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Like many of you (especially those of you who live in the US like me), I started my cigar smoking hobby with NC’s. We all know the creme de la creme in the quality control department - Padron, Davidoff, Fuente, Warped, etc, no use explaining it further.

 

Also like many of you, my tastes changed. I started with Connecticut wrapped cigars on the mild bodied side, moved to Connecticut wrapped cigars a little more medium bodied. Dabbled a bit in medium/full bodied earthy Nicaraguan smokes, maduros, and the like. Now I have seemed to find my sweet spot in the medium bodied range. Don’t like pepper bombs, or heavily earthy profiles. I prefer the nutty, malty, bready, sweeter flavors in tobacco. Which has led me to.....

 

.....HABANOS! Man, when a good Cuban cigar is on, there is nothing better in my opinion. Medium body straight up - high quality tasting tobacco, complex full flavors. Right in my wheelhouse. But the thing that drives me bonkers and has kept me from getting away from NC’s entirely is the sheer lack of consistency in the quality control and construction in Cuban cigars.

 

Out of my last 5 CC’s, exactly 1 has been acceptable in this area. A Bolivar PC. I am talking about tunneling, extremely tight overpacked cigars, wind tunnels, and fireproof wrappers that just refuse to burn. Overall, I’d say on average 70/100 Cuban cigars I smoke are acceptable. 50/100 are what I’d consider great. I know that this is entirely subjective.....

 

.....but what would you say your average rate of success is? I store at 60-62%, so assume here that storage is not a factor. Rested at least 90 days.

 

 

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I had a box of Monte 3s that maybe half were stinkers. Dog rockets.  All of the above. And up until a tragic experience with a plugged upmann mag 50, I’ve learned there’s things we can do to cope with bad construction.  

1. Light your cigar around the edge of the foot, with a torch lighter, so when you start smoking there’s unburnt tobacco in the middle of the foot, this will help prevent tunnelling. 

2. If your burn gets uneven or if you think your tunnelling, use that torch lighter to even out the wrap  I’ve been dipping my cigars in water first and not only does the flavour improve, the burn stays even  

3. Get a perfect draw off of amazon, no more plugged cigars ever.  

4. Only purchase PSP from FOH. Probably one of the best part of this community is the product is vetted by another passionate smoker in the land down under.  I’ve never had bad PSP.  

Hope I’m not being captain obvious on all these points,  and sometimes you get the wrong stick, but these help me stay prepared for construction issues 

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No such thing as obvious, so I definitely appreciate the response! I am not the type who acts like he knows everything, far from it. I think the smartest man in the room is the one who listens and learns from everyone.

I do take great care with lighting the cigar and I did learn that technique of lighting around the edge carefully from a reviewer I follow. It definitely does help. I can deal with an uneven burn to some degree with a couple of touch ups along the way. The cigars that burn perfectly razor sharp are few and far between. But it’s the tunneling that is due entirely to roller error that I can’t tolerate. When you pick out a cigar that looks and feels great, and BAM, 1” into it you know it’s gonna be a failure.

I own the perfect draw tool too and it definitely does make an unsmokeable cigar smokeable. But it seems to leave a tunnel in the head of the cigar and it just never smokes or tastes like it should.

I realize at the end of the day there are some things I can control (like you mentioned) and some things I can’t. It’s just frustrating because you know how great they can be, but there’s just no consistency.


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  1. Buy from reputable dealers like FOH
  2. Store in the low 60s RH and under 70 degrees
  3. Honestly, there is no 3 if you do 1 and 2; you ought to be fine 95% of the time.
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19 minutes ago, SenorPerfecto said:
  1. Buy from reputable dealers like FOH
  2. Store in the low 60s RH and under 70 degrees
  3. Honestly, there is no 3 if you do 1 and 2; you ought to be fine 95% of the time.

I’d add a couple of things to these 2 excellent suggestions...

3. Learn to take a single long, easy draw instead of puffing like a locomotive. This takes some initial discipline but soon it becomes a habit. 

4. Don’t draw too often. Take some time between puffs. 

If you form a consistent method, your smokes will be more consistent. 

Edit: maybe I’m extremely lucky but I rarely have a bad cigar. Maybe one or 2 a month and I typically smoke anywhere between 2 and 4 a day. 

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1 hour ago, Silverstix said:

 

.....but what would you say your average rate of success is? I store at 60-62%, so assume here that storage is not a factor. Rested at least 90 days.

 

 

 

 

You're likely going to get a long list of people who tell you you're doing something wrong.  I am relatively new to CC, so take it with a grain of salt, but my ratio is pretty much what yours is.  A third of them have some kind of construction defect that seriously affects how they smoke.  And about half of them are really great.

