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Did you miss me?!

Hi again, Calum from Turmeaus Chester here, back in the blogosphere after a few month’s hiatus! I took a little break from blogging to focus on doing more video related things for our growing YouTube channel. If you haven’t checked it out yet, make sure you do, for reviews, how to videos and other video-based hi jinks (I even had a go at combining cigar smoking and yoga in celebration of of World Yoga Day a few months ago!) However, I’m now bravely attempting the challenge that is multi-tasking (considering that I often have trouble merely ‘tasking’) and will hopefully now be back to bringing you weekly blogs as well as my video ramblings.

So, what’s been going on since I last blogged? Well, not a huge amount is new with me personally, but Turmeaus and C. Gars are continuing to grow. Our shops are busier than ever and our groundbreaking evening destination, the Puffin’ Rooms, in Liverpool has gone down an absolute storm. As I mentioned earlier, we’re also putting much more focus on video content on our YouTube channel now, with me, James, Ant trying to keep videos coming thick and fast.

As for products, we’ve had some very cool new releases over the last few months. Some of which are simply very enjoyable, whereas others have been a genuine surprise. So let’s have a quick run through of some of my favourites.

NEW EXCLUSIVE CIGARS

I won’t go too in depth here, as some of these were released a few months ago now, so I’m sure you’re already aware of them. Ever since our exclusively made Inka Secret Blend range came out and went down so well – several years ago now – we decided to keep going with the exclusives. In the last year, we’ve added:

Mitchelleros,  an exceptionally good value Nicaraguan cigar, mellow and easy going, ideal for newbies and experienced smokers alike.

Seleccion Orchant Alec Bradleys: After the success of the Orchant Olivas, we decided to give Alec Bradleys the same treatment. This are medium bodied cigars, but with a beautifully complex, sweet flavour. Think caramel and crème brulee, possibly my favourite of all our exclusives.

Davidoff Orchant Seleccion: Another cigar made elusively for us by a pre-existing manufacturer. The only size available is an elegant Lancero, which is a prefect change of pace in today’s robusto-dominated market.

OTHER NEW CIGARS

There have been a few other new releases recently that I’ve taken a bit of a shine to:

Highclere Castle Cigars: If you haven’t heard of Highclere Castle you’ve probably at least seen it; It is the site where they film Downton Abbey. Highclere Castle has a rich history of cigar smokers, so the current owner decided it would be fitting to create the Highclere Cigar Company. The cigars are produced by AJ Fernandez and are a Nicaraguan blend, with a Connecticut Shade grown wrapper and Brazilian binder. Mellow and easy, they are said to be especially blended for British Palates.

New Backwoods Flavours

Changing pace a bit, we have some new releases from the American style flavoured cigars from Backwoods. I know flavoured cigars aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re a fan of them, then Backwoods make an excellent smoke with a cool, rustic presentation. I  have a massive sweet tooth, so I’ve always enjoyed their range, but this time it almost felt like they’d looked down the list of “Calum’s favourite flavours” and picked my top two. That’s right, we now sell Backwoods in Grape and Honey flavours. Grape is basically my favourite flavour for anything, whether it be soft drinks, sweets, fruit juice, but I’ve never known a cigar (or tobacco) with that flavour available in the UK. So it’s pretty safe to say I was bouncing off the walls when I saw that these were coming. As for the honey variety, I’ve always said honey flavours go really well with tobacco too and Backwoods have nailed the flavour here, so they’re another very worthy addition to the range.

CHEWING TOBACCO BAGS

Speaking of surprises… I might have been a bit surprised when the Backwoods Grape flavour, but nothing compares to how surprised I was when I found out about these. If you’ve heard for Snus (Bags of damp, snuff-like tobacco, that are placed under the lip for oral consumption) you will probably;y know it’s never been allowed for sale in the UK. Well, technically it still isn’t, but these new “Chewing Bags” fill the void extremely well, but are different enough that they are classed as an entirely different entity to Snus. I’ve only tried Snus a limited amount of times, but personally I can’t see any significant differences between the two. So if you or anyone you know has been lamenting the lack of Snus in the UK, make sure you let them know about these. There are a few flavours available, from the rich and spicy natural tobacco taste of Cut Titanium Original to the cool, sweet menthol taste of Thunder X Icebomb (my personal favourite). They’re definitely a very unusual way to taste tobacco with quite a unique flavour. They’re also extremely invigorating; I’m a certified caffeine addict, so they’ve proven extremely useful for perking me up through my inevitable mid-afternoon caffeine crash!

