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My Version of a Cigar "Thesis"

90+_Irishman90+_Irishman Loveland, COPosts: 12,440 ✭✭✭✭✭
Okay Sports Fans, here is the deal. I've decided to start a project that will be absolutely enormous and incredibly complicated, kind of my version of a thesis for the cigar industry. Main reasons being that honestly I am just incredibly interested and intrigued with the topic and would love to get into the science behind it, plus I think it would have the ability to let me gain some great experience and position me better for breaking into the cigar industry as you all know I am doing everything I can to get into.

The topic that I will be researching is how soil composition, mineral content, climate, altitude, longitude and latitude, and season directly affect the specific taste of the tobacco harvested from different countries, regions, and strains of the tobacco seeds planted.

To my knowledge very few if in fact any have ever tried to research and publish something like this. I'm sure that the farmers, and cigar titan families have done something like this, but I don't think that anyone like myself "hobbyist/amateur" has attempted this. I am already talking to some knowledgeable and intelligent people in the tobacco industry, and will be attempting to locate someone with an agricultural doctorate or if I am lucky enough possibly someone with knowledge like this from one of the farms that grow cigar quality leaf.

Obviously this is going to take a great deal of time, and tons of brain damage lol, but I am fascinated by this and decided to pursue it regardless, so here goes!

This ultimately started when I started to quantify specific flavors that I pick up in certain leaf from specific countries and regions, namely the citrusy tang and "wet" pungent dark earth that I ALWAYS pick up in Nicaraguan tobacco, one of the biggest reasons why Nicaraguan leaf is my all time fav.

So my question to you all is this; if you think that you could get a handle on information regarding this, have a background where you would likely understand soil or climate and its effect on agriculture, or anything useful you want to add I STRONGLY encourage you to post and get in contact with me! If you want to be involved in this project I would be HAPPY to have you along for the ride and will obviously credit you and your contributions on this "thesis" and be truly grateful for you help! Thank you all and can't wait to get some progress and answers on this!
"When walking in open territory bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask them to stop. If they do not stop, destroy them."
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Comments

  • kuzi16kuzi16 Posts: 14,633 ✭✭✭✭
    if you are in the cigar industry because it is a business then you are in it for the wrong reasons it is an art
    if you are in the cigar industry because it is an art then you are in it for the wrong reasons. it is a science
    if you are in the cigar industry because it is a science, then you are in it for the wrong reasons. it is a business.



    this is an even larger undertaking than you may even know.
  • big chunksbig chunks Posts: 1,607
    Maybe look at geography and climate maps of the areas your looking for
  • scarlinscarlin Posts: 1,592
    Looks like you should get on a plane and steal dirt from multiple places and test them for their nutrients. then you should grow them to see noticeable differences in the plants. Then you should eat the dirt. Then you should put certain nutrient in the dirt to compare the tastes. Then you should eat the dirt.
  • robbyrasrobbyras Posts: 5,487
    scarlin:
    Looks like you should get on a plane and steal dirt from multiple places and test them for their nutrients. then you should grow them to see noticeable differences in the plants. Then you should eat the dirt. Then you should put certain nutrient in the dirt to compare the tastes. Then you should eat the dirt.
    haha... what?
  • robbyrasrobbyras Posts: 5,487
    this is an awesome undertaking Irish... great idea and good luck!
  • bigharpoonbigharpoon Posts: 2,963 ✭✭✭
    scarlin:
    Looks like you should get on a plane and steal dirt from multiple places and test them for their nutrients. then you should grow them to see noticeable differences in the plants. Then you should eat the dirt. Then you should put certain nutrient in the dirt to compare the tastes. Then you should eat the dirt.
    lol. Ahhh, God I needed that laugh, I'm having a rotten day. Thanks.
  • Gray4linesGray4lines KentuckyPosts: 4,691 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Here's my input.

    Looks like you're taking a lot of factors ( soil, temp, climate, long/lat ) and looking for any effect they have on one factor, taste. This sounds like a linear regression. But it also seems like the one factor you are interested in, taste, is highly subjective.

