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A Visit To Villiger

I have just returned from a flying visit to the head offices of Villiger in Tiengen – a small town near the Swiss/German border. The town is a sleepy, yet incredibly charming place with many fine sights to take in, if you have the time. Sadly, I was unable to explore as I would have liked to as I was there on business. However, during my brief stay I was looked after wonderfully by Simone Hees, Villiger’s Export Sales Manager and have promised to return for more than a few hours next time I visit.

The Villiger offices also house 5th Avenue – the German equivalent of Hunters & Frankau – and the majority of their machine made cigar operation. Simone generously gave me a full tour of the impressive factory floor and some of the statistics she mentioned were simply mind boggling. For example, one person can oversee four machines, designed to dress the bunch of the cigar with its wrapper leaf, each machine can produce 10,000 cigars per day. This means that a single member of staff can oversee the ‘wrapping’ of 40,000 cigars per day!

The attention to detail and level of thought that has gone into every stage of production is amazing and a credit to the forward thinking approach that has exemplified Villiger for very close to 100 years.

While there I was also lucky enough to spend a bit of time with Heinrich Villiger and listen to him recount some fascinating stories of Villiger’s impressive history. With this being their centennial year they are putting the final touches to what promises to be quite a party.

After the factory tour Simone and I enjoyed a spot of lunch at a nearby Italian restaurant followed by a couple of espressos and a very fine cigar. Simone assured me Tiengen had been blanketed in thick snow just two weeks previously, but there was no sign of it during my trip and we happily dined al fresco in glorious sunshine. We even had time to pop into a soon-to-be-opened cigar lounge, complete with luxurious leather seating and a fine looking wine list.

Once our business had been completed I returned to the very impressive Zurich airport to await my return flight – anyone who has been there will agree it is a dangerous place to spend any length of time with a credit card. Although I managed to escape having bought no more than a bit of duty free, a few small gifts for my wife and two pints of deceptively strong Swiss beer that made for a very relaxed journey home.

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