So those are my top picks for some of the new products we’ve had in. I’ll be back to weekly blogs from this point (hopefully!) so I’ll be back soon!

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

Calum

Top 5 Pipe Tobaccos for the Summer

As summer approaches we always try and find the perfect tobacco for any summer occasion. I have put together a list of great tobaccos I feel are perfect for the hot weather.

  1. Rattrays Buckingham

This blend is full of wonderful flavours and aromas. You get Hickory nut, vanilla and cinnamon, if that doesn’t intrigue we don’t know what will. This has to be up there as a must try tobacco. Rattrays never fail to make quality pipes and tobacco, the Buckingham mixture combines a mixture of Black cavendish, Golden Virginias and a fragrant Burley, in simple terms we would say there is no alternative, you won’t find one similar.

  1. Davidoff Danish Mixture

Davidoff pipe tobaccos have often been looked past due to their price, but this is definitely a tobacco you can’t afford to miss out on. The time and care Davidoff take when making tobaccos is incredible each one is made to the highest quality and produced with amazing flavours. The Danish mixtures aroma hits you straight away with the scent of figs, plums and raisins hitting you straight away, these then come out as the flavours when you are puffing away, A beautiful tobacco with great character.

  1. Peterson Connoisseurs Choice

This tobacco is like a summer cocktail amazing flavours of Tropical fruit, rum and vanilla hit you throughout. Created using black cavendish and Golden and red Virginias it really is a satisfyingly sweet and spicy smoke. We always need one Peterson in our top tobaccos, there blends never fail to impress, and this one really lives up to its name. All the connoisseurs enjoy it but this doesn’t mean you can’t use it as a beginner’s tobacco because it is so smooth.

  1. Samuel Gawith Seasons English Summer Flake

Can’t get more summery than actually calling your tobacco a Summer flake. Made from natural Virginia leaves which have sustained a long, ageing process. Gives Summer a great, cool, slow burning and delicate flavour. A creamy blend throughout with a perfect room note, the florally flavours really get you into the spirit for summer.

  1. Peterson Summertime Limited Edition 2018

Peterson’s limited edition was always going to make into this list. Every year they create an amazing blend perfect for the summer. A sweet tobacco with flavours of vanilla and caramel, which here is two of our favourites. This is a must try for the summer and is limited so you will have to get yours quick before they all fly of the shelf.

There you have it, our top 5 pipe tobaccos for the summer. So add to your basket and enjoy while have this beautiful weather.

Have a good day,

Liam

Two of our favourite pipes and a new sampler!

We don’t usually like to pick favourites here at Turmeaus but these two pipes are beautys. Both offer the coolest of smokes and allow for you to really taste all of the flavours.

Rattrays Turmeaus GR5 pipe. This pipe was made exclusively for Turmeaus shops and has the quality of a Rattrays pipe.  A really smooth and cool smoke. These were a limited edition of only 10 pipes made to promote our Turmeaus shops and so a rare pipe, ideal for the collector. Rattrays never fail to impress when it comes to quality and its no different with this pipe, perfection down to the last detail.

We wouldn’t usually rate a pipe just on it’s stem but how could we not with this one. Savinelli Oceano 606 pipe. The stem is a mix of glorious blue and white really living up to its name and tribute to the foaming ocean.The bowl is also a beautiful shade of brown, definitely reason enough to be one of our favourites.

We also have a treat for you, I have put together a sampler full of great flavours and aromas especially for you guys. Every week I will be putting together a new sampler. Each one will consist of 5 different blends with an arry of aromas and flavours.  Check it out here.

