Brand evangelist, digital marketer, cigar and spirits expert specializing in consumer tasting and educational events. Matthias made the long trek from his hometown of Portland, Oregon to New York City in 2007, and in nine years has hosted more than 120 events and helped promote and launch dozens of cigar and whiskey brands in the U.S. In 2016, he joined the Cigar Journal Tasting Panel, blind-reviewing pre and new release cigars.
As a lover of all things cigars, including accessories and adjacent interests like whisky and cocktails, I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to obtain the Davidoff Cigar Storage and Bar Tool Set. It’s one of the more unique Davidoff accessories I’ve come across and is both beautiful and functional.
The box itself is made of a beautiful light wood exterior with light gray fabric interior. It has slots for six cigars, two vertical slots for a cigar cutter and cigar lighter, and of course the bar tool slots which include a jigger, wine key, champagne stopper and 4oz. cup. The last slot holds a “Pairing Suggestions” booklet which suggests drink pairings for Davidoff’s core line of cigars.
The bar tools themselves are high quality as evidenced by their substantial weight, which is great. And once you’ve populated the box with your choice of cigars, a cutter and a lighter, you can consider yourself prepared to show up in style to any social cigar gathering.
The only suggestion I’d make for future iterations of this product is for the surface inside the box to be a bit more deeply inset. When the 4oz cup is stowed in its slot, it takes up quite a bit of vertical space and can come into contact with the lighter strapped in above it under the lid, making it difficult to close the box back up.
All things considered, still a beautiful and functional accessory to have on hand. Here’s the description from the Davidoff website:
For those who plan their libations with their cigars.
The perfect kit for every occasion. A wooden carrying case with a secure closure latch, equipped with storage for cigars, a lighter and cutter, along with necessary bar tools, a beautiful gold-satin wine key, champagne stopper, jigger for cocktails and a small steel restaurant grade drinking glass.
The kit itself is priced at $99, but can be obtained from some official Davidoff retail shops as a complementary gift for cigar purchases over $250. For more info about purchasing, visit the official Davidoff website.
Last week, Barclay Rex emailed customers announcing the reopening of the store, including the walk in humidor which is now open to the public (unlike other notable NYC cigar retailers like Davidoff where only staff are allowed to walk into the humidor). In addition, the members-only lounge is now open on the condition that reservations are made ahead of time.
Lastly, Barclay Rex has opened limited outdoor seating and hopes to gain a permit for more outdoor seating in the coming week.
Below is the email that went out to the Barclay Rex mailing list last week:
Thank you for all the support during this challenging time. We are thrilled to officially announce our reopening, on Monday, for in-store shopping during Phase 2 New York City reopening. Please make note of our most updated information:
Barclay Rex will be open Monday-Friday 10am-7pm. Feel free to call, email or shop inside the store for all of your purchases.
Rex Club is officially reopened to members and their guests. Please note that a reservation is required. Please call or email before you come. Priority seating and availability will be given to Rex Club members with earlier reservations.
Before you order online, please consider ordering through us. We are currently offering a 10% discount off of any box orders and will match any online box price. We are currently ordering for the following cigar companies: Padron, Davidoff, Avo, Camacho, Griffin, Tatuaje, Placencia, Altadis, My Father, Drew Estate, Santana, Ashton and Arturo Fuente
Tobacco orders can also be picked up or delivered to you. Here is a list of our famous tobaccos: Aromatics: Maravilla, El Moreno, Alkazar, Royal Scott, Diplomat, Jack O’ Hearts, Rexey, Peter McGurk’s. Non-Aromatics: Barclay Slice, Hampton Bay, Maiden Lane, Vincents, #4, #6
Please remain safe and healthy. We are excited to welcome you back into our store.
Up for review today is the God of Fire Aniversario 2016 from Prometheus Cigars. After four years of aging in the box, this cigar is vintage and I’m curious to see how it performs.
Cigar Reviewed: God of Fire Aniversario 2016
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sun Grown
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Dominican Republic
Size: 5 1/2 x 60
Appearance & Construction
The God of Fire Aniversario 2016 is a stout and strong looking cigar. The gold, black and white bands put a strong foot forward and frame the artistic depiction of Promethius (being attacked by an Eagle in retribution for him stealing fire from the gods) at the center.
