Cigar Review “flashback” – Vegas Robaina XV Aniversario 2012 RE Canada, Sep 2012 “LAR” box code; Final Score – 90

So, I’ve got another review here, but it’s sort of a “flashback” review, in that its from a review that I did a while back, before this blog, and then saved the text as I wanted to see how the future evolved for this cigar.

Also, as I’m mentally, physically, and emotionally preparing for this November’s Partagas Encuentros festivities (dude, it’s a marathon week!!!), I’ve decided to repost this here, as my thoughts harken to the last trip.  I’ve got a couple of boxes of these VR 2012 RE’s, all with a Dic 2012 “LAR” code, and I’ve been thinking of them lately, so I figured posting this older review here prior to doing a new one soon will help with a bit of the hindsight aspect.

So, review’s below, with some minor editing notes, and a few small non-relevant deletions.



It’s actually been ages since I did a detailed review.  Aside from the blind tasting competitions, I think the last full-on review I did was from late 2011 or so.  And this was definitely one worth reviewing.

I enjoyed this on a visit to Montreal.  I was actually on a bit of a road trip, on my way back out here to Nova Scotia for work.  I made a stop into Toronto for one day and evening, getting together for a mini-herf with Frank, Art, Tom, and Mike, and we shared some great stories, great smokes, nice drinks, and good times like always.  A nice little planning / brain-storming session for the [then] upcoming 2013 Toronto MegaHerf III.  But, then I travelled through to Montreal, and while waiting for my travel-wife Simon to get done his shift at work, I made a nice little 4-hour or so pop-in to the LCDH in Montreal.  Simon prepared the introductions previously, and I had the chance to sit and talk a bit with Antonio Marsillo, the new manager of LCDH Montreal (Marc has recently retired, earlier last year, I believe).

So anyways, I tried this cigar during that visit.  It’s one that I was very interested in, as both Simon and Art had the chance to attend the pre-release tasting panel for this cigar when we were down in Havana, Cuba during the Partagas Festival.  [NOTE – Art’s awesome review on these, with mucho pictures, can be found here on his The Dirty Ashes blog, and Simon’s review can be found here on Cigar Inspector, though I also believe he has it posted to the LCDH Montreal blog too.]  They had the chance to sit and taste and discuss this cigar with some H S.A. higher-ups, as well as with Carlos Robaina (of whom, we visited him in his shop earlier that week).  Simon was actually invited to attend through/on behalf of the LCDH Montreal, and Art, similarly for LCDH Toronto.

Therefore, their reviews from November for this cigar definitely made me interested in it (and I took some pretty extensive notes and pictures with my iPhone), and I went into this review I did with some good hopes.  Plus, theirs was damn near wet fresh when they did their H S.A. tasting, and it had been a few months of sitting time for this cigar, so I was definitely interested to see where it was going.

Anywho…on to the review.

Reviewed Cigar:  Vegas Robaina XV Aniversario, 2012 RE Canada

Box Date:  Sep 2012

Factory / Manufacture Code:  LAR

Packaging:  10-box, standard dress box, numbered boxes

Price per cigar:  Never talk money… (well, you can see the Canadian retail price in the picture)

Length:  6 1/2″, or 164 mm

Ring Gauge:  54

Format:  Sublime / double robusto

Weight:  Don’t you know it isn’t polite to ask a fella this??

Construction/Appearance & Pre-Light:  This cigar was just flat-out nice.  It’s a big sublimes format.  This cigar (and for that matter, all the various ones that were in that retail box) just seemed to have impeccable construction, with no obtrusive veins at all that were noticeable.  The wrapper was thin and lush, with a very super-fine-grain tooth, but still with some nice mild oils that left a luxurious feeling in the hand (especially when combined with the size and weight of the cigar).  After clipping the head, and finding an interesting draw, I was getting hints of light, faint chocolate, and mildly faint Merlot wine at cold tasting.

