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Cigars/Cuban cigars lost their aroma? part II

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QUESTION: James! Thanks for your expert advice!

Your experience with the catadores (taste testers) is of great interest to me.
Having smoked 30.000 cigars, I have this opinion on Cuban cigars today as opposed to 20 years ago:

The complex spicy character of the 90's is gone. I have in mind the black, oily Hoyo Double Coronos, Monte 2 and R&J Churchills with very characteristic profiles. Those were the days!
If you agree on this view; I am sure you do, I have two possible explanations:

1. Cuba is exploiting their main tobacco fields too hard. The legendary El Corojo is a proof of this.
2. In preparation for entering the future US market, Cuba believe the Americans will find the Cuban cigars too strong. Thus Cuba is introducing "softer" leaves into the cigars from new regions like Vuelta Arriba.

I am looking forward to your comments!
Thanks in advance from
Ole in Oslo

ps!
When is your book available in the market?

ANSWER: Hello Ole,

You're absolutely correct.  Cuban cigars have definitely softened over the years.  The distinct flavour is still present in Cuban cigars today, but it's not as pronounced as it was 20 years ago.  I believe this is due to "supply and demand" and as you mentioned, Cuba is now pushing their tobacco production too fast and too hard to accommodate the current consumer demand.  To make matters worse, Habanos has greatly expanded their cigar lines with new cigars such as the Edicion Limitadas, Regional Edicions, Habanos/LCDH exclusives and special edition/commemorative cigars.  15 years ago, many of these special edition lines didn't even exist so Habanos had more time and effort to focus on "quality over quantity".  Now, the emergence of these new cigar lines has caused Habanos to essentially "spread out" their tobacco production which has caused a "quantity over quality" effect.

In addition, since the mid 1990's, Cuba has been struck with more tropical storms & hurricanes than normal.  The constant, annual battering of storms has taken its toll on the island and I believe the tobacco and soil quality has greatly suffered because of this.

I don't think the milder tobacco is in anticipation of Habanos entering the US market.  Over the years, I have spoken with many Cuban residents over this matter and the majority do not want Cuban cigars to legally enter the US market because the US market would absolutely kill Habanos.  If the US-Cuba Trade Embargo was lifted, the US market would deplete Cuba of their tobacco and Cuba simply wouldn't be able to meet the rate of demand.  Also, Swedish Match/General Cigar Co. owns the trademark rights to many of the Cuban brand names outside of Cuba (example: non-Cuban Bolivar, Ramon Allones, Partagas, Hoyo, Punch, etc.) so if the embargo was lifted, what would happen to the Cuban brand names?  The Cuban brands would most likely lose their names if they ever wanted to enter the US market.  If the embargo is lifted and Habanos chooses not to enter the US market, non-Cuban cigar manufacturers could still legally trade with Cuba and take their tobacco to create their own Cuban tobacco cigars or "hybrid" cigars that contain both Cuban and non-Cuban tobacco.

We can only speculate on what would happen if the embargo was lifted but legally entering the US market would cause chaos among the cigar industry and confusion among the consumers.  Lifting the embargo would be good for the Cuban economy in general but for the Cuban cigar industry, it would be bad for business.  As a Cuban cigar smoker, I personally think that the embargo should NOT be lifted.  The Cuban cigar is the flagship product of Cuba and Cuba needs to protect it.

I hope this helps. If you have any more questions, please feel free to just ask and I will be happy to help.

Regards,
James

P.S. - Thank you for your interest in my book! After taking a break from my book (due to family emergencies and health issues with family members), I am back working on my book again and it should be ready soon.  When my book is finally ready, I will post news about it here on Allexperts. (I will post any news about it in the "About Me" section of my Alllexperts profile.)



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for nice response!
My input was:
"The complex spicy character of the 90's is gone. I have in mind the black, oily Hoyo Double Coronos, Monte 2 and R&J Churchills with very characteristic profiles. Those were the days!
If you agree on this view; I am sure you do, I have two possible explanations:

1. Cuba is exploiting their main tobacco fields too hard. The legendary El Corojo is a proof of this.
2. In preparation for entering the future US market, Cuba believe the Americans will find the Cuban cigars too strong. Thus Cuba is introducing "softer" leaves into the cigars from new regions like Vuelta Arriba."


I got a 3rd input from another expert on the issue:
The seeds!
Corojo seeds replaced by Habanos 2000 and others.
Would really appreciate your comments on the importance of the seeds!

Thinking about it, the seeds make a great difference in i.e. growing of fruits.
Thanks!

Answer
Hi Ole,

Yes, El Corojo was definitely a critical component to Cuban cigars looking good and tasting good pre-2000.  El Corojo always gave Cuban cigar wrapper leaves an oily, velvet-like appearance which always had great potential for long-term cigar aging.  Unfortunately, El Corojo had to be discontinued because the tobacco stalks were easily diseased and produced very little leaves by harvest time.  El Corojo leaves were also smaller compared to the newer hybrid tobacco (Habanos 2000, Criollo, Corojo 99) so Habanos preferred to use the newer hybrids because they were more resistant to disease and they produced larger leaves which were ideal for the larger cigars.

I hope this helps.  As always, if you have any more questions, please feel free to just ask and I will be happy to help.

Regards,
James

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James Yee

Expertise

My main area of expertise is Cuban cigars and I can assist you if you have questions pertaining to Cuban cigars. I can also assist you with the following:

- General cigar-related questions and advice
- Humidor maintenance and troubleshooting (How to treat humidor mold, correct high/low humidity, humidor seasoning, etc.)
- Accessory maintenance and troubleshooting (Cigar cutters, hygrometers, humidifiers, etc.)
- Cigar restoration, preservation and troubleshooting (How to treat cigar mold/tobacco beetles, restoring vintage/dry cigars, etc.)
- Cigar/Brand identification
- Cigar etiquette

Unsure of a certain cigar brand? Wondering what a certain cigar tastes like? Have a question about Cuban cigars? Having problems with a humidor or Just let me know! I have smoked every brand of Cuban cigars and most reputable non-Cuban cigar brands on a regular basis so I know a fair bit about taste profiles, cigar etiquette and other fine nuances to cigar smoking. (NOTE: My main focus is on premium, hand-rolled cigars and not cheap, machine made, convenience store cigars.) IMPORTANT: PLEASE NOTE THAT I DO NOT PROVIDE CIGAR OR CIGAR-RELATED APPRAISALS. If you have a vintage cigar item and you want to know if it's worth something, please contact an antique dealer that specializes in "TOBACCIANA".

Experience

I currently have 19 dedicated years of cigar smoking and counting. I have smoked every brand of Cuban cigars and most reputable non-Cuban cigar brands on a regular basis so I know a fair bit about taste profiles, cigar etiquette and other fine nuances to cigar smoking. For 5 years, I studied with Cuban torcedores (rollers), catadores (taste testers) and revisadores (inspectors) on every aspect involving the production of the Cuban cigar and I am currently writing a book that will help beginners understand everything they need to know about cigars and cigar smoking.

Publications
Maple Leaf Gardens: Memories & Dreams 1931-1999 (1999; ISBN: 0920445616)
50 Things Every Guy Should Know How To Do (2006; ISBN: 0452286654)
The [London] Times (October 8, 2009)


Education/Credentials
B.A. University of Toronto

Awards and Honors
Allexperts Top 25 Shortest Average Response Time: 2008-2009
Highest Rank:
- 2008 - 6th Overall, July
- 2009 - 10th Overall, February

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