Reactions to major blend changes in the past


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There's a wealth of information about the changes Habanos blends have been through over the years in threads like this one: 

 

 

In the modern era, there don't seem to be many, if any, changes of the magnitude mentioned in that thread. If Montecristo changed next year and became a light bodied floral cigar, I would certainly be very confused and very annoyed, but I'm curious: how did people react to these major shifts? Were people unhappy? Angry? Did it mostly go unnoticed by the masses? Were they seen as an improvement in flavors at the time? Or decried as the end of Cuban cigars? (I'm guessing yes on that last one) Did people quit Cubans because the flavors were so different?

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I am only one person and with no facts to back up my opinion I will stress this as only my opinion.  The cigars made using the original or authentic corojo were the absolute bomb.  I don't think cuban puros have ever tasted the same or been as good as their potential would have been when using the authentic/original corojo leaf.

That being said, I still obviously love all things cuban cigars.  When done correctly (with quality control in place) I still believe they are the finest cigars made on the planet.

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10 minutes ago, El Presidente said:

To be fair the thread detailed was about seed/plant changes as opposed to blend changes.

Fair point, I think my question is more specific to those seed/plant changes as they seemed much more drastic based on how old timers have described them.

10 minutes ago, Huckleberry said:

I am only one person and with no facts to back up my opinion I will stress this as only my opinion.  The cigars made using the original or authentic corojo were the absolute bomb.  I don't think cuban puros have ever tasted the same or been as good as their potential would have been when using the authentic/original corojo leaf.

That being said, I still obviously love all things cuban cigars.  When done correctly (with quality control in place) I still believe they are the finest cigars made on the planet.

This is exactly what I'm curious about: was that the prevailing attitude? Did most people think that the new flavors were worse, but still good enough and different enough from non-Cubans to just roll with the change begrudgingly?

Or did the change happen slowly enough that people weren't sure exactly what was happening until they had the clarity of hindsight? With the new seed harvests being slowly integrated into the blends due to the different aging times for seco/ligero/wrapper and longer resting/aging times in general, did it take time for people to catch on?

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It could have been possible that the dead period of 99-2001 production was severe and scary enough that most consumers were just thankful the cuban cigar appeared to be smokeable again.  I don't think that is a word but you get my drift.  I am not an expert.  In my mind I could tell the smoking experience was different, but not different enough to influence my overall enjoyment of the pursuit.

I am very interested to hear the thoughts of others and appreciate you bringing up the topic.  It is all quite amazing to me.  One thing I can confidently say is that I don't like Habano 2000 wrapper leaf.  Although I might even be wrong about that because I love the Diplo 2s, and the wrapper leaf used for that cigar seems to look and burn a lot like Habano 2000.

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One thing I can confidently say is that I don't like Habano 2000 wrapper leaf.  Although I might even be wrong about that because I love the Diplo 2s, and the wrapper leaf used for that cigar seems to look and burn a lot like Habano 2000.


Have they gotten away from Habano 2000? What type of tobacco do they use now? Still a newbie when it comes to tobacco strains and what they are currently using


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6 hours ago, Silverstix said:

Have they gotten away from Habano 2000?

I have heard mixed things about what strains from the post-Criollo/Corojo period are still in use. There are rumors that Havana 92 Havana 2000 is still in limited use but I don't know if there's been any actual confirmation of that. People thought Criollo 98 was out of the mix but as mentioned above Hector confirmed last year that he's planting it.

This was from a CA article in 2017: 

Borges says that the current seeds being planted are derived from a core of four seeds, what he called the industry's "battle horses": Havana '92 and Havana 2000 (the first hybrids developed for use in 1992 to fight blue mold outbreaks in Cuba), and then the subsequent hybrids, Criollo '98 and Corojo '99. According to one of Borges' retired colleagues, Eumelio Espino, some subsequent hybrids have been based on those four seed types. But Borges declines to identify the new hybrid approved for the 2016-17 season or the seed it had been derived from. Nor will he describe any specific seeds from previous years.

https://www.cigaraficionado.com/article/behind-the-cuban-mystique-19287

This seems to show that at least in 2017 Tabacuba was claiming not planting any of those four strains and only planting derivatives of those four like Corojo 2012. 

It was my understanding that Tabacuba had moved off of Havana 2000 in the early 2000s for some reason. This article may shed some light on to why. It may not have occurred to Cuba at the time that additional fermentation time was needed for it. I'm sure they know now and if so it would make sense as to why it's still in use:

The first Cuban varietal we tried was Havana 2000 back in 2001," recalls John Oliva Jr. "It had a bad reputation for not burning well in the '90s and people thought it was because the seed was no good. That wasn't true. Too many cigar makers were rushing it to market during the boom, putting the wrapper on cigars right out of the barn. It needs more fermentation time. We had great results."

https://www.cigaraficionado.com/article/tobacco-typology-18123

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Hector Prieto said that he was growing Havana 92 for filler and binder as late as 2013. That was in an interview with Andy Ryan and Punch Joe. Some of that filler tobacco could be in boxes as recent as 2017. So for anyone to definitively state that the tobacco has been "worse" the last 10 or 20 years is mistaken. As others have stated, some vegueros have moved more towards the newer hybrids in recent years, but not all. 

I know Hector was still growing Criollo 98 for wrapper in 2017 and 2019, but I dont know about the filler/binder. Im planning to spend a couple days with him at the farm in about 3 weeks, so I'll ask him what he grew this year and the last few. He tried Corojo 99, but it didnt grow as well on his farm as the Criollo 98, so he continued to grow the Criollo 98. He gets all his seeds from the Cuban Tobacco Institute (like every farmer), so they must be breeding it still. 

