Does Halfwheel ever have anything nice to say about CCs


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Hi Everyone, Charlie from halfwheel here. Thanks to Kevin for pointing out the thread to me via email. It's certainly an interesting conversation and a pretty educated one about the reviewing app

This thread has been quite enlightening, and I appreciate everyone's thoughts. Charlie has done a great job in detailing everything on his end, but here are a few things from my perspective for t

The luxury of HW is the sheer amount of reviews they do allows for a pretty good trend analysis.  Only 11 (regular production/LCDH/ER/EL/Anejados) CCs produced in the last 10 years have reached 9

2 hours ago, Fumar Mata said:

Kevin I have no idea either way what they call themselves but they are experts. What did Malcom Gladwell say... 10,000 hours.

 

To be fair, Gladwell only wrote the book as an exercise in narcissistic story telling. He deliberately mislead readers by omitting facts to fit his narrative. 

Outliers is a bad book, and is rightly held up as bad writing with ethical issues.

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15 minutes ago, Kevin48438 said:

 

Anyway, I’ve invited HalfWheel to comment on this thread.  If they show up, hopefully they can share some of their methodology on things like storage conditions, rest period, and the like.

It would be nice to hear their process and rationale 

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3 hours ago, NSXCIGAR said:

They seem to weight construction quite heavily

Agreed. And if one were to compare, say, the draw of CC to the typical NC they smoke, it’s easy to see how the former would suffer. No doubt many (myself included) have a tendency to just accept plugs and/or inconsistent draws as part of smoking cuban cigars, even though they really shouldn’t be. 

Like all other aspects of enjoying cigars, one’s tolerance for construction deficits is a matter of personal taste (and budgetary constraints). This morning I threw out another Reyes from a box that’s been almost entirely plugs. It does bother me, but it’s not common enough to outweigh my personal enjoyment of Cubans compared to NC. 

If anything, the enduring popularity of habanos, in spite of their frequently inept and inconsistent production, is a testament to the unique terroir of Cuba and the remarkable flavor of its tobacco. 

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3 minutes ago, MrBirdman said:

Agreed. And if one were to compare, say, the draw of CC to the typical NC they smoke, it’s easy to see how the former would suffer.

Draw, yes, and if one prefers a particular draw that is a subjective judgment and can skew a score for a given reviewer. I personally don't penalize a cigar within a reasonable range of draw--perhaps the tightest 10% and loosest 10% might be recorded. Also, I have less of a problem with looser draws as long as the cigar performs well which is of course less likely with a loose draw, and of course my Perfecdraw reduces the amount of unsmokeably tight draws to a negligible number. 

As far as construction generally, I am nuanced enough to separate out flavor from performance. In other words a cigar with great flavor but needs constant relights or burns wonky would probably score high for me with notes about construction. There are too many extraneous factors and variation to blame the cigar you're smoking. I suppose HW doesn't agree with me on that. I just don't think it's optimal or useful to take one out of three that has some poor burning, assign a very low score and average it in with the other two that performed well without specifically breaking that formula down which I feel HW is a little lacking there. 

Even taking that into consideration, the numbers don't lie, particularly when there is such a tremendous amount of data over 13 years in the HW database. The fact that there is only a 5% chance a CC will score over 90 points  for HW speaks volumes to me.

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10 hours ago, Ken Gargett said:

nino, agree with you on this i don't go there often but when i do, i find that they make a serious attempt at a fair review and i think they do them well.

 

Yes, they are serious and very professional in their reviews - I can attest to that from my own experience with them.

6 hours ago, NSXCIGAR said:

 The fact that there is only a 5% chance a CC will score over 90 points  for HW speaks volumes to me.

Very happy that some of my Cuban contributions to Halfwheel made it to 93 points 🙂

https://halfwheel.com/reynaldo-lancero-2010-custom-rolled-cuban/9635/

https://halfwheel.com/yolanda-canonazo-2010-custom-rolled-cuban-review/9651/

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I was wondering the same thing, are they fair? Many years on and I think they are fair.

Stunning items smoke well even when young, those are forum favorite too, but most cc didn't smoke fabulous if you know 'it takes some time'.

Recently I smoked more NC than before, more NC I smoke I can steadily understand what they are talking about, some CC get low score surely surprise me,

but I could totally understand why some NC favorite items didn't scored high - after I smoked them.

Some foodie bloggers having similar taste like you and me, some are on the opposite, after reading reviews from Patrick/Brook/Charlie for years, 

I know they are not biased.  

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CC smokers prefer taste over reliability...NC smokers prefer reliability over taste.  That being said, there are instances where you get both from both...luckily I do not have the type of construction issues that Halfwheel runs into on their CCs...there is something lacking in their procurement or care of their CCs...its the only plausible explination IMO.

