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  • 1999 ? 2002. The sad, bad years?

    I?ve read threads where many BOTL lambast Cuban cigars with box dates 99 to 02 and was wondering if anyone might clear-up one or two questions for me.

    Given that Cuban tobacco is aged 4 years before being rolled into cigars, does it mean:-

    a) 1995 to 1998 were poor crop years and this impacted on 1999 to 02 cigar production?.

    b) 1999 to 2002 were poor crop years and that therefore cigars with box dates 2003 to 2006 should be regarded as not so good?.

    c) Does the problem effect all vitola and brands. Trinidad for example was commercially launched in 1998 with special releases from 1999 onwards, yet these cigars are sought after?

    d) H&F aged banded versions from the 99 to 02 are marketed and sold as vintage. Is this justified?
    If you want to, you can.
    And, if you can, you must!

  • #2
    Interesting post....really interested in answers.

    Comment


    • #3
      that's a cracking set of questions there arf!!!! i'm keen to know the answers as well.....

      i'm guessing that, since cuban tobacco is organic, the climate could've affected the aging process in the 4 years it was resting/ fermenting before being rolled!!! just a thought.......

      saying that, it does make much more sense that the crop harvested in 1995-1998 was of lesser quality (perhaps the growers had bad seasons that affected the quality of the leaf in those years), since most of the complaints are about sticks from 2000 onwards........

      however, i'm keen and curious to read what the more knowledgeable brothers on here know!!!

      all the best,

      alex

      Comment


      • #4
        'd) H&F aged banded versions from the 99 to 02 are marketed and sold as vintage. Is this justified? '
        Surely just being 10yrs old justifies the label vintage? THe question surely is whether they are worth the money being asked?
        The main problem with these yrs was due to the massive increase in production from 1978- 96 the avge export was around 70million. '97 -103, '98 - '125, '99 - 148,
        '00 - 118, '01 - 125. (no figures released in '02 & '03).
        This increase due to demand (tail end of Yuppiedom) likely lead to lower standards of leaf & rolling, more rollers required, with less training & experience.
        I have heard more complaints about plugging than anything else from this era but I have been lucky & can't recall a bad one. Guess it's more of a worry if your buying a whole box, when some were reporting up to half a box being plugged.
        Simon Bolivar: Liberator of Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru & Venezuela.

        Comment


        • #5
          I agree with Si B!
          Poorly rolled and plugged cigars seemed to be the major problem due to the boom.
          I'm very keen on the Hoyo Churchills from around that time. A great smoke. The new ones taste completely different and inferior to me.
          Lover of fine Cubans since 2006

          Comment


          • #6
            I agree with Simon as well, the problem was not with the tobacco but the rush to produce and therefore the drop in quality control standards. I have had some bad smokes from 1999 and 2000 but I have also had some awesome smokes from the same years

            As for H & F with the "vintage" cigars I had always seen 10 to 15 years age as "aged" rather than vintage which I would see more as pre 1990 smokes. Only persoanl opinions mind you

            Comment


            • #7
              I understood the issue to be as Simon Bolivar explained - an issue with product quality/consistency due to increased production demands (as opposed to an issue with the crops). I've had a reasonable number of cigars from that era now, and have generally found them to be very good, perhaps loosening up after a decade in the humi?

              As I understand it, the H&F aged stock is usually sold at more or less the same price as current stock - I certainly know that Mitch sells them at the same price as the current production (no premium for age). Also, I've yet to see them marketed as vintage, only aged. But then I've only really looked at them on our sponsor's site.
              My cigar review blog: The Cigar Monologues (Twitter / Facebook)
              My Company:
              Siparium Sporting

              Comment


              • #8
                Hi C.A. I think our idea of vintage is probably reflected in the range of cigars we smoke & have experienced. There are cigar sites calling 5yo cigars vintage, in these days of instant gratification I guess they might be.
                Most of my boxes & cabs are now 5yrs+ so 10 yrs old to me is vintage. I know you have an amazing experience with 60's stock & a lot earlier, so it's natural you think in longer age terms. Having had a couple had of 70's & 60's stix, I can say they are a totally differant level of flavour & enjoyment (oh yeah, & cost ) but something some of aspire to try more of in the future...
                Simon Bolivar: Liberator of Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru & Venezuela.

