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How to review a cigar

Cigars, to many, provide a great deal of pleasure and relaxation.  Cigar smokers don’t smoke because they have to, they smoke because they want to experience all that a cigar can offer.  Aside from relaxing with your cigar, it’s also fun to take notes and review a cigar once in a while.  Whenever I smoke a cigar, I always make sure I have plenty of time to actually smoke the entire stick, and also be able to think about what I’m tasting.  A developed palate will allow most cigar smokers to pull out various flavors throughout their smoke, including cocoa, spice, pepper, coffee, anise, etc.

Before you cut/light your cigar, take note of:

  • Brand of cigar
  • Blend
  • Size (also known as vitola)
  • If you think age plays a role, then take note of that as well (usually for Cuban cigars)
  • Inspect the cigars overall construction and quality of how it was rolled.  Look for veins, how the head/cap looks, etc.
  • Sniff the foot of the cigar – how does it smell?

Once you’ve noted the above, it’s time to cut your cigar using your favorite cigar cutter.  Once you’ve sniped off the head, take note of the following:

  • Take a few pre-light puffs, and check for how easy or hard the draw is.  If the draw is like sucking through a straw, then the cigar was probably rolled too loose.  If the draw is noticeably tight, then you may have a cigar rolled too tight or perhaps even a plugged cigar.
  • Take a few more puffs and see what type of flavors pop out at you.

Now that you’ve thoroughly inspected the cigar, light it up!  Cigars are generally reviewed in thirds: first 1/3, second 1/3 and final 1/3.  More often than not, the cigars flavor will change as you smoke it…  Here are some things to look for:

First 1/3

  • How easy did the cigar light?
  • What were the initial flavors you detected on the first few puffs?  What’s interesting is that you may have picked up flavors such as coffee or spice during the pre-light puffs, while your first post-light puffs present something completely different.  Don’t be surprised if this happens.
  • How evenly the cigar is burning (watch for uneven burning, tunneling, etc).
  • What flavors are you detecting?
  • How does the smoke feel – harsh, smooth, creamy, etc?

Second 1/3

  • How evenly is the cigar burning?  Did you have to touch it up at all?
  • What flavors did you detect?
  • Has the cigar changed much?  If so, how?

Final 1/3

  • How evenly is the cigar burning?  Did you have to touch it up at all?
  • What flavors did you detect?
  • How has the cigar changed when compared to the first 2/3’s?
  • Are you getting any chemcially, bitter or burnt taste on your tongue?

As you smoke your cigar, it’s always a good idea to purge the smoke no more than once every 1/3.  Simply blow fresh air lightly through the cigar to expel any smoke in the stick.

Believe it or not, there are quite a few different flavors that can be picked up by smoking a cigar.  Much like drinking wine, you’ll be able to experience a wide range of common to unique flavors.  Feel free to use the ever popular flavor table below to help you with your review.

It’s always fun to smoke a cigar that you have not read any reviews on – after you’ve smoked the cigar, detected flavors and taken your notes, then go online and find as many reviews as you can.  See how your findings compare to what other people have to say.

Everyone has different tastes; what tastes good to you may not taste so good to the next person.  Always smoke what you like, and like what you smoke.  Most of all, have fun…

There are many types of flavor wheels available, however the one that best fits cigars is the wine aroma flavor wheel.

Floral Floral Linalool
Orange blossom
Rose
Violet
Geranium
Spicy Spicy Cloves bouquet
Black pepper
Licorice, anise
Fruity Citrus Grapefruit
Lemon
Berry Blackberry
Raspberry
Strawberry
Black currant/cassis
Tree Fruit Cherry
Apricot
Peach
Apple
Tropical Fruit Pineapple bouquet
Melon
Banana
Dried Fruit Strawberry jam
Raisin
Prune
Fig
Other Artificial fruit
Methyl anthranilate
Vegetative Fresh Stemmy
Cut green grass
Bell pepper
Eucalyptus
Mint
Canned/Cooked Green beans
Asparagus
Green olive
Black olive
Artichoke
Dried Hay/straw
Tea
Tobacco
Nutty Nutty Walnut bouquet
Hazelnut
Almond
Caramelized Caramelized Honey
Butterscotch
Butter/diacetyl
Soy sauce
Chocolate
Molasses
Woody Phenolic Phenolic
Vanilla
Resinous Cedar
Oak
Burned Smoky
Burnt toast/charred
Coffee
Earthy Earthy Dusty
Mushroom
Moldy Musty/mildew bad
Moldy cork
Chemical Petroleum Tar
Plastic
Kerosene
Diesel
Sulfur Rubbery
Hydrogen sulfide
Mercaptan
Garlic
Skunk
Cabbage
Burnt match
Sulfur dioxide
Wet dog
Papery Filter pad
Cardboard
Pungent Ethyl acetate
Acetic acid
Ethanol
Sulfur dioxide
Other Fishy
Soapy
Sorbate
Fusel alcohol
Pungent Hot Alcohol
Cool Menthol
Oxidized Oxidized Acetylaldehyde/sherry
Microbiological Yeasty Flor yeast
Leesy
Lactic Sauerkraut
Butyric acid
Sweaty
Lactic acid
Other Horsey
Mousey

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