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Fakhm's Achievements


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  1. I had this thought last week, that this experiment needs to be as diverse as possible, not just in terms of production years, brands, and tobacco types, but also price points. I don’t have allot of experience with the lower ranked cigars in the Habanos lineup as I always have been a firm believer in the “smoke less, smoke better” adage, even back in my university years, as a financially challenged student, I would rather save my money and smoke one premium cigar a week instead of three or four machine made cigars. I do keep one cigar always on hand for outdoor type activities, the RyJ Cazadores is a favorite of mine, but since the blend change I don’t think of them as less than premium anymore. But since the purpose here is to extract as much useful data as possible, I decided to ask around, and was told that the Romeo no.1 and Mille Fleurs where highly regarded as affordable entry level cigars, so I got a box of each. I have to say I was very very surprised by the Mille Fleurs! Despite their young age they where very approachable, more complex than anticipated, and really delicious on the whole! I had one with my morning coffee and it was phenomenally enjoyable. The No.1 was fairly one dimensional but also far better than anticipated with more Romeo flavour than the MF and most other Romeos actually, I am very curious how these will age! I was going to choose one to include in the lineup but based on the results I have decided to include both. I am glad I decided to test these cigars, in addition to adding a new dimension to the testing lineup I was taught a valuable lesion, with my previous arrogance towards lesser priced Habanos preventing me prom enjoying these tasty cigars that would serve perfectly to accompany a morning coffee! even after 23 years of Habanos obsession, there are still surprises to be had!
  2. Bolivar Coronas Gigantes, 2007 vintage. This was a difficult decision, to include this particular cabinet in the experiment, not because there was any questions about them being optimal for the purpose, but mainly because it would be so difficult to give up the cigars, these are the finest samples that have ever crossed my path of one of my favorite vitolas, and are very close to reaching their prime. But, as I am determined to make the results as useful as possible, and because these are at a point in their aging potential where I am certain they will undergo their ultimate transformation, in they go. I recall buying these cigars on a trip to Lebanon in 2014, I was early to my flight, as I always am when flying out of Beirut as they have an amazing cigar lounge and the worlds largest La Casa Del Habano in the world, I had purchased 15 boxes of cigars, and headed to the lounge to sample one and fondle the rest. Upon sitting down in a comfortable chair, having a sip of my coffee, and having smoked one inch of this glorious cigar, I immediately got up and purchased the remaining three cabinets. I wish there was more. From the very first inch, I could tell these where special, the vintage was above average even then, and with age has dramatically improved, as of todays tasting, they are very close to reaching their prime as stated, in my experience Bolivars transform four times, first from an in your face bulldozer into an a flavorful full bodied Goliath of a smoke, about at the 7-9 year mark, then once more into a strong yet balanced experience but still with substantial punch, at the 14-18 mark ( this is where we are at today ) and finally into an elegant, complex, sophisticated event that remains extremely full of flavors yet delicate. I could tell we are close to the final transformation ( not counting the point in which the cigars start to fade ) from the first and second thirds, the complexity increased since last tasting 2 years ago as new undertones developed, the last third surprisingly exhibited hints of ammonia and some harshness even after all these years, only Bolivar right? I believe these will be one of the most interesting cigars to compare in five years, while I am certain the cigars in standard packaging will reach their optimal smoking condition, will the vacuum sealed samples be at the same stage or still show some ammonia? Will they go through the final transformation or be one stage behind? How will the intensity of the flavors differ? These cigars will add some very valuable data to the study!
  3. Hello gents please take a look at this thread, I have updated the first post I should be done posting the selected cigar within 2-4 weeks, in the mean time kindly share your input here regarding the study and any edits or modifications that you believe should be done, if you have any doubts or concerns this is the time to discuss them and resolve them
  4. The La Gloria Cubans Medalle D’or No 4, another staple in my smoking stock and a long time favorite of mine, a true gem that few for some reason cherish, perhaps because it’s size is no longer in vogue. I use them exclusively as aperitif cigars, particularly when traveling, as part of my vacation rituals me and the wife will always look for a few fine dinning experiences to commemorate the trips, there really is nothing in life quite like pairing fine cigars with great gourmet adventures, and this lovely cigar has kept me company many times while my wife would take her time getting ready. A fantastic way to prepare your pallet, or when the environment allows, a cigar to be enjoyed with the appetizer in a smoker friendly restaurant, to be following with a fuller larger cigar after the meal is how my ritual goes. I had a few vintages ranging from 2014 to 2018, this one from 2017 is nearly full and smelled absolutely wonderful, like a bowl of ripe berries. For this tasting session I paired the cigar with a watered down home made ice tea, and the thought that immediately crossed my mind is that these are nowhere as popular as they deserve to be, if there ever was a cigar to prove that girth has nothing to do with flavor or intensity it’s this one, in fact I prefer this to all of the regional La Gloria’s I have, tremendous amount of honey and a sweet flavor I can’t quite place, some light spice to keep things interesting, and just enough toasted tobacco to remind you you are smoking a cigar, not eating candy. the last third was sharp and Intense, there is definitely room for improvement with proper aging. I expect at the five year mark these will be in their absolute prime for my particular preferences in standard packaging, will be interesting to see how the vacuum sealed samples differ! These will be easy to differentiate I have no doubt.
