Ask The Readers: Old School Blends

Stogie Talk18 Comments on Ask The Readers: Old School Blends

Ask The Readers: Old School Blends

While the east coast was greeted by its second snow storm in less than a month, I sat warmly in my office working away. I decided to take advantage of my ability to work from home and opted not to venture out onto the snowy streets. My wife had the same thought cross her mind and called out of work. Presented with the rare scenario to work from home while my wife tended to our daughter meant that my day would be spent marinating in cigar smoke.

When it came time to light up my second cigar of the day, I grabbed my phone and snapped a quick picture. Lately I have been posting photos to Twitter and Facebook, asking for the collective opinion of each cigar. Doing this has yielded some very interesting responses. When I posted a follow-up tweet on the progression of my Ashton VSG, I got a response that I found very thought provoking.

Tweet Screen Cap - Jan 12th 2011

You see, I have been a fan of the Ashton VSG for some time now. In fact, back in 2007 I named it my Cigar of the Year. Because of the price and availability, I haven’t bought one in some time and it has been even longer since I have smoked one. Having fond memories of this cigar, I was shocked to find that the flavor was lacking.

When Weelok’s Tweet came across my timeline, I had to stop and think about some of my favorite older blends. I wondered, have old blends become dated and less enjoyable than the new and exciting cigars that have taken the market by storm? Surely there is still some love for the classics but do they still have the same impact that they used to?

I’d like to put on a little experiment and I am inviting you to take part in it. Take a moment and think back to some of the older cigars that you have fond memories of, cigars that you used to smoke frequently. Sort out the ones that are still being produced and are readily available. Set a little time aside and light up one of those cigars, then hit the comments section and share your thoughts. Is it as good as it used to be or hve your tastes changed enough that the cigar no longer interests you?

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enjoying cigars since 2005

18 thoughts on “Ask The Readers: Old School Blends

  1. Only been smoking cigars for a few years, and the first cigar that blew me away was the san cristobal fabuloso. While none of them have been as good as the first I smoked, they are still my number one smoke. However, I used to smoke a lot of CAO . Now the only CAO I really enjoy is the Sopranos associate. But, the VSG is a fucking great smoke. Walt, smoke the torpedo and tell me it is blah.

  2. I have VSG sticks in my humidor from 2007. I wish you could smoke one of those. They are great smokes if you bought them now but in my opinion a classic smoke if you have the patience to hold on to a bunch and age them.

  3. Walt,
    This is the mother of all coincidences on my end. I’ve had an Ashton VSG Spellbound sitting in my humidor for a couple of months now and I was waiting for a special occasion to fire it up. Last night was my wife’s first class of the new simester and I had about three hours to kill. I grabbed a couple of pale ales from the fridge and headed down to my smoking room. I realize that beer can alter the perception of the cigar so I made a point to smoke a good third of my coveted Ashton sans suds. LETDOWN OF THE YEAR! I know it’s only half way through January, but this is officially my letdown of the year. It was one of the most boring cigars I’ve ever smoked. My go-to smoke is the Illusione 4/2 G. Maybe I’ve been on the Nicaragua train too long. I have one more VSG sitting in my box. The name excapes me, but it looks to be a Lonsdale. I hope it tastes better than the big boy.

    Nick

  4. I hate to be a parrot, but when you’re right you’re right.

    The Ashton VSG of 5 years ago was a much different cigar than it is now. The VSG, for me, was my very first “ah ha” cigar, and what really propelled me into the cigar world. I remember the moment clearly; I was sitting in a cigar lounge enjoying a Spellbound, when it suddenly hit me – I can TASTE leather. For the first time, I got it. I understood the reviews and tasting notes which talked of “leather” “cocoa” and “pencil lead.” That is no longer the case with the VSG. I still think it’s a decent cigar, but not nearly as complex as it once was.

  5. There is no doubt that the new blends have dramatically changed over the last couple of years. I think that if you have been smoking the new blends and enjoying them, returning to the older ones will make them seem boring. I guess it’s just a matter of our palate becoming accustomed to a stronger smoke. Maybe those that prefer the milder cigars can return to the older blends and still enjoy them.

    While I don’t dislike the older blends, my desire for an easy going cigar just occurs less frequently. During those rare moments, I can still enjoy a more “boring” stick.

  6. There was a period of time starting about seven years ago when the “new” blends were different but in a significantly darker way. (by that I mean more coffee, chocolate, leather etc. ) They differed from the traditional blends and provided an interesting alternative but they lacked the vibrancy and nuance found in current releases. I think ten years in the future we will look back and realize we are currently in the salad days of cigar smoking.

