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.