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Great Cigars Mean Great Taste

From the Print Edition:
Rudy Giuliani, Nov/Dec 01

(continued from page 1)

I wish the same could be said about the few Cubans in the cigar business I have spoken to about flavor. This summer I was in the quality-control tasting room of the La Corona factory in Havana and I began speaking to one of the "tasters." When I spoke about flavor and richness, he thought I was "poco loco." He had no idea what the concept meant. As long as he could smoke the cigar he was testing, it was all that mattered. Worse, some in the Cuban cigar business either don't smoke cigars or are cigarette smokers parading as cigar smokers. I will never forget visiting one of the tobacco research centers in the Vuelta Abajo a few years ago where none of the center's technicians smoked cigars. I had brought a box of Partagas Serie D No. 4s to share with them after lunch and they all turned me down.

"If you don't smoke cigars, how can you know that the new varieties of tobacco you are growing make good cigars?" I asked them.

"We have technicians in Havana who test the varieties of tobacco and they say they are fine," one of them answered.

"Well, that's like a chef who makes some of the greatest food on earth but he doesn't eat it," I answered. They thought it was funny, but I wasn't joking.

Making good-quality, full-flavored cigars is no joking matter. If cigar manufacturers, regardless of their country of origin, want to make inroads into the superpremium segment of the market, they are going to have to understand the concept of flavor. Serious cigar smokers today are no longer willing to pay $6, $8 or even $20 for a smoke, if it doesn't have any character or flavor.


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