We were excited to smoke a vintage Vegueros Especiales No. 1 that a friend gave us in Mexico City. It looked great in its aged cedar box and its beautiful medium brown wrapper. It was boxed in 1997.
We put the cigar in the ashtray and took a photo of its beautiful long form. We pulled the rat tail off the end of the smoke to get it ready for smoking. We usually use a thumbnail to cut the end of the smoke, like tobacco growers in Cuba.
So then we took a cool draw off the cigar before we put the lighter to it. IT WAS PLUGGED! We couldn’t draw. We had to cut a third of the cigar’s end off to get a good draw.
It reminds us how bad some cigars were from 1997 to about 2001 in construction in Cuba. They were producing too many cigars. There was a change in a generation of rollers in factories; so many inexperienced cigar makers were working. This and other factors lead to a decline in quality in Cuban cigars.
This is why we prefer mostly current production cigars to old cigars, but, of course, when you get a good aged smoke, they can be amazing experiences. Just be aware of cigars from the period we mentioned, especially from about 1999 to 2001.
The final two-thirds of the smoke was marvelous with nutty, tea leaf and light spice character. But losing a third of the smoke diminished the experience. The flavors were 90 plus, or outstanding, but the cigar wasn’t because of the poor construction.