Know the difference between a Claro and a Maduro? Can you discern a Parejo from a Presidente? To the uninitiated cigar smoking is a somewhat bewildering pastime, but to those in the know it is a source of utmost self indulgence.

Always on the lookout for purveyors of the finest luxury wares, Quintessentially Insider took a trip to Davidoff of London to meet with a father and son duo at the zenith of the cigar industry.

Perched on St James Street, Davidoff of London is a bastion of refinement from the moment you enter the front door. Awaiting the arrival of owners Edward Sahakian and his son Eddie, I pass a few minutes by inspecting the gentlemanly regalia that fills the store: walking canes, umbrellas, silver lighters and beech wood cigar boxes all jostle for attention.

Opened in May 1980, Davidoff of London was born after Edward Sahakian was forced into a career change by the Iranian Revolution. With his breweries burnt down by angry mobs hell-bent on overthrowing the Shah, Mr. Sahakian redirected his entrepreneurial skills toward his passion for cigars. Edward’s forward-thinking lawyer contacted Davidoff Chairman Ernst Schneider and the rest, as they say, is history...

Both wearing immaculately tailored suits, Sahakian Senior and Junior appear and I’m immediately offered coffee and a chair. Confessing that I’m a virgin cigar smoker (bar one drunken Christmas) I ask Edward how he would initiate a curious newcomer: “My initial advice is always to enjoy a cigar after a good meal. The first cigar I smoked almost made me ill as I had it early in the morning after a light breakfast. Luckily this didn’t deter me, as a few months later I enjoyed a cigar with a brandy after a nice lunch and I’ve never looked back from there.” Edward breaks in to a hearty chuckle as Eddie interjects with his approach to the novice; “The first thing I ascertain is when, where and with whom the customer wishes to enjoy the cigar because fundamentally what we are selling is not tobacco; we are selling exquisite pleasure. The cigar is the vehicle that that takes you to that place which is absolutely wonderful self indulgence. I encourage customers to have everything around them to maximise that half an hour, one hour or two hour smoke.”
"Aficionados know of my father’s reputation for storing cigars, so the offering at Bvlgari will be only 100% impeccable."

With it evident what the client should do, I’m intrigued to know what the Sahakians do from their end, to ensure a top-class experience for their clients. Eddie enthuses further: “With Cuban cigars it takes between five and fifteen years to gradually improve. With Dominican and Nicaraguan it’s a shorter period. Because of this we are constantly testing to see which cigars have matured to the right level as, unlike wine, every cigar evolves differently. We use that experience to guide our customers. Once we know what they have or haven’t enjoyed previously, we can map their palette and have confidence our recommendations will be enjoyed.”

With an evening of whisky, cigars and caviar for Quintessentially Lifestyle Members at The Edward Sahakian Cigar Shop and Sampling Lounge next week, I steer Eddie towards their latest outpost; “Bvlgari approached us because they wanted a unique cigar offering in their London hotel. Equally I wanted to showcase my father and his hard work over the last thirty three years. With the Sampling Lounge we have more than just a physical shop; it’s a setting that is comfortable, aspirational and ticks all the boxes when wanting to enjoy a fine cigar.”

Through a legal loophole of sorts guests at the lounge can smoke their cigars, because they are in fact ‘sampling’ them, like one would in a chocolate or cheese shop.  So, what can Members expect to sample come the 23rd  October? Eddie continues as his father sees to a customer in the humidified room behind us: “In my experience cigars pair better with alcohols with some residual sweetness as they compete with each other on different parts of the palette. For this event we have, for example, some wonderful Johnnie Walker blue label, which Colin Dunne our whisky ambassador for the evening will introduce.

To complement the fine whiskies on offer Perle Noire Caviar will also be served at the event. Produced in a cultural environment of great gastronomic tradition and a protected natural environment, Perle Noire Caviar will serve as an exquisite counterpart to the libations on offer. But what about the cigars? Eddie explains: “I’m still mulling over a shortlist, but we’ve got the collection to ensure we hit just the right spot. My father is an avid collector and we’ve been ageing since the early 80’s, so choice is not an issue. Aficionados know of my father’s reputation for storing cigars, so the offering at Bvlgari will be only 100% impeccable.”

At this point Edward returns having clearly overheard Eddie’s last snippet; “Everyone will walk away feeling very relaxed. I’m sure it will be a meeting of minds” he says with a smile.

Fred Quick

Quintessentially Lifestyle Members who are interested in obtaining a ticket to the event should contact their Lifestyle Advisor.