A couple of weeks ago, a few posts slid into my social media DMs, alerting me to an exciting event. The event was being organised to celebrate the launch of Aaron Sigmond’s latest cigar book, ‘Arturo Fuente: Since 1912‘. A 240-page book with over 125 illustrations that chronicles the history of the famous Arturo Fuente cigar brand.
According to the Assouline website, the book celebrates the accomplishments of the past three generations of the Fuente family, their cigars, and how their surname, and the OpusX marque, have become synonymous with epicurean global luxury. This is a tribute to the cigar as a timeless passion, and to the Fuente family. This oversize hand-bound book, finished with authentic hand-tipped cigar bands and presented in a handcrafted clamshell box, is a must-have for any cigar connoisseur – especially so for Arturo Fuente devotees.
Aaron Sigmond, the author of the book, is an American writer, editor, and publisher specialising in luxury heritage brands. Aaron has traversed the world of cigars, both personally and professionally, for over 30 years. At that time, he was the founding editor of Smoke magazine and The Cigar Report, a contributor to Maxim, the contributing cigar editor for Playboy magazine, and the author of Playboy: The Book of Cigars. Sigmond’s previous books for Assouline include Bulova: A History of Firsts (2018), The Impossible Collection of Cigars (2019), and Accutron: From the Space Age to the Digital Age (2020).
As the excitement built up for the book launch, I discovered that it wasn’t just one event, but two. The first was a champagne, cocktail reception, and book signing at Maison Assouline in Piccadilly, St James, London.
The second was a short walk up the road to the James J Fox cigar sampling lounge in St James, London, where CGars Ltd was hosting an exclusive panel discussion moderated by Tom Chamberlin of The Rake and the Cigar Keep.
Tickets for this were £100 and guests would be treated to sampling two Arturo Fuente cigars on the night, the Short Story and an Opus X Super Belicoso. The cigar would be served alongside some scrumptious canapes and the multi-award-winning Stalla Dhu single malt whisky.
Carlos ‘Carlito’ Fuente Jr from Arturo Fuente and Aaron Sigmond would attend both events.
This event was an absolute must-see for me. It’s not often that we have cigar aficionados with Cuban heritage visit the UK to share their expertise. So I knew I had to pay the fee and RSVP!
I first heard about the Arturo Fuente cigar brand when I undertook my personal cigar challenge in 2020, where I smoked through the A-Z directory of cigars from the book The Cigar Companion. As I began blogging about my cigar experience, Arturo Fuente was among the first few brands that I researched. I tried the Eye Of The Shark and the Opus X Perfection X – both great cigars.
As the event drew near, I’ll admit, I was absolutely cacking myself about attending it. The anxiety became so overwhelming that I nearly backed out altogether. It may seem irrational, but I experience this same sensation every time I prepare to attend a cigar-related gathering or meet other enthusiasts. Yet, despite these feelings, I know from experience that the benefits of participating in such events always exceed my apprehensions.
I wanted to dress for the occasion; hey, I paid a hefty fee to attend, so of course, I had to make an effort and scrub up well, so I donned my pin-stripped suit and made my way into Central London after finishing a day of work.
The Assouline event
Upon walking through the doors, I was greeted by a friendly staff member whose welcoming demeanor immediately put me at ease. I was struck by the vibrant ambiance and colourful atmosphere of the venue. Initially, I thought it was merely a bookstore, but to my surprise, it’s a delightful combination of a bookstore and a wine bar. What’s more, the interior design is simply breathtaking and has a definite wow factor.
Once I was shown to the first floor where the book launch was taking place, I was pleased to find a storage room where I could safely keep my bag. Among my belongings were some treasured cigar items, my Playboy: The Book of Cigars, my Arturo Fuente ashtray from CGars Ltd, and two sharpies with hopes of getting them signed.
I then entered the room. Everywhere I turned, I saw the crème de la crème of the cigar industry, all gathered together in one place. Without hesitation, I was handed a cocktail glass, and I knew that the night ahead was sure to be an unforgettable experience.
Scanning the room, I noticed a few individuals who I recognised from my social media and blog interactions. Excited to finally meet them face-to-face, I immediately made my way over to them. It was an absolute pleasure to finally connect in person and chat about our shared passion for cigars.
