Cigars 101

Rating Cigars: How to be a good judge of “character”

Say, what’s the deal with those cigar ratings you read in magazines and online? How do their “judges” determine  whether a cigar is a “70” or a “90?” As subjective as rating cigars may be, especially when it comes to taste, they all use pretty much the same  criteria. Here are some guidelines to help you determine whether you would  buy a box of a given cigar or whether it would be better used as  fertilizer. When rating cigars there are the 5 primary categories to take into consideration:

  • Overall appearance: (consistency of wrapper color, uniformity of the wrapping, oiliness and/or sheen of the wrapper leaf)
  • Draw: (how easy or difficult is it to draw smoke through the cigar)
  • Burn rate: (too slow, too fast, uneven)
  • Construction: (too loose, too tight, wrapper unwraps during smoking)
  • Taste: (smooth, bitter, creamy, light, powerful) At what point did these “tastes” present themselves: 1/3, 1/2, 3/4 or throughout the entire smoke. For instance: The cigar may have started out with a light pleasant taste but turned bitter halfway through smoking.

The “complexity” of a cigar would also be part of the Taste criteria. Some cigars have a rich, complex taste from start to finish, others build in complexity as they smoke. “Finish” is another. This is determined by the flavors left on the palate after taking a puff. Lighter cigars tend to have very little finish, whereas maduros and cigars made with stronger-tasting fillers have a very distinct finish. These last two factors have more to do with the sensitivity of your taste buds than anything else.  Concentrate on the five primary criteria and eventually you’ll become a very good judge of character!

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Gary Korb

Gary Korb

Executive Editor

Gary Korb has been writing and editing content for CigarAdvisor.com since its debut in 2008. An avid cigar smoker for over 30 years, during the past 12 years he has worked on the marketing side of the premium cigar business as a Sr. Copywriter, blogger, and cigar reviewer. A graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, prior to his career in the cigar business, Gary worked in the music and video industry as a marketer and a publicist.

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