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Puffins and Petersons

This is my first blog since I visited the Puffin’ rooms, which was nearly a week ago now, but I’m still blown away by it. I knew to expect something special, as I’d seen a few photos of it and have had glowing reviews from several customers who like to frequent both locations. However, nothing could prepare me for just how ridiculously awesome it has turned out! From the moment you walk in, you know something special is going on. Low light, sleek black leather chairs and tables and a piano positioned in the corner of the room, just to remind you that you’re standing in the coolest jazz bar in the country. They even have back lit menus so you don’t have to strain your eyes. Amazing.

The mandatory cigar sampling area in Late Night Turmeaus is spacious yet cosy, with plenty of space to sit and enjoy good cigars and good company, with a gorgeous “Humidor Wall” filled with some of the finest cigars available on hand for convenience. I had to get back to Chester, so I didn’t have the chance to stay to check out their food, but even a cursory glance at their menu lets you know you’re in for a real treat if you do stop to eat there.

The Liverpool Turmeaus itself has changed a lot since I was last there too, with the former “Whisky and Pipe” section now dedicated purely to top quality spirits and it’s now absolutely bulging with them. Don’t fret though, pipe smokers: There’s still a great variety of pipes and tobacco available for us!

Make sure you check out these stores if you haven’t already. You definitely won’t regret it.

Anyway, back to other news. We’ve recently been looking at our Peterson range and looking at some of the lesser known types. It really is an astoundingly large and varied range. Peterson’s trademark “P-lip” and “Peterson System” feature in all of their standard range pipes, but they also have various ranges of more “Normal” pipes that feature traditional mouthpieces.

One of my favourites is the Aran range, which feature pipes with a smooth matte brown finish and an extensive range of classic English shapes and sizes, from Bulldogs (Aran 105) to Apples (Aran 03). Each pipe is finished with a fishtail mouthpiece – which combines comfort with an excellent spread of smoke for maximum flavour and coolness – and is fitted to a nickel mount. These are truly classic pipes.

These are my favourite for “Classic” pipes, but here are a few of my top picks for something a little different (cos you know how much I like things that are “Different”!)

Peterson Racing Green

This range really represents Peterson’s proud Irish roots, by offering a selection of pipes with a beautiful and striking, emerald green finish. This is combined with a Hallmarked Sterling Silver band, which compliments the colour of the wood and the black of the stem wonderfully. For a unique style of pipe, there’s a decent range of shapes on offer here.

Honourable mention to the Irish Sea range, which is similar, but the bowls are coloured an incredible deep sea blue/green, with a double nickel band. Breathtakingly beautiful.

A couple for the horror fans…

Double entry for this one, as they’re both suited to fans of classic horror. The Jekyll and Hyde Collection is hands down one of the most unique pipes available. Like its namesake, it features two distinct characters. One half is smooth, while the other half is rough. Guaranteed to raise eyebrows wherever you go!

The second half of this entry is slightly less weird, but in my opinion it’s the more beautiful of the two. The Dracula Ebony range was originally made to commemorate the 100th anniversary of author Bram Stroker, but is now a regular member of the Perterson line-up. It features pipes made from jet black ebony briar, contrasted against a bold, blood red stem with added gothic graphics on the stem and a winged bat engraved on the nickel band. Striking, but in no way tacky. Quite the achievement, really!

Belgique & Calabash

After running through some really unusual pipes, I thought I’d finish with something delicate and simple. These pipes are small, delicate and lightweight. They’re ideal for quick smokes or for gently sipping a slow burning tobacco. Again, a fishtail mouthpiece allows for maximum spread of the smoke from a small bowl. These miniature marvels are a perfect example of Petersons’ skills are pipe makers.

So those are my top picks for Petersons that are a little different from their standard “P-lip and System” Combo. I hope I’ve given you some cool ideas for your next pipe!

We’re just about ready for our next tasting event in Chester on Weds 20th September. There are a last few places available if you happen to be reading this before Wednesday evening), so drop me an email on calum@cgarsltd.co.uk or call us on 01244 348821 if you’d like to join us!

Until next time: Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Calum

 

KNUTSFORD KNOVELTIES

Once again, I’m writing this from one of my favourite locations: The beautiful Knutsford Turmeaus. As I’ve said before, I helped out with the initial set up and management of this shop for its first year, so I always love getting back over here every now and again to see how it’s getting on. The town of Knutsford itself is also gorgeous and well worth a visit, especially if you finish off with a cigar and a dram in the homely sampling area!