After clipping with a straight cut, the draw shows itself to be fairly restrictive, probably an 8.5/10 in terms of amount of restrictiveness. Hopefully that opens up a bit as the tapered end of the cigar burns. The outer wrapper leaf has a strong aroma of leather, black pepper, and dried meats.
Flavor & Smoke Characteristics
Given the name of this cigar, I was expecting a lot more strength out of the gate. Instead, the God of Fire Aniversario 2016 opens with full bodied but mild strength smoke. It’s maybe the first time I’ve ever encountered that combo. Another way to put it would be that the God of Fire opens like a cigar that’s been aging a long time–it’s got a strong character but it’s been mellowed way out. The smoke doesn’t make a huge impression on the palate, with some faint wood and leather notes that sit on top of a subtler dark chocolate note. The retrohale is almost non-existent. It’s the aroma of the smoke that makes a bigger statement, with hints of baking spices, caramel, mushrooms, and something akin to dusty attic (that’s the age coming in to play).
Construction wise, the cigar opens well. Within the first half an inch the tapered end of the cigar has burned and the draw definitely opens up to a more comfortable level. Overall in the first third, there’s definitely a lot of finesse and elegance to the smoke, as well as some enjoyable flavor. But it is possible for tobacco to mellow out too much which is what I’m afraid could be happening here.
As the God of Fire burns into the second third, the strength does increase a bit, bringing it up about a third of the way between mild and medium. The flavor the smoke is divided almost evenly between bitter notes of raw cocoa and earth, and sweeter notes of cream and floral. There’s also some spice that hits the tip of the tongue and lingers, and it seems to come on stronger the more quickly I puff so I do my best to minimize that. Overall though, not much to speak of in terms of flavor, which is a shame to say.
At halfway, the burn strays a bit, requiring a significant touch up to correct. And worse, the smoke production which was excellent at first begins to dwindle, forcing me to choose between puffing faster to generate smoke or puff slower to keep the smoke cool.
Just when I’m about to give up on the God of Fire Aniversario 2016 at about halfway through, the strength of flavor finally ramps up enough to start to get a sense of what the cigar is about. Except, it isn’t good. Though the smoke is mostly characterized by gentle and sweet notes of bread, cream, and baking spices, there’s also an aggressively bitter and sometimes downright sour fermented note that throws the experience off. Thankfully, the spice finally begins to hit the retrohale, adding some additional dimension to the experience.
Unfortunately, that’s about where the good news ends. Poor smoke production issues continue to dog the cigar in the final third, and the flavors become overly bitter and unenjoyable. I’m not a glutton for punishment so I toss the cigar well before finishing it.
The Promethius God of Fire Aniversario 2016 is a great cigar that somehow found a way to be terrible. Yes, it had smoothness in spades and some enjoyable moments at the beginning, but it never delivered any of the strength that would make its better moments stand out.
But what really killed the experience was the combo of the large ring gauge and poor smoke production. Having to puff repeatedly on a 48 corona size to get smoke is one thing. Puffing on a large ring gauge cigar over and over to produce smoke takes all of the relaxation out of the experience, overheats the smoke and warps otherwise pleasant flavors into monsters.
Ultimately the only thought I have finishing this review is “I want the hour and a half I invested in this cigar back.”
Davidoff of Geneva announced today that NYC stores are back open after months of closure due to COVID 19. In an email, a representative from Davidoff outlined some of the health and safety measures being implemented to keep customers and staff safe, including:
Customers are recommended to wear face coverings upon entry. Staff are required to.
Sales professionals will guide the shoppers experience. Customers will not be allowed to enter the humidor. Floor markers will provide a space to wait for staff to make selection and present to the customer.
Similar floor markers are provided by point of sale area for customers to maintain 6ft distancing.
Additional signage will be applied in multiple areas throughout the store to ensure current operation measures are understood and followed.
No outside food or beverage will be allowed.
Lounges will remain closed until further notice.
Store hour vary from store to store, see below.
Madison: Mon-Saturday: 10AM-5PM / Sunday closed.
6th Avenue: Mon-Fri: 11AM-5PM / Weekends closed
Downtown: Mon – Fri: 11AM-7PM / Sat and Sun: 12PM-6PM
If you’re a cigar smoker on Instagram, you’ve probably seen some of Billy Rothwell’s (@bk23xxiii) photos on your feed. He’s grown a large Instagram following by capturing an essence of luxury that is hard to find elsewhere.
