Burlington On Whyte owner Chris Hansen has been in the tobacco game for decades.

B.O.W. owner Chris Hansen

Like all Burlington On Whyte employees, he shares a serious devotion to not only cigars, but also pipes.

In this piece, we’ll discover what his favorite cigar is, as well as what his unique Edmonton, Alberta establishment is all about.

HOH: When was Burlington On Whyte established?

Chris Hansen: October 1987. At the time I was actually living in Germany.

HOH: What motivated you to become a tobacconist?

CH: I returned from Germany to Edmonton in 1990. I have been both a cigar and pipe smoker since my teens. I didn’t know about Burlington On Whyte, but bought a house in the neighbourhood and discovered it one day when on a walk about. The first time I walked in, I got barely three paces in the store when I was hit by an overwhelming desire – maybe it was a message from God? – to buy the store. It took three tries and twelve years to get the previous owner to sell at a reasonable price!

HOH: What area/neighborhood of Edmonton does Burlington On Whyte serve?

CH: Burlington On Whyte is located in the Old Strathcona neighbourhood. Just south of the river which divides Edmonton in two, it is considered the entertainment center of town.

HOH: Now that we are entering post-pandemic times, what cigar events do you look forward to hosting or being a part of?

CH: We have had one pipe event so far this year with Antoine Grenard of Chacom pipes. Our upcoming larger event will be with Alejandro Turrent, in the fall. We are going to start a series of smaller events, 10-12 customers. Participant numbers will increase as comfort level does as well.

HOH: Do you have any cigar house blends? If so, what’s your customer favorite?

CH: We have 2 house blends, divided between 4 vitolas. Made for us by Casa Turrent, they are a blend unique to us. We spent some years developing the blend. It is my understanding that many retailers take an existing bundle cigar and put their band on it. We decided to go up market, so our Project X cigars sell for $7.25 for a 4 x 38 up to $16.95 for the Toro size. The box pressed version of the Toro would be our most popular.

B.O.W. employees [from L to R]: Anna, Cody, Stephen, Aaron

HOH: We recently crossed paths with you at the PCA [Premium Cigar Association] expo in Las Vegas. Man, that sure was hot! [temperatures reached 45 degrees Celsius] What exhibitors made an impression on you, and how many cigars did you enjoy while you were there?

CH: The show was much slower paced this year. I missed seeing some of the manufacturers who are no longer participating. Of those left, the JC Newman booth would be my favorite. As for how many cigars I enjoyed, it was about 3-4 per day. I have cut back. 

HOH: What’s your favorite drink to pair with a cigar?

CH: My favorite drink would depend on the cigar and the circumstances. A nicely aged single malt or a very good rum usually works for me.

HOH: What’s the most popular cigar size among the your customers?

CH: Toro.

HOH: What’s your favorite ‘cigar destination’ to visit?

CH: Certainly not Cuba! I have been about 15 times, but am in no hurry to go back. When was the last time YOU were there? That leaves the DR [Dominican Republic]. The Pro Cigar show there is very well done.

HOH: Quick questions. Please provide one word answers:

Maduro or Connecticut? Maduro.

Torch or wooden match? Wooden match.

Fuente or E.P. Carrillo? Fuente.

Humidity pack or distilled water? Humidity pack.

Straight or V cut? Straight.

Churchill or Robusto? Robusto. 

HOH: Tell us something interesting that most people don’t know about Burlington On Whyte:

CH: We don’t just sell it – we live it. All five members of our staff are both a pipe and cigar smoker. The vast majority of pipe tobacco we sell are blends that are unique to our store. We create them in-house. The average tenure of our employees is 11 years. Currently they range from 19 to 5 years.

HOH: You can only choose one cigar to smoke for the rest of your life, what do you choose and why?

CH: When I was asked this question on my first trip to Cuba, the answer almost got me kicked out of the country – Davidoff Anniversario #3. Not necessarily my all time favorite because most of those cigars are no longer available. It, like all Davidoffs, is extremely well made. The flavour profile is interesting enough to never get boring, but not challenging enough so you might not want to smoke another.

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Burlington On Whyte is located at 10468 82 Ave., Edmonton, Alberta Canada T6E 2A2 and can be reached at 780 439 8519 or chris@tobacconist.ca