  5. We have to have an Edicion Limitada in this collection, for one thing the Maduro wrapper would add an interesting element to the mix, plus it seems the program is so successful it is going to be with indefinitely. it didn’t take me long to land on which one of the Edicion Limitadas to choose, the Bolivar Super Coronas from 2014 seem optimal as they have not reached optimal smoking condition yet or close to it, upon the last tasting and todays, I would venture to guess they need no less than 3-5 years aging in standard format to be truly enjoyable, all Bolivars are full bodied but these have more potential than most to my tastes, I am sure the difference between vacuumed and non vacuumed samples will be substantial in five years time. The sample I smoked today had hints of typical Bolivar flavors, vanilla, coffee, a bit of dry cocoa. The last third was far too harsh still. I hope they go through that magical transformation Bolivars go through in the next five years in both or at least the non vacuumed samples, it will be great to hear the reviewers opinions on these.
  6. Partagas is an old dear friend of mine, many vitolas have been steady companions over the years, from the humble yet delicious Presidente to the elegant Lonsdales, from the convenient Shorts to the glorious E2, the brand has given me many pleasant memories and rarely if ever disappoints, I just new there would be at least two or three shovel for this experiment. Not to mention that we need fuller bodied cigars to get a clearer image on the effects different aging methods have on different types of cigars. to start the evaluation process I opted for one of my absolute favorites from Partagas, the P2, a vitola that fits the flavor profile to a T, nothing quite hits the sweet spot like a well aged spicy Partagas torpedo after a well prepared steak and grilled vegetables dinner right? Right! I had about 15 different box codes and dates to choose from for this experiment and considered them all, but I have been rather disappointed with post 2019 production, which I had sampled previously for my own purchasing considerations. They seem muted and one dimensional, the pre 2016 boxes I have are wonderful but I am concerned they might have already been too aged to make the differences less noticeable for our considerations, so I chose two different box code from 2017 and 2018. I smoked the 2017 earlier in the week, and the 2018 today after a grilled salmon with butter garlic sauce and a side of home made bread, not a big seafood person usually but my wife has been insisting we eat more from the sea, the Partagas was a welcome sight afterwards. From the very first puff, I knew this vintage won amongst its peers and would be the ideal candidate, an absolute explosion of flavor once lit, this might be the best P2 box I have had yet not counting the ones that come in tubes! I had not anticipated that as the wrappers where very ugly, blotchy dark and veiny, but flavor is magnanimous! I am very excited to see how these age. I anticipate both will be wonderful, with the vacuum sealed one requiring additional aging to reach their peak and the standard aged ones being very close to perfection. I shouldn’t post overly detailed tasting notes as the perception of flavors is very personal, but I can’t help but point out the very delicious cherry note I got in the middle third in addition to the Partagas flavor profile, the spicy sweet package was very enjoyable and the cigar really kept my interest going. Yes there is allot to say for the delicate experiences an aged Fundadores or a Montecristo Especial can offer, but at the time of writing I really can’t think of another cigar I would rather have smoked, that includes limited and regional releases. Just phenomenal potential! I am pleased to offer the participants this cigar when the five year aging period has concluded, making these nine years old then, approaching peak I would venture to guess in standard packaging at least. The last third had some significant ammonia and harshness so again, optimal for this study as there should be noticeable difference between the different aging methods. note: I thought about it and will also do a separate study on these, removing cigars from tubes and replacing them with samples from this box. so 9 vacuum sealed, 10 standard packaging, and 5 in tubes. This will be the only cigar we test in three aging formats.
  7. First cigar I sampled to gauge its potential for the experiment was one that was recommended by the community, and one I had not intended in including originally. My tastes have changed over the past 23 years, and although I once cherished the Hoyo Epicure No.2, I thought of it as forgettable for a long long time. Perhaps as I had become accustomed to heavier bodied cigars mostly, and when I wanted a lighter morning companion I would always go straight to the Quai D’Orsay 50 or 54 which I have had tremendous luck with, as opposed to all Elicure No.2’s from 2008 to 2016. This sample from 2018 turned out to be a very pleasant surprise on the other hand, extremely full of flavor, smooth already, and with that distinct honey-cinnamon-toasted tobacco flavor that I remember from the pre-2000 days, this will be a great cigar to include in the study. the cigar is already fairly smooth but will benefit from additional aging, I would venture to guess that it could reach its prime in another 5-8 years, and it will be very interesting to see how the different aging methods impact the process. The draw was perfection, not too tight not too loose. Cigars are uniform and of identical weight as per five tested samples, attractivewrappers are fairly dark and fairly oily, some blotches here and there.
