Ready to step up to 10 cigars that’ll kick your ash from here ‘til Tuesday? Here’s our picks for the top strong cigars that you need to smoke at least once – bonus points, if you can finish all 10.
The Great Flavor Profile Debate
Let me just put this on the table right now, out in the open for all to clearly see… Tasting, rating and discussing a cigar’s flavor profile is a VERY subjective thing. Okay, I could actually end this piece right here, but I’m paid to entertain and pass forth knowledge so, I guess I’ll keep it going for a bit.
Here’s the reality, like with everything else in life… what I like, you might dislike, what taste good to me, might not to you, what’s mild for my palate may be strong as balls to you. But then again, you could actually agree with my findings in a cigar’s flavor profile and the world is a happy place. So, when we cigar reviewer types give you our “opinions”, realize that they are based on our own experiences and all we’re trying to do is guide you so that you can decide whether to give a cigar a try. Well, at least that’s what I do.
Because face it, for years there have been certain self proclaimed puro pundits who want you to believe that they can indeed taste a range of flavors in a rolled up tobacco stick that mimic the contents of a Thanksgiving smorgasbord. These bloviating turds with a keyboard will gratify their self importance by enlightening us commoners with a cornucopia of tastes that have every “real” cigar lover crying BULLSQUAT! You’ll hear them talk of essence of braised lamb shank, cinnamon encrusted tapioca, orange zest, Mediterranean spice, and Civet coffee, you know, the exotic java made from the beans that have been extracted from animal scats (yes, it exists, Google the damned thing if you don’t believe me). After all these years, these egomaniacs are still at it and I’m not sure who they think is buying their drivel.
So, I think its best to break down a cigar’s flavor profile in the simplest of terms. First off, a stogie is either going to be mild, medium, or full bodied, or a cross over into a couple of areas, i.e.; mild to medium or medium to full. Now as far as actually tasting different elements in your cigar, well, when someone says a Liga Undercrown has hints of leather, it doesn’t mean that Jonathan Drew ground up a bunch of old wallets and tossed them into the tobacco. It’s basically referring to what reminds the reviewer of a smell or a taste they can associate with. Blending and aging different types of tobaccos together does indeed create certain “basic” flavors we can all generally associate with such as coffee bean, cedar or wood, chocolate, pepper, and even herbal and floral notes. The more you smoke cigars over time, you will indeed begin to develop a sense of some of these flavors. Now as far as Bavarian pfeffernusse, which I actually read in a hoity-toity magazine’s review, well, I guess I’ll stick with BULLSQUAT for now.
To explain it as basic as possible, when we eat or drink, our taste buds detect things like sweet and sour, bitter and spice, acidic and saltiness. So when we taste a cigar, those things become present to our senses and we associate them with flavors or smells we’re familiar with. Much like a seasoned wine drinker who can detect certain fruits, berries and floral components, over time, we cigar smokers will enjoy the nuances that a good cigar can deliver. And lastly, when we speak of a cigar being complex, that’s basically when a more seasoned palate can not only get a sense of the different flavors going on, but also experience how the strength, body and the flavors in that cigar are actually developing and changing as we’re smoking it.
Hopefully, this sheds a little light on the so-called flavor profile debate – and, as I said, these are just my opinions… but, hey, who are you gonna trust, a bunch of horn blowing elitists who claim to taste the pre-digested coffee beans of a 4-legged mammal in their cigars… or, your very own God-given senses? You know the answer.