Cigar Tasting and Notes: Your Guide to Cigar Flavors
Historians generally agree that cigars were created by the Mayans.
The art of cigar tasting is a lot like wine tasting. The flavor you choose for cigar pairing (scotch, fruit, coffee, etc.) can add to your enjoyment of the aroma. Some prefer smoking cigars on their own to focus entirely on the flavor of the smoke.
You'll want to take in all the flavors of your cigar, and you might even learn something about yourself along the way. If you're new to cigar tasting, you may need to try a few varieties before you find the cigar flavors you enjoy the most.
Whether you're looking to try your first cigar or you've been smoking them for years, this guide will help you make the most of your tasting. Read on for our complete guide to cigar-tasting notes!
Evaluate the Look of Your Cigar
Before you even smell or taste a cigar, you should evaluate the color, the texture and the look. There are a few things you should look for.
This is the layer that covers the binder and filler tobacco and gives your cigar its color. There are many different wrapper colors, and they are made from tobacco leaves grown in various regions around the world.
The best cigars have wrappers that match their country of origin (for example, maduros from Honduras). Many people use other wrappers as well, such as natural or sun-dried leaves.
Different cigar wrappers add unique scents to the aroma.
Filler Tobacco Color
The filler tobacco is the leaves inside your cigar. Fillers could come from Brazil, Mexico, Nicaragua and Dominican Republic ,just to mentioned the most relevant .
Filler tobacco is usually dark brown or light brown. Some manufacturers of rare cigars use blond tobacco instead.
Blond tobacco creates a visually interesting cigar and often has a unique flavor.
Dry Draw Your Cigar
Before lighting your cigar, take a few puffs on the cigar without putting it to your lips. This is known as a dry draw or "dry pull," and it can give you an idea of how the smoke will taste.
The taste of the air from your dry draw also prepares your palate for the flavors you'll get from the smoke.
You should try to get as much air through the cigar as possible. Your dry draw will start gentle but should increase in intensity until it's almost like sucking air through an empty straw.
When performing a dry draw with any new cigar, look for hints of flavors such as:
- Earthy notes, a sign of Cuban cigars
- Sweetness, which indicates Honduran or Nicaraguan tobacco
- Creaminess, typical of Ecuadorian tobacco
- Bitter notes, which often come from African or Cameroon wrapper leaves
Toast the Foot and Light Your Cigar
Now that you've prepared your cigar, it's time to light it.
The first step is to toast the foot of your cigar. To do this, hold it with one hand and use a lighter to gently heat the end until it turns a little darker in color.
This process helps prepare the tobacco leaves and makes them more receptive to burning evenly throughout the rest of the cigar. Once you have sufficiently toasted your cigar's foot, it's ready for lighting.
The way you light your cigar is critical, so take the time to do it properly. An improper light can ruin the entire experience of cigar tasting.
The best way to light a cigar is to ignite the end of a strip of cedar with a match and use the flame to light your cigar. The wood will help prevent any sulfur or butane flavor from corrupting the flavor of the tobacco.
In a pinch, you can light your cigar with a match. If you have to use a lighter, a torch lighter is ideal to preserve the flavor and light the end evenly.
Note the Smell and Taste
Cigar tasting is the process of evaluating a cigar's flavor and quality.
Once your cigar is burning freely, take some puffs and observe the smoke as it exits your mouth. See what flavors you recognize in the first few puffs.
When you smoke your cigar, make sure to note the flavors and aroma as it burns through, as the flavor will change over time. Also, take note of how intense each is and how long it takes for your cigar to reach its peak flavor and aroma.
Be sure not to puff too frequently, as you can overheat the tobacco and ruin the flavors. An even draw will also help the cigar burn evenly.
Types of Cigar Flavors
Cigars are made from tobacco leaves, so it only makes sense that they have a distinct flavor profile. There are many different types of cigars on the market today, each with its own unique blend of tobacco.
Understanding the flavors in cigars and how they differ from each other will help you select a cigar that suits your palate. The most recognizable flavors you may note in your cigar include:
Some cigars may strongly emphasize one flavor, while a complex cigar may have several flavors. The best flavor profile comes down to personal preference, so try a few cigars to see what you like most.
Get the Full Cigar Flavor Experience
The thing you need to remember about cigar tasting is that it's about more than taste. To get the full flavor experience, it's important to note the look and aroma as well.
Once you begin smoking, take note of the cigar flavors that jump out first. As you get toward the middle and the end, pay attention to how the flavor develops.
Cuenca Cigars has over 20 years of experience helping new and experienced cigar smokers find the perfect cigar. No matter what your favorite flavor profile is, we'll help you choose a cigar you'll love.
Contact us today to learn more about our selection of handmade cigars!