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Cohiba Talisman Time!

Hi readers! Did you miss me? I’ve just got back to business after a couple of weeks off, where I enjoyed various smokes and Halloween mischief with Jo. As the clocks went back I fulfilled my annual tradition of breaking out a tin of my person favourite “winter warmer” pipe tobacco: Samuel Gawith’s Fire Dance Flake, which is a beautiful Virginia flake, topped with the essence of blackberries, brandy and vanilla, guaranteed to warm the cockles!

I also had my first taste of the recently released Davidoff Winston Churchill Late hour, which – somewhat intriguingly – are aged in whisky barrels, giving them a bold but sweet character.

I may have confessed this in this blog before, but I haven’t always been the biggest fan of Davidoff cigars, as I spent a long time as something of a “Havanas only” smoker and was always put off by the fact that Davidoffs tend to cost a similar amount to Havanas. However, over the last year or so, I’ve really developed an appreciation for Davidoff and can understand why they carry the premium price tag; In many cases, the blends are just as enjoyable as Havana brands and the consistency of the construction is absolutely on point. I’ve smoked a lot of ‘Doffs lately and I’m yet to have one that hasn’t burned and drawn absolutely perfectly. Particular favourites have been the Nicaragua Robusto, the Winston Churchill Toro and for a great value option the Winston Churchill Belicoso (It’s medium filler, but I promise you wouldn’t guess!) I’ve also been continuing my recent obsession with traditional English/Balkan/Scotch style pipe tobacco, in fact, I’m puffing away on a beautiful smoky and nutty bowl of Davidoff Scottish Mix (Davidoff aren’t paying me to say this, I promise… this one’s a genuine coincidence that I literally didn’t realise until I started typing that sentence…)

Anyway, on to more current affairs. I’m writing this on the evening of Thursday November 9th, which means we’re just a few days removed from one of the most highly anticipated events on the cigar calendar this year: The launch of the Cohiba Talisman! This is the 2017 Edicion Limitada that we’ve all been excitedly waiting for nearly all year! I was lucky enough to get invited to the official launch in London. Unfortunately, I had the travel day from hell and my train was delayed by several hours so I missed part of the event, but I just got there with enough time to try this insanely luxurious new cigar and catch up with the rest of the C. Gars crew in attendance. If you haven’t already snapped up one of these beauties, you absolutely have to give them a try. Classic sweet grassy Cohiba notes, but with a little extra oomph. If the last few Cohiba Edicion Limitadas (Robusto Supremo and 1966) are anything to go by, these cigars will disappear in a flash, so make sure you get them before they’re gone for good. Seriously, blink and you might miss them, so don’t delay!

If you didn’t make it to Cohiba Talisman event, don’t fret! We still have plenty more events lined up in the remainder of the year. There are still loads more on top of those too and Late Night Turmeaus in Liverpool now host weekly tastings! Keep an eye on our Upcoming Events page for more details.

Before I go, just a heads up, now we’re getting deeper into November, its officially Christmas in retail, so get ready for plenty of festive themed blogs and gift suggestions!

Until next time:

Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Calum

Turmeaus Late Hour – Liverpool – Cohiba Talisman LE2017 Launch

Our next event at Turmeaus Late Hour Cigar Shop & Sampling lounge see’s the launch of the first Limited Edition Havana cigar for 2017 – the much anticipated Cohiba Talisman Limited Edition 2017 (Edición Limitada 2017)!

Due to the extremely limited and desirable nature of these cigars, we expect them to sell out in the UK market very quickly. This event therefore is an exclusive chance to be one of the first people to sample the cigar after the official launch of this flagship Cuban cigar at the Hunters & Frankau event on the 7th of November.

Your event ticket will include one of the new Cohiba Talisman 2017 along with a dram of Tomatin Whisky to pair with. If you’ve been to our events before you will know they are a great night of fun and conversation. Our very own managing director Mitchell Orchant will be making an appearance so be sure to get your tickets fast before they sell out.

Tickets are priced at £40 per person and are available on this link.

