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@Marty f I hear both of you and in some way, I agree with you two a lot. I wish I had a good solution to reviewing Cuban cigars, here's my best shot at explaining why we do things the way we do, always open for a better solution.
1. If we don't review any new Cubans, no Cubans make our Top 25.
2. There are a few Cubans—albeit mainly Colleción Habanos, ELs, Gran Reservas and Reservas—that have smoked quite well fresh. I definitely wouldn't say all ERs are just going to have to wait two years because they say ERs.
3. Plenty of people smoke these fresh, just like plenty of people smoke FFOX fresh. Sure, I'll grant you that most people smoking ERs in the U.S. are probably taking a different approach, but people that are buying the cigars in foreign shops are not just buying them with the intent on waiting.
4. While there have been a rash of newer Cubans reviewed lately, if you look at the rest of the year, it was mostly older Cubans with a fair bit of rest.
Much like when Andre Farkas said Viajes oftentimes need six months, I do firmly believe that once a manufacturer releases a cigar, it can be reviewed. There are people that will not wait and as Brooks once pointed in out in a very similar argument with me a few years ago—in many cases, people aren't going to have the opportunity to wait a few weeks to make a buying decision (not saying that is happening here) before the cigar is sold out.
Finally, we try to treat things fairly. Our goal is not to smoke these cigars when we think they are going to be at their peak, but rather, smoke them when the review can be most relevant. Habanos has shown over the years that it can make a great cigar, even a great cigar off the truck, it's not our job to sit around and wait for that to happen, and if it doesn't, that's why we do redux reviews.
Thanks for reading/commenting guys. Once again, open to suggestions. (Not putting cigars in the microwave prior to review though.)
5 days, 7 hours ago on Por Larrañaga Sobresalientes (ER Great Britain 2014)
@Charlie86 The first comment won once. IIRC.
1 week, 2 days ago on Viva Republica / C4W V-Day Limited Edition Charitable Release
@Barry2Guys That's what the slash is for. Dash would have meant they were one.
3 weeks, 5 days ago on Oliva & Padilla Ending Distribution Relationship
@DavidHolmes1 Lines are so blurry. How do you separate CI, Corona, Atlantic, Holt's, Smoke Inn, Famous, JR, Serious. All have physical stores, some are family businesses, some are owned by big corporations—all are trying to do the same thing.
The smaller manufacturers are going to take orders from who they get them from and who they think will best represent the product. I find it interesting that the companies that continue to produce "brick and mortar only" products are consistently Altadis/General.
1 month ago on Warped Slates Don Reynaldo for December (Update)
@DavidHolmes1 Supposed to be out this month as of the summer. Dion told me on numerous occasions that he was going to try to coordinate the release with the magazine.
1 month, 1 week ago on Illusione Pactum Becomes Latest Smoke Inn Microblend Series
@MilanKalinovic Thanks. Fixed.
1 month, 1 week ago on Bolívar Super Coronas (EL 2014)
@TNZ Good catch. GCC price sheet says 14.
1 month, 2 weeks ago on CAO Celebrating Holidays With Nasty Nutcracker & Rabid Reindeer
Winner announced. Congrats Jay.
1 month, 3 weeks ago on Tatuaje The Jekyll
Winner announced. Congrats Ian.
1 month, 3 weeks ago on Camacho Double Shock Toro
@Skip Martin Probably had nothing to do with your iPhone 6, we had a setting screwed up. Should work now.
1 month, 3 weeks ago on Prairie Bomb!
@Charlie86 No, no. Cigar reviews have been a bit slow this week because I've been out of town. Should have our normal weekday review later this evening.
1 month, 3 weeks ago on Announcing Tenemu
@SydneyUyLiquete They did a humidor, not a cigar to my knowledge.
1 month, 3 weeks ago on Davidoff Limited Edition 2014 Year of the Horse
Winner announced. Thanks all.
1 month, 3 weeks ago on Crémo Clutch City Horsepower Toro (Prerelease)
@BMP_Emmett You are totally correct. Originally had 2012 for both mentions, including the final notes one, realized I needed to change one, changed both I guess. Thanks for pointing that out.