    Same deal for studies that say "this, this and this are good for your health" You have to ask, what does "good for your health" mean?? Live longer? Less illness on average?

    It seems to me that research like this requires a solid base for comparison, which taste might not be due to its subjectivity.

    This does sound very interesting, and I'd love to see solid research on the cigar industry, what goes into production, and how the country of origin affects the final product.
    LLA - Lancero Lovers of America
  • Might research grant funding if you would like to go to the next level with this.
  • KriegerKrieger Posts: 337
    I'd break it down in to smaller segments, like soil composition for one, then weather, tobacco seed used, growing seasons for various regions, etc. Chip away at that mountain. lol
  • y2pascoey2pascoe Posts: 1,727 ✭✭
    I think you're over thinking things, man. Unless you and the Mrs. are thinking of packing up and moving to the D.R. or Nicuragua, I think you are over thinking. You want to break into the biz, I get that. Stick with the reviews, learn the marketing, figure out the sales portion of it. Don't let it consume you. Remember, this started out as something fun for you. Keep it that way.
  • Hey Irish! I haven't posted in while but I thought this is something my knowledge and experience may be able to help on. But for some reason I can't PM you. PM me will ya and I'll give what I can.
  • spindriftspindrift Posts: 818 ✭✭
    To take a different stand on this (not to discourage by any means), you should kidnap Don Pepin...You could put a gun to his head and get a lot of the info you need. The point here is that a lot of what you might be after is proprietary in nature and required years of blending, growing, etc.. I don't think that you are starting an impossible task, however I do believe that you will encounter many road blocks along the way...Good luck, and if I can help in anyway let me know...
  • 90+_Irishman90+_Irishman Loveland, COPosts: 12,440 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Well seems I have gotten quite a bit of response. So I think it is worth saying a few things to clarify. First off is yes this is a truly enormous undertaking with many variables. I agree that with that many variables right off the bat, especially based on something that is so subjective like taste. All of the elements that I listed I do want to incorporate into my research but will be adding them one at a time to see what influence and affect they have on the whole. Is this truly a fool-proof scientific endeavor? No, this would be one guy who loves to ask questions and figure things out on his own in his own way.

    This is going to take months to years to do. I'm quite familiar with massive and time intensive projects, ones that have taken years so I really am aware of jut how vast this will be.

    Thank you for encouraging me about this guys, it's going to be really tough and take a lot of time, but THIS is the fun part for me, figuring out the why for the things I love!
    "When walking in open territory bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask them to stop. If they do not stop, destroy them."
  • 90+_Irishman90+_Irishman Loveland, COPosts: 12,440 ✭✭✭✭✭
    MonteWhite:
    Hey Irish! I haven't posted in while but I thought this is something my knowledge and experience may be able to help on. But for some reason I can't PM you. PM me will ya and I'll give what I can.
    Thanks Monte and PM sent ;)
    "When walking in open territory bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask them to stop. If they do not stop, destroy them."
  • 90+_Irishman90+_Irishman Loveland, COPosts: 12,440 ✭✭✭✭✭
    spindrift:
    To take a different stand on this (not to discourage by any means), you should kidnap Don Pepin...You could put a gun to his head and get a lot of the info you need. The point here is that a lot of what you might be after is proprietary in nature and required years of blending, growing, etc.. I don't think that you are starting an impossible task, however I do believe that you will encounter many road blocks along the way...Good luck, and if I can help in anyway let me know...
    I agree completely with you on this Paul, it will be very tough, but the main things I am focusing on right now, is mineral content in soul and pH as well. Isolating the key outliers in the differences between soil from X and soil from Y when regarding the same or [email protected] similar plant will at least give me the right path to start heading down. The roadblocks will be there the whole time, just have to have patience s all. Thanks!
    "When walking in open territory bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask them to stop. If they do not stop, destroy them."
  • RBeckomRBeckom Home or out and about somewhere.Posts: 2,190 ✭✭✭
    I'd be happy to get A soil analysis ran on my garden soil and send the results along with eight samples of varieties I grew this year. I'm in the process of fermenting now so it would take about six more weeks to displace most of the Ammonia and make the tobacco palatable. With the soil analysis and samples you could get some firsthand experience with your thesis. Your in for A monumental but interesting pilgrimage into A fascinating field.
  • docbp87docbp87 Posts: 3,521
    Honestly, the first thing I would do is contact Alex. The man knows tobacco better than most anyone I know. Not to mention his close relationship working with AJ Fernandez, who was a protege of perhaps the greatest tobacco farmer in this century, Alejandro Robaina, may he rest in peace. As for getting into the industry... what are your goals? What aspect of the industry are you looking to get into? Sales rep? B&M owner? Brand owner? That is going to make a difference as to who I think you should get in touch with to learn from. One of the coolest things about this industry is how accessible the men (and women) who by all rights are practically celebrities, super stars of tobacco, through things like twitter, forums, etc. are.

