Category Archives: Cigars

#ashtag Crystal Ashtray

Wingtip’s first exclusive ashtray design

If you’re a cigar lover like me, you’ll probably never forget where you were, or what you were doing, when you first laid eyes on my inaugural ashtray design.

Simple. Purposeful. Built-in “social” integration. How could no one have already thought of it? I don’t know.

#ashtag Cigar AshtrayA crystal ashtray for a single cigar that features an accurate, engraved ruler on the underside of the bowl so you can measure how long your ash is. Any serious cigar smoker knows that a longer ash helps keep the smoke cool, and that a long ash is a sign of a well constructed cigar. Bringing the ashtray into the 21st century, the social media-savvy can photograph their cigar in the ashtray and post it to Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram with the hashtag #ashtag.

It has been a long journey from Cal dropout to software sales stardom to starving entrepreneur to ashtray designer, but now that I’m here, the view’s pretty good. And if you think I only have one ashtray design up my sleeve…well…you don’t know me.

Own the #ashtag Crystal Ashtray today. $70.

Davidoff Royal Salomones

Davidoff Royal Salomones: Now Available

A very special and rare cigar has arrived to Wingtip: the Davidoff Royal Salomones. Historically, it has only been sold through Davidoff’s own stores, but with our large Davidoff presence in the store, and the budding business we’re doing with them through our partner, Telford’s of Mill Valley, we have a box of 50 available for sale in individual cigars.

Davidoff Royal Salomon Part 1This is a cigar for either a worthy celebration, or because you’re like me, and you have a compelling need to smoke anything new. At $70/stick, it’s not for the faint of heart. But it is a phenomenal smoke, and well worth trying once.

The Royal Salomon has a Dominican binder and seven different Dominican tobaccos making up the filler. The wrapper is Ecuadorian. At over 8 inches long, it is a two hour cigar (so, really, you’re just looking at $35/hour). As with all cigars Davidoff, it was very well made; the ash would frequently grow to an inch or more before falling. The flavor was very refined and consistent throughout the entire cigar.

Davidoff Royal Salomon Ash We have 41 cigars remaining (it was a box of 50 until we sold 8 and I took one to try), and we don’t know when we’ll see another box of these, if ever (we likely will, but we can’t say for sure). We also have an unopened box for sale for $3,500 if you’re looking for a very special gift for a cigar smoker in your life.

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Nat Sherman Cigar Tasting [Recap]

Nat Sherman’s Director of Premium Cigar Sales, Ike Karipides, was kind enough to stop by the Wingtip club this past Friday for an informal tasting. Here are a few of our notes and photographs, recorded by Wingtip Store Assistant Tim Niven:


Generally speaking, Nat Sherman cigars are not too spicy or too bold. The lines offered at the tasting were the Timeless collection [in the brown and black boxes], the Sterling [in the orange box], and the 1930 [in the cream box].

Although the brand has always been a benchmark of quality–and I myself have enjoyed quite a few of their Cigarettellos and Naturals cigarettes during poker tournaments over the years–they revamped their cigar lines about two years back.

The Timeless was spicy and pepper, but not overpowering. This balance landed the Timeless Collection #2 on Cigar Aficionado’s Top Cigars of 2012 (coming in at #10).

On the other end of the spectrum, the 1930 cigar, wrapped in Dominican and Nicaraguan leaves, is the richest corona and the most full-bodied cigar in the Nat Sherman collection. It pays tribute to the year that Nat Sherman was founded.

No 2 Timeless Band_4x6

Nat Sherman Cigar Tasting: Free with RSVP

Next Friday, January 31st, from 4:30–7:30pm Nat Sherman’s West Coast Representative, Ike Karipides, will lead a tasting of two Nat Sherman cigars, the Timeless and the Sterling. The event will be held in WIngtip’s cigar lounge. It is free and open to the public–with an RSVP.

There is very limited room available for this tasting, so please RSVP at your earliest convenience to jennifer@wingtip.com.

About The Sterling Collection

The Nat Sherman Sterling redefines elegance. A collection of sophisticated vitolas, these cigars combine aged Dominican fillers, with a Dominican binder and a stunning Ecuador-grown wrapper. Their medium to fully body provides a creamy smoke along with complex yet mellow flavors and a long finish.

