The specialized shop in Montreux offers more than 1,200 different cigars.
Tabashop, in Montreux, a store opened fifty years ago and completely revised and modernized in recent months, it is clearly Ali Babas cave in eastern Vaud for the cigar aficionado. At the back of the stall is the grail: the cellar even (straight modules) and others figuratives, humidified according to the rules of the art. “We have transformed everything, given our store a strong identity around cigars and increased our range with the selection of the best products in the world”, announces Patrick Monbaron, who runs this specialized boutique as a family (taken over in 1996), which also sells all accessories for volute lovers.
“Being Tabashop’s first customer, I test everything we sell. It gives me the opportunity to tell the story of each cigar ”
His son Yann, passionate since the age of 20, is responsible, with his father, for the selection of vitolas. Patrick has offered him the opportunity for twelve years to familiarize himself by traveling the Latin world: Cuba and the Dominican Republic of course, but also Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica. He brings back the best modules (cigar format). “I’m going to see the producers, who explain their vision to me, show their know-how. Everything is based on trust, with long-standing business ties. I choose, I negotiate. Being the first customer of Tabashop, I test everything we sell. It gives me the opportunity to tell the story of each cigar. ”
The Montreux cellar offers no less than 1,200 different modules. At the Monbarons, with also Rachel, daughter of Patrick, and the saleswomen, we put everything on advice. “I can spend twenty to twenty-five minutes to best guide the neophyte as well as the passionate,” continues Yann. I try according to his tastes, also in terms of gastronomy, wines or liqueurs that he consumes, when he smokes, regularly or occasionally, to find him the perfect cigar, in terms of size, strength, of aroma, of smell. “
The cigar, a natural agricultural product, without chemicals, paper, filter – very harmful – can be compared to wine. “There too, the terroir is the basis, then come the climate and the sunshine, the means of conservation, aging. The only notable and absolutely essential difference: humidity. In Nicaragua, for example, at the foot of volcanoes crossed by rivers, it reaches 80%, ”explains the young trader. The friendly tasting can also be compared to that of a good wine. Often time has to be spent. Here diameter and size condition combustion and therefore pleasure. The shapes, lengths, types are legion. Among the best known: corona, half cup, panatella, churchill, lonsdale, etc. “But in recent years, the star has been the robusto, small or long,” says Yann.
The overwhelming majority of Tabashop cigars are hand-rolled, with exclusives, high quality labels, from depositories of great vitolas. There are plenty of shelves, both in boxes and by the piece. “Our customers, who come from all over French-speaking Switzerland, are spoiled for choice,” says Patrick. At 5 francs we smoke a pure honorable, for one more coin we already have a very good one. The prices are very variable and, for a rarity, can reach 500 francs the unit. Rachel Monbaron, on request, performs personalized laser engravings on the cape. Yann sets up tastings in hotels and restaurants.
“Smoke less but better”
The image of the capitalist in top hat, bar of chair in beak, crushing the proletariat, is outdated. “The cigar has become enormously popular and is booming again. Many women smoke it. I have bikers, tattooed people, quadras, older people, neophytes as well as great enthusiasts. But also many young clients in their twenties, sportsmen, who do not smoke cigarettes, regularly buy cigars to smoke them on weekends with friends. Today, it is obvious, we must smoke less… but better. The cigar lends itself perfectly to this. “
While cigars are mainly sold in stores, several Vaud wholesalers sell vitolas via the internet. Ahora Cigars, in Yverdon, has them manufactured exclusively in the Dominican Republic for sale in Switzerland. Tabashop, which distributes a newsletter twice a month, has also lit the Internet. “We have 7,000 customers online. New ones every day, ”concludes Patrick.