Birley Cigars, a tiny shop tucked discreetly away in London’s Mayfair, has distinguished itself in a thriving niche of the luxury goods market. It sources the world’s rarest Cuban cigars, masterfully matches them with the varied tastes of each client, and provides groundbreaking facilities for storing and ageing this rarefied rolled tobacco.

From the outside, the cigar shop of 5 Hertford Street – Robin Birley’s achingly glamorous private members’ club – reveals nothing; it’s simply a gleaming red door and bell. Within, it is every inch a cigar lover’s utopia: a walk-in Spanish cedar wood humidor containing all twenty-seven brands of hand-rolled Cuban cigars and a plump banquette seat on which to relax and sample one. “I’m an occasional cigar smoker,” says Chris
Cecil-Wright, “and Birley Cigars is a hidden treasure.” 


One of the shop’s five immaculately dressed cigar master sommeliers will acquaint a customer with a spectrum of day-to-day, limited edition and vintage cigars, from Henry Clay and Cuban Davidoffs to the Cohiba 50th Anniversary box (priced at £450,000). The cigar master will guide the client through several considerations, such as the nuances of palate and how long the client intends to dedicate to the smoking experience, whether they crave a burst of flavour or something more mellow, or if they intend to smoke pre or post dinner. Cigar smoking, out of fashion for a time, is de rigueur once more – and smokers are passionate to learn. “Today’s cigar smoker is more educated than a generation ago,” explains Luiz Murano, the manager of Birley Cigars, “Because of social media, people crave an identity that distinguishes them from others. Over the last decade a new passion for the world’s finest cigars has been born.”


Birley Cigars has itself become engaged with social media, amassing nearly 20k followers on Instagram. Each image shows a huge array of cigars, decoratively arranged within the company’s cigar vault, reputedly the most sophisticated ageing room in the world. The webpage and Instagram account allow a rare glimpse into the room, located in an adjacent building, which stores 260 lockers belonging to clients. The atmosphere is so pristine it would be possible to conduct surgery in there: “We built a bespoke machine that didn’t exist previously,” explains Luiz, “It produces the relative humidity and ambient conditions we need in this room in order to achieve the best possible ageing for our cigars.”

Each locker features its own hygrometer and fan, thereby creating a humidified locker within a humidified room. This allows the locker owner to monitor the conditions of their locker remotely and in real-time, as well as check their own inventory online. So, should the owner ever wish to sell their cigars at auction they would have the historic temperature and humidity data to hand, giving provenance – and added value – to every cigar.


The Birley Cigar sommelier can assist a client in curating a collection and building an attractive portfolio, but they are also in the business of selling, storing and ageing cigars for a client’s future personal enjoyment. “A cigar is one of the few pleasures that one can enjoy on one’s own,” says Luiz, “You might commune over a glass of cognac, but your cigar experience is yours alone.”

5Hertford 083

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