David McGrane, the venerable Irish cigar merchant, has stepped down as managing director of James Fox Cigar & Whiskey Store in Dublin, Ireland. McGrane had announced his plan to retire at the annual Habanos festival in Cuba in February and finally left the building on November 9 after 46 years in the cigar business.
McGrane joined James Fox in 1971 as a trainee. Despite not intending to stay in the cigar trade for long, he said that his love of Cuban cigars kept him in James Fox for the entirety of his career. Over the decades, James Fox changed from being a shop that supplied a local market to a shop that now supplies customers around the world.
The cigar business at James Fox in the early 1970s was very different compared to the modern cigar trade. Many of the sizes and blends in the shop were exclusively rolled for James Fox, and all of the regular-production cigars were aged for a minimum of three years before being sold.
“It was a completely different business and a completely different clientele. Customers would generally only smoke one or two types of cigars, and if they liked a particular cigar, they would stay with that cigar. As stock could take some time to arrive from Cuba, it was common for customers to buy two years supply in one purchase. We sold regular-production cigars, along with the special Fox selections, but they were all aged cigars—the cigars arrived into our warehouse and would mature there in a perfect environment,” he said.
McGrane’s retirement was marked fittingly with a Cuban cigar and rum event hosted by James Fox, with a generous supply of Havana Club Selección de Maestros and Montecristo Añejados for all attendees. The farewell event was organized by Yiorgos Manesis, who will take charge of the historic shop from McGrane.
“Cuban hand-rolled cigars are something to be enjoyed, to be savored. It’s important to be able to sit down and take a little time to think to yourself every now and then,” McGrane said.
This article first appeared in the December 5, 2017 issue of Cigar Insider.