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39 minutes ago, mbflash80 said:

CC smokers prefer taste over reliability...NC smokers prefer reliability over taste.  That being said, there are instances where you get both from both...luckily I do not have the type of construction issues that Halfwheel runs into on their CCs...there is something lacking in their procurement or care of their CCs...its the only plausible explination IMO.

Or they need to only buy hq/PSP from Rob 🤣

Really though their experience isn't to uncommon, I've had cigars rested for 3-6 months at 65rh in my wineadors and still have trouble with draw on certain boxes, just the way the cookie crumbles. But I feel like limiting a cigars score because one stick is plugged isn't ideal when scoring cubans.

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2 hours ago, Notsocleaver said:

You can read them to find out about how good certain cigars were when they were first released, but it will miss the slow but steady decline in quality since then. This happens over and over again, even with the high end NCs and is why Fuente and Padron are so revered in any NC circle that contains hobbyists in the know.

I think when comparing CCs to NCs an analogy may be helpful.   CCs are like Volvo (or Audi), while NCs are like Toyota, Volkswagon, and Ford combined.   The scale, volume, and variety make generalizations and comparisons difficult.

Example: Arturo Fuente and Davidoff are each about the  same size as Habanos SA.   And there are at least 3 companies bigger than them.  And another handful that are pretty close.  I would say there are probably at least 5 times the number of consistent NCs made per year than all of the CCs made per year.  And probably an equal amount of inconsistent ones.

It’s actually pretty easy for find a new NC every day of the week if one wanted to.  A company like Viaje only makes one batch of cigars per marca.  They make as many as that one set of tobacco crops allow.  So they are all LEs.  There are some that are similar in name and flavor, but they are then vintaged.

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16 hours ago, Nino said:

Very happy that some of my Cuban contributions to Halfwheel made it to 93 points

I think that's why they made it to 93 points!

 

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On 5/29/2021 at 12:05 PM, MrBirdman said:

They’re probably more fair than I care to credit them for, but their 75 point review of the Punch 8-9-8 was ludicrous. 

Admittedly, my first 898 was fantastic, then the other 9 sticks in the box ranged from ok to downright bad. Another box has been smoking much better, but that was a pricey mulligan of a box.

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On 5/29/2021 at 12:47 PM, Nino said:

Agree with your comments, I find Halfwheel a good & fair source of information.

Was wondering about the nickname as well - Spanish warning sticker = Smoking Kills, not sure I'd use it in a cigar board ... 🙂

Indeed.  That's another wonderful aspect of buying from FOH:  No stickers (generally).  

One of the first things I do when receiving a box that has one of those awful stickers is remove it -- and it disfigures otherwise beautiful boxes, almost works of art in some cases.  

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Halfwheel is probably the only cigar review website that I enjoy reading and find their reviews fair. I smoke 80% NCs and 20% CCs and for CCs I only smoke those aged for more than 5 years.

Halfwheel made it clear, if I remember correctly, that the CCs they smoke, at least most of, are young, and prices do kick into their equation. So I do read halfwheel reviews but I do not follow them 100% especially when it is about CC. I have many CCs that earned low scores but I know they will smoke wonderfully with a few more years but I do not think halfwheel is biased.

Some folks criticize HW for not reviewing aged CCs. Well I am not sure how many people smoked aged NCs. For example, ESG, Tatuaje Black Label, Opus Xs, a lot of DPGS and illusions, i find them smoke at most average and overpriced when young and amazing given 7+ years. And I would anytime smoke a padron maduro instead of a cohiba or partagas.

All and all, picking a cigar and reading a cigar review is personal. It is nice to find someone with similar tasting buds like yours but it is also interesting to see how different people value a cigar so differently.

Just my 2 cents


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The one thing i appreciate of half wheel is they smoke multiple cigars for review. But ive said it on here before, its an unfair comparison putting "construction" into the equation. Construction and visual appearance will vary wildly with cubans and so saying a Coro is shit cos it was plugged but a quintero was good cos it wasnt plugged is an unfair comparison, yet happesn all the time when comparing Cubans ot NCs. I find thier descriptions of flavour profiles pretty good though on the whole. I ignore any points ratings they provide though. 

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9 hours ago, Notsocleaver said:

Halfwheel catches the biggest downfall of CC in its review scores: construction consistency. Everyone here knows about this flaw, and most have priced it into our mental picture when we evaluate cigars. We know the tricks to get the most out of our product because we are hobbyists, not just consumers. In that sense, Halfwheel is written for consumers, not hobbyists.

