Cigar Tasting 101 How To Process The Flavors

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Brokor, Aug 18, 2018.

  1. Mild cigars

    3 vote(s)
  2. I prefer medium bodied cigars

    1 vote(s)
  3. I occasionally enjoy infused cigars

    1 vote(s)
  4. I am more of a medium to full person

    2 vote(s)
  5. Only full bodied cigars for me

    0 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    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.

    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.
    GrayGhost, snake6264, Dont and 4 others like this.
  2. Mountainman

    Mountainman Großes Mitglied Site Supporter+++

    Great write up Brokor. Have been trying to figure out how you describe the flavors you're tasting when doing reviews. Going to fire up a Diesel after lunch and try out your techniques.
  3. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    Damn, I forgot to send you an Arturo Fuente I wanted you to try. It's pretty cool how they arranged the fillers, because right at the halfway point you can immediately notice a switch from peppery and floral to a full-on morphine drip.

    AF Gran Reserva (Rothschild Maduro Robusto) 4.5"x 50)
    Ura-Ki, Zimmy and Mountainman like this.
  4. Mountainman

    Mountainman Großes Mitglied Site Supporter+++

    I'll write it down and see if I can pick a few up on sale.
    Ura-Ki, Zimmy and Brokor like this.
  5. Hanzo

    Hanzo Monkey+++

    My friend loved Cuban cigars. Maybe because they are illegal in the states. When I would visit him in Guam, he would usually bust some out. Lucky he is wealthy. I would have a hard time buying a $50 cigar.

    When he came to my wedding a couple of decades ago, he brought $100 Cubans to celebrate. Wonder what those would cost now.

    I cannot tell the difference between Cuban and Dominican Republic cigars. Same tobacco, same climate. Big difference in price!
    snake6264, Ura-Ki and Brokor like this.
  6. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    Yes, he is a lucky guy! And Cubans are renowned for being great cigars and various makers each have their own attributes. I think in America there tends to be more of a mythos surrounding them than is necessary since the embargo, but nevertheless, Cuban cigars are rather unique. And you're right, DR tobacco does possess some of the same qualities to varying extent, it's just the hard core critics and snobs who refuse to accept the reality that fine cigars can exist elsewhere, too. A tobacco of the same seed can have different attributes than tobacco farmed just down the road --and that's one of the cool things about growing tobacco. There are a lot of fantastic lines of cigars these days, and we really do live in a time when the cigar industry is making leaps and bounds. Even tobacco from Mexico is making its way onto the stage, with San Andres wrappers and exciting fillers being added to create a spicy, rich and flavorful variety of cigars to enjoy where previously it had been frowned upon by those who would not accept anything outside the traditional aspects of fine Cubans. Thankfully, many have swept aside the backward tendencies of some traditional thinking and companies like Drew Estate is working to give a rebirth to cigars by consistently creating incredibly tasty smokes. Granted, there's no replacement for growing and aging tobacco naturally, as some traditions are meant to be preserved; it's just that the typical model for what a cigar ought to be is changing in long strides these days.

    The latest trend in the cigar world is the Arturo Fuente Opus X line, which is nearly impossible to obtain most of the time, and if you do locate some, they cost a lot more than they are worth (in my opinion). Yes, a quality Opus cigar is fabulous, but not at the prices they go for. But, what else is money for when people who have it want a great experience?
    snake6264, Ura-Ki, Hanzo and 2 others like this.
  1. Brokor
  2. Brokor
  3. Brokor
  4. Brokor
  5. Brokor
  6. Minuteman
survivalmonkey SSL seal warrant canary