    Another great way to learn about this stuff is to go to the source. It's not cheap, but for instance, Drew Estate offers the Cigar Safari, which is a trip to Nicaragua, involves visiting La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate (one of the largest, and most well equipped factories in Nicaragua), as well as a bunch of other cigar related locations around Esteli (and from all accounts I have heard, a fair amount of partying with JDrew and crew lol).
  • 90+_Irishman90+_Irishman Loveland, COPosts: 12,440 ✭✭✭✭✭
    RBeckom:
    I'd be happy to get A soil analysis ran on my garden soil and send the results along with eight samples of varieties I grew this year. I'm in the process of fermenting now so it would take about six more weeks to displace most of the Ammonia and make the tobacco palatable. With the soil analysis and samples you could get some firsthand experience with your thesis. Your in for A monumental but interesting pilgrimage into A fascinating field.
    That sounds great and I really appreciate it! I think that my first project point of this will be to identify EXACTLY which chemicals in soil have WHICH impact on vegetation first off, and then dial it in further and see what changes between this and tobacco plants. Thank you for your support it is HUGELY appreciated!
    "When walking in open territory bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask them to stop. If they do not stop, destroy them."
  • scarlinscarlin Posts: 1,592
    Get samples from different countries than eat the dirt. See how each compares in your mouth. Not any differences. Then eat the dirt and NO OTHER FOOD except water. Wait for it to pass through your system and see how you feel. Once you excrete it out check your stool and note and abnormalities or differences.
  • 90+_Irishman90+_Irishman Loveland, COPosts: 12,440 ✭✭✭✭✭
    docbp87:
    Honestly, the first thing I would do is contact Alex. The man knows tobacco better than most anyone I know. Not to mention his close relationship working with AJ Fernandez, who was a protege of perhaps the greatest tobacco farmer in this century, Alejandro Robaina, may he rest in peace. As for getting into the industry... what are your goals? What aspect of the industry are you looking to get into? Sales rep? B&M owner? Brand owner? That is going to make a difference as to who I think you should get in touch with to learn from. One of the coolest things about this industry is how accessible the men (and women) who by all rights are practically celebrities, super stars of tobacco, through things like twitter, forums, etc. are.

    Another great way to learn about this stuff is to go to the source. It's not cheap, but for instance, Drew Estate offers the Cigar Safari, which is a trip to Nicaragua, involves visiting La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate (one of the largest, and most well equipped factories in Nicaragua), as well as a bunch of other cigar related locations around Esteli (and from all accounts I have heard, a fair amount of partying with JDrew and crew lol).
    I agree completely Doc, especially regarding AJ and his knowledge. As for Alex, I would love to but at this time I don't feel comfortable with doing so because he has been personally helping me with a lot of issues right now and I don't want to burden him further. He has been a great asset and help but he is a busy man and i don't want to keep inundating him with more favors.

