English Market Selection
Masters of Havana Cigars

Masters of Havana Cigars

The Higher Certificate, developed by Hunters & Frankau, represents the most extensive & prestigious qualification within the UK Habanos market.

Paola Paolillo

Paola Paolillo

What do you enjoy most about working with cigars?

I really enjoy working in an environment where people come to relax themselves with a real appreciation of an amazing handmade product. In my early years I found cigar smokers to be very sociable between each other and very open to share their experiences with people they met for the first time, which it really amazes me in such a huge metropolis like London, where everybody is running looking at their phones.

What first interested you in cigars?

I am always greedy to improve my professional resume and I never worked with cigars before, therefore I thought to give it a go and accept the position offered at No Ten Manchester Street. At the beginning I was scared even to go inside the humidor as I felt overwhelmed about the amount of knowledge I would need to comfortably stand there with customers and be able to reply to all their questions. Luckily for me it was The Wellesley pre-opening time and I have to thank Pasquale who gave me big support and encouraged me to follow in his steps. But my real interest developed slowly and naturally, when I recognized what an amazing product a cigar is and how much work and history are behind his production.

Do you remember your first cigar?

I do remember my first cigar. Unfortunately… I was offered a Partagas Serie P No.2 but I was advised to not smoke it as my first experience. Stubborn as I am, I went home and I took the Pirámides from my handbag, I admired the beautiful construction, with a dark and shiny wrapper and I couldn't resist. I rapidly decided that night would be my first time. I made a large cut on the head, lighted with my super cool new jet lighter and made my first puff which quickly went from my mouth straight to my stomach, as an ex-cigarettes smoker would do. I inhaled it. My face went from all colours from green to purple and I quickly remembered somebody said to me that I shouldn’t inhale it. After searching for some relief in a glass of water, I put the cigar back on the ashtray promising myself I wouldn't smoke again. After that experience I pushed myself to listen the advice and so I tried an El Rey del Mundo Chiox de L’Epoque UK Regional Edition 2009 and it was love at first puff, I realized I was going in the right direction this time as I truly enjoyed the smoke until the very end. It is still my favourite cigar.

What is the best piece of advice you have for someone just starting to smoke cigars?

Don’t smoke a Partagas Serie P No.2! I would suggest to start with light flavoured blend and to be open in trying as much sticks as they can, because the best cigar doesn't exist, you need to find it. There are indeed very good cigars to smoke, but as per wine and other things, you will need to find the one that marries your taste bud, your mood and it is perfect for that time of the day or for that situation.

What are your favourite three cigars?

El Rey del Mundo Chiox de L’Epoque UK Regional Edition 2009 H. Upmann Connoisseur A Montecristo 520 Limited Edition 2012

Has becoming a Master in Havana Cigars helped you in your profession?

Surely, it helped me in my profession to gain more trust from our customers in choosing the best cigars for them and it also boosted my confidence. I am quite proud that another woman is on the list of Master of Havana Cigars and I am confident there will be more in the future.

Meet the Masters

Giuseppe Moccia

Giuseppe Moccia

Boisdale of Canary Wharf

Read More
*There are also a number of Masters of Havana Cigars working in private members clubs that are not listed here.

Keep up to date

Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest news from the world of Havana cigars including new releases and upcoming UK cigar events.

Privacy Policy