Gems, Hunting, Limited Edition, Treasures

Hunting For Hidden Treasures

My wife and I are huge fans of Davidoff cigars. While there are several regular production line vitolas of theirs that we enjoy on a regular basis, we have also come to appreciate some of their limited edition releases of which they release a number every year. Over the past two years we have made sure to pre-order at least one box and sometimes a few of each one before they even hit the shelves. We have not yet been disappointed. We smoke (and share) most of them, but we make a point to save two of each one; the plan is to let them sit for ten years, and then revisit them on special occasions.

Of course, Davidoff started releasing limited edition cigars long before we started this routine. We are Johnny Come Lately to the party, which does not mean that we will not enjoy what we can, only that we missed several wonderful sticks. That’s life, right?

GustoOn a recent trip to my old neighbourhood in California we were visiting the local cigar shop and lounge where I used to hang out a bit. As we perused the walk-in humidor, two cigars caught Leslie’s eye. There were not one but two different vitolas that neither of us were familiar with. We looked them up on-line and sure enough they were both limited edition ‘vault releases’ from 2018. Of course, that does not mean they will be to our taste, but they were selling singles so we bought two of each cigar. We smoked them during our trip and fell in love with them, and decided that we would go back to the shop and buy up the rest of the singles.

ParagonAs luck would have it, Albert was busy with another customer when we arrived, so we went into the humidor to look around. There were two or three of each of them left, and we were happy to grab them all… but we had some time to kill as the other customer discussed wines with the proprietor, so we decided to look around a bit more. As is the case with so many retail humidors, the space above the display cases is used for extra storage, and we started looking to see what he had. My wife’s eagle eye spotted something that looked promising but which was out of reach, so I went and got the stepladder. What we found was pure gold… two sealed packages of ten of each of the vitolas. We grabbed all four packs and took them to the front… with big huge grins on our faces!

Nubbed Davidoffs

Every cigar shop has their regular favourites on display, but often they will not have their entire collection on the shelves. Many stores display their singles, but keep boxes hidden away. Many is the time that I have found a box while digging through their stock that the staff had simply forgotten that they had. Sometimes they know, but as with many smokers they like to age their finer cigars for a few years (as was the case with another limited edition release that we discovered). Of course, many stores will not let you go searching through their stock – remember, I have a long relationship with the store where we did this – but if they do, you can occasionally find hidden treasures. When you do, be grateful… and do not hesitate because if you do then they will be gone the next time you walk in.

Occasionally we come across one that we love so much that we wish we had bought more of them. That was the case with a particular 2022 release. I had bought every last cigar from my regular haunts, and figured that I would slowly smoke them until they were all gone. When we returned to Dallas from California I went to surprise an old friend who had recently moved to the city and took a job at a shop that I had never been to. It was great to see him, and we sat down to enjoy a stick. The topic of limited edition cigars came up and I told him about the one that I wished I had more of. ‘Bro, I am pretty sure we have a box in the humidor. Did you look?’ I had not even walked into their (quite exceptional) humidor… I saw him and we went into the lounge to sit and chat. Sure enough, there it was! I picked it up and happily handed over my credit card.

I have several friends who have a lot more patience than I do. When I go to Cuba, I go to be on vacation. I enjoy my time there, whether on a resort or in the city. I will visit several cigar stores to not only find what I am looking for, but also to see my friends who work there. For the friends of which I speak, that is the vacation. They fly into Havana, and will spend three or four days going from shop to shop. They will comb though the inventory and look at every box code in the hopes of finding that hidden treasure. One of them recently discovered a nine year old box of very high-end cigars… and while you would think they might cost more, in fact it is just the opposite. The box had the original price tag from 2013 on it, so he was able to pay the price from before nine years of price hikes… for a box that was probably worth twice the retail price on the secondary marked the minute he walked out the door. Of course, he not only enjoys smoking them, he also resells a lot of cigars to subsidize his hobby… and his trips to Cuba.

There was an episode of Seinfeld where George hid a jacket that was going on sale the following day so that another customer (who was the same size) would not get the one jacket left in their size. I have heard of people who would do the same with boxes of cigars, and let me tell you… it is bad form. Of course, seldom will high end cigars go on sale, but it is common that people – especially those on vacation to the tropics – walk around with limited funds, opting to leave the bulk of their cash and credit cards in the hotel safe. While it is always okay to ask the staff to hold a box for you, it is never right to hide a box yourself so that you can come back later and dig it up. Yes, you risk the employee either putting it back on the shelf, or even selling it to another ‘more preferred’ customer. That is the risk that you take. I often talk about the etiquette of cigars and the cigar community, and being underhanded is not, as they say, cricket. If you are ever on the fence about what the right thing to do would be, follow this simple rule: think of what any of the main characters from Seinfeld would do… and then don’t do that.

In the world of wonderful cigars, there are so many amazing cigars that stand out above the rest. Many of these are limited production and hard to find. If you find a cigar reseller who claims to have huge stocks of discontinued cigars that are so rare that we refer to them as unicorns, be suspicious. So often I am asked to look at a box of cigars that someone wants to buy because of the rarity, and the pictures are almost always stock images taken from the web. Scammers prey on hopeful buyers on social media platforms, promising too-good-to-be-true prices on cigars that would be treasured by the most discerning connoisseur. My father taught me over and over again that if something looks too good to be true… it usually is. If someone is offering cigars for sale on Facebook or Discord or any other platform, before you send any money or agree to anything, make sure others have bought from them and are willing to vouch for them. A lot of Facebook buy-and-sell groups will offer to hold the money in escrow until the goods are received and verified. Oh, and if they message you privately that they have cigars for sale, run don’t walk away.

With all of that said, there are still hidden gems out there… if you know what to look for. Perusing the stock of a good tobacconist is, for me, much more exciting that walking through a thrift store or going to garage sales looking for that unexpected treasure where the seller does not know what they have. It takes time, patience, knowledge, and luck. Most cigar stores do not lose or forget about their stock very often, but when they do they are usually happy that you dug them up and will sell them to you at the marked price. Leslie and I agreed before we went back to the store that we would not show our excitement about the LEs until we had paid for them… but that was when we thought we were getting three or four single sticks that were clearly on the shelf for sale. Once we found the sealed packages we knew that we could not be dishonest about what we found… or where and how we found them. Our honestly paid off, and not only was Albert happy to sell them to us, he even gave us a steep discount knowing that we had just gotten married that weekend.

Look for those treasures. Dig for those gems. It is exciting to find something that you were not expecting to find, whether that be a box of 2018 Davidoff Limited Editions or a box of 2003 Montecristos. If you find something that you are not sure about then remember that Google is your friend, and you can look up almost any cigar in the world and read all about it – including pricing, tasting notes, and reviews – right there in the store. You never know what you will find! The only downside is knowing that when you fall in love with a unicorn, once you have smoked them all they are likely gone forever. Just remember that as it was in high school… it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.

Now go out and find another cigar to love… and if you are not sure, send a couple of them to Leslie and I to test for you! Smile

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