Now, when I say “an interesting draw”, it’s because to me, it almost seemed wind-tunnel like at cold. It seemed to almost free flow, but then…

Opening Impressions:  After a lighting up and initial draws, the draw was just perfect when lit.  It somehow firmed up to have just the right amount of resistance, exhibiting just the perfect smoke volume once lit.  The body/density of the smoke, though, was almost a thin, lightly peppery smoke at the opening.  There was even almost a slightly salt & peppery tinge – almost tannic, something that sticks to your lips, drying them out but still keeping you wanting more (which was fine with me, as I had lots of cappuccino on hand that day).

First Third:  Into the first third, the story began to change a bit.  The smoke started to develop a medium body, with medium-full flavours.  The smoke almost “thickened up”, which became very nice.  I was smoking a big, bold statement of a cigar, and the smoke was now letting you know it.  It was beginning to have…presence.  Some wet, fresh leather tones were coming into play.

Second Third:  Into the second third, the evolving continued.  Also, the ash had shown to have almost a wonderful pitted appearance of dark granite or porous limestone.  The ash was fairly firm, and holding on in inch-and-a-half chunks.  About halfway through the cigar, I switched over to sparkling water and some Havana Club 7 – the cappuccinos were making me wiry, and I needed both something stronger for my palate to pair up with this cigar, as well as the San Pellegrino to help continually clear my palate (which was on its third cigar out of this particular five-cigar day).

At the halfway mark, the salt and pepper tones were really backing off, but were being replaced by a light but very fragrant expresso hit.  Quite the voyage so far, this cigar was definitely keeping me more than interested.

Final Third:  Into the final third, I started to get metallic hits of harsh youthfulness.  Honestly, I was a bit surprised it took that long, for such a young and still fresh cigar (at this point, this cigar was still only 4 months old or so).  While smoking this last third, I noticed a very unique cut to the RE band (something that Simon later told me at supper he noticed down in Cuba too).  To the best of my knowledge or recollection, I haven’t seen this type of cut on these RE regional-designator bands before on any other RE release.

Also, in this third, I was starting to get a hard carbon tone added to the mix (almost like a pencil-lead sort of flavour).  Thankfully, this was only coming into the mix when I was getting close to nubbing it.

Finishing Comments / Overall Impression:  I finished the cigar after a one-hour and forty-five minute joyride.  It was definitely an enjoyable cigar (considering an unfortunate complete-miss on a failure of a RASS I tried to smoke earlier that day).  This VR RE was a great performer overall, considering the format and age.  I’m not a huge fan of something this big and bold (I like my piramides and robustos, but I find that stuff over 50 ring gauge can be just too annoying to smoke sometimes).  But, like the Montecristo Sublimes, this blend just seems to work soooooo damn well in this format.  A VR sublime is a definite score it seems with this result.  It will be really great to see how these age and perform over time.

I’d say these are definitely box worthy, for at least one box in anyone’s humidor.  If you like VR (or the larger formats especially), this would be a good bet I’d think.  It was extremely enjoyable for me, and I’m not even a huge overall fan of VR, and I don’t have a lot of VR product in my humidor.  These were an absolutely solid 90 right now (at only 4 months old, with some harsh tones too!), very smokable right up front, and I think these have a perfect potential for an easy 94-96 with only 3 or 4 years aging time.

Final Score:  90

Total Smoking Time:  1 hr and 45 minutes

Paired Beverage:  Cappuccinos, then sparkling water and some Havana Club 7

Last Meal:  N/A

Date & Time Smoked:  January 31st, 2013; lit up at 3:45 pm, done at 5:30 pm

Smoking Conditions:  N/A

Thanks for reading my review. Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers all.

It’s coming – the Partagas Encuentros…

So, after missing it last year unfortunately due to a work-related scheduling issue, I’m super psyched to be going back again for this year’s Partagas Encuentros festival (held the third week of every November).

