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Thread: 1999 — 2002. The sad, bad years?

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    Quote 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

    Bolívar ( Deleted: 5 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
    Cohiba ( Deleted: 1 ) ( Introduced: 1 )
    Cuaba ( Deleted: 0 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
    Diplomáticos ( 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 )
    José L. Piedra ( Deleted: 0 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
    Juan López ( Deleted: 1 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
    La Flor de Cano ( Deleted: 3 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
    La Gloria Cubana ( Deleted: 1 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
    Montecristo ( Deleted: 0 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
    Partagás ( Deleted: 18 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
    Por Larrańaga ( Deleted: 3 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
    Punch ( Deleted: 10 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
    Quai d'Orsay ( Deleted: 0 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
    Quintero ( Deleted: 2 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
    Rafael González ( Deleted: 1 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
    Ramón Allones ( Deleted: 5 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
    Romeo y Julieta ( Deleted: 13 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
    Saint Luis Rey ( Deleted: 0 ) ( Introduced: 0 )
    San Cristóbal ( 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 at 06:14 PM. Reason: Millennium misspelt.
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    Quote 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.
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    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

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    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.

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    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.

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    Loving this thread! I don't feel I can really add much though!
    Quote Originally Posted by tippexx View Post
    Given that Cuban tobacco is aged 4 years before being rolled into cigars
    I'm surprised nobody has commented on this. Is this documented anywhere?

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    That was a misconception on my part Dave .... however the process from picking until date stamping a box is quite a long one.

    Explained here:-

    http://www.cubancigarwebsite.com/inf...tion_&_Sorting

    There is also a mention (brief) of Havana 2000.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daverave999 View Post
    Loving this thread! I don't feel I can really add much though!

    I'm surprised nobody has commented on this. Is this documented anywhere?

    +1
    May be worth making it a sticky..?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simon Bolivar View Post
    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?
    Here is just a portion of a cA interview with Alejandro Robaina (and his Grandson Hiroshi) by James Suckling in October 2006.

    CA: What about the influence of new tobacco varieties, such as Habanos 2000?
    Robaina: I was the first to plant Habanos 2000 here in Cuba and the results were very good, but nowadays, Habanos 2000 has lost quality to the point that I am not planting it anymore. It's prone to blue mold and black shank. Plus, there are now other seeds that have much better quality.

    CA: Do you mean that you like such new varieties as Criollo 98 and Corojo 99 better?
    Robaina: Yes, I like them much better. These plants are much more resistant to blue mold.

    CA: Yes, but what about the flavor?
    Robaina: Well, the flavor I feel is much better also. These have higher quality than Habanos 2000. In my opinion the Habanos 2000 is excessively fragile. These new seeds have higher quality. I have had better results with Corojo 98 and Criollo 99. This year I planted both.

    Hiroshi Robaina: You mean Criollo 98 and Corojo 99, grandfather.
    Robaina: Yes, that's what I mean, but I am always mixing them up and saying their names the wrong way!
    CA: Why don't you plant the old variety, the traditional Corojo?
    Robaina: I wish I could get my hands on those seeds!

    CA: The flavor was wonderful.
    Robaina: Yes, no doubt, and the traditional Criollo was the best filler tobacco around.

    Hiroshi: I wish we could use it.
    Robaina: Perhaps this year we could try.

    I have a great book called "Cuban Cigar Tobacco" by Eumelio Espino Marrero and found some of the following details:

    Cuba had a bad Blue Mold problem in about 1979 and developed a resistant strain called "Habana P.R." which could be the leaf the Robainas are talking about. The leaf (planted out in about 1982-1988) matured to a nice reddish "Colorado" colour that made for some great cigars but the yields were not high.
    They kept trying for disease resistance and in 1992 came up with "Habana-2000" (Criollo) and "Habana-92" (Corojo).
    (Corojo is the variety used mainly for "capa" or wrappers)

    The "Habana-2000" produced huge robust plants but the cured leaf was a bit too fragile, lacked flavour and aged poorly. This was not really understood until most plantations had converted over to the new variety and there were some blah smokes for some years.
    The Cuban researchers went back to the original Criollo and Corojo strains, selecting for mold and disease resistance. The result was "Criollo-98" and "Corojo-99" and those varieties are what has mostly been planted in the last ten years with the "Criollo-98" being the choice for wrappers.

    I don't have much info on newer strains of black tobacco that may have been or are currently being produced but I'm always interested if any of you have updates.
    Commander Bob

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    the biggest problem with cigars from this period are not from the Havana factories but from the smaller factories around the Island. There is no way some factory in Gibara or Holguin could have the same quality control as in Havana. It's no secret that the Havana factories had priorty to the best raw materials and rollers during that period. Leaving lesser quality tobacco for those other factories rolling the same marcas. Oddly enough, my biggest complaint from those years were not plugged cigars, but cigars that either all tasted the same or just tasted like ammonia.
    I'm glad that that those days are over
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