Nicolo Folini is a cigar sommelier at one of London's leading hotels. Here he shares with us his personal cigar journey and some tips for our users.
1. What kick-started your passion for cigars?
My first encounter with a cigar was in Italy after New Year’s Eve. The hotel's General Manager, Mr Giuseppe Chimienti, approached me whilst I was outside smoking a cigarette and kindly offered me a Toscano cigar. I thanked him for it and immediately began to smoke it instead. The more I smoked the more I enjoyed it. I quickly became obsessed with them and found myself wanting more - and as time went by I started to smoke once or twice a month. It was only until some years later, once I had arrived at a leading hotel in London as a bartender, that I began to take more of an interest in cigars. I decided to get in touch with the Edward Sahakian Cigar Lounge because of its renowned reputation. Upon arriving Mr Gian Maria Bodini gave me my first ever Cuban cigar, an H. Upmann Magnum 50. It was at this point I became obsessed!
2. What is your favourite cigar?
Definitely, a Bolivar Belicosos Finos. Nothing beats a Belicosos cigar when you need a bit of a kick!
3. Is there a particular lounge or terrace where you enjoy smoking the most?
If I want to smoke outside, I enjoy spending my time at the Melody Bar at the St Paul's Hotel. The garden there is outstanding and always well heated during the winter months, which makes for an enjoyable evening.
4. What is your most memorable cigar moment?
A memorable moment which has always stuck with me was my first encounter with Mr Eddie Sahakian. We met at an event held at a cigar lounge in London. I had been working that evening and made him several drinks, as a thank you gesture, he very kindly left me a Romeo & Julieta Maravillas 8 cigar behind the bar. Another notable mention, however, was in Lanzarote after Covid, sitting on a beach with my girlfriend smoking a Cohiba Lanceros. It was such an incredible trip because we had finally managed to escape London. It is a memory that fills me with happiness and joy and one which will always be dear to my heart!
5. What cigar do you think is most underrated?
One of the most underrated cigars in my opinion are Punch cigars. They are in fact one of the oldest Habano brands in the market. One notable mention from their selection is of course the Shorte de Punch cigar. In my opinion, it is an outstanding cigar, with a perfect medium body and plenty of flavours! Another underrated cigar which not many people have heard of is the San Cristobal La Punta, easy to cut, has a beautiful draw and of course, burns extremely well!