Available in this sampler:

Dunhill Navy Rolls – 10g

Peterson De Luxe Mixture – 10g

Mac Baren Black Ambrosia – 10g

Germains Gold Leaf – 10g

Samuel Gawith Spring Time Flake – 10g

Hopefully you can enjoy this one before we move onto the new sampler next week. Have a good weekend.

Liam

A year of great pipes, so far!

As we get through 2018 our stock of pipes is always increasing, pipes from Peterson, Rattrays, Savinelli, Chacom and many more are all becoming available in all Turmeaus shops. We always look forward to the pipes of the year and a long awaited one for us is the Peterson 2018. Once again they have impressed with a masterpiece, and only 500 have been made so be sure to get in quick if you want one of these magnificent pipes.

The 2018 Pipe of the Year is another unique addition to the annual release for which Peterson is famed. This year’s edition possesses an elegant oval shank and a generously sized chamber that is neatly tapered at the base. Each pipe is finished in a rich chestnut hue and is fitted with an acrylic fishtail mouthpiece and a hall marked sterling silver band.  The 2018 Pipe of the Year is available in Smooth, Sandblast and Rustic finish.

Next up we have a new edition to our Rattrays range. Rattrays have always been quite imaginative when it comes to pipes but this next pipe not only has a creative bowl but is available with three different stems. The Rattrays Beltane Fire.  You will be supplied with a red, black and yellow stem, really making this pipe live up to its name of fire. You can’t let that name fool you as the smoke you get from these beauties is incredibly smooth and cool. A pipe you won’t want to miss for your collection.

The next one is somehow even more special than the other two. Davidoff are known for their excellence when it comes to crafting cigars but the same can be said when it comes to their pipes. Not only do they look spectacular but they are constructed so perfectly you are going to have this pipe for life.

The one I’ve picked out as one of my favourites is the Davidoff Discovery Brasil. For the Discovery pipes Davidoff have used briar wood from Calabria, with age, the briar root becomes tight and dense enough to resist both the heat of lighted tobacco and the juices produced during the smoke. The briar is dried for 10 years and the pipes are made in Germany.

As you know we don’t only sell pipes, we also have some new tobacco treats for you. Like the long awaited pipe to come Peterson have also released  their yearly summertime tobacco. A wonderful blend of Peterson’s tobacco to create a perfect blend for this Summer.

I hope this can give you some ideas if you’re looking to add the perfect pipe to your collection or if you’re looking for that perfect summer tobacco.

Have a great weekend,

Liam

 

Some of our Favourites!

We have a wonderful range of pipes. From straight to bent we’ve got what you are looking for, take a look at some of our favourite pipes below.

Dr Plumb Original Briar Pipe

This pipe has a beautiful smooth finish and a bent stem. Featuring a metal filter system, reducing the tar and nicotine intake giving you a smoother and more satisfying smoke.

For the quality you are getting this pipe is reasonably priced at £59.99. It’s definitely a good start up pipe perfect for any novice or and everyday pipe for the more experienced pipe smoker.

 

Peterson Aran Smooth Pipe – 150

The Peterson Aran pipe range is one of its classic ranges, providing a quality pipe at a reasonable price. Named after the Aran Islands in Galway Bay, they offer outstanding value of money whilst still filled with all the craftsmanship that one has come to expect from a Peterson pipe. A smooth matt masculine briar complete with fishtail mouthpiece.

Chacom Wedze Smooth Semi Bent 863 Pipe

Chacom originates from the amalgamation of Chapuis & Comoy. Chacom remains today the largest French brand capable of combining tradition, Creation & Innovation.

The stem on this pipe is beautiful, white with hints of gold really making this an extremly attrctive pipe.

Peterson Atlantic Briar Pipe – 068

The Peterson Atlantic Series range of pipes were introduced to the pipe market in early 2015. Another bold and exciting range from Peterson, as they try to shake up the world of pipe smoking. Beautiful deep and rich blue stain on the bowl shapes with a gorgeous olive green marbled mouthpiece. The polished Nickel band is inscribed ‘Atlantic’ and gives the pipe a nice finish. The fishtail mouthpiece has the exit hole in the end of the mouthpiece for a comfortable smoking experience.

