Each month, a group of experienced cigar smokers participate in tastings of five new cigars. All smoke one of the selected cigars each day, and it is the first cigar of the day. All cigars are paired only with water, and are purchased at the same time from the same vendor. The cigars are stored for at least two weeks in a humidor prior to smoking. Everyone follows strict scoring guidelines. Taste is weighted heavily (50%), followed by construction (10%), draw (10%), burn (10%), and taste evolution (20%). Additional points are awarded for uniqueness or that intangible “wow factor”.
Why a committee?
Cigar reviews are very subjective, and influenced by the smoker’s environment (see When Good Cigars Taste Bad, part 2), personal taste, pairings, and mood. In a committee review, the results are averaged over all participants, providing a better yardstick to measure a cigar’s quality. In addition to a numerical ranking, each review will include tasting notes by each of the committee members. This should help the reader determine if these new cigars are worth purchasing.
A. Fuente Rothschild Natural (4.5×50)
This classic Rothschild had a mottled wrapper with a slightly greenish hue. Flavors of leather and wood predominated, with a black pepper note that faded mid way. This cigar tended to burn hot with a flakey ash.
Strength: 4.2 out of 10
Wrapper: Cameroon; Binder: DR.; Filler: DR.; Blender: Arturo Fuente; Origin: DR.; MSRP: $5.55
Sobremesa by Dunbarton Robusto Largo (5.25×52)
This cigar impressed every reviewer. Complex and rich, the myriad flavors evolved over the length of the stick. Notes of malt, leather, peat, and hazelnut cream were strong, along with a good measure of umami.
Strength: 6 out of 10
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano; Binder: Mex.; Filler: Nic./USA; Blender: Steve Saka; Origin: Nic.; MSRP: $11.46
Perdomo Cuban Parejo Belicoso (6.5×54)
Flavors in this cigar appealed to some and not others. From dark fruit, oak, and black pepper, to charcoal and burnt peanut brittle, some individual ratings were polar opposites.
Strength: 5.5 out of 10
Wrapper: Conn Broadleaf.; Binder: Nic.; Filler: Nic.; Blender: Perdomo; Origin: Nic.; MSRP: $6.37
Herrera Esteli Robusto Grande (5.25×52)
Well constructed and flavorful, this robusto delivers ample smoke and complexity. Notes of roasted nuts, gingerbread spices, and red chili give way to a creamy finish near the end.
Strength: 6 out of 10
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano.; Binder: Nic.; Filler: Nic.; Blender: Willy Herrera; Origin: Drew Estate, Nic.; MSRP: $9.12
Oliva Serie O Robusto (5×50)
A firm ash and sharp burn line attests to this cigars good construction. Notes of wood, white pepper, malt, and a salty nuttiness were present. Some found this cigar bitter at the nub.
Strength: 5.6 out of 10
Wrapper: Nic. Sungrown Habano; Binder: Nic.; Filler: Nic.; Blender: Oliva Cigar Co.; Origin: Nic.; MSRP: $6.57
100-95 = Outstanding
94-90 = Excellent
89-85 = Very Good
84-80 = Average
79-75 = Disappointing
74 (lowest possible score) = Un-smokeable