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.
New World Puro Especial by AJ Fernandez Toro (6.5 x 52)
Inconsistent construction brought down the overall score of this earthy cigar. Flavors included leather, unsweetened cocoa, and grass.
Strength: 5.8 out of 10
Wrapper: Nic, dark Habano; Binder: Nic.; Filler: Nic.; Blender: AJ Fernandez; Origin: Nic.; MSRP: $9.00
601 Red Label Habano Torpedo (6 1/8 x 52)
Most reviewers found this mild cigar to have nice flavor transitions. Notes of leather, oak, and white pepper give way to toasted marshmallow and graham cracker.
Strength: 4.25 out of 10
Wrapper: Nic. Habano; Binder: Nic.; Filler: Nic.; Blender: Erik Espinoza; Origin: Nic.; MSRP: $7.95
Rocky Patel Vintage 2003 Cameroon Toro (6.5 x 52)
This cigar suffered from burn issues as well as an overall tartness that smokers generally didn’t like. Flavors included lemon/lime zest, dried fruit, and soap.
Strength: 4 out of 10
Wrapper: Cameroon; Binder: Nic.; Filler: DR/Nic.; Blender: Rocky Patel; Origin: Nic.; MSRP: $10.10
Regius Exclusivo USA Pressed Perfecto (5 3/4 x 60)
For some, this cigar burned well, while others had major issues. The unusual shape and construction had everyone intrigued. Flavors of coffee and cream, malt, cardamom, and bitter cocoa were detected.
Strength: 4.4 out of 10
Wrapper: Nic. Habano; Binder: Nic.; Filler: Nic.; Blender: Akhil Kapacee; Origin: Plasencia Cigars, Nic.; MSRP: $13.80
Joya de Nicaragua Black Nocturno Grand Corona (6 1/4 x 46)
Across the board, draw issues plagued this cigar. Notes of unsweetened cocoa, mushroom, cream, and charcoal.
Strength: 4.6 out of 10
Wrapper: Mexican San Andres; Binder: Nic.; Filler: Nic.; Blender: Joya De Nicaragua Cigars; Origin: Nic.; MSRP: $6.70
100-95 = Outstanding
94-90 = Excellent
89-85 = Very Good
84-80 = Average
79-75 = Disappointing
74 (lowest possible score) = Un-smokeable