I had the pleasure of meeting Billy at Davidoff Brookfield Place at an event put together by Eric of @scotchandtime. We didn’t get to chat much, but Billy struck me as a down to earth guy and someone most anyone would enjoy smoking a cigar with. At the event, he also showed off a prototype of his new ultra-luxury cigar ash tray, the W.R. Roth Avant-Garde II. Just holding it my hands was quite the experience–it felt solid and had a great look to it.
In the months since, the world has obviously turned upside down. So I’ve reached out to friends in the cigar world like Billy to chat so that our readers can discover interesting new personalities to follow online.
So without further ado, let’s get to know Billy and take a look behind-the-scenes at W.R. Roth.
Matthias: Let’s start with the obvious. Where is your head at right as far as Corona Virus goes? I know you’re safe and given your posts you are continuing to enjoy life, but what are you feeling when it comes to the pandemic, the economy, social distancing, etc?
Billy: Perspective. Life is truly all about the way a person sees things. Me, I try to look for the silver lining in every situation. Many of us are so blessed to be at home with a pantry full of food, internet, tv, cell phones and video games. This is a unique environment that most people reading this have never seen before unless you were around in 1918 for the last major global pandemic (Virus related… I think hunger, homelessness, mental health and more qualify as global pandemics as well) All that said, its also an eye opening experience to human behavior, trust in our government, emergency preparedness and so much more. I could go on for hours about change and the future but I will just say we are resilient, we have been through wars, famine, plague and more…yet here we are. This too shall pass…
Matthias: I hear you – this topic could certainly span an entire interview. But let’s get to know you a bit more, and not in the typical “what do you do for work” kind of way. What were some of the formative experiences you had when you were younger that shaped the kind of person you are today?
Billy: I grew up in an environment much different than most assume. My father was in prison for 23 years and my Mom wasn’t around at all until my adult years. My Moms parents raised me and my sisters until my Grandfather passed away when I was in 4th grade. My Grandmother then took on the burden of raising us alone. So when you ask what shaped me, the answer is multifaceted. I was smart enough to learn from other peoples mistakes so I avoided making too many of my own. I was also lucky to have a woman in my life like my Grandmother (Nonnie) who showed me what a true work ethic was.
I started working in Banking with the company she worked for almost full time in 10th grade to help her pay the rent and I always dreamed of being successful to put myself in a position to provide for her the way she provided for us. Christmas and birthdays were limited to a single gift and at the time I was a HUGE Michael Jordan fan (still am) so that was almost always a pair of the newest Jordan sneakers. Between the work ethic she instilled and the competitive nature and desire to win Jordan embodied, I had 2 people I really looked up to that helped shape the person I became.
Matthias: That’s pretty inspiring. I’m also a huge fan of Jordan and 23 was my favorite number growing up. Outside of an interest in quality and craftsmanship, what do you care about in life? What do you value—personally—and why?
Billy: I value my family, my friendships (I keep a very small circle) and my memories and experiences, new and old. Money is cool. Having “stuff” is fun, but I would give all that up if it gave me unlimited access to creating incredible experiences and memories with the people I love. I came from nothing, so I remember what having nothing felt like…and it was fine… as long as I had the people around me that I loved.
My fondest memories in life to this day aren’t about the things I have now, they are of the experiences I went through and things I learned from the people that meant the most to me. Those are the things that allowed me the opportunity, skills and drive to work so hard for the things I am grateful to possess today.
Matthias: I hear you on that. That is what seems to separate the annoying luxury personalities from the genuinely interesting ones: values that transcend owning expensive things or having status.
This all begs the question, outside of luxury products like cigars, drinks, accessories, and fashion, what are your hobbies?
Billy: Those are certainly the majority of my passions but in regards to hobbies otherwise, I love to be outdoors and in the woods. Hiking, camping, motorcycles… anything in nature or outside. I also love to travel. Creating memories and experiences that last a lifetime. I am blessed to have done some pretty cool things in my life and each of them are far more valuable to me than anything I own physically.
Matthias: Speaking of experiences, tell us about the best cigar experience you’ve ever had. Where were you, who were you with, what were you smoking/drinking?
