How We Review Cigars

Lately on Twitter there has been talk about the freeloaders of the cigar community who hide behind having a facebook page or cigar review site and using that as a medium to get free cigars. It has become an epidemic lately and it is a sad state of affairs that I hope to talk to my fellow bloggers about at IPCPR in New Orleans.

But the biggest debate lately has been reviews themselves and how we go about them. I am opinionated on this matter and my fellow blogger over at is just as opinionated as well. With that said and done there really is no right way or wrong way. What I feel is how I feel and I believe it to be the proper way. At the end of the day we are very similar and I have taken his challenge to write about the review process.

For me the process has one exception. If I get a rare stick, or a pre-release I will at times write a review based on one stick. I will mention that in the review if and when it does happen. Otherwise this is how I handle it.

When I find a cigar I have never smoked before I usually buy 1. I smoke that cigar in a social setting not paying too much attention to the notes of the cigar. If something creeps up on me and I pick it up I make a note of it. I also make reference to the burn and draw of the cigar. These two things I pay attention to more then anything else.

Somewhere down the line depending on how much I was attracted to the cigar I buy two more. This could be later the same week, or the following month. I place the cigars in my humidor for 7 to 10 days. I smoke the second cigar and pay attention to it as if it was a review stick. I take full notes and ad it to my original note taking process. If the draw or burn is a little bit off I take into account the atmosphere I am in. Is it windy? Very Humid? Was it the stick?

My final stick is usually a couple days later and this becomes my review stick regardless of factors. I pay complete attention to the cigar and make sure it is my first cigar of the day. I usually smoke it in solitude down by the beach or in my house. I do this so I am not influenced by other cigars around me and any aroma they may be giving off. If something is very different then cigars one and two I make note of prior samples in the review.

I firmly believe in the 3 cigar process for reviewing a cigar. I worked in a cigar store for many years and no matter how good the company is and whether or not they draw test their smokes the rolling process is done by hand and subject to mistake. I personally believe in every box there is at least one cigar where the burn is off, or the draw is too tight or too loose. I’ve seen it with customers and I have experienced it myself. Also my palate could be having an off day and while I am confident in my ability to pick up the notes I am far from perfect.

My beverage of choice for smoking a cigar for review is a cola, seltzer or a water. While water and seltzer are by far the best. Cola I drink when I feel my blood sugar is a little low and the carbonation works well in reviewing. I was told by Tim from CAO that he drinks a cola when sampling sticks in the factory. I feel any other beverage can influence what you are tasting and the outcome of the review so I stay away from them.

If a company sends me cigars it is usually a 3 pack or 5 pack and I smoke 1 the day I get my hands on it and sit on the others for 7 to 10 days and I resume the process as stated above.

So there you have it, the reviewing process. Smoke Magazine who I do reviews for also requests you to smoke 3 sample sticks before writing your review so I do not stand alone. I am sure others follow my methods and others follow the methods of Tiki Bar Online.  Regardless we are not cigar gods, and our reviews are not meant to be taken as gospel. Smoke one yourself and make the decision for yourself.

For the most part the cigar community is a great one and I have respect for most of my fellow bloggers. Tiki Bar Online included so please do not take this post as an attack on him. He is a great BOTL, so if you agree with my process don’t chastise them for being different and if you agree with them, don’t chastise me either.

Questions? Comments? Let me know your thoughts!

Long Ashes my friends!