Whenever I’m here, I like to have a little mooch through their shelves and cigar room to see if I can find anything a little interesting: Stuff that we don’t stock in Chester, or lines that are starting to run low due to discontinuation. So, this week I’m giving you the lowdown of any of the harder to find stuff that I’ve spotted while I’m here!

Reserva and Gran Reserva Havanas

These select ranges of Havanas are extremely exclusive and consist of leaves selected from the finest fields Cuba has to offer before being aged for a minimum of 3 years for Reservas and 5 years for Gran Reservas. This means that these cigars are already delectably aged, right off the shelf!

Knutsford currently still have the Upmann No.2 Reserva and the Partagas Lusitania Gran Reserva. The latter consists of tobacco from the 2007 harvest, so we’re talking ten years ageing here and in the slowly heavy-hitting double corona format; It promises to be an overwhelmingly satisfying smoke.

Flor de Cano – Short Robusto – UK regional Edition 2010 

There are a few of these around, but we’ve really been struggling to get a decent amount of them! Knutsford still have a very tasty looking stash of this UK Regional Edition Havana. It was the UK release for 2010 and is very much a “cigar of the times:” Short, but with a heavy ring gauge, for a cigar that is convenient for these smoking ban afflicted times, but doesn’t let up on flavour. Expect sweet, light to medium notes throughout. At 7 years old, they’re also maturing very nicely at this point! Don’t miss your chance to try one!

Alec Bradley Fine and Rare –  Diademas

Another extremely limited release, with just 3000 ever being made. It’s extremely varied blend, utilising TEN different tobaccos (just don’t make me list them!). It’s also the only use of the very underused (IMO) double figurado style of cigar (pointed at both ends) that allows the flavour of the cigar to develop in a very different way to the standard “Parejo” (straight sided) cigar format. Technically, we do still have a few of these in Chester too, but supplies are incredibly scarce, so I’m pretty jealous of the selection Knutsford have!

All the wine!

I’ll be honest, out of all the stuff we sell, wine is probably the area I’m least clued up on. However, I’m always impressed with Knutsford’s addition of a specialist wine room. Andrew has a reputation with the local Knutsfordians as being a true wine expert and has years of experience, so he’s right at home here! Even as a relative wine novice, I can appreciate how comprehensive the wine selection here is. With prices ranging from just £8.29 for a bottle of La Campage 2016 Shiraz, up to £400 for a bottle of Dom Perignon 1976, there’s truly something for everyone here. If you’re like me and aren’t too clued up about the details of wine, simply come and talk to Andrew and the staff here: they won’t steer you wrong!

Side note: Port

While it might not be as big a range as the non-fortified wine selection here, there are plenty of options for port fans. I really enjoy a glass of port, so I always check these out while I’m here. I’m a big fan of Graham’s Six Grapes for a traditional glass of port, but my favourite is something a little bit different. I’m talking about Rubis! This dark, sweet port has the added flavour of natural chocolate. It might seem a little strange to begin with, but don’t let that put you off. Give it a try: The chocolate really brings loads of extra sweetness to the table, but without becoming sickly. It’s also silky, silky smooth. Definitely recommended!

So those are my top picks for things to try if you ever pop into the Knutsford store (which you absolutely, definitely should do, if you get the opportunity!) Next week, I’m taking a long overdue trip over to Liverpool, where I’ll be helping out in the shop, but also giving the swanky new Puffin’ Rooms a thorough test-drive. I look forward to filling you all in next week!

Until then: Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Calum

New and Exclusive: Avo Cigars!

If you’re a regular reader of this blog (thanks for that, by the way. Can you believe I’ve been writing this for nearly three years now? Doesn’t time fly?) you’ll probably know that I get disproportionately excited whenever we get a new line of products in. Usually because it gives me the excuse opportunity to sample a load of things I’ve never tried before.  This week, I have the added bonus of trying a range that is not only new, but also totally exclusive to C.Gars Ltd: Avo Cigars.

These are Dominican-made cigars and come in a variety of blends, ranging from mellow and easy to powerfully full bodied. So naturally, I’m going to work my way through them so I can give you the lowdown. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it!

Avo Domaine

One of my favourite formats of cigar is the perfecto or double figurado, (pointed at both ends) partly because it allows the cigar’s flavour to develop in an unusual way compared to regular “Parejo” cigars, but also because I feel it’s an underutilised format that really doesn’t crop up as often as it should. So naturally, my first choice for my sampling session was the Avo Domaine Short 

Perfecto: a 4 5/8” x 50rg double figurado. Like I said, this format gives the unusual experience of allowing the smoker to taste only the outer leaves of the cigar for the first few puffs. In the case of this cigar, that gives a very pronounced spicy flavour, which becomes a subtle undertone as the rest of the blend is gradually revealed. As you get further in, earthy, cocoa and vanilla notes slowly build to a rich, medium-full taste that is extremely satisfying. Great for an after-dinner smoke!

