After years of wanting to go, I finally got to attend my first Cigar Smoker of the Year Awards Dinner 2022 and wow, what a night!
The event, founded in 2013 by Bosidale (deemed as one of the best British restaurants in Central London with live music, food, whisky bars and cigar terraces), has become one of the world’s most prestigious Cigar Awards Dinners outside of Havana. It celebrates iconic cigars, cigar producers, cigar communicators, and cigar sommeliers in the company of cigar connoisseurs worldwide.
Over recent years, this has been sponsored by Vina Carmen. Yep, I had to google them before I attended the event, as I thought initially this was a person and wondered who this Vina was. It is, in fact, the name of a wine brand from South America from 1850.
The event takes place annually at Boisdale’s of Canary Wharf. Previous winners include:
Charlie Sheen & Kelsey Grammer
Simon Le Bon (Duran Duran)
As mentioned at the beginning of the blog post, I have wanted to attend this event for many years, but I always felt like I could never get the courage to go here on my own. Since I’ve started blogging about my cigar experiences, I’ve begun to form friendships online with other cigar smokers. One, in particular, attended last year’s event and reached out to me to ask whether I’d be interested in joining him on a table at this year’s event. I jumped at the chance. The tickets were not cheap. It was £195 for seats near the windows or £250 for tables with a better view of the stage. We opted for the latter. The ticket included a three-course meal, drinks, cigars and live music – so you did get a lot for the price. It’s also worth mentioning that we booked this midway through the year – so we didn’t risk the event becoming sold out.
As the evening approached, I was super nervous about attending. The event looks so out of my comfort zone; would it be too pretentious? Even though I’ve been to the venue many times and I’ve always found it really welcoming. Would I feel like a complete imposter? Yes!
Dressed in black tie I met up with my mate at the agreed time, and we headed in. We were the first guests to get there; talk about keen! As we walked in, we handed in our coats to the cloakroom, and in exchange, we were handed a bag of cigars, which included a cigar cutter and a cigar lighter. The perfect start to the evening!
The bag of cigars included:
- Aladino Robusto 5×50
- AJ Fernandez New World Dorado Robusto
- Zino Nicaragua Robusto 5×50
- Romeo Y Julieta Petit Royales 5/8×47
We were also handed our programme for the evening.
We totally missed the photo opportunity here as we headed straight through to the champagne area.
Once we grabbed a glass of champagne, we ventured onto the cigar terrace, where we cut and lit our cigars. We were here for about an hour – it was a great place to chat as more and more guests piled in. The cigar terrace has outdoor heaters, so it wasn’t too cold either, especially considering it was December in London!
After we smoked our first cigar, we realised we had to pace ourselves, and it was nearly time to head to our table for dinner. The cigar terrace is on one floor, and the restaurant is on another. All guests are given a table number when they arrive, so all you need to do is find your table and look for your name to find your seat.
We were a few rows back but in front of the stage. The atmosphere at this point was pretty electric, there was a real buzz in the room, and I started to recognise some familiar faces. It was nice to chat with some of the people I’ve spoken to or followed online and other familiar faces of people I have met from previous cigar lounge visits. Everyone at our table was super friendly and shared stories about their cigar experiences and relationship with the awards dinner – then fascinating stories about their lives.
The drinks were flowing, and we were served our three-course meal. This included:
- Marinated /Orkney Salmon, Beetroot & London Honey
- Braised Featherblade of Scottish beef, Smoked bacon, Goulash sauce
- Selection of Great British cheeses
Once the dinner was over, the awards began. Ranald MacDonald, Boisdale’s managing director, introduced us to the Cigar Smoker of the Year 2022 and our host for the night Tom Parker Bowles.
What I found interesting is that I somehow imagined that we would all be smoking cigars whilst the awards were being handed out, but with UK smoking laws, I guess we were prevented from doing that.
The awards recognised different cigar folk from across the cigar industry. See the list of winners here:
Lifetime Achievement Award: General Sir Patrick Sanders
Cigar Accessory of the Year: Les Fines Lames
Cigar Communicator of the Year: Ricardo Carioni
Cigar Spirit of the Year: Facundo Eximo 10-Year-Old Rum
Cigar Sommelier of the Year: Vanessa Vieria at The Sahakian Lounge, The Bulgari Hotel
Cigar Producer of the Year: AJ Fernandez
Cigar Newcomer of the Year: Zino Nicaragua
Churchill Cigar of the Year: Romeo y Julieta Churchill
Cigar of the Year: Aladino Corojo Robusto
Davidoff Cigar Chef of the Year: Claude Bosi
Cigar Sportsperson of the Year: Mike Edwards
Cigar Musician of the Year: Hamish Stuart
The night’s final award is the Cigar Smoker of the Year, which is kept under wraps for the evening. Everyone at our table was trying to guess who would pick it up. A few of us thought it might be Slyvester Stallone or another prominent US actor. I wondered whether it might be British Snooker player Stephen Hendry because I always see him posting about the cigars he smoked online and listened to his interview recently on Nick Hammond’s ‘Around The World In 80 Cigars’ podcast. Then it was announced this year’s winner was Oris Erhuero.
Throughout the evening, Boisdale played host to a charity auction, raising £84,400 for good causes, including incredible lots of fine and rare cigars and humidors, with the top lot – a Cohiba Serie A Humidor going for £54,500.
Elvis then entered the stage. This wasn’t the result of drinking far too much Hine Rare Cognac. This was a tribute act providing us entertainment for the evening.
After that, everyone heads to the cigar terrace, where some fantastic conversations take place over fine cigars.
It was the most incredible evening, one of THE best nights I have had in a long time. The cigar community really are something special, and I’ve heard people say that, but at this particular event, I definitely felt that.
Press photos from the evening can be found here.
And it looks like next year’s 2023 event tickets have already gone on sale. For more information, visit https://boisdaletickets.co.uk/p/8215.