Learning from Failure.....a HSA perspective.


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8 hours ago, TheGipper said:

Another thread full of people who never bought the Anejados...

Pricing is actually reasonable.  Go look at Bond Roberts auctions for 10+ year old boxes, and the Anejados pricing is generally below that for an equivalent aged box.

So, I’ve not bought them, but I can at least say why I’ve not bought them!

1. The quality reputation is poor. If serious people were raving about how well they smoke, I’d be a whole lot more interested.

2. The trust level is poor. I’m not subscribing to anyone’s theory, just saying that I can’t trust they are well made from good ingredients and aged as advertised.

3. It’s not clear what they are meant to be. I’d pay double the current market price for a decent box of ten year old regular production. But that’s not what these are. Blend, vitola and ‘marca character’ are all opaque.

So in that order: quality, trust, identity. All three are resolvable. Easily but not quickly!

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The very fact that the cigars released represented nothing in the lineup of the respective Marcas was the indicator to me that these should be avoided.  How can you release an aged version of a cigar

Another thread full of people who never bought the Anejados, but are sure they're terrible and will tell us all what is wrong with them, and why the rest of us are fools for buying (some of) them.

Thank you to Rob and the FOH crew for the great prize pack. Montecristo double Edmundo, RGPC and 2 unbanded cigars. I am guessing these are nudies?   Thanks again everyone. Will smoke these wi

10 hours ago, El Presidente said:

Let's give them a genuine hand. 

  1. What were the problems of the Anejado program from a consumer perspective.  it is easy to say "price" but keep in mind "price" hasn't held back the success of the EL or Regional programs. 
  2. Can the Anejado project be saved...... or is it a dead duck. 
  3. Can they evolve the program into something successful? How. 

Perversely, the Anejado programme seams to suffer from similar issues to NAS whisky.  Even though they have given specific age ranges, the fact they have been so shambolic in release dates, and multiple date codes etc.  I just don't think the customer has confidence.  Much like NAS whisky many have speculated, that the anejado programme is just mutton dressed as lamb. 

Also, I think the correct storage and ageing of tobacco has quite a bit of heritage.  Countries like England and Switzerland have refined this over many years.  You could argue that Cuba has not got this heritage, they just may not be that good at ageing cigars correctly.  I'm not saying thats fact, but as it's been commented upon before by many seasoned CC smokers on this website,  there is not really a culture of ageing cigars in Cuba.  

If the tobacco was aged in pilons, can fermentation heat, actually 'burn out' tobacco?, maybe this was the problem. 

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16 hours ago, dt2 said:

What really put me off was the more seasoned and experienced people who I've seen asking "Where did these cigars come from?  Where have they been sitting all this time?"

 

16 hours ago, Lucass111 said:

So the problems for me are the lack of transparency. Why were these selected cigars the chosen ones to be put away. How were they stored. Were they just extras laying around? Not enough background information on the program. Give your consumers a background story!
 

Exactly my problem.

I remember seeing master cases of the Añejados line in a tiny factory south of HAV before they were released and wondering WTF did they find those .... ?

http://flyingcigar.de/startseite/the-perfect-miniature-cigar-factory/

We were all laughing and making jokes about HSA finding cigars that had been laying around for years just waiting to be released - like HSA has the capacity to do that.

 

 

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Two reasons I'm against the Anejados:

1. I've smoked a bunch of the RYJ Piramides and they have been really underwhelming....also tried a montecristo anejado which also was bad. I have one RYJ left....this post inspires me to smoke it. 

2. I don't really buy into aged cigars being superior. In many/most cases I can tell no difference. I.e. I have old fundadores (2001) that taste the same as my 2017-2018 boxes.  

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  1. What were the problems of the Anejado program from a consumer perspective.  it is easy to say "price" but keep in mind "price" hasn't held back the success of the EL or Regional programs. 

The flavor performance was inferior across the board to anything and everything available from the same Marcas. 

  1. Can the Anejado project be saved...... or is it a dead duck. 

If they were authentic and honest about it sure. But this is Cuba we're talking about.

  1. Can they evolve the program into something successful? How. 

See above. They'd have to approach it in an authentic way and not just marketing spin. 

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For me, the greatest problem of the program on face is the lack of transparency.  While it’s true that I have ZERO idea of what actually goes into cigars, there is a modicum of trust there.  It seems so weird to me that SOMEHOW a bunch of Upmann Robustos were “found” when Upmann doesn’t make robustos.  Same with Montecristo Churchills.  They don’t exist.  It seems really hard to believe they just randomly made 200,000 cigars in a random untested size.  Then laid them down for a 10 year nap.  
 

