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About mwaller

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  1. Among non-cuban cigars, I've had far better luck with maduros. A lot of the lighter colored NC sticks taste like burning cardboard to me. Having a few maduros in the lineup may help attract new customers to the Habanos brand. Just a thought.
  2. I think a friendly competition would be a lot of fun! Due to differences in growing seasons, it would probably have to be split into multiple threads... I have a lot of Corojo 99 seeds from my last grow, so I could supply...
  3. Got your page, Corylax18! I've dabbled with home growing, and it is a lot of fun. Tobacco is a vigorous plant, and will grow almost anywhere. In a temperate climate like the Seattle area, you need to start the seeds indoors about 2 months before you intend to plant seedlings in your garden. The plants grow quite well indoors, provided they get enough light. I used fluorescent T8 shoplights placed a few inches above the leaves. Curing the leaf properly is indeed the hardest part. For most home growers, the volume of leaf is simply not enough to naturally ferment in a pile ("pilon") In lieu of pile fermentation, most home growers force age their leaf in a tobacco kiln. This is nothing more than an insulated box with a regulated temperature / humidity source. A crock pot filled with water is most common. To avoid denaturing the primary enzymes that are responsible for "fermentation," you want to keep the temperature around 120-125F. In my setup, the crock pot is connected to a temperature-controlled outlet which turns the crock pot on and off to maintain a constant temperature. This process goes for 4-6 weeks. Last year, I grew Corojo 99 that was originally sourced from the Robaina farm. The plant grew very well, and produced an attractive, elastic leaf that was easy to work with. The few examples I tried tasted.... awful! I am letting most of the processed leaf rest in vapor-proof bags in the hope that time will work its magic... In my opinion, there is no great substitute for pile fermentation. And, there's no substitute for time. Commercial growers let their fermented leaf rest well over a year, and there is a reason for it. Fresh leaf just doesn't taste good! This year, I'm growing Criollo 98 from the Prieto farm. Huge thanks to the anonymous tourist who procured the seed for me!
  4. I got an unmistakable "urinal cake" essence from SCDLH La Fuerza... I got tropical fruit notes - like pineapple - from RASS.
  5. It depends on how you define smaller format. I think the Petit Edmundo are excellent!
  6. In this video, Cuban tobacco farmers discuss using an infusion of fruit, rum, and other botanicals to add flavor to tobaccos during fermentation. In pipe blending, the use of flavoring additives is a common, accepted practice. But I had always assumed that cigars were generally rolled from "pure" tobacco. I wonder whether the use of toppings / flavorings is partly responsible for the distinctive flavor profiles we associate with certain marcas? Video
  7. I see that the trading forum does not allow 'for sale' ads. Is there another trustworthy place to sell off your extra boxes and sticks? Thanks!
  8. mwaller

    Turntables and Vinyl

    I prefer bookshelf-type speakers with a powered sub-woofer. I think this gives you have more flexibility with speaker placement, and it doesn't tax your amplifier with the job of producing the lowest tones. This is especially helpful with tube-based gear, which generally doesn't offer the same level bass punch that solid-state can. My personal speakers are rather esoteric pair of AudioMachina CRM II monitors paired with a REL subwoofer. I don't have any direct experience with either ELAC or Focal, but an audiophile friend of mine recently got a pair of the ELAC Debut monitors and was very impressed with them. He is particularly sensitive to 'bright' sounding speakers, so I gather the ELACs are fairly neutral in this regard. From what I've read, Focal tends to have a brighter sound. Good luck, and let us know if you have any more questions!
  9. mwaller

    Turntables and Vinyl

    Agreed. Rega makes great sounding tables. If you're inclined to tinker, there are also many aftermarket upgrades available. I have a P3-24 that has been heavily modified. It has always been an incredible sounding table. I can't imagine being disappointed with P3-24 or newer Planar 3. Unless you are trying to squeeze out the N'th degree of refinement from your sound system, go with an integrated amp. There is no practical reason to purchase a separate preamp and power amp unless you are in love with the sound of a particular component that is not offered in integrated form.
  10. mwaller

    Cigar Seeding

    I'm by no means an expert, but I've read that there are two primary enzymes that are responsible for the aging behavior. As long as moisture is present, both enzymes remain active. One enzyme is much more active, but can be denatured at relatively low temperatures (150F, but don't quote me!). When tobacco is flu-cured for cigarettes and pipe, this enzyme is is destroyed. That is why it remains yellow, rather than turning brown. You can naturally age tobacco by simply hanging it in an environment with adequate moisture, but this can take many years to achieve acceptable results. I don't know if the end result is different, but I suspect the differences are minor.
  11. mwaller

    Cigar Seeding

    Most of the 'fermentation' that occurs in a commercial "pilon" (leaf pile) is the result of natural enzymes breaking down various compounds in the leaf. This process generates heat, which in turn accelerates the enzymatic process. Most home growers do not have sufficient quantities of leaf to create an effective pilon, so they use a tobacco kiln to accelerate aging. The kiln is simply an insulated box that contains a controlled source of heat and humidity. Old refrigerators are popular for this purpose; Crock-Pots are frequently used to provide heat and humidity. Kilns typically operate at about 125F - this temperature suppresses mold growth while creating an ideal environment for enzymatic activity. 30 days in the kiln is typical, and is roughly equivalent to about 1 year of natural aging. A lot of trial and error is required to get this right; but it seems to work for most home growers. I discovered a minor disaster in my kiln yesterday. Evidently, I packed the kiln so full that air couldn't circulate properly, Leaves that were pressed against the side of the kiln became saturated with condensation and began to mold... :-( I trimmed the moldy parts off and reloaded a fewer number of leaves. I hope the rest turn out OK!
  12. mwaller

    Cigar Seeding

    There are a couple of strains "Corojo" floating around that probably closer to what was grown in days past. The feedback I've read is that they grow well and taste fine, but aren't "better" than newer hybrids, which are more productive. Corojo 99 was my best performer this year, and produced some truly massive tip leaves (aka Medio Tiempo). Remains to be seen how they taste.
  13. mwaller

    Cigar Seeding

    Try Davidoff Nicaragua sometime. I smoked the Toro back-to-back with a Partagas D 4, and found them to be in a similar vein.
  14. mwaller

    Cigar Seeding

    That is very hard to say. Most of Cuban-type seeds available to hobbyists are descendants from seeds that were donated to the US government around the time of the revolution. Until roughly the 1930's when "Corojo" was developed, Cuban tobacco was an open pollinated and likely a mix of different strains. "Criollo" is said to be the original Cuban tobacco that dates back to precolumbian times. In the 20th century, crop diseases and increasing demand motivated efforts to conscientiously develop hardier and more productive strains. Most of what is grown in Cuba today are hybrid strains that have been carefully developed through selective breeding to exhibit the desirable smoking characteristics of Criollo and Corojo while resisting various diseases. Genetically, they are quite far removed from the native strains that were cultivated 600 years ago. The Vuelta Abajo strain discussed in this thread is said to be an "heirloom" varietal from Cuba. The seed for this varietal was donated to the US in 1964, so it's history before that point in time is anyone's best guess.
  15. mwaller

    Cigar Seeding

    Thankfully, bugs were not a problem. I had two Vuelta Abajo plants that became infected with some sort of virus, but otherwise no issues with disease or pests.

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