Cigar Ratings & Reviews

The Great Flavor Profile Debate

…Not.

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.

Cigar Aficionado douche
Witness the Elitist Tobacco Snob in his natural habitat. Don’t get sucked in – taste is subjective, and it all comes down to YOUR senses.

 

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.

Civet coffee kopi luwak
Some cigar reviewers’ tastes are just a little too refined for us. Coffee brewed from the poop of wild cats? No thanks…

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.

Pfeffernusse?… please.

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John C KristiansenPhillip ButlerMark GillhespyAmir GirgisJoel Hoffman Recent comment authors
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[…] far as the flavor notes, well I made it pretty clear in my previous article The Flavor Profile Debate that there are definitely basic things you’ll get the taste of, and organically cultivated […]

Eric Schauer
Guest
Eric Schauer

Great write up, Zman. I usually shy away from anything described as “earthy” because I assume it will taste like dirt. Best reviews, IMO, are the ones that simply tell me if it pairs well with a good steak or my favorite scotch.

Kelly Wazney
Guest
Kelly Wazney

When Starbucks initially expanded from the west coast I had my first cup of coffee, I thought it was awful, just couldn’t understand why anyone would drink it. With the popularity of the brand you could not help but going back in with friends. I had another cup, it was incredible. I finally realized that there really was no Starbucks coffee, they brew different beans daily or weekly. The franchise was expanding quickly, people were discussing it. What had been found was that only 15% of coffee drinkers who tried their coffee liked it. The other 85% thought it was… Read more »

Kev Roc
Guest
Kev Roc

Someone wanna help me get Juan Valdez outta my litter box?

Jeffrey R. Bryan
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Jeffrey R. Bryan

My categorizations have always been simple: A) A great, complex smoke B) A good simple smoke C) A budget “yardgar” D) A Kingsdford brickette E) A total dog-rocket.

Chad Massaker
Guest
Chad Massaker

Amen. Wines suffers from the same issue

Dana MacDonald
Guest
Dana MacDonald

Well said Z!

Martin Hox
Guest
Martin Hox

thanks well said

Boston Jimmie
Guest
Boston Jimmie

i agree and that is why we do honest cigar reviiews on Stogiepress.com explaining what we taste and how it burns and smells. We dont put numbers on a review either as that is subjective also.

Michael Erdman
Guest
Michael Erdman

Ratings are meaningless. Reviews are subjective. My palate changes due to what I have had to eat. drink etc. If I have a bad head cold, I stop smoking because I can’t taste anything at all. As for cigars, they tend to range from mild with some sweetness, creaminess or nuttiness to very bold with flavors of dark chocolate, espresso, lot’s of spice. That’s about it.

Amir Girgis
Guest
Amir Girgis

nicely put….

Joel Hoffman
Guest
Joel Hoffman

A FREAKIN MEN

Mike Shapiro
Guest
Mike Shapiro

Thanks for this! Just smoke and enjoy.

Chris Chiarmonte
Guest
Chris Chiarmonte

This review makes perfect sense. It smells of a ripe berry, out of a freshly douched vagina.

I know the smell exactly, from experience.

Good job Tommy.

Draugnar's Den
Guest
Draugnar's Den

It’s funny but after 30 years of cigar and pipe smoking, I know what I like and what I don’t but all I can say of taste is sweet or spicy and harsh bite or smooth. And body means nothing to bite. I’ve had medium’ that were too harsh to my taste and full bodied cigars that were nice and smooth. I know if it is a Cameroon or sun grown, I’ll likely enjoy it and if it has the name Rocky Patel, it’s only really good for lawnmowing where I need something to cut through the grass in the… Read more »

Phillip Butler
Guest
Phillip Butler

Spot on.

Mark Gillhespy
Guest
Mark Gillhespy

My favorite was a review that said the cigar had the finish of gun metal? WTF does that taste like.

David Hearn
Guest
David Hearn

Personally I share your sentiments on the rather outlandish reviews that appear out there. However, if every review of a cigar focused solely on it being mild medium or full bodied it would certainly be doing a great disservice to the master blenders, the aging process, seed varietals, country of origin, etc. I am not claiming that I can detect a hint of sandalwood in a cigar but by being exposed to the occasional bloating turd does at least differentiate the cigar and perhaps lead to more of us contemplating the masterful and incredibly complex process that occurs for our… Read more »

Michael Snowder
Guest
Michael Snowder

I screwed up started inhaling boys don’t inhale you lose your sense of taste good cigars just become raspy or soft don’t inhale

John C Kristiansen
Guest
John C Kristiansen

Well.. we all know taste of coffe , chocolate, caramel, pepper , tones of ceder, nuts, spice, and smooth harsh charcoal burt, leather. These are caractetostics we destinct know about if they did not meen a thing they would not need their own name. But they are diferent and if i say i like coffe and you do to then we both knpw flavors of coffe. I like capuchino but you like americano. Ita a difference and we know. Based on this a review is not to ofend anyone but to guve guides and refrence to taste pallets. So if… Read more »

David P Diaz
Guest
David P Diaz

I was quite amused by your treatment of the topic.

Cisco Thomas
Guest
Cisco Thomas

Zman the man #smokegood…great job read for the next article bro!

Steve Bellai
Guest
Steve Bellai

I’d much rather someone take the time to list out the details they are tasting than simply say ‘its really good”. I can really do with reviews that say nothing more than “I really like it” or “its got a great ash”. That said, I agree that actually scoring a cigar is too subjective but list what you’re tasting… More info is always welcome in my book.

Tommy Zman Zarzecki

Tommy Zman Zarzecki

Editor-at-Large

Tommy Zman, is an obsessive enjoyer of life’s leafy pleasures. Growing up in the bowels of northern New Jersey, parented by an eccentric Polish father and a neurotic Italian mother, what else could this man possibly be other than a humorist? ZMan’s a real throwback to a time when men were kings of the castle and smoking a cigar in public didn’t label you an outcast and a pariah. He’s an old–school down to earth guy - but when it comes to p.c. tyranny and nanny-state legislature, he’ll draw his sword and swing for the fences. Tommy gathered a faithful following as a longtime feature writer at Cigar Magazine, and his testosterone laden FaceBook community, CROMAG NATION™ is truly the last great bastion for Men’s Men.

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