Last month whilst I was reflecting on 2021 and looking forward to 2022, I made the following statement:
“If 2021 was all about getting a better understanding of what cigars are out there, I’d love 2022 to be the year where I finally meet some of the cigar community in real life.”A quote from a recent blog post of mine
I didn’t expect 2 weeks later, that I’d actually be meeting some of the cigar community in person 🙌
Cigar Club LDN is a social cigar club based in the UK. The club was set up by the awesome Matthew Balman, who, after a night out with a couple of mates smoking cigars, decided it would be great to carry it on and turn it into a club. Fast forward 3 years, and that group has grown from 4 to 85 members. The club meets monthly in London at in-person cigar herfs, then meet once again on a Zoom call where folk from across the UK can join a virtual cigar herf.
You may recall me posting about one of the club virtual cigar herfs last year. The club is made up of some awesome members, a very inclusive and open group. All at different stages of experience in smoking cigars. Many newbie cigar smokers, which for me was the appeal in joining. They meet, cut the cap, light the cigars, and smoke together, sharing their experiences. Sometimes, a guest on the call introduces a cigar to the club. The cigars sent out are ones you would never have come across before. I enjoyed the Tabak Especial Oscuro Robusto from Drew Estate that we smoked last year.
It’s £20 a year for membership, then each month, Matt introduces a new cigar, always under £20.
So what was the anniversary party like?
Well, beforehand, I was bloody bricking it 🤯. I’m not gonna lie. I don’t know why and it probably sounds pathetic. When going to these events, I don’t want to make myself look stupid (even though I am bleeding stupid at times, haha). I kept thinking whether I’d fit in (I’m a fatty, so I did knock a few folks over with my belly, trying to squeeze past people lol, but hey, I like my food 😂). Cigar smoking somehow feels out of my depth (even after smoking a cigar from 43x different cigar brands last year 🤔), as there’s so much history and etiquette associated with it. I think this is connected with imposter syndrome. So that’s what was in my mind leading up to the event.
As it felt like a special occasion, I took a Thames Clipper by Uber boats to Canary Wharf (fancy, eh!). And caught Matt live streaming from Boisdale’s, who was of course first to arrive at the venue and had just set everything up for the big night.
I hopped off the boat and made my way to Boisdale’s. During one of Mitchell Orchant’s CGars Cigar Auctions, I have been there before. I think it was between 2011-2013. I went with a friend called Daniel whom I met on the late great Nic Wing’s Cuban Cigar Walk and had smoked cigars on the Boisdale’s terrace. So I was familiar with the venue. It looks pretty grand from the outside.
I waited a bit before entering, contemplating whether to go through the doors, then just went for it! Up a lift, straight to the Boisdale’s cigar terrace.
I was greeted by Ricardo Carioni, who represented Tor Imports, the event’s sponsors. Tor Imports are the leading UK importer and distributor for award-winning New World Hand-made Cigars from Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Honduras and Mexico. Ricardo welcomed me to the event and explained what would happen next, introducing me to Matt to collect a welcome glass of champagne, my cigar and some additional goodies.
I was handed the Charatan Colina cigar, the clubs’ cigar of the month and made my way to the tables.
As we started to smoke our cigars, Matt made a speech welcoming everyone to the event.
Ricardo later that evening told us more about the Charatan cigar.
“The Charatan story began in 1863 when Frederick Charatan opened a tobacco shop in Mansell Street, London. There are many stories to tell; from the Charatan family’s involvement until 1960 to the exclusive, highly popular cigars produced by Dunhill Tobacco of London in the 90’s that made Charatan cigars the #1 Nicaraguan brand in the UK. Over 150 years later the story continues…
Four years ago, Tor Imports Ltd acquired Charatan from Dunhill Tobacco of London with the ambition of improving the product offering and reinvigorating the brand.
In 2018 they took the first step and transferred the production of Charatan cigars to Joya De Nicaragua; the country’s oldest and most prestigious factory. This allowed them to maintain the unique blend of high-grade tobaccos and ensured that they could offer a premium handmade cigar at an affordable price.
As we enter the Roaring Twenties, Tor Imports are giving Charatan a new look that combines legacy and mythology with a bright future for the the brand.
The Colina range by Charatan is a limited edition line to celebrate the new ownership by Tor Imports. The Colina cigars have an extremely special blend including a selection of filler leaves from Jalapa Valley & Esteli, Nicaragua which have been aged for up to 4 years. “
Flor de Cana was also sponsoring the event, we were treated to 3 rums:
18 yrs and
Spresso rum (coffee liquor rum)
Whilst smoking great cigars drinking excellent rum over some nibbles, I got to meet and chat with a load of fantastic cigar smokers.
A big shout out to Pandora and her partner Mark (who took some brilliant shots), Dr What, Rob, Pabs, Mister Myers, Aaron, Sam D, Mr Chips, Dave Taylor and the others I met. You made my night. It was great talking about our love for cigars. Matt (the genius behind the club) & Ricardo (who has inspired me to want to visit Nicaragua) were terrific hosts and did a stellar job.
The only downside of the night for me was not getting into the Boisdale’s walk-in cigar humidor. There was a big queue to get inside. It was a busy Saturday night, after all. So I will be back to visit again.
Overall a top quality night, one I won’t forget! I may try and attend 1x in-person cigar event per month over the next year, but who knows whether I’ll manage that 🤷.