Every year, Habanos SA, the company that handles all the manufacturing and distribution of Cuban Cigars draw up a list of what sizes from what brands will be discontinued. Habanos SA have never given publicly reason why a certain Cuban Cigar gets the chop. Maybe their senior executives huddle in a room, throw darts at a board, play stogie Russian roulette or even participate in a knock out tournament of Sensible Soccer representing their least favourite Cigar.
Most people agree it's most probably due to demand. That makes business sense, right? Anyway, every Cigar Aficionado cried a tear or at least swore at their mother when they heard two sizes of the Diplomaticos range got the axe. The Diplomaticos No. 4 and No. 5, in many Cigar Aficionado's eyes (me included), agreed that these were great morning or afternoon smokes. There was no doubt that these were consistent Cigars. You buy a box in 2003, they were great. Box in 2007, fabulous. Obviously, Habanos listen to the bottom line more than their customers.
This year, if the rumours are true, everyone's favourite party Cigar, the Partagas Culebras, is going to be discontinued after their re-introduction in 2007 as a purely handmade vitola . Another Cigar that is also rumoured to be cancelled is also the Bolivar Gold Medal.
There are nothing wrong with these two vitolas. One is for cheap laughs, and funnily enough, they are again pretty good smokes, while the other, the Bolivar Gold Medal, is a fabulous smoke, and as they're available in boxes of ten, not that expensive as a one off box purchase. So what gives? Consistency is good. Why be down on consistency? Habanos SA should be looking at inconsistency. Yeah, sack inconsistency. Maybe that's not so straightforward either...
If we were to delete inconsistent, generally poor Cigar vitolas, then why not lets start with the daddy, the Montecristo #4? The world's most popular Cuban Cigar, is also one of the most inconsistent. (did I not say that already?) But, as with any handmade product the more Cigars the roller has to roll on her thigh, the more tired and slack her work is going to be. Ok, I'm playing with a stereotype here, but the principal the same, the more Cigars you have to produce the chances are the quality of each one made will decrease slightly.
Maybe deleting inconsistent, unsatisfactory made or badly tasting Cigars is not so simple either...
I think the marketing Habanos SA are doing with Cigar deletions is incorrect. The best thing they could do with a Cigar that is not selling as well as they would hope is to stop producing it for a few years and then produce a few ten thousand boxes a few years later. Make the vitola desirable by making it difficult to source and purchase.
I'm sure during the late 2000's, the Por Larranaga Petit Corona's were produced this way. One year they would release enough cabinets of 50 to satisfy demand and then not make them for a couple of years. During the years where they weren't being made, obtaining these boxes became scarce, and therefore Cigar smokers then would gladly buy a load of them when a new batch of them are made a few years later.
As you can see, there's a few things to think about here. It's a shame some great Cigars are being deleted. Maybe certain people love being traditionalists (please don't take my Rafael González Lonsdale away... oh wait, too late). If a certain Cigar has been in production since before the revolution, does it have some kind of un-deletable diplomatic immunity?
Or in the grand scheme of things does it really matter? Habanos SA seem to release something new every year, to fill the gap. Or, wait... Are they conning us by releasing something new that is actually just the same as a Cigar that was recently deleted?