You can’t review cigars for any amount of time without encountering at least one cigar enthusiast who not only doesn’t read cigar reviews, but actively objects to anyone’s efforts to rate, evaluate or describe the experiences of smoking a particular cigar. I’m not talking about people who don’t trust reviews to be objective or accurate, or people who just don’t find them interesting. I’m talking about people who think it’s a contemptible fool’s errand to go any further than “I liked the cigar” or “I didn’t like the cigar”.
If you love a cigar, does it not make sense to ask your self, at least once, what is it you love about that cigar? I think it does. And no matter what your answer to that question, I’d argue that effort to ask and your answer, whatever it may be, constitute the the beginnings a cigar review. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not in any way suggesting that you should actively review every cigar you smoke. To do so would be to turn a pleasant indulgence into a chore. (Trust me, I know this too well.) But aren’t you a little curious?
And consider the other things in life that you relish. Whatever they are. Cars, watches, golf clubs, scotch, sports players and hell, even women. We all have different preferences in each, and will never be in 100% agreement with our fellow man on any of those topics. But what would we talk about if we didn’t discuss what we liked and disliked about these topics? Could you imagine how eerily silent the cigar lounge would be during the game if conversation never went beyond “I like that team” and “I don’t”? How are cigars any different? If you’re like the majority of cigar smokers, you aren’t any more qualified to evaluate the performance of a sports team than to review a cigar, and yet, you do. And likely you do even more than that. You create lists of top players, top teams and try to predict who will make it to the big championship game and who will win.
But back to cigars, many will agree that we’ve reached a golden age of the premium tobacco leaf. But if you never stop to think about the cigars you’ve smoked, how would you know if there’s any basis to that idea, or if it’s just talk? Going by all the other signs, increased taxes, and the constant effort by fools to pass ever more draconian bans on tobacco products, it would seem that this is actually the worst time in history to enjoy cigars. Clearly the cigar offerings are greater now than ever before, especially if you figure availability into the equation, but what is the point of all options if no differentiation is made between brands and vitolas? Why all the effort by expert blenders to create new cigars? And come to think of it, what’s the point of employing blenders if there is nothing aside from simple enjoyment to be derived from the combustion of tobacco?
Some will question what right I have to bolster or damage the reputation of a cigar with my opinion on a public forum. I’ve never made or blended a cigar and couldn’t roll one to save my life. My answer is I have the right as a consumer, one with the protected right to free speech, to discuss my cigar experiences. In buying a cigar, I have also purchased from the manufacturer their blessing to have an opinion based upon my experience. My opinion may encourage or dissuade others in their decision making, but ultimately the success of the cigar is the responsibility of thecigar and its maker. And again, this argument fails when applied to many other topics. If you’ve never played professional sports, what right do you have to weigh in on the attributes or performance of an athlete?
But the point of this article isn’t really to win an argument. It’s intended to encourage you to take that step toward a fuller enjoyment of these rolled up bunch of leaves we habitually set ablaze. In the end, the point of a cigar review is to recognize and celebrate the attributes of truly great cigars. It doesn’t matter if you never read another cigar review, and continue to believe them to be pointless. Just please, give that cigar in your hand a second thought. Because in getting to know your cigar, you’re actually getting to know yourself a little better. And that, my friends is a worthy pursuit.
41 thoughts on “An Argument in Favor of Cigar Reviews”
Wow Brian…. Good job good effin write up
Nice write up………I tend to not have the same pallette with a lot of reviewers but I read quite abit of reviews before I commit to a box…….
Latest victem is the Tabacez Dias…..if JCRUZ didn’t write that erview I wouldn’t of purchased the box!!
Just my thoughts. Now I might not agree w JCRUZ opinion on it after smoking it but at least I was open enough to reading his thoughts on it.
Hi Brian. May I first complement you on a excellent article. I think that was very well written.
My reason for commenting is just try and say why I keep coming back here. When I started visiting this site over two years ago I would always complain and moan about the cigars that were being reviewed, and to be honest I probably left some comments that could have seemed a little snobbish. I do live across the pond and I am a Englishman who was introduced to the delights of Cuban cigars by my Father at a ridiculously early age and now I am one of those silly people that will buy a box of cigars and not touch them for at least a couple of years.