Just a few of our favourites but there are many more.

Liam

New to Peterson!

We have a wonderful range of pipes from the Peterson range, but as we intend on being the biggest and best specialist of Peterson Pipes, we’ve just taken in their latest new ranges.   The Kerry Series, Outdoor series, Evening Series,  and we have added some new pipes to the  System Spigot range.  Each one is unique in its own quality, definitely worth getting one of these for wonderful cool smoke. Take a look at some of my favourites below.

Peterson Kerry Series Pipe 606

The Kerry Series is a new entry level pipe addition to the 2018 collection. A dark chestnut stain is applied to 12 signature Peterson shapes. Each pipe is fitted with brass ring complete with

a nickel inlay. A yellow and cream fishtail acrylic mouthpiece is fitted to create a classic Peterson pipe.

Peterson Outdoor Series Straight Smooth Pipe 086

This amazing little Peterson pipe is perfect pocket size. Ideal to take on the go with you due to them being suited to the outdoor environment. The stem allows it to fit in smaller places whereas the bowl still offers a cool smoke.

Peterson Evening Series Pipe 03

A marbled grey mouthpiece is richly contrasted against a satin ebony finish that is expertly applied to each briar. Each acrylic fishtail mouthpiece has been shortened to create a compact pipe that is a fitting addition to the Peterson Army series. A sterling silver band and the placement of the signature Peterson aluminum ‘P’ to the mouthpiece provide a classic finish.

Peterson System Spigot Pipe 317

The celebrated System pipe was first introduced in 1875 and has been synonymous with the Peterson name ever since.

Retaining the signature System pipe functionality and original Peterson-Lip mouthpiece, the System Spigot Series incorporates a hallmarked sterling silver spigot that is a ubiquitous Peterson mark. Using the six most popular System shapes, each briar is finished in a light walnut gloss stain and is hand stamped with the traditional ‘System’ nameplate.

Just a few of our favourites but there are many more.

Liam

Something new and something old

We have an amazing selection of pipes here at Turmeaus, but some of our latest pipes are incredible. I’m talking about the DB Mariner Pipe of the year 2017. The reason these make it as a POTY is because of their elegant style and extremely cool smoke. The price tag may be high but so is the quality making these a valuable collector’s item. Take a look at the 4 pipes below.

 

Dunhill Pipe Tobaccos:

The Dunhill range of Pipe Tobacco’s was discontinued back in 2008 and it looked like the coffin lid had been nailed never to be disturbed again. However, someone somewhere has listened to the constant groan from the mass of mourning pipe smokers worldwide. A select number of Dunhill Blends have been re-introduced to the UK market with a reputable distributor and production in the Orlik factory to Dunhill’s strict and highly secret recipe.

Dunhill De Luxe Navy Rolls:

The tobacco composition that is prepared, to produce these circles of tobacco, is based on high quality, carefully selected, ripe African flue-cured tobacco. The composition is rounded off by using some traditional cured Perique tobacco produced according to an old recipe in Louisiana USA. A medium blend tobacco with and amazing aroma, its sweet on the palate and full of wonderful perique flavours.

Dunhill Early Morning:

This blend consists of a mixture of slow burning Oriental tobaccos and bright and red Virginia leaves. The mixture is then pressed and lightly heated. To further enhance the blend, a touch of medium-fired Latakia tobacco is added. Ideal for the “first pipe” arousing the palate for the further pleasures of the day.

Dunhill Flake Virginia:

A traditional flake cut tobacco, internationally renowned and comprising of the highest quality Virginia leaves carefully balanced with bronzed and heavy-bodied Virginias. Finished with a special flavour providing a delicate spice aroma.

These are just a select few Dunhills we have on offer view the full range here.

Liam

A very special tasting (and some fun new stuff!)

