Cuban Cigars and Delamain Cognac at the Bluebird

When Penny from the Bluebird wineshop told me she was hosting a cigar and cognac tasting, I was excited, a bit hesitant but also very curious to attend a cigar and cognac tasting because I’d never been to one. Although I love a good Cuban (cigar or otherwise), cognac has a rather fusty old image in my mind and I didn’t really fancy sitting around all evening with grandfatherly figures discussing the merits of cognac. But it turned out to be a smartly casual affair with plenty of mingling and good conversation. The event was presented by Amanda Laden from Delamain Cognac and Simon Chase the cigar expert from Hunters & Frankau. H&F also brought along the head of production for the Cohiba Cigar factory in Cuba, Eduardo Diaz, to demonstrate the fine art of cigar rolling. Eduardo spent most of the evening rolling cigars. I spoke to him afterwards and he told me that he’s here for 2 months doing demonstrations for H&F. I was curious about the tobacco leaves he was using and asked him if he had brought them with him. He told me that the unrolled leaves are imported by H&F for him to use specifically to make cigars during these demonstrations. We were treated to 3 XO or higher cognacs (XO signifiying that the cognac was aged for at least 6 years. No need to worry here as the youngest cognac was 25 years old) and 1 Hoya de Monterrey Especial cigar. Even though Eduardo was from Cohiba, we were smoking Hoyas because the big boss, Terence Conran -who was attending the tasting, prefers Hoya. Since there is an indoor smoking ban here in England, the tasting was held in the patio of the Bluebird. It was very nicely set up with small tables scattered about (adding to the informal atmosphere) and outdoor heaters nearby, although they weren’t needed because it was a balmy evening and the rain had miraculously stopped. We enjoyed champagne and canapes while we were...

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