Billy: Picking one is impossible as I have so many amazing experiences involving cigars. One that stands out was 3 years ago in Georgia at the Masters. I was staying at a gorgeous resort in Lake Okonee, had a great friend come visit that night after the first round of the tournament and we sat by the lake in a private area next to a firepit drinking great wine and smoking some aged regional Cubans talking about everything and nothing. Between the INCREDIBLE scenery, the conversation, the beautiful wine and cigars, it was truly the perfect end to a wonderful day. Almost something out of a movie honestly…
Matthias: Yeah that sounds pretty incredible. So stepping back from favorite memories for a second, what would you consider your favorite cigar?
Billy: Such a hard question to answer because I smoke cigars based on my mood, what I am pairing them with, where I am, what the weather is like… And that changes daily. If I had to pick a cigar that I could possibly smoke regardless of those factors, or that could compliment an aspect of each of them, I would probably say the Partagas Lusitania Gran Reserva. It may be the perfect cigar.
Matthias: So let’s switch gears a bit and talk about W.R. Roth. First of all, tell us a bit about the name. (For readers, you can browse W.R. Roth products here)
Billy: W.R. Roth is actually an abbreviated version of my name, William Rothwell. I wanted to create a classic brand. Something that stood the test of time, like Chanel. I wanted it to “be the new black” lol. I wanted an incredible logo that could look great anywhere, from a tee shirt to cufflinks to a forged carbon ashtray or humidor. But most important, I wanted it to be an homage to a time of true craftsmanship and pride in what was being created… The only way I could think to fully commit and give my personal quality guarantee was to put my name on it…Literally…Nobody would ever want to put out a product that isn’t the best quality it could be if it had their name on it.
Matthias: That’s a great point. Naming a brand after yourself is certainly one way to motivate yourself to put your best products forward.
What makes your ash trays special, and what is your favorite part of your ash trays?
Billy: I think the quality and craftsmanship make it special. The limited production makes it something that only 50 people in the world can say they own (python was limited to 50 pieces and 100 forged carbon pieces) and as someone who enjoys exclusivity, I thought that was appealing. My favorite part though was seeing an idea in my head translate so well to paper via my original drawing and then finally come to fruition as a production-ready product…and sell out in a few weeks. That helped solidify the concept of building a luxury brand as being worthwhile in a market full of inexpensive, low quality pieces. A $400 ashtray isn’t for everyone, but 150 of them, between the forged carbon and python pieces were a must have for somebody…and that’s what mattered to me.
Matthias: Why did you name the ash tray the “Avante-Gard”?
Billy: The definition of “Avante-Gard” is new and innovative in style or method, which I truly felt these pieces were. The II (2) symbolized the number of cigars it accommodated with the intention of doing a single and possibly 4 cigar version in the future in new materials.
Matthias: Love it. I remember holding the prototype and being so impressed with the weight in my hand and how solid the whole product felt. It’s a tremendously striking and original ash tray so hats off to you for putting it together. Why did you go in the direction of producing an ash tray for your first product?
Billy: I wanted to create something that would appeal to my followers who enjoy the pictures I post. I needed to create something unique, but also a necessity item so people saw value. There are hundreds of lighters and cutters available, tons of cases, etc. The Avant-Garde II ashtray was the perfect expression of what I wanted to portray to my clientele. A new twist on something they used out of necessity that reflected my style and eye for design but in a way that they had never seen before. The sleek lines, but no hard edges, each micro beveled to precision. The cigar posts instead of the traditional finger grooves. The solid, symmetrical aluminum base with the contrast of the warm, textured, soft feel of the Indonesian python (a material that has always screamed luxury to me) and then the ultra limited production of only 50 individually numbered pieces. Then, to touch each piece for final inspection before they were mailed out and ensure it met my quality standards before hand laying the wax seal on the packaging as my final assurance that the piece they were getting was perfectly crafted… That meant a lot to me.
Matthias: That’s awesome. Thanks for sharing in such depth on your life and brand philosophy. I’m always excited when new cigar accessory products come on to the market, and doubly so when they are quality products vs. the garbage that so many bigger brands produce. Thanks for doing this interview with me.
Billy: My pleasure Matthias, it’s been great talking.