What I am trying to say is that although I will very rarely have smoked or will want to smoke the cigars that you, Walt, and Jerry (with help from Tom and Ed and new guy Mike) review on stogie review, I still get great enjoyment from reading and watching other people rate and describe the cigars they are reviewing. It is also very pleasing when I see other people get as much enjoyment from smoking cigars as I do.
Anyway…this was a very long winded way of saying that I totally agree with your article and despite my snobbish aspirations, I hope you all keep giving me a reason to come back everyday. Thanks.
I think thats the nicest thing you’ve ever said LOL 😉
I am getting far too soft in my old age.
Well put Brian; thanks for speaking on behalf of smokers and reviewers alike. From here forward, I promise to never confuse you w/ Artz…
Well said and it needed to be said, Brian!
Well said Brian! Maybe now a certain individual will wake up and pay attention! I started reviewing cigars (posting them occasionally on Social Cigar and now for B&B) about a year or so ago and despite it being sort of a chore it is great to see the positive feedback I receive from fellow enthusiasts who are considering trying that particular cigar. Great read again!
Well said, indeed, Brian. All a cigar reviewer (or a reviewer of anything, for that matter) is doing is rendering an opinion. Whether that opinion is informed, educated, or ignorant is of no real concern to the question of whether you have the right to express it or not. Of course, educated and/or informed opinions will be more widely respected and accepted.
The one point I would take exception with is that there is such a thing as an “objective” or “unbiased” review. Everyone has a viewpoint–a worldview, if you will–and likes and dislikes. Taking specifically the reviewing of cigars, you (and any other reviewer) are going to have your favorite companies, personalities, and tobacco types. To pretend that none of those opinions is going to color your review in any way is self-delusional, I believe. The point would be to “cop to” the biases and then let yourself be pleasantly surprised by a cigar from a personality you don’t normally like (I found myself liking Rocky Patel’s 1961 immensely, although I find him to be arrogant & boorish) or disappointed by a cigar from a company you normally respect (I was very turned off by the crappy construction quality of Fuente’s Rosado Sungrown Magnum).
Do you have the right to criticize cigars? Absolutely! Especially if you paid for them out of your own pocket. Do you have the right to critique sports stars, fast cars, and movies? Yes. It’s still a free country (for now) and we still have first amendment rights to voice our opinions. And if people don’t like it…well, it’s not like you’re holding a gun to their heads making them read…
I absolutely agree, there is no such thing as a completely unbiased, objective review in a textbook/philosophical sense. Everything, right down to our choice of cigar to review and the things we choose to mention in comparison are driven by sometimes subtle biases. However, I think that even the most biased reviews can be somewhat informative (especially once you are aware of the biases) and, also important, entertaining.
The best I, or anyone else can do is endeavor to be fair, and, as you said, provide a cigar the opportunity to defy our biases and either win us over or fail.
Nice job Brian! I’m kind of tired of those people that constantly panning all cigar reviewers. I agree with what D Jones said above about the bias anyone brings to the table. The only way to completely get rid of that bias is to have androids do the review and that wouldn’t be near as much fun.
Androids or elves LMAO
But nobody really takes elves seriously. Unless they’re reviewing tree-hugging experiences. So pretty much androids only. LOL
free cigars!?!?! where!?!?!?
It’s not that i don’t enjoy your reviews because i do. What i don’t enjoy is being judged by someone who has less than 15 or 20 years experience in actually smoking cigars and knows whereof he speaks and not go off on some tangent about the weather or his favorite team in sports, like i really give a s… I’m interested in the cigar and the plusses and minuses, the ingredients and WHY he deems it good or bad. A comparable remark on what comes close is helpful too.
Its 46 F here in Germantown and the Caps are getting ready to rock the Penguins!
Well, I for one love to read reviews to see what someone else thinks of a cigar that I either already smoked or one that I am thinking of adding to my collection. I always like someone elses point of view and I actually enjoy reading a bad reveiw to see what made it such a poor experience. Reading reviews and the comments associated with them keeps one foot in the door when it comes to being a part of the cigar hobby. Keep em coming.
Well said. Blending tobacco is an art, and judging a cigar is no different than finding what is beautiful in any other kind of art. Attention to detail pays dividends for the smoker just like it does for a lover of fine wine or a fine art collector.
