Besides just enjoying a premium cigar, being able to process the flavors can open up greater possibilities and allow the smoker to compare the flavor profiles to other cigars, thus allowing for greater experience and appreciation for the craft. Tobacco is the same as grape seeds for wine, being genetically stable, and this means they will be affected by the various differences in soil wherever it is grown rather than being altered by nature to produce a different seed or hybrid. Essentially, you can take the same seeds from Cuba and grow them in Nicaragua and it will be the same tobacco, but it will have different qualities because it was grown in different soil and in a different region of the world. This is important to understand because tobacco will deliver a unique profile to the smoker depending on where it is grown, how it is aged and how long, and the manner in which it is dried, stored, and handled. There are three primary components to a cigar's profile when we consider tasting: the taste notes, body, and strength. 1. Taste Notes are the organic elements which are found in the cigar tobacco naturally. These elements can often be described by terms associated with organic compounds such as earth, coffee, floral, nuts, fruit, etc. There's a very long list, and finding these taste notes can often times take experience. 2. The body is the element we use to describe and measure the range of tobacco in a cigar and is often divided into mild, medium, and full. 3. Strength is primarily related to how much nicotine is in the tobacco. Sometimes, people often use this term to describe the body profile by mistake, but it can be argued that they are interchangeable. You can have a mild bodied cigar with light or higher ranging flavors and high strength, or you could have a full bodied cigar with a seemingly non-existent flavor profile and very strong nicotine content, for example. The construction criteria of a cigar can also be described as a factor in judging its quality, also. The wrapper condition, aroma, and draw can all be appraised by the smoker. Outside its physical condition, whether a cigar is "good" or "bad" will entirely be a subjective experience. It's up to you to decide if it's any good or not. Flavors: How To Taste A Cigar: Begin by toasting the cigar and lighting. Take a couple draws into your mouth and exhale, then gently blow out through the cigar once. The end should be fully lit and the ember ought to cover the entire foot of the cigar. You're not really tasting at this point --you want to get the cigar fully lit and allow the oils in the wrapper to heat up. After a few seconds, perhaps as long as a minute, begin smoking. Your methods may vary depending on your preferences, but at some point you do want to retro-hale (blowing smoke from your mouth through your nostrils outward) to taste more of the cigar. This process can "burn" your sinus if the cigar is full bodied, and beginners probably will not find it to be pleasant. Nevertheless, retro-haling is an important part of cigar smoking and provides much of the flavors you won't find simply by holding the smoke in your mouth alone. How much should you retro-hale depends on your own preferences. A cigar will often change in flavors as it progresses through the smoking process. You may find peppery notes at first, or pungent and bitter floral notes if the cigar is not aged enough. You may find a cigar will even out and become more smooth and take on rich, savory characteristics with nutty and cocoa flavor notes after a certain stage. Roll the smoke in your mouth, allow it to caress your tongue for a few seconds before exhaling. The after effects of the smoke will deliver a certain taste, and judge for yourself if it's something you like or not. Also, take account of how long these flavors remain as you wait to take another draw. Some flavors will disappear quicker, others take longer. You may find a smooth, velvety texture to a smoke with cocoa and earth flavor notes while in the mouth and a lingering of pepper and spice as you exhale. You may find a stronger pepper accompanying the retro-hale and a little bit of cinnamon or licorice notes on the backside. It's very important to cleanse your palate before having a cigar. Some drinks and food will heavily affect the flavor of your cigar and could detrimentally as well as positively influence the profile. It's entirely up to you to choose and 'pair' your food and drink with your cigar. When in doubt, just stick with a glass of water. I hope this helps you to understand the nuances behind cigar tasting. Remember, it's entirely up to you to find and disseminate the natural flavor elements of a cigar, and there's no exactness to any of it. You could smoke the same type of cigar as a professional critic and find varying flavor profiles. The important thing is to find time to enjoy your cigar. A cool smoke will provide you far more pleasant flavors than hot smoke because you were drawing too quickly.