1 month, 4 weeks ago on A. Flores 1975 Serie Privada 46
@Charlie86 Can you actually not see the score?
2 months ago on La Aroma de Cuba Noblesse
@Charlie86 Will definitely take that into account in the future. It was a very complex cigar, lost a few points for some minor burn issues as was mentioned above. The vegetal flavor was something much different than how I normally discuss "vegetal."
2 months, 1 week ago on Tennessee Waltz
2 months, 1 week ago on Warped Shipping Flor Del Valle & La Colmena
@Capttrips Don't think that's the case at all. The amount of support they are giving Camacho would suggest a lot more than a necessary evil. (Also, look what happened with Cusano, Davidoff won't support things just because they paid for it.)
I think the current Camacho line-up is far better than what we saw circa 2011.
2 months, 2 weeks ago on Camacho Liberty 2014
2 months, 4 weeks ago on Cuba Rica Ships Barabbas & Spirit of Art
@fritolaye @fritolayes Had to edit your post.
3 months ago on Caldwell Cigar Co. to Open The Honeycomb Hideout
@Capttrips Ahh. How about a little throw back Tuesday.
3 months ago on Understanding General, Toraño & The Future
@dancrago You are correct.
3 months, 1 week ago on La Flor Dominicana Capitulo II (Prerelease)
@Patrick Lagreid @RodrigoDeJerez Yes. The process of applying gold dust to bands/boxes that is commonly used is not legal in the U.S. There are only a handful of people that create bands for the cigar industry. I would venture to guess that most of the cigars you see on this site are made by one of three companies.
Vrijdag is the one that handles a lot of the gold work, like Fuente Fuente OpusX.
3 months, 2 weeks ago on Viaje Satori Arya
@Havana Connections Jason Thanks for chiming in here. I know there are some retailers that don't use USPS out of practice, but I'm a bit confused why it would't work.
Personally, the $11 for multiple packs is fine, but it's for those that order a single pack, where it ends up adding ~$3.65 per cigar.
3 months, 2 weeks ago on Second Batch of Tatuaje CiGWAR Heading to Havana Connections, 2015 Edition Planned
@DJSmith @Gooey They are free to run their business how they want, but the fact these could be packed in flat rate boxes with newspaper for half the price is disappointing.
@maxx Yes. They got the August box, the story has ben updated.
3 months, 2 weeks ago on Ninth Box of Quesada España Ninfas Heads to Atlantic Cigar Co.
@Komodota I've got some. It will get reviewed at some point, just trying to get through everything else on the schedule.
3 months, 3 weeks ago on CLE Adds Signature Series PLdM
@Gooey Didn't take it as such. One of the reasons we stopped posting press releases verbatim was because of how much info is normally missing. Press releases as a medium in the cigar world have changed a lot given that 90 percent of the people who are sent them will just copy and paste. It's not a press release, so much as it's a post.
As always, I wish we had more info, doubt it's coming though.
3 months, 3 weeks ago on Barrister Cigars to Get First “Tienda Exclusiva by Willy Herrera” (Update)
@Gooey @Charlie Minato Added as many details as we could get.
Congrats to the winner @fritolaye
3 months, 3 weeks ago on JOYA RED Robusto (Prerelease)
@fritolaye And you (@fritolaye) are the belated winner. Contest rules are here: http://halfwheel.com/contest-rules
Congrats to the winner @Nescastlevania.
3 months, 3 weeks ago on MBombay Mōra Toro (Prerelease)
@Nescastlevania And you (@Nescastlevania) are the winner. Follow the instructions here. http://halfwheel.com/contest-rules
3 months, 3 weeks ago on Illusione’s Fume D’Amour Begins Shipping
@Patrick Lagreid @JessicaBlastDanon Yes. Also there's some fear that retailers might adjust their minimum orders. Most retailers won't keep just a single box in inventory—unless it's a 100-count tray—regardless of how many cigars are in it in the event that someone wants to buy a box. So many just blindly order two boxes of each size relatively regardless of box counts.
