Jeremy Casdagli, founder and co-owner of Bespoke Cigars, has been crafting his own blends of long filler cigars for 20 years. Since 2014 his production has been concentrated at the Kelner Boutique Factory in the Dominican Republic, which is headed by Hendrik Kelner. Within months, Bespoke Cigars developed a reputation in Europe and the Middle East for complex, uniquely sized cigars.
Since November 2015 his full line has been available in a retail and distribution partnership with Biggs Mansion in Chicago. Being based in Tallinn it was natural to develop first in the Nordics, Casdagli explains, “but while looking for another possible sales platform for my cigars, I kept an eye out for buildings reminiscent of my family’s ancestral home, Villa Casdagli, in Cairo.
When a friend encouraged me to visit his club, the Biggs Lounge in Chicago, I thought, ah America, he says with a laugh.
Casdagli’s descent from Greek levantine purveyors of luxury goods is well in line with the history of the Biggs Mansion, a Chicago landmark. First the private residence of the founder of Northern Trust bank, the mansion later became the headquarters of the Biggs catering family, which accommodated high society parties and private clients.
Later still, the house became the city’s finest French restaurant. Its high ceiling, intricate woodwork, and striking facade call to mind names like safer, Dallmayr, and Menial.
Biggs Mansion was added to the list of the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Prominent real estate investor Fred Latsko and partner Richard Bey oversaw the mansion’s three year renovation before opening to the public as a cigar shop and lounge in the summer of 2014.
While the retail floor offers the standard array found in other shops, it distinguishes itself with additional cabinets of boutique blends as well as pre-embargo Cubans going back as far as the 1870s, which have been provided by another KBF producer, Darren Cioffi of Principle Cigars.
“Nothing showcases the resurgence of post fire Chicago quite like Biggs, and Jeremy’s passion for history as well as his partnership with KBF follow our own approach.
Hendrik continues to amaze the cigar world with diverse blends, which often hearken to forgotten sizes, and his quality, especially the finish, is near peerless.
Kelner’s mastery is evinced in Cigars like Bespoke Grand cafe’, Gran Mareva, and the newly released Basilica line.
Each communicates a different aspect of Bespoke’s heritage; the labels feature Badagli’s family mansion in Cairo, famed cigar Club Mareva in Split, Croatia, and Jeremy’s great grandfather Emmanuel Casdagli.
With sizes like Languid No.1, Flying Pig, and a coned Demi-Corona, Casdagli and Kelner seek not only to please but to educate the client.
We also offer an excellent Super Belicosos that sells very well in particular markets, but the trend toward larger gauges and ample, monochromatic fillers is not of great interest to Hendrik or me, Casdagli says.
Rather we ask ourselves: How creative can we be in flavour profile, in our moods? How do we remind smokers that our passion is truly for a luxury product in which great thought and craft can be exhibited?
The interests of Biggs, Bespoke, and KBF naturally align. At an annual production just shy of 250,000 cigars, Casdagli is content with maintaining his cigars boutique nature in an environment unlike any other in North America. Given Bespoke’s current distribution through Biggs in Chicago, California, and the East Coast of the United States, the reputations of all parties concerned are sure to grow.