So, I’m back to work after my time off. It’s always nice to get back to the shop after a week or so away, but that’s not to say I didn’t get up to some fun cigar and whisky related shenanigans while I was away. I’ve already mentioned that I enjoyed our last tasting night in Chester while I was off, but that wasn’t the only fun I got up to. I was invited to a private Whisky and Cigar tasting seminar in London for Masters of Havana Cigars. The seminar was called “The Art of the Master Blender” so I was somewhat under the assumption it would be about the blending of cigars. However, on arrival I was pleasantly surprised to find out it was actually about the blending of single malt whisky, specifically Dalmore.  Even more pleasantly surprising was the fact the seminar was presented by industry legend, Richard “The Nose” Paterson, whom I’d heard amazing things about but never met or seen in person.

I’ve heard many people talk about him before, but nothing could prepare me for his passion, knowledge and general showmanship when giving a seminar about whisky. I was gripped for a solid three hours while he told us the history of Dalmore and talked about the various types available. Throughout the seminar, we tasted a range of Dalmore including the 15 year old, the Cigar Malt, the King Alexander III, amongst a few other things. We also enjoyed a Montecristo No.2 and the now almost impossible to find Bolivar Britanicas (another amazing surprise.) I’ve always loved whisky, but I left this tasting with a seriously invigorated passion and a much better understanding of whisky, plus some excellent tips on how to taste whisky to its fullest. Seriously, if you ever get the chance to see Richard Paterson give a presentation, take it!

Anyway, on to more current stuff. I’ve been back for a little while now and I was pleased to see some new and exciting stock in the humidor when I arrived. Namely the stunning H. Upmann Supremas 2014 Replica Humidor, which contains H. Upmanns in a large, double figurado format. Very unusual and absolutely gorgeous. I’m pleased to say we’ve also managed to get our hands on some more Cohiba Talisman, which tend to fly out as quickly as they come in, mostly due to being absolutely delicious and only available in limited quantities. At the time of writing we still have a couple of boxes left in La Casa, but they may well have disappeared by the time this blog goes live!

On a similar note, the latest LCDH Exclusive vitola, Trinidad La Trova has started to poke its head up, but again: only in limited quantities. This cigar promises to be extremely popular already. Sharing its dimensions with the legendary Cohiba 1966 in a blend that many say is fairly similar to Cohiba’s, it looks to be a great alternative for when they disappear. Trinidad has had something of a resurgence in popularity lately, with a few big gauge, heavy hitters modernising the blend from its slender sized roots. It’s worth noting that our most popular Trinidad of late has been the Topes (and rightly so IMO) which is just a couple of gauges shy of being the same vitola as the Cohiba Robusto Supremo, so the fact that La Trova is the same format as an equally popular Cohiba Edicion Limitada bodes extremely well for its inevitable popularity. Sadly, La Trovas are already out of stock again, but you can request a notification of when they arrive on their page on our site.

While I’m talking about new things, here’s a quick shout-out for Roll Up Cigarette smokers: We’ve just started stocking Red House fine cut tobacco in Chester. It’s not very often that you see new pre-packed brands for this type of tobacco, so naturally I was very intrigued. Once I tried it, I immediately fell in love with it. It’s produced by Davidoff, so has their instant seal of quality. The flavour itself is fantastically complex for a cigarette tobacco blend. Rich and sweet, but also rugged and robust. Vaguely reminiscent of the Gitanes/Gauloise style of tobacco, which you haven’t been able to get in the UK for a few years now, so this is definitely worth a try if you’re missing either of those.  I genuinely haven’t bought a different brand since I first tried this. It’s also very well priced, coming in at a quid or so cheaper than many of the other brands, while tasting significantly better (IMO).

That’s all for this week folk. Keep an eye out for more news on incoming products and upcoming tasting events!

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

Calum

A Bit of a break: Tasting Evening time!

Hi readers, I’m writing this just as I finish up some annual leave from the shop (they have to let me out to play, every now and again!) As luck would have it, I happened to be off when we had one of our trademark Turmeaus tasting events in Chester, so for the first time ever, I was able to attend one as a guest with Jo and her nephew Kaelan (who some of you may now know as an occasional staff member in Chester) It was great to see this from a customer perspective.

