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Luxembourg: Welcome to paradise

“As soon as you’re in Europe again, you must absolutely come to Luxembourg. I’ll show you the cigar scene there. It really has a lot to offer,” Jean Diederich, a passionate cigar smoker and long-time president of the Cigar Club Luxembourg, had said to me, inviting me to his homeland. The club has existed for 22 years and meets ten times a year. It is the most active, most traditional and oldest cigar club in Luxembourg. The members, numbering over 40, not only organize events with manufacturers but also the annual summer festival, thus considerably enlivening the cigar scene of the small country. Last November, the time had come for the local inspection of the Grand Duchy. In sleet showers, I drove from the airport to the city center. On the way, there’s the Kirchberg Plateau. It not only houses many important institutions, such as the European Court of Auditors but also banks and businesses like the RTL Group and Amazon. The Philharmonie, an architectural eye-catcher made from 2,500 tons of steel and glassed exterior covering 5,000 square meters (approx. 54,000 square feet), complements the picture. Here, a great deal of money sits and flows. Further, towards the city center, it becomes more charming and picturesque.

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Cigar, rum and Champagne specialist Emmanuel Sarrazin (l.) and Luxembourg insider Jean Diederich

The town center stretches from the Petruss valley and is divided into the upper and lower town; many areas are car-free. Beautiful buildings from the Middle Ages to Art Nouveau characterize the cityscape.
Jean and I meet at a legendary institution for cigar smokers, in front of the Casa del Habano in Avenue de la Porte-Neuve. But the owner, Jean-Claude Reichling, is busy – two customers from the United States are marveling at the rarities he has in his humidor. “Jean-Claude is well-known far beyond Luxembourg for his specialties from the Habanos range, which are often only available in his shop,” my travel guide con- firms. It’s true. Here there are piles of Cohiba Edición Limitada Robustos Supremos EL 2014, and it dawns on me that my Luxembourg friend was right in describing his country as a paradise. In terms of price, the cigars from Cuba are roughly the same as what one has to pay in Germany for a Habanos: a Partagás Serie D No.4 costs EUR 12.20, a Montecristo Double Edmundo 14.40. Jean-Claude now has time for us, and we smoke a Diplomáticos El Diputado Exclusivo Belux together – a rather brilliant introduction to Luxembourg’s cigar scene. The cigar is gently peppery, creamy at the same time, with an excellent play of aromas in the background.

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In the Casa del Habano, an international audience comes and goes and reflects the composition of Luxembourg’s population. The proportion of foreigners in Luxembourg City is 70 percent; that of the entire country, 50 percent. People are tolerant here, and we like that, because it means that individuality is respected and therefore passionados are also allowed to keep their places of retreat. “In the tiny country of Luxembourg there are 63 fumoirs,” Jean begins, proudly. “That means one fumoir for every 10,000 inhabitants.” If this calculation were to be applied to other European countries, probably none of them would perform so well. Our next stop is almost around the corner, at El Puro. Emmanuel Sarrazin has been running his shop for over four years and notices that the sale of New World cigars is steadily increasing. “At the moment, it’s about 60 (New World) to 40 (Habanos) percent,” he says. Aside from this, he specializes in the sale of Champagne, rum, and wine. His private lounge on the first floor can accommodate 16 people; anyone who wants to can rent a locker. The walk-in-humidor is spacious, with the shop, humidor and lounge spread over 150 square meters (approx. 1,600 square feet). At Emmanuel’s, the Davidoff Millennium Robusto costs EUR 20.70 – as a reference point.

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La Casa del Habano

It’s time for an aperitif, and we stroll to Hotel Le Royal, where there’s a large lounge right next to the bar and a well-stocked humidor. With the aforementioned Davidoff Millennium and a gin and tonic we realize that it’s almost time for dinner. My local guide suggests the restaurant Dogado. Besides the excellent Italian food, there’s another reason for his recommendation. The restaurant offers a cigar lounge and a humidor. Marvelous. After our meal, we smoke Cigar Club Luxembourg’s anniversary cigar, which was especially produced for this occasion by E.P. Carrillo. A fantastic end to a wonderful day. Very early the next day, I visit Zito Gomes in his shop, Liberté 56. He – like El Puro – is a Habanos Specialist, but also has a nice selection of New World cigars. He has an especially large selection of Didier Houvenaghel’s assortment; La Furia even exclusively in Luxembourg. At Zito’s, a Davidoff 702 Series Grand Cru Robusto costs EUR 19.00. Gomes regularly hosts events with cigar manufacturers, which are booked out immediately. In addition, he supplies hotels in Luxembourg with his cigars. I have a quick chat with Zito, who was born in Angola, grew up on a coffee plantation, and went to Portugal when he was five years old. He has a lot to tell – about the world and about cigars.

 

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Zito Gomes, owner of the shop Liberté 56, distributes La Furia exclusively for Luxembourg and is a passionate cigar-lover himself

Afterwards, Jean introduces me to a completely different, unique scene: the English club culture. Because there’s naturally also a fumoir there. First of all, we visit House 17. The location offers a restaurant, a bar, a cozy attic, meeting rooms, a library, pool tables, and also the cigar lounge. All the rooms have a very trendy and hip, black-and-white design. As a counterpart to this, Jean shows me the long-established Club Cercle Munster. It is traditionally kept in British style; here, it’s mandatory to wear a tie and jacket. Covering an area of 1,500 square meters (approx. 16,000 square feet), 40 employees spoil the club members: in two restaurants, the bar, the meeting rooms, the library or in the fumoir. During an exquisite lunch, I browse the wine list, which speeds up my pulse. Club director Maximilian von Hochberg lets me take a look at the wine cellar. Here, there are 50,000 bottles stored. For international guests, this is naturally a lure – and for the club an absolutely unique selling point. It’s getting late – I have to get back to the air- port, but two cigar hot spots I can still visit on the way: the Sofitel lounge – it’s huge but still cozy; the house is also a good address for passionados staying in Luxembourg. After that, I visit Jacques Rasic, who has been running the Cigar Humidor shop in the Auchan shopping mall for three years. The young Luxembourger is a cigar smoker himself and puts his heart and soul into his business. He likes to give advice and does it well. His walk-in-humidor still focuses on Cuba, but New World cigars are conquering more and more shelves. My tip for the cigar paradise Luxembourg: Plan more than just two days, because the city offers a great deal – culture, shopping and, of course, smoking experiences. My chaperone Jean has named the most important addresses, all of which I wasn’t able to visit, but share here. Only one thing was better at my first meeting with Jean, a year ago in the Dominican Republic: the weather. But, apart from that, Luxembourg is indeed a paradise for passionados.

 

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She learned her journalistic skills from scratch at a regional daily newspaper, for which she wrote articles for many years. Through working for the magazine Der Spiegel in Rome she had the opportunity to increase her professional knowledge in the field of media. Katja studied art history and Romance studies in Heidelberg, Palermo and Rome and, during the course of her studies, spent many years in Italy. The country was her teacher in things related to pleasure and lifestyle. She has been working for Cigar Journal since 2004. In 2010 she became editor-in-chief.


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