About The Timeless Collection

The Nat Sherman Timeless Collection (Cominican Republic – Matasa) is a full-bodied, medium-strength blend of tobaccos from three countries. The Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers offer rich notes of espresso and roasted nuts, while the Honduran wrapper is characterized by an earthiness that is rounded out by subtle sweet notes on the finish.

About Nat Sherman

From our humble beginnings in 1930, in the heart of New York City’s Garment District, Nat Sherman has become one of the most recognized and sought-after brands in the premium tobacco industry. Still family owned and operated, the current leadership includes Joel Sherman, Nat’s son, as well as a third generation of Shermans: William, Michele, and Laurence. This multi-generational commitment has infused a passion for being a service-centric company which extends not only to their customers, but also to their business partners and the extended family of Nat Sherman employees. (Read more at natsherman.com)

Dunhill Tobacco Shop

Don Candido: $280 to Smoke History

Dunhill London Limited Tobacco ShopAt the corner of St. James and Pall Mall lies the newly refurbished Dunhill London Limited Tobacco shop. By “newly refurbished” I mean it soft opened in December of 2013, I’m visiting in late January, and the formal grand opening is later this month. While the location has been a tobacco shop since 1907, it has only been a Dunhill shop for the past six years.

The store was completely rebuilt and it shows. Modern yet comfortable, luxurious but accessible. While primarily Dunhill accessories, there are also lighters and cutters from Xikar and S.T. Dupont, a cigarette bar with exclusive tobaccos found nowhere else, White Spot pipes, and a walk-in humidor with a solid selection of current production cigars and then a very special selection of aged cigars. There are also 55 cigar lockers in the shop that run £1200 ($2,000) a year, however, you also receive £1,200 in credit towards cigars, so…it’s free!

Dunhill Don Candido (1966)Cigar Aficionado, in its 20+ year history, has only given a perfect 100 point score to seventeen different cigars, and this Dunhill store has six of them for sale. Today, I had one of those legends: a Don Candido from 1966 (£170; $280).

The Don Cándido brand was created in 1935 by Cándido Vega Diaz, and it was created as a “super, super premium brand for exclusive distribution by Alfred Dunhill of London.” Dunhill had three brands made in Cuba: Don Candido, Don Alfredo, and Flor del Punto. All three brands were discontinued in 1983 when the new Dunhill Havana was introduced. Unfortunately, the Dunhill Havana was short-lived after a falling out with the Cuban tobacco authorities, so since 1989, there have been no Dunhill cigars coming out of Cuba.

I must say, it was a superb cigar. Clearly stored well given it was almost 50 years old. Well constructed. Flavorful. Perfect atmosphere to smoke one. Would I pay $280 to smoke it again? Probably not. Any regrets about this first time? None.

To visit, make your way to 1A St. James Street.

London Dispatch: Day 5

Dukes Hotel Bar Manager

London Dispatch: Day 5

Too much and too little to write about tonight. Too little in that half my day was spent walking across London to pick up a huge box of Scotch for a good customer that can’t be shipped into the U.S. so I am effectively his Whisky Mule; too much in that my evening was filled with bliss at the Dukes Hotel.

After the whisky pick-up and before the Dukes Hotel, I spent a couple hours in a cafe doing some work, and I’ll have something to say about that in tomorrow’s post.

I was first made aware of the Dukes Martini when I worked in software, ironically, at a company called Blue Martini Software. Several veterans of the salesforce swore by the bar at the Dukes Hotel as the place to get a Martini, but I never had a chance to visit during my first trip to London in 2002. And as a casual fan of James Bond, I was aware that it was at the Dukes Hotel that Ian Fleming was inspired to write what’s become the most famous martini command: “shaken not stirred.”

Davidoff Geneva 100th AnniversaryFurther, since we opened the new bar at Wingtip last January, we’ve had a Dukes Martini on the menu. Admittedly, we don’t yet have a proper Martini cart, although that is on our To Do list. So tonight, I had the time and occasion to make my first pilgrimage to this Mecca of the Martini and it did not disappoint. On the walk to the hotel, assuming I would not be able to smoke at the bar, I lit up a Davidoff 100 Years Geneva Robusto which was introduced in 2011 to celebrate what would have been Zino Davidoff’s 100th birthday. It’s past midnight as I type so I can’t tell if my phone’s camera was out of focus, or if I’m just blurry eyed.

