On Saturday, September 24th I had the pleasure of going to El Septimo’s private event celebrating the opening of their first lounge in the United States. The lounge is located in Woodland Hills, CA and the event was scheduled from 6pm-12am. Since CEO Zaya Younan bought the company in 2019, El Septimo has made a big splash in the cigar industry and I was eager to see this new chapter of the brand.
Upon my arrival, I noticed that this isn’t your typical lounge. I saw no standard storefront, but a large corporate building with illuminated channel letters that read, “Younan Properties.” According to the company website, “The three-story asset is situated on 2.15 landscaped acres and features a two-story granite and glass lobby.” Just outside the private parking lot stands a monument sign with the El Septimo brand logo, so I knew I was at the right place.
As I approached the entrance, I saw a gentleman outside with a cigar in one hand and a carrot in the other and wondered which one he was going to light. I swung open the large glass door and to my left was an elegant display of cheeses, meats, and other various hors d’oeuvres. Stationed to my right was a small table where beverages were offered and poured. Straight ahead was a narrow walkway with small tables and chairs hugging the walls. On each table sat a bottle of El Septimo x Chateau Zaya Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Bordeaux Red Wine 2020. In the back corner of the lobby area a photographer operated a photo booth. Several people stood nearby, some of them rummaging through a box of masks and colorful hats, happily waiting to take some photos.
I walked through the lobby, veered to the right, and found myself in the El Septimo. It is very elegant, almost museum-like and practically smoke free. The smoke alarms were noticeably taped off with blue painters tape, which seemed to do the job since I didn’t see a single fire fighter in attendance. The temperature of the room was perfect. Faces were all smiles and the music was thumping. Servers made the rounds offering appetizers to guests. The atmosphere was friendly and there was a celebratory feel in the air. The one small caveat I had, which was actually pointed out to me by another guest who is an interior designer, was that it was too brightly lit. In my opinion, softer light in the main lounge area would help to provide a more relaxed atmosphere. The main lounge space has comfortably high ceilings and is divided into 4 large seating areas with very, very comfortable plush couches. In the room is a bar with a nice collection of alcohol including El Septimo’s own line of cognac, The Magnificent 7 Collection, which was produced with the Vigneron family of Comandon Cognac. Prices range from $300 to $499 per bottle.
The lounge is split into three areas: the main lounge area, a smaller lounge area behind glass doors/walls, and a walk-in humidor. When I arrived almost everyone was inside the smaller lounge area, which is more reminiscent of a standard lounge and provides a more intimate setting with leather couches right next to one another. Although the smaller smoking lounge was more intimate, I did enjoy the main open floor area as it had more elbow room and better ventilation. The walk-in humidor is basically the size of a studio apartment and is filled exclusively with El Septimo cigars, from core lines to limited releases. It is said to hold upwards of 1,000,000 cigars and also is home to a vibrant chandelier.
As I was looking through the impressive collection of cigars I was approached by a friendly gentleman named David Henderson, an El Septimo Brand Ambassador. “What do you smoke?” He helped me to a Botticelli, a 7.5×58 Salomon named after Sandro Botticelli and part of The Sacred Arts Collection. As I sat for a moment to enjoy the cigar, I saw Younan, sporting a purple blazer, making the rounds. He was a gracious host and had a smile from ear to ear as people congratulated him on his success with the lounge. Popular European rapper/singer K!AN was also in attendance singing for guests, and his music played through the overhead speakers.
After taking in the night and enjoying the Botticelli for some time, I introduced myself to Andre Melikian, El Septimo Regional Sales Manager, who walked me through their humidor and told me about their past history, blends and upcoming releases. Andre is very passionate about cigars, El Septimo, and the industry in general. He generously gave me samples of their previous releases as well as samples of their new line, The Emperor Collection, that they recently announced at PCA 2022. I’m particularly interested in trying the blends with a Connecticut wrapper since it’s the first time they’re using a Connecticut leaf.
Overall the atmosphere was comfortable and very welcoming. Some sported suits while others opted for a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. By the time I left three hours later, the entire main lounge area was filled with people. El Septimo plans to open 30 more retail stores in the next few years. “This is the beginning of one of the world’s largest expansions in the cigar industry,” Younan said in a recent press release. Waitlist applications for annual memberships are being accepted right now at this link. If you’re a fan of El Septimo cigars and are looking for a quality lounge experience, I recommend going to Woodland Hills and paying them a visit.
What does your ideal lounge look like? Hoping an El Septimo Lounge opens in your area? Let me know in the comments.