Cigar aficionados are very passionate about their love for the leaf and they're not afraid to express it. I've chanced upon some in person whom I've learned a great deal from, but the rest I've met through social media. You can call them my modern day pen-pals who happen to share a common love for cigars, a brotherhood of the leaf I'm proud to be a part of.
Londoner Hakim Jamal describes himself as a bit of a dark horse, with a undeniable passion for the leaf which he expresses through Instagram. Sharing pictures of his various exploits, I happened to like his taste and we struck a friendship over our shared passion - the rest is history as they say. I was keen on profiling fellow brothers of the leaf who also have an affinity for menswear and lifestyle, so I reached out to a few aficionados to get their perspective including Hakim.
How long have you smoked cigars?
Somewhere between 2 and 3 years now.
What initiated your foray in cigar smoking?
I used to smoke cigarettes, but felt it was getting out of hand. I wasn’t quite willing to give up on the idea of smoking and wanted to find an alternative - Cigars seemed a good idea as, unlike cigarette smoke, it isn’t inhaled.
Are cigars something you are passionate about?
Absolutely! Especially as the palate is continuously developing you get to appreciate the subtle differences between cigars. I do however still consider myself a 'cigar smoker’ rather than a 'cigar connoisseur’.
What was your very first experience of smoking a cigar like?
Not very pleasant I’m afraid – First experience goes back to my late teens, where a box of machine made’s were put on the table during a family gathering.
You've smoked for some time now, what would you describe as your favourite cigar?
I don’t think I can, nor would it be fair to limit this question to one cigar only, especially as I am still relatively new to the world of cigars. I think there’s a lot of great cigars on the market, Cuban as well as Non-Cuban, but honestly I seem gravitate towards the H. Upmann range, in particular Sir Winston, Connoisseur ‘A’ , Magnum 50 and the Half Corona. I’m in the habit of splitting up my cigars into Day/Evening categories. The lack of time to smoke during the day only allows for relative short smokes. So typical cigars includes Vergueros Entretiempos from Cuba, Undercrown - a fantastic Nicaraguan cigar from Drew Estate as well as short-filler Cuban cigars such as Jose L. Piedra Conservas and of course the H. Upmann Half Corona. In the evenings, when I have less time restrictions. I prefer to enjoy more premium cigars and longer smokes such as the Sir Winston. This is also the time where I have an opportunity to sample cigars I’m still unfamiliar with.
Where do you buy your cigars and how many do you tend to smoke?
I generally place orders with the always amazing Piet van Kuyk in Holland, but occasionally pick up cigars from local shops such as J.J. Fox in St. James St. and Alfie Turmeaus in Shepherds Market. I usually have between 3 and 5 a day.
When do you most enjoy a cigar and what do you like to pair it with?
The cigar I enjoy the most is my after dinner smoke and of course when having a cigar with friends. The pairing varies with the cigar I'm smoking, but as I don't drink, this is normally either coffee or de-alcoholised wines.
How would you describe your style sense?
I think smart/casual is the most appropriate term in my case.
What are your favourite articles of style?
Roll-neck jumpers (That is Steve McQueen rather than Steve Jobs style) is almost my trademark alongside unstructured Italian sport coats.
Would you characterize yourself as a well dressed man?
I see myself as dressing quite casual, but others seem to think I always dress smart - I regularly get compliments to that effect.
Do you feel it is important to take care of your appearance and dress well?
Yes, I think so. But I’d like to include being well mannered as equally important – There are people who dress like a lord but talk like a fish monger.
Would you say you are someone who is in to fashion trends or do you keep with the classics?
Definitely classic, albeit with my own twist to it.
Do you dress for the occasion only or daily?
I generally dress for my own sake rather than for the sake of others, so whether I'm going shopping or going out for dinner I’m likely to be equally dressed.
How has your style changed over the years?
The only item of clothing that really hasn’t been with me consistently are probably sport coats.
Has there been a mentor in your life who's guided you to the path you're currently on?
None I’m afraid.
How about style influencers?
Michael Caine and Steve McQueen.
Pictures courtesy of Hakim Jamal.