29 Jul 2015
Perhaps no topic generates more interest among new smokers—and many long-timers—than the question of how to detect flavors in cigars.
“Isn’t it all just tobacco?” is a typical inquiry.
Well, yes, it is all tobacco. But you can say the same for a lot of other things we experience with our taste buds. They’re all apples, for example, but a Granny Smith has a vastly different texture and taste than does a Golden Delicious. Or, it’s all wood, though who would confuse the aroma of Aromatic Red Cedar with American White Oak.
Opening your mind—and, consequently, your nose and taste buds—to the potential of discovery is, I believe, the first step to expanding what you perceive in your cigars.
There are any number of ways to do that. You can explore flavor wheels, fill out tasting sheets, sniff spices in the cabinet, and take numerous other approaches to improve your palate. And they’re probably all worth trying.
One caution, though: While exploring tasting processes in other areas, such as wine, spirits, or coffee, bear in mind that they’re often done with several examples simultaneously. Few of us smoke more than one cigar at a time.
My goal here is to provide some context for your approach, and to broaden your viewpoint as you explore cigar aromas and flavors.
Don’t look for exact matches. Think more of what you taste as suggesting a flavor, not replicating it.
1. Concentrate at first on common flavors, such as coffee with a maduro, pepper with a Nicaraguan puro, or grass with a Connecticut wrapper.
2. Try to focus on smell as well, since that’s a significant component of taste.
3. Roll the smoke around in your mouth before you exhale to increase the exposure to your taste buds.
4. Don’t try too hard. Everyone’s senses differ, and our perceptions are not always the same. Some have a higher developed capacity of taste, while others don’t. It’s not a contest to see who can pick out kala jeera or fennel pollen.
If you pay attention and note what you detect, I can almost guarantee you’ll find yourself discovering more and more with each cigar.
photo credit: Stogie Guys