And yay – the event schedule with pricing is now released finally.  Sounds great to have the opening dinner (the only main event that some choose to attend) at the “Plaza de Armas”, a gorgeous location for something like this…

To me, this event is the ying for the yang that is the main Habanos Festival (held every February), which has seemed to have gotten too commercial, too busy, too full of facades and not “real faces”, real hearts and minds there solely for the love of Cuban cigars and the friendships that are gained through and with them.  Granted, the Partagas Encuentros, and it’s related events can still be somewhat contrived and commercial – but cigars are a big business after all, and part of this event is catering to the gathering of business people that are part of bringing fine Habanos cigars to all of us.  The icing on the cake is this – this event simply helps to bring us all together; cigar distributors and merchants, collectors, smokers, cigar newcomers, torcedors, industry insiders, Cubans, Canadians, Brits and Das Germans, other various Euros, Yanks, and even unfortunately those crazy Aussies!!!

It’s a great time.  If you’ve even been on the fence about going to Cuba, and deciding on when to take the leap, these are the types of events to break the ice with.

I’m going yet again with a great core group of Canadian travel companions, and will no doubt be part of hijinks with the rest.

Let’s just hope I can get home in one piece afterwards!!!!

Cheers all.


The MRN 2nd Edition Encyclopaedia – full delay details and follow-up…

So, a follow-up about the delays of the 2nd Edition of the MRN Encyclopaedia…


As was announced here and on the Nino’s Flying Cigar blog, the Second Edition of Min Ron Nee’s (MRN) “An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Post-Revolution Havana Cigars” has been announced as delayed.  Nino has passed on to me about the details from MRN, with permission from the author to post it jointly both on here and on Nino’s blog.

The delay in publishing the book has apparently come about due to the technical complexities of the project and the well-meant obsession by MRN  to have the best possible quality in this new tome of his.  The stucture of the book is being changed, and the 2nd Edition will be therefore delayed about 1 to 2 years.

We’ve been assured that the photography is completed, the printing paper has been selected, etc.  But the presentation of the book (and this is a major contributing factor for the delay) will be changed slightly as the individual volumes, and thus the finished product, has proved to be too heavy and unwielding.

REGARDLESS OF THE DELAY, the following will occur:

  • All those who pre-paid will receive a full refund back from the author / printing consortium
  • All details and conditions of the original contract will remain in place (warranties, periodic updates, etc.)
  • The delay should be approximately 1 to 2 years
  • The pre-sale price and the numbers assigned or requested by confirmed buyers will be honoured for when the 2nd Edition is completely ready for release, should the pre-sale purchasers wish to continue

Me personally, I’m still somewhat disappointed to hear of such a lengthy delay, if only because I greedily want to see further pictures and write-ups on this mega-book.  However, given the explanation, and what’s involved with this project, I’m honestly not surprised.  Hell, it’s MRN’s personal love affair – if the delays mean he gets the perfection he wants out of it, then hat’s off to him.

Regardless of any delays, it still seems like one hell of an item, as the video attachment shows, which MRN and Nino forwarded to me.  Below, I’ve also attached the text from the official mail-out from the author, sent to all pre-sale purchasers.  To me, this tome still sounds like it’s on one hell of a firm footing (even with this), but it’s just some “perfectionist’s revisions”, so to speak, which is causing the delay.  Time, and (sometimes unfortunately) the court of public opinion will tell if these delays pan out to be a benefical thing for this project overall.

But, there’s the full info and word on the delays.  Sorry to be (along with Nino) the bearer of bad news to some.

Cheers all.

“Dear Buyers,

Because of unexpected technical difficulties, The Book cannot be released as scheduled.

There will be a blanket refund for all who have paid by credit card or by telegraphic transfer before the end of October 2014.

Please note that for Buyers who still wish to buy The Book when it is released, the contract between the Buyer and Interpro Business Corporation will remain valid, in such previous details as price and number assigned.”

Cigar Review – Montecristo No. 4, Oct 2009 “RAS” box code; Final Score – 88

So, here’s my (long-delayed) third cigar review to start off this blog.  Since I had initially decided to get this blog off the ground and running, I had decided which cigars I wanted to review first.  My initial three?  Romeo y Julieta Coronitas en CedrosRyJ Romeo No. 2 tubos, and this Montecristo No. 4.  Back to basics, so to speak.

The Coronitas en Cedros that I had was damn good.  The Romeo No. 2 tubos was not as good as I was hoping, as the first half was generally disappointing, but the end blew it out of the water, considering.   What about this Monte 4?

