Cigar as well as wine, cognac, whiskey etc. requires tasting. This is usually made to define the various nuances which a cigar can evolve - while touching, tasting and smelling it. There are lots of hints which cannot be identified by non-experienced smokers as they don't have many cigars under their belt to compare. There is a special technique which allows a professional taster to detect the hints different cigars possess. However, everyone would like to know the secret of tasting a cigar - not to become a professional, but simply to take a delight in smoking.
What you should look for at first:
1. Appearance and touch. Do you remember the old saying: "Clothes count for first impressions only"? It's true nowadays as well, still a human being is created in such a way that he/she judges by the appearance at first. However a visual appeal is one of the most important factors proving that you hold a good stogie in hands. A good looking cigar - smooth, with oily wrapper and with no damages signifies that it is properly rolled, moistened and wasn't harmed by beetles or any other climatic changes.
2. Construction. Another factor defining whether you will enjoy your cigar or not. The better its construction, the more pleasure you'll receive from smoking it. When a cigar is properly rolled, it burns evenly and at a medium rate which allows a smoker enjoy the masterpiece. A loosely rolled stogie burns very quickly without giving you time to feel its peculiarities and increases the smoking temperature, whereas a tight smoke gives lesser taste to the smoker.
3. Lighting. When lighting your cigar, take a closer look at its ash. The ideal variant is a white ash, which means the soil the tobacco was grown in is a good one and rich in different nutrients. The grey ash, on the contrary, is an indicator that the soil lacked many useful substances.
4. Burn. Another essential fact to be observed while tasting a cigar. The burn rate is an indicator that the cigar is rolled properly, thus one can feel different tastes of different tobacco leaves which make up the cigar.
5. Taste or smell - what comes first? Those notions are always described together but we smell first and then we taste. The 4 major tastes are the ones we know from high school - salty, sour, sweet and bitter.
The skill of feeling or discerning cigar nuances comes with time and experience. Only after a certain amount of smoked cigars smoker's palate starts recognizing tens of hints a cigar evolves in the process of smoking.
First, hold your cigar in the mouth before lighting. Your taste receptors will be able to feel the bitterness or sweetness a cigar possesses - these are the signs that your cigar is of a good quality. If you feel acidity or saltiness, this means your cigar was made from a low-quality tobacco leaves.
With the heat (while burning), the cigar changes its taste and begins emitting dozens of various flavors you'll start distinguishing a little later as well. At the beginning, one or two nuances may seem familiar to you, like coffee or fruits, and then you'll start feeling the other hints too.
Here are the major groups of aromas used by cigar aficionados to classify cigar's taste:
Animal, Earthy, Floral, Fruity, Herbal, Spicy, Vegetal, Woody
Each of the classifications above also includes a group of adjectives which is actually used to describe what a smoker senses while smoking a cigar. These are some of the most often used terms that you might have met before while reading cigar reviews:
Pepper, Sweetness, Moss, Cedar, Cocoa/ Chocolate, Nutty, Caramel, Leather, Coffee, Apple, Vanilla, Honey.
Look at the flavor wheel to see the detailed classification and try to use it while tasting a cigar: