Monday, November 23, 2009

G Smith & Sons - One of the oldest purveyors of cigars and snuff in London

Please note, unfortunately this store has now closed. It's a shame but like many London Cigar stores; it's history.

When we put the Cuban Cigar Walk London together we focussed on St James's and Mayfair but there are some really excellent stores in other areas of town, I feel a Cuban Cigar Walk 2 coming on!

If you are searching London for some well kept cigars, a pipe of tobacco or a pinch of snuff you may well miss the unique old Tobacconist in Charring Cross road if you didn’t know it was there.
I suspect there was a time in London when many of London’s gentlemen would take a pinch of snuff, but today I find it amazing that such a huge range is still available from a store in London.

G. Smith & sons in the Charring Cross road is a totally unreconstructed snuff store and tobacconist which was established in 1869 and it looks as though it hasn’t has a major refit since that day, Fantastic!

The taking of Snuff is first documented from the second visit of Christopher Columbus to the Americas where he found the Taino-Indians on Haiti taking this form of ground up tobacco in 1497.

It was first brought to Europe in 1561 when Catherine de Medici is first reported to have taken it and she was followed by other famous French snuff takers including  Napolean and King Louis XIII.

Snuff became more common through the 20th century until it was gradually replaced by cigarettes.  However snuff taking did still remain popular in certain communities such as Ireland, Western Scotland, Iceland and Southern Germany and it also appears there must be a rump of users in London judging by the wide range available here.

G Smith & sons blend their own snuffs and although I have taken it I can’t pretend to be an expert. Those who are recommend the George IV  and CafĂ© Royale blends.  

So if you want to try something that your great grandfather probably did then the knowledgeable young men at G Smith & sons will be able to help you select the blend to suit you and I will almost guarantee that you will be the only person in the pub gently teasing a small pile of snuff onto the back of your hand tonight! 

The store also sells pipes and  cigars.

You may well miss the humidor which is in a room through a door on the right of the shop. It obviously used to be a back room and it must be the only humidor in the world with a fireplace.

The shelves are stocked with a few Cuban cigars but my advice is to take a good look at the Non Cuban cigars here including a number of Rocky Patel cigars.

The full address of the store is 74 Charring Cross Road, WC2H 0BG but if you have an iPhone you should download a great new iPhone app called Topsee and it will guide you to Smith as well as showing you over 270 other Top things to eat, drink, do, see and buy in London. 

1 comment:

James said...

Reminds me of a couple of old tobacco shops I've know over the years. Sadly, I think none of those are still there.

Thinking, right now, of one that was in Springfield, IL. Allen's Cigar, it was called. It was downtown on the corner of 5th Street and something, caddy corner across from the post office down the street from the state capitol building. Cigars, pipes, and a lunch counter that was an interesting place to hang out and have a cup of coffee and a smoke. At the time I knew it, it was a second generation family operation.

The other, Denham's Pipe & Cigar, was in Carbondale, IL. It, too, was definitley an "old school" sort of place. Besides the cigars and cigarettes, they kept straight tobaccos they would custom blend for their pipe smokers.

Both these places, I recall, had selections of snuff. Considering the public smoking bans that are propagating, I've been wondering if snuff and other smokeless forms of tobacco might not be seeing a resurgence. To me, it's absolutely incomprehensible that I can't go in a bar in the state where I live, and enjoy a cigar along with my drink.

— Bat