The Montecristo No. 4 is the most produced cigar coming out of Cuba, for many years running now.  It’s been reported that something in the nature of 20 to 25 million out of the 100 million or so Habanos rolled every year is a Montecristo No. 4.  The brand is one of the most well known among aficionados and newcomers alike, lent in part due to the strong history of the brand since it’s creation in 1935, and the tie in to Alexandre Dumas’ hero in “The Count of Monte Cristo”, a novel much loved by the torcedores of the Particulares Factory, where the brand was created.

However, due to the international popularity and sheer market dominance, the high production numbers are also unfortunately it’s downfall.  That’s why, although many newcomers and experienced cigar smokers alike enjoy the Montecristo flavour profile, there can be some dreaded Monte’s out there as well.  It’s so overproduced at multiple factories that there’s a plethora of box codes and production runs out there for them, and such a huge variance in quality and flavour profile.  And that’s truly unfortunate.  You really need to get a stellar box of these to enjoy the best of the flavour profile, which shouldn’t be the case with fine Habanos, but it is with Montecristo especially.

Is this a great one?  Let’s see how it rolls along…

On to the review:

Reviewed Cigar:  Montecristo No. 4

Box Date:  Oct 2009

Factory / Manufacture Code:  RAS

Packaging:  25-box, standard dress box

Price per cigar:  $6.76 USD (online vendor, 2010 purchase)

Length:  5 1/8″, or 129 mm

Ring Gauge:  42

Format:  Petit Corona

Weight:  8.5 grams / 0.3 oz

Construction/Appearance & Pre-Light:  This is from a box bought in 2010.  For the reasons I described above, Monte 4’s (and 2’s) are ones that I will not “buy blind” – if I can’t hand-select my own boxes at a brick & mortar store, at a LCDH, or down in Cuba directly, then I’ll only buy these from a vendor that I trust to make a proper quality grading and hand-pick of these as well.  This cigar, when you get a great one, is well worth any premium incurred for that.

This sample cigar is a great example of that.  Great aroma at cold, excellent dark and mildly oily wrapper, great bunching at the foot.  With a wonderful triple cap, these have a slight box press, and sport the glossy re-imagined bands (not the newer style with gold embossing, but nicer than the original matte dull brown bands).

After clipping, the draw on this one was perfect.  Tasting it at cold, I was getting decent amounts of cappuccino notes, and some faint leather aromas.

Opening Impressions:  After lighting up and initial draws, the draw was just perfect when lit as well.  The body/density of the smoke was about medium – not as dense and creamy as I like to have, but still tantalizing.

First Third:  Into the first third, it was okay.  Definite hits of that cream and coffee Montecristo essence.  But it wasn’t as bold or rich as I was kinda hoping for.  Kind of like if you order a rich coffee with cream and sugar, and instead get a mildly watered-down coffee with milk and sweetener.  For those of you who are cigar or coffee buffs, you’ll get this analogy – while you kind of get what you ordered, it seems like it’s been cheaped out on, like you’re getting a faint cousin to the item that you wished for.

The ash was holding meekly as well.  Only about 1/4 of an inch before it would easily fall off.

Second Third:  Into the second third, some improvement.  Seemed to get hints of fresh leather and mild cedar sweetness mixing in there.  Smoke slightly and slowly started to thicken up.  Then…

Final Third:  Into the last third, and it developed into what I wishes for from the start.  The richness was there in heaps.  Thick, creamy smoke, rich coffee with cream and sugar, some leathery complexity in there, and just a very well-rounded flavour profile.  Unfortunately and surprisingly, no unsweetened cocoa in there in the mix.

But overall, wish it was like this from the start, with the 2nd half making it all worthwhile, and “good to the last drop.”  Gladly ended up smoking it down to it’s screaming end.

Finishing Comments / Overall Impression:  Wish this one was better from the get-go.  I’ve smoked through most of this box, and most have been quite good.  Looking through past notes, none from this box have dropped below an 86 I believe, but I’ve had a few reaching 93 or so too.  This one sample was just missing that ooomph in the first half.  While there was nothing wrong with it, per say, in that first third and a bit, there was nothing overwhelming either.

