Having taken part in a big number of tastings of cigars on their own, cigars with various drinks, food and drinks on their own, and even as unusual as cigars+food (I love to experiment and create flavour combinations), I decided to start sharing some of my experience with those who want to go down the way of connoisseur. I publish here my own independent cigar tasting notes and recommendations, articles about cigars and cigar smoking.
I will maintain my cigar reviews as a help and guide for cigar smokers, sommeliers, cigar producers, and just lovers of la Buena Vida. I prefer quality over quantity, and write about those cigars and gastronomical experiences which I choose to be worthy of being shared. So, this site is not a catalogue or digest of cigar releases, it’s an advice notebook for a gourmet. Here you will find, based on my personal valuation, Crème de la crème of cigars. However, as a latin maxim says : De gustibus non est disputandum- we don’t argue about tastes, every lover of cigars should figure out his own preferences himself.
I keep to the score system of Mr. Parker that he suggested for wine. I find the system of 100 points, for Today, the most convenient and respectful for a cigar, because it’s wide enough for defining as more precisely as possible the subtle differences between the cigars of a very high league.
I make complete tasting notes of those cigars that in my tasting get more than 85 points. I don’t make complete tasting notes of those cigars that get less. However, if they did leave their own impressions (may not be all positive) instead of a feeling of wasted time and dissatisfaction – I do make for them short general tasting notes, give general evaluation and recommendations for smoking.
I deliberately don’t use in my tasting notes the exact names of formats of the producers, to avoid confusion with the classic Cuban formats (common names, or vitola de Galera – the factory name), even though my heart is rather on the side of Cuban cigars which system of formats we use widely on a daily basis, those experienced aficionados who “live” within the Cuban format system. That is because nowadays there are so many producers appearing nearly every day with their new vitolas of their own formats’ names, so I would not put “apples and oranges” into the same measurement, not to mislead the smoker. Those who would like to learn the steady classic Cuban system, you can go to this very reliable specified site: cubancigarwebsite.com But I will give the sizes of all of the tasted cigars.
My cigar tasting notes are based on smoking the same vitola as a norm 3 times, with exceptions when I have only one exemplar of the tasted marka and/or vitola available, or it is an exclusive cigar.
Some of my cigar tastings come out in Russian language, and some in English.
Articles about cigars and cigar smoking
Lighting Your Cigar
From my experience of smoking in groups and observing people smoking cigars, unfortunately, too many people light their cigars incorrectly (even some who are either in cigar business, or call themselves “aficionados”), which could be ok by itself, if not counting that this affects their smoke quality, and more so is that they teach others on youtube and various cigar-smoking sites, but the most unfair thing of it is that they post their tasting notes which often downgrade honourable cigars, because of incorrect lighting. I have made so many experiments and comparisons with the taste that I know what I am talking about.
Using the cigar torch lighter. This has been said many times yet it is still not taken into consideration by many smokers especially men. Probably, for those their torches may seem to be a substitute for a weapon? – maybe they believe that it makes them look more “macho” and accentuates their masculinity. No and no. Cigars, especially cuban cigars, loose a lot of taste when they are mercilessly toasted by an open fast flame of a very high degree, put critically close to its foot.
If you want to make as impartial and correct as possible opinion on some cigar, and you want to grasp all that the cigar has to offer us, not only a part of the flavour, do use a slow flame please! The most cigar-friendly and correct thing to use is long cigar matches, or a slow regular gas lighter. In the case of using those cheap disposable gas lighters which get overheated very quickly, especially if you need to light a thick cigar and obviously need more time for that, just have 2 lighters on hand to prevent burning your fingers, keep replacing them with one another until your cigar is properly and evenly lit.
If you do use a torch lighter then have patience and get certain skills for using it correctly to your cigar. Don’t fly the flame over the edges of the cigar foot holding it too close, be patient and respectful to your cigar, hold the flame in a half-centimetre off the cigar, keep the angle of the flame about 45 degrees towards the cigar foot, don’t direct it right onto the cigar – it will definitely burn up the tasty 1-2 centimetre piece off the inside tobaccos, but in a good cuban cigar every millimetre is important for the evolution of the taste and for saving the delicate flavours’ harmony. Roll the cigar slowly around the warmth that the flame radiates, don’t rush your cigar, don’t expect it to get immediately red and smokey, give it its time to get introduced to the flame and get warmed up first, before getting it into the next phase, the fire-cigar “marriage”. It will pay you back for your attention and patience, trust me.
Victoria Radugina© / Виктория Радугина©