Avo XO

At the other end of the scale, we have the delicately blended XO line, which contain tobacco that has been lovingly aged for a

minimum of six years. The end result is a sumptuously smooth and mellow cigar, with hints of sweet cedar, nuts and caramel, all intermingling against a subtle creamy base. You get a nice range of formats to choose from with this range, from the crowd favourite, Robusto-sized Intermezzo (5” x 50rg) to the slim and elegant 6” x 40rg Preludio (a Corona Larga). For something in the middle, they

also have a classic tubed corona format (5” x 43, in this case) in the form of the Notturno.

I cracked on with this blog about 9am this morning and lit up a Preludio as I started, so I can vouch that these make for a perfect breakfast cigar. Mellow enough to not blow your head off, but complex enough to shake up your taste buds a bit, first thing in the morning. Or as they put it “Complex, but not complicated.” (which is a phrase I’m definitely going to steal).

We’ve only had these available for a couple of days, so I’ve not actually had time to test any more of the range, but just to keep you all up to date, here’s a quick run-down of the rest of the range. I’m sure I’ll manage to taste a few more before my next blog to give you my personal notes 😉.

Avo Classic

Looking at these, it seems like they’re going to be in the same sort of territory as the XO, as they have the same composition: Dominican Filler and Binder, dressed in a silky Ecuador Sun-Grown Wrapper. Again, this promises a mild, creamy smoke which should be ideal for an early morning smoke. Especially if you’re a breakfast-skipper like me! Currently available in the tubed Robusto format and the 4 ¾” x 48rg No.9.

Avo Heritage

Back up to the more full bodied end of the spectrum again with these and once again, we have a Dominican Filler and Binder, but this time the wrapper is a Special Ecuador Sun-Grown Habano leaf. The formats available are both short and stock options: A 4” x 56rg Short Robusto or for figurado fans: The Short Torpedo (4 ½” x 52rg). These promise to be beefy smokes, with the potential for huge clouds of smoke, with notes of dark cocoa, roasted nut, sweet oak and spice. They sound pretty awesome, so I’ll definitely be trying one soon!

Avo Syncro – Nicaragua

Ok, so to finish off, these are something totally different to the rest of the range. First up, they include tobacco from a variety of regions; They might call themselves Nicaraguan, but the filler actually contains tobacco from Nicaragua, Dominican Republic and Peru! This is contained within a Domican binder and finished off with an Ecuador Habano-Connecticut hybrid wrapper. Intriguing, right? On top of that, they also have something very rare: A boxed pressed tubo! That’s right, they actually produce a cigar in a cuboid tube! They really stand out as a real eyebrow raiser amongst the rows of round tubes in the humidor. I don’t think I’ve ever seen something like that before, so I think it’s pretty cool (it’s the little things in life, right?) As well as the aforementioned Box Pressed Toro Tobo, you can also get a Short Robusto (also box pressed, but without the cool tube, sadly).

So that’s the full range of these exclusive new cigars. I’ve been pretty impressed with what I’ve had so far and I’m definitely excited to explore the rest of the family! They’re great tasting cigars and excellent value to boot, with options starting from just under £10 per cigar and nothing getting any more expensive than £15.99. Definitely worth checking out!

Until next time: put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Calum

New Tobacco Flavour Sprays

Ooooh I do love it when we get new stuff in for me to test! It’s a tough old job, but someone has to do it! This week I’m testing the new additions to the range of tobacco flavour sprays that were released to replace flavoured hand rolling tobacco, after it was banned in May of this year. The first six flavours were available in time for the ban and naturally, this range focused on the tried and tested flavours (Cherry, vanilla, etc.). So, it makes sense that this time they’d focus more on some of the more obscure flavours… and you know how much I love weird and obscure flavours, so I was definitely looking forward to this taste test!

Strawberry

Yaaassss! I was so gutted when I saw this hadn’t been included in the original line up of sprays as it was always one of my favourite Auld Kendal flavours, so I was seriously happy when I saw it was finally coming out. To me, it seems slightly different to how I remember, but I get the feeling that’s more down to ratio than the actual taste of the spray. But more importantly, this smells AMAZING! Seriously, if you get some of this, take the lid off the spray and have a whiff…  remember those jelly strawberries you used to get from the ice cream van? Yeah, it smells exactly like them! The taste is pretty consistent with the smell, and a high concentration of spray gives a genuinely “juicy” strawberry taste, with a subtle undertone of childhood memories 😉. I know it’s the first one I tested, but I’m already in love with this one and I’m really not sure if the others will be able to top it!

