We have used a lot of terms over the years to describe the natural tobacco flavors in premium cigars, those which have not been artificially flavored or made with anything other than 100% tobacco. To a novice or new cigar smoker, the use of such terms can be confusing, to say the least. After all, a cigar is supposed to taste like a cigar, and not a chocolate candy bar or a leather jacket, just to give a couple of examples. If you are a newer cigar smoker who needs help in understating what is actually meant by some of those descriptive terms used in cigar reviews, then this article is meant for you.
After you have smoked a few different cigars, you will quickly discover that all cigar tobacco does not taste the same. The first dissimilarity that you will notice is that some cigars are fuller or stronger than others. Then it becomes a matter of degree, mild, mild-to-medium, medium, medium-to-full, full, and even extra or super full. These terms are not only used to describe the intensity of the flavors, but also the fullness of the smoke (body), and the amount of nicotine (strength).
Four Taste Stimulations
As your palate develops further after smoking a variety of different cigars over a period of time, you will begin to detect or notice different flavors in some cigars. According to cigar maker Henke Kelner, there are only four basic taste stimulations: Acid, Bitter, Salty, and Sweet. Cigar tobaccos can be blended together in various proportions to achieve a slew of additional flavors, many of which you will commonly find being referred to by cigar reviewers in their reviews. When I was a new cigar smoker, a few of the tastes that I first noticed in particular cigars included sweetness, bitterness, pepper and spice.
As you continue to smoke a variety of cigars over several years, you will gradually start to notice more and more subtle differences amongst different cigars. Describing these differences to others can be very difficult, especially since others may not be able to detect the exact same subtle notes of certain tastes as you. Thus, some cigar reviewers may use a combination of several terms such as cocoa, leather, and caramel in an attempt to fine tune their descriptions to make them as precise as possible. However, describing all those subtle flavors down to the nth degree is not an exact science by any means, and is sometimes overdone by certain cigar reviewers just to embellish their reviews (and confuse their readers).
The Bottom Line
Don't worry if you cannot taste all (or any) of the flavors that are supposed to be in a cigar according to some cigar blogger/reviewer. All that matters is how much you enjoy the cigar or not. If you only reach the point where you know that you prefer mild-to-medium cigars having a little sweetness with just a hint of spice, then you know enough which cigars to try and buy, and which to avoid. Unless your goal is to become a renown cigar aficionado or a top cigar reviewer, then don't worry about some of those unconventional terms used to describe very subtle flavor nuances that very few cigar smokers are able to distinguish. And if you are new to cigars, start with some milder cigars that are recommended for beginners.