  8. Please do not respond to this thread until I am done, I will be logging the notes I have on the cigars that will be used in the experiment we discussed in the main thread. I have been smoking cigars for the past week with the mindset of testing if they are optimal for this test, and so far have excluded a few, such as recent production H. Upmann Conn. B and recent production Partagas Series E no.2’s. I will continue this for the next month. Edit: as I have received many objections to using two boxes of the same vitola even with identical box codes and dates, I will be splitting the same box into two batches, one vacuumed and one in original condition. All boxes will have been samples and evaluated here before we officially start. Edit 2: As I progress through sampling and determining which cigars will be included in this study, I have also received a number of concerns and valid points which I am taking into account as I finalize the mechanisms that will be in place and the structure of the reviewing phase and the study as a whole. As a reminder, we want this to be a a valid scientific study, you can help me and the community by contributing to the five steps when you are able in the other open thread, that would be greatly appreciated indeed! As a recap of what makes for a scientifically valid study, Scientists use a dynamic, open-ended process to investigate questions. Please note we have simplified the questions and the types of storage methods we will be including in this study to be pragmatic and actually get as concrete data as possible. Here are the five steps used in a scientific study: 1. Define a Question to Investigate Our question is “ Does air tight aging (vacuum sealing) add value in the cigar aging process? If so what are the potential benefits, issues, and effects does this method bring to the table?” 2. Make Predictions Based on their research and observations, scientists will often come up with a hypothesis. A hypothesis is a possible answer to a question. It is based on: their own observations, existing theories, and information they gather from other sources. Scientists use their hypothesis to make a prediction, a testable statement that describes what they think the outcome of an investigation will be. We have started this process already, in the form of the many discussions we have had on this and many other forums, as well as statements we have heard from industry specialist and hobbyist alike. I have included my own predictions in each of the initial sampling notes I have included in this thread, and will state what the community is leaning towards here as an answer to our question: Does air tight aging (vacuum sealing) add value in the cigar aging process? If so what are the potential benefits, issues, and effects does this method bring to the table? Hypothesis: Air tight aging will potentially slow down the aging process, due mainly to the lack of oxygen hindering the chemical process organic material undergoes under normal conditions, as well as the lack of air exchange prohibiting the evaporation of various organic compounds in the tobacco ( often referred to as “oils” ) and gases ( most notably ammonia ) The potential benefits are: 1- Increase the lifespan of a particularly good vintage in terms of decades. 2- Enhance the aging process as is often claimed by supporters of this aging method, theoretically due to hindering the escape of compounds that flavor is attributed to. 3- By reducing the amount of oxygen to an extremely small amount, theories have been established that the tobacco beetle, and in some cases even mold, could not survive. I am very skeptical of this when it comes to beetles, and sure the claim regarding mold is untrue. We shall see. Potential issues: A. The extremely slow aging process could be too inconvenient for most smokers. B. Lack of ability to sample the cigars would make it impossible to gauge their progress. C. The introduction of an additional sick period weeks after removing the airtight seal is untested and difficult to ascertain. D. Inability to examine the cigars, if they where sealed in their box, would make it impossible to detect issues such as the aforementioned beetles or mold and resolve them in time. This section will be expanded based on additional input for the next month. 3. Gather Data The experiment we have decided on should provide enough data to answer the questions and prove/disprove the hypothesis. as it stands, we will be choosing 5 well know cigar specialists with a known presence in the community. They will be testing 10 pairs of cigars that have been aged in 2 different methods, I have chosen the cigars to ensure they are optimal for this experiment, with variations in flavor profile, vitola, age when sealed or stored ( the issue of ammonia when very fresh is also to be analyzed ) and finally tobacco types and body. A question are will be developed and handed out with the 10 pairs of cigars. the cigars are: 2017 LGC MdO no4 4. Analyze the Data The same reviewers will be part of a larger panel that reviews and determines the outcome of this study. 5. Draw Conclusions Based on the outcome of the previous step, the panel will come out with a set of general guidelines and recommendations as to when use the air tight aging method, as it applied to collectors of different cigar investment capacity/intention.
