival – Cigar Auction – Cigar Awards Event

Just back from Havana having enjoyed a splendid few days at the annual Partagas Festival. I’ve attended all of the festivals bar one over the last 18 years and it’s one of the high points on my travel calendar every year.

Rainbow over VinalesThis was the first trip to Havana for Karyn (wife/co – Director) and she enjoyed it immensely and can’t wait to come back for another Festival next year 🙂 We stayed at Parque Central (the new part) and the location was perfect for showing her around Old Havana. Our trip included visiting Indian caves, Las Terrazes and Pinar del Rio. We saw the most beautiful rainbow over Vinales from Los Jazmines. Heaven for a cigar merchant like me!

The November Partagas Festival has a very different vibe to the February/March Havana Festival as it’s a different crowd, mainly ‘Friends of Partagas’ connoisseurs and aficionados from all over the world as opposed to many cigar industry folk at the February Festival. A lot of the crowd know each other for many years but this is our annual opportunity to meet up and herf our favourite cigars together.

Partagas-festival-blog1It was great to see a lot of new faces too this year and the gala dinner was one of the best I have ever attended. It was held at El Laguito and the room was decadent to say the least. The entertainment was great and in fact this was the first time it was not ‘Cuban too loud‘!

We were spoiled with an insane amount of 170th anniversary double banded cigars including Montecristo and Romeo Anejados, Bolivar Belicosos, H. Upmann Connoisseur A, Hoyo Epicure No. 2 and Partagas Serie P No. 2, as well as some pretty decent wine and excellent Santiago rum (my current favourite!)

Partagas festival gala dinnerAs usual I had a fabulous table at the front thanks to my old friend Amir and we were in pole position for the charity auction. The auction Lots were truly outstanding this year in terms of the humidors as well as the cigars. All proceeds go to the Cuban National Health Service and C.Gars Ltd proudly made a substantial donation to this most worthy cause. Whilst Cuba is still punished by the US Embargo all other means of support are needed.

I had my first experience of the Cuban National health Service as Karyn was bitten by something (not me!) and her arm blew up so we zoomed her over to the International hospital and were seen within minutes by a very nice doctor, prescribed and dispensed the relevant drugs immediately and all for 30 quid… Can’t do that in the UK even if you go private! 24 hours later thankfully Karyn was better.

I managed to arrange a private factory tour at La Corona thanks to Nestor Valera (Director of LDCH franchise division) and my thanks to his assistant Victor and la Corona Director Osmar Hernandez Fuentes for a comprehensive and interesting tour.

La Corona is a huge factory with over 250 rollers in the Galera and we were introduced and welcomed with their chavetas being banged on the rolling tables which was very cool.

IMG_4951Whilst there is something of a shortage of large wrapper leaf in Cuba at this time, the factory was definitely at full production with many different brands and vitola including Romeo Gran Reserva and Hoyo Hermosos No. 4 Anejados which looked good enough to eat!

Osmar assured us that quality control is undertaken at every stage of production and it was great to see a room full of Drawmaster machines being used.

The tour ended with a tasting of the Romeo Wide Churchill Gran Reserva. This cigar was one of the finest I have smoked in years. Truly a perfect expression of the Havana cigar. I can’t wait for them to be released.

We zoomed round a few cigar shops as usual including Melia Habana, Partagas and Palacio and whilst they were all pretty well stocked up the range itself was fairly thin i.e. nothing terribly interesting. No sign of any BHK’s which I now understand are just about sold out everywhere.

In other news this week…

Our new Turmeaus shop in Knutsford is almost complete and we are planning a soft opening at the end of first week December. Charming location for this beautifully designed shop if I do say so myself. The planned extensive range of premium cigars, tobacco, accessories, whisky and rum as well as a comfortable sampling lounge should please my clients in the North West immensely. I can’t wait to get over there in a few weeks’ time 🙂

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 22.49.02Our Winter Cigar Auction is being held this Monday from 2pm at the Bulgari Hotel and is now more or less sold out. 359 splendid cigar Lots including magnificent Pre Embargo, Davidoff, Dunhill. Limited edition aged and rare Havanas will be sold. Lovely article in Cigar Aficionado about our auctions.

If you can’t make the auction event there is still time to register to bid online. Online bidder registration closes Friday at midnight. Last viewings will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Sunday by appointment at our London offices. Very best of luck to all of our bidders and sellers.

We will be enjoying a whisky tasting (thanks to Robert Grahams Ltd single malt whiskies) and a cigar tasting featuring Montecristo Media Coronas and Bolivar Belgravia UK Regional Edition following the auction sale (for pre booked guests) together with canapes at the delightful Sahakian Cigar lounge ably managed by our friend Mike Choi.

If that’s not enough action for me ☺ next Tuesday we will be co – sponsoring and enjoying the Snow Queen Cigar Smoker of the year dinner at the beautiful Boisdale Canary Wharf. A star studded guest list is expected and we will be treated to the best of entertainment drinks and smokes as well as the cigars awards for the following categories:

The Snow Queen Cigar Smoker of the Year
The Snow Queen Cigar Lifetime Achievement Award
The Cigar Writer of the Year
The Cigar Terrace or Cigar Lounge of the Year
The Cigar Retailer of the Year
The Cigar Producer of the Year
The Cigar of the Year

Needless to say this was a sold out event as soon as the tickets were released. I have a wonderful and rather huge table of C.Gars guest and can’t wait for this event!

Peaceful puffing



Bolivar Belgravia… Oh yes !

Greetings from London – C.Gars Empire offices, nice to be back in the office for a few hours after a rather typical manic week in the life of a cigar merchant!