An evening With Alec Bradley – Round 2: The launch

A few years ago, we hosted an Alec Bradley tasting night. if memory serves, it was possibly our first ever New World cigar evening in Chester… definitely one of the first few anyway. In fact, it was long enough ago that it was actually before we opened Turmeaus Whisky in Chester, so we had to host the event outdoors at our favourite local venue, Bar Lounge, Chester.

Even though we love Bar Lounge, we felt we could do a little better now that we have dedicated New World Cigar Sampling areas, meaning we can sample New World cigars indoors! So, last week we invited our customers and friends to join us for another evening with Alec Bradley. Once again, we were honoured to be joined by George Sosa of Alec Bradley Cigars; An industry legend. George was there to tell us all about Alec Bradley and the special cigars we had for that evening (more on that shortly) as well as telling stories of the cigar trade and entertaining us with his rapier sharp wit.

We were also joined by Scott and Helen from Tor Imports, plus David and Mark from Turmeaus Liverpool & The Puffin’ Rooms, so this was a pretty full house for us! On top of all that, we also had platters of ridiculously delicious food from the aforementioned Bar Lounge and a cake!

So, you might be wondering why we laid on so much this time? Well, obviously, it’s because we really like our customers and want them to have the best time possible when they come to these evenings, but it wasn’t just that. This evening was the launch of our very own exclusive line of Alec Bradley cigars!

We’ve had some wonderful results with our own exclusive ranges of cigars so far… Inka Secret Blend, our Peruvian Puros, were our first proper

step into own brand cigars (We did have some exclusive “C.Gars Nicaraguan” cigars available when I first started, which were delicious, but now long gone) and have always gone down well with our customers. From what we see, people really appreciate the quality of the cigars compared to the price. The fact that they’re totally different to pretty much anything else available in the UK is a huge plus too! Following the success of Inkas, we branched out to offer a premium premium version: The Inca Reserva D’oro, which features the notoriously hard to grow Pele D’oro leaf, giving it a delicate, sugary sweet flavour.

After the success of Inkas, we launched something else a little different for us: The Orchant Seleccion Olivas. This was the first time we’ve had a pre-existing cigar manufacturer make us an exclusive cigar under their own name. I’m glad that Oliva was the brand chosen to do this, as they’re hands down my favourite range of Nicaraguan cigars (Especially the Flor de Oliva Robusto & Churchill and pretty much everything from the “Melanio” range!)

That’s without mentioning cigars that aren’t technically our own brands, but that we do have exclusive UK distributions rights for. Such as Regius and Avo.

So the next step is the Alec Bradley Orchant seleccion. This range comes in the same sizes as the Oliva Orchant Sleccion: Shorty, Skinny and Chubby. They use tobacco from Honduras and Nicaragua for a smooth, sweet blend. Interestingly they also use a double binder, which makes them a suuuuper sloooow smoke! During our launch, our guests were given a Shorty (Robusto) and a Chubby (Bombaso) to sample and even thought it was a 2-hour session, most guests only just finished the Chubby in that time!

Of course, that might be because we kept distracting them with talks, food and cake. We also sampled some whisky from Highland Park, including their latest release, the Highland Park Valkyrie,  which continues to embrace the Viking heritage of Highland Park.

Once we’d finished, the crew hit the road for Liverpool, ready to do it all over again the following evening for our friends and customers in the other side of the Mersey.

These events were exclusive early tastings for the cigars, so they’re not fully available yet. However, if you’re lucky, a few of our shops might have a few left over from the tasting. If you flutter your eyelashes at the staff, they might just be able to sort you out with one to have your own exclusive early tasting. Failing that, watch this space for news on the full launch of the range.

If you missed out, there a short video on youtube showing the fun and frolics at the Chester event, which can be found here.

Also, don’t forget to check out our Upcoming Events section so you don’t miss any fun in the future!

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

Calum

Tasting Nights and New Tastes

Hi readers! It’s been a little while since I last blogged and we’ve been having a lot of fun “Ooop North”.

