Cigar Masterclass

The C&TH Guide to Cigar Smoking in London

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Keen to know more about cigar smoking in London? Discover the latest cigar trends, from the best ones to smoke to the trendiest places to smoke them.

Cigar Smoking in London: The C&TH Guide

The low end of the cigar market is dominated by machine-made smokes – chopped up bits of tobacco rolled into a tube by a machine, and churned out by the bucketload. The fine, handrolled cigar is made entirely by hand; totalmente a mano, as they say in Spain. This phrase is even burned onto the bottom of every Cuban cigar box to reinforce the distinction.

Buy a gift of these handrolled beauties – a single cigar or a box, Cuban or New World – and you’ll make a friend for life. It shows a touch of class to take the trouble to learn something about a subject as infinitely fascinating as the world of wine itself.

The Garden Room Cigars

Garden Room at The Lanesborough

Cigars For Beginners

Like wine, there is a confusing array of cigars to choose from. First, find a specialist tobacconist, equipped with a humidor which keeps the cigars in prime condition. Havana’s products are excellent but expensive (from around £15 per stick upwards) and New World cigars offer a good value alternative – if the smoker isn’t a confirmed Cuban cigar snob, that is. Here are a couple of alternatives:

Hoyo de Monterrey No.2: A classic Cuban cigar, suitable for beginners to experts, the Hoyo de Monterrey No.2 is full of light, ethereal charm, and comes in robusto size (4 7/8 ins x 50 Ring Gauge) – which is big enough to be a ‘proper cigar’, but not so large that it is daunting or ostentatious.

Dunhill 1907: Produced by Dunhill of St James’s Street – itself a subsidiary of the giant British American Tobacco – this is a lovely little New World cigar with depth and character, and a hint of sweetness from the Brazilian filler leaf. Great value, and recommended again in the robusto size.

Montecristo No.2: Long regarded a Cuban classic, the Montecristo No.2 is a Piramide, and is a big hitter at 6 1/8ins x 52 Ring Gauge; expect bold, leathery flavours, and a long satisfying smoke.

Ashton VSG Illusion: The Illusion is a longer, thinner smoke than the above fatties, and perhaps more elegant because of it. Sun grown Ecuadorian tobacco gives this New World cigar a wonderful depth of flavour. You won’t want it to end.

The Garden Room Cigars

Garden Room at The Lanesborough

The Extras

A cigar lover doesn’t just need cigars, mind. A good humidor, ashtray, cutter and lighter are also de rigeur. For the person who has everything, plus a few spare million, Imperiali Geneve unveiled its Emperador cigar chest. It is touted as the most prestigious cigar chest in the world, comprising as it does of 2,675 components, several international patents and state-of-the-art technology, including the world’s first self-regulating humidity system. It costs a mind-boggling one million Swiss francs (around £650,000). For a, ahem, more reasonable option, look no further than master craftsman David Linley’s versions, which start at £1,195.

For other accessories, online retailer C.Gars Ltd offers a range of options to suit all budgets, while the luxurious Davidoff of London or perhaps the world’s oldest tobacconist, JJ Fox of St James’s, may be preferable to handpick your selection. Both shops are redolent of old England, and wonderful places to escape on a rainy day.

Cigar Terrace No. 10

Cigar Terrace at No. 10

Where to Smoke Cigars in London

You may be stumped for somewhere to enjoy a cigar, but never fear: despite the smoking ban on indoor spaces, there is a chink of light at the end of the tunnel. Campaigners fought a long and ultimately successful war against cigars being lumped in with cigarettes, and a cigar exemption is made at specialist tobacconists, who are able to offer tastings or ‘samplings’ inside their stores or lounges. These are London’s best places to smoke…

Lanesborough Hotel, Knightsbridge: The ultimate in opulence, The Lanesborough offers The Garden Room as its cigar lounge. Think armchairs, a cosy fireplace and a humidor to drool over, all overseen by the consummate Neil Millington; this is an incredible place to visit (as long as you bring deep pockets).

Home House, Marylebone: Check out one of London’s coolest members’ clubs for a bespoke blend of cigars: the Lady Portman Petit Corona, Duke Torpedo, Earl Grey Figurado, Ghost Pigtail and the Lady Home Double Corona. Named after some of the illustrious characters that have lived in the House (and one resident ghost), the collection has been designed for cigar connoisseurs, and each has a distinct profile taste.

No. Ten Manchester Street Hotel, Marylebone: A cool outdoor terrace or a fabulously decorated sampling room: the choice is yours. There’s a brilliantly designed humidor here, too, packed full of choice smokes – and the service is second to none.

And finally, cigar smoking is not just the bastion of bewhiskered old barnacles. In recent years, many more women have been seen at cigar specific events and, if you’re lucky, you’ll find a Ladies Night cigar event at a venue near you before too long.

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