The Upmann Half Corona

Over the past year or so more and more friends in the wine trade, and out of it in the case of The Prodigal Fool (see that “handle” on twitter), have revealed an interest in cigars. This varies from a casual “would like to know more” to a more seriously developing habit. Either way an idea for a cigar evening was born and we finally achieved it on Wednesday last week. Rather aptly just three days into “Stoptober”.

We started with some food as seemed wise and via Mr Primack managed to get a corkage deal at the splendid Tonkotsu ( A great meal followed at a more than fair £25 a head. The food is fresh and enlivening, I actually went in after a large lunch and came out feeling full again but better for it, not always the case. I went for Tonkotsu a sea salt-based pork stock and thin noodles topped with slices of melt-in-the-mouth pork belly, half a seasoned soft-boiled egg, menma, bean sprouts and spring onions while everyone else went for the apparently even better Tokyo Spicy, Soy sauce-based pork and chicken stock and medium thick noodles topped with pulled chilli pork, half a seasoned soft-boiled egg, menma and spring onions. To accompany these and the awesome starters we had four different wines.

Villero 2001, Brovia
Muscadet Expression de Gneiss 2009, Domaine de L’Ecu: Mineral and refreshing, subtle and a great starter to proceedings. Macon Verze 2009, Domaine Leflaive: Have drunk this a lot, textured and full but with balance, worked well. Psi 2009, Peter Sisseck: This is really opening out well, not ideal with this food, almost too much fruit, but a good bottle and getting better and better. Barolo Villero 2001 mag, Brovia: The best with the food to my mind, well the main courses anyway. I love Brovia and think they have done the 2001 very well, some 2001’s can be OTT but this isn’t. The flavour profile worked perfectly and left me wanting more, a good sign.

With the food done and a brief break in the rain it was cigar time so we set off for the new Cigar Room at The May Fair Hotel ( En route by foot I thought it would be good to trial the new Half Corona from H.Upmann. One of the nine we had was plugged but the others seemed good if very young. The blend seems good and solid enough. They will be better with a few months rest I think, pricing is an issue for the size, a Partagas Short or Ramon Allones Small Club Corona do the job better for the same, if not less, money. I like cigars that make you stop and rest or chat for a while rather than ones you try to cram in between other things. Others will disagree but for me there is too much focus on shorter and shorter smokes (and fatter and fatter ones but that’s a different topic). Having smoked that and walked via Davidoff we were at the May Fair. The Cigar Room is a bit of a climb but well worth it. They have not scrimped one bit, the decor is good the furniture comfortable and the temperature seem controllable. Our group grew to eleven and there was masses of space even when another party of 15 arrived and we were only in one of the rooms. My only comments on what could be improved is that service for a large party is a little slow. I think this lounge could become one of the very best in london and you certainly feel like you are escaping it all. We had an array of smokes amongst our party, including:
Hoyo de Monterrey Short Piramides (EL 2011)Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona, Trinidad Reyes, Cohiba 1966 (EL 2011) and Cohiba Robusto
The 1966
The cigars were all in good condition, a tad “wet” which is better than too dry but is in need of a little improvement. The pricing of the cigars is very fair, they are roughly 5-10% more than West End retail. Myself and Eric both took this opportunity to try the Cohiba 1966 a limited edition from 2011. I have to say mine was very good, some classic Cohiba grassiness and a lovely rich but not heavy texture, a dash of dark chocolate and lots of palate covering smoke. If I owned some and I may try to get a 10box then I would have one more in the next 6 months and then leave them 4-5 years. There has been a lot of hype about them but I have to say they are very good. The cigar menu itself was good but a little obvious if I am honest. I can understand them wanting to stock smokes that they know they will sell but the thinner gauges were very under-represented. No Dahlias or Londsales. All they need is to add a Cazadores, a Partagas 8-9-8 or a Trinidad Fundadores and there would be more balance. I must pass on thanks to Nic Wing ( for setting up the booking even though he sadly couldn’t join us. next time Nic…

The evening encapsulated what is good to me about the wine trade in that everyone just gets along but also what’s good about cigars they make you stop and talk…all sorts of topics were covered from (a bit of) politics to movies, lots about music, many stories and much more…