All that said, the second half was wonderful.  Monte 4’s aren’t overly complex, like a La Gloria Cubana or a nicely aged Cohiba or Trinidad.  But they’re a well-rounded flavour profile that most seem to love (who doesn’t like a nice coffee with cream and sugar, and a hint of cocoa?!), and form one of those “basic stepping-stones” for those new to Cuban cigars, and hold a special place for most.

Final Score:  88

Total Smoking Time:  52 minutes

Paired Beverage:  Havana Club Anejo 7 Anos and Coke Zero

Last Meal:  BBQ’d angus steak dinner, 3-1/3 hrs previous

Date & Time Smoked:  September 24th, 2014; lit up at 9:50 pm, done at 10:42 pm

Smoking Conditions:  Clear and cool night, light breeze at 12 km/h, 10 degrees Celsius, 76% RH

Thanks for reading my review.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers all.

Habanos S.A. cigar freezing process – yes, it’s real…

So, as it comes up in conversation oh so frequently, I figured I’d put up a little tidbit post here about Habanos S.A.’s freezing process for their Cuban cigars.

Now, back in 2006 or 2007, James Suckling wrote a great article for Cigar Aficionado some have always referred to when discussing freezing cigars.  I myself, even aside from that article and his good explanation and points (such a shame that CA and JS parted ways), I myself have always continued to go through a freezing process myself (inspection, bag in freezer bag [to prevent cross-contamination from food aromas], 3 days fridge, 3 days deep freezer, 3 days fridge, coolerdor for 3 days, then freezer-ziplock bag off, and into aging stock to be observed and checked monthly for 6 months before vaccuum-packing for the long-haul sleep).  I’ve always looked at it this way – there’s so many things that H S.A. has and can screw up with our beloved Habanos cigars, I don’t trust the freezing 100%.  It’s simply insurance to me, and I don’t mind the hassle.

But for those who are annoyed by the laborious nature of this process, they’ve always looked for confirmation that this claimed freezing actually occurred.

Well, back in 2008 on a trip with my wife, while on a tour at the La Corona factory in Havana (over by the harbour-warehouse market, and a nice little area), I was told that a couple of chiller rooms were just “acclimatization rooms” (I’ve been recently corrected [we’re all constantly learning in this hobby!] that these are “escaparates” rooms, and that they only serve to rest the cigars for 60 days or 3 months), and not the main freezer rooms.  I had remembered the CA article that Suckling had done in the year or two before, and asked about the freezing process.  Maybe I got a really trusting guy, or he thought my wife was cute, but he did seem to spill the beans a lot (I later found out that he was one of the quality control managers at the time, there at La Corona – can’t remember his name for the life of me – and he did our tour that day special).  He told me that those rooms were just to slightly prep the cigars for the freezing process (which really didn’t make sense to me then or now), to be done at a separate location in the suburbs of Havana.

He explained to me about the freezer set up, and yes, being rolled in as pallets of mastercases (not plastic wrapped either, which I thought was peculiar at first), and how they went in for 4 to 5 days of a freezing process.  He didn’t elaborate too much on temperatures or of it being a flash-freezing process (which, 4 to 5 days told me it isn’t).  However, I didn’t get to see it myself in person so I simply was not a 100% believer.

I was however shown pictures by a good friend, Nino Muñoz, a couple of years later, which I’m happy to have been permitted and asked to share here, to better inform others who are wondering…

Habanos S.A. has its main export warehouse (where all the mastercases are transported from all the factories to be exported world-wide) in a spot in the suburb of Guanabacoa, across from the harbour and old Havana.  It is a fairly large warehouse facility, unmarked, unnamed, and unidentified.

At this warehouse, all the mastercases are put on pallets and frozen for approximately 4 to 5 days before being shipped from there to the regional/national importers.  The warehouse has 4 large cavern-like rooms for industrial freezing.