  9. You definitely started this train of thought, I wouldn’t have decided to do the experiment if you weren’t so keen about your aging preferences. I have to say though, I am still not convinced vacuum sealing is the optimal method for all, I believe a combination of different aging requirements are what most people will decide on based on the results. I am getting ahead of myself, but depending on the scoring and observations and what data we extract from this study, I am imagine that a serious cigar smoker with a medium to large inventory looking at getting the most out of his cigar hobby while not going overboard in terms of expense and space ( I am thinking of myself here ) will determine that 25% of his stock will be vacuum sealed for long term aging (15+), 50% will be aged in boxes for medium term aging ( 7-9 years ), and 25% will be in a different chamber than the aging room ( a cabinet or walk in humidor ) for consumption in the next few years. Again, it all depends on the results, but I am convinced that is what we will reach at.
  10. Good points, I will take those measurements and post the notes as I prepare the test samples this month and again once we are done. I am very keen on this unfolding in five years! Really interested A- to find the results and B- to see how the seasoned reviewers rate them!
  11. Yes that’s a very good point, the reviews will be double blind, I plan on having a smoker friend sort and number the cigars for me and the other participants, the mechanism in which we conduct the study as well as the exact timing and reporting will be determined when we are closer to that point, I hope they agree to do their own videos and posts, answer a question are I ( we) develop and before I compile our findings and impressions into a comprehensive report and make it available here. more importantly, what can we do now to ensure the study is as concrete as possible? I was thinking yesterday, even with identical boxes I will smoke a sample from each now to ensure they are close enough for the objectives, I started with the E2’s, smoked one yesterday and smoking one now. These are a go 👍 tomorrow and after tomorrow might be the Hoyo Secos, etc. should be done in a month
  12. Thank you for your thoughts. I certainly hope this is repeated and the results can be compared. I will do another thread to document the boxes before they are left for the duration, hopefully that encourages other to do their own side by side experimentation at the same time. Regarding weather we can call this a scientific study or not, it very well can be a scientific study, which is why I am putting in as much though as I am, asking experts and the community, and documenting the steps. To explain how this can be regarding as a die rigid study even with variable, how do researchers investigate psychological phenomena? They utilize a process known as the scientific method to study different aspects of how people think and behave ( which is far far far more diverse than cigar quality ) I have some limited experience with the method applied both in computer science ( artificial intelligence specifically) and in stock market behavior, two projects I participated in at a company I worked with. I will attach an infographic that explains the five steps of the process, much more detail is available online if your interested ( I am not an expert beyond understanding the fundamentals)
  13. I did not expect a debate to break out, seems this subject is more controversial than I thought. anyway, I am planning a very comprehensive study, at this point I am fairly certain no one has conducted a scientific study of this magnitude on cigar aging, and I am confident we will have an extremely valuable report at the end of this which we can use to determine what the general guidelines are. note: even though I am fairly confident in my abilities to test these cigars, as I have done multiple blind tasting sessions with friends and tend to surprise myself ( not being a sick, just letting you guys know I am not new to tasting Cubans of different varieties and age) but I will only be one out of ten testers who gauge the effectiveness of the cigars, having as many testers as possible ensures than not only determining the condition of the cigars is accurate, but that we are able to see how these methods fair with different people who have different preferences. Someone might prefer a smoother cigar regardless of some loss of flavor, while someone else might prefer as much punch as possible and not care at all about harshness, and others might be somewhere in between. the testers will mostly be well known individuals from the online cigar community, Eddy Sahakian, Ali AlLami, the mods from these forums, etc plus me and one relatively new smoker I choose from these or other forums. there are many factors at play, in order for this to be a scientific study the testing module needs to be defined upfront, the factors to be determined identified exactly before we start, and to minimize variables that could affect the results. I appreciate your thoughts now on how we can get the best possible data to draw our conclusions from. FYI, the testing sample has now expanded to 30 boxes, I figure if I can find enough cigars from the same exact batch ( date, factory, vitola) I might as well treat them as test subjects to maximize the accuracy of the data we get from this
  14. True Bovedas get drier out in open environment as they are releasing humidity in an environment that has less RH, but in an airtight environment I think the movedas would prioritize sucking in moisture until they get to their target RH and then start releasing once ambient falls below over time. I have no idea though, just speculating. in any case, I assume no need for bovedas ad the container is airtight, but I will thrown in a few different Bovedas set to 62 and 65 and no Bovedas in different boxes as a stand-alone study. I don’t want to skew the results by adding one more variable so these will be different cigars, I will leave a note to check the conditions of the packs and the cigars once opened, this test i might run for less than five years
  15. The thing about Boveda packs is that they suck moisture as well as add it. For years of aging without being able to check on the cigars, I am afraid I might open the boxes in time to find a beautifully humidified Boveda packs and dry cigars

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