The photo is taken just outside the infamous Dukes Hotel, tucked away down a small street off another alley off of St. James. In other words, it’s a destination; no one is just stumbling into the bar there. The bar was packed, so I waited patiently in the lobby for a table to open. The Bar Manager, Alessandro Palazzi, a living legend, brought me to a table and did just about everything I could have asked for without me having to ask. Took my coat, brought me a newspaper since I was alone, offered me the wifi password so I could post my beverage photos to Facebook, and took my order.

Not-a-Martini at the Dukes HotelI wanted so badly to order a Martini, but I’m just not that into gin, so I ordered a Manhattan instead; it’s kind of like going to Peter Lugar and ordering a salad.

I expected my Manhattan and canapes to be the end of the evening, but apparently three years ago, they added a Cigar Patio (technically, The Cognac & Cigar Garden). Well, how am I supposed to say no to that? So now I’m having my second cigar in an hour (a Partagas D Series #4) with a glass of ’94 Port on the patio. It was chilly, but nothing an overcoat and scarf couldn’t cure. Warm on the outside and warm on the inside. Nice cigar, nice drink, and some friendly company also enjoying cigars.

I’m too tired to write more. Until tomorrow…

London Dispatch: Day 4

Chateau d'Yquem at Hedonism Wines

London Dispatch: Day 4

Not that I had any doubts prior to this trip, but London really is the best shopping for men in the world. New York is great, but it doesn’t hold a candle to London. I’d have made the declaration after Day 1, but Day 4 certainly solidified it.

The morning started with breakfast at the Connaught Hotel which was great, as it should be for what they charge (bacon, eggs, coffee, juice, pastries, classical music was $50). I chose it because the hotel looked as Old School as Old School gets (it was; I loved it), and it was two blocks from my appointment at Alfred Dunhill’s Bourdon Home. While maybe technically a “store,” it is so much more. An homage, actually, to everything Alfred Dunhill is about. Basically, Dunhill signed a 125 year lease for the former home of the Duke of Westminster, built in the 1700s, and the only detached home in Mayfair. I thought our store was old in the 105 year old Bank of Italy building — it’s a mere child compared to this place.

Alfred Dunhill Bourdon HomeNow, I’m not going to post my amateur iPhone photos here (save one) because they would not do justice to this place. Dunhill does a better job with photos here, or A Continuous Lean here. First, the Head of Home took me downstairs where there’s a 12 seat home theater, a small cafe, and something they asked me not to write about. Let’s just say I was as happy as a pig in mud. Up the staircase to the ground level where you have most of Dunhill’s collection: suits, formalwear, outerwear, neckwear, accessories, and more. Then it’s up another staircase to the Discovery Room where there is a Dunhill leather worker there crafting a bespoke item for a customer and a shoe shiner polishing another customer’s shoes. I head right into the Barber Spa for one of the best straight razor shaves I’ve ever had (again, no offense to Wingtip’s own Joe Roberts who has the misfortune of having to see me constantly).

The aspect of Bourdon Home that most people don’t know about is the private club. Membership is by invitation from the President of Richemont (the luxury house that owns Dunhill along with Mont Blanc, Panerai, IWC, Peter Millar, etc.). The club is so private that even the owner of a private club that carries Alfred Dunhill products doesn’t get to set foot inside. The photo is from the courtyard looking into the main bar. Let’s just say an invitation is now on my Bucket List.

Sine Qua Non cave at Hedonism WinesDirectly across the street is Hedonism Wines. This store has now become my inspiration for what I hope Wingtip’s wine & spirits department someday becomes. Words won’t do it justice. Photos won’t do it justice. If you love wine or spirits, you will be floored with the selection. I have been to a fair amount of wine & spirits stores and I have never seen anything like this.

The Bourbon Display at Hedonism WinesThey have a cave devoted just to Sine Qua Non (plus more outside the cave, plus more in storage), they have an entire wall dedicated to Chateau d’Yquem, a Penfold’s room that requires that you buy the entire room of every Penfold’s ever for the cool price of £600,000 (approx $1M), and a spirits collection that has…well…everything, including some pre-Prohibition bourbons (photo at bottom). Having just had the opportunity to taste a bourbon bottled in 1915, it was nostalgic to see a bottle for sale.

Then a quick stop to the Purdey store to check out $200,000+ rifles, lunch at Scott’s (I just needed a quick bite, didn’t know where to go, saw a Rolls Royce parked out front, and took that to mean it must be decent), and home for a movie.