Blackcurrant

The Auld Kendal Blackcurrant never quite received the love that Exzellent Spicy Blackcurrant did, but those were some mighty big shoes to fill! It was always an enjoyably flavoured tobacco, but the flavour was often that little bit too light in comparison for our customers (and me) to choose it over Exzellent’s intensely flavoured offering. However, now we have control over how much flavour goes on, it’s a real gamechanger! The smell/taste of this is very distinctive; it’s almost exactly like a blackcurrant cough sweet, to the extent where I can’t tell if there’s a slight hint of menthol or if it’s just my brain playing tricks on me! Either way, if you liked either of the blackcurrant flavours we had before, you should really enjoy this one!

Cherry Menthol

Speaking of vaguely menthol things! In its original form, this was always something of a marmite tobacco. Some people really went for the unusual, cough candy-esque taste, whereas others couldn’t quite get down with the concept of a fruit and menthol flavour combination. So, whether you’ll like this one or not will very much be down to your own personal tastes, but I can tell you this much: It’s seriously potent. I’m wondering if my ratio was a little off, or maybe it’s just because it’s the first menthol I’ve had in spray form, but holy hell, my first puff of this literally took my breath away and it genuinely made me go “Woah!” Weirdly (considering the menthol is only half the story here, flavour-wise) this has to be the most pronounced menthol taste I’ve found in a tobacco, leaving your throat incredibly cool and a little bit tingly, with a subtle cherry sweetness on your tongue. It might not be for everyone, but those who liked the original cherry menthol, should enjoy how intense this spray can get!

Spearmint

Another menthol-ish spray and another smell reminiscent of childhood sweets. The aroma is almost exactly the same as the Spearmint Chews I remember selling when we had a sweet shop in Liverpool. After nearly blowing my brains out with the Cherry Menthol, I was a little wary of another minty spray, but this is way more approachable. Interestingly, it gives a distinctly minty taste, but doesn’t catch the back of your throat in the way regular menthol does. It’s also a great option for a “Similar but different” tobacco for people who usually smoke regular menthol, but fancy a bit of variety.

Rum

I’m really not sure about this one. It’s definitely enjoyable, but I can’t quite put my finger on the taste. There’s certainly a hint of dark rum to it, but I think at other times the flavour becomes a little more like chocolate or caramel. This is most likely due to the natural sugary sweetness of dark rum. There are also occasional spicy hints, so if you’re a fan of stuff like Dark Matter or Sailor Jerry, you should like this! From what I’ve picked up from customers here, I think people expect this to be quite strong, as it’s spirit-based, but I think it’s actually pretty mellow and approachable, so don’t let that put you off if you’re curious!

So those are the five new sprays we have. Personally, I think they’re generally better than the first batch as far as flavour and aroma quality goes, even if the flavours are a little more unusual. So, if you tried any of the first batch and didn’t quite like them: Don’t write them off completely. It feels like they have the formula down a little better for this new batch.

Until next time: Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Calum

Con-D’oh!

Are you a Condor smoker? I’m going to have a wild stab in the dark and guess that you’re a little bit annoyed at the moment as there seems to be a nationwide shortage of the stuff! We’ve had people from all over the country in recently, hoping that we’d be able to get some for them, but unfortunately, it’s looking like it’ll be a few more weeks before we’ll be able to get any in! Fear not though, we’re on hand to help with some alternatives in the mean time! You can also request a notification when Condor arrives, via the website.

There’s a particular range of tobacco that is part of Gawith Hoggarth’s Kendal range, that are often referred to as the “Lakeland flakes.” These share some pretty similar characteristics with Condor, so I thought I’d use this week’s blog to give you a run-down of some of my favourites, in case you’re missing Condor and need an alternative!

Coniston Cut Plug In my opinion, this is the closest to Condor that we have. As a cut plug, it’s most similar to condor long cut (although technically a little shorter cut) but if you prefer Condor Ready Rubbed, it’s pretty easy to rub out to the same consistency… if you ask us nicely, we might even do it for you 😉. As for the taste, it shares Condor’s cool, medium bodied character and distinctively floral and woody notes on the palate. Even when we’re not struggling to get Condor, I often recommend this to Condor smokers who fancy a change… but not too much of a change!