Last Wednesday, we had one of our awesome cigar and whisky tasting sessions in Chester. These are always popular and we had a nice full house for the second session. Nothing makes me happier than seeing this shop full of happy customers enjoying themselves with whisky and cigars to sample. I know I say this every time, but it really drives home just how far Turmeaus has come in the years since I first took a Saturday job here back in 2009!

We’ve been mixing up the format of tasting sessions a little since we first started doing them. They’re still insanely good value (more on that shortly) but this time we switched from doing a “starter” and a “Main course” (a small cigar followed by a larger one) to doing one nice big cigar!

We also gave our guests the choice of two cigars of the same format, depending on their preferences. This time, the selected vitola was the “Geniales,” a beefy, 5 7/8” x 54rg Parejo. The choices were also both (relatively) new additions to the UK Habanos portfolio: The Hoyo de Monterrey San Juan and the Montecristo Open Eagle. The

San Juan is a beautifully delicate cigar, with subtle sweet, woody notes and a surprisingly rich finish for such a mellow cigar. The Open range of Montecristo is theoretically a milder alternative to the traditional, medium-full Montecristo blend, but the Eagle’s 54 ring gauge allows for a slightly fuller bodied and spicy taste profile. Both cigars produce extremely satisfying clouds of smoke… it got a little hard to see in the Casa lounge at times!

Across the evening, our guests were also given three drams of whisky to try along with their cigars, including Springbank 10 year old (our Malt of the Month for September) and one of our new exclusive releases: Stalla Dhu Cask Strength Ben Nevis 18 year old which is already going down extremely well with our customers.

The following week, our Liverpool store held its next tasting event: An evening with Amrut Indian whisky. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend myself due to other commitments, but it sounds like it was an excellent night. The gang tried some Amrut whiskies that aren’t even released yet, as well as the more classic Amruts. As an Anglo-Indian (I know… I was surprised when I heard I wasn’t half Jamaican/Caribbean too…) I’ve always had a soft spot for Indian whisky, especially because Inida’s hot climate massively accelerates the ageing process! Attendees also got to sample one of our exclusive Avo cigars, the Avo Domaine ND 20 . Sounds like it was a great night, so I’ll definitely make sure I can get to the next one!

As I said, these evenings are insanely good value. To put it in perspective, a single Montecristo Open Eagle is £22.99 online (at the time of writing). A ticket to the last Chester Event was only £20 to begin with! So even if you just showed up and had the cigar, you’d still be saving a few quid and that’s not even factoring in the three measures of whisky or rum and the two hour reserved slot in our comfy lounge… it’s kinda crazy really isn’t it?! Throw in the fact that members of our exclusive Whisky Club get tickets for HALF PRICE and it starts to get seriously loopy!

So, if you’re near to one of our stores and haven’t tried one of our events yet: Get on it quickly before we realise how crazy we’re being and put the price up 😉! You can find all our upcoming events here

In other news, we’ve recently added a few new lines of Blending Tobacco in Chester. These are to help people who had previously been enjoying our custom blends but can no longer buy them due to the new laws. So now you can buy a few different tobaccos with which to experiment at home yourself! These include Louisiana Perique, (for adding a powerful, spicy edge to your bend), Turkish Coarse Cut (Rugged, robust and full bodied) and McConnell’s 100% Cuban (the champagne of tobacco leaves, cut to be suitable for pipe smoking. If you’ve been missing our custom blends, get yourself a few of these and have fun experimenting with your own blends, you never know what you might stumble across.

Sidenote: Personally, I think the 100% Cuban blend is suitable to be smoked on its own, but it has one hell of a kick to it and is on the slightly drier side, so you might want to test the water first

before diving in fully. I’ve also had some (limited) success using it as alternative to rolling tobacco (like you can do with some of the Kendal Coarse Cut blends) but frankly, I’m a bit of a savage and can’t really be trusted on things like this, so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to sensible people. Even my throat wasn’t overly impressed with me after a few days of “Cuban rollies!”

So that’s what we’ve been up to recently. Check back next week for more news and updates!

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

Calum

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