I feel like this sort of consumer review catches the weakest point of CCs: the construction, but misses the weakest point of the NC market: year to year blend consistency. Consumer reviews are built to miss them because the consumer is supposed to chase the next thing marketed to them. In this case you can see how Halfwheel is built to ignore that problem by only looking at special editions and new releases. You can read them to find out about how good certain cigars were when they were first released, but it will miss the slow but steady decline in quality since then. This happens over and over again, even with the high end NCs and is why Fuente and Padron are so revered in any NC circle that contains hobbyists in the know.

I agree. The NC market tends to be novelty-driven, full-bodied cigar-centric, and construction flaws are not acceptable. Halfwheel reflects that and that's fine with me. 

Helps to keep NC smokers away from my habanos for one. Well that and the prohibition, may it live forever and ever, amen. 😉

Also it is absolutely fair to knock cuban cigars for bad construction, that's why we shop at Czars right?

Similarly, I don't like 7" 60rg nicotine bombs, but love your mild cedar-y cuban tobacco,  totally accept that is a matter of taste. 

if I feel like an NC excursion I may well check out its review on Halfwheel and a few other quality websites (names forgotten as it's been a while). 

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27 minutes ago, frenchkiwi said:

and construction flaws are not acceptable. 

 

except wind tunnels. 

They are not only accepted but deemed a good thing :D

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51 minutes ago, El Presidente said:

except wind tunnels. 

They are not only accepted but deemed a good thing :D

... in halfwheel / NC reviewing? do you mean to say wind tunnel cigars get A++ marks for smoke delivery on these websites? or just that NCs have a large proportion of wind tunnels

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Just now, frenchkiwi said:

... in halfwheel / NC reviewing? do you mean to say wind tunnel cigars get A++ marks for smoke delivery on these websites? or just that NCs have a large proportion of wind tunnels

I am not referencing HW at all. 

Simply in terms of construction, NC wind tunnels are not even considered an issue. They are de rigueur. 

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56 minutes ago, El Presidente said:

I am not referencing HW at all. 

Simply in terms of construction, NC wind tunnels are not even considered an issue. They are de rigueur. 

Ah interesting. That would explain the reaction to plugged cigars on review sites. Mind you when you're smoking a 4" by 64rg cigar, what do you expect!?!

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1 hour ago, frenchkiwi said:

Ah interesting. That would explain the reaction to plugged cigars on review sites. Mind you when you're smoking a 4" by 64rg cigar, what do you expect!?!

I should point out that I am in no way a defender of Cuban cigar QC! Crikey, it is a disgrace. 

I do however struggle to light up a Perdomo, RP, even many a Davidoff and not wonder, "if this were a CC, it would be panned for it's straw-like draw" 

 

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6 hours ago, NSXCIGAR said:

I think that's why they made it to 93 points!

 

I doubt it - more likely because they were not regular production but Custom Rolls.

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4 hours ago, El Presidente said:

Simply in terms of construction, NC wind tunnels are not even considered an issue. They are de rigueur. 

Yes, and referencing my earlier comments that if one's preference is for looser draws (as is much more prevalent with NCs) a firmer CC draw could cause a reviewer to judge that cigar harshly--particularly using a review methodology that heavily weighs construction. 

It's clear that 90%+ of all cigars HW reviews are NC. It's not unreasonable to assume a preference or expectation could form for looser draws as a primarily NC-smoker. Not saying this is the case but there could be some unfair negative points toward a CC that has what we would call an acceptably firm draw which seems unacceptably tight to a predominantly NC smoker.

7 hours ago, LordAnubis said:

The one thing i appreciate of half wheel is they smoke multiple cigars for review.

As I've noted, that's a double-edged sword. My approach would be to compare the three, trying to take the best aspects from among them. What HW appears to do is average them out, meaning if two sticks score 95 but the third a 60 because of a draw tighter than they prefer or some relighting or tunneling they score that cigar an 83 and leave it at that. To me, that's not applying a 3-stick sample approach properly. If two cigars are a 95 and one is a tosser I would take that one out of the equation and make a notation. The two 95s don't deserve to be knocked because of what might be an unlucky 1 out of 100 dud. 

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20 hours ago, Notsocleaver said:

NC market: year to year blend consistency. Consumer reviews are built to miss them because the consumer is supposed to chase the next thing marketed to them. In this case you can see how Halfwheel is built to ignore that problem by only looking at special editions and new releases. You can read them to find out about how good certain cigars were when they were first released, but it will miss the slow but steady decline in quality since then.

Lol.    That does not include the NC online vendor "trick" of buying out the brand name and releasing inferior product with the same name.    Halfwheel normally does not review the "new and improved" inferior product, so the uninformed newbie is easily duped.    This is not Halfwheel's fault, just a land mine in the world of NCs.

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