The Cigar Experience
Before purchasing a cigar many like to get the opinion of an expert with an experienced palate who knows what to look for in a cigar. Smoking a cigar is about the total experience. A good cigar is not just right on how it tastes, but on everything from how it looks and feels, to how it draws and how long it holds its ash.
Most cigar reviews focus on factors like appearance, construction, value, and flavor. In the category of appearance cigar reviews consider the pre-smoke elements of the cigar. Cigar reviews often evaluate the color of the wrapper leaf, the texture of the wrapper leaf, the presence of veins in the leaf, the size and shape of the cigar, the features of the cap and even the art on the band or label.
Although it is not exactly an appearance factor, many cigar reviews assess the pre-smoke aroma of the unlit cigar as well. The appearance of the cigar should be considered in not only how it makes you feel when you see it and hold it, but how it will make you look when you smoke it.
Flavor and Construction
In evaluating the smoke of a cigar, cigar reviews consider the flavor and construction categories. Some important elements to be evaluated regarding the construction of the cigar are the heft or weight of the cigar, and the presence of any cracks, dents, or other imperfections.
These elements, observable at pre-smoke are important indicators of what is to come
during the smoke. Many cigar reviews assess the cut and light of the cigar. Then they evaluate the draw, the evenness of the burn, the heat, and how long it holds its ash. Elements of burn, heat and draw should be considered at the beginning middle and end stages of the smoke as they can fluctuate throughout the smoke.
To many, the flavor of the cigar is the most important aspect. Most cigars exhibit what is often termed earthy tones. (It is suggested that you avoid any cigars with Marshy or Venusy tones, but if you find a cigar review that notes moony tones give it a shot.) Because you are tasting burnt leaves, earthy tones is usually a way of saying natural taste i.e. not unnatural or treated/chemical taste.
The most prevalent flavors in non-flavored cigars are nut, leather, wood, earth and berry. The flavor of a cigar will often change throughout the smoke and most cigar reviews will evaluate the flavor at the beginning, middle, and end of the smoke.
Cigar reviews then usually consider all of the preceding against the price of the cigar and give a value opinion.
The danger with relying on cigar reviews is that taste is subjective. Just because a cigar connoisseur enjoys it does not necessarily mean you will. But it is a good way to narrow down a list of potential purchases.
Some popular sources for cigar reviews are cigar aficionado, cigarinspector.com, puff.com, and many others.