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22 hours ago, El Presidente said:

To be fair the thread detailed was about seed/plant changes as opposed to blend changes. 

Blend changes? I suspect BBF and Partagas 898 may have been tinkered with but I am probably wrong. They are better cigars (to my taste) today than in the 90's but that is probably because they are using better and properly fermented tobacco. 

Tabacuba as a rule tries to achieve the same profile for a cigar year in and year out. A blend change would be a very big thing. 

In terms of market acceptance, if the resultant cigar is better (be it blend or tobacco changes) and generally in line with the prior incarnation..... then most wouldn't give a hoot. 

When it became known that Tabacuba were freezing cigars in 2004/5, to many oldtimers it was the end of the world, the end of civilisation. Cigars would never age again. They were wrong. Then from 2006 as cigars were smoking well fresh, the oldtimers spruiked that it was the result of new blends and that cigars would never age again. They were wrong.

The Cuban Cigar hobby has a habit of coming back and smacking people who speak absolutes in the head :D

To my palate, aging cigars for a few years before smoking them is nice, but no longer mandatory like it was back then.  Whether that shortens their aging potential?  Thats just one of those things that I have heard people say, but just don't know whether it is true or not.  Cigar hobbyists tend to say a lot of things.

As long as I am on this thread, one of my absolute favorite cigars in the 90's was the RyJ Churchill.  I liked them up until around 2010, at which point I became very indifferent to the flavor.  Have you heard about any blend changes with that cigar?  Perhaps my palate just changed?

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11 minutes ago, NSXCIGAR said:

I know that the RyJ Churchill was always known as a very rich powerhouse cigar through the mid-90s. In the late 90s they oddly became plagued by tight draws. It was common knowledge in the cigar world at the time and this was well before the issue had become widespread in 2000-2001. Unfortunately I started smoking CCs in 1996 and never got a chance to smoke a good RyJ Churchills. Every one I bought--tubos or non--was plugged bad. Consequently I'm not personally familiar with what they were like pre-2000. 

Between 2000-2017 I would sample them and I was never impressed. I certainly never found them rich or strong. Since 18 I've only had a couple and they were good but still not my cup of tea. I wish they were richer but RyJ as a brand has not impressed me in that area for 20 years. The last great RyJ I had was an 03 Ex 4 from a 50 cab. 

The older ones were definitely the best.  One of the top 10 cigars I ever smoked was a 1985 tubo that Wayne sent me around 2003 or 2004.  But even the later ones, from the early 2000's still tasted like the same blend as the older ones.  The ones I smoke now taste completely different to me.

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 @SigmundChurchill how would you describe the difference? I haven't (nor do I ever expect) to smoke a pre-new millennium R&J Churchill but I'd be very curious as to how the old ones compare to the newer ones.

My experience has been with '17 to current and while I certainly would not describe them as powerhouses, they are wonderful smokes that gain in intensity in the last 1/2. One of my favorite Churchill's in fact, with the red fruit, toast, rosewater and spice notes galore!

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2 hours ago, Spaceman Spiff said:

 @SigmundChurchill how would you describe the difference? I haven't (nor do I ever expect) to smoke a pre-new millennium R&J Churchill but I'd be very curious as to how the old ones compare to the newer ones.

My experience has been with '17 to current and while I certainly would not describe them as powerhouses, they are wonderful smokes that gain in intensity in the last 1/2. One of my favorite Churchill's in fact, with the red fruit, toast, rosewater and spice notes galore!

I’ve never been good at describing tasting notes, like “essence of lilac with hints of vanilla and Boo Berry cereal.”
 

I basically like a medium bodied cigar, with lots of Cuban twang, and I like bright flavors rather than dark flavors, which all describes the older RyJ Churchills to me.  The newer ones have lost a lot of their twang, and taste a little darker or “less bright” in flavors than they used to.

I hope what I am saying is understandable to someone besides me.

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20 minutes ago, SigmundChurchill said:

I’ve never been good at describing tasting notes, like “essence of lilac with hints of vanilla and Boo Berry cereal.”
 

I basically like a medium bodied cigar, with lots of Cuban twang, and I like bright flavors rather than dark flavors, which all describes the older RyJ Churchills to me.  The newer ones have lost a lot of their twang, and taste a little darker or “less bright” in flavors than they used to.

I hope what I am saying is understandable to someone besides me.

Haha yes that does make sense, especially the Boo-Berry part 😁 thanks for taking the time to elaborate though, I do find it interesting how some profiles change over time.

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5 hours ago, SigmundChurchill said:

The older ones were definitely the best.  One of the top 10 cigars I ever smoked was a 1985 tubo that Wayne sent me around 2003 or 2004.  But even the later ones, from the early 2000's still tasted like the same blend as the older ones.  The ones I smoke now taste completely different to me.

I was hearing that the blend was still there around 2000 but I just could not get one that wasn't a tent peg. They weren't that easy to come by as my selection was limited to what the LCDH had on hand at the time. I just stopped buying them (I couldn't afford to keep buying expensive tent pegs) and before I knew it it was 02-03 and everything had already changed. 

But yes, old RyJ Churchills were always legendary cigars. They were always more highly regarded than the Sir Winston and many considered them to be the best Cuban cigar in production since the 1970s. 

Unfortunately it was one of the few cigars in the "classic" period I never really was able to experience properly. 

Obviously there are other cigars that are nothing like they used to be. One of those is the PSD4 and the Lusitanias. Both used to be extraordinarily powerful cigars with the D4 being described as a shorter version of the Lusi. I was able to have some D4 in 1996-97 that absolutely blew my head off with strength. They are obviously not like that anymore and neither is the Lusi, and now the blends for both are quite different from one another.

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