The RJ Churchill Anejado seemed like a really great attempt to “salvage” the program.  For me, the way to truly rescue it is to change the messaging.  Something to the tune of, “hey you are paying tons of money for aged cigars on the secondary market, do you want to buy aged sticks directly from the horse’s mouth?”

Sort of like Chateau releases.  

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59 minutes ago, bundwallah said:

The very fact that the cigars released represented nothing in the lineup of the respective Marcas was the indicator to me that these should be avoided.  How can you release an aged version of a cigar that didn't exist prior?  

The RyJ Piramides are certainly not aged Belicosos.  There were never Monte Churchills before the Anejados.  The list goes on. 

It could simply be a that/which situation (ie. not 'RyJ Piramides that are aged' but 'RyJ Piramides, which are aged'), but this would only make sense if they unearthed some dusty, unbanded torpedoes and decided to name them 'RyJ Piramides'.  This, of course, creates more questions than it answers, especially since the program includes multiple examples of brand-new vitolas assigned to cigars that are supposedly 'aged'.

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1 hour ago, Wailbait said:

For me, the greatest problem of the program on face is the lack of transparency.  While it’s true that I have ZERO idea of what actually goes into cigars, there is a modicum of trust there.  It seems so weird to me that SOMEHOW a bunch of Upmann Robustos were “found” when Upmann doesn’t make robustos.  Same with Montecristo Churchills.  They don’t exist.  It seems really hard to believe they just randomly made 200,000 cigars in a random untested size.  Then laid them down for a 10 year nap. 

 

That sums it perfectly - I could not put it better. Thanks.

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They should rebrand and reluanch the Anejado's line and update it to the Clásica line, meaning vintage.  Under the relaunch they would start with a regular production vitola in their biggest marcas and add another sticker to the box and an extra band on the cigar to designate they are "Clásica de 2018" for example, with the appropriate matching box dates.  Sharing information on how these cigars are stored in Cuba before being released would help to validate they're being stores in proper conditions, hardly a given.  And what HSA will receive for holding regular stock for an extra couple of years before releasing is a 30-50% mark-up on current pricing where a regular $200 box of sticks would be sold for $260-$300.  Very low risk relaunch concept.  They then can begin making and releasing Clásica Limitada's, which would be in the same vain of today's Anejado's program containing new vitolas for chosen brands.  There can be an interplay of Clásica Limitada's (current regular production + new vitolas for reg. production) and Clásica Edition Limitada's, imagine HSA keeping 10,000 boxes of the 2019 Talisman's and releasing them in 2021 (again), but they were rolled in 2019 and they would charge another 50% on top of 2021 pricing.  Still low risk for HSA, just allows them another extension to re-run production on EL's that are performing well that year for future release at an even higher price.  Gives them another profit stream for re-running on successful EL's with age and also on the most popular regular production sticks.

 

 
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Hard to pretend like I'm having an original thought here, as many others have stated my views too but the problems I have are:

1) Price. Not just price. I'll pay a premium for something that has value to me. It's just manufactured scarcity...or maybe it isn't. Maybe there are tons. Regardless,that leads in to concerns 2 & 3

2) Authenticity of aging - who did it? Why can we trust they did it? What were the storage conditions?

3) I don't think anybody believes every cigar is better the older it gets. In my limited experience, there are some I greatly prefer at under a year old, while others seem to be much better as the months and years go by. 

So all things considered, they don't have value to me, I'm not sold they're actually truly aged, and I'm definitely not convinced that because they're older, they'll be better. Kinda the three strikes perspective for me. 

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It would've been a lot easier to just hold back a bunch of popular cigars most fans like to age and then release them later on.  Another ink stamp or additional sticker/embellishment and that's it.  Just like a cellar release from a wine vineyard.  I am a fan of the reservado boxes, but haven't seen them ages.  Who doesn't want their boxes inspected twice?

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10 hours ago, 99call said:

Also, I think the correct storage and ageing of tobacco has quite a bit of heritage.  Countries like England and Switzerland have refined this over many years.  You could argue that Cuba has not got this heritage, they just may not be that good at ageing cigars correctly.  I'm not saying thats fact, but as it's been commented upon before by many seasoned CC smokers on this website,  there is not really a culture of ageing cigars in Cuba.  

Correct. Why the heck do I trust Cuba to age cigars at all? Aging properly isn't easy and everyone who is serious about smoking aged cigar knows this and is quite particular about storage conditions, location and provenance. Cuba is, quite frankly, the last place on Earth I would trust to age cigars. Don't need a place where the storage facility loses electricity twice a day...

