Re: Bad exoticas
There is always the possibility they could just go bad by absorbing too much moisture, that is what coals do best other than burn.
I got a new box sent to me from Gabe and they are great; smell when lighting and smell/taste when 3/4 burned, but that's been normal for Exoticas in my experience. While they are in their prime burning stage they are perfect.
People will randomly get bad batches of coals, and i do think they should be compensated. Some are visibly bad without burning, some are visibly bad while burning. There will always be that smell when lighting, and maybe only I notice the taste when they are 75% done (or i'm just that lucky).
If you want perfect burning coals (only they smell bad when lighting and give off visible fumes) then get Golden QL or 3K's. Or some Jap coals. Maybe Natural coals aren't for you. I am debating that right now.