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Stogie Commentary: What’s With All the High Ratings?

16 Jul 2009

It’s been happening a lot recently. So much so that I thought it appropriate to write this and get it all out in the open. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m speaking about the fact that our cigar ratings—particularly those published over the last month—have been climbing like grade inflation at an Ivy League school.

Yesterday’s review of an Opus X Perfecxion No.2 was no exception. Including the Tesa Vintage Especial Rothchild and the Montecristo Sublime Edición Limitada 2008, it was the third stick to receive our highest rating in the last five weeks. This may not sound like cause for concern, but consider that only 21 cigars have earned the “five stogies out of five” distinction since we started publishing reviews.

Hand Rolled CigarsThose three exceptional cigars aside, we’ve also recently given high marks to the Casa Magna Colorado Torito, Nub Habano 464 Torpedo, Tatuaje L’esprit de La Verite, and both Nestor Miranda 20 Aniversario blends. All of these scored better than our average rating (about 3.5/5 when you calculate the mean of our library of almost 300 reviews). So what’s the deal?

In anticipation of any concerns, no, we haven’t changed our methods. We’re still relying on our tried and true—albeit unique—ratings system, and we’re still smoking multiple samples of each cigar before we publish a full review (unless we specify otherwise).

I’d also like to reiterate that ads or samples from manufacturers in no way influence our decisions. We’ve worked hard to earn your trust over the years; believe me when I say that we have much more to lose by being dishonest than we have to gain.

The recent upward trend of ratings can best be explained in this way: We’ve simply been choosing a lot of fantastic cigars to smoke, read, and write about. Heck, even though we can’t let preconceived notions impact our ratings, it’s much more fun to fire up that highly anticipated new release than it is to sift through value smokes to try and find a diamond in the rough.

We understand we must do both, however, if we are to provide our readers with the most comprehensive coverage of the world of cigars. Rest assured that we haven’t abandoned our goal of identifying undervalued and under-priced gems. Be it the timing of new releases or be it coincidence, we’ve just been picking a lot of winners lately. Hopefully you’ve been doing the same.

One final note: I realize some of you don’t buy into numerical ratings altogether. I can dig that. That’s why my colleagues and I spend so much time and text discussing our impressions of a cigar and so little time and text describing how we derived its score. Consider the rating a mere guide—more of a means to evaluate cigars relative to one another than an ultimate judgment.

After all, remember that the best cigar in the world is the cigar you like the best.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Drew Estate

11 Responses to “Stogie Commentary: What’s With All the High Ratings?”

  1. Vincent of Jersey Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 3:19 am #

    I found one of those Casa Magna Toritos that you reviewed (and praised) recently. It was MUCH better than the other vitolas I've sampled from the Colorado line. So that was spot-on.

    Ya'll do a great job with reviews. I may not agree 100% of the time, but StogieGuys.com is my most trusted source for ratings. Keep up the good work–even if that means reviewing a lot of great cigars in a row!

  2. Robert Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 5:30 am #

    No worries here. It just seemed like a selection issue to me. I mean: it's the best time of the year for cigar smoking, so why not pick the ones you know are going to turn out well? Besides, have you ever read Smoke magazine or Cigar Press? Now there's ratings inflation. If I followed their advice, I'd be buying every cigar rolled.

  3. Marc E. Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 7:05 am #

    Stop apologizing for being a great resource. No worries about the recent great picks. This site and stogiereview are my go to source for cigar reviews. I go to CA's site for the forums…say how about you guys start video reviews and a forum? That way I would have a one stop shop 🙂

  4. furious Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 7:11 am #

    I think that cigar reviewers are, for the most part, accurately reflecting the current situation with regard to production quality across the board. In other words, generally speaking, the sticks being reviewed are of better quality than those of the recent past.

    What I have a problem with is the creation of artificial hype about a value or boutique brand that turns out to be a complete dud. Of course, we all know why this happens.

  5. Patrick A Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 7:48 am #

    Thanks for all the great feedback, guys. I appreciate your thoughts.

    In retrospect, maybe this piece came across as apologetic. That wasn't my intention. I just wanted to bring up the issue, read some comments (for which I am thankful), and perhaps give readers further insight into how we conduct reviews.

    The best way to keep our reviews meaningful and effective, though, is for you to comment and share your own impressions. So I thank you in advance for your continued participation.

  6. Israel Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 9:17 am #

    No worries Patrick. A review on a cigar is a personal one, and no one will hold it against you if they should disagree with you on the taste of a cigar. Taste is subjective, and while I don't care for some of the cigars you've reviewed, they are all quality reviews. Thanks for the great site!

  7. Ahmed Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 10:11 am #

    you r doing great job guys, i really wish that you go for Videos that would be fantastic

  8. Dave Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 10:22 am #

    FWIW, I read reviews because the reviewers typically know a good bit about the cigar and the company that makes it, which I find far more interesting than the actual rating.

  9. George E. Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 11:50 am #

    One other element I think is worth noting. Stogie Guys always sign the reviews so you know whose opinions you’re reading. That’s important so you can get a feel over time for what appeals to each of us and how we judge cigars. That way, you can decide how well each of our views match — or conflict — with your own when you evaluate our reviews.

  10. Danny Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 12:34 pm #

    Hey guys, good cigars are good cigars. If you feel like giving 5 stogies you are entitled! It is your site! That being said; I have yet to read a review and felt you guys were being inappropriate. I’ll start to scratch my head when I see the Grape Swishers at 4.5 stogies. 🙂

  11. st Friday, July 17, 2009 at 6:44 am #

    Hey, your 4-stogie reviews led me to the CAO Criollo Pato and Brazilia Gol, and I just can't stop smoking those things. So no complaints here.

    That said, I thought George's "We Smoke Them So You Don't Have To" series was hilarious, so it's not all about the good'uns.