2013 Cuban Cigar Discontinuations Speculation Spreads like Wildfire
A list of Cigars that could possibly make up the 2013 Discontinuations has been posted on a popular Cigar forum. Although not the official word from Habanos SA, a few of the vitolas and a brand that has previously been rumoured to be at risk are included.
Over the last week rumours have been circulating of what Cigars will be discontinued in 2013 as part of Habanos's curling of cigars. A post on the Cigar Aficionado forums fuelled the rumour mill:
Was at my local cigar lounge (which is run by the Habanos Asia Pacific Distributor) tonight and the manager told me the following were going to be discontinued:
- Partagás 898
- Partagás Serie D No. 5
- Partagás Serie E No. 2
- Partagás Presidentes
- Diplomáticos No. 2
- Ramon Allónes Small Club Coronas
- San Cristóbal de la Habana - All Vitolas
If you are a fan of any of the above, it might be an idea to stock up. Personally, the only one I will miss is the El Principe.
First things first. This isn't the official line from Habanos SA. Habanos SA have NOT announced that any of the Cigars listed above or otherwise are due to be discontinued in 2013. So just take what's been said and what I'm going to say below with a huge pinch of salt. And of course, there's no harm in stocking up :-)
Is there any truth to this statement?
Cuba isn't very proficient in keeping secrets. Whispers of both the Partagás 898 and the whole San Cristobal link being discontinued have been heard for the last year or so. These rumours just don't appear out of thin air. No smoke without fire, as the saying goes. There's no doubt in my mind, that the list above is indeed a list that has either been passed on from an official or close to Habanos SA. Or it could be the case of the Habanos Asia Pacific Distributor trying to put two and two together but returning five.
Remember the whole palaver whereas one day it was announced by an owner of a well known German LCDH that the whole Trinidad line was to be discontinued? But in fact is was fact only the Trinidad Robusto T and Robusto Extra that was getting the chop? So taking in lessons learned from the Trinidad episode, it may be the case that the list above is more of an "at risk" list than a definite discontinuation list.
Why is Cigar X on the list?
Habanos SA just don't discontinue popular selling Cigars from their rosta without a good reason. That good reason nine times out of ten is due to poor sales. Below I've listed each Cigar that's on the list and try to justify why it may be heading for the chop.
The Cigar on the list that surprised mostly everyone, the Partagás 898 is highly respected smoke amongst aficionados. And that's the problem; it's reputation only stretches as far as the small fraction of smokers who know of it's quality. There's just not enough Partagás 898 evangelists around to satisfy Habanos SA sales figures.
Partagás Serie D No. 5 & Partagás Serie E No. 2
Both Cigars were introduced in 2011 as part of the Partagás brand. However, it seems that only after a year, both Cigars are faced with discontinuation.
Back in 2011, when both Cigars were launched, Habanos SA said that the release of both was an experiment. It looks as if the experiment has failed.
Habanos SA are not afraid of making u-turns if all the signs point that they have to. A similar fate fell on the Trinidad Robusto T. Only after three years, Habanos SA decided that sales were not strong enough to warrant the continued production of the Cigar.
I've always found the Partagás Presidentes an interesting Cigar. A Perfecto, the Presidentes is rustic, and from what most people have written, the Cigar needs a few years of ageing to be smokable. I've followed a lot of Cigars of the years, but never really saw much being said about this Cigar. It was as if you'd get a small batch released, but then they would just disappear again.
Again, it just has to be sales figures.
Diplomáticos No. 2
The Diplomáticos brand has had a rough ride in the last five years. Both the Diplomáticos No. 1 and No. 3 were discontinued in 2006, with the Diplomáticos No. 4 and No. 5 following suit in 2010. It seems as if the brand is slowly being phased out. Such a shame, when I started my journey into the world of Cuban Cigars, the Diplomáticos No. 4 and No. 5 were two of my favourite finds.
Now it looks as if the Diplomáticos No. 2 is now under threat. It's strange that a large torpedo shaped cigar is the last vitola available under the Diplomáticos range. Other, more well known alternatives available such as the Montecristo No. 2, Partagás P No. 2 and H. Upmann Upmann No. 2 are available. It just doesn't make sense to keep the No. 2 around.
Ramon Allónes Small Club Coronas
The Cigar I would miss most if there's any truth to the discontinuation list. I thought that the Ramon Allónes Small Club Corona was selling well, but what do we know? The one thing I have noticed over the last six months however, is that the availability of the Small Club Corona has shrunk considerably. Word is that there are quite a few retailers waiting on more stock of the Cigar. Is the scarceness of the Small Club Corona a sign that the Cigar is due to be discontinued? Possibly.
The San Cristóbal de la Habana Brand
I can't recall when a whole brand was discontinued in one fell swoop. Well, OK, Guantanamera was deleted from the Habanos portfolio in 2005, but Guantanamera Cigars aren't really Cigars, so lets just discount those. It would be a very bold and cutthroat move by Habanos SA to just drop a whole brand. You would have to assume again that sales of San Cristobal just aren't strong enough and therefore at risk.
If Habanos SA did decide to discontinue the brand, then you would have to wonder what brand in their portfolio would be under threat next. A brand such as Vegas Robaina, however sacred the name is, can't be a huge seller over brands such as Trinidad and San Cristobal who have had rumours of being fully discontinued banded about.
Don't always believe what they tell you
Before I sign off, please remember: none of the Cigars listed above have officially been discontinued. This list is from a distributor, he does not know for sure the list. So before you shed a tear for any of the Cigars above, the chances are that the Cigar you're hoping for not being discontinued is actually not in danger.