Bosun flake Bosun has a similar body and a very similar character, with hints of geranium and wood, but this time, the emphasis is far more on the woody side than the floral side. This gives a far richer tasting smoke, with a little more sweetness than the Coniston. One of my personal favourites for a day to day smoke.

Grasmere Flake

Now we’re going in the other direction: Grasmere flake holds off on the woody notes in favour of a full dose of powerful floral notes and aromas with a sweet cream undertone! Be warned: This is easily the most potently aromatic of the range, so it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, as the powerful floral taste can almost taste a little soapy (in fact, I once read a review for it that simply said “Whoops, I think I just put Imperial Leather in my pipe by mistake!) But if you like that element of Condor’s character, then this blend will give you it by the bucket load!

Glengary Flake In no way related to the curse word laden David Mamet play Glengarry Glen Ross (/film adaption staring Al Pacino) this flake sits at the milder end of the spectrum. It still has some of the floral notes, but with a far sweeter and more delicate taste, with hints of honeydew. We’re straying a little away from the Condor-esque blends here, but it could make for a nice change while you’re waiting for your old favourite to return!

Ennerdale Flake I’m going to finish with a bang, as this is the most full bodied of the range. While the strength of the casing isn’t quite as potent as the Grasmere, it more than makes up for it with a base of rich dark tobacco that gives this blend a full, dark chocolatey backbone. Interestingly, there’s also a hint of clove in there which would normally put me off, but I think it works really well with the overall sweetness of the blend. So, there we go, I hope that helps a few readers keep going until their Condor arrives!

Until next time:

Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Calum

AN EVENING IN WITH ALEC BRADLEY

We’ve had another fun week up in the north! Last Wednesday we had another one of our tried and tested Cigar and whisky tasting evenings. So naturally, this week, I’m going to give you a run-down of the fun we got up to across the evening!

Sadly, due to a few last-minute cancelations, it ended up being a bit quieter than usual, but personally I quite like it when we have evenings like that (and not just because it means a less hectic evening for me and my colleagues!) because it means we can shift the pace of the evening to a quieter and more intimate pace than usual, giving our guests plenty of opportunity to ask questions and get to know each other a bit better.

Our last event was a Cuban night, so we mixed it up a bit and had a Honduran evening this time! We were joined by Scott Vines of Tor Imports (our UK suppliers for Alec Bradley and many many MANY other New world brands) to give us the lowdown on what we were sampling.

We started the evening with the Alec Bradley Black Market Punk, which is one of the newer releases from Alec Bradley. Compared to the hefty sizes of the rest of the Black Market range such as the 6” x 50rg Toro or the  6 1/8 x 54rg Torpedo, it stands at a comparatively diminutive 4 ½” x 42 , but don’t be fooled: It’s a real firecracker of a cigar; absolutely packed with rich, spicy flavours from the very first puff, which are balanced beautifully with a creamy vanilla undertone. I believe this was my first time trying this size (although I do sometimes lose track) but as regular readers know, I’m a big fan of “Big flavour in a small package” cigars, such as Partagas Shorts and Ramon Allones Small Club Coronas, so this cigar suits me down to the ground. I’ll definitely be getting more of these in the future.

Our “Main course” for the evening was from Alec Bradley’s Prensado range: The Robusto. Prensado literally means “Pressed” so it should be no surprise that the entire range is box-pressed. Nobody seems to be able to decide on exactly why manufactures started producing box-pressed cigars; Some people say it was to prevent the cigars rolling around in the box during transport (back when a majority of exporting was done by sea) whereas some people say it was to stop the cigars rolling off rollers’ tables while they were being made. Either way, the resulting cigar is another full-bodied beauty. Sweet, leathery notes with a touch of spice, albeit less spicy than the Black Market, but still very satisfying.

One thing a lot of our guests pointed out was just how consistent the quality of the cigars was, when it came down to construction and draw. It seems like New World cigars really have this element down. I always attribute it to the fact Cuba have pretty much established themselves as the king of the cigar world, so New World cigar manufacturers always seem to go that extra mile to prove they’re worthy of being mentioned alongside King Cuba. Well, Cuba may be King, but it could learn a lesson or two from the New World when it comes quality control!

Along with the cigars, our guest sampled a flight of whisky selected by Steph, our budding new whisky buff. For the evening, she had selected the light and easy Benromach 10 year old, followed by the sweet and smooth Tomatin 12 year old, capped off with something a bit special: The powerfully peaty Lagavulin 12 year old, a special release to celebrate Lagavulin’s 200th anniversary.