3 months, 3 weeks ago on Tatuaje Begins Shipping 10-Count Boxes of El Triunfador & La Riqueza
@Gooey That, like a good chunk of this info, was not made available to us in the press release.
Atlantic Cigar has singles left. http://www.atlanticcigar.com/cigars/Ortega-Serie-D-Black.asp?aff=5149
3 months, 4 weeks ago on Ortega Finally Ships Serie D Black
Congrats to our winner @jakrell.
3 months, 4 weeks ago on 601 La Bomba Warhead II
@jakrell And you won. Congrats. Details on how to claim your prize are here: http://halfwheel.com/contest-rules
@atllogix I would stress, in isolation this is a 90-point cigar I think will get ready with time. Compared to the other sizes I smoked, this seems like it will benefit the most from rest, although I'd probably say it was my second favorite of the bunch so far. A lot more depth here than in the other sizes/Maduro line.
4 months ago on Sabor de Estelí Corona
@Scroni I missed them at IPCPR. Hopefully can buy some next month.
4 months ago on Meerapfels Craft La Estancia
@JessicaBlastDanon General would be a "winner" (if there is such a thing) if the FDA went after cigars with the toughest regulations. Smaller companies would go out of business while General, Altadis and Davidoff—all of which have money—could acquire things for pennies on the dollar while seeing competition reduced.
4 months ago on Parent of General Cigar Co. Going Public, Swedish Match Expected to Divest
@Scooch 20ish minutes north of the halfwheel office.
4 months, 1 week ago on Frisco, Texas Makes Tobacco Possession in Parks Illegal
@MBeane Mel reads the site, perhaps he will respond.
4 months, 1 week ago on MBombay Mōra Near Release
@JamesHale @Holman A few things.
1. Thanks for your comment. It's helpful for us to know when we make mistakes and we appreciate each time someone points it out.
2. I think we are pretty open to criticism. If we were not, comments like yours would likely be taken down. Our policy from day one has been to leave up critical comments, so long as they do not turn religious/sexist/etc. Everything from constructive criticism to trolling has been allowed without pre-approval and almost all of it remains up on the site.
I am open to other ideas as to how we could better invite criticism, but I truly believe this is the best format for it, if nothing else—it's the foundation.
3. The mistake in question was actually on me, the person editing Brooks' text. There was a mistake in the first half of the sentence that needed to be corrected. I ended up rewriting the entire sentence because it was easier given the mistake and I missed my typo on my final proof. So that's on me as an editor.
We are going to make mistakes, we understand that. I'd like to think that we should be judged not solely on the mistakes, but also on whether we are getting better on this front. Unfortunately, journalism is not baseball, batting 300 is not an option. Perfection, an unreachable goal, is the standard and mistakes our obviously public.
If you compare where we were to a year ago, we are doing better, but improvement is only a part of the solution.
For example, when we started to cover the IPCPR show live in 2013, we noticed that there was a mess of typos. The staff is tired, there's lots of content and everyone is rushed—mistakes happen and more importantly, don't get caught. This year, we tried to establish a policy that involved someone else reading posts before they were to be scheduled. Turns out when your editor is rushed and exhausted, the same mistakes happen. At our staff meeting last week we agreed to hire an off-site text editor for next year's show. Will we be typo-free in 2015? Probably not. Will we have a better system in place to identify and correct our errors? Absolutely.
No matter how big your staff is (http://mashable.com/2014/05/29/new-york-times-typo-front-page/) or how detail-oriented you might be (see the first sentence of the second paragraph of your second comment)—we are all going to make mistakes.
If you think I don't remember your comments about the overuse of the word "shocking," you are mistaken. (I've been conscience of it since and I think my writing reflects some of that.) Nine hours ago, an email went out to the staff regarding overuse of another word, it's one of many emails, texts and conversations we have about our writing on a weekly basis.