I then found myself face-to-face with Carlito, who had just flown in to London earlier that day. He shared some captivating stories of his travels, including his last visit to the UK which had been about seven years ago. It was truly amazing to hear the owner of such a hugely successful cigar empire speak so openly and candidly to everyone in the room, regardless of their level of expertise or industry position. As a relative novice, I was particularly struck by his willingness to engage with me on the same level as he did with seasoned professionals.
Aaron and Carlito gave a speech where they shared stories about the writing process of the book. A book signing followed where guests had the opportunity to get their copies of the book signed.
I was struck by the sheer number of kind and welcoming individuals in the room. Among them were the Sahakians of Davidoff London, who are always the epitome of gentlemen. Their warmth and hospitality were much appreciated and added to the already wonderful atmosphere of the event.
One of my favourite moments of the night was capturing Edward Sahakian taking a photo of Carlito and Aaron at the event. Cigar legends taking photos of other cigar legends. It just shows to me how supportive the cigar community are of each other – even when these folks are at the top of their game!
Being in such distinguished company was a real privilege, and I felt thrilled to be a part of this event 🙏
Having enjoyed further delightful conversations with fellow cigar attendees, including Max Foulkes (if you haven’t already delved into his and his father’s captivating YouTube video series, you’re truly missing out!), it was time to move to the next venue.
The JJ Fox event
As we stepped into the JJ Fox cigar sampling lounge, a staff member greeted us and confirmed our names before handing us a bag of the featured cigars mentioned at the beginning of this blog post. Inside, I had the pleasure of meeting more cigar enthusiasts. Together, we indulged in the delightful Short Story cigar, which left me thoroughly impressed. In fact, I even wrote about it in my recent blog post about cigars for beginners, as it is a popular recommendation among cigar retailers across the U.K.
It was incredibly busy at this point and to my surprise we didn’t get to spend time in the lounge upstairs which is a lovely place to relax with a cigar. I can’t recall why we had to stay downstairs but I think it was due to the amount of people that were in the venue.
Once everyone was settled in the room and canapés were being distributed alongside our whisky, Tom Chamberlain introduced the panel discussion. It was so fascinating hearing more about the book and the life and work of Carlito. I tried to stream this live on my social network so you can hear some of the conversation below (it’s not the best recording, as I was quite far away at first, but it gives you a snapshot of what happened) –
Carlito’s words are captivating, as his passion radiates from him, inspiring those around him. I found it fascinating to listen to how Arturo Fuente has assisted local communities, as well as his future plans to expand into Nicaragua at some point.
After the panel discussions I cut the cap and lit my other cigar the Opus X Super Belicoso. Wow, what a smoke!
Additional book signings occurred.
During this time, I ran into other notable figures in the UK cigar industry, including Mitchell Orchant of CGars Ltd, who co-hosted the evening in partnership with JJ Fox, and Scott Vines from Tor Imports. It was heartening to witness these individuals supporting one another in the industry.
Although I was able to get my book signed, I completely forgot to have my cigar ashtray signed.
I felt so welcomed into this cigar community, this night was one to remember for a very long time and right up there with some key cigar highlights I’ve already experienced – my first Cuban cigar walk with the late Nic Wing, entering the Davidoff London store for the first time to smoke my first ‘proper’ cigar, and attending Boisdale’s ‘Cigar Smoker Of The Year’ event. Assouline, JJFox, and CGars Ltd hosted the most successful evenings.
Before departing, I glanced around to ensure I had not forgotten anything and caught sight of The Cigar Companion book. Seeing it brought a smile to my face, as it served as a reminder of how much progress I have made in my own cigar journey with the help of that book.
If you have the urge to attend any future cigar events, just do it. I’m so glad I pursued and attended such a wonderful event. I try to maintain a list of upcoming cigar events here, so take a peek!
And if you are lucky enough to get your hands on a copy of Aaron’s magnificent book Arturo Fuente: Since 1912, do so!
You can purchase your copy of Arturo Fuente: Since 1912 at Assouline book store https://eu.assouline.com/products/arturo-fuente-since-1912