All in all, I think the evening went down very well with all our guests. There are plenty more to look forward to for the rest of the year, which can be found here. Keep an eye on the October events especially. I can’t say too much at this point, but we’re planning something very special, including a guest and an extremely exclusive cigar to sample… Got you intrigued? Well, watch this space…!

Until next time:

Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Calum

Change of Scene

Phew, I’ve had a busy week! I started off in Chester as usual, with the heat bringing out loads of people looking for cigars to enjoy in the sun. Or conversely, enjoying our icy cool air conditioned cigar sampling lounge when the heat got too much. We’re also blessed with a lot of history in the shop, as we’re a grade 2 listed building, so we have no shortage of tourists checking out our quintessentially “Olde English” shop. So, in short: it’s a very busy time for us!

After a busy start to the week in Chester, on Wednesday I hopped on a train down to London for a cigar and champagne pairing session set up by Hunters and Frankau for the various Masters of Havana Cigars dotted around the country. I will admit I’m not a huge champagne buff and it’s not something I’d always think of as a classic cigar pairing, so it was quite an eye-opening session. We tested three Havana cigars; a Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No.2, a Romeo y Julieta Short Churchill and a Partagas Serie E No.2 all paired with a selection of Champagnes.

As well as opening my eyes to more possibilities with cigar and champers pairings, it also reminded me of a couple of great smokes that I’ve let slip out my rotation. Mostly, the Partagas E2; I remember both Roy and myself going nuts for these, when they first came out (Back when Havanas with a gauge over 52 were something of a rarity.) However, since La Casa del Habano opened, I’ve been favouring the immensely awesome Partagas Salomones when I’ve fancied a big Partagas, or just sticking to the smaller Serie D No.4s or Partagas Shorts for convenience. Now I’ve been reminded of just how good the E2s are, they’re firmly back in my regular rotation.

After a good herf with some familiar faces and a quick catch up with my Sister and family in Finsbury Park, I jumped back on the train to Chester.

Thursday and Friday saw me returning to what has to be my second favourite place to work within C.Gars Ltd: Turmeaus Knutsford. Prior to taking over as Store Manager in Chester, I helped set up and run the Knutsford shop, while it was in its infancy, so it’s always nice to get back over here for a few shifts to see how everything’s getting on. The staff here are a universally great bunch (not that this isn’t true of all our stores, of course!) so it’s especially nice to get over here to see them.

I’m pleased to say that the Knutsford store continues to be amazing, with its specialist wine room and locally known wine expert, Andrew at the helm. Their wonderfully cosy cigar and pipe sampling lounge is one of the best I’ve ever visited and has an especially “homely” vibe.

Naturally, I had a little mooch around the cigar room and was pleased to see some excellent cigars nested away amongst the stock, including Partagas Gran Reserva Lusitanias and H. Upmann No.2 Reservas. There are also a last few of the ridiculously popular Trinidad Topes left here. These Edicion Limitadas have been flying off the shelves faster than we can get them in and supplies are now starting to run low, so get them while you can. This may well be your last chance!

Speaking of changes, I’m also very happy to say that C.Gars’ latest venture, The Puffin’ Rooms in Liverpool is now officially open for business. This is a late-night establishment, open from 5pm till late, 7 days a week. It features our usual top quality range of spirits, but also cocktails, delicious food, music, a new cigar sampling lounge and humidor. Our customers have always said they wished our shops were open in the evening for some after work cigars and refreshments, so here’s the proof that we do listen! I’ve not been over to Liverpool since work was finished on the Puffin’ Rooms, but I’ll be getting over there soon to check it out, so keep an eye out on future blogs for more information! Best of luck to the Liverpool team for the new venture!

Until next time:

Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Calum

In with the new!

I think anyone who knows me knows one thing for sure: I love working in the specialist tobacco trade. I get to work with products that I’m genuinely passionate about and mostly get to talk with people who share my hobby. However, my one foible with the trade is that there’s not always a huge amount of new products on the market. So, when we have a run of new things, I tend to get a little excited! So, this week, I’m going to give you a run-down of some of the new goodies we’ve had in recently!

Flavour Sprays

Ok, I know these aren’t a “new” new product, as they’re been out for a few months now. However, we’ve just been informed that a few new flavours have been added to the original six. These are Spearmint, Strawberry, Blackcurrant, Cherry Brandy, Rum and Cherry Menthol. I’m pretty happy to hear this, as I was always a big fan of the flavoured rolling tobacco and was struggling a bit with only having 6 sprays to choose from! Thankfully, these new flavours bump the total up to 12 and include a few of my favourites from the former AK range (yay, strawberry!) This is actually an advanced scoop, as we’ve only just heard they’re available, so they won’t be here for sale for another few days, but keep an eye out for them arriving very soon!