5 hours ago, Wailbait said:

The RJ Churchill Anejado seemed like a really great attempt to “salvage” the program.

What makes you say that? Yes, it was the first Anejados release where the vitola already existed in the lineup but the quality of the cigar was consistent with the prior of the Anejados and the price got pushed up. Now we've got another Anejados coming that has a vitola that existed prior (Fundys) but the price no doubt will be outrageous and I expect the quality to be consistent with what's come before.

5 hours ago, Wailbait said:

For me, the greatest problem of the program on face is the lack of transparency.  While it’s true that I have ZERO idea of what actually goes into cigars, there is a modicum of trust there.

As I said, if the cigars were great no one would care what they were doing. I think the biggest problem is clearly the cigars themselves. The low quality leads to further questions.

And when it comes to Cuba, trust is not a word I would ever use.

3 hours ago, smitte3 said:

They should rebrand and reluanch the Anejado's line and update it to the Clásica line, meaning vintage.

This would just move the problem to that new line and create even more suspicion that HSA is playing a shell game with these cigars. And yes, they would have to open up the entire process to scrutiny by outside third parties and I can guarantee you that isn't happening, particularly because this was never a legitimate program and nothing like proper aging has ever been going on. HSA is obviously running a scam and is just going to remain silent and double down with more releases. 

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So, I had a lot typed, but it looks like alot of retread now.

HSA is probably in a position where consumption of their products has shifted from a potential everyday item to a luxury good, where their key demographic is collectors and aspirational collectors, so it makes alot of sense to have an HSA program (not regional) aimed at showing new consumers the joy of an aged cigar. Frankly, reading up on the programs that HSA produces reminds me alot of the lack of transparency of Spanish wines from a DOC stand point and the evolution of that market over the last 20 years. Picking a classy vitola from key marca for a later release with a double band makes a lot of sense, but in general I'd like a ton more transparency for all products from HSA, rather than just rise the legacy of pre-Revolution + 2 diplomatic brands that have been jumped into commercial production. 

Cuba has alot of problems but still makes amazing cigars, almost by mistake it feels like at times.

 

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Great view shared so far.

In terms of Rob’s question, I don’t think it can be saved. The opportunity window is too small to make the economics work and the lack of transparency and Provence are huge obstacles to overcome.

A good view is this forum. You have many members who are knowledgeable of cigars and Cuba manufacturing that age their own cigars. In the grand scheme of things, a small sample of general population (overall number of cigar smokers globally that collect/age) vs general population.

The other side is new cigars smokers. They are in the experimental phase. Learning about marcas, trying to figure out their tastes and going through regular production to start. More focused on determining if they want to enjoy cigars occasionally or take the plunge and begin collecting. They are not at the point of paying a premium to buy aged cigars while figuring out if this is something they was passionate about.

Finally, the anejados is in a small, established premium area of the cigar market (EL/RE/Reserva/gran Reserva). On the EL/RE side, you get classic marcas in new vitolas. On the Reserva/gran Reserva side, you get classic marcas, aged tobacco, rolled in classic vitolas within the marca lineup. Seeing the size of the cigar collector market, it will be tough to gather momentum, seeing lack of transparency and vitola sizes that are not true to the marca lineup.

I tried the RYJ and Monte. I liked the monte and not the RYJ however, will revisit this summer.

A potential solution is to introduce a LCDH vintage program and launch at Feb Habanos festival. Some criteria would be:

Document the rolling process and have them rolled at tier 1 cigar factories (partagas, la corona, El Laguito). Also be transparent of age of tobacco and which farm if possible (Robaina for example)

Each factory can only roll 1 vitola and 1 marca in a classic vitola in the marca lineup. For example, Lanceros at el laguito

A set number of cigars produced, boxed and coded. Only use 1 box code per marca/vitola that is exclusive to this program. This way, you know that all the cigars were rolled at Partagas as they have the same box code. Document and press release the box codes upon boxing.

Keep packaging the same as the current regular production and add a VINTAGE release sticker on the box and a plain 2nd band to distinguish between regular production. No need for numbered, fancy boxes

Age for 2 to 3 years and add 5 to 10% markup per year vs current regular production.

Show the facility it is stored at and update annually

Launch at February Habanos Festival

This would handle the issues of transparency, provenance, and pricing. Stating the full process up front may cause some anticipation and excitement, particular if tier 1 factories are used, singular box codes per marca and a classic vitola from the marca lineup. Offer only through LCDH to start and then broaden out. Has the potential to attract newish cigar smokers and may pique the curiosity of veteran cigar smokers to compare to regular production versions they bought of The same year.




