There are few things more divisive in the cigar world than flavours. Due to their subjectivity, they are extremely difficult to define and very hard to compare as everyone’s experience can be different. We’ve previously addressed the conversation of strength vs body, which can be found here, and to conclude the cigar triangle, we’ll be looking at the varying different flavour notes that can be found in cigars.
It’s worth noting the difference between infused cigars and natural flavours, the former being an artificially induced taste sensation and the latter being a natural evolution. There are countless variables that go into the subtle art of imparting a flavour to a tobacco including the location that the leaves are grown, other plants being grown in the soil, how and where the leaves are aged and many others. Infused cigars carry much stronger and more obvious flavours, as when you buy a ‘vanilla’ cigar, you expect to taste vanilla when you smoke it. However, when you purchase a Montecristo cigar, the creamy and bitter flavours are much more subtle, making you work for your reward.
There really are countless flavour notes that can be used to describe cigars, some much more abstract than the rest. However, we have tried to round up the most common and most popular terms used, so that you too can begin to embark on a flavour journey.
These terms aren’t necessarily used to describe cigars that taste like food, more notes that could also be used to describe food, presenting similarities across the two. Terms such as sweet, salty, spicy, cinnamon and nutmeg are popular. Food is a very general term and can be narrowed down much further as we can see below:
Flavours such as caramel, toffee, butterscotch and chocolate (dark and milk) are included here. They are given their own division, as for the most part they are made up of sweet flavours. This sweetness often is the result of the region in which the tobacco has been grown along with the ageing process. As noted above, dessert flavoured cigars should not be mixed with infused cigars, as these are some of the most popular flavour infusions.
These are pretty self-explanatory and are subtle flavours that can be tasted while smoking that link to any fruit. Similar to dessert profiles, these can be achieved through the location of the tobacco farm or other plants grown in the soil.
Spice and Herb Profiles
As mentioned in the food profiles, common cigar flavours are often similar to spices. This isn’t because cigar manufacturers are sprinkling cayenne pepper into their tobacco, but because cigars often take on a range of flavours that are comparable to spices, with cumin translating to a woody and smoky flavour or cinnamon often meaning a hotter, more intense flavour.
Thankfully, these terms are rarely used, especially compared to earth and food profiles. Typically, metallic flavours are undesirable in cigars as they are often imparted from the storage process or the production of the cigar itself. That said, as everyone has their own flavour preferences, there may be people out there that are looking for a particularly strong copper flavour.
Earth and Mineral Profiles
The relationship between smell and taste is vital to bear in mind throughout the cigar tasting process, especially when discovering earthy flavours. Popular terms include various woods, grassy flavours, burning twigs and even dirt. These are typically more aromatic descriptions but can often impart a flavour as well.
Chemical flavours are fairly few and far between. There aren’t many that have made their way onto the cigar tasting circuit, and even fewer are desirable flavours. One of the most common is acidity, often relating to the bitterness of a cigar. As mentioned above, everyone is different, so there could be people looking for more acidity in their smokes!
Similar to food profiles, drinks flavours are fairly self-explanatory in that people will liken a cigar flavour to a particular drink. Popular terms are often derived from coffee flavours, such as espresso, mocha and French-roast. However, there are also terms that can define a cigar that pairs well with a certain beverage. Certain flavours, strengths and bodies pair better with some drinks than others, which can really enhance your smoking experience.
Whether you’re just picking up your first cigar or looking to develop your palate to the next level, you can find a fantastic range of cigars in our online store. You can also check out our blog for bundles of useful cigar info!