Drop in quality after a success?

As a blogger, I try to dedicate some time to scanning what's going on in my niche. I have noticed a trend lately and I'd like you to help either confirm or disprove it. It deals with the overall quality of a given blend, which sometimes tends to be very good at the time it's released, then progressively drops after gaining a certain reputation.

This might (sadly) seem as a natural process - as soon as the sales pick up, less attention is being given to quality control and raw material - there are other blends to promote/work on, right? Of course, this post would be worthless without examples. I've got a couple and they concern the same manufacturer. Some of you must already have guessed who I am talking about.

Over one year ago, I reviewed the Rocky Patel Decade. I thought it was one of the best Nicaraguan smokes that I ever tried and I still have a couple of cigars from that batch. Yesterday another review of this cigar hit the blogosphere and Barry's verdict is not that favorable. We have the same story with the Olde World Reserve (by the way, #8 on the CA's top 25 list of 2009). One year ago, Charlie said it was an excellent choice for all corojo lovers. These days, the wrapper of the OWRs leaves nasty brown spots on your fingers and lips.

What do you guys think about it? Is this a real trend or just a coincidence?

10 Comments on “Drop in quality after a success?”

  1. TheGentleman says:

    This is a very good topic. I don’t know enough about growing and cultivating tobacco, but as a consumer I expect a cigar’s blend to be fairly constistent from year to year. However, I wish cigars acted more like wine and were vintage dated. I respect the non cuban producers who box date their cigars. I wish more followed this practice. To answer your question, I think the tobacco just isn’t as good year to year and it affects the quality.

  2. I think it has a lot to do with the hype. Remember when “New Coke” came out, at first people liked it, but…Maybe when the hype dies down, kinda like a new ride at a Six Flags park, it’s all there at first. Then after you’ve ridden it a few times it just ain’t so special anymore.

    Good topic, and one I kinda sorta agree with. I have certain cigars that are my favorites that I only smoke once in a while so they are indeed special occasions.

  3. Both of the hypotheses above make sense to me, and both play a role, I’m sure. However, I think there is still an issue of QC with these guys. If they are like other businesses, then a lot of these guys probably start off very small and can oversee all aspects of the production of their cigars (at least as far as they’re given access by the companies rolling them). Once you’ve got as many lines as RP has, it would be almost impossible to closely watch all aspects of all the brands. The main outcome of this – it seems to me, anyway – is more construction issues.

    Oddly, my friend and I were just discussing this the other day, only we were talking about Pepin. We’ve both been Pepin smokers since before he was a household name (he made the house blend for a local shop). But the recent Tat Blacks, Verocu Tubos, and Cubaos have been very disappointing from a construction standpoint. We’ve had odd burns, tunnels, and hot cigars…and from different boxes. It had us wondering if Pepin has just gotten too big to control even the top of the line stuff.

    Anyway, that’s my two cents. I’m sure the hype of a new line, and the year-to-year quality of the tobacco affect the experience and taste of a cigar, but I’m not sure those could truly affect the QC dive I’ve experienced with some of the guys who become super big names.

  4. This is a very interesting question. As the cigar manufacturer’s product hits the market, demand may increase which may induce a slip in quality in order to meet the high demand.

    On the other hand, can the same exact blend be guaranteed from batch to batch? Environmental conditions may cause tobacco to be of less quality than the original blend. This happens a lot in the wine industry with grapes.

    Maybe there is a change in the master blender, and the original blend cannot be duplicated.

    Certainly lots of of questions rise when success is achieved. One would hope that some degree of consistency is observed and revealed to the cigar smoker.

    -Ed

  5. Given the handmade craftsmanship that goes into cigars, I find it almost incredible that the best makers can achieve the consistency they do year after year – or even from one stick to the next!

    It’s disappointing when a favourite blend changes or declines, and it’s unacceptable, but I think it’s understandable – especially given the climate anomalies in tobacco-growing areas over the past decade.

    Definitely a good idea to have date stamps on boxes, though – why isn’t this standard practice?

  6. Hard to expect the same quality all the time. That said, there is no reason why cigars of lesser quality, leaves etc should be released. If the original mix is not available then dont produce the cigar. It will only be worth more in my opinion when the original becomes more available.

  7. Mind you, the lip- and finger-staining problems Inspector mentions may support that rumour of artificial colouring…

  8. I see it as getting too big and losing sight of where some of these guys started and why they started their own line or lines of cigars. I noticed it with RP 1992’s. Not anywhere as good as a few years ago.

  9. No one has actually mention the shops that people purchase cigars from. It isn’t always the fault of a specific cigar company for a decline in quality! Cigar ressellers and shops play a huge factor in cigar quality. If a stores humidor is over or under humidified it diminishes the quality of the specific cigar or which I have actually caught a wholeseller selling to a cigar shop second rated cigars with contraband cigar bands. It’s not only the manufacturers fault all the time for diminishing quality in cigars!

  10. APnWI - Fire Up That Cigar says:

    If manufac’s don’t want to give us information about the blends and tobacco’s they use they could at least box date the damn things. Good topic guys!!!

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