Even if someone gave me the option to be 99.9 percent typo-free for a year, I would not take it. I could not take it. It would mean in this particular review, we still would have made a typo. In the course of the year, 99.9 percent correct likely translates to around 1,000 typos given our publishing schedule. It's tough, but it's also our job.
My hope is we get closer to 100 percent every day. Whether or not you or @Holman believe it, comments like your's definitely help us get closer, so for that, I truly do thank you.
4 months, 2 weeks ago on Joel Sherman 75th Celebration
@Hayblet I would say 90% sit for at least a week. It all depends on how many cigars we have at the moment to review, sometimes things need to ship out quicker than others.
Thanks for the kind words.
4 months, 2 weeks ago on 90 Miles R.A. Nicaragua Lancero (Prerelease)
The point about reduxes is an interesting one. What’s intriguing to me is that the reduxes end up averaging out to about the same score as the original review. There are some abnormalities, but in general, the scores are usually within three or four points of the original review and when you add it all up and run the numbers, the cumulative score for reduxes is pretty close to the cumulative score for the original reviews.
In general, we do not seem to find a higher amount of cigars seeming young/fresh in reduxes compared to cigars that were purchased from shelves. I think if we were seeing a trend, or an abnormality, we would definitely rethink our policy. Our biggest concern with prereleases is actually not the age or readiness of them, but rather, the risk the final blend changes before it hits the market. It’s happened before (although I’d argue that every blend changes as time goes on) and that creates an odd situation.
One of the reasons we do prerelease reviews is to help the consumers of this site try and make educated guesses about what cigars they would like to try. Many of the cigars we review, prerelease limited editions, are likely going to be sold out or much more challenging to find two or three weeks after the cigar has hit shelves, so a review would be somewhat less helpful as far as educating purchasing decisions.
Before this site was started, Brooks Whittington would provide reviews without scores of cigars that he considered “preproduction.” These were blends that had not yet been finalized, and as such were subject to change. One of the big problems there was that oftentimes he would describe the cigar as being excellent (see this review http://halfwheel.com/drew-estate-dirty-rat-preproduction) and indicate that it would score very well, but he would refrain from scoring it. This baffled me as a reader of his site and definitely drew some ire from manufacturers that would have loved to have gotten the accolades in numerical form.
My best response to your comment is disclosure. We’ve made it a big part of this site and we like to think that we do about as much disclosure as anyone. Part of that includes disclosing if the samples used were prerelease, and also noting if it was given to us at the show. I wouldn’t say the disclosure is there for a full on “take this review with a grain of salt,” but rather an indication of what we were reviewing. It was a prerelease, a cigar not taken from the shelf of a retailer, a cigar that a consumer might not have had the opportunity to purchase. I’d like to think that more often than not those prerelease samples are identical, but there are times where that’s not going to be the case and honestly, there’s little we can do to identify that with 100 percent accuracy. (If you need an example, look at this review—two samples smoked similar, a third was an outlier.)
There are cigars that are sent to us for private feedback. They are not publicly scored (or even talked about) and we would never cross that line of reviewing something that someone gave to us with explicit instructions not to review. There have been a few cases where poor shipping conditions have raised concerns from the staff and we’ve chosen not to review those samples.
I would love to be able to review all cigars at exactly the same points after they have left an aging room, unfortunately, that remains impossible at this time. It would certainly be more fair, but for reasons mentioned above, it’s not practical. For now, we’ve taken the policy of disclosure, discretion and the idea that if we spend time writing tasting notes and history, the cigar deserves a rating.
I hope that provides some insight into our thinking. Like I mentioned—we’ve had lengthy debates over most the points you brought up.
4 months, 3 weeks ago on 90 Miles R.A. Nicaragua Lancero (Prerelease)
@gulleyb First of all, thanks for your comment. You raise a lot of good points, many of which we’ve discussed time and time again at halfwheel and some even before halfwheel. As such, this response is quite lengthy, but hopefully it gives you an understanding of where we come down on this issue.
@Gooey I really enjoy the original EIROA label. Have not smoked the Maduro yet.
4 months, 3 weeks ago on Hechicera Maduro Robusto (Prerelease)