9mm Basket Pipes

Our “Basket Pipes” have always been a hugely popular product for us. If you’re wondering what a “Basket pipe” is: They’re simply no frills pipes that we sell in assorted baskets at a great value price. The Cool and Sweet pipes have always been a customer favourite. However, there was always something missing from this range and that thing is filter pipes! Well, we’ve finally been able to plug this gap with a new assortment of 100% genuine briar filter pipes. Now you don’t have to choose between a bargain pipe and a filter pipe, you can have both! Again, these are so new that they’re not actually available online yet, but they can be found at our Chester Store.

Regius Media Corona

Nothing makes me happier than getting in some new cigars to try! Regius are a very popular brand, amazing value and one of my go-to smokes. Again, I’d always felt something was missing from the range: There were plenty of nice long, heavy gauge cigars to enjoy over an hour or so, but there wasn’t anything to fill the need for a convenient, short smoke. Finally, the Media corona has arrived to fill that gap! Measuring up at 3 ½” x 46rg, this new format allows for a cigar that perfectly expresses the sweet, mellow chocolatey flavour in a convenient 20-30 minute smoke. definitely going to be a regular choice for me from now on!

New Tubed Havanas!

Ok, again, I guess these aren’t technically new cigars (although one definitely fits into the category of “New-ish”) but a couple of Havanas are now being released in cedar lined tubes for the first time and both of them are firm favourites of mine. There first is one of the newer additions to the Partagas Portfolio, the Serie E No.2 and the other is the newest H. Upmann, the Magnum 54. Both of these are good, chunky 54 RG cigars, which allows for the full taste of the blend to be enjoyed. I’m a huge fan of both of these, especially the Partagas Serie E No.2, as I was reminded at a tasting a few weeks ago! So, the fact I can now enjoy both in the convenient tubed format is a real bonus for me. Tubes are not only handy for keeping cigars fresh if you don’t have access to a humidor, but they also offer great physical protection for cigars, so they’re perfect for just keeping in your pocket if you’re attending an event, but don’t want to have to carry a cigar case with you!

So, there you go: It’s good to see some new stuff coming in! Hopefully there’s something in there that you’d like to try!

Until next time: Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Calum

One for the non-smokers!

I’m back over in our beautiful Knutsford store for the day again today, sitting in the sampling lounge, giving a Carlos Torano Exodus 1959 Robusto a thorough testing (which is a superb cigar for under a tenner, by the way,) trying to think of something a bit different to write about, to fit in with the change from my usual scene. I think after a few years of writing this blog, I’ve really covered a lot of everything we can offer to smokers. Then it hit me: What about the non-smokers??

I know this is a bit weird, considering we specialise in tobacco products and various smokers’ sundries, but some people don’t realise that we actually sell some stuff that non-smokers can enjoy too! So if you’d like to visit one of our fabulous retail stores or do a bit of online shopping, but happen to be with a non-smoker, here are a few things they might like to look at, while you’re salivating at our cigar and pipe tobacco selection!

Clothing

That’s right… we sell clothes! Don’t believe me? Check out the link above! Now, I know a lot of the shirts there might not be the sort of thing people who don’t smoke would wear, unless they’re doing it ironically. Although, I guess the line breaks in the “I love Her – fin” one mean it could be used for anyone who really loves female dolphins…  Wait, that came out wrong… Sorry.

Terrible jokes aside, there are a few on there that even non-smokers could appreciate. Even without the cigars, Che Guevara has had a huge impact on our culture and people’s political views. I was an early 2000s “alternative” teen and as a result, pretty much every other one of my friends owned that classic “Che” T-Shirt… you know the one (because what says non-conformism more than all owning the same shirt, right?!) So, I’m sure a shirt showing a picture of one of his iconic speeches would be a welcome gift for many people.

Also: After Cigars and Rum, the one thing people who have visited Cuba always comment on is the amount of classic American cars on the road (I’m not really into cars, but even I was impressed) so this shirt with a classic Cuban car on is sure to delight many an automobile aficionado!

Cushions

Not content with just dressing yourself? Fear not; we can also help you dress your house! These super comfy cushions – each featuring a classic quote or image –  adorn all of our sampling lounges and our guests always comment on how much they like them, so we made them available to purchase!

