Cigar Club LDN
In January 2019, a few of us were sitting in an upcycled beach hut in Battersea, sharing some cigars and a chat. As we watched the last embers burn themselves out in the ashtray (read more about that tradition here), we turned to each other and exclaimed “we ought to do this more often”. So we decided to make it a monthly thing, to ensure we made time to see each other and have a smoke. Which was all very well, but 4 meetups later I was down 16 of the 25 Romeo y Julieta LE 2018 Tacos from my wedding gift box, and I started thinking maybe we ought to share the duty of providing the sticks! (The plan worked, by the way, I’ve still got a handful left…)
Andrea volunteered to buy the next round, but that brought us to our next problem – budget. Cigar smoking is one of those habits that can really put a dent in your wallet. But it doesn’t have to. For £20 or so you can buy a very nice stick that’s not going to get you sweating when the card machine comes out. We looked at each other… £20 it was. So that was it. A monthly meetup, in a London pub garden, and the sticks wouldn’t go above £20! Cigar Club LDN was born.
"As we’ve grown however, we’ve never forgotten the principles that started us off in that beach hut – great cigars that won’t break the bank, enjoyed in good company."
By Matthew Balman
Pandora's Cigar Box
So what was the next big step in our development? It’s a right of passage for all kids these days, and CCL was no different – in July 2019 we made an Instagram account! In truth, at first it was just to help me remember what we had smoked as I would often get confused over whether it was a robusto or a reserva, a maduro or a toro and I was now the one in charge of buying the cigars for the group.
Pre-Instagram, we had added a few new members (mates and mates of mates) to the simple whatsapp group that we had. Once the IG page was live, however, people started messaging me about joining the club. That was a brilliant feeling – people you’ve never met sliding into your DM’s wanting a piece of the action. It showed me there was an appetite for what we were doing, and a community that needed a home. It also made me think we might need more than just a WhatsApp group… We migrated the club to Slack, a big step towards the more formal club you can join today. As we’ve grown however, we’ve never forgotten the principles that started us off in that beach hut – great cigars that won’t break the bank, enjoyed in good company.
So many of the things that make me excited for our future are rooted in our past. There have been so many cool moments in our 3 years; I remember exactly where I was when I read the direct message response from @cigarblondie of Nova cigars telling me that she would send over some of Nova’s sticks for the club members to try! The club was 10 months old at this point – it gave me the confidence that people would take us seriously despite our size, social media presence, time formed or anything else. To this day I am still super grateful to anyone who takes a risk on us such as Leo (AKA Cigar Blondie) did all those years back.
One collaboration led to another, and since then we’ve had a one-off coffee roasted and packaged exclusively for the club, bespoke club candles made for us, private rum-tasting – so many great collaborations, and they are only going to get better. That’s why I’m excited for the future, because there are so many cool people and brands out there that recognise what we’re doing, the amazing community we’ve built, and want to get involved. Our family is growing all the time, and we are working hard on more top notch collaborations and partnerships for 2022. I can’t wait for you to be a part of it all.
With that, thank you for reading. Whether you’re an old member or thinking of joining us, I look forward to sharing a stick with you soon.