Think about cigar flavors as being similar to how a good quality wine is assessed, graded and ranked against its competitors. Great cigar manufacturers work just as hard and put as much craftsmanship as a winemaker into their products.
Each manufacturers can source a wide variety of leaves from literally thousands of growing areas on a broad geographical scale. And, the actual soil, weather conditions, tobacco blending, type of wrapper and aging processes (or lack thereof) add a distinct and unique flavor to your special cigar.
And no offense meant, but you will find a ton of sites and individuals who cloak the mystique of a great tasting cigar using arcane exotic terms that may not help you understand what it actually tastes like. In the interest of helping you here is our short list of terms.
- Food Terms: we cigar geeks love to compare a great tasting cigar to food terms. Expect the “short list” to include: sweetness, spicy, nutmeg, creamy, cinnamon, pepper (red, black, cayenne, etc). And “food terms” usually include gastronomical terms you’d associate with a great tasting desert, not a cigar including: chocolate (dark and milk), caramel, toffee, cocoa and even butterscotch.
- Note: don’t confuse “flavored cigars” with food terms, these products are typically enhanced or favored with an infusion process and the flavor is somewhat artificial.
- “Bold” has always been used to describe a cigar like a great Rocky Patel stick that has a rich, complex maybe “even in your face” test that is some times associated with food or even a fine wine.
- Leather is another term that is a bit odd used to describe exoctic cigars and if you have a good example of a cigar that tastes like leather please let us know via our Facebook page – we’d love to hear from you.
- Fruit Terms: these are very popular when/as cigar reviewers try to label a cigar and include: apple, pear, grape, oranges and in some cases exoctic fruits you would not typically associate with a cigar like “strawberry.”
- Nut Terms: these are common too and expect to read walnut, cashew, peanut, almond and even hazelnut as descriptive terms.
- Earth Phrases: woodsy, cedar, oak, pine, grass (the traditional kind), burnt twigs and in some rare cases dirt.
- Metallic Terms: expect to hear or read these popular terms: iron, chrome, copper or even lead. Be aware these terms are more frequently used to describe the taste of a cigar after has been stored in a humidor or case. In some cases you will hear “acid” or “acidic” used to describe a cigar and as you would expect, in most cases this is not a positive.
- Beverage or Booze Terms: like a fine wine (kind of generic), espresso or coffee, wine, whiskey, Colombian coffee.
Belly up to the Proverbial Bar and Get a Humidor: Protect Your Investment
While we are on the subject of cigar flavors and descriptions let’s segue into one of the most defining materials that define the taste of any cigar, the wrapper. There is a huge amount of details that go into how a good cigar wrapper helps to define the quality of a cigar and our earlier blog post should be helpful.
Every great tasting cigar should be stored carefully and if you are spending more than a few bucks on cigars you ought to invest in a cigar humidor and here are six characteristics that will help you select a good product.
Five cool facts you ought to know about cigar humidors:
Some cigar aficionados have more than one humidor, using a specific humidor to protect and maintain the flavor of one type of cigars, another for travel purposes and a third for storing cigars to co-mingle the flavors by storing different brands of cigars. The cost is minimal when you think about how much you spend on a cigar.
Humidor basics: a storage container that’s been designed to allow air flow, with an integrated device that maintains humidity of 70 to 75%, with a temperature of 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit. And, if you don’t have a device for humidity control it’s not really considered a humidor, it is just a box even if it’s cool it is not a humidor.
Air flow is critical; a humidor is not nor should it be airtight, you want air flow moving over your sticks and you don’t want to pack them in too closely. Let them breath air to prolong the life of the cigar.
Most humidors come with gauge, although you don’t absolutely need one. But, it will impart some real data about the relative health of your cigar.
A humidors efficiency is attributed to the overall condition of your cigars: a well stored cigar should exude a little oil, indicating the conditions are optimum, if you cigars are too dry then add a little bit more water, if they become moldy you are better off tossing them. The cigar is never going to taste like it once did. The horse is out of the barn and it’s not coming back.
So, we hope this post has been informative and helpful about what type of tastes you can expect to read about that help you to understand what a good stick is going to taste like and how and why you want to store it in a humidor.