I have my storage pretty well dialed at 70-74DF and 60-64RH.

Yes, a PerfecDraw tool and a good single jet torch will help things a lot.

And yes, I like Habanos enough that I put up with it.

I think one factor that not many talk about, is how old is your stash.  I think my success ratio with 3+ year old cigars is better than with younger cigars.  Assuming both are properly acclimated.

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I store at 62/62 and use a perfect draw, I’m very new to the CC world. However, some of my sticks are coming across the 30 day mark so I’m practicing patience. I’ve found adding some NC in a separate storage help me to resist my temptations to smoke ROTT, but sometimes I give in.

Gotta develop that palate somehow!

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Where is that poll we did on the subject?

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I have a box of Sancho panzo non plus from 13 and over half are packed so tight I can't even smoke them with a perfect draw type tool (the Redeemer). It's really frustrating especially when you know the cigar could be so good. I tossed the box in the bottom of my humidor with the beads so I don't see and get annoyed. Maybe I can use them to set up my kids first tent in the backyard.

On average, I'd say maybe 3 out of a box are bad. Then again, since I've been smoking more habanos I tend not to care as much about perfect burn lines and just focus on the delicious!

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33 minutes ago, El Presidente said:

Where is that poll we did on the subject?

I was thinking the same thing.  Bottom line, everyone said they get at most 1-2 bad stick per box, which is like 5%.  So I quietly hid in the corner :hole:

 

edit, for posterity's sake:

 

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With the Perfecdraw 9/10 plugged cigars are no longer issues for me. So we're down to irreconcilable burn or overt construction issues or serious flavor issues where something is just wrong. In other words, cigars I either toss or consider tossing.

My rate of those over the last 5 years of sticks like that is two per 25 box at most, so <10%.

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Not to slightly deviate but on quality control topic..Any thoughts on temperature specifically guys?  Temp is always talked about either RH levels but I feel like the main focus is always the humidity.  But lately I’ve seen some things online saying temp isn’t that important- except for beetles -obviously as long as it’s relrovely stable and the RH stays in a good spot.  I’m storing around 63-64%.  But temp seems to hover around 75-76 F during summer months- constantly concerned it’s getting dangerously high

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2 hours ago, slowsmoke said:

I was thinking the same thing.  Bottom line, everyone said they get at most 1-2 bad stick per box, which is like 5%.  So I quietly hid in the corner :hole:

 

edit, for posterity's sake:

 

Many thanks :thumbsup:

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Lots of good suggestions have been made. Most of my experiences regarding tunneling have been in the form of flame-proof wrappers, a plague among young cigars but one that seems to vanish within a few years of good storage. 

Regarding plugged cigars, I’m now going to go captain-obvious-is-the-devil on you and say something that’s been on my mind for a while now: When was the last time you experienced a plugged stick with any of the newer breed, large RG Cubans? For me personally, if it’s 52 or larger, my response is zero. It seems to me, Habanos SA has taken the easy way out in response to their notoriety with poorly rolled plugs by moving to a fool proof format. 

There, I said it. 

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7 hours ago, Shelby07 said:

I’d add a couple of things to these 2 excellent suggestions...

3. Learn to take a single long, easy draw instead of puffing like a locomotive. This takes some initial discipline but soon it becomes a habit. 

4. Don’t draw too often. Take some time between puffs. 

5. Do not share with your significant other.

If you form a consistent method, your smokes will be more consistent. 

Edit: maybe I’m extremely lucky but I rarely have a bad cigar. Maybe one or 2 a month and I typically smoke anywhere between 2 and 4 a day. 

FIXED.

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Your experience pretty much matches mine to the letter. I'm also fairly new to CC's and due to a lack of willpower and great prices and service here, I've added boxes of things I've never even smoked before because...well..back to that willpower thing. 

Anyway, overtight or bad wrapper burn/tunnelling happen to me more than half the time. rH in the lower range that people suggest, but I most certainly don't have a ton of age on anything, so I've been trying 1-2 over a couple months, then if it doesn't knock my socks off, they'll sit for at least another 6 months before I'll try again. It's maddening because my experience with the NC high quality brands is that you're going to cut it, smoke it, not babysit the thing, and just enjoy. As a beginner, when I light up a Cuban, I feel a little like I did when my wife and I would try to do the deed with a sleeping infant in the house. You just know that as soon as you get to the good part the damn baby will start crying. Cigarus interruptus. 