On pictures # 3 and # 4 you can see the freezer rooms and the mastercases waiting to be hauled in to be frozen.  In picture # 5 I believe you can see the inside of an empty freezer.

As to the technical facts (temperature, flash-freezing rate, etc.), that isn’t available off-hand, but I was told that it was sufficient to kill any beetle/larva infestation.

The date of these pictures were from a visit in 2008.  These photos and information were graciously supplied to me recently by Nino Muñoz, a good friend not connected to the cigar business itself, for posting here and on his Flying Cigar blog jointly.  Hope some find this informative and helpful.

Cheers all.

The Min Ron Nee 2nd edition Encyclopaedia has been delayed…

Yes, I know I’ve posted some other junk, and I still have yet to post my Montecristo No. 4 review, along with a few other recents.  I’ve really only had time to post a few items I had been working on for a bit, as I’m tied up relatively with some work training, and also have just had a bit of a bloody injury with it.  Definitely hope to get my time more cleared out shortly enough, and the blog reviews really rolling along shortly…

In the meantime, I’ve got some unfortunate news to pass along from the Doctor.  For those of us into cigars, polarized one way or not, we all know of Min Ron Nee’s (MRN) An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Post-Revolution Havana Cigars“.  Well, for the better part of a year and a half or so, we’ve been aware of the 2nd Edition of this book coming.  The original was published just over a decade ago, and the new tome, as shown with some various online previews that are out there, is definitely a massive effort.

Well, for whatever reason, I’ve been passed along some news to share about a delay…

“The Frankfurt Book Fair presentation of the second edition MRN book has been cancelled.

The book release will be delayed for a year or two due to the complexity of the project.

There will be a slightly different presentation in the final release of the  book.”

I for one am definitely disappointed to hear of such a lengthy delay.  However, I myself was really only going to be “living vicariously” through others with this 2nd Edition, as it’s not on my buy-list due to a myriad of factors.  And, I’m partially not surprised about a bit of a delay, being that the nature of the book just seems like such a passionate and massive undertaking, from what we’ve had relayed to us about the book and the author.

But, there’s a little tidbit of news for you, from my fledging pulpit here.

Cheers all.


So…I hate when people try to make me lose my lunch…

It sometimes makes for interesting times. “Dirty MP”. “Let’s have some fun with him”.

Hey, just because I have the scarlet hat and a gun or eight, doesn’t mean that I’m any more of a man who would keep a barf bag beside him when a tactical orientation flight turns into one big prank. LOL.

Very fun, but definitely, like roller coasters, makes me feel that feeling of “my gawd, I’m not in control and I HATE it” sensation.

Sorry for some of the pictures though – nightime lighting, and certain points, especially with open rear ramps, I was NOT gonna risk holding my iPhone in my hands, lest it become expensive and dangerous airborne debris for some poor bastard sitting in his backyard and watching the stars when a couple of jackasses tactically zoom along the treetops.

From a couple of nights ago…

Gurus versus Guides…

So, a topic of discussion came up on the Friends of Habanos forum (FOH) a bit ago, and it’s something that’s recurringly come up over the years.  “Cigar gurus”, and the passion that they can sometimes evoke from people.

Some swear by their “gurus”.  And I’m talking cigars here, so we’re looking at Min Ron Nee, James Suckling, Simon Chase, Hamlet Jaime Paredes, and various other personalities, be it in books, video form, photo blogs, etc.  Obviously, that’s not an all-inclusive list, and I don’t wish to debate those names – they’re just some of the most well-known names in the cigar world recently, just for the purpose of discussion.

Unfortunately, just as much as some follow every word of these gents for example, there are others out there who just as voraciously talk down about them.  Granted, most understand that once you publish a book, create a video, etc., you’re putting yourself out there for public discussion as much as consumption, and constructive criticism is a part of that game.  But, in this day and age of the internet, and the anonymity that it affords, some take the constructive aspect out of that, and are just…pricks, for lack of a more refined word.

They’re passionate debates.  Some in the discussions have close friendships with many of these “gurus”, and thus are defensive on their friends’ behalves.  Others have a bit of cigar jealously going on perhaps, some hateful envy, or just simply don’t know how other to state their opposition of said gurus’ perspective without putting spiteful and rudely-speculative comments into the conversations.

