I was able to finally get a chance to interview the manager of Devlin’s Cigar Divan: Joshua Metcalfe-Parsons. For those of you who don’t know, Devlin’s is one of the most revered luxury cigar stores in the country, and a powerhouse here in Western Australia.
I’ve been buying cigars from Devlin’s for well over a decade, so I thought it was due time we had a inside look into one of the country’s premier cigar sellers.
Vitola: What are some of the challenges of having a brick and mortar cigar store in this day and age? (And especially in Australia).
Being a B’n’M has both its challenges and its benefits and the two often go hand in hand.
For example, having a physical location means that people can come in to our store and talk with us about cigars, which is great.
Cigars are confusing; there’s so many of them available, they’re all so different. Hell, week to week even the same cigar can be different depending on the year, the colour, the oil content etc. So, it’s great that a person who doesn’t know about cigars can come in and we can help them out.
But that has its challenges as well because it’s then up to us to make sure they can do that – we spend a LOT of time on every new team member we hire. In fact, they’ll spend 2 full weeks in training before they’re able to be on the floor talking to customers at all.
Vitola: How do you see the relationship between the US, Australia and Cuba changing Cigar pricing?
Honestly I don’t think it’s going to have nearly the impact on the market that people seem to think it will, especially not price. Cuban cigars aren’t a product prone to dramatic price increases due to availability. They just stop being available.
As a bigger picture answer I don’t think it’s going to impact the market at all. The thing that effects cigars is availability of quality tobacco and how that relates to demand: Cuba is currently saying they intend to capture 25% – 30% of the American cigar market (http://www.cigaraficionado.com/webfeatures/show/id/Habanos-SA-Predicts-Big-US-Sales-Shows-2015-Cigars-18012) which would be a 15% increase in production. But those numbers don’t account for the cigars already being smoked by Americans.
In contrast to something like a devastating hurricane or bad harvest year (like 2014) I don’t see that increase in production having a negative impact on Cuban cigars.
Certainly lots of positive benefits though!
Vitola: What’s your favourite Cigar?
There’s a few I would consider “go to” cigars. I’m a big fan of the Sencillo Black series out of Nicaragua, particularly the Short Churchill. And I was incredibly surprised by the My Father Connecticut cigars. I could smoke those every day and be a happy man.
In terms of Cuban cigars I’d say pretty much anything by H. Upmann. It was the Magnum 50 that was the first cigar I really enjoyed so I have a soft spot for that brand.
Vitola: What do you like to drink with your Cigars?
I love experimenting with drink pairings. Scotch and cigars, wine and cigars. Everyone knows those. What about stout with a cigar? A really oaky white wine? Some of the things you think are least suited offer some of the best pairings.
My favourite weird pairing: Coke with a really dark Maduro cigar. The sweet, caramel flavours are excellent together.
Vitola: What’s it like Managing Devlin’s?
It’s rewarding I think is the best word, both internally and externally. It gives me a chance to engage with people every day I wouldn’t normally get to, and make real connections with them through cigars. And it’s great that I’m able to talk directly with the man whose name is on the door. We’re always looking to try new things and I get to see those things become reality (Keep an eye out for Pipes 101 this year!)
Vitola: What does Devlin’s pride itself on?
We really try and take customer service to the next level. Most people don’t come in and just grab a cigar off the shelf and buy it, we engage with them and help them make a proper decision. This usually means spending a decent time with each person finding out what the situation is, who’s going to be smoking the cigars, when they’ll be smoking them etc.
It’d be really easy for a person to buy the wrong cigar and so I take a lot of pride in someone leaving the store and me knowing they’ve left with the right cigar.
Vitola: Do you listen to Jazz? Any favourite artists?
Jazz isn’t something I’ve had a chance to really get in to. I enjoy it when I listen to it but I couldn’t tell you what artists I prefer.
So, if you’re in the neighbourhood and need a stogie you know where to go. You can also buy all kinda of great cigar related stuff at Devlin’s Official Wesbite: https://devlinsonline.com.au/