We started the evening in what is now our traditional way: A round of delicious coffee and a light and creamy H. Upmann Half Corona to get everyone’s taste buds ready and raring to go. I absolutely love Upmanns and the half corona is a genius idea IMO. Its diminutive 3 ½” length makes for a quick and easy smoke, but the slightly larger than average (for the length) 44 ring gauge allows the blender more freedom to express the classic Upmann profile, in a less restrictive way than the 38-42 gauges that are usual found in sub-4” cigars. They also paved the way for the growing family of more substantial cigars that measure up at 4” or under, including the Montecristo Media Corona (3 ½” x 44,) The Partagas Serie D No.6 (3 ½” x 50) and the Cohiba Medio Siglo (4” x 52). These are all perfect cigars for a satisfying smoke that can be enjoyed quickly!

Next up was the main course; another new-ish cigar and another with instant-classic potential, the Hoyo de Monterrey Elegantes. Elegantes are made in the double figurado style (pointed at both the foot and the head) which means the flavours develop slightly differently than a regular parejo – or straight sided – cigar. I’ve had a few customers express concern that the shape might be more susceptible to being plugged or generally not having a good draw, but every one of these that I’ve had have been perfect.

While the shape may be more difficult to roll, the positive side is that you’re more or less guaranteed that it’s been rolled by a higher-grade roller, when compared to something like a Mareva or Robusto, that less experienced rollers often produce. The Elegantes will give you the classic woody Hoyo taste, but revealed gradually up to its thicker point, before mellowing (but also getting sweeter) as you approach the foot. Deeeeee-licious! If you’re into more full bodied cigars, the Partagas Presidentes shares its dimensions with this cigar (known as a “Taco” in Cuba’s factories) and has a lot more hair on its chest. If you’re feeling especially bold, check out the beefed up Partagas Salamones, an enormous double figurado (7 ½” x 57) which is extremely full bodied (even by Partagas’ standards) and is constantly at the top of our staff favourites list.

Naturally, it’s inhumane to separate cigars and alcohol, so we had the option of a selection of drinks. Either a flight of Scotch or a flight of Rum. I usually go for whisky, but this time I pinched a taste of some of Jo’s Rum and I’m very close to being converted. I was especially impressed with Ableforth’s Rumbullion. From its striking bottle with a dripped black wax seal, to its supremely rich, almost liqueur-esque, syrupy sweetness. Follow it up with the insanely good value Flor de Cana 7 year old, a delicately sweet Nicaraguan Rum and the classic Cuban Ron Mulata 5 year old and I may well be converted! Naturally though, I stuck to my old faithful whisky and enjoyed drams of Glenkinchie Distiller’s Reserve, Benromach 10 year old and the exclusive Ledaig 2008 (A Robert Graham Dancing stag bottling). I was particularly impressed with the Ledaig; I’ve only recently been won round by peated whisky and found it to be extremely approachable, with a subtle yet satisfying level of gentle smokiness. Would definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested in dipping a toe into the world of peated whisky.

After finishing up with another round of coffee, we cleared out the way for the next set of guests to enjoy their session, but not before picking up a personal favourite each: Partagas Maduro No.1 for me and a little gem from a 1998 box of Vegas Robaina Familares for Jo (what can I say, my lady has fine tastes, obviously!) It was such a nice experience to be able relax and enjoy one of these evenings, even if it did feel very very odd…

That wasn’t the only tasting going on during my time off, but I’m going to save that for my next blog, as it’s particularly awesome!

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

Calum

TURMEAUS AWARDS 2017

So, we’re well on our way into 2018 by now (and miraculously I’m yet to accidentally write “2017” on anything so far!) I hope you all had a great Xmas and New Year’s! We had a great Xmas up in the North-western Turmeaus Squadron, with the shops fuller than ever before with us barely able to keep stock in before it got snapped up as a Christmas gift.