    As for my goals for the industry it is a step-wise plan so to speak. First step would be to start working at a lounge, move into management, and then ultimately become a shop owner. From there in a number of years start having my own blends/brand from my lounge, very similar from what Pete Johnson or Dion Giolito did to a degree. From there I'm not sure but my "someday" dream job would honestly be blending, hence why I am doing research into soil composition, pH balance, and that line of thinking. I think it would serve me well when I really am able to start going down this path even as a shop owner etc.

    As for doing the tours and trips I think that truly is the best way to get info first hand and start learning more immediately. I would love to do so, as would Amanda, but there is no way we can afford it for at least two-three years honestly :( Thanks for all the input Doc, and if you want to be involved in this I would be happy and honored just let me know via PM.
    "When walking in open territory bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask them to stop. If they do not stop, destroy them."
  • kuzi16kuzi16 Posts: 14,633 ✭✭✭✭
    docbp87:
    (and from all accounts I have heard, a fair amount of partying with JDrew and crew lol).
    dear god... yes he sure can host a party. hung out with him a few times on and before my Nicaragua trip.
  • Ken_LightKen_Light Posts: 3,539 ✭✭✭
    Here's how you would go about this in a regression-like model. In essence, what regression is, is holding all other variables constant except 1 for multiple cases, to make a comparison on the one variable.

    So, for example, if you wanted to look at the effect of rainfall, you'd pick out multiple regions where rainfall is variable between years, but all other conditions are the same. You then compare the different tastes year to year among each region.

    That's fairly simple in principle, but in practice all other variables influencing the taste of that tobacco would have to be the same: seed, strain, soil, priming, harvest time, fermentation, and I'm sure 100 more I'm not thinking of or don't know about.

    Then there's the fact that the tobacco we're talking about is blended with lots of others to make a cigar. The closest you could come to this would, possibly, be to try the same stick from different harvest years. But even then they'd probably mix harvest years in every stick so I'm not so sure you can pinpoint a given change in only rainfall. And that's just one variable.

    If you're open to a little chemistry (ok, a lot of chemistry, but simple-ish chemistry), you could instead grow a lot of tobacco yourself and determine the chemical composition of tobacco under various variables that you yourself control in the growing process. You can then try to understand what chemical compositions create what flavors on your palette and begin to be able to predict what conditions would produce what flavors. Then try it and see if you're on the right track.
    ^Troll: DO NOT FEED.
  • Ken_LightKen_Light Posts: 3,539 ✭✭✭
    LoL, whatever the route you choose, there's no way it falls under "cigar 101."
    ^Troll: DO NOT FEED.
  • 90+_Irishman90+_Irishman Loveland, COPosts: 12,440 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Ken Light:
    LoL, whatever the route you choose, there's no way it falls under "cigar 101."
    BWAHAHAHA yeah you are probably spot on Ken, but I couldn't find a section labeled "Advanced Cigar Theory for Morons" since that is the most accurate way to label what I am doing lol! As for your idea Ken I think you have a great model and thought process. I don't have the space to grow tobacco right now, but that is something I would love to do as soon as the time is right. For now, I will do my best to **** it from a standpoint of same cigar from different years and harvests etc etc. This is going to be VERY difficult with a wide range of interpretations I am sure, but it will give a great ballpark for effects of x,y, and z on "taste".
    "When walking in open territory bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask them to stop. If they do not stop, destroy them."
  • Ken_LightKen_Light Posts: 3,539 ✭✭✭
    90+ Irishman:
    Ken Light:
    LoL, whatever the route you choose, there's no way it falls under "cigar 101."
    BWAHAHAHA yeah you are probably spot on Ken, but I couldn't find a section labeled "Advanced Cigar Theory for Morons" since that is the most accurate way to label what I am doing lol! As for your idea Ken I think you have a great model and thought process. I don't have the space to grow tobacco right now, but that is something I would love to do as soon as the time is right. For now, I will do my best to **** it from a standpoint of same cigar from different years and harvests etc etc. This is going to be VERY difficult with a wide range of interpretations I am sure, but it will give a great ballpark for effects of x,y, and z on "taste".
    Hey, if nothing else, that's about the most fun, relaxing type of research I've ever heard of...
    ^Troll: DO NOT FEED.
  • 90+_Irishman90+_Irishman Loveland, COPosts: 12,440 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Ken Light:
    90+ Irishman:
    Ken Light:
    LoL, whatever the route you choose, there's no way it falls under "cigar 101."
    BWAHAHAHA yeah you are probably spot on Ken, but I couldn't find a section labeled "Advanced Cigar Theory for Morons" since that is the most accurate way to label what I am doing lol! As for your idea Ken I think you have a great model and thought process. I don't have the space to grow tobacco right now, but that is something I would love to do as soon as the time is right. For now, I will do my best to **** it from a standpoint of same cigar from different years and harvests etc etc. This is going to be VERY difficult with a wide range of interpretations I am sure, but it will give a great ballpark for effects of x,y, and z on "taste".
    Hey, if nothing else, that's about the most fun, relaxing type of research I've ever heard of...
    Thanks Ken! And yeah, this is research, but it is something truly enjoyable for me and makes me have a deeper and richer experience with every cigar I smoke :)
    "When walking in open territory bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask them to stop. If they do not stop, destroy them."
  • Jiffy78Jiffy78 Posts: 30
    Hey Irish, it sounds like you really are going to wrestle this bear, so for what it's worth I will throw in my two cents

