Oyez, oyez, oyez! Britain can bear true and excellent pride for a new champion of its nation.
With all the talk of the Winter Olympics and various celebrations of a celluloid kind, you’d think we’d be talking about someone from these professions. I am afraid not. While everyone else had their eyes firmly pointed towards Pyeongchang and Los Angeles, The Rake knew there was finer competition afoot, and therefore focused our attention to Havana. The Cuban government’s cigar wing, Habanos, holds an annual festival to celebrate its most popular combustible export and within that, they have a competition to determine who is the world’s finest sommelier for cigars. It is like a Master of Wines contest, only more niche, and much more fun.
Cynics and realists alike brush off the likelihood of an English speaker winning the title over a Spanish competitor, however, our great friend, Darius Namdar, Director of Mark’s Club and resident cigar expert at Annabel’s, did just that.
I must declare an interest here and say that I have known Darius since I was four. While I can’t say for sure whether I tried to pass a rugby ball to him in those early years, and failed because he was nose deep in cigar catalogues, he has been making up for lost time recently. I cannot remember the last time I saw him without a pad of paper, pen and a selection of three or more unbanded cigars that he was working his way through; determining that the Colorado wrapper of a cigar with a bit of age, a 55 ring gauge cigar at five and a quarter inches, was probably the Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchill and not the Bolivar Belgravia which, as you all know dear readers, is more of a Colorado maduro.
Anyway, the point is, Darius is a hero in our midst. We had the prescience to make him a Rake of the Year in 2017, and perhaps underplayed the immense hard work and dedication he has put into cigar academia to get to this point. If we did, it was a grievous fault, and so we must answer that fault by honouring his victory as loud as we can. Congratulations Darius, we are all extremely proud.