I've been "into" Cigars for about 15 years or so and as the blog shows it is a hobby I take relatively seriously, wine is a love and a job but cigars are a hobby. I did though decide about a year ago that a little like building a cellar of wine to drink in the future I ought to apply a bit of logic to my plans for cigars.
The reasons for this are simple. I see cigars going up in price over time and at some stage possibly down in quality (from a high over the last few years) for a while, both of these can be attributed to the fact that the market for Cuban Cigars is likely to grow with the US at some stage coming back into the "fold". This will increase the demand and therefore price and quality may suffer. There are other reasons for looking to build a stock, like wine, cigars age well in the mid-term and it is great to have a stock so you can start to smoke sticks at an optimum time and replace them with younger stocks to smoke later. Another purely cosmetic consideration is the fact that there is a big drive worldwide to enforce plain packaging. I like the look and feel and packaging of cigar boxes and bands so why not grab them now...
So what did I actually do? Well it is pretty much covered by looking at the six points below.
1) Identify what I like now - This may sounds blinding obvious but you have to look at the flavour profile of different brands and decide what you like and what you don't as this is clearly important to what you buy boxes of for later. Also not everything needs or even reacts well to ageing, it something is good "off the shelf" then great, factor that into plans.
2) Consider what I might like in 2, 5, 10yrs - This is harder but I was keen to think about this. I have many wine customers who have cellars full of wines they bought 5-10 years ago that they loved then but are not so mad on now. I figure that it is important not to be too "faddish" or "fashionable" about choices as you'll pay a premium and look to buy the classic smokes and sizes that you can get now and not be too swayed by marketing. Also it would be easy to buy only the bigger, longer smokes for ageing when actually what is just as important is having great "everyday" sizes for mid week treats and when time is short.
3) Consider different Vitolas (Sizes) and where the trend is going - This links to the above, the trend worldwide with all cigars is towards shorter and fatter. So therefore Robustos etc are not a massive priority as they will be available regardless, looking to get long "thinnies" into stock now though is more important than ever.
4) Consider the marketing of Habanos SA and the marques they may remove or re-position - There are brands that you can tell the people behind the Cuban cigar industry (Habanos SA) are right behind and this will not change - Montecristo, Partagas, Cohiba, Hoyo, Upmann etc. Therefore these whilst worth purchasing (and amongst my favourites) they are not necessarily a priority. Where other brands that seem less "secure" including - Rafael Gonzalez, Ramon Allones, Sancho Panza & El Rey de Mundo - are worth buying now just in case.
5) Do a bit of study on Forums and from friends in the know - It is well worth getting advise from those you trust and from those with more knowledge in the same way I would suggest people do with wine. It can be reassuring and an opportunity to know that something perceived as less fashionable of cheaper has a great following amongst those "in the know".
6) Re-assure myself with the fact there is a secondary market - Another parallel with wine is the fact that you can be re-assured that unless you buy "silly" "fashionable" over priced and over marketed gimmicks you will be able to sell them later should something not have the profile, size, appeal that you want later on.
So the list now is: (Box size/Cigar name/Size/Factory code & date)
1box (25) Hoyo de Monterrey - Hoyo du Gourmet (33x170) SOT JUN 11
A great long thin smoke from the Hoyo brand that I like. I figure these are not a core smoke but I wanted to get them as the "thinnies" may be under threat.
1box (25) Hoyo de Monterrey - Hoyo des Dieux (42 x 155) LAG JUN 10
Considered one of the great smokes to age so I had to get a box of these in early so they will get the time they need. love the size too.
1box (25) Partagas 8-9-8 (43 x 170) MAR 10
Just a favourite in both flavour profile - richer and more spicy than most - and also in size.
1box (10) Partagas Serie P No2 (52 x 156) POL ENE 11
I had one of these on holiday in Spain last year, tried another to check and just loved them, not a core smoke but a box of 10 was just too tempting. Holidays and High days.
1box (25) Ramon Allones Extra LE 2011 (44 x 143)SUB JUN 11
I like the RA smokes and was excited by the LE (Limited edition for 2011). It is a size I love and the profile is stunning - fruitcake, bruised fruit and spice - also the price is not silly or really even a premium considering the LE status. This is a prime candidate for buying another box. Not to be missed.
1box (25) Ramon Allones Specially Selected (50 x 124)POS SEP 11
A great value Robusto and always a cigar that is needed.
1box (25) Ramon Allones Small Club Corona (42 x 110) OGA MAR 12
A great small, quick smoke, great value and will be a real treat to have these with a little age. Those in the know love them!
1box (25) Sancho Panza Belicosos (52 x 140) LTR ABR 10
A cigar and brand I have always found great as a light to middle weight daytime smoke, not too rich but very good, had to be in the mix.
1box (25) Sancho Panza Molinos (42 x 65)AGR JUN 11
As with the Belicosos above I have loved the Sanchos and this size is now discontinued so I had to snap these up.
1box (24) Trinidad Reyes (40 x 110) MSE MAY 11
Although quite expensive for what they are in size terms I like Trinidad and these Reyes are, in a small convenient size, exactly what the brand profile is about.
The target list:
Partagas Shorts (Cabinet of 50)
Partagas Serie D no4
Partagas Lusitanias (10 box)
Rafael Gonzalez Coronas Extra
R & J Cazadores
Por Larranaga Petit Coronas
Cohiba Behike 52's (just 10 box!)
Getting to know more about Montecristo, Diplomaticos, Bolivar &; Quai D'Orsay
All of this means that right now the Humidor at home is nearly empty and I still want to wait 18months before getting any boxes delivered so in the meantime I will buy samplers (mixed cases in wine speak), look to further my knowledge with single stick purchases and also stock up on a couple of trips I have to Spain coming up...