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!