A couple of weeks ago we spoke about the first part of the new Stogie Press rating system that we are going to apply to new cigars and possibly some previously reviewed cigars we already posted. That first part was about construction, which we consider a major part of the cigar smoking experience. Today I would like to talk about the second set of review parameters, specifically flavor, aroma, draw, and Price to Experience.
This is a very subjective parameter, as we all know flavor is subjective. With that said, there are some flavors that are just not palatable. A harsh bitterness or sour component are flavors that make you want to power through the cigar if you can handle it, but is not making your smoking experience pleasurable. Sometimes this bitterness or sour note is short-lived and may be a signal of a change coming in the profile, that is considered acceptable but a continued profile of harsh bitter or sour will get points deducted.
Other unsatisfactory flavors are heavy mineral (pencil lead), burnt charcoal, lingering bad aftertaste, and a cigar whose flavor profile just fades to practically nothing. All of which will result in lost points.
On the contrary, if the flavors are pleasant and balanced there would be no points deducted.
Now what if the cigar is complex or just one-dimensional? Again this can be very personal to the cigar smoker, but for the purpose of points deducted, we feel a one-dimensional cigar is not the best blend and a point would be deducted for it. We are not saying it needs to be intensely complex, but if it is, we would add an extra point for that.
We will also examine the taste on both the pre-light cold draw and the lit cigar. It is expected that there are flavor notes on both of these. If the cold draw does not offer a pleasing flavor, a point will also be deducted.
Some say aroma and taste are the same, but we have separated the two when we do a review, and like flavor, we will rate the pre-light aromas and those during the burn. This too can be subjective and we will leave it up to the review team as to whether the aroma is pleasing or not. Lack of aroma or unpleasant aroma will result in a lost points in both pre-light and burn categories.
A special note on pre-light aroma. If the cigar samples have a pre-light ammonia aroma we will not review the cigar until it is dry boxed for a few days. It does not mean the cigar is not good, it just means it was rushed to the market and is not ready to be smoked. With that understood, we feel that any cigar that is in the market should not have an ammonia aroma and that would still garner a point deduction as we feel it is something the consumer should not have to deal with in a premium cigar.
The draw will be evaluated in two categories. First the cold draw and then the lit draw. Many times a seemingly tight, overly restricted cold draw will loosen up slightly, once it is lit. This will not garner any point deductions. If the cigar remains overly restricted a point will be deducted. The draw may also be open, so much so that the cigar burns too fast and hot and there is an excessive amount of air brought through the burn reducing the flavors you experience. A cigar with an overly open draw will lose a point. This would usually be assessed right off the cold draw. If the cigar burns hot it will lose two points.
The draw may likely affect the smoke volume also. It is expected that the smoke will be full in volume with a high quality cigar. Anything less, would result in point deductions. If there is little smoke production offered that would be a major deduction and a medium volume would result in a minor deduction.
Overall Price to Experience
The final parameter is our subjective impression of the overall smoking experience. After we make our notes and assess the cigar, Stogie Press will evaluate whether the cigar was worth the price you paid for it. We have four categories for this parameter.
- Would I buy it again?
- Is it overpriced for what I experienced?
- It belongs in the bargain bin
- I would buy a box!
The first assessment – Would I buy it again? – would result in no point deductions. The second and third assessments would result in point deductions, with the 3rd garnering the most deduction. If we asses that we would buy a box then an extra point would be added.
We welcome any comments or input from consumers and brand owners on these parameters between now and July 7th.
In the final segment leading up to the IPCPR, I will explain the overall rating system that Stogie Press will be using to judge cigars based on these parameters.