The one thing I'll say that became a total gamechanger though, is I now drybox everything Cuban. At minimum 3 days, usually over a week. It helps the burn issues substantially, but I can't help but wonder if in drying them out a bit more I'm losing some of the nuance of the flavor. I justify it by realizing that if I'm having to ash and re-light the damn thing every 7 minutes on a non-dry boxed smoke, that's far from optimal flavor too so smoke-able is more important than optimal. I'm hoping that once some of these (all box dates are 17 or 18, and none are younger than 6 months according to the date) start hitting a year, two years, and more, I'll start getting the experience most of the seasoned pros here get. ...but until then, I'll just keep the underwear close by in case I need to put them back on and check on the baby :/ 

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I agree with @Islandboy. No plugs with these new school 52+ RG cigars. I have also found that aging can help. I have a Herf-a-dor with a 49% rg Bovidar pack in it. Snug draws go in it for a couple weeks. That plus the perfecdraw works on almost anything. That said, I smoked cigars for years without needing a draw tool, it wasn't till I started buying cuban cigars. Construction just isn't as good as high end NC cigars, there is no getting around that.

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Like said above.

1 - I'd say the quality of the cigars i.e. your supplier is typically the main problem. Try another supplier and see if it improves.

2 - Lower RH can help I'm at 60-62%MAX RH. When I was in Cuba I never had any draw problems with any of the sticks I was smoking because the RH is perfect typically.

3 - Get the perfect draw tool. It pays for itself very quickly when you get a box with some draw issues.

 

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It unfortunately happens and is all part of the process and sometimes it isn’t in your control. Had a great run of no problems for a long time at all except I had a Cohiba Piramedes that couldn’t be saved (bought in London) and a Punch Punch that had a whole in the middle of the cigar back to back the last few days. The Punch hole was just an annoyance once it smoked past the hole it was great but tossing the Cohiba was an annoyance and believe me I tried everything.  After the Cohiba went bad I grabbed a 10 year old Opus and it drew perfect but was not satisfying.  

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I store at 65rh/65f or 60/70 (which is about the same thing), smoke mostly stock under 3 years old, and I almost never have a truly plugged stick. Burn line often needs a touch up with a single jet torch though.

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With very limited CC experience (about 80-100 total CCs smoked), I've only had 3 absolutely bricked hoyo doubles that had to to be chucked even after boring the absolute crap out of them with a perfect draw tool; these were procured from another vendor. All of the stuff I've gotten from FoH has been perfectly smokable (under 4 burn corrections needed, kind of what I consider good construction) with 3 exceptions - upmann no 2 that tunneled but was still nubbed and 2 cracked wrappers (Edmundo and BBF). The cracked wrappers just came in as such but really, that kind of thing just happens. Just buy everything from 24:24. At least that's my *very limited* experience. I store at 65/65 and live in South Florida, where I smoke outside with >60% ambient humidity at all times, fwiw 

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Touching up the burn line doesn't bother me unless it's really excessive, and doesn't usually stop me from smoking a cigar.  It's the wind tunnels, the plugs, and the tunneling that can just totally ruin a cigar and make it unsmokable. 

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+1 for the PerfecDraw. It will pay for it self in no time!

 

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I would say that roughly 1 out of 10 cubans have issues...and for that one I use the perfect draw which works about 75% of the time...so if my math is correct my success rate is 97.5%...

but I will tell you that cuban cigars that are exposed to a climate of 62 RH for a longer period of time will perform better in my experience...

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Wavy burn lines happen and aren't a concern or "issue" for me. Plugs and underfill though... Alot of plugs are due to higher then necessary humidty and will alleviate themselves after acclimation. 30 days is NOT enough time, 90 days is preferred by me. I've mentioned it in other threads, but dry boxing will help, especially if you are in a very humid smoking environment. 

Now, underfill...you're kinda just screwed. I've had a few Trini Vigia that are underfilled, right now that seems to be the line that has the most I've encountered (and seeing as how much they charge for them, is a crime). Then only thing you can do if you hit an underfilled cigar is kind of "crush" it down to get it to a point where you restrict air enough for proper combustion, sort of like an improvised box press. Thankfully, I've only really had this issue with a few lines.

As far as CC versus NC construction, it's honestly not even a contest. NC's have this locked down, they're the Globetrotters, CC are the Generals. That being said, the good quality NC's (i.e., the ones I still buy after going full-on CC) are often overpriced. They also have a vastly different flavor profile in most cases so they are not a direct replacement anyway, it's like replacing your steak with enchiladas; they're both tasty dishes that you like and seek out, but if you wanted the filet today, you aren't going to be happy when the waiter brings you enchiladas.

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