Cigar Aficionado

London Smoking

I froze my ass off last night in London just to smoke a cigar with my good friends Jemma Freeman and Simon Chase, both of Hunters & Frankau, the British importers of fine Cuban cigars. We smoked a number of aged cigars that they are currently putting on the market, including a delicious 1998 Romeo y Julieta Churchill. The long smoke delivered plenty of cocoa and coffee character as well as a medium body, and a flavorful finish. 91 points, non blind, I say.

I tried it against a current production RyJ Churchill and the aged smoke was superior. In fact, the new Churchill was a bit under filled and grassy. Not very good. I guess the Cubans haven't fixed all their QC problems!

Anyway, we had about a 30-minute session at a place near Victoria Station called Boisdales. It's a Scottish bar/restaurant with live music and a heated terrace on top. Unfortunately, you have to clear out by 11 p.m., or the neighbors (or shall I write neighbours) start complaining. So we had to hurry through our smokes and glasses of 10-year-old Taylor's tawny Port.

But it's better than nothing. It's sort of weird not being able to smoke in London. For me, London is "the" man's man sort of city. It just caters to us from bespoke suits to great wine shops. But now you can't smoke. Even my London club, the Savile Club, doesn't let you smoke. I remember for years smoking in the club and seeing old farts fall asleep in big fluffy reading chairs in the library with a smoke smoldering in their hand. The great author Rudyard Kipling, a member of the Savile, must be rolling over in his grave. A cigar is not just a cigar anymore in London. Oh well, times change...

Luckily, last week I was also in London for a Latour wine tasting (See my blog on the event over at And the weather was beautiful. It was summer, or at least English summer. It was sunny, not too hot and beautiful. Check out my video.

I sat outside at lunch a couple of days ago with my buddy Edward Sahakian, the owner of Davidoff on St. James. Among the cigars we tried, I loved the Montecristo No. 4 Reserve – the special selected Monte from last year. It shows wonderful spice and coffee character with that distinctive cedar Monty character yet it's a little richer than a normal No. 4. If you can find it, it's worth smoking. 91 points, non blind.

"James,Yes, Boisedales is a great place for a cigar. The steaks and jazz are superb too!Have you been to the Lanesborough Hotel Garden Bar (downsatairs as you walk in). That is my favorite place to smoke after a lunch at Le Caprice and after grabbing a free Serie D N 4 from Freemans solicitors humidor (don't tell Jemma!).Charlie Jarman " —May 22, 2008 17:02 PM