    The agricultural side sounds really interesting. My suggestion would be to look into the similar research that has (probably) been done regarding coffee and wine. It occurs to me that the basic formula for how soil composition, altitude, humidity, sunlight, etc effect the tastes of a cigar would be realtively similar to why it shapes the taste of certain coffees and wines.

    It might give you a place to start, or an overview of how to proceed, whom to contact, and so on.
    Good luck!
  • KingoftheCoveKingoftheCove Posts: 932 ✭✭✭
    Gray4lines:
    Here's my input.

    Looks like you're taking a lot of factors ( soil, temp, climate, long/lat ) and looking for any effect they have on one factor, taste. This sounds like a linear regression. But it also seems like the one factor you are interested in, taste, is highly subjective.

    Same deal for studies that say "this, this and this are good for your health" You have to ask, what does "good for your health" mean?? Live longer? Less illness on average?

    It seems to me that research like this requires a solid base for comparison, which taste might not be due to its subjectivity.

    This does sound very interesting, and I'd love to see solid research on the cigar industry, what goes into production, and how the country of origin affects the final product.
    +1 (from someone who spent 24+ years in pharma market research)
    Ken has very good points as well.
    My advice..........simplify your study objective.................objective being the key word.
    Objectivity versus subjectivity will be issues that could screw up your project if you're not careful.

    If you are going to take the time to do "scientific analysis" (soils, regions, rainfall, seeds, etc.) - your results should to be objectively measurable (ie - Seed A grows to 4 feet, yields x pounds of tobacco, and has X nicotine content when grown in Nicaragua, and only takes 6 months to ferment. In the Domiican Republic Seed A grows to 3 feet, yields y pounds of tobacco, etc.,etc.)

    Then you could put your "subjective" analysis (taste, color, aroma, strength, etc.) and lay it over the objectively gathered/measured data and findings, maybe in your Summary of Findings section at the end of the thesis.

    As Kuzi and others noted, there are a LOT of variables in the objective/measureable component of your undertaking. There are even MORE on the subjective side...................

    So, imho, I would advise you to simplify and carefully define your objective (at least for your first cigar research thesis) - you can take on the "Grand Thesis" on your second or third effort!

    Good luck.................wish I had as much time as you do!! :-)

  • Poker_SlobPoker_Slob Posts: 1,238 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Look at the Tobacconist University. Lots of info and knowledge available. I believe Kuzi has a friend that is a Master Tobacconist. But, I am old and could easily be mistaken.
  • 90+_Irishman90+_Irishman Loveland, COPosts: 12,440 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Thanks everyone, and I have been re-evaluating and narrowing my field of research, more updates soon and once again thank you all!
    "When walking in open territory bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask them to stop. If they do not stop, destroy them."
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