Darius Namdar, Group Cigar Sommelier of the Birley group and Director of Marks Club, London was crowned the 2018 World Habanosommelier Champion. Darius battled through a tough semi-final and final held during the 2018 Festival del Habanos in Cuba to claim the prestigious and much coveted title.
Darius earned the right to represent the UK in the World finals after winning the domestic crown last year. In the finals in Havana he held off against stiff competition from representatives from Italy, Russia and Cuba. The finals involved a series of rounds which included blind tasting Habanos and a selection of drinks, as well as being judged in a mock scenario where his cigar service, presentation and knowledge was thoroughly tested and scrutinised. Darius also had to present and explain his preferred Habano and drink pairing which was a El Rey Del Mundo Choix Supreme Habano with Grand Marnier Cuvée du Centenaire. This impressed the international panel of judges, who were also captivated by his Himalayan Imperial black tea palate cleanser prior to the tasting and a unique Panettone made at Harry’s Bar to complement and meld the flavours of his pairing.
Darius’s inspiration for his four tiered combination came from repeated requests from his members for a suitable cigar and drink pairing during or following afternoon tea. After much research and experimental tastings, his chosen recommendation proved to be the perfect combination.
2018 Habanosommelier final results:
Winner: Darius Namdar (UK)
Runner Up: Mabel Durran (Cuba)