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.
Illusione 88 Candela Robusto (5 x 52)
After a salty, vegetal opening, this cigar reveals subtle flavors of graham cracker, leather, and black pepper. Otherwise well constructed, this robusto had burn issues and a flakey ash.
Strength: 4.4 out of 10
Wrapper: Nic. Candela; Binder: Nic.; Filler: Nic.; Blender: Dion Giolito; Origin: Nic.; MSRP: $9.20
Sancho Panza Dbl. Maduro Cervantes (6.5 x 48)
With visible glue spots and a sloppy cap, this cigar won’t win any beauty contests. In spite of a tight draw, smoke was adequate enough to deliver flavors of earth, leather, coffee, and wood.
Strength: 5 out of 10
Wrapper: Conn. Broadleaf; Binder: Conn.; Filler: Nic./Hon./DR; Blender: Estelo Padron; Origin: Hon.; MSRP: $6.70
Cuban Rounds (5 x 50)
Construction issues hurt the overall score on this one, but good flavor transition was noted by some. Flavors included lavender, hazelnut, coffee and cream. Some bitterness was detected.
Strength: 3.4 out of 10
Wrapper: Nic.; Binder: Nic.; Filler: Nic. (short filler); Blender: Ventura Cigar Co.; Origin: DR.; MSRP: $3.13
Asylum 13 Conn. Robusto (5 x 50)
A smooth wrapper and nice triple cap adds to the appeal of this colorado-claro robusto. A creamy smoke, with notes of toasted marshmallow, anise, and toasted tobacco.
Strength: 3.8 out of 10
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Conn.; Binder: Hon.; Filler: Hon.; Blender: Christian Eiroa; Origin: Nic.; MSRP: $6.76
Padron 3000 Maduro (5.5 x 52)
Very rustic with visible seams and a toothy wrapper, this Maduro delivered flavors of Mexican cocoa, espresso, leather, and black pepper. Some harshness was noted.
Strength: 5.2 out of 10
Wrapper: Nic. Maduro; Binder: Nic.; Filler: Nic.; Blender: Padron; Origin: Nic.; MSRP: $8.28
100-95 = Outstanding
94-90 = Excellent
89-85 = Very Good
84-80 = Average
79-75 = Disappointing
74 (lowest possible score) = Un-smokeable