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The EGM Blog Festive Gift Guide

The EGM Blog Festive Gift Guide

by Nick Hendry

As we enter the final four weeks of the year a Cuban cigar lover’s thoughts will inevitably begin to turn not just to what gifts to buy for our loved ones, but to what to hint at in return.  Working up enthusiastic thanks for the annual influx of novelty cigar ties and garish plastic ashtrays from well-meaning, but less imaginative, friends and relatives can be exhausting.  Surely it is better if we guide the creative processes of these treasured acquaintances a little, casually mentioning that, while we have a strong passion for cigars, we like other artisanal products too.  This way they get the gratification of having chosen a gift we truly appreciate, not the guilt of having run out of ideas so grabbed the same vaguely-cigar related option as last year.

With that in mind, here are a few hints to either drop in view of those you know will be shopping for you, or to take on board yourself, should you find the idea well running dry when planning your own purchases this year.  You can even just buy them for yourself – 2021 has been strenuous, you surely deserve it…

Discarded Spirits Banana Rum

Discarded Spirits

Cigar lover or not, the majority of people will look to enjoy a nice drink this festive season.  Discarded Spirits can provide just that, alongside a warm feeling that you have done your drinking in a more sustainable manner.  Their products are created by reappropriating what would once have been considered the “waste” elements of alcohol production: rum used to season future whisky casks is no longer discarded, it is blended with banana peel left over from the fruit processing industry, while their vodka is created by distilling the pomace left behind after crushing grapes for winemaking.  There’s even a vermouth made from the part of the coffee berry not used for your morning espresso – perfect for your evening Negronis.

Jing Tea Single Garden Teas

Jing Tea Gift Sets

Of course, some people – me included – will be sipping something other than alcohol after their dinners and alongside their cigars.  A journey into tea is an ideal substitute, as the flavour variety is vast and the opportunities for pairings equally so.  Jing Tea source single garden teas from only the best producers, showcasing the ability of this simple plant to transcend the simple milk-and-two-sugars beverage which has become so popular and provide a true flavour experience to fit any time of day or situation.  They have curated all the equipment needed to properly respect their artisan-produced products, and a range of carefully selected teas from across east Asia that will satisfy even the most knowledgeable of tea drinkers.  Try the Taiwanese Ali Shan with a Diplomatico No. 2 – it’s a wonderful match.

La Casa del Habano Edition Cuban cigars

La Casa del Habano Editions

As we well know, tea is not the only plant which can, when prepared by skilled and passionate artisans, provide true epicurean delight.  The La Casa del Habano range of cigars is a collection a little elevated from the rest of regular Cuban production, rolled in fewer numbers for sale only by those identified by Habanos SA as true experts in Havana cigars.  The sticks found within the range represent all the major brands and are rolled to a standard fitting the second burgundy-and-gold band they are dressed with, but will not break the bank.  Bought in boxes or singles, they will be an excellent treat to yourself or another.

The Pure Silk T-Shirt by Fedro Gaudenzi

Plain Silk T-Shirt by Fedro Gaudenzi

The humble t-shirt is found in pretty much every wardrobe in one form or another.  It is the one garment that unites all styles of dress – no matter how we usually present ourselves, we all own at least one.  This silk version from bespoke tailor Fedro Gaudenzi is a step above any others you have worn before.  The feel on your skin is exquisite, the drape of the silk jersey is relaxed and flattering and the quality is unparalleled.  Each piece is made fully by hand in the London studio of the brand, with hand-rolled hems and collar piping.  Even the thread used to assemble the garment is 100% waxed silk.  Choose white or black to wear immediately, or speak to the studio to commission a fully bespoke version.

Leather Tote Bags by AETER

Handmade Leather Totes by AETER

AETER are a brand focused on sustainable and ethical production of high-quality leather goods.  The entire range of totes, clutches and leather accessories are all handmade, using leather sourced either from the meat industry or from free-range farming activities after animals have died of natural causes.  Their goal is to ensure nothing is ever wasted in the manufacture: off-cuts from the production of the bags are used to create unique items of jewellery and works of art.  The brand itself was created by 2 Taiwanese designers, and the latest collection draws inspiration from the architecture seen in both their home city of Taipei and their adopted London locale.  Runs of each item are limited, so get in fast – the work is elegant, practical and rightly popular.

Black Spinel Cufflinks by Tsai by Tsai

Black Spinel Cufflinks by Tsai by Tsai

Another Taiwanese designer who now calls London home, Patricia Tsai combines her own designs with her family’s long-standing expertise in the sourcing and setting of gemstones to create jewellery and tailoring accessories that are discreet and stylish.  These cufflinks are made in solid Sterling silver and set with three black spinel gemstones across the centre – the cool, pristine glint of the metal contrasts perfectly with the deep, inky darkness of the stones.  They are equally suited to opulent black-tie gatherings or everyday office wear and, if tailoring isn’t your thing, Tsai by Tsai also offer an extensive range of gemstone jewellery that also covers both bases.

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