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 22.45.32Monday was Cigar Auction lotting up day. It took the best part of the day to check through and lot up the 359 Lots entered into the 30th November cigar auction and I still can’t believe the quality of the cigars as well as the rarity of many of them in this sale.

Last few tickets available for the event online. If you can’t make it you can always bid live online on the auction website.

On Tuesday evening I attended the launch of the 2015 UK regional edition Bolivar Belgravia at the Churchill.


Montecristo Media Corona and Pol Roger champagne on arrival , splendid (my favourite champagne and the perfect quickie Havana) followed by the Bolivar Belgravia which is an awesome smoke. Volumes and volumes of flavour and light to medium strength. Same size as a Wide Churchill so it’s big enough for even a big mouth like me 🙂

There were speeches from Sean and Jemma from hosts Hunters & Frankau and the Silver Chaveta Award went to Lawrence Davis (well done LD!) delicious canapes and cocktails and the best of company in the UK cigar trade made this a wonderful event. My thanks to our wonderful importers H&F.

After the launch Michelle and I zoomed over to the Lanesborough to herf another couple of Belgravia’s till very late. Sort of a senior management meeting!


On Wednesday I started out on a marathon 3 days Turmeaus tour starting with Turmeaus – Liverpool (Bolivar Belicosos), moving on to Turmeaus – Knutsford (Romeo Wide churchill) to review building progress at the new shop and finishing at Turmeaus – Chester (and La Casa del Habano of course) where I spent the rest of the day/evening herfing Ramon 225’s. My kinda day!

Wednesday whisky club members were coming and going, both bars were full and I heard many compliments on the extensive whisky sampling menu at the new shop’s bar. The new shop is quite breath-taking in design, comfortable and has a super range that my clients are clearly enjoying. Well done to Sara, Chris, Calum and the Chester Team for running such a huge and classy operation.

As if that wasn’t enough racing around for a week, I then zoomed over to Turmeaus – Norfolk (Cohiba Robusto Supremo’s on a long road trip!) for an open tasting event that ran from 2pm till 8pm on Thursday. Tim from Hunters & Frankau spoke about the Partagas SD No. 6 and Ramon Allones Club Allones LE 2015, canapes, whisky and a great crowd made this a memorable tasting event. Thanks to all the Turmeaus Team for a fun filled few days.


I’m off to see the Steve Jobs movie tomorrow and chilling for the rest of the weekend with a baggie full of Bolivar Belgravia and nothing else!

Next week… Partagas festival in Havana 🙂

Have a smokey weekend,

Peaceful puffing,



Chester Turmeaus – Part 3!

turmeaus_whisky_shop_single_maltsAnd finally… Turmeaus – Chester expansion into our 3rd shop is complete and we opened the doors this week on our fabulous additional whisky and cigar shop. From the initial feedback from our customers, the additional range and sampling areas are very welcome.

Every time I design and fit out a new shop we seem to improve the overall effect and I think this is one of my best efforts so far! Comfortable, chic and spacious 🙂

turmeaus_chester_whisky_sampling_barWe have a huge range of single malt whisky as well as unique and rare spirits, wine and champagne. We also have a comfortable sampling bar where you can enjoy a dram or a glass of champagne.

The shop also features Oliva Orchant Seleccion cigars and a range of Havana cigars. But of course you can always walk a few steps through to our La Casa del Habano humidor or our New World walk in cigar humidor to check out the full and rather huge range.

Sara, Chris and the Team at Chester look forward to welcoming old and new clients and showing them around.

But we’re not stopping there as we are now fitting out our new Turmeaus cigar and whisky shop in Knutsford and expect to open the doors very early in December. This premises will have our usual, fabulous Turmeaus offerings including a cigar sampling lounge.

davidoff_dinner_blogThis week’s travels took me to Basel in Switzerland for the Davidoff Retailer Panel meeting. The finest cigar retailers in Europe meet at least twice a year to discuss the cigar trade and have various top secret briefings from Davidoff 🙂

Davidoff-MO-blogWe sampled a very nice new box pressed Avo as well as various other fine Davidoff cigars over the course of the two days and as ever were treated splendidly by Davidoff.

Davidoff cigar ranges are becoming more popular all the time as many of my clients ‘smoke less but smoke the best’.

Great to catch up with so many friends including Eddie, Jurg, Per, Mirko, Marius, Nancy and Thomas as well as meet new friends Fabien, Magali and Jesus. Truly ‘Time Beautifully Filled

nic_wing_blogNic Wing, who started off many years ago trying to figure out how to publish a children’s book, and is the current publisher of UK Cigar Scene popped into the office and we enjoyed the new Bolivar Belgravia whilst chatting about his fabulous online mag.

Next Tuesday evening the Bolivar Belgravia will be introduced to the cigar trade at the Churchill bar and our La Casa del Habano will be the first retailer to receive stocks of these fine UK regional edition cigars.

Next week’s travels take me up North to Liverpool, Knutsford and Chester on Wednesday followed by Norfolk Turmeaus for a cigar tasting evening on Thursday featuring some of the finest Havana cigars and the best of company.

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 22.45.32Winter Cigar Auction catalogue will be online and catalogues will be posted to clients early next week. This promises to be our finest auction yet with over 350 Lots of aged and rare Havana cigars being offered by auctioneer Jonathan Humbert at The Bulgari Hotel on the 30th November.

Pheww!… That’s it for another week and I’m looking forward to kicking back this weekend with a baggie filed with Ramon Allones Orchant Seleccion and a few drams of Glendronach 🙂

Have a smokey weekend.

Peaceful puffing,