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Cigars 102: Cigar Tasting and Notes

Updated: Oct 23, 2020

“I taste bitter almonds with a hint of barnyard, seaweed, and the tears of a virgin.” Well, this may be true for you, but what about everyone else?

Time for SCIENCE!!! A little lesson in anatomy and physiology. The tongue is an organ full of sensors. It collects information and sends it to the brain to be interpreted as salty, sweet, bitter, sour, and umami. There are several substances that we have tasted in our lives that have been filed away in our memory—things we like, and that are unpleasant. When we taste the notes of the cigar, our brain is looking for something that it can compare to—a particular combination of flavors that remind us of coffee, chocolate, cedar, leather, etc.

Does this mean if I do not taste those notes, I am wrong in what I am tasting? The answer is no; each person’s brain is wired slightly different, thus making flavor interpretation all our own. Can you train your taste buds? Yes, you can, this is why it is best to try everything. Teach your pallet; learn what makes the cigar a premium cigar.

But what is the process? The great thing is that this part is easy; you just have to do it slowly, relax, and use your senses. Taste the pre-draw, suck the air from the unlit cigar. Light the cigar, but do this slowly with deep and long puffs to note the changes in flavor as the tobacco burns. Let the cigar settle, take your time, fill your mouth with smoke, and taste the air. As you blow the smoke out, push the last little bit through your nose, this is called the retro-hale. You will activate nerves in the sinus and nasal cavities that will enhance the ability to taste. Drink something, cleanse your pallet. Maybe a smooth spirit or liquor. But nothing too strong because then you will lose the ability to detect subtle notes. Sit back, and enjoy.

“As always, remember to live the life of the leaf, and there’s never a bad time for a great cigar!”

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