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Q. I read a lot of cigar descriptions describing the “finish”, a long finish or a short finish. What exactly is a “finish,” and what is the difference between “long” and “short?”
– Vic Vergalito
A. The “finish” is the taste that lingers on your palate after you’ve blown the smoke out of your mouth. The term is also used for wine tasting. With regard to cigars, the length of the finish is usually dependent on the strength or and/or complexity of the cigar. Milder cigars tend to have a shorter finish, while heavier cigars will have a longer finish. Sometimes the finish is where you’ll pick up those nuances of “leather, cocoa, pepper, cedar,” etc., but the aroma plays a big part in it, too. The more “flavors” your palate is able to detect, often the more complex the smoke. The finish can help you determine how well-balanced the cigar is, too.
A “clean finish” is one in which the smoke disperses the flavors on the palate long enough to be savored without lingering. You could say it’s a short finish with all the properties of a long finish. Moreover, after the cigar is put out, the taste doesn’t linger in your mouth.
Of course, like the flavor of a cigar, the finish is also subjective. To determine the finish of your cigar, take a puff, swirl the smoke around in your mouth a little before blowing it out, then concentrate on what you taste afterwards. Blowing some of the remaining smoke out through the nose will also help you define some of the flavors in the cigar.