                Comment


                • #9
                  The H&F Vintage banded cigars are stock that just sat in the warehouse longer than usual for whatever reason. When some bright spark noticed the older boxes they came up with the vintage bands as clever marketing. I agree they should be marked aged, not vintage. I suspect these exist more through accident than any cunning plan and the vary from unremarkable to good. I did have a thing for the aged Montecristo A but was not wowed by the "vintage" range in general.

                  I was always under the impression that the 2001 cigars were to be avoided but this has been proven wrong to me over and over. A few quick examples. The 2001 cabs of Bolivar Belicosos Finos are amongst the finest of smokes. I still have Montecristo DC LEs from 2001 that I smoke sparingly as I love them and cannot replace them. I have some Hoyo Churchills from 2001 that I must revisit as they are mentioned as good earlier in this thread but I remember being underwhelmed and "archiving" them to see if hey improved.

                  I was told that the real low point was 2000, not 2001 but the Partagas Pyramid was from 2000 and that is a great smoke so I guess there are always exceptions.

                  Hoyo, as previously mentioned, is an interesting case in point but I am vague on some of the details due to my shocking memory. I used to be a worshipper of the Hoyo DC, I just loved them. I smoked my way through a cab of fifty some years ago back in the heyday of Wardour Street and loved them utterly. The regulars took the Micheal as I always had one on the go. I cannot remember if the cab was 99 or 01, I think 01 (the Partagas Lusitania from 99 is one of the greats). When I tried smoking later production Hoyo Churchills and DCs I lost interest. I was told there was logic to this as the Hoyos used to be made in one factory but around 2003 (or 2001, this is what I cannot remember) production changed to being distributed between several factories resulting in wildly varying and different cigars. A tragedy but if there is some way to screw up a good thing Cuba will figure out how to do it.
                  "In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock!"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by tippexx View Post

                    a) 1995 to 1998 were poor crop years and this impacted on 1999 to 02 cigar production?.

                    b) 1999 to 2002 were poor crop years
                    It has nothing to do with the crops.

                    It has to do with Castro's orders to double production as quickly as possible
                    (1996: 72 millions cigars rolled; 1998: 160 millions!)
                    To achieve this, factories have used immature tobacco, and hired hundreds of inexperienced rollers. As if calamity were not enough, the production has suffered from a lack of ligero leaves…

                    In my experience Vegas Robaina is the marca that suffered the less, and Trinidad was not affected at all…

                    That said, Punch was very affected (think of all these 98/99 unsalable Punch churchills, lying on the shelves of importers worldwide), but I have boxes of '98 coronas and '99 RS#11 that are excellent, and '98 and '99 SS#2 are extremely sought after and very pricey if you find them.

                    The year 2002 can not be classified as a bad year.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Smallclub View Post
                      The year 2002 can not be classified as a bad year.
                      As may be. But it was also a year of complete carnage vitola wise. These are the numbers for deletions and additions for the years 1999 to 2002. 2002 was the year of the greatest number of deletions. 2003 significantly also had a large number of deletions but I have not included them.

                      Period 1999 to 2002 (By Brand) Not including machine made only Brands: Belinda, Guantanamera  & Troya

                      Bol?var ( Deleted: 5 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
                      Cohiba ( Deleted: 1 ) ( Introduced: 1 )
                      Cuaba ( Deleted: 0 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
                      Diplom?ticos ( Deleted: 0 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
                      El Rey del Mundo ( Deleted: 4 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
                      Fonseca ( Deleted: 1 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
                      H. Upmann ( Deleted: 14 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
                      Hoyo de Monterrey ( Deleted: 1 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
                      Jos? L. Piedra ( Deleted: 0 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
                      Juan L?pez ( Deleted: 1 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
                      La Flor de Cano ( Deleted: 3 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
                      La Gloria Cubana ( Deleted: 1 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
                      Montecristo ( Deleted: 0 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
                      Partag?s ( Deleted: 18 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
                      Por Larra?aga ( Deleted: 3 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
                      Punch ( Deleted: 10 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
                      Quai d'Orsay ( Deleted: 0 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
                      Quintero ( Deleted: 2 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
                      Rafael Gonz?lez ( Deleted: 1 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
                      Ram?n Allones ( Deleted: 5 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
                      Romeo y Julieta ( Deleted: 13 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
                      Saint Luis Rey ( Deleted: 0 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
                      San Crist?bal ( Deleted: 0 ) ( Introduced: 4 )
                      Sancho Panza ( Deleted: 0 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
                      Trinidad ( Deleted: 0 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
                      Vegas Robaina ( Deleted: 0 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
                      Vegueros ( Deleted: 0 ) ( Introduced: 0 )

                      83 deleted vitola for the introduction of 5 of which 4 were for a new brand. (SCdH).