Pre-Prohibition Bourbon at Hedonism Wines

London Dispatch: Day 5

London Dispatch: Day 3

A fraction of the Autumn/Winter Collection from Dunhill

London Dispatch: Day 3

Dunhill Red Tartan SuitDay 3 started with a longing for bacon & eggs, but only time for a croissant & coffee while walking a couple miles across London to Two Temple Place for an appointment with Alfred Dunhill. The setting, described as “one of London’s hidden architectural gems, an extraordinary late Victorian mansion built by William Waldorf Astor on Embankment,” was stunning, and appropriate for showcasing Dunhill’s broad array of products.

The main showroom featured about 20 different looks rigged up on mannequins which represented about 1/3 of the total number of looks they were showing. The first suit you see when walking into the main floor of the temporary showroom is a red tartan GTH suit that I had to have…only to be told it had already sold out. Oh well – it’s not a suit that’s going to fly off the rack, but it sure does look good in the window. And it set the tone for where Dunhill is going.

Dunhill Green Velvet Dinner Jacket w/ Cocktail Cuffs

Dunhill has always been proud of their formalwear, and this year was no exception. In addition to their classic midnight blue tuxedo, they showed a black double-breasted tuxedo and the green velvet Dinner Jacket (at right) with cocktail cuffs. They had tuxedo shirts in 9 colors, although I only ordered their classic white formal shirt to complement the Wingtip Formal Shirt we already carry. I could have filled an album with just their formalwear.

Dunhill Formal Overcoat w/ Mink Detachable Collar

The coup de grace was a formalwear overcoat with a detachable mink collar (at left). The collar was one of the softer things I have ever felt in my life, but at close to $10,000 for the coat, it won’t be appearing at Wingtip unless you want to pre-order one now!

There was plenty of other clothing to love: leather jackets, sport coats, incredible outerwear (although much of it too warm for the Bay Area), shirts, ties, pocket squares, and luxury chinos, all of which will find their way to the store and website.

Dunhill Kit Bag in new Green Chassis

On the accessory front, there was a unique ballpoint pen innovation that I’m excited to show off once we receive the pens (and believe me, I understand how hard it might be to believe “ballpoint pen innovation”). The big news on the accessory front was in leather goods, and their carbon fiber-like Chassis collection. For the past few years, the collection has been available only in black; this fall Wingtip will have pieces coming in a new Navy w/ Oxblood trim and Racing Green w/ Bridle Tan trim. The collection includes small and large leather goods.

The most unique, and expensive, item of the day was a solid carbon fiber Bulldog made by an artist who spends most of his time working on art pieces related to Formula 1 racing. The bulldogs came in two sizes, with the smaller one having a run of 250 produced, and the large one, pictured below, limited to just 8. At $50,000 retail, sadly, I had to pass. But did I mention that the collars are encrusted with actual parts from a Formula 1 race car?

Solid Carbon Fiber Bulldog

All that hard work required a little relaxation, so it was off to the J.J. Fox cigar store at 19 St. James Street for a Ramon Allones that was blended exclusively for the U.K. (apparently that’s what Exclusivo Gran Bretaña means). Burned a little unevenly but made a handful of new friends in the hour I was there. Just wish they stayed open past 5:45.Ramon Allones exclusive to Great Britain

London Dispatch: Day 4
London Dispatch: Day 2

Holland & Holland Gun Room

London Dispatch: Day 2

Jet lag resulted in sleeping in until noon. For someone that normally gets up somewhere between 5-6am, that’s half the day wasted. But it was still a productive day in the most unproductive sense of the word.

Chocolate croissant and latte at a local cafe, and then back to spying visiting some classic retailers. On my way to peek in the Brioni window, I stopped into Holland & Holland, the almost 200 year old purveyor of unbelievable hunting rifles, apparel, and accessories. I did not examine every rifle in the Gun Room, but the least expensive one I saw was £20,000 and I saw several marked over £100,000 (that’s like a million U.S. dollars, I think).

On Ablemarle, I could not resist stopping into the David Linley shop. You could throw a dart in that store, wrap up what you hit, and I guarantee I would love it as a gift. Sadly, I need to visit the Belgravia store to see the Tini Time Cocktail Closet in person.