Some people on forums, no matter the subject matter, just DON’T KNOW how to have a courteous and respectful conversation with anyone, and are just socially retarded.

Especially in this day and age of blogs (lol, welcome, by the way!) and YouTube, if an everyday joe wants to start an online blog or show, they easily can.  It doesn’t cost much more than your time and effort.  I’m of the viewpoint of many others here – if it adds more to our hobby, if it informs just one more new cigar smoker, if it makes the journey better or easier for anyone, if it adds something to the cigar world, then GREAT.  Have at it.  Please have broad shoulders though – depending on how polarizing you are, if you get a thousand positive comments, expect a thousand negative ones too.  Please realize there are always going to be detractors, differing views, “haters”, contrarians on the other side of the conversation.  And please understand that if you’re going to profess the statements of a previous “guru” as your own, if you’re not edumacated enough on the subject matter itself, if you just repeat something you heard somewhere else (correct or not) and you have no personal experience or proper knowledge to add to the conversation, then you’re gonna get called out on it.  If you “set a stage” so to speak, and surround yourself with “big pimpin’” items and a set behind you, people are gonna see right through that and you’re going to polarize them.

And fans of these experts / gurus are sometimes on the wrong rationale in the conversation, too.  Unless you know the person personally, and/or have some other inside info to share, just since an expert has an online show and “works in a cigar store” doesn’t mean that his or her opinion gets to trumps anyone’s.  I’ve met people who worked in cigar stores who knew less about the subject matter than I or some others have forgot.  People who worked in, for example, private (non-LCDH) cigar stores for 10+ years and tried to tell a 3-month-into-the-hobby-buddy-of-mine, who had more than an ounce of common sense, that the warranty seals on Cuban boxes were “optional accessories” when he saw a stack of what appeared to be counterfeit Cohiba Espy’s.  I’ve seen other people simply acting as shills for various cigar manufacturers in their YouTube videos, and spouting the “company line” rather than giving an actual review or, gawd forbid, a real opinion.

So… “has a show and works in a cigar store” shouldn’t trump automatically, that’s for damn sure.  There are many passionate and EXTREMELY knowledgeable people in the hobby (and, yes, on many forums) who couldn’t give a DAMN to do a blog, YouTube videos, articles for a cigar magazine, etc.

I have a huge issue with people who are self-professed “experts”, or who thrive on the “guru” title and status that others may have afforded them.  I grew up being taught to be affable and confident, to take charge when needed, but to be courteous and humble, in everything I do.  So when I see flagrant egos come into the picture, I’ve always had an issue with that, like with someone calling themselves a Doctor on a subject when they have no degree, no background, no real specialty training, nothing more exacting than perhaps another average joe.  Someone who demands respect and admiration by a title, rather than earning it modestly.

The various online cigar forums, for example, have TONS of discussions of long-time-member and long-time-cigar-smoker recommendations and opinions (’cause they are mostly just that after all, opinions – full “facts” are hard to come by with this hobby, due to variable palates and personal preferences) on aging cigars, flavour profiles, tastes, etc., etc.  Some of these people couldn’t care less to do videos or a blog either – doesn’t mean their opinions are moot.

I believe it comes down to this.  We are EACH our OWN cigar guru.  There’s a number of other people who have said it before me, and I fully agree with their thoughts – in this hobby, due to its nature of being so heavily reliant on individual palates and personal perception, there are no full guru or expert opinions.  We are our own experts on our own palate.  Yes, there are many things where some of us can give a heavily qualified opinion on – aging cigars, coolerdor / humidor set-up, bands / packaging / counterfeits, general flavour profiles, etc., etc.  And it’s up to any individual person to take all those opinions with a grain of salt, and extrapolate what will best work for him/her based on his/her individual setups, palate, storage, etc., etc.

But no one can be a guru to all.  We’re all simply GUIDES for each other, until each person has hit their own threshold of being experienced enough to be their own “guru.”

Enjoy the voyage.

Cheers all.