                      Also significant was that many of the vitola which survived delisting had prior to 1999 - 2002 been Machine made and were switched to hand rolled production.

                      Period 1999 to 2002 (Deleted Brands)

                      La Corona
                      San Luis Rey


                      The above is for production vitola only. No allowance for Specials or the Millennium humi's introduced in 1999
                      Last edited by tippexx; 06-02-2011, 06:14 PM. Reason: Millennium misspelt.
                      If you want to, you can.
                      And, if you can, you must!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Smallclub View Post
                        It has nothing to do with the crops.

                        It has to do with Castro's orders to double production as quickly as possible
                        (1996: 72 millions cigars rolled; 1998: 160 millions!)
                        To achieve this, factories have used immature tobacco, and hired hundreds of inexperienced rollers. As if calamity were not enough, the production has suffered from a lack of ligero leaves?

                        In my experience Vegas Robaina is the marca that suffered the less, and Trinidad was not affected at all?

                        That said, Punch was very affected (think of all these 98/99 unsalable Punch churchills, lying on the shelves of importers worldwide), but I have boxes of '98 coronas and '99 RS#11 that are excellent, and '98 and '99 SS#2 are extremely sought after and very pricey if you find them.

                        The year 2002 can not be classified as a bad year.
                        Totally agree regarding the VR. I was lucky enought to smoke a box of Famosos when they were first released onto the market circa 99 or there abouts. They were a fantastic smoke and some of the best VR I have ever had.
                        "Keep your eyes peeled, your arse up, head down, and your ear to the gound" WHISKY77

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          From the replies so far, it appears that many of you will agree that, as with a lot of things cigar-related, when it comes to picking on a particular date or range of dates to single out as "bad" for Cuban cigars, "your mileage may vary".

                          I've kept a big spreadsheet to summarize my tasting notes over the past dozen years or so and just glancing at the scores tells me that I had quite a number of great cigars in the period 1998-2001. Perhaps 2000 had fewer 10/10 scores than the other years.
                          2002, for me, for Cuban cigars, has been a go-to year-in fact on the top of my "wish list" for Cuban cigar buying I have highlighted "Anything From 2002".

                          I can understand that if you had some plugged or poorly burning smokes during the "boom" years (about 1995-1999) it's easy to lump all cigars from that period into the "bad" category. In 1996 and 1997 I had trouble even finding decent cigars to buy in Havana-all the larger sizes and popular brands had been exported- and the cigars I did buy were young, harsh and often tight. Some of those same cigars, discovered "hiding" on shelves in Havana stores today, have aged into very tasty smokes.

                          Honestly, if I look at my actual notes, I'm hard pressed to select any particular year in the past 15 as being particularly "bad" for Cuban cigars.
                          The experiment with the "Havana 2000" wrapper was, of course, a disaster and any cigars from any of the years that this wrapper was used will be less tasty than those with the older leaf or those being wrapped since 2003.
                          Commander Bob

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Cbob, you seemed to have raised another interesting point there; can you explain furhter about the Havana 2000 wrapper? Was this part of a seed cultivation progamme to get a more resistant strain to pests & fungus ect (I have heard about that idea) or a a wrapper prepared in a different way?
                            Simon Bolivar: Liberator of Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru & Venezuela.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I think age has done wonders for a lot of the 'bad' cigars. Young tobacco issues shave been nullified but there is still the plugged Russian roulette issue.

                              Like T I have been blown away by many smokes from this period so it is hard to nail down the inconsistency. FWIW Ajay recently told me that 2000 were bad but 2001 are fine and proved his point with a stunning cab of Epi No1's from '01.

                              Personally I am cautious of any 2000 box purchases (as are most of the market).

                              I think it is probably fair to say the H and F vintage band is a good marketing scheme.

                              I am very interested in knowing more about the Havana 2000 wrapper.
                              Originally posted by Simon Bolivar
                              Little medical correction there Steve, you will surely die...but not from smoking these

                              Originally posted by Ryan
                              I think that's for lighting electronic cigarettes

                              Comment

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