By Manny Brefin, November 2023 aka @yellowbrickwallcigars
When people ask me what, in my opinion, the biggest luxury in the world is, I always have one answer. It is time! Time is something nobody has more of than anyone else. Time is the equalizer of everything and everyone. When they then ask me how I most like to spend that limited spare time, my answer is also always the same: smoke and share a delicious Cuban cigar with great friends.
My love for Cuban cigars started many years ago in my mid-teens when I nicked (yes, I am not proud of that terrible action, but yet so glad I did it) a handful of them from one of my father’s cherished humidors. To be smoked in the woods behind our family home back in Switzerland with a couple of equally naughty but good friends. None of us really knew what to do with these beautifully hand-rolled Cuban Davidoffs other than we had to cut it in the back and light in the front. We did not know anything about the difference between Cuban or New World cigars, construction, rolling, blends, brands, or aging. But we quickly, almost instantly, knew that we had started something special here. At that point, I could have never guessed that by lighting this cigar, I would enter a completely new and fascinating world. A world that over time has allowed me to meet and spend quality time with, and in the process, get to know some fantastic people of all ages and cultures, many of whom have become great friends around the globe. It was the beginning of, yes, I would go as far as calling it a love story and a passion that has been a large part of my life ever since.
It really does not matter where one smokes cigars, be it an elegant five-star hotel such as the Bulgari cigar lounge, reputable shops like Davidoff of London run by the always knowledgeable and wonderful Edward and Eddie Sahakian, a casual and comfortable lounge like Sautters, Knightsbridge owned by the cigar legend Laurence Davis, Enfuegos in Las Vegas, or the @yellowbrickwallcigars at home looking at the boats passing by on the Thames river. So or so, you are very likely to be able to relax and be with or encounter like-minded cigar aficionados. The conversations normally start about where the cigars one is smoking are from, how they taste, and then often lead to enjoying another cigar or more together. I have rarely met a cigar smoker that does not like to experience and share their cigars with other people. There is a very good chance when you meet a person who is a brother or sister of the tobacco leaf that they are halfway okay, very sociable, and most likely perfect gentlemen.
Smoking cigars could really be looked at as the modern equivalent of sitting around a campfire with your close friends and family, while talking about your and the world’s current and past problems, often finding solutions in a smoky, relaxed, calm, and gentlemanly way. Unfortunately, over the last few years, cigars have become much more of an expensive status and show-off symbol. For a growing number of us, it is often much more important how much a cigar costs, what and how many labels it carries. We sometimes forget that smoking these fine cigars should be about one thing and one thing only: enjoyment! It really does not matter where the cigar comes from, what age it has, if it’s potentially ‘fake,’ or what someone paid for it. It is only about how one likes it and how we want to enjoy the greatest luxury we all have and with whom we want to spend it – that is time.