As with the shirts, many of these might not be suitable for non-smokers, but thanks to the variety of quotes available there are some that anyone could appreciate, because everyone loves a Churchill quote, right?

Favourites include:

“I drink a great deal, I sleep a little, and I smoke cigar after cigar. That is why I am in 200% form” (available here)

“The water was not fit to drink. To make it palatable we had to add whisky. By diligent effort, I learned to like it” (available here)

There’s also a selection of cushions with whisky quotes, for the non-smoker who still enjoys a decent dram.

Gentlemen’s Shaving Accessories

I’ve mentioned these before, so I’ll keep it brief, but our range of classic shaving accessories always go down well! It seems these days, people are really taking gents’ grooming back to being a legit pastime, rather than a daily necessity. There’s just something about lathering up a traditional badger hair shaving brush with some classically scented shaving soap and taking the time to apply it, before going over it with a conventional safety razor that is sooooo satisfying and is totally unmatched by the more modern variants. Throw in some beautiful accessories, such as this gorgeous mahogany shaving bowl and you have an excellent range of options for smokers and non-smokers alike.

Poker Sets

This may be one that’s suitable for non-smokers, but I get the feeling cigar smokers would appreciate it a little bit more. After all, what’s poker night without cigars?! Poker is one of my favourite hobbies so I’m glad we can offer a decent range of Casino quality sets, so you can stock up on chips at the same time you’re buying your cigars for enjoying during the game. The American Eagle set will make you want to chant “U – S – A! U – S – A!” as you play, while the Half Size set makes for a great value alternative, while maintaining top quality. Now all you need is the Cigars and the Scotch!

So, there’s the proof, we might be a tobacco retailer, but you don’t have to be a smoker to enjoy everything we sell!

Until next time: Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Calum

Con-D’oh!

Are you a Condor smoker? I’m going to have a wild stab in the dark and guess that you’re a little bit annoyed at the moment as there seems to be a nationwide shortage of the stuff! We’ve had people from all over the country in recently, hoping that we’d be able to get some for them, but unfortunately, it’s looking like it’ll be a few more weeks before we’ll be able to get any in! Fear not though, we’re on hand to help with some alternatives in the mean time! You can also request a notification when Condor arrives, via the website.

There’s a particular range of tobacco that is part of Gawith Hoggarth’s Kendal range, that are often referred to as the “Lakeland flakes.” These share some pretty similar characteristics with Condor, so I thought I’d use this week’s blog to give you a run-down of some of my favourites, in case you’re missing Condor and need an alternative!

Coniston Cut Plug In my opinion, this is the closest to Condor that we have. As a cut plug, it’s most similar to condor long cut (although technically a little shorter cut) but if you prefer Condor Ready Rubbed, it’s pretty easy to rub out to the same consistency… if you ask us nicely, we might even do it for you 😉. As for the taste, it shares Condor’s cool, medium bodied character and distinctively floral and woody notes on the palate. Even when we’re not struggling to get Condor, I often recommend this to Condor smokers who fancy a change… but not too much of a change!

Bosun flake Bosun has a similar body and a very similar character, with hints of geranium and wood, but this time, the emphasis is far more on the woody side than the floral side. This gives a far richer tasting smoke, with a little more sweetness than the Coniston. One of my personal favourites for a day to day smoke.

Grasmere Flake

Now we’re going in the other direction: Grasmere flake holds off on the woody notes in favour of a full dose of powerful floral notes and aromas with a sweet cream undertone! Be warned: This is easily the most potently aromatic of the range, so it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, as the powerful floral taste can almost taste a little soapy (in fact, I once read a review for it that simply said “Whoops, I think I just put Imperial Leather in my pipe by mistake!) But if you like that element of Condor’s character, then this blend will give you it by the bucket load!

Glengary Flake In no way related to the curse word laden David Mamet play Glengarry Glen Ross (/film adaption staring Al Pacino) this flake sits at the milder end of the spectrum. It still has some of the floral notes, but with a far sweeter and more delicate taste, with hints of honeydew. We’re straying a little away from the Condor-esque blends here, but it could make for a nice change while you’re waiting for your old favourite to return!

Ennerdale Flake I’m going to finish with a bang, as this is the most full bodied of the range. While the strength of the casing isn’t quite as potent as the Grasmere, it more than makes up for it with a base of rich dark tobacco that gives this blend a full, dark chocolatey backbone. Interestingly, there’s also a hint of clove in there which would normally put me off, but I think it works really well with the overall sweetness of the blend. So, there we go, I hope that helps a few readers keep going until their Condor arrives!

Until next time:

Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Calum