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7 hours ago, maverickdrinker said:

Also be transparent of age of tobacco and which farm if possible (Robaina for example)

While I agree with all your excellent points Art - the first might be possible, the second ( specific farm ) is too "complex" for HSA ...

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9 hours ago, maverickdrinker said:

A potential solution is to introduce a LCDH vintage program and launch at Feb Habanos festival. Some criteria would be:

Document the rolling process and have them rolled at tier 1 cigar factories (partagas, la corona, El Laguito). Also be transparent of age of tobacco and which farm if possible (Robaina for example)

Each factory can only roll 1 vitola and 1 marca in a classic vitola in the marca lineup. For example, Lanceros at el laguito

A set number of cigars produced, boxed and coded. Only use 1 box code per marca/vitola that is exclusive to this program. This way, you know that all the cigars were rolled at Partagas as they have the same box code. Document and press release the box codes upon boxing.

Keep packaging the same as the current regular production and add a VINTAGE release sticker on the box and a plain 2nd band to distinguish between regular production. No need for numbered, fancy boxes

Age for 2 to 3 years and add 5 to 10% markup per year vs current regular production.

A lot of good ideas here. I would definitely be interested in a program like this... paying 10% per year for a 3-4 year old box is probably the sweet spot.

I’m sure that this product gap is a big reason why the locker sales, FoH auctions, and Bond Roberts have been so popular and successful! Of course they offer much more than just 3-4 year old boxes, but I do think there’s an appetite for “lightly” aged boxes where the provenance is transparent and high quality.

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While I agree with all your excellent points Art - the first might be possible, the second ( specific farm ) is too "complex" for HSA ...

Lol. Maybe. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

It would be like a single vineyard wine. One farm, one factory, one box code.

Hope you are well Nino


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Noob here, but it’s a bummer I can’t try a fresh Parti CG to compare what aging does. On the other hand, I love Partis and I love CGs, so I’m probably gonna buy those (only have a few gifted from brothers here).

With that being said, I smoked my first Parti CG this evening and it was IMO pretty good! Seems a little flatter than the shorts, D4s, etc, that I’ve had, but it certainly tasted pretty smooth. I enjoyed it. If they pop up on sale, I’ll probably buy a box.

Now if HSA offered a Parti CG as a regular production thing, I’d probably buy that over an aged box, mostly for financial reasons.


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13 hours ago, maverickdrinker said:


Lol. Maybe. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

It would be like a single vineyard wine. One farm, one factory, one box code.

Hope you are well Nino
 

All well here, hope the same for you !

Sure, you can ask but not even Tabacuba will give you answers at the warehouses about where the tobacco bales come from, mostly a specific or general area but never a single Vega.

The concept already exists - it is called Farm rolled cigars, one farm, one roller, even simpler ?

Stay well !

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Since I have never had the opportunity to smoke something from this program I am totally unqualified to comment on their taste, draw, etc.

What has kept me from buying them? Since the box price is higher than I would normally pay (for cigars that I know are good) and I live in a the US where it is not easy to get singles to try, I am left to rely on the opinions of others who have smoked them. Reading bad reviews and multiple complaints from others is the only source of information I have had which has lead me to stay away and spend my hard earned cash elsewhere.

Can the program be salvaged? As others have said, if they change the name and can show provenance using existing vitolas I think I would be interested. Who wouldn't be interested in a 10 year old Monte 2 or CoRo with a trustworthy background? I know that I would.

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All well here, hope the same for you !
Sure, you can ask but not even Tabacuba will give you answers at the warehouses about where the tobacco bales come from, mostly a specific or general area but never a single Vega.
The concept already exists - it is called Farm rolled cigars, one farm, one roller, even simpler
Stay well !

Very true. Challenge is that they are not easy to get for most while this would be available to a broader audience.

It would be interesting to see if this hypothetically had done this and they did an ‘advance’ trial at the Habanos festival prior to releasing the following year. Imagine the hoopla if people reported they are good at the 2 year mark and the release was a year away. Lol


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I feel like I'm definitely in the minority here, but I love the series.  ...haven't had a bad one.  I particularly liked the Hoyo and HU, but can't fault the others.  The price on the RyJ seemed prohibitive.  The others were unique sizes that couldn't be found in regular production.  If I want aged RyJ Churchills, I'll just buy a box and age them.  I have the patience.

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