17 January 2020
Characteristics of a Great Cigar
Defining what makes a great cigar is no easy task. This is mainly due to the incredibly personal experience that each smoker has. However, there are some general and consistent characteristics which feature in all great cigars.
Construction & Burn
Construction is crucial in a high-quality cigar; a poor construction can often result in it falling apart. You need to inspect the wrapper to ensure that it appears to be clean, sturdy and not at all brittle - it should be relatively easy to detect a poorly assembled cigar. As well as the wrapper, you’ll want to make sure that the filler isn’t loosely packed or packed too tightly. A loosely packed cigar will draw too easily, making the smoke taste harsh; packed too tightly it will be too hard to draw which will result in little or no taste at all. To test the construction of the cigar, roll it between your index finger and thumb, this will enable you to feel any irregularities in the amount of filler, you need to make sure it has a consistent texture and fill throughout.
Construction of the cigar, whether that’s how it has been filled or wrapped will also affect the burn. A well-constructed cigar with an adequate amount of filler should burn smoothly and evenly. However, the burn can also be affected by other factors, such as not lighting the cigar correctly, the moistness of the cigar and the technique used by the smoker.
Whilst it is important to note that taste is completely subjective, cigars that taste overwhelmingly salty, acidic or bitter are common indicators of low quality. In saying this, a bitter tasting cigar can also be a result of other factors, such as not lighting the cigar properly or even puffing on it too often. If a cigar tastes stale, this could be an indication that it hasn’t been stored at the correct humidity, is could be beginning to develop mould, or hasn’t been handled correctly, amongst other factors which will all have a hand in the cigar being past its best.
Another taste factor to consider is the body of the cigar, which determines how intense and strong the smoke is. To a beginner, or to someone who prefers a mild flavour; a full-bodied cigar might be overwhelming. As previously stated, taste is subjective, which makes it essential to keep in mind that just because a flavour isn’t to your liking, that doesn’t mean the quality of the cigar is poor.
Consistency & Appearance
A box of high-quality cigars should be consistent throughout the box. This can be determined by the appearance of the cigars, their construction, as well as the quality of the tobacco. The overall appearance of high-quality cigars may not look exactly the same, as they’re typically handmade. However, the colour should be consistent, they should look near identical, and the taste of the cigars should be the same throughout the box.
A high-quality cigar should accumulate around an inch of firm ash before falling off. This is an indication of the firmness of the cigar and how well it has been constructed.
The experience of a cigar is a subjective one. Not only this, there are also other factors to consider when critiquing a cigar. For example, the humidity plays a significant role in the quality; even the best cigars will make for a poor smoke if stored in an inadequate environment.