There will always be those who think their sense of taste is better than others — they’re called snobs. But analyzing a cigar for its subtle qualities is not snobbish as long as you don’t think your opinion trumps everyone else’s. Having a sense of humor about your own opinion is also a good thing, and Stogie Review does that extremely well. Cheers — and thanks for the reviews!
Outstanding article. I love reviewing even if my personal life doesn’t allow me to as much anymore. I also try to read every review I can in order to give me some idea what cigars I need to watch out for. On a limited budget I have to pick and choose carefully, reviews help me with that challenge.
I liked the article.
I’d rate it on the recommend scale as a: Yes
On a point scale, I’ll give it a 84, but only because a point scale only applies to the first two sentences.
Who do you think you are? Opinion-article Aficionado?…lol
Dave, how much advertising do I have to buy to get that rating up a few points? lol
oh wow, well, if your buying advertising, that get’s it an immediate 4 point boost to an 88 with subsequent advertising purchased for the month of December gaining you an additional 4 points!!! A possible rating of 92 with an additional 2 points possible if it becomes a video of the reviewers sitting around reading the first two sentences! You may be able to raise it to a solid 94 but you’ll have to wait to release your article video review recorded in December and released for public viewing in January.
Whew, it’s tough, but possible to get a 94!!!!
That was awesome, wait is that a tear in my eye?
Great article Brian. I happen to agree with everything you said and being a brilliant mind, I guess that means you are a brilliant mind also. 🙂
I’m just glad that I get a few pats on the back too. LOL Thanks man.
Your 15 mins of fame are up…time to return to the Elf Channel LOL
Great article! I ran into one of the “It’s either a good or bad cigar” people last week and had a whole discussion on this very topic. He ended up running with his tail between his legs when he couldn’t find a good reason why he spends $10 on a cigar and doesn’t really care about anything except that it “was a good cigar”. I think I opened his eyes and hopefully he’ll start paying attention and enjoying the little things in life a little more.
How in the world did I miss this commentary? Well said, on all points.
Kudos, Brian! After years of smoking cigars I still sometimes find myself – rarely, thankfully – just smoking whatever I have in my face without thinking about it. Where’s the cognition and the experience in that?
I’m afraid many more BOTLs do that far too often…
Your starting to sound like Shanken or Suckling. No I’m just kidding. Great article.
What an excellent article, Brian. Hard to argue with that school of thought!
I’ve been smoking cigs for quite a few years now and have come to the conclusion that cigar ‘reviews’ are pretty much a bunch of bs.
The idea that anyone can ‘pick up’ multiple flavors such as molassas, barnyard, spice (what spice?), pepper, clove, cinnamon, coffee, chocolate, leather (who goes around tasting leather?), ‘woodsy’ (define ‘woodsy’ please), clove, licorice, orange sherbet, lemonade (yes, I heard those two correctly!), mint, etc. etc. and how these supposed ‘flavors’ fade out then suddently appear again is just a bunch of nonsense and self-aggrandizing and at the least a very active imagination.
Doubt me? List ANY cigar and I’ll come up with ten different reviews countering another’s claim(s).
Here’s a review of any given cigar:
mild, medium, bold, harsh.
Sure, any cigar has its subtle nuances of flavor, texture, smell, but come on! How anyone can sit there and tell me that they are picking up a 1/2 doz. different flavors from a leaf of tobacco is ludicrous.
Hammerhead…what an idiot.
an idiot huh? I say anyone that believes a review that states they tasting a half a dozen different flavors out a tobacco leaf knowing full well they can find a multitude of other reviews stating that they in-turn can pull another half dozen (different) flavors out of the same stick is an idiot.
Nah, its basically, “Hey everybody, look at how ‘refined’ we are smoking $10 tobacco sticks.”
Its all bullshit.
(From a 20+ year cigar smoker.)
Hammer – may I introduce you to the likes of Guillermo Leon or Litto Gomez. Refined and trained pallets to exist. Regardless of how long you’ve been smoking its about the experience/exposure that your pallet is exposed to. I’ve been around these guys and have picked up cherry or even orange peel and have had them tell me, “nice pick up, not many pick that up”. Picking up a half dozen notes in a cigar is still uncommon thats what make those that do challenging and complex.
My pallat may or may not be as experienced as your’s but all because you can’t detect nuances in a cigar doesn’t mean they don’t exists.