At this time of year, I always like to look back over the the last 12 months and pick out the smokes that have really stood out for me. So here we have the Turmeaus Awards 2017:

Best Newcomer – Por Larranaga Montecarlo

I was so amazed when I first saw this cigar was coming out. I’ve rambled on a lot in the past about how short, stubby cigars are seemingly the way for the future and long, thin, elegant cigars are dying out as a result. Then Por Larranaga have to go and completely buck the trend. However, I’m not complaining as this cigar is absolutely magnificent! Measuring up at 6 ¼” x 33rg, it really is a breath of fresh air. Beautifully mellow, but with a surprisingly complex taste that is delicately revealed across its considerable length. If you’re a fan of cigars like the Montecristo Especial or Trinidad Fundadores, this is a must-try. They’re already firmly in my rotation of “Day-to-Day smokes” along with many of my colleagues.  Singles are currently £8.59 online, which means they’re a bargain to boot (smoking time: roughly 30mins). My old faithful H. Upmann Majestic might have competition for the “Best Value Cigar!”

Best Returning Cigar – Partagas Maduro No.1

I’m so glad to have these bad boys back in stock! We briefly had them a few years ago, but if I recall correctly, we only had a few boxes, which got snapped up immediately and then they immediately fell off the map for several years, before finally resurfacing in 2017. Thankfully, they’re just as good as I remember. With Partagas’ unbeatably rich and sweet blend, dressed in a stunning Maduro wrapper. Smoking one of these is like Smoking a Serie D No.4, wrapped in a brandy snap, dipped in chocolate and then sprinkled with dreams. They’re just absolutely ridiculous. Can’t recommend enough!

Most Reliable Smoke (pipes tobacco) – Kendal Scotch Mixture

Traditional English/Scotch mixtures are often ten a penny in specialist pipe shops and to the uninitiated they can often seem very similar. Naturally that’s not the case, in the way some people think all whiskies taste the same. There is certainly a similarity between many of these blends – at least in the cold aroma – as they all tend to use at least a small amount of Latakia, which can dominate the aroma somewhat. However, some blends still stand head and shoulders above the rest and this mixture is one of those. We have regulars in Chester who literally buy this stuff by the Kilo! This is partly due to the unique blend of tobacco in the base mixture, (Zimbabwe, Malawi and Brazilian Virginia with a mixture of regular and sun-cured Malawi Burley) with the Latakia providing only 12.5% of the blend. Rather than just leaning on the Latakia for flavour, this blend has a rich and complex base, which really sets it apart from its more simplistic rivals. Cool burning too as an added bonus!

 

Most Reliable Smoke – Cigars: Montecristo No.4/Petit Tubos

This shouldn’t really come as a surprise, as the world-famous Montecristo No.4 (Or its tubed counterpart the Petit Tubo) are consistently at the top of the UK’s best-selling cigar. It’s easy to see why, as its rich, spicy and slightly sweet taste is seen by many as the “Classic” Cuban taste profile. If (for some bizarre reason) you’re only ever going to try one cigar, make it this one!

Best Gift – EMS “Seleccion” Packs

These things are just awesome and make a perfect gift at any time of year. Each set contains five cigars of the same vitola, with a card containing a little bit of info and space for you to make your own tasting notes. Putting the presentation, convenience and value aside, these are great for anyone who is looking to experiment with different blends. The fact that you get different blends in identical vitola makes these sets great for comparing blends side by side, as the taste is not affected by the subtle difference you get between different shapes and sizes. I’m especially fond of the Petit Robusto set, as it contains a few blends that you don’t usually see in the Petit Robusto format (such as Cohiba and H. Upmann) so they’re also a nice chance to try something new!

 

Honourable mention for next Christmas: Pickering’s Gin Baubles

I know it’s a little early to be thinking about next Christmas, but these were such a huge hit with us I just had to mention them! These are a set of plastic (ergo non-smashable) baubles, each of which contains a double measure of Pickering’s Gin. They’re an amazing gift, but also an excellent decoration for your own home.  They were one of our best-selling gifts this Christmas and I dare say they will be again for Xmas 2018, so keep your eyes peeled (Or get a set now while you still can!)

So those are my top picks for the last 12 months. I’m looking forward to finding my picks for the next 12! I hope you’ll be about to enjoy them with me in 12 month’s time!

Until next week: Put that in our pipe and smoke it!

Calum