  7. The first cigars that come to mind are the Rocky Patel Sungrown and the Oliva Serie O. Both were hands down my 1 and 2 for a while. The Sun Grown is still pretty damn good but not in my top 10 and the O has fallen out of my top 20 probably. 2 that I think have with stood the test of time are the Padilla 1932 and the Camacho Corojo. Both are and always have been in my top 5. The next one I’m going to test is the San Cristobal. I picked up a box of the Fabulosos (torpedo) a few months ago. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  8. I was a huge VSG fan boy about 5-6 years ago. To me it was the next best thing to an Opus X (because of price of availability, and the power/flavor). I have to agree with everyone’s recent experiences with them. I had a five pack this past summer, and quickly went through them because I was disappointed with each one and thought it was a fluke. Imagine this, the VSG was cutting edge at the time, there were no blockbuster boutiques on the market then that I can think of.
    I’ll even go on to say I’ve been disappointed with the Opus Xs I’ve had recently (I’ve got age on nearly a box varying 2-4 years). Scott hit it on the mark when he said these are the “salad days” of cigar variety. The leaders today are not Fuente, General/Altadis ( the Budweiser and Miller of cigars), or even Padron. It’s Illusione, Garcia, Fernandez, and Fuego. I have been amazed at what these guys are putting out. I throw Patel and CAO out of the discussion because these guys are simply sourcing cigars. However RP Sungrown, and La Traviata will always be in my humidor, they got those right.
    I’ll take it another step further. When will Litto Gomez ever get the love that he deserves? For an overall smoking experience, draw, construction, appearance, and flavor-nobody does it better. Check out reviews of his products. All those I’ve seen entered the review skeptical, but gushing at the nub. I’ve had bad Tatuajes. I had a Padron 45 last week (my first), and was thoroughly unimpressed-especially for the price point.
    Sorry for the length of this comment, but Walt and I have had the same thought. What happened to the cigars I used to elevate to gold standard status? Now I move right past them at my shop for an Epernay or Cubao. I do fear that Oliva is headed for stagnation. I know, I know, everyone still gets moist over the V. I had one recently and didn’t get excited. I have some Master Blends resting. Any opinions on those?

    1. I’m an Oliva V fanboy, loved them from the first puff years ago and have some that have 2 years age on them in the box and they are quite frankly fantastic. I also have some MB3s in the box with over a year of age on them…those I smoke only on special occasions and they are quite simply amazing. Half the price of the Padron 26 and in my opinion the same flavor profile but just better.

  9. The padilla 1932 Pepin blend blows away the new blend.I have a local place I can still get them because they are $16 each.Now I get the new blend for about $90 a box.Which seems about right.

  10. I used to really enjoy some blends and yet experienced the same loss of enjoyment of many after either a box, five pack or 2-3. I chalked it up to bad humidor care mostly. But recently I started thinking… what if its something in the blend thats changed? Just because a VSG tasted one way in 2007 doesnt mean it has to taste the same in 2011.

    There are soooo many variables that can change the taste of the tobaccos used in that cigar from year to year. Not to mention the variables in between when it leaves the factory and gets into your hands. Just because the b&M or online retailer boasts of pristine temperature and humidity at their facilities doesnt mean its been shocked or damaged by temperature/humidity changes by the time they got it… or by the time it gets into your hands. I’ve heard those things can just “shock” a cigar for a few days or weeks then its back to normal. Really? Its not affected permanently at all?

    Ever think about how we tend to eat certain foods and some foods kill the taste buds and some make that smoke taste heavenly? I read a story about some dude who had a reaction to bad pine nuts and lost all taste for a month or something. Maybe certain things we eat (and i know i go thru phases or eating new dishes or cuisines for time periods) makes those favorite smokes taste bad for a while.

    It just gets to be too much to think about and I just say like Tony Soprano, wtf you gonna do. -and i keep on puffin

    ps. found the story i mentioned
    http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/pine-mouth-pine-nuts-leave-bitter-taste-lingers/story?id=11097222

  11. It’s so hard to unpack whether it’s my taste changing, the blends changing, or just natural variations in tobacco from year-to-year – or some combination of those things – influencing what I think of a given cigar. Or even aging differences between smokes. What I do know is that my tastes have certainly changed. I went from milder as a newbie straight into full-bodied with heavy tastes for a long while. Nowadays, I am all about medium-bodied but interesting cigars. And for those types of cigars, I agree that we’re in the salad days of cigar smoking. EP Carrillo has been churning out one great stick after another. The new Quesadas, the Fuegos that have come out, Dion, Pete, etc. Theses newer smokes just have a nice, balanced, interesting profile that suits my tastes in ways that the cigars I used to smoke (Oliva V, O, and G, Patel, HdM, Punch, even the La Flor Ligero, etc.) just can’t match. Padron, on the other hand, never lets me down.

  12. I guess this discussion crystalizes the reason why the cigar lifestyle is a journey, and never complete. There will always be new and interesting products for us to try and either discard as nostalgia and niche’, or fall in love with.

  13. I don’t think it’s that the blends are dated, just that there are a number of new blends with much more appealing quality to price ratios. I smoked a few VSGs and Opuses released this year did not find them to be anything special. But every VSG/Opus I have smoked with. Few years of age has been fantastic.

  14. It depends on the vintage. Fuente always has up and down years. Look at their sungrowns. Always hit and miss. Same with Anjeos and Opus. Why wouldn’t VSG’s be any different.

  15. I think its a combination – 1) of our own tastes changing over time, and 2) the constant variability in the cigar manufacturing process (I honestly can’t even imagine how these guys are able to produce anything even close to consistency year after year for individually hand-made products like cigars).

    The same variability that allows all our favorite manufacturers to come up with so many new and exciting blends year after year, works exactly the same in reverse for them to try and maintain consistency in taste and appearance for our favorite cigars.

    AND, it doesn’t take too many not-so-wow moments for us to give up on a previous favorite, but only a few new WoW’s for us to take up a new banner.

    You know …. I think we’re all just fickle! 😀

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