This is a great post from Cubancigarwatch.info, the cigar blogger shares some of his tips on enjoying and evaluating Cuban Cigars:
Getting Acquainted: When rating a new cigar, most take a bit of time to examine it. We use a Rating Sheet that pretty much guarantees that they will take more time to look over the stick before cutting it. Now I do the same with every cigar I smoke – even when I am getting ready to light up an ‘old stand-by’. It is my chance to admire the roller’s art and the efforts that went into making the cigar.
Lighting Up: I’ve noticed that herfers get more careful when lighting up smokes if they take the time to slow the process down. Guys who used to bury the tip in the flame now ‘kiss’ the tip with it. They roll the tip around in the upper part – beyond the visible flame.
That First Draw: Not to many in our group ‘chug’ or ‘tug’ at a cigar anymore. The old adage is that ‘a cigar should be sipped’ – and more often now I see a slow and steady initial draw – and a savoring of the first taste. Most sticks will give you an initial burst of flavor – often more spicy or peppery than the rest of the smoke – right up front.
Watch the Burn: The tastings have made me much more aware of how a particular cigar burns. It wasn’t something that I spent a lot of time thinking about before – but now I watch how the burn gets faster or slower – or stays the same – all the way down.
Wafting the Smoke: An old friend taught me this one. Let your smoke rest for a bit then turn it hot end up and waft some of the smoke. Your nose will tell you things about the cigar that you won’t find out with a draw – particularly about the presence of nasty things like ammonia – a sure sign of lack of aging.
Watch it Rest: I never used to pay much attention to the cigar between puffs – but now I find myself watching it. I notice the level and color of the smoke – the aroma that raises from it – and the evenness of the burn.
Along the Way: A well made cigar will burn evenly – and how it burns will effect your experience of smoking it. Now I pay more attention to this – and can connect how much I am enjoying (or not enjoying) the smoke to how it burns.
The Finish: In the past I would think that the smoke was over when I put the cigar out but I now realize that the finish is important. The taste and experience of smoking a cigar lasts after the fire goes out. Pay attention to how you feel – and what you experience – afterwards.
Always Rate: Our regular tastings have gotten me in the habit of rating every cigar that I smoke – not just the first time – but each time. My tastes have changed over time and I am continually updating my experiences. My regular memory is not as good as my ‘artificial memory’ and I have found it useful to have a record – particularly when I am getting ready to replenish my stock.
Keep a Journal: Mine is not extensive – I keep notes in addition to the ratings that help me better choose what and when I like to smoke. As an example, I recently found a stogie that is a great ‘morning cigar’.
Compare Notes: One of the great benefits of being a member of a cigar club is that you have the opportunity to discuss your experiences and hear those of others who enjoy cigars. Being a member of the Northern Virginia group has helped me better enjoy cigars – and draw on the experiences of lots of others. The rest of the article here: http://www.cigarwatch.info/cigar-smoking-the-ritual/
Blog Entry By Shane Gibson