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Lifestyle: Smoking Gold
Cigars and related accessories are top of the charts this festive season with spending between Rs 5000 to a lakh
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Cigars have long been considered a sensory indulgence in luxury and this decadence surges especially during the festive seasons. Thanks to all the socialising and gifting that comes along with the season, cigar sales peak around this time. "Cigar consumers in the country have been increasing every month. The festival period gives them a reason to enjoy even more as they share the experience. The veteran stalwarts have their favourite blends and order wholesale in preparation for the party season," says Manish Datt, owner of Delhi-based cigar studio, Kastros. It’s not uncommon to see cigar bars at large private parties across the metros. Some enthusiasts even fly in a cigar roller, usually from Spain for a personalised touch.
To cater to the growing demand, Kastros has customised a cigar under its own label for the festive season. The cigar which has leaves from Cuba, Nicaragua and the Dominic Republic has been rolled in Spain and packaged in India. The Diwali gift box comprises the bespoke cigar with Blue Tokai coffee, a speciality coffee from the south. A box of 10 cigars is priced at Rs 11,000.
Fuelling the cigar trend in the country is The Smoke Company, founded by cigar collector and importer Ashish Bhasin. Bhasin has introduced Indians to non-Cuban cigars churned out of boutique factories in the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua, Italy, Spain and Costa Rica, to name a few. The hand-rolled masterpieces from some of these factories are much in demand from those looking for something new.
What dazzles from his collection is a 24-carat gold, Swarovski studded cigar — a handcrafted masterpiece that takes about 4-6 hours to make under the supervision of Danish master skills man and owner, J. Vistisen. It’s priced at $125 per cigar. So what happens to the Swarovski crystals when you smoke the cigar? "The crystals don’t burn, they just fall off and you can use them for something else. The gold film burns off along with the cigar but the gold remains in the ash as gold needs a higher temperature to burn. If you wish you can collect it from the ash," explains Bhasin.
The Smoke Company also carries a fully gold leaf wrapped DM2 series cigar from the acclaimed cigar maker Daniel Marshall. “These cigars add a luxury quotient to any event and carry a huge aspirational value for collectors and smokers. Gifting requests for these cigars start as early as September,” says Bhasin. The 24-carat gold cigar priced at $60 a piece, is a rage with the wedding planners and big- ticket poker players. The company organises special gentleman's evenings during the festive season.
The budget for cigar gifting can vary from Rs 5000 to over a lakh. Kajal Malhotra, owner Kreative Marketing and a cigar aficionado says, “The special demands around the festive season shows how the market has grown from warming up to a cigar to having special requirements”. The hampers being assembled, depending on price, could comprise cigar cutters and lighters to leather cases and humidors. High profile clients spell out requests such as personalising the cigars or humidors with the name of an individual or company or having the logo embossed. In case of a small hamper, the cigar is placed in its leather case along with a humidification tube that retains the humidity within the small case.
An exclusive offerings of Kreative Marketing is the Grand Reserve Churchill natural in Gurkha range which is infused with Remy Martin Louis XIII cognac and retails at between Rs 2,000-2,500 a cigar. It comes in a glass tube with a seal that ensures the cigar stays fresh.
Most of the premium boutique cigars are packed in a cedar wood box packing of 10 /18 /20 /25 cigars; and in some cases in cedar-lined aluminium tubes. The more expensive gold cigars come in single packaging or in packs of three.
With a large number of elite women joining the male-dominated cigar club and enjoying a cigar or cigarillo with a malt, the consumption of flavoured cigars is quite conspicuous. A range of whisky, vanilla, cherry and coffee flavours which are a huge hit with the ladies are available in gift packs.
The scale as well as the variety of cigars available in the country has increased manifold in the recent past. When single malts entered the country, there was a drastic shift from blended whisky as more people became aware of single malts and wanted nothing but the best. The same thing seems to be happening in the cigar world. Take your pick!
The author is a Delhi-based freelance writer
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.