GJ Cleverley SlippersWalking down Savile Row was a semi-religious experience. I had been before, but that was pre-Wingtip. The juxtaposition of the old (Gieves & Hawkes, Hunstman, Henry Poole) and the new (Ozwald Boateng, Alexander McQueen) was great to see. Any man should be able to walk Savile Row and find a suit that fits his style (fitting his budget may be another matter). If a street like Savile Row exists anywhere else in the world, I’ve yet to see it. I could spend an entire day browsing each store and an entire night dreaming of what I’d buy from each store.

Then it was off to the G.J. Cleverly store in the Royal Arcade just off Bond Street. Not needing any shoes at the moment (or any moment for the last 10 years), there was one style of shoe that I don’t yet own and happened to be on sale: Prince Albert Slippers. Black cashmere and red cashmere were available in my size, but I opted for midnight blue with a tassel. Thinking I will smuggle them back into the U.S. in the Zero Halliburton case.

Hotel Bulgari Cigar Bar MenuFinally, ended the evening at the Cigar Bar in the Hotel Bulgari. Apparently, in London, you are not allowed to smoke in bars, so instead, you’ll find a couple places where you can “sample” cigars; so I “sampled” a Bolivar Belicoso Fino with a dessert and cappuccino. The cigar menu (photo at left, click to enlarge) is one I can only hope Wingtip someday emulates: two pages of current production Cubans, and then another four pages of rare and limited edition cigars, including several Cuban Davidoff cigars that went as high as £1,000 for a single cigar.

Tomorrow morning is an appointment with Alfred Dunhill (well, not Alfred, but Dunhill) and a proper tour of Bourdon House…

London Dispatch: Day 3

London Dispatch: Day 1

Turnbull & Asser Store on Jermyn Street

London Dispatch: Day 1

A Dunhill buying trip has forced me to visit London for the first time since 2001. Landed around 10:30am. Arrived in central London around 12:30. Grabbed a quick bite, and started heading toward Bond Street and Jermyn Street.

First stop was the barbershop of Geo F. Trumper at 1 Duke of York Street. Now, I love Wingtip’s Master Barber, Joe Roberts, but I wanted to do some research, so I let my hair grow an extra 4 days to wait for Trumper. The retail area is beautiful, so well stocked with their grooming products and other accessories. I was able to walk-in and get a spot with just a 15 minute wait, but it seemed all four barbers were busy all day long. I was offered a glass of water while I waited, although it sounded like occasionally they offer whisky (Joe, Wingtip’s barber, always has bourbon and scotch at the ready, and sadly, probably doesn’t have just water at the ready). The haircut was fine. The shampoo was a little odd in that, rather than have me lean back in a chair over the sink, they had me lean forward, face down, which made for the most awkward shampoo I’ve ever received. And surprisingly, while cleaning up the back of my neck, the barber used a straight razor but no shave cream. At the end of the day, the cut was great and that’s most important. Oh, and it cost £36 which is like $500 American dollars, so there’s that.

A quick walk around the corner got me to the Turnbull & Asser store at 71-72 Jermyn Street, which happens to be on sale right now (like most men’s stores, including Wingtip!). I managed to escape with just a single dress shirt and a photo of Winston Churchill in his green velvet “Siren Suit” (a lounge/smoking robe). Their selection of cashmere dress socks is pretty impressive; definitely something for Wingtip to strive for.

Davidoff London Store Anniversary Cigar Then it was another block to Edward Sahakian’s Davidoff store on the corner of Jermyn & St. James. Last time I was in the store, over 10 years ago, I bought a pre-embargo Cuban Davidoff. To the uninitiated, Davidoff left the island in 1989, so there has not been a Cuban Davidoff produced in almost 25 years. On my first visit to London back in 2001, I think I paid £10o for the single cigar which is like $10,000 in today’s money (okay, maybe not that expensive, but it is one of the most expensive cigars I have ever bought but they are exceedingly rare and getting more expensive by the day). The price of that cigar has doubled in the decade since my last visit.

This trip, I opted for the one Davidoff that they have that Wingtip doesn’t have: a special 25th Anniversary cigar that was blended especially for the London store. That cigar was introduced back in 2005 so it’s aged another 9 years since then, and you could tell by the medium gray ash. A very nice smoke that I got to enjoy sitting next to Edward Sahakian who is a bit of a legend in the cigar world. After telling him about our humble cigar shop in San Francisco, he packed me up 3 more of the special Davidoff for London cigars at no charge, which of course then obliged me to go back in the humidor and buy more cigars. He is a true gentleman.

Not a bad first day considering the jet lag. More adventures tomorrow…

London Dispatch: Day 2